I’ve redone the Best Buy Exclusive gallery using screencaps from the Blu-ray disk itself. So now you can enjoy them in 1920 x 1080 size.
I’ve redone the Best Buy Exclusive gallery using screencaps from the Blu-ray disk itself. So now you can enjoy them in 1920 x 1080 size.
GettyImages.com has an interview with Richard Armitage published March 7 where he discusses an amusing array of topics including the spirited directing style of Peter Jackson, and bloopers he hopes will not appear on the Extended Edition. I’ve organized them below so they can be viewed in the proper order.
Xbox on Youtube posted this excerpt from their exclusive edition of The Hobbit on Blu-ray.
It’s a short but wonderful exploration of the relationship between the heirs of Durin, including Thorin, Thror, Thrain, Fili, and Kili, with commentary by Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, and Dean O’Gorman.
HD screenshots below (click for full-size):
KiwiCatherineJemma of Youtube recorded Dean O’Gorman’s appearance at Armageddon Expo in New Zealand this month. It is broken up into many short videos, and I’ve selected only the ones that relate to the Hobbit, but you can watch them all by going to her channel on Youtube. He talks about a wide variety of topics including souvenirs from the set, which dwarf would he be if he couldn’t be Fili, what his favorite experience was, how he got the part, and mentions a slightly spoilerish bit about the upcoming filming of the Battle of Five Armies.
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, and Sean Bean as Boromir
I’m sure you’ve seen it stated already, “Richard Armitage’s Thorin is the Aragorn of The Hobbit.” I considered this a while ago, especially in light of the fact Viggo Mortensen and Armitage both sing a mean solo tune, but after initial enthusiasm for the idea, I discarded it for lack of proof. It might appear that Thorin and Aragorn, as returning kings, would have much in common, but despite a few similarities, they are less alike than Thorin is to Boromir (read this essay by Susan Messer Chan for a comparison of Thorin and Aragorn). Although these are somewhat superfluous details, both Thorin and Boromir are still unmarried, had younger brothers and strong-willed fathers. Both have seen war and are renowned for their bravery. Boromir may not be royalty, but he is the closest thing to it in the Heir of Isildur’s absence. Meanwhile, Thorin has the credentials of a king, but few people treat him as such. Before his modest reign in the Blue Mountains, he had endured exile and a period of humility, returning to basic blacksmithing for survival (despite this he has not lost a sense of self-importance). But most importantly, Boromir and Thorin have tangible flaws, while Aragorn’s are so fleeting they may pass unmarked (let’s face it, Aragorn is nearly messianic in his perfection). Both leaders make decisions which favor their own nations to the possible detriment of others. I feel that with the King under the Mountain, and the Steward’s son, Tolkien challenges the reader to decide if putting the needs of one’s own people ahead of all other peoples can be considered noble or not. This is pretty typical behavior for a leader (if they are not looking out for your interests, they are not much of a leader) but when these characters are compared to someone like Aragorn, who sets aside the fulfillment of his personal legacy while protecting many races, they come across as selfish and unenlightened, which is rather unfair (read my essay for a further defense of Thorin’s behavior in the original book).
One must be careful when comparing characters in the Tolkien universe to identify the source as either movie or film, since there can be wide discrepancies between each. Movie-Boromir is both hero and villain, most famous for having assisted, and then betrayed, the Ringbearer (and overall, he remains very similar to his textual counterpart). In contrast, movie-Thorin comes across as an unflinching hero, with the writers even adding in moments where he risks his life to save Balin and Bilbo. This is a decidedly different vibe from the early chapters of The Hobbit. It is true Tolkien’s Thorin had a moment or two of fearless altruism, such as when he fights the trolls with a burning branch after the rest of his Company have been put in sacks, but these great deeds are offset by having been the one to encourage Bilbo to wander alone into what turned out to be the troll camp (you’ll notice in the film that Thorin is not to blame for Bilbo having a run in with the trolls). I feel the addition of Bilbo and Balin’s rescue was made to more firmly establish Thorin’s hero status, so that it will be much more difficult to watch what happens to him in later films (if you don’t think that is necessary, keep in mind he will have some strong competition for the valiant leader spot from Luke Evans’ Bard, and Orlando Bloom’s Legolas in the next movie, and perhaps from Lee Pace’s Elvenking in the third film).
Fortunately, Richard Armitage assures us that by the last film Thorin will probably become more distasteful to viewers. In the interests of character complexity, I hope he is right. Although Armitage’s Thorin makes a standout hero in An Unexpected Journey, the unique ability of Tolkien’s Thorin was being able to inspire readers to both love and hate the actions he takes. We only see a hint of the darkness inherent in the character in this film (mostly through the scene where he lingers in the shadows of Erebor while witnessing his grandfather’s growing obsession with gold).
Even if you know nothing about what happens later in the book, and the role which “dragon sickness” plays on the mind of dwarves, the viewer should be able to recognize a sense of foreboding here, which relates to more than just the gold luring the dragon to the mountain.
But as much as I would love to compare and contrast the film versions of Boromir and Thorin, I don’t believe justice can be done to the task without witnessing the full cycle of Thorin’s cinematic fate, which won’t be realized until Summer of 2014. So barring that, we must return to the text. In this essay I will draw on all the sources in which Tolkien wrote about Thorin, including The Hobbit, “The Quest of Erebor” in The Unfinished Tales, and “Appendix A” of The Return of the King, and for Boromir, from The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Two Towers.
*Spoilers for the books to follow*
“Orcrist” and “Boromir” by Magali Villeneuve
Before we meet them, Boromir and Thorin have long had difficulties which they cannot overcome on their own; Boromir’s people are in danger of being overrun by the forces of Mordor. Thorin’s people have been in exile for many years with no ability to oust the source of their troubles:
The years lengthened. The embers in the heart of Thorin grew hot again, as he brooded on the wrongs of his House and of the vengeance upon the Dragon that was bequeathed to him. He thought of weapons and armies and alliances, as his great hammer rang in the forge; but the armies were dispersed and the alliances broken and the axes of his people were few; and a great anger without hope burned him, as he smote the red iron on the anvil. (Appendix A, ROTK)
Both leaders possess just enough humility and open-mindedness to seek out help from untested allies; Boromir takes it upon himself to make a solo journey to Rivendell after his brother Faramir has a prophetic dream encouraging such action (Boromir claims he once shared the dream). As for Thorin, he just happened to be in the same location as Gandalf when the two thought about asking for the others’ help. This bolstered the idea that their chance meeting was more than just coincidence. As Gandalf recounted:
He was troubled too, so troubled that he actually asked for my advice. So I went with him to his halls in the Blue Mountains, and I listened to his long tale. I soon understood that his heart was hot with brooding on his wrongs, and the loss of the treasure of his forefathers, and burdened too with the duty of revenge upon Smaug that he had inherited. Dwarves take such duties very seriously. (The Unfinished Tales)
Both Thorin and Boromir are disappointed in the type of help they are able to procure. In “Quest of Erebor”, Thorin is very reluctant to trust Gandalf’s choice of a burglar. Similarly, Boromir is initially suspicious and scornful of Aragorn, and taken aback when he is revealed as Isildur’s Heir. After recounting his own people’s failing efforts to hold back the growing forces of Mordor, his desperation is plain, but his pride is even more obvious. It is Boromir who first suggests they utilize the power of the Ring rather than destroy it, but he reluctantly accepts the decision of the Council, and assures them Gondor will continue the fight to the last. But he also suggests that help (in the form of Aragorn) must come soon if it is to be of any use. He does not actually reject the idea of Aragorn returning and claiming his birthright, but he is impatient to see if the Ranger will live up to expectations.
When Thorin sought Gandalf’s help, he was likely expecting the wizard to conjure up something more impressive than Bilbo Baggins. Like Boromir, Thorin was slow to accept the concept of not using force to get what he wanted, as Gandalf explains:
I promised to help him if I could. I was as eager as he was to see the end of Smaug, but Thorin was all for plans of battle and war, as if he were really King Thorin the Second, and I could see no hope in that. (The Unfinished Tales)
But Thorin does go along with Gandalf’s plan, and despite hardships along the way, there is no great falling out between any of the Company until they get to the Lonely Mountain, and well after the dragon is killed. It is then that the differences between dwarves and hobbits emerge and become a point of contention. Thorin is just beginning to reassert his claim to his kingdom by marshaling whatever means he can in its defense. He is adamant about not allowing himself to be pushed into a compromise by the army of the Elvenking. Being of a very different mind, Bilbo begins to weary of the siege he has become entrapped in, and longs for peace and home.
Similarly, during his journey with the Fellowship, Boromir is on good terms with his companions, even if he offers differing opinions. It takes a while before he starts to develop an unhealthy obsession over what he intends to do about the Ring. Before the audience with Galadriel in Lorien, he agrees to help the Ringbearer as much as he can before departing for Gondor. But whatever Galadriel put into his mind as a test of character awoke the very thing she suspected was lying dormant; a personal desire for the Ring. Boromir begins to fall into darker thoughts, which some of the others sense. Frodo noticed the change back in Lorien, and in the boats on the Great River, Boromir’s state of mind becomes plain enough that Pippin sees an odd gleam in his eye.
It is interesting that Thorin was also in close proximity to the Ring for an extended time, but felt no desire for it. Reasons for this may include the Ring not having the same power over dwarves as other races, but most likely because Sauron had not yet begun his campaign to get the Ring to return to him through its bearer. Instead of the Ring, Thorin has a personal obsession with another object; the Arkenstone, which has significantly less importance to Middle-earth than the Ring, but far more importance to Thorin on a personal level:
“For the Arkenstone of my father,” he said, “is worth more than a river of gold in itself, and to me it is beyond price. That stone of all the treasure I name unto myself, and I will be avenged on anyone who finds it and withholds it.” (The Hobbit)
The Arkenstone is of great importance to the direct descendants of Thrain I, who found it in the Lonely Mountain, and passed it down for generations. It was a unique glowing gem, but comparing it to something like the Silmarils, (other gems which caused great strife within and between the races) the Arkenstone is a relative newcomer to the list of Middle-earth artifacts (only known to the dwarves for 800 years or so). It has no true powers (aside from its glow). It was not made by anyone important, nor played a great role in past events. The Elvenking is later impressed by it, and Bilbo is driven to pocket it, so we know it must be very attractive (enchanting), but no one, aside from Thorin, absolutely must have it. It is an heirloom, but even there we have little description of how it was used in dwarven culture (of course the film expands on this to make the stone vital to Thror’s claim of dominion over everyone in the area, including the elves, but that’s taking it rather far). One could speculate there was some sort of intangible connection between the kings of Erebor and the Mountain’s Heart, but this is just a fancy of mine. More rationally, it was a convenient focal point for their pride.
Like Boromir after Lorien, Thorin’s change of personality happens once they are in the Lonely Mountain with the Arkenstone yet undiscovered by him, and the armies of the Lake-men and Elves making demands outside the gate. Having found the stone in the dragon hoard, Bilbo suspected that Thorin would not forgive him for keeping it secret, but he still held onto it. Despite this, or more likely because of this, Bilbo formulates his plan to use the Arkenstone as leverage to stop the siege.
The main difference between Thorin and Boromir is that Thorin is betrayed by a member of his Company, while Boromir betrays the Fellowship he has agreed to protect. When Frodo ventures off alone to think of his decision regarding the breaking of the Fellowship, he feels an unfriendly presence even before he sees the smiling face of Boromir. It is the fact that Boromir has become sneaky which disgraces him as much as anything. Thorin never hides his intentions from his allies. Whether or not Bilbo’s decision regarding the stone was ultimately more ethical than Thorin’s is immaterial. It is true that after the betrayal by Bilbo, Thorin secretly hopes Dain’s army can get there before he is forced to give up the gold that would have been paid to get back the stone, but since he was being blackmailed into it, one can hardly call this foul play.
This is not to say that Thorin has no flaws, but they should be judged according to the perceptions of his own people, which we have little knowledge of save for a line or two from Bombur to Bilbo, right before Bilbo is about to take the stone to the enemy. Bombur’s words mark Thorin as a stubborn dwarf:
“A sorry business altogether. Not that I venture to disagree with Thorin, may his beard grow ever longer; yet he was ever a dwarf with a stiff neck.” (The Hobbit)
Clearly Bombur is not the ultimate example to judge other dwarves by, with a desire to eat and sleep being his prime motivators (rather like a hobbit). But it does give the feeling that Thorin was known to be difficult to persuade once he set his mind to something. Even so, you don’t see the whole Company stand against him openly at any time in the story. There is a bit of muttering from the “younger dwarves” who would earlier have preferred to welcome the merry-making armies outside as friends rather than enemies, but although Tolkien later names Fili, Kili, and Bombur as having wished for a different solution, most still believe Thorin to be in the right. Later there is more widely felt dismay at the way Thorin behaves to Bilbo at the Gate, but it remains unspoken, so what he chooses to do must not be entirely unacceptable to them.
By this point in Boromir’s story, the power of the Ring had bested him, and turned his mind from a simple desire to protect Gondor, to the idea that he could rule quite effectively in Aragorn’s absence:
“Boromir strode up and down, speaking ever more loudly. Almost he seemed to have forgotten Frodo, while his talk dwelt on walls and weapons, and the mustering of men; and he drew plans for great alliances and glorious victories to be; and he cast down Mordor, and became himself a mighty king, benevolent and wise.” (FOTR)
This is reminiscent of Thorin’s thoughts “of weapons and armies and alliances” and his unlikely (in Gandalf’s opinion) “plans of battle and war”. Both were thinking as if they were kings, and yet neither had the resources of a king, and the futility of this makes them appear foolish.
At this point Boromir discards pretense, making his intentions clear to Frodo. His argument is not unreasonable; the Ringbearer wandering without escort of an army into the very heart of the evil that seeks it does sound like a bad idea. But Boromir refuses to recognize that he is being manipulated by Sauron when he thinks such thoughts. It takes an exceptional amount of trust in the council of the Wise, and an immense strength of will, to combat the siren song of the Ring, and Boromir was poor in this regard. The fact that he made it so far before attempting to take the Ring is a testament to his inherently honorable nature.
Both Boromir and Thorin descend into a maddened state when their respective hobbits thwart what they consider their right to the object of their desire. Boromir shouts at Frodo:
“If any mortals have claim to this Ring, it is the men of Numenor, and not Halflings. It is not yours save by unhappy chance. It might have been mine. It should be mine. Give it to me!”…And suddenly he sprang over the stone and leaped at Frodo. His fair and pleasant face was hideously changed; a raging fire was in his eyes. (TTT)
Thorin reacts no better when he sees the Arkenstone in the hands of his enemies:
Thorin at length broke the silence, and his voice was thick with wrath. “That stone was my father’s, and is mine,” he said….“How came you by it?” shouted Thorin in gathering rage. (The Hobbit)
When Bilbo admits that it was he who handed the Arkenstone over to Bard and the Elvenking, Thorin is not at all mollified by his honesty:
“You! You!” cried Thorin, turning upon him and grasping him with both hands. “You miserable hobbit! You undersized—burglar!” he shouted at a loss for words, and he shook poor Bilbo like a rabbit. (The Hobbit)
Gandalf finally speaks up and helps to redirect Thorin’s anger, persuading him to give Bilbo back unharmed, which he does with a curse. He wastes no time in sending messages to his approaching allies from the Iron Hills, informing them of the treachery. Thorin remains convinced he is doing the right thing, until possibly the very last moments of his life.
