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Playing Sherlock: a few Hobbit plot deductions from the figurine character biographies

September 5, 2012 at 6:38 am by thomasmonteath  - 

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

Since the Hobbit film trilogy began shooting principal photography 18 months ago, the production has played its very cards close to its chest, and Stone Street Studios has proved more leak-proof than the White House.

In light of this, speculation on the films — whether pertaining to structure or content — has the hallmark of paleolithic archaeology: not only are large inferences having to be made from an extremely small amount of evidence, but the legitimacy and relevance of the evidence itself is by no means certain.

With all this in mind, I’ll try and draw some tentative conclusions about the trilogy’s plot and structure — with particular attention to any evidence of departures from the book — from what we understand to be official biographical notes that will accompany the character figurines from The Hobbit.

While it is impossible to confirm that the descriptive information released with these figurines accurately reflects the film-makers vision, they are detailed and idiosyncratic enough to suggest there is a high degree of alignment.

Note that some of the biographies (Kili, Fili, Gloin and Dwalin, for example) are left out here. Where this occurs this is because, in my view, they offered no insight on the trilogy plot, structure, or departures from the source material. And if spoilers and speculation aren’t your thing, best to stop reading now.


While accompanying the Company on the Quest, “Gandalf finds indication that the world could be haunted by an ancient evil. To get to the truth of the matter, Gandalf has to leave his companions to their own devices — his own path leads him into the darkest corners of Middle-earth, where he found his worst suspicions confirmed.” 

Analysis and speculation:
Gandalf finds an indication that the world could be haunted by an ancient evil’ suggests, at the very least, that he comes across the Morgul blade (the ‘indication’), as shown in the footage at Cinema-Con in April, somewhere between Hobbiton and Rivendell.

It therefore seems plausible that the film will have the Dwarves pass through the Barrow-downs on their way between Hobbiton and the Trollshaws.  This would mean including in the Hobbit a scene that was left out of the Fellowship of the Ring (FotR) film.

Doing this would not be unprecedented: Jackson has a track record of moving scenes and dialogue in, and between, films in the Lord of the Rings (LotR) trilogy. For instance, Old Man Willow appeared in The Two Towers (TTT) instead of FotR.

In Tolkien’s world, the Barrow-downs — located east of the Shire, but west of Bree — are places where the ancestors of the Edain (the three great Houses of Men that constitute the Dunedain) were buried long ago. The Witch King of Angmar (who later became the head of the Nazgul/ black riders) later sent evil spirits, called wights, to inhabit the barrows. In FotR, the four hobbits are trapped by these spirits in the Barrow-downs mists before being rescued by Tom Bombadil.

What is likely to therefore happen is this: the Company will travel through the Barrow-downs on their way from Hobbiton to the Trollshaws, and become trapped in the same manner as the Hobbits in FotR. Gandalf will likely rescue them, instead of Tom Bombadil.

The Barrow Downs by Alex Lioce

However, while they are there, Gandalf comes across a broken crypt, and in it the Morgul blade (in the FotR book, the Hobbits each take Dunedain blades from the barrow in which they are held by the wights). The writers could therefore be planning to turn the Barrow-downs from the burial site of the Dunedain that was infested with evil spirits sent by the Witch-King, to instead be the place where the Dunedain had entombed the Witch-King long ago. Gandalf finds the tomb broken, and thus he is alerted to an evil haunting the world, which leads to the discussion of the Morgul blade at Rivendell during the meeting of the White Council.

From a pacing perspective, including the Barrow-downs scene here would be a good addition to the Hobbit, as in the book basically nothing happens between leaving Hobbiton to arriving at the Trollshaws. Bear in mind this is roughly the same journey as taken by the Hobbits in FotR, but in that film they passed through farmland, the ferry, Bree, the Midgewater Marshes and Weathertop.

