This GIF is taken from a “making of” video from the latest Hobitt movie, with the voice over “I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and needed a plan.”
Gee, you think?
The video, which I’ve embedded below, shows Hobbitt director Peter Jackson and many of his production team speaking earnestly (oh, so earnestly) about why, in essance, The Hobbitt movies were no good. I don’t know if they were any good, honestly, as I bowed out after the first one. Word of mouth and a completely unnecessary 45 minutes with the elves in the first movie kept me away. But with this video, it might be time to reconsider the artist, if not the movies themselves. I have no interest in watching them and doubt I ever will.
Peter Jackson used to be in the Pantheon. He used to be one of the great for three really important reasons.
- Bad Taste/Dead Alive – Whatever you want to call it neither you nor I nor anyone else has ever seen a horror movie with such glee in the gross, such joy in the guts, as Peter Jackson’s breakthrough “Dead Alive”. Even if it’s too gross for you, which is absolutely possible, you cannot deny that movie is like watching a 6-year-old boy who just learned the lyrics to “Great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts” and shouts them at his Dad’s office Christmas party. The absolute revelry and imagination and craft on display makes the movie an instant midnight classic and one I revisit every few years.
- Lord of the Rings – Not just a series of films, but an chievement, “Lord of the Rings” changed the game. It holds up and the less I say about it the better. You know “Lord of the Rings”.
- He’s One of Us – Of course, that’s not really true. Fans aren’t filmmakers with landmark cinematic achievements under their belt, but Jackson always seemed like he started where we started, by falling in love with genre films. Like Guillermor Del Toro or Rian Johnson, it’s always great when someone who started as a fan became a creator.
But by the looks of this video, this Pantheon level director got swallowed, whole, by a system that demanded movies to fill release dates. That’s no way to do art but it’s also no way to do business, especially when your blockbuster franchise starts a year and a half behind.
Of course, “laying track just in front of the train” can produce masterpieces (without deadlines, I’d get very little accomplished). But when you’re writing, that’s one thing. When you’re a $400 million film with Oscar winners and a small village making armor and everything else, you have to plan this out. It just doesn’t happen.
The moral of the story is Peter Jackson may have laid a couple of turdburgers but it might not have been his fault but the fault of the system that needs blockbusters for their quarterly earnings reports. And the take away is I’ll pay attention to what the dude does next, even if it does say “From the Director of the Hobitt”.
Here’s the video.