Boromir, on the other hand, feels the guilt of his actions immediately after Frodo disappears. But his honor wavers again as he only half explains to the group what transpired between himself and Frodo. Sam said it best when he told himself “Boromir isn’t lying, that’s not his way; but he hasn’t told us everything.” The typical honesty of Boromir is another mark in his favor, even if it slipped into deceit at the worst time. Incidentally, Thorin is also a poor liar in the books, presumably from lack of practice. The story he gave to the Goblin King would fool no one, and his terse answers to the Elvenking’s questioning in the dungeon of Mirkwood showed someone who would rather trust to silence than invention (I was pleased to see the movie version is possibly even less skilled at lying, being almost entirely silent during the audience with the Goblin King, and leaving the talking to Gandalf when Elrond asks about the map).
When Aragorn hears about what transpired with Frodo, he knows Boromir has really done it this time, but gives him a chance at redemption by finding and protecting Merry and Pippin from orcs. Pippin later recounted the fight:
Then Boromir had come leaping through the trees. He had made them fight. He slew many of them and the rest fled. But they had not gone far on the way back when they were attacked again, by a hundred Orcs at least, some of them very large, and they shot a rain of arrows: always at Boromir. Boromir had blown his great horn till the woods rang, and at first the Orcs had been dismayed and had drawn back; but when no answer but the echoes came, they had attacked more fiercely than ever. (TTT)
Aragorn hears the sound of Boromir’s horn, though he is not there to see the final fight:
Then suddenly with a deep-throated call a great horn blew, and the blasts of it smote the hills and echoed in the hollows, rising in a mighty shout above the roaring of the falls. (TTT)
There is an echo of the motif of the horn in a similar scene from Thorin’s charge into the Battle of Five Armies:
“To me! To me! Elves and Men! To me! O my kinsfolk!” He cried, and his voice shook like a horn in the valley. (The Hobbit)
While both Boromir and Thorin were able to beat back the enemy for a short time, the tide soon turned against them. Thorin’s group was “forced into a great ring, facing every way, hemmed all about with goblins and wolves returning to the assault.” The last stand of Thorin is given as an account after the battle:
The dwarves were making a stand still about their lords upon a low rounded hill. Then Beorn stooped and lifted Thorin, who had fallen pierced with spears, and bore him out of the fray. (The Hobbit)
We discover just how desperate the fight had become when we learn that Fili and Kili had “fallen defending him with shield and body, for he was their mother’s elder brother.”
Boromir’s battle had been lost as well. When Aragorn found him, he was alone, and the hobbits had been taken:
He was sitting with his back to a great tree, as if he was resting. But Aragorn saw that he was pierced with many black-feathered arrows; his sword was still in his hand, but it was broken near the hilts; his horn cloven in two was at his side. Many Orcs lay slain, piled all about him and at his feet. (TTT)
Thorin also showed the marks of a brutal battle:
There indeed lay Thorin Oakenshield, wounded with many wounds, and his rent armour and notched axe were cast upon the floor. (The Hobbit)
In his dying moments, Boromir admits to his ignoble actions:
Aragorn knelt beside him. Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. “I tried to take the Ring from Frodo,” he said. “I am sorry. I have paid….Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed.”
“No!” said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. “You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!”
Boromir smiled. (TTT)
Likewise, Bilbo has a last audience with Thorin:
“Farewell, good thief,” he said. “I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would take back my words and deeds at the Gate.”
Bilbo knelt on one knee filled with sorrow. “Farewell, King under the Mountain!” he said. “This is a bitter adventure, if it must end so; and not a mountain of gold can amend it. Yet I am glad that I have shared in your perils—that has been more than any Baggins deserves.”
“No!” said Thorin. “There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!” (The Hobbit)
At the end, Boromir and Thorin acknowledge their mistakes, and repent of their choices. After death, both are laid to rest with great dignity. Thorin was buried in the Lonely Mountain, and his former enemies, Bard and the Elvenking, laid the Arkenstone and Orcrist upon his tomb.
Boromir was set upon the Great River in an elven boat by the remaining members of the Fellowship, with his cloven horn and broken sword. Through his death, Boromir had regained the respect of his companions, and the song that Aragorn and Legolas sing of him shows only remorse and honor.
But after all this, the question remains, can Thorin and Boromir still be considered noble? I feel the answer is an obvious yes, because while they may have made mistakes in life, both gave up their lives in payment. They never desired things only for their own needs. It is a very fine line, but in craving the Arkenstone, Thorin sought to protect the manifestation of his people’s pride, while Boromir’s desire for the Ring was only to help the people of Gondor. The Wise would have steered them away from such folly, but like most people of Middle-earth, they did not possess great wisdom, only a proud heart, a heavy burden, and the deeply felt legacy of their people.
And now, for another comparison of Thorin and Boromir, I encourage you to read Susan Messer Chan’s essay, which comes to slightly different conclusions about these two characters.
Additional info: For those who were wondering about what the scene from the film showing Thorin backing into the shadows might signify, here is an interview I missed last month which is very relevant. On page 2 Richard Armitage talks about greed, dragon sickness, Thror, and Thorin’s feelings about it all.
I recently returned from seeing "The Hobbit" for the third time. Being a Tolkien scholar, there is obviously no shortage of themes which this film delves into which would fail to inspire me. This evening, however, I happened upon one quite by chance. As my daughter, husband, and I were making our way out of the auditorium, I heard a man speaking with his friends.
In Defense of Fili, Kili and Thorin Oakenshield – an Appreciation Beyond Hot Dwarves.
[Originally written in German by ArchedCory and translated to English, with editing by D.J.]
*Movie and end of book spoilers* – You’ve been warned!
