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'The Hobbit' trailer: 5 signs that Peter Jackson is back to his best

'The Hobbit' trailer is a testament to the best qualities of director Peter Jackson's filmmaking, from weaving together various J.R.R. Tolkien tales to the signature look of the film. 

By Staff writer / December 22, 2011

A screen shot from 'The Hobbit' trailer showing Gandalf and Galadriel in Rivendell.

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The "Hobbit" trailer appears to have met some key objectives: getting fans buzzing, dangling some juicy details from the film, and leaving viewers anxiously in the dark about some other big questions.

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In short, the suspense and anticipation has grown. Director Peter Jackson has struck again.

Mr. Jackson released the trailer for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" on Wednesday. The film is scheduled for release a year from now, to be followed a year later by a concluding installment, "The Hobbit: There and Back Again."

In teasing the movie, the trailer is also a reminder of the artistry that Jackson (aided by a horde of other on- and off-screen talents) used to thrill millions of moviegoers when he released three other films drawn from the pages of J.R.R. Tolkien – the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Not everyone loves fantasy movies. And even Tolkien fans don't all love every decision Jackson is making about "The Hobbit." But the director has undeniably honed his storytelling craft in this genre.

A few examples:

Dwarves. In Tolkien's world, these aren't just little humans, and the trailer delivers a glimpse of the 13 dwarves on a quest to reclaim their former homeland (with help from Bilbo Baggins – the hobbit of the title – and the wizard Gandalf). 

In the trailer, the dwarves look satisfyingly distinctive as a species, and suitably individual as well – drawing on the portraits given by Tolkien himself. Fili ("he has 'mischief-maker' written all over his face," comments the website theonering.net), the older Balin with a white beard, and leader Thorin Oakenshield are among those making appearances.  

Their music. The cohesive binding of the trailer is a song vocalized by the dwarves when they meet Bilbo in his home near the start of the story. "Far over misty mountains cold, / To dungeons deep and caverns old...." they begin.

Fans have done their own vocalizing, saying the song gives them goosebumps. Twitter user Rachel Stark posts: "So, so, SO excited about The Hobbit trailer! Thorin singing gives me chills...this seems so much darker than expected."

Note, though, that Jackson's artistry here includes the exercise of cinematic license. Tolkien wrote of the dwarves hauling out flutes, fiddles, and (for Thorin) a harp for accompaniment. We don't distinctly see or hear those instruments in the trailer.

And as the "darker than expected" comment suggests, Jackson reveals a vision for the film that blends elements of humor and lightness into a Middle Earth that encompasses the darker themes explored in "The Lord of the Rings."

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