Jackson therefore has the challenge of indicating the journey is still that far and on the same route without the journey feeling repetitive. This means they may have to travel through the Old Forest, the Barrow-downs to give a sense of the journey being arduous and long. I’d wager that Bree itself might get a cameo, as a nod to the appendices, in which Tolkien writes that the Quest for Erebor is hatched through a fortuitous meeting between Gandalf and Thorin in the Prancing Pony, a meeting that ultimately leads to the formation of the Company some time later.

Thorin Oakenshield 

As a young dwarf prince Thorin has witnessed the terrible devastation that has brought a fire-breathing dragon on the dwarf kingdom of Erebor. No one assisted the surviving dwarves — so the once proud and noble people had to go into exile. During the long years of misery Thorin grew into a strong, fearless fighter and revered leader. In his heart grew the burning desire to win back his homeland and destroy the beast, which is responsible for the plight of his people.”

Analysis and speculation:
This description suggests that we might well get some flashbacks of the hardship the dwarves endured in the Blue Mountains and as itinerant smiths following the loss of the Lonely Mountain to Smaug. It is unlikely that Thorin will reveal his background of hardship himself, as he is a proud dwarf. It is therefore most likely that his backstory will be revealed in two ways.

First, other dwarves in the company will reveal it to Bilbo, no doubt out of ear-shot of a brooding Thorin. This will perhaps occur on the journey to Rivendell, as the first part of the film will of course have to set up the rest of the film and trilogy.

Second, it could be revealed via a dream sequence for Thorin. If this occurs, it will likely be used to begin film three, There and Back Again, much as RotK began with such a sequence for Gollum. The sequence could open from the perspective of a young Thorin, leading a band of other young, foolhardy dwarves, being mischievous in Erebor, gleaming in all its pre-desolation splendour. The camera then follows them through the great halls, bustling with industry, commerce, culture, and then out through the front gate onto the side of the Lonely Mountain. Thorin and his comrades scramble up the mountainside, perhaps hunting, and while joking amongst themselves, Thorin suddenly sights something on the horizon, high against the sky.

Smaug Destroy Lake Town – John Howe

Slowly, as it gets closer, Thorin begins to feel a sense of horror and dread creep over him. It is the coming of the dragon. He watches, helpless, as Smaug descends on the mountain, smashing through the front gate. The sequence then picks up pace, quickly cutting to scenes of slaughter as Smaug routs the Kingdom, laying Erebor to waste: scenes of him scything through battalions of Dwarves forlornly scrambling to defend their Kingdom; rampaging through the halls and darting under arches, smoking out those in hiding; driving all before him. The sequence could build to a terrible crescendo of death and destruction, fire and flashing talons, and suddenly the dragon turns and seems to breathe fire straight into the camera… and Thorin wakes up with a start.

It was all a dream. A recollection of what befell the mountain all those decades before. Thorin looks around, and finds himself sitting in the ruins of one of the great halls of Erebor. Having been there several weeks, the dwarves are now somewhat settled into the sorry remains of their old kingdom. Thorin slowly stands up, and the camera pulls back to reveal the charred halls, the great doors broken from their hinges. It still has the reek of Smaug. Sloughed dragon skin is all about, coiled in corners, draped over ancient beheaded statues of dead Kings like some hideous gossamer.

Such a ‘dream sequence’ would play an important role at the beginning of the third film: it would establish, aside from Bilbo himself, Thorin as the central character of that film, as the film will follow his arc from a descent into despotism through to his reconciliation with Bilbo and redemption in death. The scene will remind the audience of why he is unwilling to parley with the Lakemen, and why he proves so covetous of his Kingdom, terrified of losing it all over again. It establishes the tragedy and humiliation that defines him, and which hardens his resolve into obstinance now he is re-ensconced in his ancestral halls. It would also illustrate the tragic decline of the kingdom from its glory days before the coming of the dragon, compared to its ruin now it has been retaken: it shows what the dragon has wrought.