In regards the royal trio, there has been much complaining over the past year: Too undwarven, too handsome, not enough beard… It is too bad that many people never got past this. Yes, we already know plenty of reasons for their appearance – there are 13 dwarves and we need to distinguish them, etc…but I turned away from the topic of appearance a long time ago to dig deeper into the matter instead. Though I never liked Thorin in the book, Fili and Kili were my favourite dwarves from my first reading of the story. But because the three of them are related to each other, I gathered information about all of them from whatever books and production videos were available prior to the film.
Thorin is very well described in the book, though his motivation often remains hidden (which is probably why he appears to be unsympathetic for many readers). However we don’t know a whole lot about Fili and Kili. Most of the time when they appear together, they are in a good mood, and they are often sent scouting. Only Fili has a solo moment or two in the book (such as the scene involving the rope, and later on the apple barrel). So from the reading we know only that they are cheerful, they are young, and they are Heirs of Durin. But that alone is already a LOT more than we know about some of the other dwarves, such as the brothers Dori, Nori and Ori.
However, even from this information alone one can conclude quite a lot about their characters: We have two fairly young dwarves who have never been involved in a serious fight, and who are very eager to go on this journey. On the other hand they have absolutely no idea what they can expect; they know Erebor and Smaug only from tales. Thorin, however, knows very well what lies at the end of the journey, so he especially keeps an eye on those two boys. Of course he is glad they come along, but he also wants to keep them from harm. Since the two boys find everything exciting, he has to dampen their enthusiasm every once in a while, because life out there is not a picnic.
Regarding the royal descent: Fili is the older brother and second in the line of succession. He feels the pressure weighing down on him a lot more. He knows if anything happens to Thorin it is up to him to fulfil the quest. He HAS to be a responsible dwarf despite his young age, no matter if he wants that or not.
Kili, on the other hand, has a lot less to worry about. He is only third in the line of succession (I guess you can sleep more easily over that). That, and the fact that he is the youngest in the company, make him a naïve but adventurous dwarf who often acts heedlessly and doesn’t always think before talking.
And behind all that stands Thorin, to whom his legacy and his quest to reclaim Erebor is so important that he totally gives himself up to it. It goes so far that he would even give his life to fulfil the quest for his people. So he not only keeps an eye on his nephews, but he also reprimands them should they act foolishly because of their youth.
Now these are all thoughts I had prior to seeing the movie.
When the first images of the dwarves appeared I felt their “undwarven” appearance seemed odd, but the more I saw and read, the more I could embrace the designs and take them for granted. By this point I don’t even notice it in the movie, and I now believe that Fili looks just about perfect for a dwarf. They act, move and talk like dwarves, and that alone is convincing enough for me.
I especially like their gear and the love for details in their clothing. They really tried to give them a distinct royal style, and I find it very convincing! Fili, Kili and Thorin each have their own emblem, which repeats itself on clothes and accessories. You can see that Fili and Kili haven’t traveled much and never fought, because their raiment appears to be completely new and unworn. Thorin gains size simply by his cape (and I know how odd it is to say that about a dwarf). Add to that the boots and the fur… simply amazing!
And then there are the weapons. Thorin’s actual sword (not Orcrist) and his axe are undoubtedly recognizable as dwarven weapons: Big and heavy but at the same time elegant and never bulky. I smirked when I read about Fili’s armoury: His two swords are designed so wonderfully! The double scabbard is a gem in itself; worn on the back, he pulls out one sword from over his shoulder and the other one from underneath. Then there is his warhammer, and even in his garments he is carrying weapons – daggers in his gauntlets and two throwing axes in each boot. With this in mind, it is such a huge shame that you can see Fili fighting only twice in the whole movie. And even that goes by in the blink of an eye.
Let’s not forget Kili with his sword (a design which I find absolutely lovely) and his bow, the style of which never makes him seem to be an Elf because it is shorter and heavier than any elvish bow. It is unfortunate he relies on the bow throughout most of the movie (to the point of almost getting monotonous). I would have loved to see him use the sword more often. Oh and for completeness: According to the Weta Chronicles book, Kili also carries a pocket knife which can also be used as a saw. Maybe we will get to see this in one of the later movies.
But let’s put aside the topic of appearance—enough has been said about beards, noses and hair—and instead, let us look at character implementation in the movie. Fortunately, I found that whatever I had pieced together before the movie debuted actually occurred! But many of these things will only be apparent if you have thought about it thoroughly. I have heard comments like “Fili and Kili are without character,” and it is something I cannot comprehend.
Let us begin with Thorin. He is as pretentious as expected. BUT – and I didn’t expect this – you get to see what made him that way. And suddenly you start to feel deep compassion for him. His emotions are no longer perceived as unsympathetically arrogant, but as deep bitterness. Richard Armitage portrays this bitterness, and also the typical stubbornness of dwarves, to an extent that goes beyond the human. He totally blew me away! It goes so far that tears burst into my eyes when Thranduil turns him down, when he listens to Balin’s narration of Azanulbizar, and especially when he loses his Oakenshield – probably the biggest disgrace for him.
Fili is really the more responsible of the brothers. Yes, he has one overly obvious line (“If there is a key, there must be a door!”) but besides that he only says reasonable things. His oration in Bag End deeply impressed me. I didn’t expect that from him! But you can see the prince in him revealed in this scene.
