Billy Connolly, The Big Yin, loves a big laugh. So is that all that’s behind the strange tidbits about Dáin Ironfoot that’s emerging from the interviews that Connolly’s been doing for Brave recently?
It could be. But what if it isn’t? Let’s summarise what’s trickled out over the last few days, and see what we can conclude. Needless to say, this analysis involves spoilers.
Connolly is back in the country to do more work on The Hobbit as dwarf warrior Dáin Ironfoot. “I have a war to fight. Elves to kill. Orcs to maim,” he says.
Elves to kill!
We know that in the book that Thorin summons his kin from the Iron Hills initially to deal with the army of unwanted humans and elves camped in front of the ruined front gate of Erebor after the demise of Smaug.
When Dáin’s dwarves finally arrive, there are some tense moments where it looks as though a bloody and ruinous battle between dwarves and elves will ensue before Gandalf intervenes and warns of the approach of the armies of Bolg, son of Azog.
“But he reckoned without the dwarves. The knowledge that the Arkenstone was in the hands of the besiegers burned in their thoughts; also they guessed the hesitation of Bard and his friends, and resolved to strike while they debated.
Suddenly without a signal they sprang silently forward to attack. Bows twanged and arrows whistled; battle was about to be joined.” The Hobbit, Chapter 17.
It seems fair to conclude from Connolly’s comment that the Battle of the Five Armies will significantly mirror events described by Tolkien. Expect the tension of the historic enmity between elves and dwarves to drive them to the point of battle, before Gandalf intervenes dramatically.
Story: Yahoo Australia
“They’re basically broadening me, making me wider,” he explains, adding that the technology being used on the film is making for long, hard working days. “But let me say, this guy will terrify the life out of you. I have a Mohawk and tattoos on my head. You’ve got to see it.”
It seems doubtful that Jackson would make Dáin as wide as, say, Bombur. But we know dwarves are naturally stocky. No cause for alarm.
A mohawk, though? Skull tattoos? Are these “proper” for a dwarven lord?
Well, fact is that the Hobbit doesn’t even contain a description of Dáin — his appearance is left wholly to the imagination of the reader. The best we get is a description of Dáin’s folk that says in part: “Their beards were forked and plaited and thrust into their belts.”
We do, however, know Dáin Ironfoot was one of the fiercest warriors of his age. At the youthful (for dwarves) age of 32, he slew the orc Azog before the west-gate of Moria during the Battle of Azanulbizar — a mighty feat for one then regarded by his folk as a mere “stripling”.
The appendices of Lord of the Rings describe that “up the steps after [Azog] leaped a Dwarf with a red axe. It was Dáin Ironfoot, Náin’s son. Right before the doors he caught Azog, and there he slew him, and hewed off his head.”
And during the War of the Ring, Dáin fought to defend Erebor and his friend King Brand (grandson of Bard the Bowman). He was 252 years of age — old even for a dwarf yet still mighty in battle.
This all speaks of a great warrior. Perhaps even some sort a beserker. Such a warrior might, perhaps, affect a fierce appearance to intimidate his foes.
One thing is certain if this is true: WETA has wholly discarded the concepts it used for the LOTR trading card game that was released several years ago.
“But you don’t feel like a little guy because you are doing big things like killing people and stuff. And you are wearing all that armour and make-up and everything. It was great fun. I arrive riding a wild pig.”
The dwarves of the Iron Hills don’t ride into battle. Not on ponies. Not on pigs.
Their endurance is so prodigious that they run all the damn way from their mountain fortress to The Lonely Mountain. In full battle gear. Burdened by great packs on their backs. And they accomplish this feat in a matter of days, and then fight a great battle when they get there. And win.
They’re so hardcore they make special ops guys look wimpy.
So, why do we have a Dáin on a wild pig? Did someone think that they needed to get maximum use out of Leroy, the pig from the Hobbiton set that AICN’s Quint so graphically revealed. Maybe someone’s been reading Game of Thrones and has George RR Martin’s Tyrion Lannister confused with Tolkien’s Dáin Ironfoot?
Maybe it just looks cool.
One possible explanation some of our message board members have pointed out is that Norse mythology speaks of Hildisvíni, the boar “battle swine” that the goddess Freya rides when not using her cat-drawn chariot.
Perhaps only Dáin Ironfoot will ride one of these battle swine. It could be a highly effective way of making him stand out from his fellows on the battlefield.
And consider: Tolkien initially derived the names of his dwarves from the Norse Sagas. In attempting to create fill visual gaps, and making the key players stand out for key scenes, isn’t taking inspiration from a common mythological source better than making stuff up willy-nilly?
There’s a caveat, though.
Dáin also proves a wise leader of his people. And he has a generous heart. I hope that his wisdom shines through in Connolly’s portrayal as much as his warrior side.