Character Profiles: Bifur,Bofur,Bombur

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Did I say I’d be posting solely about Bombur? Apologies. But after a last minute reconsideration, I deemed it fit to categorize these profiles appropriately into groups – as I had done in the introduction here . Thus, it’ll be easier for you, dear reader, to follow these posts; as well as learn, once and for all (if you haven’t already), all the names of the Dwarves and to whom they belong.

Bifur: The looney dwarf (… with the axe in the head)

Unlike the film version, Bifur does have a speaking role once or twice in the book – and when he does, it’s in plain English. The film-makers, however, decided to give Bifur a different element to his character, making himb2 somewhat slightly crazed and Khuzdul-centric. In ‘An Unexpected Journey’, we have already witnessed some of his sudden bizarre behaviours, strongly distinguishing him from the rest of the Company – not least for his ability to communicate entirely (and solely) in the Dwarvish language.

All this is mainly due to that (not-so-tiny) axe embedded in his head. Clearly some “scar” from a previous engagement, the wound has left Bifur permanently subjected to his slightly “out-worldly” behaviour – nonetheless, one that certainly provides more depth and breadth to the whole range of characters in front of the screen. To be honest, during the production of these films, I found the axe-issue to be rather ludicrous. From a few Vlogs we had been presented with, it looked preposterously large and seemed to be distracting the whole facial performance of the actor (William Kircher).

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However, either because I’ve become immune to it or for some other inexplicable reason, when viewing ‘An Unexpected Journey’ for the first time, it was barely noticeable. It’s probably the fuzzy hair though – which seems to overflow on top of his wound and “cover-up” some of the enormity of the axe.

Meanwhile, Kircher has stated that there is a very interesting and emotional back-story behind his wound and hopefully we will be given this insight in ‘The Desolation of Smaug’.

Bofur: The Irish one

Tolkien does not provide us with much background information on most of the Dwarves in the Company. Naturally, due to the nature of any book, neither does he describe each of the Dwarves’ speaking accents. In fact, Bofur 2most of the characters barely have a line or two in the entire novel – making it difficult for any reader to understand further their motivations and specific characteristics.

Therefore, it is only natural that the filmmakers have felt the need to distinguish. as much as possible. between each of the Dwarves. In case of Bofur (played by James Nesbitt), he’s the fun-loving, joke-cracking, Irish-accented dwarf.

As far as I’m concerned, the book gives us only one line by Bofur (does he?) and therefore, we can never be exactly certain WHO he is, except that he was Bombur’s brother and Bifur’s cousin.

Bofur 1

Within the trilogy, alongside his brother and cousin, he is a miner from the Blue Mountains (and not descended from Durin’s line – as stated in the book). Nonetheless, just like any of the other dwarves, he is both a fighter as well as a comedic presence. Still, in terms of the films, he has so far been able to provide the necessary drive for Bilbo in a emotionally-stirring scene before their capture by the Goblins. As an audience, we learn through Bofur how the Dwarves have been without a home for years – condemned to a life of exile.

I’m very much looking forward to a rumoured scene of James Nesbitt singing a song in Rivendell in the upcoming Extended Edition of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ …

Bombur: Everyone’s favourite grumpy dwarf

Bombur is brother to Bofur and the cousin of Bifur; his two main hobbies consisting of: eating and sleeping (which I’m sure are favourite past-times for most – me included!).Bombur 2

One of the major characteristic differences (so far) between the book and ‘An Unexpected Journey’, is the lack of dialogue given to this particular dwarf. Sure, in the novel he never talks more than a half a page (and when he does, it mainly consists of scattered lines here and there; most of the times grumbling about food – or lack of), but at least, it’s “something”.

What we have seen so far in the first films of the trilogy, is a Bombur described (in various movie companion books) as being a shy dwarf, solely bent on eating habits. The film-makers definitely got the second trait in-line with the book, as audiences have witnessed the several humorous moments Bombur has been involved in – not least, his table-breaking attitude in Rivendell.

Nevertheless, as with most dwarves, Bombur (Stephen Hunter) has been given an interesting set of fighting skills – particularly through the use of his deadly cooking spoon! It is difficult to assess how and whether he differs greatly from the book, since we have yet to see the evolution of his character arc.

Bombur 1

Some viewers have claimed that, according to the DVD subtitles in ‘An Unexpected Journey’, there are a few instances where he has a line or two of dialogue. So far, I haven’t noticed this and here’s hoping that in the next two films we will be able to understand more of his motivations on the quest and start a friendship with Bilbo, which will pave the way for a very introspective scene between the two towards the climax of the story (probably in film three).

Meanwhile, in the next post we will be discussing another set of “triple” dwarves …

(Images taken from the ‘Heirs of Durin’ site here)

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7 thoughts on “Character Profiles: Bifur,Bofur,Bombur

  1. Great! 😀 I thought I would have to wait longer, but now I can read more!
    I had the same opinion about Bifur. I would like to listen to him talking in English, but I guess it’s one of the ways to distinguish him from the many others. I barely noticed the axe it the first time I saw the movie. I would love to know the story behind that wound, too!
    I don’t quite remember how many lines Bofur has in the book. I quite enjoy the movie character though. He’s one of the most outstanding dwarves even if it’s not in the books.
    About Bombur, I really liked his characterization and yes, I agree when you say he was mostly shy.
    I can’t wait to see other two movies so we can know this trio better. And of course, I can’t wait until you post the next characters profile! Thank you so much for writing this enjoyable text.

  2. I watched the Hobbit about 3 or 4 times…I never once noticed Bifur had an axe in his head. But now I’m excited about the prospect of leaning how it got there, but I imagine this is going to be a quick retellinging of a story (like Balin talking about how Thorin got his name).

    I realize the book didn’t talk much about the Dwarves, but at the same time, it did a very comprehensive overview in the beginning as they came to Bilbo’s 2 at a time… to at least explain who they were. The movie intentionally bypassed this…but instead focused on Dwalin, Balin, Fili, Kili, and Thorin. Oddly enough, throughout the 1st movie, those 5 Dwarves were the ones who had the most lines.

    Bofur had his scene, Bombur sticks out due to his size, but unfortunately I feel like most of these Dwarves are getting the short end of the stick here. I was looking forward to more of their backstory in the 2nd film, but seeing Legolas and this other female Elf makes me think Jackson is going in another direction.

    It’s also going to be really sad if Fili and Kili go the same way they did in the book….you can tell that they were intentionally made to stand out in the first movie.

    • Yes, it was indicated by William Kircher (who plays Bifur), that there will be a proper exposition scene regarding his axe … Fingers crossed!

      Following on your previous comment regarding Gloin’s lack of dialogue, I believe Fili had even less (especially screen-time)!

      Kili seems to get the most attention – seemingly pointed towards grabbing “fan-girls” attention.

      Likewise, I hope that Film 2 will provide more background to the rest of the characters, strengthening the bond between Thorin, Kili and Fili.

      • I realize that I need to watch this move again…I felt like the first few times I didn’t even have a handle on who the dwarves were. Suddenly it clicked for me but as you can tell I still missed a lot.

  3. I saw another site point out that Fili was absent a lot….it’s odd, but I never noticed that at all when watching the movie. *shakes head* lol

    • Unfortunately, I have! :/ And really feel sorry for Dean O’Gorman.

      It’s true that he had to replace another actor a couple of weeks into the start of shooting, but you’d imagine that O’Gorman would have filmed the majority of Fili scenes …

      Still, his absence is quite noticeable (does this phrase even make sense? :D)

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