Character Profile: Beorn

Beorn (header)

– The Bear-Man …

What a fantastic character Beorn is … truly amazing. Definitely a one-of a kind creature in Middle-earth.

In Tolkien’s legendarium, skin-changers (or shape-shifters) are hard to come by and Beorn is definitely an individual whom you’d gladly take on your side.

His character strongly embodies the theme of nature – a guardian of the natural world and, just like nature, he has noBeorn Axe good or bad side.

Sure, he definitely is not evil (nor bad), but (as in the novel) Gandalf constantly warns the Dwarves about their peril when in his presence.

Tolkien puts it beautifully in one single quote: “Beorn was a fierce enemy. But now he was their friend”.

His sheer physical strength, whilst reflecting certain aspects of violence, do not necessarily entail a ‘bad’ individual. Beorn (both as a man and a bear) is not represented as a ruthless and mindless force with a complete disregard to his surroundings – but his powerful abilities reflect on those he hates most: Goblins (Orcs) and Wargs.

Perhaps his wariness and suspicion in others is most probably justified. The world (both our own and Middle-earth) is a dangerous place to live in, and in order to survive you have to be ready to defend your own habitat and yourself.

Nonetheless, to put it plainly, Beorn is one of the ‘good guys’. I’ve always loved the novel’s introduction to this character – his roughness and unawareness as to who Gandalf is; reflecting his own free state of mind and disregard to higher powers in Middle-earth.

But as much as he can be a terrifying character, he’s also ready to laugh at any particular instance, especially if it involves a tale about frightened (or slain) goblins – such as the one Gandalf and the Company told him upon their arrival at his house.

Beorn and Gandalf 2Reading the passages from the book, it’s always wonderful to have a good character which is an unstoppable force against the evil creatures that haunt our characters every step of the way.

Indeed, Beorn is a breath of fresh air when it comes to good-sided characters. The Lord of the Rings (being a more serious narrative and containing much more at stake) had no such powerful, tour de force individuals – whilst in The Hobbit, we get to see such a character in action.

In ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, Beorn is played wonderfully by Mikael Persbrandt. Peter Jackson opted to focus on certain elements of his characteristics, excluding the laughter and the lighter side of his character and making him more of a solitary figure.

But the film was spot-on in portraying Beorn as an animal-loving being – utilizing beautiful dialogue to demonstratebeorn-human-form his regard of the beings around him. During the conversation with the Company, he says that Dwarves are “blind to the lives of those they deem lesser than their own”.

With his deep voice and Swedish-influenced dialect, Persbrandt maintains the gravitas of Beorn’s character – a performance which shamefully wasn’t on-screen for much longer. Indeed, one of my gripes against Film 2 was the lack of Beorn and some further insight into his back-story, which will be necessary for his presence in There and Back Again.

Apart from hoping a more extended look at Beorn in the extended edition, it is hoped that we will get to know more of this character once Film 3 progresses towards the climax of the story.

No doubt that Peter Jackson’s direction, coupled with Persbrandt’s steely performance, will create something rather wonderful; forcing audiences to talk of nothing more except Beorn after the third film draws to a close.

14 thoughts on “Character Profile: Beorn

  1. The acting was great, his gravitas in eliciting emotion was spot on. However, as you stated, I wish that such a great character and actor were given more time on screen. I am sure that the film would have greatly benefited.

  2. A lot was sacrificed for sake of pacing. I think many sequences, including Beorn’s, was greatly edited. You’ve pointed out the several bits you’ve noticed missing, and I couldn’t agree more. I expect the EE for this film has, at least, 30 min, otherwise I’ll be disappointed.

    I did like the movie, I just really wish they didn’t cut out so much of it.

    1. I just would have loved for PJ to cut some of the extended action sequences already in DOS (or certain scenes not directly relevant to the story) and replaced them with more Beorn or Mirkwood scenes.

      Yes, let’s hope the EE are really extended 😀

  3. I really wish we would have seen more of Beorn as well. I loved his character in the book. I loved the movie too, but personally, I think they could have cut out more of the made-up elf/dwarf drama and put in more of Beorn since he actually exists and has a much more important role to play at the end. 🙂

  4. I guess I’m the only one who wasn’t that impressed. I didn’t appreciate seeing Beorn in bear form right away. It was anti climactic. He really deserved more of a backstory or flashback or something. Just really rushed through it and didn’t give the character the justice he deserves.

    Also, what was the point of showing Legolas almost defeat Bolg? Bolg is supposed to be this awesome bad guy (Orc) (massive book spoiler: highlight to reveal) who kills Thorin and is defeated by Beorn. That scene will lose something now that we know Bolg couldn’t even handle Legolas….AT ALL really.

    The more I think about DOS the more I dislike what Peter Jackson gave us. I realize I’m in the minority, and will try not to post too many comments like this moving forward. I just couldn’t help myself….Beorn was my favorite character.

    1. Hello a!

      You have every right to feel the way you do. Don’t worry, I agree with you on certain points – specifically regarding the lack of Beorn backstory in the film and the Legolas/Bolg confrontation.

      That fight however, demonstrated that Bolg is unlike the rest of the orcs – who are easily defeated by the elf. He is both powerful and cunning, with a superior intellect than the rest of his race (unless it’s Azog).

      But yes, I really DO hope that this fight doesn’t mean we’ll get another one during the Battle Of Five Armies – Bolg and Beorn deserve the spotlight in that sequence.

      As to Beorn’s backstory, I’m hoping that the DoS Extended Edition will amend that and for the general moviegoer, Film 3 might reveal more of his character before the Battle of Five Armies, maybe by introducing him to the Dol Guldur subplot … perhaps …

      (Btw, I’ve “covered” a sentence in your post in case people unaware of the story have yet to see how it concludes 😉 )

  5. Your read of Beorn is very good. I like your emphasis on Tolkien first and the movie and acting second. I suggest that the Tree Ents in Lord of the Rings are a similar creater/race that is free of the other peoples story, but willing to fight in their context. Aside from Tolkien, I grew up in SW Pennsylvania At had several semi-close encounters. My favorite was when I was mowing at the university farm. When done I parked the tractor and looked over the field. A mother black bear and four cubs came out of a copse of trees and walked off into the woods. I also had a dream 25 years or so ago that I had fallen into a lake. I drown and as I was sinking I calmly gazed at the fading day light. Then A black bear swam across the surface and I died. Powerful! Daniel.

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