The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) – Thorin Oakenshield

“An Unexpected Journey”, the first film in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, had its world premiere in Wellington, New Zealand, 28th November, 2012. Using the immensely popular Tolkien novel as a base, it drew on the appendices published with the Lord of the Rings novels to place the story within a wider context of Middle Earth’s history and the battle against Sauron that culminates in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Departing slightly from the novel, it also puts more of a focus both on Thorin Oakenshield, in this version, a young prince forced to lead his people to safety after their homeland is demolished by the invading dragon, Smaug, and on his relationship with Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the eponymous hero. The story takes Bilbo Baggins from his comfortable hobbit hole in the ground on a journey through the wilds of Middle Earth to help a company of 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) retrieve their treasure and homeland from Smaug. On the way, they tackle orcs, wargs, goblins, elves, and men and they meet strange and wondrous creatures, such as Beorn the shapeshifter and the giant eagles who again (chronologically) appear in the Lord of the Rings series. ‘An Unexpected Journey’ covers the journey from the meeting of Bilbo and the Dwarves, leaving Hobbiton through to the company’s battle with a pack of orcs, led by Thorin’s nemesis (created for the films), Azog the Defiler aka The Pale Orc (Conan Stevens). On the way they encounter trolls and goblins and we are ‘introduced’ to Rivendell and Elrond. It is in this film that, crucially, Gollum/Smeagol and the Ring make their first appearance.

Fans loved the movie, which grossed over US$1,000,000,000 worldwide more then either The Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers, the first two movies in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and making it the fourth highest grossing film in 2012 and the 18th highest of all time (AUJ Wiki page); critics, however, were less tolerant with the departures from the novel, that the story had been extended to three movies, and with the HDR 48fps 3D version that Peter Jackson filmed. Despite this, the film received three Oscar nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design and Best Makeup and Hair Styling and four BAFTA nominations – for Kids Vote – Feature Film, Best Makeup and Hair, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound. Peter Jackson also put a great deal of effort in building the relationship between the films and the fans, posting a number of video blogs throughout filming. Wingnut Films, MGM and New Line Cinema produced all three films.

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Production Details

Cast

Hobbits

Bilbo Baggins – Martin Freeman (The Office, Love Actually, Sherlock Holmes)
Frodo Baggins – Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, The Romantics, Happy Feet)

 

 

Dwarves

Thorin Oakenshield – Richard Armitage

Balin – Ken Stott (Rebus)
Kili – Aidan Turner (Being Human, Desperate Romantics)
Fili – Dean O’Gorman (The Almight Johnsons, Nights in the Gardens of Spain)
Dwalin – Graham McTavish (Secretariat)
Oin – John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Bombur – Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dori – Mark Hadlow (King Kong)
Gloin – Peter Hambleton (The Strip)
Nori – Jed Brophy (Lord of the Rings)
Bifur – William Kircher (Out of the Blue)
Bofur – James Nesbitt (Cold Feet, Jekyll, Murphy’s Law)

Other Characters

Gandalf – Sir Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, The X-Men, Richard III)
Saruman – Sir Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings, Hugo, Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Gollum/Smeagal – Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Little Dorrit, King Kong)
Galadriel – Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood (movie), Charlotte Gray, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age)
Radagast the Brown – Sylvester McCoy (7th Dr Who)
Bilbo Baggins (older) – Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings, 1066, Ratatouille)
Azog the Defiler/The Pale Orc – Conan Stevens (Mystic Blade)
The Goblin King – Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everedge, Sir Les Paterson)

Director – Peter Jackson

Writers – Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens

 

 

I mean, there was a fine balance. You know, slapstick humor was very difficult to put into Thorin’s hands because at any point if you, if you feel that that character isn’t taking the quest seriously, then it really does fall apart. He’s the one person that has AUJ_Thorin2to be saying to everybody else, stop messing around, take this seriously, because … you have to believe the severity of what they’re facing … I had to keep saying to myself … you can’t take the character too seriously, but there was another side of me saying, no, you really have to. [I]n terms of finding the humanity inside of him, that’s … really what Thorin’s journey is about and it’s weird to call it humanity – maybe we could call it dwarfmanity. (laughter) It’s like, it’s really because he is a sort of a legendary warrior. A Very Important Dwarf, as Tolkien describes him, and he takes himself seriously and he’s changed by Bilbo Baggins profoundly, because he learns what it means to be hobbity, or dwarfy, or human. But we have to call it human, don’t we, ‘cuz it’s how we understand it. You know, that side of yourself which is vulnerable and open and questioning and innocent; you know, all of those things that Thorin has lost because of this experience with this awful holocaust that happened in Erebor. He’s lost all of those things, and he’s become hardened by life, and it’s his interaction with Bilbo that reminds him of who he once was. (The Empire Film Podcast Interviews Richard Armitage – The Hobbit (December 14, 2012)

 

AUJ_Thorin3We’ve all learnt a bit of the dwarf language, Khuzdul, so we all have a kind of selection of words to fall back on; curses and battle cries. (The Hobbit Video Blog #3, July 21, 2011)

If I could say key moments in ‘block one’, arriving in Rivendell and meeting Elrond and dining at his table, it really feels like you’re stepping into Middle Earth. (The Hobbit Video Blog #3, July 21, 2011)

 

 

AUJ_Cast1One of the biggest moments was when we all put our gear on and we all stood together sort of looking around at each other and seeing the characters’ faces. To stand in a circle and look at the guys that were going on the quest, and I got a real tingle up my spine. (The Hobbit Video Blog #3, July 21, 2011)

 

 

 

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Well, they were thrown into exile and … he’s always lived with that idea in mind that they will return to their glory, but they have to go through this process of rebuilding a kingdom, which is what he talks to Balin about in Bag End … He’s done well by his people. He’s, he’s found them safety and he’s rebuilt for them, so, you know, although they don’t have Erebor, they don’t have those great riches, he’s still managed to retain a kind of status as a leader. …

… His father has disappeared a hundred years to the day before they arrive in Bag End so there is this, there is this mystery of this draw towards the mountain and this danger that it incurs and, of course, the possibility of the dragon sickness which keeps him from taking on the same quest. So all of those things trouble him and give him his status. (The One Ring.net’s Kirsten Cairns Interviews Richard Armitage (March 18, 2013))