Adaptations of The Hobbit

Adaptations of The Hobbit

March 1953 saw the first authorized adaptation of "The Hobbit", a stage production by St. Margaret's School, Edinburgh. [Anderson, Douglas, "The Annotated Hobbit", p.23] "The Hobbit" has since been adapted for other media many times including adaptations for stage, screen, radio, and gaming, both board and video games.

Several of these adaptations have received critical recognition of their own, including a video game that won the Golden Joystick Award, a scenario of a war game that won an Origins Award, and an animated picture nominated for a Hugo Award.

= Dramatizations =

The BBC Radio 4 series "The Hobbit" radio drama was an adaptation by Michael Kilgarriff, broadcast in eight parts (four total hours) from September to November 1968. It starred Anthony Jackson as narrator, Paul Daneman as Bilbo and Heron Carvic as Gandalf. The series was released on audio cassette in 1988 and on CD in 1997.Bramlett, Perry C. "I Am in Fact a Hobbit: An Introduction to the Life and Works of J. R. R. Tolkien", Mercer University Press, 2003 p.239]

In 1968, J. R. R. Tolkien authorized Pauline Gray's adaptation for the stage. This dramatization takes liberties with the original plot, missing key sections and giving Thorin the role of dragon-slayer, amongst other deviations. [Ignatius, Jeff " [ Don't Mess With the Hobbit] ", on River City Reader, Tuesday, 06 July 2004 (retrieved 26/04/08) ] Many productions of this version have been performed up to the present day.

Nicol Williamson played over twenty different characters, each with a unique voice, in an adaptation directed by Harely Usill. This performance was released on four LP records in 1974 by Argo Records. [ [ Nicol Williamson on IMDB] ]

"The Hobbit", an animated version of the story produced by Rankin/Bass, debuted as a television movie in the United States in 1977. In 1978, Romeo Muller won a Peabody Award for his teleplay for "The Hobbit". The film was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, but lost to "". The adaptation has been called "excruciable" [Anderson. Donald A. "The Annotated Hobbit"] and confusing for those not already familiar with the plot. [Kask, TJ, "NBC's The Hobbit", Dragon Magazine, December 1977]

The American radio theatre company "The Mind's Eye" produced an audio adaptation of "The Hobbit" which was released on six one-hour audio cassettes in 1979.Bramlett, Perry C. "I Am in Fact a Hobbit: An Introduction to the Life and Works of J. R. R. Tolkien", Mercer University Press, 2003 p.239]

The BBC children's television series "Jackanory" presented an adaptation of "The Hobbit" in 1979. [cite episode | title=The Hobbit | series=Jackanory | serieslink=Jackanory [ Internet Movie Database: "Jackanory", "The Hobbit" (1979)] ] Unusually for the programme, the adaptation was narrated by several people. According to David Wood, one of the narrators, the release of the production on video has been repeatedly stopped by the Tolkien Estate. [ [ Guest Book ] ]

Robert Inglis adapted and performed a one-man theatre play of "The Hobbit". [ [ Photos of a performance during book-week in a school] (retrieved 19/01/08)] This performance led to him being asked to record the unabridged audiobook for "The Lord of the Rings" in 1990 and, a year later, he read the unabridged version of "The Hobbit". [ [ Audiofile Magazine interview with Rob Inglis] (retrieved 19/01/08)]

In 1996 the artistic director Hermann Wedekind has organized a production in the biggest culture cave of Europe.

The Manitoba Theatre for Young People commissioned Kim Selody to adapt "The Hobbit"; his version premiered there in 1999. The play is only licensed to be performed in Canada. [ [ The Hobbit on Globe Theater Live] ] Various productions have been reviewed as being "whimsical, wild and not too scary" [Wilson, Lisa [ The Hobbit is Hugely Entertaining] (review), 01/12/2001,, retrieved 20/05/08 ] and "not really that exciting". ["The Hobbit" Media Coverage at [ Korda productions] ]

A live-action film version was announced on 18 December 2007, to be co-produced by MGM and New Line Cinema, and produced by "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson. [cite news | title=Peter Jackson to produce "The Hobbit" | url= | publisher=CNN | accessdate=2007-12-18] A date of 2011 has been proposed for its release. It is to be shot simultaneously with a second prequel to "The Lord of the Rings". Guillermo Del Toro has been signed on to direct the double-bill. [ [,,2250245,00.html Del Toro to take charge of The Hobbit | News | Film ] ] In 2006, Del Toro was quoted as saying: "I don't like little guys and dragons, hairy feet, hobbits—I've never been into that ... I hate all that stuff." [ [ Del Toro Interview,] ] The heirs of Tolkien, including his son Christopher Tolkien, are currently suing New Line Cinema (as of February 2008) for non-payment of profits, and the rights to veto any further exploitation of Tolkien's work, including "The Hobbit". [cite web |url= |title=Tolkien's family threatens to block new Hobbit film |accessdate=2008-05-03 |date=2008-02-13 |author=Andrews, Amanda |publisher="Times Online"]

Graphic media

A three-part comic-book adaptation with script by Chuck Dixon and Sean Deming and illustrated by David Wenzel was published by Eclipse Comics in 1989. In 1990 a one-volume edition was released by Unwin Paperbacks. The cover was artwork by the original illustrator David Wenzel. A reprint collected in one volume was released by Del Rey Books in 2001. Its cover, illustrated by Donato Giancola, was awarded the Association of Science Fiction Artists Award for Best Cover Illustration in 2002. [ [ Cover photograph from Association of Science Fiction Artists] retrieved (13/03/2008)]

