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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
No Harfoot women Hobbits in the movie?


Nov 19 2010, 5:21pm

Post #1 of 15 (562 views)
No Harfoot women Hobbits in the movie? Can't Post

The casting ad says: "Women ... should have light skins (sic) tones."

But some Hobbits were darker-skinned. The prologue to FOTR says, "The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller and shorter..."

Tol Eressea

Nov 19 2010, 5:32pm

Post #2 of 15 (363 views)
Depends on your interpretation [In reply to] Can't Post

What's considered 'brown' by the Shire's Western European standards might still be quite light by international standards. Tolkien even refers to Frodo's hand as 'brown' at one point.

N.E. Brigand

Nov 19 2010, 6:28pm

Post #3 of 15 (324 views)
Sam not Frodo. [In reply to] Can't Post

From "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol":

And so Gollum found them hours later, when he returned, crawling and creeping down the path out of the gloom ahead. Sam sat propped against the stone, his head dropping sideways and his breathing heavy. In his lap lay Frodo's head, drowned deep in sleep; upon his white forehead lay one of Sam's brown hands, and the other lay softly upon his master's breast. Peace was in both their faces.

Unless there's another reference that I missed.

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Tol Eressea

Nov 19 2010, 7:20pm

Post #4 of 15 (307 views)
Yes, you're right. [In reply to] Can't Post

That's the scene I was thinking of. I knew it was either Sam or Frodo, but it doesn't really affect my point.


Nov 19 2010, 9:16pm

Post #5 of 15 (262 views)
All Hobbits were somewhat brown-skinned [In reply to] Can't Post

... and the Harfoots (Sam for e.g.) were the darkest brown of all -- compared to whom even Frodo appeared light-skinned.

The Hobbit ch 1 says:
"I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards ... wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs..."

But for the record, I liked Elijah Wood's role ... as well as the other overly-fair Hobbits in the movies.


Nov 19 2010, 10:52pm

Post #6 of 15 (238 views)
Frodo was 'fairer than most' hobbits wasn't he? [In reply to] Can't Post

In Gandalf's description of him, given to Barliman? Or am I just going crazy?


Nov 19 2010, 10:55pm

Post #7 of 15 (223 views)
Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

'Ah! you know best,' said the landlord, knowingly. 'I won't give you away; but I was told that this Baggins would be going by the name of Underhill, and I was given a description that fits you well enough, if I may say so.'
'Indeed! Let's have it then!' said Frodo, unwisely interrupting.
'A stout little fellow with red cheeks,' said Mr. Butterbur solemnly. Pippin chuckled, but Sam looked indignant. 'That won't help you much; it goes for most hobbits. Barley, he says to me,' continued Mr. Butterbur with a glance at Pippin. 'But this one is taller than some and fairer than most, and he has a cleft in his chin: perky chap with a bright eye. Begging your pardon, but he said it, not me.'

I met a Balrog on the stair.
He had some wings that weren't there.
They weren't there again today.
I wish he would just fly away.


Nov 19 2010, 11:04pm

Post #8 of 15 (223 views)
Frodo was probably a Fallohide [In reply to] Can't Post

FOTR Prologue says:
"The Fallohides were fairer of skin and also of hair, and they were taller and slimmer than the others..."


Nov 20 2010, 7:05am

Post #9 of 15 (200 views)
I am just confused about why only the females are specified to need lighter skintones. [In reply to] Can't Post

  What's good for the goose is good for the gander, I always say.CrazyCrazy


Nov 20 2010, 7:54am

Post #10 of 15 (219 views)
Harfoots, fallohides [In reply to] Can't Post

It's all good in the written material as Tolkien spent pages and pages educating the reader on the history of The Shire and the different sub-racial differences among Hobbits. But the many of those watching the movies would not be familiar with this.

It would make absolutely no sense for them to to spend screen time supporting the appearance of a Hobbit that looked substantially different.

"Alas for Boromir! It was too sore a trial!"



Nov 20 2010, 8:55am

Post #11 of 15 (184 views)
A gardener [In reply to] Can't Post

I always understood this description of Sam to be a reflection of his occupation as a gardener. Often, when describing someone as having brown hands or face in older English books, it just meant tanned from outdoor living/working. This was contrasted with the upper classes, who were always pale as they did not have to work for a living. In Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley criticised Elizabeth Bennett's brown complexion as indicating her lower status and unsophisticated ways - she walked too much - when trying to stop Darcy being interested in her.


Nov 20 2010, 8:57am

Post #12 of 15 (185 views)
Maybe, maybe not. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien often used "fair" to mean "attractive", regardless of skin/hair color.

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Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Nov 20 2010, 10:39am

Post #13 of 15 (188 views)
Yes, but [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien often used "fair" to mean "attractive", regardless of skin/hair color.

That's true, but it depends on the context. When the "high style" is being used, it's true that "fair" means "beautiful" (mainly, of course, because in ancient European literature the two criteria of pale skin and hair on the one hand, and aristocratic beauty on the other, went together.)

But when Gandalf is talking to Butterbur, in a conversation that's very far from his high style, the everyday meaning of "fair" = "light-haired" is what I think any British reader, at least, would immediately understand. To insert the poetic "fair"="beautiful" into a sentence that also includes "perky chap" just wouldn't compute!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings


Nov 20 2010, 1:25pm

Post #14 of 15 (225 views)
Use of Brown [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To

Tolkien often used "fair" to mean "attractive", regardless of skin/hair color.

That's true, but it depends on the context. When the "high style" is being used, it's true that "fair" means "beautiful" (mainly, of course, because in ancient European literature the two criteria of pale skin and hair on the one hand, and aristocratic beauty on the other, went together.)

In contrast to the brown, weathworn hands and face of the workers, from being outside in the sun all day. Hence Sam's brown hands from gardening.

I've always interpreted the physical differences between the three races of both Hobbits and the Elf-friends of men to be more akin to the variety of races in the British Isles, with the Celtic and Nordic strains. This fits in with Tolkien's earlier conception of 'a mythology for England'.

Tol Eressea

Nov 20 2010, 3:43pm

Post #15 of 15 (227 views)
The term 'red cheeks' [In reply to] Can't Post

implies fairly pale skin. Dark-skinned people don't get noticeably flushed very often.

And by 'fairly pale skin' I mean 'quite pale skin', not 'beautifully pale skin' or 'palely pale skin'. Crazy


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