We’ve had comic books, movies, cartoons and audio dramas. Many have made an attempt on Middle Earth and yet from the BBC to a kiwi there is one thing that they all share,the lack of Tom Bombadil……………….
The question is why, typically only asked by weird Tolkien fanatics with a little too much time on their hands. See due to not making it in any other medium save the original book, Tom holds a weird place in fan culture that not even Norbert the dragon has. Well at least until I find a cute little Tom Bombadil cuddly toy. (Feel free to post links to those for me).
So why then has everyone skipped that part of the trilogy in their telling? Well for one it’s a repeat.
Our tale begins with an adventurer leaving Hobbiton for possibly the first and last time on an epic quest. However he isn’t far down the road when he and his travelling compaions find trouble. Not connected to the big bad of the book but big and bad enough as is and rather hungry. However due to some quick thinking from the infinitely wise, old man they manage to best the beast and live to fight another day. For their trouble they gain some ancient swords. Now which one was I talking about ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings’?
The second problem is that not only is it a ‘Die Hard’ situation as in same shit happening to the same Hobbit twice but just like Die Hard it’s getting worse each time it comes around. We’ve replaced the Trolls with a stationary tree, a member of the party we know with a random stranger who just happens to be passing by and some lore and knowledge with a made up nursery rhyme.
The next problem is that we need to know of the trolls because we need to know of Sting and to a slightly lesser extent the other two swords too. What we don’t need to know of is the blades from the barrow wights. As Frodo will swap out his for Sting in a few chapters and the rest upgrade once they hit Lothlorien anyway.
However the most important reason for cutting Tom would be he sucks all the drama out of the scene. The one ring is one of the most potentially dangerous things in all middle earth. Gandalf won’t touch it and Galadriel sees it as a test. However before we have built up said drama the first vagabond we meet on the road has picked it up, looked it over and come away decidedly unimpressed calling it some little trinket not worth his time. Had this come later we might have realised the significance of Tom but as early as he is we just make a note that everybody could be really over selling this magic ring to us.
See Tom is world building pure and simple, for there is many a talk of him as an elder god far beyond even the white council and once you sit through the council of Elrond you may “know” this but you still won’t take the ring as such a threat any more. After all this was just the first detour they took and he dismissed the ring as a trinket so who else in middle earth will pass over the ring. Are indeed the Elves just a tad over dramatic and the wizards just not wanting to get caught playing with their brothers toys?
Compare this to Faramir who also passed on the ring of power. By this point in the tale we had built it up so that we could measure his character by his turning it down. Tom just leaves us a little unsure how much weight we should put in this
mission quest thing.
But what do I know, maybe they were going to have him all along but something just came up………