A commemorative postage stamp, illustrated by Peter Malone, was issued in 1998 by the Royal Mail of Great Britain in a series entitled "Magical Worlds: Fantasy Books for Children". [ Anderson, Douglas "The Annotated Hobbit" p. 23]


Leonard Nimoy sang a jaunty ditty about "The Hobbit" titled "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins". The recording originally appeared on the album "The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy", released in 1968. A music video to accompany it, featuring sand-dunes and dancing girls, was also produced. [Angie Errigo, Paul Simpson "The Rough Guide to the Lord of the Rings", Rough Guides, 2003 p 289-290]

In 2001, Marjo Kuusela produced a ballet "Hobitti" ("The Hobbit" in Finnish) with music by Aulis Sallinen for the Finnish National Opera. [cite web | url= | title=The Hobbit ('Hobitti'), Op.78, Aulis Sallinen | accessdate=2007-12-02 | publisher=ChesterNovello]

Dean Burry was commissioned by the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus to write an operatic version of the story for piano and choir to be performed in 2004. [ [ "Hobbits set for opera stage" on] ] The performance rights were subsequently locked up by Tolkien Enterprises before being released in 2006. The Sarasota Youth Opera then requested full orchestration. With that and some revisions by the composer, the second version premiered on 9 and 10 May 2008. [ [ Dean Burry, "The Hobbit in Sarasota", April 2007] , retrieved 17/02/07]

German power metal band Blind Guardian have recorded many songs which contain either tributes or references to the works of Tolkien. On their 1992 album, Somewhere Far Beyond, the song "The Bard's Song - The Hobbit" tells part of the story of The Hobbit.Fact|date=July 2008

Board, war and role-playing games

"The Hobbit" has been the subject of several board games.

TSR, Inc. has released two editions of a war game based on "The Battle of Five Armies", designed by Larry Smith in the 1970s using cardboard tokens and a map of the area around the Lonely Mountain as the setting. The game was criticized for a lack of clearness in the rules, and praised for evoking the onslaught of the Warg and goblin army. [Easterbrook, Martin, "Open Box Review" White Dwarf (magazine) #3,Oct/Nov 1977 p 15]

"The Lonely Mountain", produced in 1985 by Iron Crown Enterprises, "Newsboard", "Fellowship Follows", White Dwarf (magazine) #57, September, 1984 p45 ] was designed by Coleman Charlton and features groups of adventurers entering Smaug's Lair to capture his treasure before he awakens. The same year, the same publisher also released its version of "The Battle of Five Armies", developed by Richard H. Britton, Coleman Charlton, and John Crowell, again taking the theme of a war game and using card counters and a paper map.

"The Hobbit Adventure Boardgame" [sic] was the last game from Iron Crown based directly on "The Hobbit". They continued to publish the Middle-earth Role Playing Game, a game licensed on both "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" properties, combining elements from both works. [ [ "What is MERP?"] on Other Hands]

"Middle-earth Strategic Gaming" (formerly "Middle-earth Play-by-Mail"), which has won several Origin Awards, uses the "Battle of Five Armies" as an introductory scenario to the full game and includes characters and armies from the book. [More information can be found at: [ the Middle-earth Games page for the game] (retrieved 25/02/08)]

In 2005, Games Workshop released a "Battle of Five Armies" tabletop wargame, designed by Rick Priestley using highly detailed 10-millimetre figures sculpted by Mark Harrison, based on Games Workshop's Warmaster rules and designed to be played in a small space suitable for the home gamer. [Jones, Rich, "Battle of the Five Armies Rules and miniatures for recreating battles in Middle Earth", [ Wargames Journal] 1, 2005 p.91] [More information can be found at: [ Games Workshop's Specialist Games site] ]

Video games

Several computer and video games, both licensed and unlicensed, have been based on the story. One of the most successful was "The Hobbit", an award-winning computer game developed in 1982 by Beam Software and published by Melbourne House with compatibility for most computers available at the time. A copy of the novel was included in each game package in order to encourage players to engage the text, since ideas for gameplay could be found therein. [Moore, Phil "Using Computers in English: A Practical Guide", 1986, Routledge, pp. 44 ] Likewise, it can be seen that the game is not attempting to re-tell the story, but rather sits along-side it, using the narrative to both structure and motivate gameplay. [Aarseth, Espen; "Quest Games as Pos-Narrative Discourse"in "Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling" ed. Ryan, Marie-Laure, University of Nebraska Press, 2004, p.366] The game won the Golden Joystick Award for Strategy Game of the Year in 1983 [CRASH (magazine) #4, p. 43 [] ] and was responsible for popularizing the phrase, "Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold." [Campbell, Stuart. [ "Top 100 Speccy Games"] . Your Sinclair Magazine, #72 DEC 1991 pp.28]

Sierra Entertainment published a platform game with action-RPG elements titled "The Hobbit" in 2003 for Windows PCs, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube. [Casamassina, Matt. [ "The Hobbit (review)"] on IGN (retrieved 18/03/2008)] A version, based on the same character design and story, but using a 2D isometric platform and using 3D characters which were pre-rendered using models from the console version, was also published for the Game Boy Advance. [Anon. [ "The Hobbit (review)"] on IGN (retrieved 18/03/2008)]


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