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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Celtic Dwarves?


Nov 20 2012, 11:09am

Post #1 of 13 (828 views)
Celtic Dwarves? Can't Post

In the past, with LOTR, the production chose to embed each race of middle earth with an overtone of a real world race or culture. This has a few advantages.

-It gives the characters more believability. It helps to be able to readily associate a race with something familiar in order to establish realism.
-It adds real life depth to the cultures.
-It expands and adds character to the designs and overall living conditions of the society in general.
-Musical cues are more fitting when a certain aesthetic is already associated with them.

This has probably been discussed or assumed before, but I think it's safe to say that the dwarves will have a very strong celtic influence. I always thought about how they would go about grounding the dwarves, so as they don't come off as the typical fantasy characters they are often depicted as being. Silly fantasy dwarves will not work. Bumbling, slightly drunken, meat eating, Irish dwarves are a bit more like it.

I know some people will cry stereotyping, but I think if it's done correctly it will work. If the dwarves are established as a proud, hearty culture who enjoy a good drink and a song, it will make their comedy a bit more acceptable. Thoughts?

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


Nov 20 2012, 11:18am

Post #2 of 13 (446 views)
Bagpipes [In reply to] Can't Post

Shore's unique use of bagpipes in the track 'Erebor' suggests he's thinking this also.


Nov 20 2012, 11:26am

Post #3 of 13 (416 views)
Only Bofur appears to have an Irish accent... [In reply to] Can't Post

...and that's because it's the only accent JN can do. A couple have Scottish accents but there has been a comment to the effect that they shouldn't be seen as Scottish dwarves but rather as just coming from a different area.

All the other accents I have heard have been Yorkshire/Northern England, including Thorin. Even Aidan Turner who is Irish speaks with a Yorkshire accent like his uncle. And when Mark Hadlow (Dori) greeted Prince Charles at Weta the other day in character, the Prince made a remark about him coming from Yorkshire.

As far as associations are concerned, when I see them in the trailer singing the "chipped plates" song, I immediately think of rowdy English pubs and rugby teams. And surely, as far as food is concerned, the Irish are associated with potatoes? The original meat eaters are the beef eaters of England - even Shakespeare makes jokes about this.


Nov 20 2012, 11:31am

Post #4 of 13 (403 views)
They don't all have to have Irish accents to make it their "culture of association" [In reply to] Can't Post

Middle Earth is obviously different from the real world. But having a culture in the films remind you of a real culture (even if it's just subconsciously) is certainly a running trend. Even if their accents don't all meld with that, it would still work.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


Nov 20 2012, 11:34am

Post #5 of 13 (460 views)
I think that Dain and his men, [In reply to] Can't Post

since they come from an area further north, have been given the bagpipe link. The British army spread the use of bagpipes worldwide - even the Indian army has a bagpipe section. The skirl of the pipes can be both uplifting and frightening and Thorin would obviously welcome them amongst his troops. But, this does not make the overall feel of the dwarves "Celtic".


Nov 20 2012, 11:46am

Post #6 of 13 (368 views)
Fair enough... [In reply to] Can't Post

But the first country that always comes to mind when one hears bagpipes is Scotland. But I guess we'll have to wait and hear the entire score for the three films before we draw conclusions on how they'll connect with the Dwarves and Erebor.

The inspirations are likely to be drawn from the British Isles and Ireland in general, rather than a particularly 'Celtic' culture, whatever that might be.

(This post was edited by Shagrat on Nov 20 2012, 11:48am)

Tol Eressea

Nov 20 2012, 11:46am

Post #7 of 13 (380 views)
Ach, Doesn't matter really about accents you know :P, the culture that matters.. [In reply to] Can't Post


--I'm a victim of Bifurcation--

Join us over at Barliman's chat all day, any day!


Nov 20 2012, 11:57am

Post #8 of 13 (375 views)
According to where you come from [In reply to] Can't Post

in the world, your "culture of association" may be different from my "culture of association". For instance, the Brits can easily distinguish the many accents that come from all over the UK and Eire; but, non-Brits have more trouble - obviously. And I've noticed that it is common for non-Brits to hear an accent which is other than English Received Pronunciation, and they immediately assume that it's Irish, for some reason.

The "culture of association" I receive from the meat eating and riotous behaviour at Bag End says English pub to me. To you, it might say Irish pub. But, I also get the "Nordic" feel - carousing Vikings etc - and this might be because of the strong association of Yorkshire with Viking settlements.

But, that's just me and doubtless it will be different for everyone,

And surely this is what Middle-earth is all about? A sense of a real, almost recognisable culture but one you can't quite put your finger on. Don't pigeon-hole it.


Nov 20 2012, 12:05pm

Post #9 of 13 (350 views)
No worries. Not pigeon holing here. Just bringing a theory into discussion [In reply to] Can't Post


"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


Nov 20 2012, 1:05pm

Post #10 of 13 (345 views)
I don't buy it [In reply to] Can't Post

Nesbitt may have an Irish accent, and Stott & McTavish Scottish ones, but none of the dwarven material culture feels remotely Celtic to me. In fact, it doesn't match up with any single historical culture I can think of (despite slightly Nordic overtones in rune-use and the geometric artwork common to many cultures in the Near East). The dwarves are supposed to be secretive and highly protective when it comes to their culture. I think the designers have done a solid job in keeping with that sense of mystery and strangeness.

Concerning their boisterousness, they give off the feel of both a rugby team fresh off the pitch or a band of vikings on a journey. I dont agree, however, that this is qualifies as a cultural indicator. Most societies get rowdy at parties. It's logical that dwarves would as well.

"After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear." Professor Tolkien, 1951

Grey Havens

Nov 20 2012, 2:18pm

Post #11 of 13 (304 views)
I have a feeling it may actually be the Northumbrian pipes... [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's Mike Smith playing a tune composed by Kathryn Tickell, another great Northumbrian piper:


"Choosing Trust over Doubt gets me burned once in a while, but I'd rather be singed than hardened."
Victoria Monfort


Nov 20 2012, 2:37pm

Post #12 of 13 (284 views)
Yes, I was thinking of the Northumbrian pipes too. [In reply to] Can't Post

But most people will think Scottish bagpipes, I suppose. It will be interesting to see if Dain and his men are wearing kilts, LOL!

As an aside, the word "Celtic" was made up only a couple of hundred years ago and just muddies the waters. Too many people think of the Irish, Scots and Welsh as being Celtic and the English being Anglo-Saxon and "different". But, recent DNA tests have shown that the Welsh and the English, for instance, are practically identical. The English are still the same "Celts" that the Romans found with only a small input from the insignificant group of invaders, the Anglo-Saxons, who, although they were the ruling class, were small in number and soon intermarried with the locals.

And so, all this discussion is just a form of words. Half of Scotland lives in England and half of Ireland lives in Liverpool. We can't be separated.


Nov 21 2012, 12:07am

Post #13 of 13 (186 views)
they seem [In reply to] Can't Post

more Viking in design than Celtic to me.


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