With Lord of the Rings, it made sense to break the story into a trilogy of films, since it was based on three books anyway. But with the Hobbit movie trilogy, director Peter Jackson and company had to figure out for themselves where to end each chapter—and here's how they did it. Spoilers ahead!
Despite the fact that it isn't really a huge part of the story at the time, Bilbo's decision to keep the One Ring and spare the life of Gollum has massive repercussions in the future tale of Lord of the Rings. So writer Philippa Boyens said the point represented a natural spot to wind down An Unexpected Journey and set up the war and dragon fights to come in the next two films.
But more than just finding the ring, it was also the first time Bilbo held a life in his hands and had the courage to spare it with his pity. Boyens told MovieLine:
"Bilbo discovers something in himself and I think that is true courage, knowing when, as Gandalf says, to spare a life. So we couldn't just let that moment pass. And I think it would have gotten buried in the great morass of spider fights and other stuff that would have happened if [we didn't end there and] kept pushing through ...Boyens said it was also important to move the emotional journey to the next level by the end of the first film, with Bilbo finding his place as a respected member of the dwarf company:
"[In the film Gollum] loses [the ring] as he's murdering someone and Bilbo receives it as he's saving something. So maybe that act - that unknown act without any knowledge of any greater consequence -- is what Professor Tolkien wrote a lot about; [Goodness and grace] must be innate. It must be for its sake an act of charity, an act of kindness. That's how fate works."
"We understood that you had to arrive the characters at an emotional location as opposed to a geographical location. Instead of just getting them to a geographical point on the journey, it was more important for to arrive them at an emotional place so that you didn't continue to tell the same emotional story.It's never easy to introduce an unnatural story break into something written as one novel, but the generally favorable reviews (65 percent "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) of The Hobbit tend to agree that it works. Sure, you feel like the whole film was essentially setting up the next two parts, but it was a fun ride getting there.
It's very hard for Bilbo to be that little Hobbit who has to find his courage. I mean, that could go on and on and on and on. [But when] the ring comes to Bilbo and in that moment he chooses not to take Gollum's life, that has enormous resonance for the entire mythology."
What did you think of the ending? Did Jackson pick the right place to pause?