Sad-eyed Armitage?

Glimpse of Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in vlog #4 from The Hobbit preproduction. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Above, the photo in question. On the question of your reaction to the most recent pictures of Thorin, here’s how the polls came out:

Very interesting, if not totally unanticipated, poll results, I thought.

On the immediate reaction — more than half of respondents went with the eyes, which I guess was to be expected. They are lovely, light, and deep and imagining them on a big screen with Richard Armitage in 3-D does sort of start to make my toes curl! Then we have the virtuous fifth who are mostly interested in the performance of the character. And nobody was interested in 3-D technology. Well, I was, but not as my first reaction. Though I can see that I’m going to end up learning more about it if I’m still writing analysis of him after the first Hobbit film disc comes out. My own answer on this was the attention option, which came in third. Wow, if he would look at me that seriously during any conversation, I’d have an extremely difficult time ever tearing myself away from it. Seriously intense. I think my response was conditioned by the video context. This cap was really only a glimpse in the video, but I wasn’t clear whether he was getting made up, or listening to a director. At first it looked like he was getting a makeup touchup — something he’s said that he finds annoying —  but then from the shots afterward it seemed that it might have been a rehearsal of some kind. And gosh — if that’s how attentively he listens to direction? Guh. A director’s dream.

Despite much beard enthusiasm in the fandom more generally, there was only one vote for petting the beard. Although it looks so silky soft … mmmm … I digress. Anyway, what I really wanted to comment on was something that Traxy and a new poster — welcome, Kristin, I’m getting really overwhelmed with answering comments these days — said: that he looked sad. I’m neutral on this question because I feel like both the architecture of the prosthesis and the beard affect my perception here. The mustache over the top lip makes his lower lip seem much bigger than usual; the beard seems to prevent us from seeing whether triangularis (a key indicator for him of sadness) is in action here. The other thing is that I feel (as I do often) that he has slightly different expressions in each eye! His left eye makes him look much sadder to me, but I can’t see it as well because the built up nose obscures it slightly.

Anyway, what do you guys think? Does he look sad?

On the question of immediate reaction, near half of viewer shared my response: picking up news only when an Armitage fan site picks it up. I was surprised, however, at how many readers of this site are really getting into all of the pre-production excitement, tracking down their own information and gleaning it from wherever they can: almost another third of readers who responded to the poll. It seems, despite our ambivalence at the beginning, that we’re gradually being converted to Hobbit fandom? My own feelings about Armitage in the role were positive, but my feelings about being a The Hobbit fan were negative at the beginning and have improved only slightly. I have to say that Peter Jackson makes it really easy to love the whole thing, though. I like the appeal to artistry and intellect that he makes on these vlogs, and that may be reconciling me to at least learning a little bit more about the Hobbit fandom. Anyway, only a tiny minority of readers here are marginally interested or not at all — which bodes well for the progress of the fandom toward the box office when the date arrives. I’m sure some people (though not me) have already bought their plane tickets to New Zealand.

Sad eyes? What say you?

~ by Servetus on November 20, 2011.

28 Responses to “Sad-eyed Armitage?”

  1. I thought he looked sad too. And while I’m usually going on about his eyes, that wasn’t what captured me here. (the nose kind of got in the way of my usual eye appreciation). I was happy to learn about the reason for the reddened skin. Very interesting indeed, that they had to add the pigment to make the skin look normal for the camera! I was concerned about him being uncomfortable in the heavy makeup, so that is why I went with the #4 comment.

    Like

  2. Nice Robert Frost reference there!

    Like

  3. I think he does look sad but only because he is focused we all know he is very professional about his craft. On such a long project it must be hard to maintain that high level all the time. The little he has said leads me to believe he is enjoying the experience.
    I hope he doesn’t suffer the disappointment that some of the actors on LOTR did when their scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
    I’m a rather pessimistic soul who will view the sucess of the final film in terms of ‘length of RA time spent on screen’

    Like

  4. I didn’t interpret as sad but as intently focused, although I can see where it could be interpreted as “sad.” As you say, the nose blocks seeing the other eye, and that makes a difference. I have noticed in photos due the lack of symmetry in my face, I often appear to be expressing different emotions on each side (I notice it more if I cover one-half of my face). Happiness on one side, a certain pensiveness or hesitation on the other.

    I could be wrong and maybe I am just a cock-eyed optimist, but I suspect PJ will be sufficiently pleased with Richard’s performance that there will be plenty of Thorin on the screen . . . of course some scenes will end up on the cutting room floor, that’s inevitable. But we can hope to see those as part of the bonus features on the DVD. 😉

    Like

  5. I personally am a huge Hobbit LOTR fan and I can hardly wait for the movie. I don’t think his eyes look sad. I just think he is in character. Thorin is heir to a kingdom that has been destroyed (along with most of his family and people) and whose treasure is being gaurded by a dragon. He has a single purpose, to reclaim the dwarvin kingdom and treasure. Plus, Thorin isn’t always the nicest of fellows.

    Like

    • Excellent points, Jael. We know that when Richard is in character, he IS that individual. That’s why when he played moody, temperamental Guy he went around with “a face like thunder.”

      Jael, as a big Tolkien fan, do you think most of the fans are reconciled now with the choice of Richard to play Thorin? I know there were many who thought him too young and handsome for the role . . .

      Like

      • Angieklong, I think in general the fans are more accepting of RA and the look of the dwarves in general.
        I admit, initially I was doubtful of RA as Thorin. Not doubtful that he could perform the role well, but that I could accept him as Thorin. With everything I’ve seen and read so far, all my doubts have vanished and I’m super excited for The Hobbit and RA as Thorin. I think the majority of the audience and fans will accept RA as Thorin.

        Like

        • That’s good to hear, Jael. I realize that some people would be unhappy no matter who is cast in the role. You can’t please everyone and I’m sure Sir Peter knows that.

          I have seen pretty much everything RA has ever done except some bit parts in TV shows and movies early in his career, and he convinces me each and every time he IS the character he is playing, and he’s played some pretty diverse characters.

          This role is also a dream come true for him, making it all the more meaningful. I am certain you won’t be disappointed in his performance. He’s gonna make us all proud. 😀

          Like

        • Those that post at the major message board seem that to have got used to him, but when publicity starts and articles and trailers will everywhere there will no doubt be another wave of criticism because he doesn’t fit people idea of Thorin. I bet there are many fervent book lovers that don’t post on message boards and haven’t seen any Hobbit material yet. I think we can expect comments like his beard is too short under every single article published on the internet.

          Like

  6. I also interpreted the expression as one of total focus and concentration.

    Like

  7. I interpreted it as sad and in some way tired expression. I could not vote on your poll, as no option hit my first impression. The eyes are too distant looking and I expect, his answer to what the man in front of him is telling him is a politely uttered disagreement or at least an inner distance. So I just could not go for the answer I otherwise would have loved, the one being in his attention focus.
    His impression is excellent for the haughty Thorin and I am not sure how much of this expression is role and how much is RA. So this photo irritates me and leaves me – without resolution. So I put it back till further material lets resolve the mystery. For now it is not able to cause me fan-swooning for the Hobbit, like the technological background can ;o)

    Like

  8. That he looked sad never even crossed my mind. I thought he just looked like he was intensely focused on what was going on, and also probably in character. Thorin does have a lot of weight on his shoulders in this story.

    Like

  9. CDoart, I liked the “inner distance” remark. If from a strong focus, perhaps also a regret at not being in agreement? Sadness wasn’t my initial reaction – but I can see it – regret? (Mind you, there is a lot of makeup there, which can influence any impression re: initial interpretation).

    Like

    • Yes, Fitzg, I completely agree with your ‘regret’. I have the strange impression, that he somehow is observing the man in front of him from a distant ‘position’, not just listening to him ;o)
      So perhaps there is really quite some Thorin left in his expression.

      Like

  10. I tend to agree with Fitzg and CDoart.I can see “inner distance” and “regret” but my initial reaktion was”Richard you look so sad and tired-take care,please”

    Like

  11. Isn’t he just tired? I’ve noticed that when people are not well acquainted with others /us they tend to read as sadness what is just fatigue.

    Like

    • That is a good point, Bibiana. The man is putting in long hours wearing a considerable amount of hair and costume and wielding a sword in action scenes–even the amazing Mr. A gets tired. Also–he is made up to look like a 200-plus year old dwarf. That could lead to a fellow looking a bit tired.

      Like

  12. I must admit that this picture makes me feel sad too (and a bit helpless, because I can’t do anything from here to cheer him up ;))

    I hope he was just having a bad day. We all have days like that, they just happen from time to time (nobody can be happy all the time…)
    I also hope that during these ‘ebb and flood moments’, he’s able to look on the bright sight of life, because now his “star is rising”- after all these years of struggle- he finally got all the cards he needs to pave the way for a happy and fulfilling future.

    “let’s build on that, shall we?” 😉

    Much Love,
    FH

    Like

  13. To me, Richard Armitage in this screencap is experiencing “eustress.” From the interviews I’ve seen and read, he’s a workaholic and is happiest when he’s busy. So my intuition tells me that here he is feeling “eustress” or “positive stress” because his hard and tiring work gives him a feeling of fulfillment.

    Like

    • I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard an American use that term. I hear it in Germany all the time but I didn’t even know it was a concept here 🙂

      Like

  14. It’s interesting if you set the window so that you can only see his eyes and not his mouth / jaw construction. I think he looks less sad if you don’t look at the lower half of his face.

    Like

  15. Hmm, I’ve spent a bit of time reproducing this image in pencil, but sadness was not what came across to me the most. If anything, disdain seems more appropriate, and what is that really, except weariness with people of inferior status? But I don’t like to read too much into it, since it is certainly an out of character moment. Though one can argue that Richard is possibly in character as long as he’s in costume given his dedication to the role. Still, I’d rather go with thoughtful or disdainful than sad.

    Like

  16. […] Gosh, this is sweet and hot. I admit that although I like long hair on men and love Armitage’s beard, I find my sudden captivity to this hair-play fascination personally odd. I have never been one to include a man brushing my hair in my own fantasies — and for many years I had hair that went down to the middle of my back. When I read it in happening in Armitage-related fanfic (most frequently in N&S pieces), the best it does is leave me cold; sometimes it leaves me with a little squick, as I tend to think of Mr. Thornton as anything other than a hair brusher. I also think about the decidedly mixed reactions among fans to Mr. Armitage’s own beard — and when the picture of Thorin at the top of the post appeared, only one voter ventured to admit that the beard was the first thing she noticed. […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: