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A Breakdown of Why the First Hobbit Desperately Needs Its Long Run Time

This is just a taste of all the smoking and eating you’ll see in The Hobbit. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Compared to the three books that come after it, The Hobbit is relatively slim at 300 pages. So, how, Lord of the Rings fans wonder, is Peter Jackson going to turn it into three movies, especially when the first one, An Unexpected Journey, is due to clock in at two hours and 40 minutes? Fear not: Vulture stumbled on a timed breakdown of the script and discovered that there is actually more than enough action to fill nearly three hours. In fact, judging by the following exclusive rundown, the only problem that LOTR fans might have is that there is so much going on that some key scenes may get shortchanged. 

00:00 – 3:00 A dark prelude, setting the tone that this is not a kid’s tale. (Even though it is.) This is done by comprehensive, more-intense-than-usual panning over Middle-Earth maps. The font on such lands as Rivendell and Mirkwood are positively chilling, and the camera lingers on each of them.

3:01 – 4:14 Things brighten up for the moment. A happy narrator tells us, “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit … ” and we see the Shire and Bilbo Baggins’s home as if for the first time.

4:15 – 4:26 Bilbo sits down for breakfast.

4:27 – 6:00 It’s a really big breakfast.

6:01 – 6:50 Gandalf comes by. Smoke-ring montage!

6:51 – 7:20 Gandalf says he’s looking for someone to share in an adventure. Bilbo tries to get rid of him, inviting him to come back another time for tea.

7:21 – 7:34 It’s the next day; Bilbo makes tea.

7:35 – 8:15 Tea steeps.

8:16 – 8:19 Bilbo looks at tea, removes bag. Still not done; false alarm.

8:20 – 9:04 More steeping.

9:05 – 10:28 Someone knocks on the door. Bilbo wavers, clearly nervous that it is Gandalf. He does not want an adventure, and he definitely does not want his tea to over-steep.

10:29 — 10:41 He removes the tea bag and opens door. It’s not Gandalf! It’s a dwarf named Dwalin. Bilbo invites him inside for tea and cakes.

10:42 — 11:23 Bilbo realizes he has no cake and thus must make them from scratch. He does so in real time, making batter and cooking them at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes, or until golden brown.

11:24 – 11:45 The doorbell rings again and again: more dwarves! Balin, Fili, Kili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Thorin Oakenshield. Gandalf, too.

11:46 – 15:44 Bilbo has difficulty remembering all their names, so Gandalf creates a series of elaborate mnemonics. (“This one walks like you kicked him in the gloin,” etc.) It’s not sticking, so Gandalf makes flash cards for Bilbo to study.

15:45 – 17:54 Bilbo finally gets a handle on all the names. Thorin and Gandalf celebrate by blowing smoke rings. These are so round they make the smoke rings from the earlier scene look like smoke travesties.

17:55 – 23:04 The dwarves sing a song in their native tongue. It is the dwarf equivalent of Don McLean’s “American Pie,” so it takes a bit.

23:05 – 23:10 Thorin explains that he expects Bilbo to help them steal a treasure from a dragon called Smaug and reclaim their homeland. Bilbo proposes that they go to bed.

23:11 – 31:30 Bilbo wakes up, finds dirty dishes because the dwarves ate without him before they left. Cue twelve minutes of Bilbo scrubbing pots and pans, capped by a tense standoff with a particularly stubborn bit of baked-on grease that Bilbo ultimately decides to let soak.

31:31 – 33:15 Bilbo eats a second breakfast in the dining room.

33:16 – 39:12 Bilbo finds a note from the dwarves, decides to join the adventure, gets a pony. They set off and are attacked by trolls, but vanquish them through a Gandalf trick. Bilbo and Co. discover a glowing blue sword called Sting.

39:13 – 44:40 Off to Rivendell for a quick stop to meet Hugo Weaving’s Elrond, and then it’s off through the Misty Mountains. Commence swooping helicopter crane shots of the group walking (Rocks! Snow! Back to rocks!), alternated with a new tool that Peter Jackson is working with: the walking-stick-cam. Shots from the vantage point of Gandalf’s shaft will truly make you feel like you are hiking, especially when projected at 48 frames per second.

44:41 – 45:02 Hiding in a cave after an avalanche, the group is captured by orcs; Gandalf rescues them, but Bilbo falls into Gollum’s cave and finds the ring.

45:03 – 45:50 Gollum discovers Bilbo and proposes a riddle game. If Bilbo loses, Gollum will eat him whole.

45:51 – 51:32 Gollum proceeds to make his way through 84 puzzles from his Big Book of Party Riddles Bound to Stump, Amuse, and Keep the Hobbit Meals Coming. Bilbo answers them all. Climactic moment: Gollum nearly stumps him with “What’s tall, very old, lives in the forest, doesn’t like to get involved in battles unless it’s absolutely necessary and is runny at room temperature?” Just as Gollum takes out his knife and fork to gobble up the Hobbit, Bilbo blurts out “Brie-Beard!” Victory! The ring slips onto Bilbo’s finger, making him invisible, and he slips away.

51:33 – 54:00 Gollum performs sad musical number “My Precious.” (“It may seem like just a ring/ but it means most everything/ my precioussssss/ I was handsome, so much fun/ then one ring and Smeagol’s done/ My preciousssss…”: music and lyrics by Smash team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

54:01 – 1:24:11 Bilbo reconnects with the dwarves and complains about being hungry. The starving Hobbit slips into a daydream that he’s home making cookies in the shape of all the dwarves’ faces: Cooking time isn’t that long, but there’s a lot of frustrating precision cutting that we see in real time. It’s really hard to get Bombur’s nose right.

1:24:12 – 1:24:32 Another orc battle. Bilbo is glad he did not waste his time commemorating these bastards in cookie form.

1:24:33 – 1:40:56 Gandalf assesses the situation: “We have no [more] food, no baggage, and no ponies to ride.” He bails. As he is prone to do, a despondent Bilbo eats his feelings, in the form of bread and honey.

1:40:57 – 1:49:37 Boy, bread and honey sure dries out your mouth. Did somebody say “tea”?

1:49:38 – 1:51:12 In quick succession, Bilbo finds a boat, gets them across an enchanted stream, they get in a fight with a giant spider and win, but then the dwarves are captured by elves and imprisoned. An invisible Bilbo hatches a plan in which the dwarves will hide in nearly emptied wine barrels to escape.

1:51:13 – 2:07:53 Hiding in the barrels, the dwarves get drunk on the leavings. It is funny until some real truths start coming out. Much intra-barrel spouting of who loves whom the most, who is really jealous of whom, and who has some major life regrets that they avoid thinking about through constant adventuring. Only through these inebriated confessions do we realize just how many colors these dwarves possess.

2:07:54 – 2:07:59 The guards obliviously push the barrels containing the hiding dwarves into the river, where it looks like they might drown.

2:08:00 – 2:14:00 Meanwhile, Bilbo is in Lake Town, stealing a pie. And eating the pie. Piece by methodical piece.

2:14:01 – 2:29:01 Bilbo waits fifteen minutes after finishing the pie to avoid cramping, and then rescues the dwarves.

2:29:02 – 2:29:05 As the group collects itself once more to continue the adventure, we see Gandalf elsewhere, talking and setting up the stakes for part two.

2:29:06 – 2:39:12 Closing smoke rings.

2:39:13 – 2:40:00 Make sure to stay through the credits for a teaser for part two! It involves tea.

Why The Hobbit Really Needs to Be That Long