Hobbit featurette outlines the journey

New Line Cinema has posted a lengthy featurette depicting the world behind The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The Hobbit is the long-awaited prequel to the now-classic Lord of the Rings Trilogy from famed director Peter Jackson. The new set of films are based on the original novella by J.R.R. Tolkien, to which The Lord of the rings is technically a sequel, but lots of the information in the films comes from ‘the apendices’, a collection of documents Tolkien assembled after The Lord of the Rings was published, and which tie the two stories together more closely.

The films revisit a lot of the same locations and themes of the original trilogy, and even contain a lot of the same cast and crew – Elijah Wood’s Frodo, for example, returns via a narrative framing device.

This new featurette expands upon the wealth of information that we’ve already seen in the various other promotional videos. Some new footage (and some you’ve already seen) are mixed in with clips of interviews with various cast and crew, including director Peter Jackson, and all of the major stars of the film.

There are a lot of great insights here, but most of it is not surprising. It also indicates that Gandolf’s off-camera actions are going to be shown more-or-less in full, rather than just talked about. In The Hobbit, Gandalf disappears for about 90% of the book, with various missions and tasks not revealed to the reader (this is much of what’s detailed later in the appendices). However, in the films, Gandald’s whereabouts and actions will be revealed in full, which accounts for much of the extra length.

Originally intended to be two films, The Hobbit has been split into a trilogy all its own. The first movie is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which will cover the events of the book from Bilbo’s introduction to Gandalf in Bag End to Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum and The One Ring.

The official synopsis for the film is thus:

The Hobbit follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakensheild. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever… Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities… A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters Dec 14 , 2012. The follow up film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, follows on Dec 13, 2013. The third and final Hobbit film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again arrives on July 18, 2014.