I’m a purist when it comes to The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, which is to say that though I’ve read both of them myriad times I gave up on the films after watching The Fellowship of The Ring but once – which was quite enough thank you. It wasn’t bad, it just was not that great. Now twenty years after watching that film, I decided that it was time to experience The Hobbit in a different manner as an audiobook. I’ve read it so often that I figured I could very easily listen to it in the background as I puttered around the flat here.
I had heard very good things about this particular version of The Hobbit, which is narrated by Andy Serkis who of course did the motion capture and voice for Gollum in the film versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. It’s an interesting project to undertake. Now keep in mind that I never thought of The Hobbit as something that lends itself naturally to being told orally, as Tolkien intrinsically was an author who was deeply, passionately literary in nature. Whole academic schools have been been based off of his works. So how does an actor like Serkis take his written text and make it work as a spoken narrative?
Quite superbly, to my amazement. Now understand that it would be a understatement to say that I really, really do know every word, every turn of every phrase in The Hobbit (far better in fact than I know The Lord of The Rings) so the story isn’t the question here. It’s how Serkis narrates that story that’s the question. And how he does it is quite splendidly.
That Serkis is a more than merely a capable voice actor is on full display in the very first chapter when poor Bilbo is just hoping for quiet time with a pipe and of course something to eat and has no idea that Gandalf has marked his door, thereby inviting every dwarf to his hobbit hole to eat, drink and plot adventure.
He handles the multiple voices of Bilbo, the dwarves and Gandalf most excellently. Even their singing comes off as sounding if it could be true singing. Silly, raucous singing. By dwarves. Ha! The rest of The Hobbit is just as superby narrated by him with not a single complaint from me, as to the manner in which he does it – even his Smaug is deliciously evil.
Okay, we’re all confined by the Pandemic and looking for entertainment. So if you like to be rather nicely entertained on a cold winter’s day for quite some hours, I can most decidedly recommend Andy Serkis performing The Hobbit.
(Recorded Books, 2020)