Earlier this month, Aberystwyth University in Wales launched The World Hobbit Project, an international study aimed at pinpointing the global appeal of one of the highest-grossing trilogies of all time.
Fans have been lining up at cinemas throughout the country to see “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”, most of them huge fans of author J. R. R. Tolkien.
“I’ve read “The Lord of the Rings” at least a dozen times,” said movie-goer Jim. “It’s the only book where I read it from beginning to end, and then turned it around and started again.”
“The first movies were three movies for three books, now this is three movies for one book,” explained Chris as he bought his ticket. “It goes into more detail, and I like that.” Ten years ago, a similar study across 20 countries surrounding “The Lord of the Rings” movies was held. Professor Susan Turnbull from the University of Woollongong helped orchestrate its Australian arm. “If you lived in China, your favourite character was most likely to be Legolas, the elf who’s very much a kind of Asian martial arts hero,” she explains. “But if you were in Belgium, your favourite character was more likely to be one of the beer-drinking dwarves.
“(We also looked at) how you viewed the story, whether you thought of it as a spiritual journey, older women tended to see the films in that way, or whether you regarded it as an action-adventure.” The World Hobbit Project will go even further, featuring more wide-ranging questions about the themes, characters and appeal of “The Hobbit”. Australia is one of 46 countries to take part, and Professor Turnbull expects the story’s combination of fantasy and humanity to feature prominently in its findings. “Every country has its own national allegory that it can fit into this battle of good and evil,” she said. “The fact that this imaginative world has resonance in your own life I think is very important.”