Given the ability of cinema to ruin almost any book, it has always been comforting that a few books were considered unfilmable. Until recently, The Lord of the Rings was apparently one of those books. Two animated versions for children were produced in the late 1970s, but both were unsuccessful and ignored even by the legions of fanatics. In spite of the new trilogy's blockbuster potential, filmmakers forbore to make a Lord of the Rings movie for decades, until finally emboldened by recent technology.

Regardless of whether the upcoming Lord of the Rings turns out to be a cinematic milestone, the point is that there are probably some books, whether unfilmable or not, which should remain un-filmed. Even the inoffensive animated version of The Hobbit by Rankin/Bass, which was a lot easier to produce than the forthcoming live-action trilogy will be, illustrates why adapting popular books to movies is rarely successful. The storyline of The Hobbit (Bilbo Baggins goes on trip, finds ring, kills dragons, etc.) is not so powerful that it demands to be retold. And in spite of a good cast of voices and decent animation, the animated film adds nothing to the book. This is usually the case, because the best qualities of books are not the best qualities of movies.

Continue reading: The Hobbit Review