Peter Jackson has followed up with the second installment in his rendition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, titled The Desolation of Smaug. It’s a fitting name, because undoubtedly Smaug
runs flys away with the film (move over Bilbo). Overall, it’s a significant improvement on part one of the stand-alone book turned cinematic trilogy. But like its predecessor, the movie still suffers from its inherent flaw–Jackson’s obsession to turn this children’s tale into one long drawn out prequel to Lord of the Rings. Once more, E is for Embellish.
Spoilers to follow.
“Whatever happens, we have got, The Maxim Gun, and they have not.”–Hilaire Belloc, 1898.
Peruse through a few images of steampunk dress and gadgetry, and the gun will make its appearance soon enough. Fitted into holsters, held haughtily over the shoulder, brandished in threat, tucked between bustles or even adapted to retro-futurist cybernetics, the gun has become a staple of the genre in both literature, film and cosplay. Given the era that steampunk attempts to navigate, recreate and/or re-imagine, the gun only seems fitting. But like so much else from our collective past, it comes with its own troubled histories. This was also an era of racialized subjugation, colonialism and imperialism. And the gun played a central role.