More proof I love you and want you to be happy — Thorin edition
This post is about Thorin Oakenshield.
Quickly, however: Day Four Richard Armitage Week 2012 quiz for charity questions have appeared here! They are very easy this time — the first two should be a piece of cake for all fans of Richard Armitage, and the third can be googled — so no hints from me. More about Richard III again tomorrow, because I am the designated blogger for the day. I’ll try to make it good for you.
But now — on to Thorin!
So I figured from the beginning that the publicity machine for the now-planned The Hobbit film trilogy would be churning out pieces of stuff for us to drool over bit by bit (bet all those publicity people are happy their jobs have been extended). I also have to say that up until very recently the thing that I had most feared about the publicity stream wasn’t happening in the Armitage sphere: that we would be getting pics that would involve symbolic language primarily designed to appeal to the core Hobbit fandom, pasted onto the body of Richard Armitage via the character of Thorin Oakenshield. Yes, I know that sounds uncharitable, but I’ve had a hard time getting really excited about this particular project, particularly before I saw all the stuff at ComicCon, and I admit that was a primary fear of mine — that all the images we got of Armitage during the publicity phase were going to be hybrid for Hobbit appeal, to reconcile those fans with the infamous “hot dwarf.” So when this picture appeared recently, I figured, I was only getting what I expected I was going to get all along, and I should have been happy that there hasn’t been more of it, and that the flood held off this long.
[Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield with Thorin's Key. I'm a bit confused, because this picture has disappeared from everywhere I thought I saw it. Am I not supposed to have it? If you know, tell me, and I'll delete it. I just snaffled it off a tumblr.]
Sorry, Hobbit fans, I felt this picture was made for you and not me. (Yes, I know some, even many, Armitage fans are also Hobbit fans.) The piercing intensity of Armitage in attention to: a key? Which he’s holding like he’s almost about to kiss it? With his head tilted in a little like he’s, I don’t know, an ogre? About to snarl? He looks a lot like a Klingon, here, again. And then I found you can buy the key. Well, then. Don’t get me wrong — I am not at all opposed to participating in the merchandising around this production and an upcoming post will have me doing so again, because I did, recently. However: Because I haven’t yet assimilated the enchantment of the story with its symbolic object, this picture didn’t really resonate with me.
But I did say to myself, hey, you have been shown some seriously excellent photos of Richard Armitage as Thorin that don’t do this (this one, updated for Armitage’s birthday so we can all play count the beard hairs!), so let the merchandisers appeal to the Hobbit fans a little. They also deserve to be bathed in merchandising love. And there are more of them than us. Armitage fangirls are not the target audience for most of what we’re going to see this fall.
Still, I was relieved this morning when this picture appeared on RichardArmitageNet.com.
Richard Armitage as Thorin with Orcrist, from filming of The Hobbit. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
First, it echoed or called to mind the photos that so moved me when they appeared in March, in vlog #6. It reminded me of the flow experience Armitage appeared to be fulfilling at the time, and the power and desire that watching that enabled in me. In that sense, it was très cool that the photo appeared on the Friday before school. The boots are also there.
But what really got me this time was the face. Not just the beard, although, mmmm, beard.
He really looks like an active person taking stock of his opponent here, or looking over the horizon in calculation of what might be coming over it — and you’re not sure exactly where that upper lip is going — a huge tension emanates from it that animates the whole picture for me. Everything works together here beautifully:
–The cascades of waves of his hair make him look rugged and beautiful at the same time.
– The contrast of sclera and very white teeth (somehow not so bothersome here as I found them in Lucas North during Spooks 7 — maybe dwarfs have gleaming teeth?) with the dirt and sweat of the face and the darkness of the hair and beard immediately draw attention to the role that eyes and mouth play in the facial expression.
–The fact that his eyes are so very wide means we can see his expression even from a relatively distanced perspective (we saw something similar in the photos from the RSC Macbeth production, in my opinion). The extreme whiteness of the eyes makes him look alert, like a bowstring about to be let go.
–The side wing of his mustache and its contrast with his skin also draw attention to the position of the mouth and lips.
–we’ve noted before the potential of that amazing upper lip and what it gets him in different settings, and we see that again here. He gets more out of that upper lip than any other actor I’ve ever seen. Maybe because we’re not looking at the body of the lip and admiring its fullness, we have time to see where it’s going, where it’s moving, how it’s curving. Here he could be about to breathe, sneer, curse, yell — it’s held as potential that allows us to think about possible outcomes, adding to the energy of the picture.
–an important contribution to the mood is made here by his left nasolabial fold (“smile line”), which is more developed than we would see from the right side because emotion typically moves across Armitage’s face from left to right. This is the piece of his face that regularly enabled Lucas North to look so cruel (especially during his emaciated phase). Here it adds a tone of marked determination to Thorin’s expression.
–the large nose balances the face and again gives us a larger background against which to view the color of the eyes and observe the direction of their motion. And the picture is allowed to take advantage of a facet of that amazing profile while still benefiting from the beard.
–if you switch back to the full perspective, the tension / movement in the face also seems to suggest something about his legs to me, particularly the implied impending motion of his right leg. I know that this must be photoshopped somehow to make him look dwarfish, but if so, it’s done quite effectively.
So yeah, this Thorin made me really happy in a way I wasn’t anticipating. Hope it made you happy, too! Maybe there is some rapprochement between me and the Hobbit fans.