Has Peter Jackson Mastered the Art of the Trilogy?

Second episodes like "Smaug" are for having fun, says the director

Peter Jackson never expected to be an expert on trilogies, but now, having two under his belt, he believes he has the three-parter thing down cold.

“The first movie is generally the setting up and the getting on the road, and getting to know the characters,” he says. “The third one is is obviously the climactic episode where you can really just go crazy. The middle, in a way, has the least pressure on it, because you’re not having to kick the whole thing off, but nor are you having to wrap it up. So you can just sort of have fun with it.”

That’s the spirit he and his crew took into both “The Two Towers” and “The Desolation of Smaug,” says the director of the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” franchises.

Early reviews agree that “Smaug” is more fun than “An Unexpected Journey,” and that the pic also raises the storytelling stakes. The script grafts J.R.R. Tolkien’s story “The Quest of Erebor” onto “The Hobbit,” making this trilogy a full-on prequel to “Lord of the Rings,” complete with an appearance by uber-baddie Sauron.

While “The Hobbit” pictures are a return to the Middle-Earth milieu Jackson explored in epic fashion in “The Lord of the Rings,” filmmaking tools have evolved quite a bit since those earlier movies were in production. The helmer used a virtual camera to shoot much of “The Desolation of Smaug’s” third act.

Popular on Variety

“I was inside the film,” Jackson says. “Literally, I’d entered the movie as a camera operator. It let me walk in amongst (the action) with this camera with the lens I wanted. I’d be able to move as fast as I wanted, crane up and down, be handheld. I was able to shoot almost like a combat photographer inside the mayhem in that last act.”

Asked how the final installment of “Hobbit,” in 2014, can top this one, the director belly laughs, “I have no idea,” he says.

But on further reflection, he adds: “The thing I’d say with the last episode, as it was with ‘Return of the King’ — it has a lot more emotional impact than the first two.”

More Film

  • The Journey

    Saudi Animation Feature 'The Journey' Secures Distribution in MENA and Japan

    Animation feature “The Journey,” co-produced by Saudi animation studios Manga Productions and Japan’s Toei Animation, has struck a deal with Dubai-based exhibitor Vox Cinemas for theatrical distribution across the Middle East and North Africa. Manga has also announced that the toon epic based on Saudi folklore and directed by Japan’s Shizuno Kobun (“Godzilla: City on the [...]

  • The Suspended Mourning

    Berlin: Hernan Caffiero Sets Up Two Series About Victims of Police Violence as Chilean Industry Protests Brutality (EXCLUSIVE)

    Inspired by the victims of violent crackdowns by Chilean police, filmmaker Hernán Caffiero is looking to tell their story. Caffiero is currently developing two series about human rights crimes and the effects of police brutality in Chile, one a four-part documentary, the other a follow-up to his Intl. Emmy-winning “The Suspended Mourning,” a dramatized collection [...]

  • MARE

    Andrea Štaka on Berlin Panorama Player ‘Mare’

    Andrea Štaka, who won a Locarno Golden Leopard in 2006 with “Faulein,” unveils her latest film “Mare” in the Panorama section of this year’s Berlin Festival. Telling the story of a middle age mom, Marija Škaričić (“The Priest’s Children”) and Goran Navojec (“All the Best”) were cast to tell the story of a family in [...]

  • Lost Illusions

    France's Curiosa Films, Wild Bunch Germany Team on 'Charlotte' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Olivier Delbosc’s Paris-based company Curiosa Films is partnering with Wild Bunch Germany on “Charlotte,” a WWII-set film about the short and prolific life of the German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon, who died in Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 26. “Charlotte” will be directed by Gilles Bourdos. His film “Renoir” played in Un Certain Regard [...]

  • Apulia Studios

    New Italian Studio Complex Planned For 2021 in Southern Apulia Region (EXCLUSIVE)

    Plans are under way for an ambitious new Italian studio complex comprising nine soundstages and two water tanks to be soon built in the Southern Italian region of Apulia. The Apulia Studios, as the planned facilities are known, are being launched by Italian entrepreneur Antonio Albanese with two former Apulia Film Commission executives, Silvio Maselli and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content