This scene would also allows the director to begin film three with a high-octane action sequence, one that would have the added benefit of giving Smaug some more screen time, even though he will have been killed at the end of the previous film. For these scenes of Smaug’s conquest of the mountain could not have been shown in much detail at the beginning of the first film, in Hobbiton, as what Smaug looks like is likely to be the big ‘reveal’ of film two, and thus little of him will be shown in film one. Such an action sequence will be necessary as the rest of the first act of film three will largely be about diplomacy and the drum-beats of war, culminating in the Battle of the Five Armies.

Posted in Casting Rumors, Collectibles, Director Rumors, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, Locations Sets, Merchandise, The Hobbit, Community, Tolkien on September 5, 2012 by
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40 responses to “Playing Sherlock: a few Hobbit plot deductions from the figurine character biographies”

  1. Ben Conrad says:

    Fantastic article. I realize that all of this is theory, but it is exciting to hash some of this out.

  2. WOOWW!! outstanding article! I think Jackson should have used that article while writing the script!

  3. Faith says:

    Wonder if there will be a Thranduil action figure.

  4. olorin says:

    Nice article. For me, Bolg must have the same role as he has in a book. Azog was killed by YOUNG Dain!

  5. Kyle Pedley says:

    Surely the ‘haunted by an ancient evil’ is reference to him uncovering the Necromancer in Mirkwood/Dol Guldur to be you-know-who… and the darkest corners of Middle Earth referencing his journeys there.

  6. ReneeM2 says:

    Very entertaining to read, can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  7. Drj says:

    A word about Elrond : recently he was seen in the calendar pictures with his full battle armour on ; but that wasn’t a shot from the old trilogy. My guess is he will be fighting in at least 1 battle. A small oversight perhaps ?

  8. Alberich says:

    Um, this is leaving the realm of inference and even plausible theory. It is speculation in its wildest and purest form. Not that that’s bad, or some of these ideas aren’t good, but this is more like, “If I were making the movies, this is what would happen . . .”

  9. MaraBackman says:

    Of the few images that have surfaced I find it interesting how they seem to blend the look of the LotR-trilogy, while there are many elements that evoke del Toro’s previous movies. Particularly the new design for some of the Goblins and Thranduil’s outfit remind me of both the second Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth.

  10. Scott Johnson says:

    In The Two Towers, it was the trees themselves that fought back against the ravages and perversions of Saruman and Isengard.

    Tree? I am no tree….

  11. bod says:

    really interesting arcticle

  12. gollumscave says:

    Where could i find a thorin oakenshield tee shirt and one of bifurs axefigurine online

  13. Valentin Radushev says:

    What about Golin, he’s Gimli’s dad after all.

  14. gollumscave says:

    Best icle i’ve seen about describing the characters and speculating on what to except in the three new films. So it looks likes battle of dol goldur and battle of the five armies will be placed in first and third films. Smaug’s connection will be in the second part. The first part will be a iintro on the thirteen dwarves and bilbos younger years

  15. Fanamir says:

    I actually think that the entire White Council as portrayed in the films (and seen in that one image) will take part in the Battle of Dol Guldur. I also think that the 2 seperate Dol Guldur battles will be combined into one, as there was no mention of it in the LotR trilogy, therefore it could fall in this series. Galadriel will tear down the walls, and that flower will grow. I also wonder if some of Tom Bombadil’s stuff will be taken up by Radagast also, seeing as he’s a quirky old guy who lives alone in a little house in a haunted forest.

  16. gollumscave says:

    Its exciting to put this o ut a few months ahead of time before the release date of the movie

