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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Bilbo and Thorin character arcs in the Desolation of Smaug

burrahobbit
Rohan


Jan 1 2013, 5:32pm

Post #1 of 20 (1734 views)
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Bilbo and Thorin character arcs in the Desolation of Smaug Can't Post

So we know that Jackson, Boyens and Walsh like strong character arcs in their screenplays, and are partial to dramatic confrontations and character reversals as well. In an Unexpected Journey they brought forward the moment Bilbo proves his bravery to the dwarves through the clash with Azog scene. Cue manly dwarf-hug with Thorin, and the respect and appreciation of all the dwarves.

So it's got me wondering, how will they take this relationship forward in the Desolation of Smaug? How will Bilbo and Thorin change? In the book the next big moment of drama is the Arkenstone conflict, and we won't get that far in DoS. But there are plenty of intervening scenes that could be used for character progression.

So Jackson's Thorin is considerably more heroic and likeable than in the original Hobbit book. But remember Thorin still has to request that Bilbo ventures down the tunnel to face Smaug alone. Will we begin to see the lust for gold turn Thorin's character darker in DoS? The conflict with Thranduil and the enthusiasm of the people of Esgaroth could be early triggers for this change.

In the absence of Gandalf, Bilbo takes on a leadership role expressed through the Mirkwood spiders attack and the escape from Thranduil's halls. This culminates in him venturing to meet Smaug when the whole quest lies in his hands. In the book it's more than bravery- he has come to 'trust his luck', symbolised by his magic ring, and he feels he is fated to take on this task. Will this theme of luck be used in DoS? Or does the lucky magic ring in The Hobbit book conflict with the One Ring in Jackson's Hobbit?


Joe-Mathews
Rivendell


Jan 1 2013, 5:44pm

Post #2 of 20 (1010 views)
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Jealousy? [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo will take on more of a leadership role than Thorin is comfortable and Thorin will get jealous. Bilbo will save them from spiders, free them from the elves, and the company already liked Bilbo before Thorin did.

Thorin having to repeatedly thank Bilbo will lead to bitterness.

Thorin's ability to lead is constantly under question from this point of the story forward.

Even in the book, I often wondered if Thorin didn't send Bilbo down the passage to Smaug to be rid of Bilbo.

'There is some woe that lies upon you... Why will you not tell me more?'
'For that woe is past,' said Galadriel; 'and I would take what joy is here left, untroubled by memory. And maybe there is woe enough yet to come, thought still hope may seem bright.'


Lightice
Lorien

Jan 1 2013, 6:29pm

Post #3 of 20 (919 views)
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Why is that? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Even in the book, I often wondered if Thorin didn't send Bilbo down the passage to Smaug to be rid of Bilbo.


It was Bilbo's job right from the start to creep down the passage to spy on Smaug. That was the very task he was hired for, right from the start. That was the whole purpose of bringing him along with the Company. Why would sending Bilbo to do what he was hired for in the first place have any malevolent undertones?


Joe-Mathews
Rivendell


Jan 1 2013, 6:48pm

Post #4 of 20 (886 views)
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Not main motivation. [In reply to] Can't Post

It is just a stray thought. I don't think he did it purposefully; more a subconscious motive than the primary. Thorin didn't want Bilbo along from the start.

Yes, this was the task Bilbo was contracted for. It was the only thing Thorin expected to need him for. From Thorin's perspective, the burglar might as well get his task over with and then leave the rest to the dwarves. It's not too far to think Thorin thought of Bilbo as dragon-fodder.

Thorin could make the argument that all the trouble they got into along the way started with Bilbo's bungling. (Bad pick-pocketing the trolls, not alerting them to the doorstep orc attack quick enough, failure to steal elf banquet food, poor escape accommodations, angering the dragon...) I don't agree with that thought, but Thorin might have.

'There is some woe that lies upon you... Why will you not tell me more?'
'For that woe is past,' said Galadriel; 'and I would take what joy is here left, untroubled by memory. And maybe there is woe enough yet to come, thought still hope may seem bright.'


