March 29
Over the years I've discovered that inspiration is very much like being struck by lightning. The wonderful thing ... is that it strikes again, and again, and again.


JULY 21, 2009 10:29AM

I Am Smaug

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I am a small child in a man’s body.  I thrill to the adventures of Jedi Knights; I feel as if I have walked the very halls of Hogwarts; I watch Star Trek reruns in all of its incantations including Deep Space Nine and Enterprise; and I suffered through every step that Frodo took.  The child delights in the special effects made feasible by today’s technology. 

The adult in me, however, has a whole new set of heroes.  My list of heroes began with Steven Spielberg who terrorized me with Jaws in 1975, and thrilled me with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 1982 and then completely convinced me that dinosaurs still walked the earth with Jurassic Park in 1993.   George Lucas, of course, will forever be my personal champion as the producer and director of the Star Wars galaxy.  Then again, I could not imagine a list without James Cameron who gave us Titanic. 

Steven Spielberg

I will also admit that I am not solely smitten by mega-budget science fiction or fantasy, so I give a sincere nod to Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Ridley Scott (Gladiator), Oliver Stone (Platoon), John Woo, Ron Howard, Spike Lee, Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, and a host of others.  

But my hero is Peter Jackson.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was simply incredible.  King Kong was unbelievable.   Peter Jackson is without question my hero of heroes.

Peter Jackson 

So this evening when I watched the first television commercial advertising District 9 by Peter Jackson, my heart rate sped up.  District 9 (pictured below) looks like it will indeed be worthy of Jackson and I will have to go and see it.   I then immediately began to consider, what else is on tap for Mr. Jackson?  That's when I remembered his plans for The Hobbit in two parts… due in 2011.  


The Hobbit was a great book to read and the animated movie was wonderful.  Unfortunately, I could not imagine it reaching the epic proportions of LOTR… until I remembered Smaug.  Smaug was the dragon that made all other dragons laughable for me.   I’d seen dragons from Disney as a child, but they were entirely forgettable, like Pete’s Dragon.  Many of the dragons from films throughout the years were deliberately cuddly and cute… like Faelcore from The Neverending Story and Mushu from Mulan.

I would be foolish to not acknowledge the really good dragon movies in recent memory.  Movies like Dragonheart, starring Sir. Sean Connery as the voice of Draco; and Reign of Fire with an insane Matthew McConaughey and a scruffy Christian Bale, where the Earth has literally been scorched by the dominion of the dragons.  Dragonslayer (jointly produced by Disney and Paramount) is generally acknowledged by many as the gold standard, but I thought that Eragon with Jeremy Irons and Djimon Hounsou was a better movie and I can’t wait to see the sequel.  

Regardless of all of that, the dragon that left the most lasting impression on me from childhood was Smaug from the animated version of The Hobbit.   Smaug didn’t play.   Smaug had Richard Boone’s cool voice from Paladin... and those eyes that could see in the dark.  Smaug was awesome.   "I ... Am... SMAUG"  Oh, he was so cool. 

Now my understanding is that Peter Jackson will produce The Hobbit, and turn the directorial chores over to Guillermo Del Toro (Blade II, Hellboy, and Pans Labyrinth) which in my mind does not qualify him to take on The Hobbit.  Fortunately I am confident that Peter Jackson will make this happen.  

Now... can you imagine what Peter Jackson will do with Smaug?    Oh baby.             

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I'm excited for both District 9 AND the upcoming Hobbit films. However, don't be so quick to dismiss Del Toro as a director. His previous work shows that he has a keen eye for the fantasy setting, and I think Pan Labyrinth shows what he can do with a tale like The Hobbit. Remember: before he did Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson's only claim to fame was "Director of that movie where Kate Winslet goes crazy - 'Heavenly Creatures'".

Now, I adored Heavenly Creatures, but nothing in that work (or his other films) suggested Peter Jackson had something like LotR in him.
You have no idea how much I hope you're right. Beside, I am sure the collaboration will work. There's simply too much money at stake. Thanks for commenting.
When I was transferred to Germany in 1973, there was long periods where there was nothing to do. So all the soldiers traded their comics, magazines and books around, sharing all.That when I first read the "Hobbit". I was hooked!! After reading the other three, I could never imagine a live movie, must less an animated movie could be made. When Orson Bean, the voice of the Hobbit, had this made, I thought this is the best it would get. But, now I hear "The Hobbit" is now being made. Fantastic!! Those four books got me through 16 months in Germany. I've read them 4 more times in the last 30 years, and they never fail to keep me engrossed. I have the collection of the other three movies, which could not have been done any better. Great Post!!
Harp- Agreed on every point. I too am eagerly awaiting Jackson's, The Hobbit. I first read J.R.R. Tolkien in the early '60s and hoped that someday Bilbo and Frodo, et al would be brought vividly to life on screen. Long wait, but not a smidge of disappointment.

Smaug did curl one's hair. My scariest dragon? Malificent, near the end of Disney's Sleeping Beauty...check her out:


Like Mothership, The Hobbit was a staple of my late childhood, and again in my early adulthood. You've made some of my favorite choices.

I watched the District 9 trailer


And it's soooooo interesting.
I would love to volunteer my house for the Hobbit movie...it's what I call it, My Hobbit House!

Great insight to you Harp!
Scanner … Yes. These were books that we read and animation that we watched so long ago, that it might as well have been another life time. To have the technology catch up with our imaginations is even better than Star Wars, because I never dreamed about such places as a child. But I could “see” Tolkien’s world in my mind’s eye from reading his books. Now to see it on the big screen … is nothing short of miraculous and intensely personal. Thanks guy.

Mothership….. I followed the link that you provided. Wonderful… and thank you. Seeing the Sleeping Beauty dragon again was a walk down Memory Lane. I did think about it, but I don’t ever remember being particularly frightened by it as a child. Seeing it again now, I can see that the Wicked Witch (or the Evil Queen… or whoever she was) was actually more frightening than the dragon it morphed into. Once it became a dragon all it did was roar and breathe fire. It also died pretty easily, victim of a soft underbelly. Smaug had character and personality. Nevertheless I am still sorely tempted to update this post and add the Sleeping Beauty video that you found, just because it belongs in here. This is great. Thanks hon.

Zuma… It didn’t even occur to me to include a video from District 9 because I thought it would take the post too far off point, so I am glad you provided it. It looks like it will be amazing. I can’t wait. This all brings up so many new and additional thoughts to be discussed… but that will have to be saved for my next post. Thanks lady.
Buffy… We must have been hitting the enter key at the same time. I’d love to see the Hobbit House. Such things keep us young and alive. Such things keep the aches and pains away. Good for you.
Yeah - the Hobbit - some of the best reading there is . . . looking forward to seeing how they adapt it, and hoping for the best.