Friday, September 4, 2015
In The Hobbit, the dwarves hire Bilbo Baggins to help recover their treasure at Lonely Mountain. Here is their contract, as it appears in J.R.R. Tolkien’s book:
[F]or your offer of professional assistance
our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on
delivery, up to and not exceeding one
fourteenth of total profits (if any); all travelling
expenses guaranteed in any event;
funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or
our representatives, if occasion arises and
the matter is not otherwise arranged for.
Not bad—perfectly understandable. However, in the movie, the document causes Bilbo to faint. It includes over 3,400 words and takes up 5 feet of parchment. Why? Writer Daniel Reeve tells us that director Peter Jackson wanted a visual gag, hence, a 5 foot, incomprehensible “Conditions of Engagement.”
Where did Reeve find the content? Some provisions he invented. Others he took from existing legal documents, including his own employment contract.
You can read more, including a brief interview with Reeve here at the August 2015 Michigan Bar Journal.