  17. Tuor son of Huor says:

    Very interesting speculation, although I’m not sure I entirely agree with all of it, and there are some slightly wild ideas that seem to have little basis in fact. Obviously, as it says at the start, there isn’t a huge amont of material to go on, so this is entirely forgivable, and it’s quite possible that these theories could turn out to be correct.
    A few of my own thoughts on these matters: Firstly, In my opinion we have indeed seen some evidence that Elrond and Galadriel will participate in the Battle of Dol Guldur – Firstly, during the Hall H panel at Comic Con Philippa Boyens let slip something about Cate Blanchett’s involvement in filming the battle, and secondly there is the image of Elrond from the recent Hobbit calendar, in which he is wearing full battle armour. I also feel slightly more confident than Mr. Monteath appears to about the filmmakers’ respect for the source material; the idea of the Wargs chasing them all the way to The Lonely Mountain for instance seems slightly preposterous, I really can’t see how they could make it work without it getting incredibly tedious and overshadowing all the other events, such as the spider attack. And my response to the idea of killing Radagast? NOOOOO!!! Please NO! Radagast was never killed in Tolkien’s work, and think his getting killed by Saruman would be not only far to brutal for a family film (it appears that he is going to be a very loveable and innocent character) but also taking Saruman’s character too far at too early a stage. Saruman’s treachery was supposed to be kept secret from the rest of the Council, and I since in the film version of FotR Gandalf seems at first to trust him completely it seems a little far fetched that he could already have done away with Radagast. I’m kind of hoping that a lot of the ideas in this article will turn out to be wrong, and especially that The Hobbit films won’t be focussed too heavily on providing a back-story to LotR, but it is certainly an interesting read. Thank you.

  18. Alf Noriega says:

    Wonderfull! I’m from Mexico and I can’t believe that fans around the world are missing this article. I have a Facebook page on spanish about Tolkien, I’m definitely going to translate this information and put it into the page. If you want some cool information about Tolkien (in spanish, of course) just give us a “like”, precious…

  19. Shabizzy says:

    I wonder if the “ancient evil” that Gandalf is said to be sensing in this description is the Necromancer, not The Witch King. It would work better as Gandalf defeats the Necromancer and therefor feels the ease he seems to feel at the beginning of FotR film.

  20. Tommy B. says:

    Good article- very interesting stuff. Isn’t Galadrial referenced in the books as being at the Battle of Dol Goldur? I always pictured at least Galadrial (and thus prob some elves) at the Battle at Dol Goldur, I was even hoping to see Elrond take part in the action (though I do not think he is ever referenced as actually being there). I know its all speculation, but the only theoretical changes that I would be a little disappointed to see would be:

    1) No Beorn at the Battle of the Five Armies
    2) No Thranduil at Dale, the Lonely Mountain or the Battle of the Five Armies
    3) ANY dwarves leave before the Battle of the Five Armies (I think/hope Balin could depart for Moria afterwards)
    4) No elves at the Battle of Dol Goldur

  21. Radagast dead by the third film? I honestly hope not. It would be major lore breaking, since he plays a part in the book trilogy, and just because he doesn’t appear in them isn’t enough reason in my opinion to just kill him in The Hobbit.

  22. There are also other major mistakes here. For example, here it says, about Galadriel, that “it does not seem that she actively takes part in the Battle of Dol Guldur herself”. However, in the books she actually did, and, according to the wiki, “the elves, led by Thranduil of Mirkwood and Galadriel of Lorien, and Dain of the dwarves led an assault on Dol Guldur and Galadriel herself threw down its walls, and laid its pits bare”.

  23. CaptainRickover says:

    The autor’s intention to play Sherlock Holmes is in it’s outcome very similiar to Dr. Watson’s own examples of deductions. Very impressive but nevertheless totally wrong. The autor miss nearly every so far known fact and concludes in the wrong direction (not only about Barrow downs but Elrond’s und and Galadriel’s participation in the batlle also). The morgul blade is likley to be found in Dol Guldur (in the Thror-scene I presume) and not in the Barrow Downs who’s tombs are not the nazgul but from descendants of Numenor, princes of Cardolan. And he misinterpred the Saruman-text. His dark doing is a hint to his turn to evil in Lord of the rings and certainly not Radagast’s murder (what would make no sense at all).

  24. Justin Buell says:

    A lot of good speculation. Some will probably turn out to be true.

    I especially hope Saruman kills Radagast (obviously in secret). This trilogy needs an epic, sad death scene that doesn’t appear at the very end.

