A Disappointing Adaptation
Published in 1988 by Bantam Audio Publishing
Performed by a full cast
Duration: 3 hours, 42 minutes
Abridged and edited for the radio drama format.
Way back in 1968, the BBC created a radio play version of The Hobbit to air in eight 30 minute segments with a full cast, original music and special effects. Due to a dispute between the Tolkien estate and the BBC the original tapes were to have been destroyed. But, the issues were resolved, copies resurfaced and since the late 1980s the BBC has re-issued this version of The Hobbit in various formats. I listened to a 1988 audio cassette version.
|J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)|
However, this audio version has some serious troubles.
First, the positives. The narrator (a character created for this abridgment of the story) is quite good and I rather enjoyed the interaction between the narrator and Bilbo. It reminded me of someone telling a story around a campfire and another person coming in and clarifying a point from time to time as the story was being told.
But, there are problems. The dwarves tended to blend together and sounded like a rowdy, whiny frat party most of the time with a lot of hooting, grunting and complaining. But, with 13 dwarves it would have been very difficult to do much with them anyway, except to cut down on the extra noise of having all or most of them speak at the same time in scene after scene. On top of that, the names are pronounced differently in this version than I have ever heard them. Gandalf is pronounced with the emphasis on the last syllable and sometimes sounds like gand-ELF. Gollum is pronounced Gul-loom.
But, that would have all been understandable and forgivable if that were the worst of the problems. The special effects are horrid. Sometimes they are too loud so that they dominate the scene (as in when they are carried by the giant eagles) and other times they are pathetic. For instance, in the scene with the wargs there is no attempt made to make the wargs sound wolf-like. Instead, the actors are all baying, "Woooo-ooooo-ooo!" at the microphone. Throw in the horrid voices of the thrush and the eagles and scenes that are meant to be a treat becomes something that must be endured. This adaptation was made on the cheap and it shows, especially when compared to the high quality work done by companies like GraphicAudio nowadays.
I rate this audiobook 2 stars out of 5.
This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: The Hobbit.
Reviewed on September 22, 2012.