By Jackson Braider
There may have been precious few women of any species in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, but there were absolutely none at all in the trilogy’s prequel, The Hobbit—not even in the form of a passing piece of skirt. But when filmmaker Peter Jackson decided to take a simple tale of a hobbit’s journey to there and back again and transform it into an epic work, he realized that he had to fatten up the narrative a bit. In Episode One, Jackson had done this by introducing (at great length) the antagonisms that separated elves, dwarves, and orcs.
In Episode Two, Jackson has decided to introduce a character wholly woven of fresh cloth, a female elf warrior named Tauriel (played by Evangeline Lilly), apparently skilled with the bow and arrow, who might do the dirty when her time comes.
Needless to say, Tolkien’s internet trolls have expressed great dismay at the director’s taking of such liberties. Perhaps there is reason for concern. As Lilly notes in a recent Entertainment Weekly interview, “She will definitely have a love story,” Lilly says. “I can’t give away too much about it. It’s not a huge focus but it is there and it is important and it does drive Tauriel and her story and her actions.”
One can only surmise—because none of this is coming from the Tolkien book as so many have read it—that some of this will turn on the unexpected appearance of Legolas (that would be the blue-eyed Orlando Bloom) in the story. Obviously, more back stories may unfold: the lowly status of “wood elves” in comparison with the more lordly types from Rivendell, for example.
Whatever, as the young people say. Fans of the original book may have blanched at how Jackson took a child-friendly novel and started morphing it into an epic, but viewers who experienced The Lord of the Rings first in the motion picture palace had no problem with the first installment of The Hobbit.
And no wonder: their expectations had been built upon the nine-hour cinematic unfolding of the Ring myth. Given the importance and substance of what was to come in its aftermath, The Hobbit prequel would obviously have both to man-up and woman-out to satisfy the epic trilogy’s core audience.