    As well, it would give more depth to Saruman’s betrayal in FOTR. Gandalf’s realization that Saruman killed Radagast could lead to the expressions on his face at Isenguard. It seemed as though a latent suspicion had been proven true, and the anger that followed could be explained by an earlier betrayal coming to light.

  25. GreatWizard says:

    Some of the changes I wouldn’t mind, but I certainly hope that the Saruman and Radagast speculation is bogus. I think that the deadly union references what eventually happens in LoTR. I remember an interview with Christopher Lee who said that Saruman in this film is presented in his true and uncorrupted form. I most certainly hope that his corruption will only begin after the Dol-Guldur battle, and will be very lightly hinted.

  26. Jon Schulz says:

    A must read if at all interested in the Hobbit.

  27. raul says:

    this article would give a great hobbit script all by itself! congratulations.

  28. Eastside Rob says:

    Great article, especially Thorin’s dream about the desolation of Smaug. But if the barrow whites are to be included, please let the dwarves be rescued by Tom Bombadil played by Brian Blessed. He was, as they say, born to play the role.

  29. Elendil says:

    It would be nice if they made the effort differentiate what has been invented by the movie writers. For example anyone reading this would beleive that Galadriel was the oldest elf and most powerful being in Middle Earth at the time. Both fof these statements are made up by the movie writers and are only facts within the movies.

  30. SomeBoddy says:

    There’s already an “epic, sad death scene” with Thorin.

  31. Justin Buell says:

    You don’t think Thorin getting killed is too brutal for a family film?

  32. Justin Buell says:

    “that doesn’t appear at the very end.”

    I’m thinking something akin to Gandalf’s fall in Moria.

  33. Elentari says:

    Actually, the part about being the oldest elf in Middle Earth at the time is backed up by The Silmarillion. She is the only one left who remembers Valinor.

  34. chauvelin2000 says:

    Very intriguing stuff! But I don’t know about the possibility of Radaghast dying here, as he shows up later, in TA 3018, on the Greenway corridor to tell the Grey Wizard of Saruman’s bidding to Isengard while promising Gandalf the strength of his aid and that of his beloved creatures in the War of the Ring. That realization may have saved some time (in even bothering to compose both the Radaghast and Saruman entries, both of which focus predominantly upon this very interesting, but given the ‘facts’, wholly inaccurate theory for the films; however, given the filmmakers’ proclivities for, in fact, changing the ‘facts’, I may have to eat my words and not be wholly surprised if it plays out just as it’s described above).

    I trust it was an Old Man Willow ‘look-alike’ (one perhaps of the same tree-race) — that is, I think it was merely a nod by the filmmakers to that character, not the character himself — who appears in Jackson’s LOTR. And it may be a stretch with thoughts presented on Grinnah (but prove me a fool). Then again, the official images of the ‘wargs’ that we’ve seen so far (i.e., barking up the trunks of burning trees in the celebrated diorama of the first film) appear to be rather like ordinary wolves.

    But the rest of the author’s — albeit necessarily flawed — speculation is still rather fascinating, to say the least, and one can appreciate immediately the ‘Sherlock’ thought that went into it: one almost expects the author is somehow ‘in the know’ or a part of PJ’s inner circle! 🙂 His fascinating guesses DO raise the excitement level for the films by several notches or degrees — brilliant sleuthing, indeed! 🙂

  35. DKR says:

    Great job on this article. Many plausible theories.
    I too, though, home they don’t kill off Radagast. Even though he didn’t appppear in person in the LoTR films, I feel that he was doing things in those films: like un whitingly aiding Saruman by sending the crows to spy on the fellowship. I assumed he was the one who aided Gandalf by sending that moth & the eagle to pick him up from the top of Orthanc.

  36. threadnsong says:

    This is wonderful speculation, and I have enjoyed getting all psyched for December 14 and beyond.

