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01/23/2011

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Servitus

(Comment re-posted from "RA Viewer's Perspective")

"I reread The Hobbit since Mr. Armitage was cast and I'd forgotten how much the telling of the story is focused on Bilbo's perspective (not surprising, I just hadn't reread it in decades, so I'd forgotten). The operative conflict in Thorin's life is his perceived need to recapture the heritage of his ancesters, lost to the dragon Smaug, and the way that that plays out in his dealings with Gandalf, his fellow dwarves, Bilbo, and the other beings and humans they encounter on their way to achieve their goal. The story doesn't get much more sophisticated than that -- it's really much more of pure adventure story than LOTR was. I assume that the movie script is going to explore some of the potential in the story a bit more deeply, and from the perspective of characters other than Bilbo, more than the book itself does. I agree that in some ways it's hard to imagine a 6'2" romantic lead playing a 4" dwarf -- one assumes makeup will help -- but I think that Armitage should be able to fit his skills as developed for Guy and Uhtred of Bebbanburg well into the concerns of the character for honor and into the gruffness and the dwarf-brotherhood ethos of Thorin. Given the sparseness of the lines the book itself would give to Thorin if the adaptation were a one to one correspondence, I have to say that I wonder if Armitage wasn't cast as much for his ability to communicate a complex mood with facial expressions (which we saw especially in N&S and RS, but also to some extent in Spooks) as for his ability to deliver lines. Depending on how the script falls out this may be a role where he has to say a great deal with face and less with words -- something that Armitage is strong at already."

Kiplingkat

(Re-posted here from RA Viewer's Perspective"

"There is more of the general history of dwarves, and their conflict with the elves, in the Silmarilion. The chance meeting between Thorin and Gandalf that kicked off The Hobbit adventure is in the Unfinished Tales.

When reading Tolkien you have to remember that character development as a modern audience knows it was not his focus. He felt that the Norman Conquest had stripped the British Isles of their native myths (Arthur is an amalgamation of Welsh and French), as such he felt that Britain needed a native mythology and so created Middle Earth and its stories along those lines. (Aas well as to create a history for the elvish languages he had created.) Remember in one of the extras for FOTR: EE, the focus of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society was ancient myths and legends and he was heavy influenced by that. The name of Thorin actually comes from a Scandinavian legend. So his characters tend to be archetypes rather than three dimensional complexity that we we're used to seeing in popular fiction.

In the books Aragorn is entirely sure he is on the right path to fulfilling his destiny, but in the films they gave him more three dimensional motivations, questioning himself and his role.

Thorin also has a great deal of potential for complexity given the emotional journey the character takes from being a heroic redeemer (and a bit full of himself) with a great deal of racial distrust, to one who loses his head with power and greed, to his ultimate redemption. There is a lot of meat there for PJ, Fran, (I hope they have gotten Phillipa Boynes back), and Armitage to work with.

I mean, look what Armitage did with John Porter book vs. screen. "

Kiplingkat

(Re-posted from RA Viewer's Perspective)
"And I forgot to mention that, of course, Tolkien's academic focus was also on ancient myths and legends. I have his translation of "Gawain and the Green Knight" stuck in with his Middle earth works. (It's quite enjoyable.) My understanding is his commentary on "Beowulf" is a standard. He was more interested in creating the feel of classic legend and the plot and the themes, than he was in character. Really, the only three dimensional characters in his works are the Hobbits (Bilbo, Frodo, Sam) through which the the reader experiences the story. The rest are archetypes. I would have loved to see more of who Eowyn was (I think one could write a great book just about her), but that wasn't really Tolkien's point. In fact, much of the Fantasy and SciFi/ "speculative fiction" genres tend to be more concept focused than character focused. There are some great authors who do populate their worlds with engaging characters, but the principal mode of these genres to is take topics like social movements, institutions, or philosophies, etc. out of their current emotionally charged context and place them on a pedestal to be examined more objectively. "A Canticle for Liebowitz", for example, is the seminal novel of Post-Apocalyptic genre, but it main focus is to examine the relationship of mankind to knowledge and what Miller considered the cycles of civilization. I'm currently reading "Small Gods" by Sir Terry Pratchett, which is, as are all of Sir Terry's works, highly amusing, but the thrust of it is an examination of foibles of religious institutions. Or they're just trying to just to tell a cracking good adventure story (vis a vis "Star Wars"). In either case, in those genres, characterization tends to get a lower priority than ideas and the story itself."

Mulubinba

Thanks Kiplingkat for this! I must hunt out my OH's copy of the Silmarillion - I've seen it somewhere in the bookcase. I think Phillipa Boynes is back working on the project - I saw her interviewed when the strike action in NZ was at its peak. I hope the writers bring out the complexity in Thorin as you describe so well above. I more than ever understand PJ's decision casting RA, as he does "complex" so well.

Kiplingkat

"Yeah. When I heard about it, I thought it was perfect casting. While the role is not as detailed as Bilbo in the book, it's actually more dramatically meaty in a way. I think he is going to be brilliant. The only concern I have is that Armitage is used to playing things subtle, those mercurial expressions that flit across his countenance almost unnoticed, conveying character in a way that feels natural rather than spelling it out. How is that going to work through a prosthetic beard and possibly pathetic make up? I remember Andreas Katsulas talking about acting through the make up of G'Kar on Babylon 5. It's a tricky balance to strike, to get through the make up, without going over the top and making it look "stagy". I'm sure he has it well in hand, but its the only niggling concern I have."

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About this blog


  • Actor Richard Armitage has been cast as Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit Movies. This blog aims to explore the stories about Tolkien's dwarves and any other material that may be related to The Hobbit. I have been a long time follower of Richard Armitage's work and have also developed a great love and appreciation of Tolkien's writings. I was captivated by Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies and will wait with great anticipation to see how he can bring "The Hobbit" to life for audiences.

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