Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia

The Hobbit: A Beautiful Story for Christmas

January 1st, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has garnered all sorts of reviews, yet amid the discussions of plot and the general techno-babble, perhaps one thing has been missed. What struck me the most about the film was the way it captured Tolkien’s meaning behind the idea of a “Hobbit.”  The character and adventures of Bilbo Baggins demonstrate the importance of ordinary common folk , as well as the idea that heroes are found in the most unexpected places.

As a Baggins, Bilbo can not imagine sacrificing the comforts of home for a life of danger, but Gandalf knows that Took blood flows in Bilbo’s veins and believes he will be an invaluable member of the company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield, who are headed east to reconquer a lost kingdom of gold and defeat the dragon who hoards it.

Obviously, in many ways Bilbo is not the ideal pick for a quest to kill a monster and save a kingdom.  He wants to return home for his handkerchief, he has no experience using a weapon, and the thought of death makes him faint–literally. Bilbo’s inadequacies cause his companions to doubt him, and at one point Bilbo almost leaves because he feels he is a useless part of the baggage.  However, it is Bilbo who uses his wit to save the dwarves from being eaten by trolls, and at the very end of the movie, it is Bilbo who rushes into battle to save Thorin from being killed by his arch-rival Azog. 

One moment of dialogue that depicts this concept happens when Gandalf and Galadriel are discussing the fate of the company. Galadriel asks the wizard, “Why the Halfling?”  Gandalf responds:

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid… He gives me courage.”

The Hobbit’s portrayal of the unexpected importance of ordinary folk reminded me of I Corinthians 1:27-29.

“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.”

The Bible is littered with examples of God using the most unexpected people to accomplish great things.  He delivered his people from the greatest ruler in the world with someone who had spent 40 years as a shepherd.  He used another overlooked shepherd boy to defeat a blasphemous giant and become the greatest King of Israel.  Jesus’s handpicked disciples were a collection of uneducated fishermen.  The greatest apostle was someone who once was infamous for stoning and imprisoning Christians.  Just as Gandalf chose Bilbo as the fourteenth member of the company and asked Thorin to trust that he would prove himself invaluable, so God regularly uses people to do great things–people no one on earth would think to pick.

This is the great confidence we have as Christians, that God in His mercy does not use us and bless us because of who we are, but He chooses the low, weak, and despised of the world.

In this way The Hobbit points us back to the Great Story–the ultimate story of an unexpected and seemingly ordinary person accomplishing great things.  The story of a Child conceived by a young unmarried mother, born in the earthiness of a donkey stable, and whose first cradle was the trough from which the donkeys fed.  The only other humans who cared about the birth of this child were shepherds, the outcast of society.  His adopted father was a working-class carpenter or stonemason.  Somehow, from these humble beginnings, the Savior of the world was born–a man who would transform the future of the world.  It is the birth of this Child that we celebrate at Christmas.  As the bumblings of the unexpected adventurer Bilbo Baggins show how the ordinary and unexpected are used to accomplish great things, they point us back to the incredible humble story of Christmas.

Les Miserables Soundtrack Review

December 22nd, 2012

The following is my brother, Austin’s quick review of the Les Misérables Soundtrack. Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, and Anne Hathway are heading up an incredible cast of what looks to be a very well done musical of a story that is very relevant to our current situation.  Hope you enjoy the movie in a couple days, and this sneak peak.

Here is my review after hearing all the clips:
Track 1: I prefer the 25th anniversary version of Look Down.  For the films version, the chanting of ‘look down’ was too fast. I prefered the opening of the 25th version, with the slower mournful chanting. That version brought the imagery of a slave work party to my mind, without fully knowing the story.
Track 2: The singer for ‘The Bishop’ played Valjean in one of the original productions. This movie has a great voice cast and respects previous productions
Track 5: Anne Hathaway gives the best ever rendition of ‘I dreamed a Dream’
Track 6: ‘The Confrontation’ Overall Russell Crowe’s voice isn’t as good as Hugh Jackman’s. But, it is an argument set to music, so maybe not the easiest thing to make into a song.
Track 7: The child actress, Isabelle Allen, is amazing in ‘Castle on a Cloud’. One of the top tracks on the album.
Track 8: The funny thing about ‘Master of the House’ is that it seems like Sacha Baron Cohen is the only person to put on a French accent for the movie.
Track 9: This new song fits in well with all the old songs. I think it may be Hugh Jackman’s best song. He definitely has a great voice and will make Valjean a more emotional character.
Track 13: We already know that Samantha Banks can sing from previous productions of Les Miserables. I think she puts more emotion into ‘On My Own’ than the 25th anniversary.
Track 15: I don’t remember hearing ‘Drink with Me’ in other productions before. But, this is a very fun song with Eddie Redmayne and other members of the rebels.
Track 18: ‘Javert’s Suicide’ (SPOILERS I think we know what happens in this song). Russell Crowe is one of my favorite actors, but I think he talks with music, instead of sings.
Track 19: I may cry during the movie during ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.’ Once again Eddie Redmayne shines. I think he is the best of the three major male singers. Great job Jack Jackson.

In case you haven’t guessed, I can’t wait for this movie.

Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia