Writers can only convey their thoughts with words. Filmakers (lucky them) have another tool in the box, a visual one.
Camera angles, juxtaposition, lighting can all be used to convey things that are, perhaps, not obvious at first glance. Here, Ringer DwellerInDale has compiled a brief list of just nine such visual metaphors from he Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
The black cat.
We see a black cat in The Prancing Pony, a symbol of evil / bad luck. This is where the assassins plan to kill Thorin, before Gandalf interferes at the last moment.
Blind mice and lesser lives.
From the cat to the mouse. We have something of a double metaphor here: Beorn uses the word “blind” just as we see the mouse (as in “Blind Mice”); then picks up the mouse when he says that Dwarves are blind to those whose lives they deem “lesser than their own”.
Thranduil’s petrified realm.
His halls are filled with structures of petrified wood, and lamps carved from amber. This symbolizes Thranduil and his realm: trapped by his great age and isolationism. The descriptions of petrified wood and amber are not my own suppositions; the descriptions come from page 75 of the
Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Art & Design book.
Tauriel: the light of hope, and behind his back.
Another double metaphor here. When Thranduil says “Do not give him (Legolas) hope”, we see the lights in Tauriel’s eyes (the Light of Hope). In this scene we also
have the very unusual circumstance of two characters
conversing while one has his back turned. This symbolizes
Tauriel’s coming actions — she will go behind Thanduil’s back,
disobeying his orders and following the orcs.
Cold light, remote & far away.
Pretty obvious metaphor here: when Kili speaks of starlight as “cold… remote and far away”, he is actually using a metaphor for Elf women such as Tauriel, who are beautiful but who seem remote and unattainable.
Someone’s been stirring the pot.
The funniest of the visual metaphors: when Alfrid says that someone’s been “stirring the pot”, he is in the middle of emptying a chamber pot.
Tauriel lithe as a deer.
Fairly obvious metaphor here: as Tauriel glides lithely over the rocks in pursuit of the orcs, she comes past a slaughtered deer.
And the lake will shine and burn.
As Bard speaks this line from the prophecy, we see the sunlight shining on the lake, making it look on fire.
I am not my grandfather.
OK, confess: how many of you missed this one on first viewing?
DwellerInDale is an American- born Ph.D. in mathematical biology who now resides in Southeast Asia. He enjoys distance running, fingerstyle acoustic guitar, and drawing portraits of female elves.