Peter’s Jackson’s first Hobbit film is a return to form: the lavish adventure that both Bilbo Baggins and audiences around the globe have been waiting for, and a good story to boot. In it we see the beginning of the journey of the hobbit Bilbo, the wizard Gandalf the Grey and a company of thirteen dwarves, as they start out on a journey to face the dragon Smaug.
Many of us wanted a recreation of the much-loved Lord of the Rings series, and the good news is that you’ll find many of the ingredients here that made the famous trilogy such a success. You want to see the remnants of a noble race facing down hordes of orcs? You want to see Gandalf imparting his tough wisdom, and steering the good guys through? You want great music, creepy moments in dark caverns, humour, and fantastic action? You want to see Gollom being Gollom? Apart from a tendency to rely too much on CGI this time around, it’s all there, and is as heroic and exciting as the previous films.
One theme that especially strikes me is the theme of treasure. All types of treasure turn up – legendary swords, gold that is buried, hoarded and obsessed over, and even a certain “precious” ring. The whole plot is triggered by the plundering of treasure by a fearsome dragon, shown in a fast-paced sequence where the beast decimates the human and dwarf homes before settling down to claim the dwarves’ gold for itself. This disaster is soon contrasted by a different sort of intrusion: Gandalf visiting the quiet home of Bilbo and inviting him on the quest to reclaim the lost land and riches of the dwarves. After the dwarves become plunderers too, of Bilbo’s precious larder of food, their journey gets underway.
Bilbo has to count the cost and decide if he is ready to turn his back on the familiar things of his hobbit-hole home of Bag End to become part of this group. Stepping out into a world full of trolls and goblins like this takes courage and resolve, and Gandalf’s belief in Bilbo is tested as they travel and face various foes, ranging from the humorous to the unhinged and deadly. Ultimately the hobbit shows compassion, empathising with the dwarves’ longing for home, resolving to stand with them, even though he has barely swung a sword before. In Bilbo we seen a person who, after some reluctance, is able to break away from old ways and find a new, more honourable path, a path of new experiences, friendships, and adventure. In a way, he finds a greater thing to treasure, far better and more valuable than just gold or the cosy security of his home and old way of life.
Although this is a work of fiction, some parts ring true for those of us who are not living in Middle Earth. The dangers of greed and obsession with wealth have been seen in rogue traders in our banks, and we all know we don’t want to become like a cannibalistic Gollom, feeding on others just to get what we want. We also see, as Bilbo does, that is wrong to live a narrow-minded life and ignore those in need, no matter how comfortable it might be! We recognise the need to treasure the most important things in life, above physical wealth – important relationships or friendships, for example – and we hope we would have the same loyalty and selflessness Bilbo shows.
None of this is easy and the pitfalls are many. It’s here that Jesus of Nazareth can help us. He once had something to say about treasure: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It’s true, isn’t it? Wherever we start storing up our treasure – that becomes the focus of our deep heart desires, our hopes and dreams. Jesus warns us of the trap of blind and endless consumerism, gathering things that will only ruin in time, and instead he wants our treasure to be found in his Father God above first and foremost. Indeed, this is the greatest most secure treasure you can have.
Bilbo as a hobbit is not used to living differently, but when he commits to a new path he finds a companionship and acceptance that allow him to enjoy all of life more. What Jesus offers with his words and with his life is similar – if we are willing to commit to him, he provides an acceptance with God that we could never have had before, and a extraordinary new kind of life to live, with him as our closest companion. After all, it was Jesus who knew what is was to give up the riches of glory of being in heaven to come here as a lowly, seemingly insignificant man and win a place in heaven for those who choose to be his friends.
Our thoughts on treasure in The Hobbit have led us to consider where the biggest treasure of all is to be found, which Jesus claims is in knowing his Father God in heaven. We may have to sacrifice some things of our lives or our way of living to start living with God as our treasure, but in the end we find the joy is more real and the experience of living with him is much more than you can imagine.
Bilbo: © Sidetracks http://www.flickr.com/photos/74290568@N04/6692027939/
Other images are © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (http://www.thehobbit.com, accessed on 20/12/2012)