In contrast, Kili is often so rash that it gets nearly annoying. There is always a thoughtless comment on his lips, and he never thinks beforehand if his actions are reasonable. And still he tends to go unscathed in almost every situation – I guess it’s the luck of the fool. When he feels insecure he often looks to Fili or Thorin for advice. His heritage is never as pressing a matter to him as it is to Fili. For him this whole journey right now is just an exciting adventure.
Thorin also plays the fatherly figure to Fili and Kili, and that is shown surprisingly often – IF you are looking closely. It’s apparent in the two times he reprimands Kili (of course it would be Kili, as the young, heedless dwarf) or the moments in which he calls out for them, or entrusts tasks to them. Perhaps you noticed how in the Trollshaws he stops Kili from attacking all by himself. Earlier, when he calls out for Fili and Kili to look after the ponies he adds “Make sure you stay with them!” It reminded me of mothers; they always add something like “be careful” after their instructions while people who aren’t close wouldn’t do that. And when he believes Fili to be lost on the stone giants, you can feel very strongly his despair over this ONE dwarf although a lot more of his company were involved in this collision.
Compare this to the relationship of the boys towards Thorin: It becomes obvious (albeit often only through mimicry) that Kili really wants to impress Thorin. This is visible for instance in the end scene, where Kili helps Thorin up on his feet. Earlier, when Kili frightens Bilbo, and Thorin reprimands him, he seems to be really embarrassed. Often he sees things first and immediately reports to Thorin because it is important to him that the information comes from HIM and Thorin also notices that. And when Thorin gives him this “Hello? Could you please shoot that warg?” look when they are surrounded in the plains, he is embarrassed again for not thinking about it first. On the other hand, when he shoots his first warg (in the forest with Radagast) he gains a short but approving glance from Thorin. How great it must have been for him to get that!
However I get the feeling Thorin is generally aware and proud of Kili’s archery skills. You can see some kind of reaction from Thorin in almost every scene involving Kili shooting an arrow. He even shouts out to him at one point: “Kili, shoot them!”
Fili, on the other hand, has deep respect for Thorin, and he would never get into trouble as Kili does. He takes his responsibilities seriously, and he is even more loyal to Thorin than all the other dwarves in the company. There is one line in this context which I found exceptionally remarkable: When they lose their ponies and Bilbo asks if they should report to Thorin, it is actually Fili who says “No, let’s not worry him.” It’s such a simple line, but this is very typical for Fili. He wants neither to get Thorin angry nor Kili into trouble. You can really see his concern when he desperately cries out for Thorin in the end while they are flying on the eagles (that is a real goosebump moment).
You can see both boys’ concern when the two of them come together in defense of Thorin (yes, even that moment exists in this movie!) When Thorin is defeated in the last scene and even Bilbo seems to fail after his heroic deed, the three dwarves closest to Thorin begin one last desperate attack: Fili, Kili, and after them also Dwalin.
The relationship between the brothers is one of my favourite parts. They have never been separated, and they love each other dearly, and really do everything together. They even think alike so it seems. You always see them together: at the table in Bag End, in almost every wide shot, in battle, and most poignantly in the end when they share the same eagle! They also lift Bilbo onto his pony together in the very beginning. Another nice moment was when Thorin and Bilbo spot Erebor on the horizon and talk about it so that the whole company also looks at the mountain—except for Fili and Kili, who stare into the opposite direction. I don’t know what they see there, but it must be a lot more important to them at least.
And then there is the scene were they lose two ponies, although they paid attention SO well. I suppose in reality they really just behaved mischievously again.
And watch them closely when one of them speaks. The other one is usually looking at the talking brother in approval. Also Fili is never laughing at Kili when he is making one of his silly remarks. Even then Fili seems to be proud of his brother.
All in all the two boys are very refreshing to see especially BECAUSE they have no clue what is lying ahead of them.
By now it should become clear why the scene on the stone giants is so heartbreaking for me. When he reaches out for Fili but can’t grasp his hand, Kili is truly horrified. He cannot imagine a life without Fili. It would be the biggest disaster for him if Fili were no more. Yes, there is only a moment to catch his facial expression, but I think it is very easy to read all that in there.
I once read that someone felt it was entirely irrelevant to the movie that those three dwarves are related. Excuse me, but have you even read the book? The first time their relationship is mentioned is as “early” as ESGAROTH! But it is in a very impressive way. The dwarves step out of their barrels and Thorin introduces his nephews as:
“The sons of my father’s daughter, Fili and Kili of the race of Durin.” Yes, he is very proud of them! As I said, in the book it is never mentioned before that, so why in the movie? Those who haven’t read it won’t know, but they already get little glimpses of it and it will become plausible later on. This is not any different in the book by the way.
One of those little glimpses is – to me at least – the most important scene concerning the Heirs in this movie. When Thorin enters Bag End he suddenly spots Fili and Kili and gives them a proud smile (and keep in mind: Thorin hardly ever smiles!). It is hard to make out, I admit, because of the camera angle in this scene. But it is definitely worth watching for!
So why Thorin-Fili-Kili? Because their characters and the interactions between them make them the most interesting group of people in this whole story. So when I worship them it is really not at all about the much too often quoted “hot dwarves” but about the Heirs of Durin, whose story couldn’t be any more gripping.
So in the future movies I already look forward to Fili’s dilemma with the apples, the fact that Fili and Kili won’t be influenced at all by the call of the gold, and somehow, even to the heroic death of all of them. Because I know PJ will celebrate them in their full glory.
And in the end they are Heirs of Durin. What is there not to like?
