Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, not so much. I think we can all agree that we’d rather be wearing a billowing cloak and carrying a broadsword than sitting at our desks all day. And usually, I’m all for any sword and sorcery movie. And The Hobbit movies are fine if you’re looking for a mindless action romp or some zone out CGI eye candy, but in The Hobbit trilogy, there’s one thing I just can’t get over. The dwarves. I wish you all could have-watched these movies with me because I almost lost my voice yelling at the TV.
As a refresher of the plot here’s a quick summary. Some dwarves have a late lunch at Bilbo Baggins’ house and then it’s three two hour movies of crazy battle scenes and depictions of the dwarven people that are just plain wrong. It’s well-known that these movies had a pretty troubled production. But I think that’s no excuse to disrespect the dwarves we all know and love. So without further ado, I give you everything The Hobbit trilogy gets wrong about dwarves.
We can all agree on thata stone dwelling race of miniature warriors with big beards and even bigger axes are pretty freaking cool. This is why I was so upset that the writers seemed to ignore one of the coolest things about the dwarves; they’re kick-ass backstory! The Tolkien smith God-like figure Aule first created the dwarves before the dawning of time. But the creator of the universe, Eru Iluvatar, had wanted the elves to be the first people to walk on the earth. Also, read- dwarven last names
So he put the dwarves underground and put them into an enchanted sleep until they awake eons later. All this is to say the dwarves were crafted directly by the hands of a noble smith God with great love and dignity that doesn’t exactly translate to characters behaving like this. – Bombur, catch! (dwarves cheering) – My major problems with the dwarves in these movies all fall into one of three categories. Physical, historical, and cultural. And by the end of this video, I think you’ll agree with me that for all the things this movie did wrong their worst offense is completely mischaracterizing some of the coolest characters in Tolkien’s lore.
We know they’re short and stocky, which the film actually got right, but that’s about the only physical thing they didn’t whiff on. Not counting the physically ridiculous things in the movie like surviving this fall and subsequent tonnage of Goblin King squishing you. And not suffocating when all your air is cut off because you’re covered in mackerel. There’s so so much wrong with the way the dwarves look and act based on their physicality these movies. I’m gonna start with the big one here. Beards! Dwarves are born with fully grown beards. Fun fact, both male and female dwarves have beards. Awesome, kick-ass, I wish I had a beard. Also, read- kobold names
There is a possible explanation as to why some of the dwarves in this movie don’t have bushy beards. The only time a dwarf will shave is in a moment of great shame. Kind of like the Dothrakiwarlords and their sick ponytails. Fili, Bofur, and Oribarely have beards at all. And this poor man’s Legolas has nothing more than a five o’clock shadow. They could have shaved them off and be growing them back because of something shameful they’ve done. Looking at you Kili, you little pervert. But I find it hard to believe that the noble dwarf strider, oh, sorry, Thorin, would have any dwarves with that much shame on their conscious in his employ.
Speaking of Thorin and dwarves follicles, this is a minor point, but why does Thorin have highlights? Because dwarves live to be about 250 years old they don’t come of age until they’re about 35 years old. But again, they’re born with full beards and Thorin’s super squad are all of the age in this story. Do not tell me this is a 35-year-old beard. He used to be an adventurer but then, well, you know. Next, we come to Oin. In the books, he’s a noble warrior, in the movie he’s an idiot old man with a stupid, stupid ear trumpet. This doesn’t make any sense on a bunch of levels. The first being that Thorin is the oldest member of the company.
He’s an estimated 195 years old at the start of The Hobbit. So why does he look so dramatically hale while Oin, who’s a couple of decades younger, looks like a dirty Santa Claus who’s gone off his dementia medication? Physically the dwarves are the hardiest of all the races in the Middle-earth. They live for hundreds of years without any real sign of physical decline. So miss me with this ear trumpet nonsense. Also, I know I just said that they are the hardiest people on Middle-earth, but they’re not Wolverine or Deadpool.
So the ax in the forehead onBifur is really pushing it. Before I move on from the physical I need to point out one of my least favorite parts of the movie; this mess. If you absolutely have to change anything about this fantasy classic, adding a female character seems like a good place to start. But introducing the character solely to be a love interest, real classy move there Hollywood. Also as a side note, Kili is supposed to be blonde. Just FYI. Historical. Dwarves are an ancient and noble people with a long and storied history.
From the moment the seven dwarf fathers were reawakened with their wives who, again, look a lot like dwarf men, they spread out over Middle-earth and began to build marvelous cities and honed their arts of engineering, mining, and crafting beautiful and powerful weapons and items. Knowing all this and having great respect for the dwarven people, I was obviously upset over scenes like this. (dwarf burps)(crowd laughing) (dwarf burps loudly) (crowd laughing) While there are many, many scenes in these movies which don’t line up within the history of Middle-earth as set out by Tolkien like this nonsense, and also this one which is really more about physics than history because that’s not how barrels work.