    There are two major points I want to bring up as being probably more likely for the plot points:

    First, it is much more plausible for the story line for Gandalf to have found the Morgul-blade in the cave of the Trolls. Starting a whole other series of events in the Barrow-downs when not having referenced them in the first films does not make film sense. It is much more within the line of the story to have Gandalf, Bilbo, and the Dwarves exploring the hidden cave of the trolls, finding Orcrist and Glamdring and Sting, and then “Ah-ha, what’s this?”

    Second, if Azog and all his evil-ness is to be mentioned in the films, it would make more sense for him to be a re-animated Azog, courtesy of the Necromancer. Dain killed him and can attest to his dead-ness, so to see Azog confronting the White Council when they throw down the Necromancer would certainly attest to the Necromancer’s evil. My speculation, based on the scenes in the trailer, of Gandalf walking down stone hallways, is that Gandalf suspects the Necromancer is someone nasty, and he’s hoping that it’s not Sauron, but then he finds out the truth for sure. And he finds Thrain and the map and the “strange and curious key.” Then he takes all this evidence (and perhaps a Morgul-blade?) to the White Council to lay the evidence before them that the Necromancer is, in fact, Sauron.

  37. Wendy Woo says:

    Some interesting ideas, but I don’t agree with everything he proposes. For one thing, there’s enough action from the Hobbit alone, not counting the Appendices (which they admit they are using), to flesh out their journey from the Shire to Erebor without them having to get stuck in the Barrows. However, if Gandalf were to pass through the Barrows on his own BEFORE approaching Thorin this would make some sense. Gandalf could believably be passing close to the Barrows, which are slightly southwest of Bree, when he sees something unusual there and finds a Morgul blade. Evidence found there might also lead him to investigate the dungeons of Dol Goldur. It is at Dol Goldur that he is attacked by a half-crazed Dwarf who “could not remember his own name”. This would be Thrain, who would, before he died, hand over Thror’s map and the key to Erebor to Gandalf. Gandalf, after some searching, would find Thorin at Bree and start the Hobbit plot on its way. This is the most logical way to meld the story points from The Hobbit and the Appendices. If you need something to back up this theory, look at the latest images of the White Council in Rivendell and Elrond’s image in the Hobbit scroll. You can see the blade on a brown cloth on the table. Also if you examine the trailer, at one point, Gandalf is being attacked by a creature that cannot be an Orc, because it has thick gray hair and a BEARD! You can tell Gandalf is in a dungeon, because you can see cell doors and torture instruments on the walls. By the way, you can bet Saruman has gone bad already because he’s been using the Palantir for years now after having moved into the tower at Isengard. The palantir was there before he was, look it up! He hides it really well, but he is slowly working his plans in Middle Earth even at this early point in the story.
    He will play down the “evidence” of the Morgul blade and will not be amused about the Dwarves wanting to reclaim the Mountain. He wants to keep things quiet and status quo as much as possible. He will not want to rid Mirkwood of the Necromancer’s evil UNTIL he discovers that Sauron has taken that position in order to gain access to Gladden Fields to search for his one ring. That ring is something Saruman wants for himself and will gladly help purge Dol Goldur then. Also, it’s easy to figure out what the problem will be between Thranduil and Legolas. Thranduil is turning a blind eye to the evil in the south of Mirkwood. He would rather party in the forest instead. He is also prejudiced against the Dwarves, which Legolas, to his credit, is not. Legolas will be ready and willing to aid both the Lorien elves as they attack Dol Goldur and the Dwarves to the West and he might ultimately convince his father to lead a contingency of Mirkwood elves to the south to help Celeborn while he leads the main Elf army to Erebor.

  38. Brady says:

    I, honestly, don’t think you’ll have to worry about any of these 🙂

  39. John says:

    I read this article previously, and I remember there being several pages. However, I currently can only access the first page. Does anyone know what the problem is?

  40. We did a site redesign and don’t use the multi-page format for too many things. You are the first to notice and point out that one of the older articles was missing pages. Thanks for letting us know and we will work on getting it fixed.

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