In this raging river of great new interviews it’s been hard to stop and enjoy the content for more than a moment before moving on to the next. But the interview Richard Armitage did with George Stroumboulopoulos stood out for multiple reasons. With a clip here and there from the film, it will please the spoiler seeker, and it features the typical Armitage insight into his character and Tolkien’s writing, AND it has its moment of genuine hilarity when the host reminds his guest of a few golden moments indelibly etched into our YouTube playlists.
adam brown, afi, aidan turner, dean o'gorman, dwarves, graham mctavish, ian mckellen, lee pace, mark hadlow, news, oakenshield, peter hambleton, peter jackson, richard armitage, steven mcmichael, tami lane, thorin, thranduil, ziegfeld
The U.S. premiere of The Hobbit was held on December 6 at the Ziegfeld theater in New York, as a benefit for the American Film Institute. I decided that after two years of intensely following this production I might as well go to a premiere if possible. This one was pricey, but attainable. With little information given out in advance, there was no telling if any special guests would be attending, so I went into it without expectations. The guest list was announced the day of the event on AFI.com (“Keep it secret, keep it safe” must have been their motto). I was pleasantly surprised when all these folks showed up:
There were also a lot of crew members at the after-party, such as movement coach Terry Notary, and probably many more I did not recognize.
Regular cameras were not permitted at the screening, and taking photos at the after-party was strongly discouraged, so I did not feel any overwhelming urge to push my luck, and left the event undocumented, with the exception of snapping a pic of the tickets which awaited us at Will Call. Finally getting them in hand seemed cause for a minor celebration.
Having passed security, we filed into the theater like a herd of docile sheep while the guests began to arrive outside for the red carpet. Twitter reports gave me hints about who would be joining us, but it was still a wonderful surprise when Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, two hobbits, a wizard, and most of the dwarves appeared before us in the theater (the only one missing was Ken Stott). After going through introductions, the cast dispersed throughout the theater and we watched the film. My opinions on the film itself will have to wait for another post, and another week. [I have issues with the high frame rate format that I won't go into here, but which affected my perception of the film. Because of this, I'm not weighing in on anything until I can view it in a 24 fps format. This article by a staff member of TORn sums up my feeling on HFR almost perfectly.] But just to give an opposing viewpoint, my friend said they saw nothing at all wrong with it.
Let me say here that this premiere was very different in tone than the ones you saw in New Zealand and Japan. I think the majority of the audience was composed of the rich and jaded (the type who attend benefits rather than fantasy conventions). This audience possessed nowhere near the level of enthusiasm that I’ve seen in almost every other Hobbit-related venue. But of course they were polite, and it probably made the after-party much more manageable because it wasn’t composed entirely of fans such as myself who know all the dwarf actors’ faces by heart, which equated to less competition for their time.
Shuttle buses took guests from the theater to Guastavino’s. Built in 1909, it is now a unique location for private events, but was originally an open space made up of Catalan vaults under the Queensboro Bridge.
Upon entering the gala, it didn’t take long to determine that all the cool people were on the upstairs floor. First off I spotted Oscar winning prosthetics supervisor Tami Lane standing near Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman. OMG! (I will omit all subsequent moments of OMG, but needless to say, they happened often). Since I genuinely did not think I would meet these people, I was quite unprepared, and fell into the trap of being starstruck rather than taking advantage of my good fortune and asking them good questions. Blah. Oh well, I’m sure all the questions I might have come up with will be answered in future Hobbit interviews.
Tami Lane was very sweet, and easy to converse with, and I did manage to ask if her work as a dwarf extra made it into the film. She said it had, and that she was the dwarf woman who was about 3 people away from Thorin on the side of a hill. She said you can just see her “big hair”. I don’t know exactly which scene this is, but I’ll be looking for it on the DVD!
Aidan Turner was in a conversation with someone, so I waited my turn to offer congratulations, and mentioned how I enjoyed Kili and Fili’s interactions on screen. He was very cheerful, and introduced Tami, who was still near by, and another makeup artist who he had been talking to (I don’t remember the last name, but I think it might have been Katy Fray). I think I said something like “So these are the ladies who make you look so good” which we all laughed at since that is not a difficult task.
Not wanting to take up too much of anyone’s time, I moved on to Dean O’Gorman, introduced myself and said something along the lines of “Mr. O’Gorman, I promised someone I would try to meet you” (an awkward but true statement.) So we shook hands, and he said “I’m Dean.” Which is lovely, since it implies that I wouldn’t know it already. I said simply that I really enjoyed him as Fili, and hoped we would get to see a lot more of him in the next film. He replied that he hoped so too, since they never really know what will make it into the final cut.
Dean was very nice, but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, and with the nephews met, it was time to search for their uncle.
