Excitement about the upcoming ‘Hobbit’ movie has been building for years – pretty much since credits rolled ‘The Return of the King’ in 2003 – but since the movie actually started filming back in January, the internet has been abuzz with rumors, speculation and fans chomping at the bit for any official pictures or information from the set. Well, over the past week, we were given our first official looks at the thirteen dwarves who comprise the main bulk of the characters of this first movie, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.’ Like so many lifelong Tolkien fans, I was blown away by what I saw.
My own concern, which was shared by many of my Ringer friends, was that thirteen main characters (fifteen total when you figure Bilbo and Gandalf into the mix) would all blend together. I was afraid that, as was the case with the 1977 animated film, that the dwarves would look the same and that perhaps only a handful of them would truly stand out. All those fears were laid to rest when Peter Jackson revealed the dwarves, bit by bit, and we were able to see that each one of the thirteen are wholly unique.
To top it all off, on Wednesday, Jackson released a video blog entry that focused on the dwarves themselves and all the actors portraying them. Fans who remember the wonderful backstage camaraderie between the members of the Fellowship in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ will certainly feel a tinge of nostalgic excitement to see that these thirteen actors are coming together just as intimately. The video blog also features some familiar faces from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ who will be returning , but those roles will be discussed in later articles.
For those of you not familiar with the story of ‘The Hobbit,’ here is a quick synopsis. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit content to live a lazy life in The Shire, is conned by Gandalf into joining a band of thirteen dwarves who are journeying to an old dwarf stronghold known as The Lonely Mountain. Inside the mountain is uncounted amounts of wealth that were taken by the dragon Smaug. Their quest is to retake The Lonely Mountain, slay the dragon, and rebuild the lost dwarf kingdom.
Now to the dwarves themselves. There are very detailed descriptions of them at TheOneRing.net and Middle-earth News that will give you a lot of insight into the characters, and I highly recommend checking them out.
For the purposes of this article, here are some brief descriptions of them so that you can get an idea of who they are.
Nori, Ori and Dori (played by Jed Brophy, Adam Brown and Mark Hadlow respectively)
These three brothers are distant cousins of Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the party. Dori, the eldest of the three, serves as a caretaker since Nori and Ori both tend to get in trouble a lot.
Fili and Kili (Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner)
These two brothers are the youngest of the team, and are both eager for adventure. Turner’s Kili has already been christened “the hot one.”
Bombur, Bofur and Bifur (Stephen Hunter, James Nesbitt and William Kircher)
These three are the only dwarves in the party who are not of the noble lineage of Durin. Instead, they are miners from Moria, and are somewhat “lower class” than the rest. They have joined the party primarily to seek their own fortune.
Oin and Gloin (John Callen and Peter Hambleton)
The talents of these two lie in starting fires. Gloin is also notable as the father of Gimli, the dwarf member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
Balin and Dwalin (Ken Scott and Graham McTavish)
These two are the closest relatives of Thorin. Balin, one of the oldest dwarves in the party, serves as the lookout. He also becomes good friends with Bilbo during the journey. Balin and Dwalin have differing attitudes about the adventure. While Balin questions Thorin’s wisdom for undertaking this quest in the first place, Dwalin is unflinchingly loyal.
Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)
Thorin is the last descendant of Thrain, the dwarf king known as King Under the Mountain. As a young dwarf, he witnessed the attack on the Lonely Mountain by the dragon Smaug. The vision of that defeat has never left his mind, and he has spent the rest of his life fighting goblins and making a name for himself among the dwarves in order to one day retake the Lonely Mountain. This quest is his ultimate goal, and nothing will deter him from seeing it through.
Since the movie is called “The Hobbit,” the central character is Bilbo Baggins, of course. The thirteen dwarves, however, figure very prominently in the story and will come to be Bilbo’s friends over the course of these two films.
Seeing these thirteen dwarves rendered so uniquely gives me great hope that ‘The Hobbit’ will be as rich an experience as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was. As we draw closer and closer to the premiere of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ next year, fans are sure to get ever more excited about the return to Middle-earth.