Roheryn
Grey Havens

Jan 1 2013, 7:39pm

Post #5 of 20 (861 views)
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Interesting thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

What I'm particularly curious about is how PJ will handle what in the book is Bilbo more or less taking over the leadership of the company: they, including Thorin, trust him to get them out of whatever muddle they're in and give him a hard time when he doesn't do it well or quickly enough. I have a really hard time seeing PJ's Thorin relinquishing any leadership to anyone, let alone Bilbo, and it's hard for me to imagine what Bilbo could believably do in order for Thorin to let him assume this role.


burrahobbit
Rohan


Jan 1 2013, 8:05pm

Post #6 of 20 (827 views)
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Maybe the dwarves are more active in Mirkwood and the Barrel Escape [In reply to] Can't Post

It was mentioned on this board that the escape from Thranduil's halls may not involve the dwarves being in prison, so maybe they are more active than in the book. Also the dwarves could put up a better fight against the spiders. This could be used to lessen the feeling that Bilbo is leading the dwarves ahead of Thorin.


Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 1 2013, 9:53pm

Post #7 of 20 (797 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

Some thoughts ....

"...and he never forgave and he never forgot"


Perhaps instead of lust for gold, they will attribute it to his lingering anger over no one else helping the Dwarves when they needed help, and about the Dwarves being reduced to displaced, second class citizens of Middle-earth. In Balin's words, "Taking work wherever he could get it" (words to that effect), etc. This is a former prince of a great realm who has come pretty far down in the world. Perhaps this is why there are several conversations in AUJ around Thorin refusing to have anything to do with the Elves, and his anger over the past, to foreshadow all the pride and anger spilling over now/in the future to include basically everyone else because they had to do it (well almost all of it) on their own.

"You have made a good life...in the Blue Mountains"
I forget the exact dialogue here but Balin tries to tell him this all isn't necessary, he is a fine leader of his people already and has done well by them. I think here we are left to wonder, is it really that this prince has fallen far in the eyes of the world, or is it only in his own eyes?

"Which makes you nobody, really"
Not sure if that was the exact wording of the last of the Great Goblin's insults, but here again I think these things are all being said to make the audience understand how Thorin feels. Thorin being proud and strong would be completely out of character to say all this, but perhaps we as the audience have to know it, so we have other characters saying it for our benefit.

"I did not know they were yours to keep"

I loved that line. I thought it explains the Thorin we meet in AUJ perfectly. When Gandalf says that he didn't give him the key and the map so he could hold on to the past - that is Thorin's answer -- to a Wizard! Wow, that's prideful and bold and fearless and angry and resentful and probably ten other things all mixed into that one sentence! Just, wow. So I can't really envision this Thorin falling into a jealous snit over Bilbo making decisions, or getting lustful for gold. There's no indication at all so far that he cares for gold, in fact to me he seemed to have a look of perhaps disgust / sadness / foreboding in the prologue when he sees how gold affected Thror.

I think perhaps we have more of an indication that his future actions will be due to this brooding and anger over the events of the past, and that these things were included in AUJ to show his mindset and set up for the effect it's going to have on his character once he does get back into his old realm.


Gee I guess we only have to wait a year to find out LaughCrazySly.


Lissuin
Tol Eressea


Jan 1 2013, 10:38pm

Post #8 of 20 (736 views)
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Jealousy and humiliation. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Bilbo will take on more of a leadership role than Thorin is comfortable and Thorin will get jealous. Bilbo will save them from spiders, free them from the elves, and the company already liked Bilbo before Thorin did.

Thorin having to repeatedly thank Bilbo will lead to bitterness.


Your jealousy point is accurate because Thorin will be deeply humiliated in the next film: the spiders; captured and imprisoned by the elf king, whom he hates for failing to help in Erebor, then released from his cell/saved by Bilbo a third time; stuffed unceremoniously into a barrel to escape rather than fighting his way out, but saved never-the-less by Bilbo a fourth time. I don't think the script writers will carry this Thorin-hugs-Bilbo-and-we're-buddies-now scene very far forward. Thorin's expressions of thanks, if any, will become more strained.