I’m forcing myself to stay on the topic of dwarves. Let’s start with the fact that half of the historical plot points are just plain wrong. Azog, besides being a silly billy with salad tong hands, was killed long, long before the events of The Hobbit took place. Thrain, Thorin’s papa, though he did go to Sauron’s stronghold and was driven mad by Sauron’s power working through the ring he possessed, died almost 100 years earlier and did not have these weird, unnecessary scenes with Gandolf. And speaking of Thorin Oakenshield, there are a couple of scenes in the movies when the dwarves all talk about what steps to take next on their journey. And while a bit of this is normal on any quest, Thorin as their king, and the choice to downplay his role as leader and final decision maker is just lazy writing. Do you know what’s not lazy writing? Tolkien’s complex and beautiful linguistic systems.
He basically created all these stories in order to have a place for the language she spent years creating. Guess what? He created a whole language for the dwarves but you’d never know it from these movies. A huge missed opportunity is the dwarves constantly referring to the wizard of the group as Gandalf, which does happen in the original book, but in the dwarven languageGandalf is known as Tharkun which translates roughly to staff man and is a totally sick nickname. Remember earlier when I mentioned that the dwarves were created by essentially a smith God? And the well-known fact that dwarves are master engineers and craftspeople who lovingly create awesome structures out of living rock that stands for millennia? Yeah, I’m pretty sure they would know that kicking the door wasn’t going to work.
Thorin screaming. – [Thorin] Break it down! – It was a huge plot hole that made me scream at my TV. There are also many, many scenes throughout these films where some rocks get wantonly tossed into dwarven structures quickly bringing down massive parts of walls and cities. Who would win, eons of magical engineering from a race who can build the most powerful buildings on the planet or one boulder boy? Cultural. And now my sweet friends and precious habits we come to the meat of the argument; dwarven culture. It makes me sad that these noble people are portrayed as completely the opposite of what Tolkien intended. Let’s start with my least favorite scene in all these movies.
The dining scene when they first meet Bilbo. Dwarven culture is founded around strong social norms with roots as deep as the mountains where they make their homes. Politeness to a guest or a host is paramount. The dwarves, upon arrival, greet Bilbo politely and hang up their gear. They don’t actively try and fuck up Bilbo’s house. After they eat and eat they clean up very quickly without being asked. And while they do tease Bilboabout breaking his dishes, they’re actually very orderly and clean. They don’t slobber everywhere, they’re not covered in dirt, they’re all proud warriors from a noble lineage who are vowing to take back their homelands.
Not grubby bros who spit up all over themselves. Anyways when they get to Rivendell to ask Elrond’s advice, I fucking lost it. Not only do they make a homophobic joke. – [Dwarf] That’s not an elf maid. (slow harp music) (crowd laughing) – (laughs) Such a funny joke, how could anyone possibly ever be attracted to someone of the same gender? Ha-ha isn’t that hilarious, let’s shame Kili! But they also insult themselves to music which is not cool. – [Gandalf] They’ve got a deep love of the arts. – Change the tune why don’t you. I feel like I’m at a funeral. – Did somebody die? – Dwarves have a deep love and respect for music and in Tolkien’s lore, nobody does tunes better than the elves. In the book, the dwarves actually all play instruments, and Thorin is so classy that he plays a golden harp. Very cool. As I re-watched these trash fires, I asked myself one question over and over.
Why? Why are they so bad? Why did they change so much from the books? Why did they take a beloved children’s classic and turn it into three exhausting movies? The explanation isn’t too complicated, but it also isn’t an excuse for the treatment of dwarves in the films. After the monster success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, making The Hobbit was the logical next step. And very excitingly famed director Guillermo del Toro was brought on to direct and help write a two-part movie version of the story. Financial uncertainty an MGM caused del Toro to jump ship and Peter Jackson, who directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy and was already helping with the script, was brought on.
He took the movies in an entirely new direction. Wiping the creative slate clean from important design elements like costuming, characters, and story. Studio pressure combined with the wheels of this huge $800 million production already having been in motion for years meant that Jackson and all the people working under him had to make a movie and make it quick. Filming began without a finished script. Props and costumes were often brought to set the day of a shoot, and Jackson went into grueling days of shooting with no time to the storyboard. And despite some supremely awesome scenes like this one, the frantic and chaotic production shows through in the finished product.
I remember standing in line for the midnight release of the first movie very excited and exiting the theater with so much rage I felt crazy. But years later the jokes on me because these movies have grossed almost $3 billion worldwide. And grossed is the right word because that’s disgusting. In summary, Tolkien’sdwarves are people of honor and dignity is the cornerstone of their culture. So yes, it’s totally fine if you enjoyed these movies or found the dwarves endearing or funny.