I didn’t have long to look. Richard Armitage was ensconced in a shadowed alcove chatting with someone. I only had time for a mental OMG! (sorry, just had to say it) before he looked to us. I was lucky it was a slightly darkened section, because if not, I would have been confronted with this in full light (which would have chased all coherent thought out of my mind):
The truth is, he seemed very approachable, so I shook hands and introduced myself as a fan of his work, and of Thorin in particular. I was a bit gushy and said something like they should consider renaming the film “Thorin”, to which he laughed and said thank you. [In all seriousness, this film focused on Thorin as much as it did on Bilbo, so the idea isn't that far fetched.] My friend was wearing a Noble Collection replica of the Key of Erebor, and Richard held it in his hand and said something like “Oh that’s a nice one,” and then mentioned that he had the original, as well as Orcrist. I asked if it was true if he also had the oakenshield, and he said yes, further mentioning that he helped design it, and was happily surprised it made it into the film. *A bit of a spoiler to follow* In the film, the shield starts out as a solid log which Thorin uses after his shield is broken in battle. They don’t really get into the details of what happens to it after this, but he keeps this log as a good luck item, and it either wears down over the years, or he purposely carves it into a shape that is more manageable. In one scene, the shield slips from his arm and is lost. I mentioned how this really pained me to watch, but that not everyone will appreciate it unless they know what it means to Thorin. Richard was pleased to know that someone else recognized the poignancy of that moment. My friend commented on how emotionally moving certain parts of the film were, but Richard gave the credit back to Tolkien as the source of it all. I got the feeling he could talk about his character and the book for hours without finding it a chore. But of course he needed to go mingle with more than just us. We thanked him for his time, and reluctantly let him go.
I have yet to read a single negative word written about this man by his costars, or his fans, and even in the short time we had to chat, it was obvious he was a genuine and unassuming person. My friend and I were very lucky to have met him.
With the heirs of Durin accounted for, it was time to look for the the rest of the Company.
I noticed that Peter Jackson was seated on a sofa surrounded by loads of people. He may be a casual king, but he is still the ruler of all things Hobbit, and was not very accessible. Just as well, since I doubt he wanted to hear my opinion on HFR.
There were a few others who were hanging out near the center of the room, such as Martin Freeman, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis, all of which I never attempted to talk to. Perhaps if I had a lot of patience, but there were more dwarves I needed to track down.
I spotted Lee Pace, and told my friend (who is a big Legolas fan) to see if she could talk to him. She doesn’t follow this movie like I do, and wouldn’t know Lee Pace from Adam, but I told her he was the Elvenking (who appears in the film very briefly). She reports that he was very friendly and pleased to hear that she thought Thranduil’s entrance was impressive, and that she looked forward to seeing more of him in the next one. He joked that he does remember filming a bit more than that, so hopefully she will get her wish.
I had seen Ian McKellen, along with Patrick Stewart (*omg*, sorry) near the center of the room, busy talking to everybody. There was no way I was going to butt in just to say “Hi, love you” to either of them. But my friend managed a brief but memorable moment with Ian, so I’ll just have to live vicariously through her.
I think I said congratulations to Jed Brophy and Stephen Hunter, while James Nesbitt, John Callen and William Kircher were closer to the overly busy center of the room. I’d almost stepped on the train of William Kircher’s wife’s dress earlier, and didn’t want to risk it actually happening.
Spotting Adam Brown near the periphery, I made my way over and told him how adorable he was as Ori. He thanked me for saying so. Seems he is also really adorable in person.
Mark Hadlow was in a conversation when I came up, but stopped to chat. He introduced the person he was talking to as swordmaster Steven McMichael, who was responsible for training everyone to fight on the film. I told him he did his job perfectly since they all looked like naturals. Steven joked that everyone always listened to his lessons, except for Mark. Mark demonstrated his own preferred way of fighting by striking a typical Errol Flynn fencing stance. Not the most appropriate look for a dwarf. I asked him if he found the motion capture work (as one of the Trolls) difficult. He said he had already done similar work on Tin Tin, and that it wasn’t that hard to imagine what you are supposed to be interacting with because Peter Jackson is so good at conveying his ideas to the actors.
I then found Peter Hambleton, who was also very nice and answered my question about which role did he enjoy doing more in the film, Gloin or one of the Trolls. He said Gloin was wonderful, but he also had lots of fun with the motion capture experience.
The people we were sitting next to in the theater were already talking to Graham McTavish, so we joined their conversation. Graham has a great sense of humor, and had been joking about possible scenes for the extended editions, such as all the dwarves bathing in Rivendell, and how much of a shock that would be to poor Lindir coming around a corner and seeing it. In discussing the mess the dwarves made of Bag End, he maintains that dwarves are actually quite housebroken since they ultimately cleaned everything up (except for the broken plumbing in the bathroom, which he asserts was not his doing). I asked if a younger Dwalin was present at Erebor (since I did not see him in the flashbacks) but he said he was at Moria later on, sporting a bit more hair on top. Another person asked if all the actors got tattoos to mark the occasion of filming, but he said they all got rings with secret inscriptions on the inside. He happened to be wearing it and took it off to show us, saying it was made of bronze, which he selected because he felt it was an ancient metal, stronger and more distinctive than gold.
The day before the premiere, the world learned that the infamous Naughty Dwarf Calendar was actually the brainchild of Graham (I missed this bit of news or I would have further grilled him about it). This video by ET.com gives a description of what will never see the light of day, and also more information about the secret of those Company rings.
On that note we felt it was time to call it a night. The whole thing was a once in a lifetime experience which we felt privileged to have participated in. Before leaving NY, we made a pilgrimage to the dwarf mural painted on the side of a building at Park Avenue and 24th street. It is actually pretty impressive in person and certainly worth the extra cab fare to see it.
Video of fan coverage by TORn of the red carpet:
Making this post from my phone, so it will be short and sweet.
From ENTV comes this incredible look at the film. Contains lots of clips we have not seen, and short interviews with cast and crew. Packed with dwarf perfection! Thorin fans will be especially pleased.