Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thorin Meets Gandalf

The Movie: A short cloaked figure is seen walking through the city of Bree in the rain - it's Thorin.

No, not him.

Two menacing figures follow him into the Prancing Pony tavern. He is served dinner by what looks to be hobbit woman, and as he eats, he notices the two scary dudes staring at him. He reaches for his sword. The bad guys stand up, but whatever they're about to do, it's interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Gandalf.

Gandalf sits down at Thorin's table and introduces himself. At this point, apparently Thorin and Gandalf had heard of each other, but never met. Thorin says he had been looking for his father Thrain, near Dunland. Thorin asks Gandalf about his relationship with Thrain. Gandalf admits that he told Thrain to return to Erebor, reclaim his throne, and kill Smaug. He urges the same to Thorin. Gandalf mentions that there are men looking for Thorin - he produces a cloth message, with a bounty for Thorin's head written in Black Speech. Thorin argues that he needs the Arkenstone to rally his people. Gandalf recommends a burglar.

The Books: No such scene occurs in The Hobbit. A similar scene is described in Return of the King, Appendix A. There is no mention of the two men (or anybody) following Thorin, or a bounty on his head. In the book, Thorin approaches Gandalf in Bree and asks him for help. Gandalf says that he has been thinking about the Dragon of Erebor. The book makes no mention of Thorin's purpose in Bree, only that he was returning west from a journey.

My Opinion: This was a really good scene to show, even if it wasn't in The Hobbit. Sure, there are some differences, but they're mostly minor: who cares if Thorin approaches Gandalf, or vice versa? Who cares which of them had the idea to reclaim Erebor? The important stuff is the same - Gandalf is worried about Smaug being used "with terrible effect," and Thorin wants his home back, and they both run into each other at Bree and decide to come up with a plan to kill the dragon. This scene does a good job of reminding the audience of what's going on, while adding a little bit of new information.

I did not care for the the "menacing figures." In fact, that whole little subplot just raised a whole host of questions and inconsistencies. In the previous movie, neither Gandalf nor Thorin seemed to know that he was being hunted - they actually argue about it the first time Azog's orc pack attacks. And what's up with the order being given in Black Speech? The Dark Tongue of Mordor kind of gives away where it came from. Couldn't it have been written down in Common Speech? Shouldn't some serious alarm bells start ringing in Gandalf's when he sees the language made up by Sauron for his orcs?

You know, for a demi-god renowned for his age and wisdom, Gandalf can be pretty fucking stupid sometimes.

I'm also confused about the Thrain subplot they've been kicking around. Thorin knows that Thrain was captured, tortured, and killed at Dol Guldur. Is the movie suggesting that he's still alive somewhere around the Dunlands? I don't want to weigh in too heavily right now, until I've seen the third movie, but I'm wary every time Thrain's name is mentioned with such an air of mystery to it. 


  1. By this time, all the extended versions have come out, and Thrain is shown as alive, and held prisoner in Dol Guldur. He also appears in flashbacks at the battle outside Moria, when Thror is killed. So the actor had to see his part cut entirely from the theatrical edit.

    The two menacing dudes in Bree sure aren't subtle about their job. That second one might as well just call out "Yeah, I'm spyin' on YOU, buddy. And next I'm gonna sneak up on ya!"

  2. I can't figure out that Gandalf and Thorin fight side by side in An Unexpected Journey and meet at Bilbo's house in the beginning yet in the second film The Desolation of Smaug Gandolf reintroduces himself to Thorin in the pub as if they've never met. Strange.

    1. Silly me, it was a prequal scene to a sequal. I should have known.

    2. No, actually it was a prequal scene to a prequal in a sequal. And I loved the Oxbridge educated dragon, Legoland and Dildo characters too.