The Wheaton College Tolkien Society (WCTS) along with over 400 Wheaton students, faculty and staff is joining Bilbo Baggins on his unexpected journey through Middle-earth this evening, Friday, Dec. 14.
Baggins, protagonist of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” will make his appearance on screen at the Regal Cantera movie theater in Warrenville during a 7 p.m. film showing of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, ” Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the novel.
Senior Joanna Chin of WCTS explained why Baggins’ character is so attractive to readers: “A lot of us see ourselves in Bilbo — an ordinary guy who gets whisked off on this unexpected journey.”
The movie showing is sponsored by the Wade Center and WCTS, who began planning for the event last May at a meeting with Laura Schmidt, Wade Center archivist and WCTS adviser; senior David Querfeld, president of WCTS; and senior Hilary Dirks, secretary of WCTS.
Schmidt explained the purpose behind the project, saying, “It was the natural thing for WCTS to do. ... Our purpose as a club is to … draw community together across campus with students, faculty and staff. We want to deepen friendships and facilitate more community building between those three sections of campus.”
This is the first large-scale event planned by the society, which is in its second year.
Earlier this year, members of the society participated in a celebration of Bilbo Baggins’ birthday in Anderson Commons.
Dirks said WCTS is a “fun place for people who aren’t afraid to get excited.”
Through emails, posters and word of mouth, WCTS spread awareness for the movie showing.
The group reserved a table for six days in the Beamer Center for ticket sales, but the tickets sold out in less than three.
“We sold over half in the first day,” Dirks said.
Not only did students flock to the tables, but the faculty and staff were “as excited as students,” Dirks said.
Four Wheaton professors — professor of psychology William Struthers, professor of classical languages Mark Thorne, professor of biology L. Kristin Page and professor of applied health science Peter Walters — participated in raising awareness for the event by taking part in a fundraiser.
They pledged to complete various dares, including dressing up as a dwarf and reading a portion of “The Hobbit” in Latin, if they raised the most money.
Students deposited money in four jars, marked for each professor, located in the Beamer Center. Walters, who accumulated the most money, had promised to play a game of “golfenbaum,” a version of T-ball played with an orc head and a cudgel.
Schmidt explained her connection with the novel.
“When I first read “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” my life was changed,” Schmidt said. “It was something you couldn’t lay your finger on that touched the heart and the spirit.”
Schmidt said the impact of books in her life has grown throughout her time at the Wade Center.
“The Wade Center and Wheaton have taught me that these books have incredible truths in them, truths with a capital ‘T’ that resonate with the human spirit,” she said.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m., when the doors to the Regal Cantera theater open, and the movie will officially start at 7 p.m.
Directed by Peter Jackson, “The Hobbit” will be spread out over three films, drawing on the appendices of “The Lord of the Rings” to fill out the movie trilogy.
Other than the film, the WCTS will host two events after the holiday break.
On Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 4 p.m., Christopher Mitchell, director of the Marion E. Wade Center and professor of Christian thought, will be leading a discussion on “The Hobbit.”
He will also give two lectures reflecting on the connections between “The Hobbit” and Christian life on Thursday, Jan. 24, one at 4 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m.
Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers
Printed in the December 14, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.