Lost Works Come to Life
The existence and full text of this 1960 rewrite were only relatively recently revealed at large in 2007’s The History of The Hobbit. Before that, the only time it surfaced was when Christopher Tolkien (the author’s son and editor of most of his posthumous works) recited passages at the 1987 Marquette Tolkien Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Even though the text of The Hobbit was spared wider revisions that would tie it closer to LOTR, Tolkien’s work didn’t go to waste.
Filmmaker Peter Jackson set to work on a film adaptation of The Hobbit many years after his blockbuster trilogy based on LOTR. Just like Tolkien, he sought to connect the two stories more firmly than what was laid out in The Hobbit novel alone.
“We looked beyond the pages of the novel [The Hobbit] and into Tolkien’s Appendices to The Lord of the Rings, which tell of events leading up to and following those narrated in The Hobbit. Using this material has helped us take the story into Tolkien’s broader mythology”Peter Jackson to Brian Sibley. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Official Movie Guide. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. (via Mythlore 2014)
The opening to the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, features a flashback in which Gandalf confronts Thorin in Bree to convince him to reclaim his legacy and help push back a darkness creeping across Middle-earth in the process. This is a direct adaptation of “The Quest of Erebor.” Thorin—and the films overall for that matter—feature the more dark and serious tone from the 1960 revised text.
Jackson also heavily references the history of the dwarves from “Durin’s Folk,” an Appendix entry included in The Return of the King. Unlike the other two wider sources used in The Hobbit movie trilogy, this has been accessible to fans since the initial publication of the LOTR finale. This tells of the long-running war between the dwarves and orcs, details the tragic story of Thorin’s father and grandfather, and sets up an antagonist in Azog the Defiler.