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

Richard Armitage as Thorin with Orcrist, from filming of The Hobbit. Source:

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.

Detail of above.

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.

~ by Servetus on August 25, 2012.

24 Responses to “More proof I love you and want you to be happy — Thorin edition”

  1. I love the feeling he is about to spring into action here–so much tension and concentraion on what’s going on or about to be going on . . . Yes, definitely good photo editing, too. One foxy dwarf. Although I also quite like the top picture, even if I am not the target audience. 😉 I like to think it’s Thorin with the key to my heart. 😉


  2. I liked that the publicity about the “hot dwarf” has been restrained and dribbled out. The Hobbit looks fair to being a big film in the Tolkien/PJ repertoire. It is an ensemble film. Do we need another Orlando Bloom? (well, OB was fine, and LotR was a great break for him.) But I trust that Mr. A will turn in the expected quality performance and gain notice from more quality producers and directors from a wider stage.

    mmmnn that upper lip continues to have a life of its own. In a manner of speaking…


    • I’m sure that fandoms for the other actors involved are also getting pictures of them — I’m just not watching this all from that perspective, but from the stance of what makes it into *my* sphere of interest, which is solely Armitage. The Armitage fan sites aren’t pushing the other pics at us. For which I am grateful 🙂


  3. About the “key” picture. It’s one of the pictures in the Mead 2013 Hobbit calendar, supposedly not available until November. Funny story about that … I read on some link off TORn that Mead was selling the calendars now. So I went out to the Mead site to order it (yes, I’m a pathetic case 😉 ), and although there was a page holder for it, there wasn’t a “buy this” button anywhere on the site. I don’t remember where, but I also read about another place that was selling the calendars ahead of time — Midtown Comics in NY — I was able to place an order with them the other day. Within 2 hours of placing the order, I received a full refund. Confused, I sent an email to MC, asking why. The response I received was “The item was recalled by the distributor. Keep an eye open though, it will be back.”

    So I’m wondering if the reason you can’t find the image now is because the calendars were recalled?


    • aha, so that’s why it’s apparently disappeared. Well, I’ll leave it there until someone officially tells me it’s embargoed. Thanks for the info; a calendar is an item I’d never buy for any reason 🙂


  4. What gets me in these pictures is how successfully they have made this tall man look short, and how fat his fingers are – he must be wearing prosthetics/gloves there. In fact he must be wearing prosthetics on his forearms too, one of the screencaps from the production vlogs shows him in a barrel, sporting *massive* muscles in this forearms. Now I know our Mr. Armitage is super fit and muscular, but he doesn’t look exaggerated like a bodybuilder. (
    So, no wonder he keeps bringing up how these dwarves are sweaty and smelly, if they are all covered in foam and silicone all day, let alone all the heavy armor, fur trimmed heavy cloaks, boots and so on.


  5. It’s funny I now seem to make a vey guttural thud noise whenever I see a picture of him at the moment, my husband is going to notice soon! I think it an internal sound from my ovaries clanging.

    The top picture is probably the first one though that does very little for me. It seems too posed. The second one is fantastic, I could look at that one for hours!

    Loving the questions. I wonder if he has any idea about this and what goes on on the Internet in his name.


    • ovaries clanging. Now that’s a new one!

      I suspect he knows some of it. I know that his agents know about it.


  6. I agree that the pic with the key looks posed and RA is not very good at smouldering when posing for a pic. I guess he has to be in character and in the right state of mind to do that convincingly. But the key IS important for the story, so I understand fans liking that details. I also think it is great that it is marketed, not just Bilbo’s ring.

    As to the pic you like so much, I think it is the best so far because it seems to be a still from the movie itself, not a posed publicity pic or a behind the scenes pic and gives an idea of the impression he will make on screen. But it may disappoint you to learn that the important thing in this is his sword Orcrist. The pic is from a site that sells a replica of the sword and it has disappeared as well by now, because apparently that pic wasn’t supposed to be published at this point of time.

    I get the impression, while the Hobbit undoubtedly is an ensemble piece, Thorin’s role in the PR we got so far is pretty prominent. The calendar contains a pic with most of the characters and while Bilbo is in the middle, Thorin appear to be the central figure.


  7. […] this video when it appeared in a post on Didion’s Feminema blog last Spring  [(5)] on a tip from Servetus of Me+Richard Armitage [(6)] from one of her Legenda indexes of interesting resources, I think.  And I tucked the video […]


  8. […] night I was screencapping to cheer myself up, and found myself thinking again about Richard Armitage’s upper lip and its evocative moments. Where you don’t necessary tend to expect these is in a fight scene, but that’s where I […]


  9. […] to get a digital camera so you can photograph this. It won’t make sense otherwise. Writing, I start to approach it last Monday, when I’m given an unexpected reprieve from the clusterf*ck of the day I’m anticipating […]


  10. […] think it also explains, at least partially, why I didn’t care for the “key” image. Although someone told me recently that there’s a captioned version of that image on tumblr […]


  11. […] as I wrote, I like that picture a lot. It definitely captures my attention for all kinds of reasons. […]


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