In the end of July, Peter Jackson announced that The Hobbit would be split into three films. The decision was cause for concern, particularly among those who had a hard time picturing how a relatively short book would be coaxed into three separate films. (Would the story be sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread?) In contrast to Jackson’s conscientious objectors, my two-part reaction was quite mild (and perhaps standard): 1. I assumed there was profit motive behind the decision; and 2. I didn’t care because I would be able to see more exciting movies. To explain my bland response, I’ll confess that I’m not a Tolkien purist or super fan. I’ve read The Hobbit twice, read the Lord of the Rings books twice, and seen the movies several times. I couldn’t, however, finish wading through The Silmarillion. I’m sorry.
In addition to being excited to have a babysitter-worthy media event for the next three Decembers, the marathoner in me was also enthused about the prospect of another high-quality trilogy in The Hobbit. A quick look at our list of commonly marathoned films reveals the presence of many trilogies: Back to the Future, Godfather, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars (really two trilogies–three “originals” and three “newbies”), and Toy Story. Although some viewers may wish the filmmakers quit while they were ahead (ahem, Godfather III), there is something in us that responds well to threes. I began thinking about the value behind this rule of three. Many of our character groups come in threes: Harry, Hermione, and Ron; the three Peverell Brothers of the Deathly Hallows; Luke, Leia, and Han; Bella, Jacob, and Edward; the three Corleone brothers. These combinations enable interesting group dynamics, including love triangles and intense fights that leave the odd person out. The group of three also gives us a few backups in case characters get whacked.
But the main thing I have concluded about the value of threes is that stories (good stories) need a clear beginning, middle, and end. A trilogy assures us that we will receive these three pieces, and we can walk away with a stronger sense of closure. Plus, we have ready-made meal breaks to help us maintain our marathoning energy.
- Film one
- Film two
- Film three
- Go to sleep with a big sense of accomplishment