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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME

A 'King's Speech' for PJ's Goblin King

Date Posted: 2012-12-31
Tolkien Fan Level: 9
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

So why no Orkish for Peter Jackson's Goblin King?

Like Azog, the Goblin King was, as Tolkien said in late writings, probably a (corrupt) Maia spirit, reincarnated now as a 'Great Orc'. That is to say that evil Maiar in Melkor-Morgoth's service sometimes incarnated themselves into orcish form — Super-orcs, as it were — in order to 'command' orcish troops* or to 'rule over' the multitudes of Morgoth and Sauron's lesser 'corruptions' — which included 'twisted' Elves and Men, i.e., orcs, goblins, and the neanderthalic 'woodwoses', or the Wild Men of the Woods (the Drúedain, or Drûgs; called by themselves 'Drughu' and by the Rohirrim 'Púkel-men', from which derives the Anglo-Saxon word púcel 'goblin, troll' that survives in Shakespeare's 'Puck' and Kipling's 'Pook's Hill') that had been 'corrupted' and/or 'bred' to become Goblin-men and, later, Uruk-hai (Saruman's orc-Drûg corruptions, which were crossed, then apparently 'bred from the subterranean heats and slime', as in Peter Jackson's filmic interpretation of them). Tolkien said that the 'orcs and Drûgs each regarded the other as renegades' (partly perhaps because of their primitive and/or counterfeit origins).

As such, the 'Great Goblin' (also variously referred to as 'the big goblin' or 'the goblin-chief') surely possessed greater language 'talents' than did the average goblin or orc. It stands to reason that, because he was a Maia, the filmmakers had the Goblin King (who they filmically made a giant corporeal being) speak — as does Thorin — with an 'upper-class' British accent (which for English-speaking film-goers is but one of the many UK accents meant to represent Westron, 'the Common tongue' of Middle-earth's Third Age). The stereotypical high-Brit 'Queen's English' accent spoken by Barrie 'Dame Edna' Humphries is obviously meant to indicate a Great Goblin's heightened status of authority and power (as opposed to a stigmatized 'middle-class' Estuary English, 'lower-middle-class' Midlands English, or 'lower-class' Tolkien Troll-speaking Cockney). Provincial Hobbitish was itself a Westron dialect, one of its rustic forms. Being of royal birth, however, Thorin's own dialect of the 'Common Speech' naturally would have been more elegant or 'refined' (Dwarves spoke their native Khuzdul generally amongst themselves only).

* orcs / goblins — called 'glamhoth' in Noldorin/Sindarin, meaning 'hate-people' or 'host of hate'. As corrupted or twisted Elves of considerable natural longevity (lifespan) and possessing their own language (orkish, or 'orc-speech'), they seem to have been classed (as were the Trolls or ogres, which were Ent-corruptions) among the 'Úvanimor', the broadly encompassing monster-folk that, in mockery of Ilúvatar (the Creator), were corruptions of created life (as evil cannot create, only corrupt), and thereafter 'bred in the earth' by Melkor-Morgoth. But there are also distinctions made between the names of 'goblins', 'orcs' (lowercase), and 'Orcs' (uppercase): that is, 'orcs' were of larger build than were 'goblins', for Tolkien himself makes that distinction in 'The Hobbit', referring to 'orcs' as 'the big ones [big goblins], the orcs of the mountains', 'goblins of huge size' (i.e., Bolg's bodyguard or 'honour guard' with their 'scimitars of steel' in the Battle of Five Armies), making 'Orcs' (u.c.) therefore 'the big evil-Maiar Ones'. 'Bolg was in fact an Orc, not merely a goblin [or orc]' — that is, not merely 'the rather puny goblins of the Misty Mountains', or even 'the much more dangerous orcs of Mordor' (not to mention Saruman's even larger Uruk-hai), but rather one of 'the Great Orcs': the terrible Maiar-incarnated orc-Chieftains. Thorin falls in the Battle of Five Armies presumably because of injuries inflicted by Bolg's 'guard' if not by Bolg himself (which in Peter Jackson's filmic adaptation will be, by all indications, Azog himself) — all of these distinctions making clear that in that Battle at Erebor against the forces of light are 'Bolg [a Great Orc] and his guard [orcs, though perhaps of greater size than even 'average' orcs] on the one hand and the average goblin of the horde on the other' (the great were-bear Beorn, of course, arrives 'in that hour' and attacks like an unstoppable force: 'He scattered the bodyguard, and pulled down Bolg himself and crushed him. Then dismay fell on the goblins and they fled in all directions'). These goblin-orc distinctions certainly carry over into the description of the Battle of Moria in Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings, where it is said of Bolg's father that Azog 'was a [G]reat Orc with a huge iron-clad head, and yet agile and strong. With him came many like him ['Orcs', i.e., very large orcs, possibly even a class of Maiar themsleves, but in any event, 'goblins of huge size'], the fighters of his guard...' ('The History of The Hobbit', pp. 136-43, 149-50, 671, 679-680, 708-713, 738-39, 745; 'Unfinished Tales', p. 385; 'The History of Middle-earth X: Morgoth's Ring', p. 41).

The Ratings
The Other Ratings
Martin Freeman 's performance as Bilbo Baggins?
Richard Armitage 's performance as Thorin?
The Overall representation of The Dwarves ?
Andy Serkis' performance as Gollum?
Ian McKellen's performance as Gandalf?
Bilbo's retelling of the history of Erebor and of Thror/Thrain/Thorin
The Eagles rescue sequence?
The Goblin King ?
Initial impression of Thranduil?
Hugo Weaving's performance as Elrond?
Radagast's portrayal in the movie?
The representation of Goblintown?
Cate Blanchett's performance as Galadriel?
The Bag End Supper scene?
The scene of the Trolls?
The representation of the Arkenstone?
The Stone Giants?
Escape from the Goblin cave?
Riddles in the Dark scene?
The return to Rivendell?
The attack on the party by the Wargs
The first glimpses of Smaug?
The ending of the movie; in regards to leading well into the next film, and serving as a good ending point.
The overall pace of the film
Peter Jackson's vision in bringing the Hobbit to the big screen.

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