Bilbo taking the leadership won't be overt. He won't see himself as the leader, more that he happened to be able to get the dwarves out of messes by good luck and persistence. In fact, he would be hurt if Thorin indicates that he thinks Bilbo is trying to usurp his position because Bilbo is coming to respect a different kind of skill and character in Thorin than he has ever been exposed to. There will be many sidelong glances and embarrassed shuffling of feet on the part of the other dwarves when Thorin shows hostile ingratitude.

When they arrive in Lake-town, Thorin will be hailed as the King under the Mountain Returned and sent off in renewed splendour, which will puff him up, but his pride will also suffer at having to take handouts from these men when his family earlier lived in such splendour not far away.

I don't think, even subconsciously, that Thorin will want to let the dragon rid him of Bilbo, but he will certainly demand that Bilbo do the reconnaissance job he was hired for, which Thorin perceives as a job beneath his own status as a warrior and returning prince of Erebor. By that time film Thorin will be just as gruff again as book Thorin about sending the burglar off down the tunnel, but the others will show far more reluctance to let Bilbo go alone because they do like the little fellow. There might be a shift in this film/book scene so that Bilbo has to insist on it being his job as a way to prove something to Thorin and to make it more believable that at least some of his new friends don't go with him.

Armitage is so believable with his smoldering anger, inspirational leadership by example, and being moved by expressions of loyalty that I expect his fury at Bilbo's seeming betrayal in Film 3 will be volcanic. Looking forward to that scene.


Lissuin
Tol Eressea


Jan 1 2013, 10:44pm

Post #9 of 20 (724 views)
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All of this! Spot on.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Kimtc
Rohan

Jan 2 2013, 3:05am

Post #10 of 20 (684 views)
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Excellent observation [In reply to] Can't Post

"I think perhaps we have more of an indication that his future actions will be due to this brooding and anger over the events of the past, and that these things were included in AUJ to show his mindset and set up for the effect it's going to have on his character once he does get back into his old realm."

It makes more sense, from a cinematic vantage, for movie Thorin to have his meltdown over pride, as opposed to mostly just gold like book Thorin.The latter would turn off audiences and give him a far less grand character arc. The former would be more sympathetic, while still wrong-headed.

One question: what do you think will actually cause the meltdown? Thranduil re: the Arkenstone? The men and elves asking for gold (which he sees as a "legacy" of his kingdom)? Not being the one to kill the dragon (personally I can see him getting huffy about this)? All of the above? I feel for movie purposes they will have to have one straw/camel moment, not a bunch of stuff.


Old Toby
Gondor


Jan 2 2013, 8:04am

Post #11 of 20 (634 views)
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I would think we'd see a different Thorin than is in the book [In reply to] Can't Post

Certainly Thorin is depicted with so much more depth in PJ's film. He is actually someone we care about, a bold leader who looks after his people without hesitation, even rescuing Bilbo in spite of his feelings that Bilbo doesn't belong on this quest. I would hate to see this character devolve into just a jealous, greedy, spiteful dwarf. And honestly I don't believe PJ will do that, not after establishing Thorin as he has. After all, Thorin's demise will be so much more devastating if we care about him. And as much as I'm completely not looking forward to his end, I can only imagine how emotional it's going to be for all concerned.

As far as Bilbo becoming the leader...I disagree with that assessment. I think it can be shown that Bilbo helps to get the dwarves out of trouble without assuming the role of a leader, one that Thorin so obviously is born to be. I look at it more as Bilbo coming into his own.

I also think that Thorin's melt-down will be over the Arkenstone. His fury at Bilbo will be epic.

Just my take on things.

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)


moreorless
Rohan

Jan 2 2013, 8:11am

Post #12 of 20 (638 views)
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I'd guess less Thorins heroic competance and more his grudges... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It was mentioned on this board that the escape from Thranduil's halls may not involve the dwarves being in prison, so maybe they are more active than in the book. Also the dwarves could put up a better fight against the spiders. This could be used to lessen the feeling that Bilbo is leading the dwarves ahead of Thorin.



I suspect your right there, the dwaves will most likely put up a good fight agenst the Spiders(not actually a direct change since its not described in the book) with Bilbo providing more of a distraction. Equally Thorin could be giving Bilbo advice on how to help them escape "though the bars".

