[spoilers] Richard Armitage + Thorin Oakenshield + fighting + dancing

the_hobbit_the_battle_of_the_five_armies_trl_2-1080-rv-mov_000125792Thorin Oakenshield engaged with an orc in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Source: Heirs of Durin. Putting this here as a placeholder for all the images that we will want to look at very closely in short order.


Tonight I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in HFR 3-D with D-Box. D-Box turns out to be a rattling seat that moves the viewer around slightly in response to things happening in the film. It was interesting, but essentially gimmicky, and this was a ridiculously expensive ticket: $22. Interesting — when Thorin Oakenshield’s voice got especially low, the seats rattled a little bit!

The other general thing to be said is that HFR 3-D simply rules the day when it comes to the fight scenes. It’s not that they were poor before, but in HFR they are crystal clear and the more enjoyable to me for that. None of the weird blurring occurs or of the “see sick” effect — and they seem smoother and more connected in general — as much like extended dance sequences as combat scenes. Also, you really can see how much of this was Richard Armitage and not the stunt guy — there were two or three places where I had been in doubt about who it was, and now I think in most of those places it really was Armitage.

This was a good night for me to choose this format because I really wanted to write about how Richard Armitage moves as Thorin. I have three general observations that I will look forward to substantiating with more viewings of various kinds.

First, one thing that’s fascinating about these scenes — in the scenes where the dwarves are all fighting (and now we know they’re doing a kind of dance in a sort of “beat” pattern), there is a chunk, rhythmic, choppy quality to it — I assume this is because they have to be coordinated as a group. It’s not, per se, that you can tell they aren’t fighting real people — the way they move could be seen as a sort of typically dwarvish movement — so much as there is occasionally a noticeably choreographed quality to it. This effect disappears in the scenes where Thorin fights either alone or with Dwalin. I think we can see the dance and fight background very explicitly here — he really displays an expertise that is above all smooth. We can ask about whether small arms / hand to hand combat is like that; shouldn’t there be more roughness to it? But it is a pleasure to watch. Maybe Armitage is also dancing a twelve-beat sequence here, but we don’t see it come through. I wonder what it might have been like, back in the day, to watch him dance alone.

Second, one thing I think he must be bringing with him to this performance is a very coordinated movement of eyes and limbs and breath. You can see him, as he prepares a swing of Orcrist that will in turn demand a swing of his body, looking in a particular direction and fixing his glance. I’m assuming this is a technique for fixing a stable horizon in his brain in the second before he moves, so that he does not upset his equilibrium? In any case, everything seems perfectly matched and programmed.

So the question that’s left is — how does one prepare such a fight — where one attacker has a brick attached to a chain, on wet ice, with mismatched-size opponents — to look appropriate haphazard, off kilter and out of joint when one does so much work to choreograph it? In other words, how do you make something that has to be choreographed so well that a computer simulation can be inserted into it seem at all chancy, edgy, uncertain, unbalanced? A noticeable feature of Thorin’s movements is a sort of periodic drunken-ish staggering that responds to this situation of inherent disequilibrium in the scene. When the camera moves away you can see how this is created — the actor / stuntman is acting from an uncommonly low center of gravity. Armitage has talked about this before, referring to the way the dwarves walk and their heavy gonads. We see it here again, with a level of being bent over during some of the moves that defies gravity a bit. All I can say is these guys’ abdominal muscles must be under superb control.

Another delightful evening at the cinema with Richard Armitage. I’d like to do HFR one more time to watch the movement. After that I’ll go to 2-D, I think. Although the temptation to do 3D IMAX and stare into those eyes again is really great. And while dad is here I won’t be able to go …

~ by Servetus on December 22, 2014.

4 Responses to “[spoilers] Richard Armitage + Thorin Oakenshield + fighting + dancing”

  1. Wish I went with you!


  2. Then I am doubly glad I will see it in IMAX after the holidays, because they just opened the first IMAX theatre in the Baltics here last week, and of course they will show The Hobbit there! Before that, I have only seen them in 3D.


  3. I’m tired of waiting. I want to see it, I want to read your posts!


  4. […] I’ve remarked on this for the case of Lucas North in particular at length and briefly for Thorin Oakenshield in The Battle of the Five Armies and rather tangentially for Porter. I’ve never been able to settle for myself, based on what […]


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