– Proud dwarf King, stubborn warrior, loyal friend … heartthrob
Finally, after our 12 dwarves, we get to the one character who is actually fleshed out to the full in ‘The Hobbit’; the dwarf who, more so than Gimli, goes through a transformation of character and through whom we are actually introduced to one of the fundamental motifs in the novel – greed.
Unlike his companions, Thorin is one of the major protagonists in the book who, even though relying mostly on the help of Gandalf and Bilbo, offers us a very fascinating insight into the nature of a Tolkien-crafted dwarf. There’s much to analyze and discuss about his motivations and actions throughout the narrative and readers are able to enjoy his character as it “collides” with other races and events in the world of Middle-earth.
In terms of the book, Thorin is an old – but strong – warrior who, having lost his father, grandfather and Erebor with it, resolutely takes it upon himself to reclaim what is rightfully his.
In Peter Jackson’s own interpretation, Thorin has been given a good dosage of essence from the Fountain of Youth – a dwarf who seems to be totally unaffected (at least physically) by 170 or more years of hard toils and a gritty life.
(Above: a quick comparison of cinematic face progression; includes the dates of the key events from the Attack of Smaug, the Battle of Azanulbizar and the year ‘The Hobbit’ takes place. Also included is Thorin’s actual age in each event according to Tolkien)
That is not to say that the Thorin in the film isn’t worthy of praise …
I was probably one of those handful of fans who actually embraced the younger-look of Thorin as soon as the official photo was released (back in July 2011). I’ll be honest though, I would have liked a more white-haired and slightly wrinkled appearance even better. Nonetheless, I was very much looking forward to Richard Armitage’s performance.
Indeed, his interpretation was not at all disappointing. In ‘An Unexpected Journey’, Armitage has managed to portray a Thorin who is both proud of his ancestry and history, but at the same time, is haunted by grief (and perhaps a dose of hopelessness) about his “recent” predicaments. Adding to this, there’s a strong sense of stubbornness and dwarvish “narrow-mindedness” to his character, which provides further personality exposition – whilst laying a solid foundation on how his persona will be affected in the upcoming films.
Seeing Thorin on screen is even more impressive and convincing once you compare the performance with Armitage’s own (completely opposite) real-life character.
There is definitely something appealing in the film-version character of Thorin (fan girls will stress the importance of his looks, first and foremost) that will certainly provide a very interesting input to the whole evolving narrative of ‘The Hobbit’ and most probably eliminate any of the more doubtful fans not yet convinced by his interpretation.
Thorin and his relationship with Bilbo should now be one of the most anticipated subjects in ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ and ‘There and Back Again’.
And with that, we conclude the Character Profiles series for the dwarves. I will probably delve into other characters in the near future, but for now, my next posts will deal with something altogether different …