Friday, April 03, 2015

MEMM - Day 23 - The Hobbit character you understand the least

That would be Gandalf. 

I don’t get Gandalf in the Hobbit movies.  Gandalf seems such a meddler in this trilogy.  I mean what is he thinking?  There’s a dragon sleeping in Erebor that needs to be taken care of ere it joins the growing forces of darkness.  Let’s send thirteen dwarves and select a poor hobbit who’s happily minding his own business and send them in to face it.  Sure Thorin is rightful King under the Mountain, so maybe we can kill two birds with one stone and reclaim the arkenstone and reunite the dwarf kingdoms at the same time we dispose of the dragon -- but dude... what if they fail and all you do is feed him and his company to a psychotic dragon who would then be awake and ready to terrorize more than just Lake-town?  And Gandalf also knows full well what happened to Thror, and he knows Thorin’s going to be in trouble with dragon sickness, but he just sort of keeps ignoring that, even when people like Elrond keep reminding him of it.

Really, Gandalf is like his own self-fulfilling prophecy.  "I suspect we're going to have trouble with the dragon, let's go do something about it, oh, look, we not only have trouble with the dragon, but now we've got orc armies and Sauron to deal with."  He propels events into action, forces the orcs to attack Thorin's company, forces Sauron to appear.  He fails to meet the dwarves so they end up facing the dragon alone and Lake-town gets toasted.  He’s quite meddlesome and bossy in this trilogy, and it seems everyone survives the last movie's events despite him, not because of him. 

I do not have these issues with Gandalf in LotR.  He is neither bossy nor meddlesome there.  He’s very protective of everyone and Middle-Earth itself (though he still fails to show up when needed... bad habit of his).  But in Hobbit??   Gandalf is very fishy in the Hobbit.

Where in LotR, he answers everyone's questions honestly even when they won't like the answer:  "I would not take the road to Moria unless I had no other choice."  And he lets others make decisions: "Let the ringbearer decide" -- which includes a healthy measure of Frodo trust right there. In Hobbit, on the other hand, he is secretive, he flat-out ignores Thorin's questions if he knows Thorin won't like the answer, and Bilbo isn't given nearly the trust that Frodo is.  It's quite a different Gandalf!  I like to think he simply learned his lessons from his time with Thorin's Company , and when it's time to guide Frodo and the Fellowship, he has a much better understanding of how to deal with Hobbits and quests in general.  Because that makes sense to me.

He also has the creepiest last line to Bilbo.  Granted, Bilbo has outright lied to him for the first time, but still.

“You’re a very fine person, Mr. Baggins.  And I’m very fond of you.  But you are only quite a little fellow, in a wide world, after all.”  

And the way his smile vanishes the minute Bilbo turns his back.  Gahhhh!  My sister and I looked at each other after that moment, and both of us shivered.  Thank goodness we get back to Hobbiton and end with old Bilbo and a much less intimidating Gandalf, or I would have been permanently wigged out by our dear wizard.  That parting of Bilbo and Gandalf in the woods at the Shire border at the end of The Battle of the Five Armies remains the part of all six movies that creeps me out the most.  Never get on a wizard's bad side!


  1. Hee, when I first saw this pop up on my dashboard as your answer, I was thinking, "Whaaaat", but then I read the post…and I actually get what you mean here. Come to think of it, he IS pretty meddlesome in TH. Not in LotR, of course -- one does not simply not LOVE Gandalf in LotR -- but in TH, you're right…there's something a bit fishy going on, here. (Plus, his weird almost-trying-to-become-a-thing-with-Galadriel in TH was like, NO.)

    Oh, and yes, that part at the end when his smile faded. I was thinking, "Um. What." Where's Bilbo's cheerful reply, "Yes, and thank goodness"?! Where's the two of them going into Bag End for tea?! Urgh!!!

    1. Whenever we watch any of the Hobbit films, my sister and I will learn towards each other and whisper, "Fishy!" whenever Gandalf does something questionable. My nephew is always asking, "why do you keep saying that??" It's very funny.

  2. I always thought that his smile disappearing at the end meant he was WAY more worried about Bilbo and his ring than he wanted Bilbo to know. If Bilbo knew it was important, it would have more of an effect on him, I think, so Gandalf wanted to warn him not to start thinking he's invincible, and not to use the ring lightly, but not freak him totally out. I don't find it creepy at all, I find it sweet and caring.

    The rest of your post, though, I agree with. He's so meddlesome. Likes to stir things up and see what happens.

    1. Oh, I would agree that he's secretly worried about Bilbo and his ring during that scene. But that makes what he says to Bilbo and how he says it (with that fake cheer) no less creepy a moment for me. Gandalf's far too cryptic right there for me to feel any sense of caring from him, even if he is. (My reaction rather matches Bilbo's confused expression there, that sort of what the? did I miss something? look.) Just our different life experiences informing how we react to that moment!