FCC 01: Finding Christ in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Join us as we journey to Middle-earth and seek out some of the Christian themes in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

The Desolation of Smaug: Great (if you haven’t read the book)!

Yes, we both enjoyed this second installment in Jackson’s trilogy – even if it didn’t follow the letter of the 1937 novel.

Michael, being the more developed Tolkienist of the two hosts, said that he would have enjoyed it more if he hadn’t read the book.

On the other hand, Brenden – having only read the book as required in 9th grade English class – was lost in the flux of the beautiful cinematography, the driving musical score, and the story of hope it offers.

Of course, we both geeked out over the motion-capture Smaug.

desolation of smaug

…with a face only a mother could love.

Thorin Oakenshield: Where’s the Love?

No one can deny Thorin’s determination to return to the Lonely Mountain, but is he is too callous and apathetic for his own good?

For example, he leaves the dying Kili behind in Lake Town. Why? Because he “will not risk this quest for the life of one dwarf.”

He has this same cold reaction when he and the troop are waiting by the secret entrance while Bilbo is facing Smaug alone inside the mountain. He almost repeats himself: “I will not risk this quest for the life of one burglar.”

thorin, desolation of smaug

A little cold shoulder from a little king.

But Balin rebukes Thorin by reminding him of Bilbo’s name and thus reminding him of the familiarity Bilbo has earned in the company.

This calls to mind Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13: 1-3)

Not to add to the Word or anything, but Paul might as well say, “If I lead my family back to the Kingdom under the Mountain, but have not love, I’m better off homeless.”

Bilbo Baggins: Christ-Figure or Something More?

Bilbo as Christ-figure? Perhaps. He did leave the comfort of the Shire to help others get back to their home, and he faces Smaug (the Dragon, the Adversary, and dare we say, the Satan).

But isn’t his involvement in the narrative reminiscent of another passage from 1 Corinthians?

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)

bilbo, desolation of smaug

Get it? “Weak to shame the strong”?

Michael thinks that Bilbo, more than anything else, embodies the Christian virtue of loving one’s neighbors – including those we don’t get along with.

Because let’s face it: the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin is often on edge, like a love-hate thing. But Bilbo insists on seeing this journey through the end. Jesus confirmed this in the Sermon on the Mount:

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matt. 5:41)

But we just call it the “extra mile” and one more way to love one’s enemies as we’ve been commanded to.

Question: Legolas and Tauriel

Why do these characters make the choice to leave Mirkwood and help the dwarves? Are their reasons different? Why or why not? What can Christians take from these choices?

Let us know in the comments.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is a graduate student pursuing his Master in Theatre Arts degree with Regent University. He is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. You can find him live-tweeting his favorite movies on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever or posting poetry and unsolicited opinions at thebookofbrenden.com
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