To me if theres a point of confrontation it seems likely to be Thorins tendancey to be headstrong and hold grudges. We'll see this in the Elven kings halls and it seems likely to me that even if Thranduil himself is somewhat haughty and dislikeble Bilbo will meet other elves who are not. Equally I could see similar themes raised in laketown were Bard mentions this to Bilbo and perhaps Gandalf before he leaves the company.

My guess is that the "standoff" in TABA is going to paint Thorin in a somewhat better light and so Bilbo's choice is going to be somewhat more difficult thus needs to be built towards more. I think its clear how the relationship with the Elves will go but equally I can see several ways the relationship with the Laketown men could have friction.

Perhaps Bard is more openly negative towards Thorin? These are afterall two desendants of kings and Bard seems happier with his "lesser lot". Equally perhaps the company expereince the Masters corrupt nature more directly somehow and Thorin judges laketown as a whole by this?


Roheryn
Grey Havens

Jan 2 2013, 9:44am

Post #13 of 20 (602 views)
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Actually, I think you're right. [In reply to] Can't Post

PJ has set Thorin up as a very complex, generally sympathetic character, and we care a lot about him already. I never felt that way about book-Thorin. He's not particularly complex, and though his demise is sad, it's not gut-wrenchingly tragic. Gut-wrenchingly tragic, however, is what I expect we'll feel about Thorin's demise at the end of TABA. PJ's likely to ratchet up the complexities of the character as we move through the next two movies, but he's not going to let us forget how invested we are in him.

And I agree about the meltdown being over the Arkenstone. The importance of that stone has already been set up for us, and how could Thorin not react with epic fury when he discovers what Bilbo has done?


Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 2 2013, 3:37pm

Post #14 of 20 (554 views)
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Capture by the Elves perhaps [In reply to] Can't Post

What we have seen so far of Thrandruil - to my eyes - is remote, self- (or Elf-) absorbed, arrogant. I believe he is going to figure very largely in the second film. Perhaps at the start of the next film and for a while into it there will be a softer Thorin who may seem to be becoming almost reasonable about their quest and what to do afterwards. But that will be obliterated when he is captured by the Elves and insulted and mistreated by them, and this throws him even more firmly back into the mindset that no one deserves anything from Erebor, or him.

Whatever the trigger is, the change in Thorin will have to happen before Bilbo finds and keeps the Arkenstone, to justify why he keeps it, or else it won't be understandable why he does so. Even in the book it's not clear why he does it, at the time even he doesn't seem to know why. But that works in the book because we are told what Bilbo's thinking (that he doesn't know why). But since he doesn't tell anyone he has it, I don't know how we'd know that in the film. So perhaps he will be shown taking it and then intending to give it to Thorin, but then he overhears or witnesses something that Thorin says or does that makes him change his mind and then hide it.

Regarding the Arkenstone, they are going to have to start playing up and talking about the significance of it a lot beforehand in order to make it understandable why Thorin would eventually give up everything else for it. I recall Thorin seeing the thrush as an omen. Also there's when he receives the key and we feel the significance of that moment. So hopefully we'll get some more great backstory about what the Arkenstone really means to him, beyond just what we saw in the prologue about it :-).

They are also going to have to make it justifiable and understandable when Bilbo gives it to the Elves and Men. In the book even with the far less sympathetic portrayal of Thorin, I for one felt Thranduil's question was a just one: "Are you here to betray your friends?" Granted it turns out to be the right thing to do, but given the more sympathetic Thorin and the dwarves in general in the film, something very, very significant will have to happen for the audience to not see it as a betrayal, to understand and side with Bilbo in this action and to also believe along with him that it's the right thing to do. So Thorin will have to already be over the edge to justify Bilbo's actions with it, *but* we still have to have a strong attachment to Thorin, enough to care deeply about his fate.

To your point about a 'straw / camel ' moment, I agree it's better to have that one moment that changes the direction of the character. Still not sure where exactly that might come from. Maybe from his capture by the Elves, but, there is also the whole Bard aspect, about which we have no idea how it will be portrayed!


Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 2 2013, 3:44pm

Post #15 of 20 (547 views)
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I agree with the epic fury part when it comes to light [In reply to] Can't Post

but I would add though that well before that, there will have to a reason shown in the film to justify why Bilbo keeps it hidden in the first place. Since in the book he doesn't really know why himself, and we only know that because we know what he's thinking. But that doesn't seem to feel that it would work in the film, it has to be shown somehow. Because given the ending of AUJ we have Thorin and Bilbo sharing a bond and the audience sharing that bond with them. So well before Thorin's epic fury over Bilbo's giving the Arkenstone away, there would have to be a very good reason why Bilbo is shown finding it and not giving it to Thorin in the first place. Perhaps it will be presented as, he finds it and intends to give it to Thorin and then overhears or witnesses Thorin saying or doing something that changes his mind and then he keeps it hidden.


Escapist
Gondor


Jan 2 2013, 3:52pm

Post #16 of 20 (553 views)
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That's an interesting interpretation! [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess I saw Bilbo's decisive action as more of a burglar role (fulfilling his part of the contract) and less of a leadership role per se.

And I remember interpreting Bilbo's "lifting" of the arkenstone as a cocktail of dragon gold greed, overboard burgling, and the influence of the ring.

I don't see Bilbo as the guy who "picked a side" as much as the guy who thought the whole business of the existence of sides to be madness that he didn't want to get caught up in.

I think the arkenstone episode was more about trying to stop the rivalry than picking a side - although it could be taken that way considering that Thranduil was also advocating more for peace and Thorin wouldn't have allowed that arkenstone to pass from his hands.

I guess things can be taken different ways.


Old Toby
Gondor


Jan 2 2013, 4:04pm

Post #17 of 20 (529 views)
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Yes, I'm sure we will see a lot more that's motivating Bilbo [In reply to] Can't Post

Since we have another film to go before TABA, I suspect we will get a lot more character development on the part of both Bilbo and Thorin. I'm sure we will know why Bilbo keeps the Arkenstone rather than giving it to Thorin straight away.

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)


Kimtc
Rohan

Jan 2 2013, 5:26pm

Post #18 of 20 (518 views)
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Elf-absorbed! Excellent. [In reply to] Can't Post

That needs a dictionary definition.

You're right about Bilbo; he will need to see or hear something out of Thorin to make him keep it. I wonder if it will be something true (Thorin becoming truly unhinged) or if it will be one of those soap opera moments where Bilbo misinterprets something.

I know Thranduil feels badly about Thorin's death in the book, but I would like to see some real elf tears from him on this one.


marillaraina
Rohan

Jan 2 2013, 9:11pm

Post #19 of 20 (477 views)
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Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post

That whole Arkenstone thing in the book always brought me up a little short because as I saw it, sure Thorin was already pretty set in his mind there but the Arkenstone being given to the others absolutely IMO made it impossible for him give even a little. IMO it didn't help the situation it made it even worse. I also thought perhaps it made it a little harder for any of the dwarves who might think it ought to be shared to have any effect and might make them think, but yeah we have to support our own - because it was an important dwarven relic

It's like I could see all of Thorin's flaws and yet, I still felt, to be honest the others were in the wrong as well. Yes they deserved some of the money from the treasury, it wasn't ALL the dwarves, there was that the Dragon took from Dale in there too, etc.

But on the other hand, they basically arrived on Thorin's doorstep with an army at the ready. They didn't even really try to do the "let's have some negotiations in good faith route" and if they don't succeed after a week or two, then we'll bring in the army. :) An army against 13 dwarves?

Even relatively reasonable people would see a bunch of people arriving with an army as a threat and question what their real motives were and might not respond well, and Thorin was barely reasonable in the best of times. LOL


Ref
Rivendell


Jan 2 2013, 11:31pm

Post #20 of 20 (502 views)
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RE: Escapist [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And I remember interpreting Bilbo's "lifting" of the arkenstone as a cocktail of dragon gold greed, overboard burgling, and the influence of the ring.


I've never thought of it that way before Shocked - nicely done. And that would make sense too, as I'm of the camp that didn't wholly understand Bilbo's motivations.

Viewers of a nervous disposition may be interested to know that your television is off and I am speaking to you from inside your head...

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