A team of researchers – led by Martin Barker at Aberystwyth University – are conducting a worldwide project to survey people’s views on The Hobbit films. They are particularly keen to hear from “those who know Tolkien well”.
The World Hobbit Project says: “We are a team of researchers from 46 countries, right across the world. We are hoping to gather as many survey responses as possible from people who have seen The Hobbit films – whatever they thought of the films (and that’s important). We have many questions we hope to answer: for instance, what do these films mean to audiences? How much did they enjoy them? Why did they want to watch them? What pleased or disappointed different viewers?”
Attendees at Tolkien Society will remember Professor Barker presenting the results of The Lord of Rings Audience Project at our ‘Tolkien 2005: The Ring Goes Ever On’ and ‘Tolkien 2012: The Return of the Ring’ events. Co-authored with Ernest Mathijs, in 2007 they released a book called Watching The Lord of the Rings which examined audience responses to their previous survey on The Lord of the Rings films.
In a message to the Tolkien Society, the team have said this:
We need your expertise. We want to hear your views on the films of The Hobbit. Many of you will remember that a decade ago we gathered responses from around the world to the films of The Lord of the Rings. We managed to gather 25,000 responses – and we learnt a huge amount about the ways different kinds of audiences enjoyed and made sense of that story. We are trying to do the same again, but this time with researchers in more than twice as many countries and collecting responses in almost three times as many languages. But we want to make sure that we have properly included the feelings and judgements of those who know Tolkien well. That’s you. We are at: www.worldhobbitproject.org.
This time, also, we are trying to open up our research to some bigger questions, about the rise of fantasy as one of the major kinds of contemporary story-telling (think Harry Potter, think Game of Thrones, think The Hunger Games and so on). So much of which, of course, goes back again to Tolkien. Which makes your views all the more important.
We’ve promised that we will, like last time, make sure that our discoveries are made fully available through the Tolkien Society. Please, tell us your personal responses, but also pass on our web address to relatives, neighbours, friends, Friends…
Visit www.worldhobbitproject.org to complete the survey.
Shaun is the current Chair of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2013, Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien’s works whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time can be found in the cinema, playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter.