Ranking all things Middle-earth
Last week we discussed some of the most remarkable sets and locations from the Middle-earth saga. This week, we’ll be looking at the characters.
This was naturally tricky, so I’ve decided not to rank these in the usual way. Rather than assigning numbers, I decided to select 3 characters from each trilogy and briefly explain the reasons why I find them appealing
As with the other posts, it does not mean that those unmentioned characters are not my favourite; but to keep this post brief and maintain the sanity of you the readers, I’ve limited by list to a total of 6.
I’ve made one exception and omitted Gandalf from both trilogies. Let’s face it. These films wouldn’t be the same without the contribution of Ian Mckellan’s stellar performance. Considering he’s in all 6 films, I’ve decided to leave him out. Nothing against Gandalf, at all. Again, it’s all about brevity (… and sanity).
The Hobbit Trilogy
It’s pretty obvious but Bilbo Baggins is the reason why The Hobbit is so entertaining and a one-of-a-kind experience. Martin Freeman couldn’t have given a better performance as the titular character. The mannerisms, the emotions and the capability of transforming the character into the voice of the audience is the highlight of this trilogy. It is a pity his presence was overshadowed in The Battle of the Five Armies, but ultimately, the precious few minutes he’s on screen are gold. No pun intended of course.
Impressive both as a CGI-feat and as a unique personality. Peter Jackson, together with his indispensable WETA team and Benedict Cumberbatch’s sublime performance, have literally brought Smaug to life from Tolkien’s writing. The dragon was the make-or-break highlight of the trilogy. Cunning, terrifying and ─ oddly enough ─ alluring, the Professor himself would be proud of the filmmakers’ achievements at bringing one of his most popular and memorable characters to the screen.
Such a fantastic transformation takes place in the mind and appearance of the dwarf king. From a humble and fearless leader, to a greed-stricken being, back to a redeemed hero; a massive part of Thorin’s charisma and charm is a result of Richard Armitage’s astounding performance. After the first two Hobbit films, I had expected him to shine in the final installment, but never could I imagine the intensity and realism brought out on screen. I’m with Dwalin on my sense of loyalty towards this character, and would follow him one last time without question.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Personally, the primary hero of The Lord of the Rings. Samwise embodies the beautiful qualities of human beings: honest, loyal and capable of great deeds. Without him, Frodo’s quest would have failed miserably. He’s almost like a guardian angel, who’s love of the rustic and simple life makes him all the more appealing when facing insurmountable odds. He is the Brave, the Stouthearted; renowned by the Free People’s of Middle-earth, but also a gardener and the Gaffer’s son. That unlikely combination is an endearing quality of his character.
Yes, he was somewhat too proud, and he tried to forcefully take the Ring from Frodo; but Boromir was ultimately a good guy. The symbolic fall of Boromir was necessary to the story, in order to show us the corruptible qualities of the Ring – that even the most noble and powerful individuals can succumb to its evil; but, unlike the Son of Gondor, no one could come back from an overthrown mind. Sean Bean is a favourite actor of mine and Boromir’s last stand is sheer perfection. I rarely find myself in tears, but every time I watch this scene, I always keep a tissue or two within reach.
Yet another character who’s transformative experience resounds across the second half of The Lord of the Rings. For a supporting character, Théoden has quite a complex journey throughout the trilogy. He is a king who is trying to regain his subjects’ trust; he goes to great lengths to keep his people and family safe; he recognizes his own failures as a king; he performs a heroic deed that ultimately assures victory for the forces of good. Basically, he’s an all rounder with charisma and a strong emotive performance. And best of all, he’s played by Bernard Hill.
Your turn now to share with us your most beloved characters from the trilogies.
Next week will see the conclusion of The Gaffer’s Elite series, in which I tackle the impossible: ranking all 6 films … (this is truly scary business).
Copyright of images belongs to Warner Bros., MGM Studios and New Line Cinema.