'The Hobbit' movie trailer: what it tells us, what it leaves a mystery (VIDEO)

'The Hobbit' movie trailer is out, and it answers some questions while leaving others unclear. Did we just see Dol Guldur? Probably. What will Smaug look like? No idea.
This screen cap from 'The Hobbit' movie trailer shows what could be Dol Guldur, Sauron's lair in Mirkwood.

For a video clip that's only about 153 seconds long, it's sure getting lots of attention. And for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien or Peter Jackson – well, it should.

The movie trailer (see below) for the long-awaited movie about an unexpected journey arrived Wednesday. And it reveals a lot for those fans to chew over, tantalizing footage from a film that's still a year away from arrival in movie theaters.

For now, here's a discussion of three of the more interesting bits.

1. How non-"Hobbit" material fits in

Mr. Jackson and the team behind the movie seized the opportunity to stretch a single book by Mr. Tolkien into two cinematic parts. In doing so, the director is bringing in some material that was outside Tolkien's book, but is a part of the broader Tolkien canon – appendices and other works that explain what was going on in other parts of Middle Earth during the events of "The Hobbit."

But it has been a mystery as to how he would accomplish this. The trailer provides clues. 

For one, a key character seen in the trailer is the elf Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), who figured prominently the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but isn't in Tolkien's "Hobbit" book at all. Her presence in the film points to the inclusion of the so-called White Council and its battle of good versus evil.

In the book, the wizard Gandalf disappears to participate in those events. Now we'll get to see what happened. Or at least Jackson's rendition of it.

The trailer might also have given viewers their first glimpse of Dol Guldur, the hiding place of the spirit of Sauron before he returns to rebuild Barad-dûr in Mordor in "The Lord of the Rings."

2. The song

The trailer is visually rich but also lets listeners hear a key soundtrack element: A plaintive song the dwarves sing as they prepare for their eastward march through the Misty Mountains to reclaim their heritage.

Did the movie makers pick the right tune?

The answer may lie in the ear of each listener, but it seems suitably dignified, mysterious, and wistful. The somber mood as the dwarves sing also may hint that Jackson is playing this movie very much as a prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" rather than just a children's tale of dragons and treasure and magic.

3. Fully drawn characters

We get a good look at the "new" (younger) Bilbo Baggins of "The Hobbit," played by Martin Freeman. We also see the team of dwarves whom Bilbo will join, thanks to Gandalf's maneuvering.

Many viewers of the trailer are pleased by the appearances. But the trailer raises questions.

Does the leader of the party, Thorin Oakenshield, look too man-like? Maybe it's just that the trailer focuses on him in the saddle, with an upward-looking shot that makes
him appear tall.

We hear some of the expected banter between Gandalf and Bilbo: "You will have a tale or two to tell when you come back," Gandalf promises with characteristic understatement.

"You will promise that I will come back?," Bilbo asks.


Along with what we do learn is what we don't. This movie trailer is about part one of "The Hobbit," and while it may offer a glimpse of trolls and the dwarves, viewers won't get any teasing looks at story elements like eagles, barrels, or the highly anticipated Smaug the dragon.

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