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Old 02-12-2017, 01:42 PM   #1
Axbolt
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"Do not speak to me of dragon fire"

In Desolation of smaug when king Thranduil says "do not speak to me of dragon fire" and the scaring appears on his face as if concealed by magic, what is this meant to signify happened in his past? I know I missed something.
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Old 02-12-2017, 01:46 PM   #2
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The last time he got drunk?

Any other guess I cannot hazard, since I haven't seen the movies (of which it seems you're asking).
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Old 02-12-2017, 03:49 PM   #3
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That was odd. I always thought elves were immune to scarring.
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Old 02-12-2017, 04:41 PM   #4
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I never thought Elves wouldn't have scars. I was sure they can. But at the moment I can't think of a single good example either for or against; the best my brain is offering at the moment is a few ideas about the biology of wound healing and tissue regeneration, which I don't want to go into. But hey, the slaves of Thangorodrim (or at least Gwindor) appeared aged, as old Men; and limbs that were chopped off didn't grow themselves back - so eternal youth and beauty aren't always guaranteed.


But back to the question. Although I have watched the 2nd Hobbit movie, I evidently didn't pay enough attention. When was this said? Or even better - can you find a video of that scene?
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Old 02-12-2017, 06:53 PM   #5
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I remember this bit but there's no explanation for it in the theatrical release of any of the films.

I have a feeling it might be explained in an extended edition (none of which I've seen for the "Hobbit" films) perhaps with some reference to the Grey Mountains or something.

There is (to the best of my knowledge) nothing in the real story from the books to suggest that Thranduil had ever encountered dragons in his life, although I suppose it's possible.
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Old 02-12-2017, 06:57 PM   #6
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There is (to the best of my knowledge) nothing in the real story from the books to suggest that Thranduil had ever encountered dragons in his life, although I suppose it's possible.
Maybe in one of the First Age battles involving Glaurung?

As has been clearly demonstrated though, movie writers need not stick to the source material for 'inspiration'.
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Old 02-12-2017, 07:02 PM   #7
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It turns out (perhaps unsurprisingly) that a quick Google search revealed the answer:

From http://scifi.stackexchange.com/quest...ng-with-thorin

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This is discussed in the Director's commentary. Thranduil's prior encounter with dragons (which the Director happily admits is not from the books) was included to explain his deep isolationism and the reason why he wouldn't help the dwarves. There's also the suggestion that a firedrake killed his wife, explaining her absence from the film.

As to the sudden appearance of his scars, the implication is that he normally uses Elven magic to disguise them. To emphasise his little speech, he allows this 'glamour' to drop momentarily.

Peter Jackson: What's interesting is that Thranduil's had this encounter with dragons before ... and his wife was ...

Boyens: There's a conceit we came up with. Actors need that. They need to feed on that backstory. Where did this isolationism come from?

I also like the notion that this very 'closed off' character is also one of the greatest fighters on Middle Earth.
Seems like a classic case of "we don't understand Tolkien's complex/believable characterisation so we made up an over-the-top silly one ourselves."
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Old 02-12-2017, 08:22 PM   #8
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Seems like a classic case of "we don't understand Tolkien's complex/believable characterisation so we made up an over-the-top silly one ourselves."
Yup.

The thing is, the Elves in Mirkwood weren't isolated at all. They had a thriving trade with Lake-town. Their problem was specifically with Dwarves.

Never mind. Silly me with my book-readin' and all.
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Old 02-12-2017, 09:23 PM   #9
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The thing is, the Elves in Mirkwood weren't isolated at all. They had a thriving trade with Lake-town. Their problem was specifically with Dwarves.
EDIT: Oddly enough, in "Flies and Spiders" the narration states of the Elvenking "His people neither mined nor worked metals or jewels, nor did they bother much with trade or with tilling the earth." Seems an odd thing of Professor Tolkien to write – if they traded little, but also didn't mine and smith their own metal or grow much of their own food, how did they eat and maintain their armouries? Perhaps someone with a copy of The History of The Hobbit can provide some enlightenment here. I suppose it's possible that he means that the Elves of Thranduil's Halls didn't do this because that was essentially the "king's castle" and matters of trade and industry were handled at the settlements down the river, such as the ones that managed the wine rafts between Mirkwood and Esgaroth.

In the first "Hobbit" film (filling in because you haven't seen it) they unnecessarily try to explain why Elves and Dwarves don't get along. The real answer has to do with the slaying of Thingol (and to an extent the awakening of the Balrog) as we know.

However, the film explains it by saying that Thranduil and his Elves showed up to watch Erebor being attacked by Smaug but did nothing to help. Who knows why they would have bothered showing up to watch; it's just one of the many daft things that happens in the film, in my opinion for the sake of forced "drama".

Thus they later have to explain why Thranduil didn't help, when they wouldn't have had that problem at all if they'd just thought "audiences will accept that Elves and Dwarves have often struggled to be friends".

Frankly I don't see why they couldn't have told Lee Pace "your character is a very old, very proud Elf with a bit of a weakness for beautiful things; his extended family were in conflict with Dwarves long ago so he doesn't trust them much."

I think it is probably a symptom of the films trying to be like The Lord of the Rings by having a large ensemble of major characters, when The Hobbit really has one main protagonist, Bilbo, arguably one secondary protagonist (Thorin) and a lot of supporting characters (Gandalf, Balin, the Elvenking, Bard, Beorn and so on). It wants to give each of them a personal, dramatic story like Théoden or Denethor. The films also rather contemptibly turn Bilbo into a supporting character in his own story, and lavish most of their attention upon Thorin, meaning that his antagonists, such as the Elvenking, need to be fleshed out more. This also presumably helped them to bloat the project to a trilogy as per Warner Bros.' request.
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Old 02-13-2017, 06:09 AM   #10
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back to the question. Although I have watched the 2nd Hobbit movie, I evidently didn't pay enough attention. When was this said? Or even better - can you find a video of that scene?
I have found the clip on YouTube:

https://m.youtube.com/?hl=en-GB&gl=G...?v=Q69yl9a4QPg

Have never posted a link before so might not work

I have wached the exstended edition and canot find any referance to the death of his wife exsept that she was killed at Angmar
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Old 02-13-2017, 06:53 AM   #11
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I have wached the exstended edition and canot find any referance to the death of his wife exsept that she was killed at Angmar
It's not based on anything whatsoever in the book either. I think this is something that only exists in the filmmakers' imaginations.
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Old 02-13-2017, 07:51 AM   #12
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However, the film explains it by saying that Thranduil and his Elves showed up to watch Erebor being attacked by Smaug but did nothing to help. Who knows why they would have bothered showing up to watch; it's just one of the many daft things that happens in the film, in my opinion for the sake of forced "drama".
It does defy logic. How would they possibly have had ample warning to assemble a force and go to the Mountain in time to see Smaug in action? And that leaves aside the question of why they'd go.

It just makes me less and less rueful that I haven't seen the films.
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Old 02-13-2017, 08:45 AM   #13
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It does defy logic. How would they possibly have had ample warning to assemble a force and go to the Mountain in time to see Smaug in action? And that leaves aside the question of why they'd go.
The scene in question seems to have the Elves pointlessly hanging around just out of sight of the gate of Erebor; they pop up, Thorin sees them and asks them to help, and then they go away again. Why were they there in the first place? Perhaps in the films it's a big conspiracy and they knew Smaug was going to attack the whole time!

In actual fact it might have something to do with an idea in the films (which is apparently expanded on in the Extended Edition) that Thranduil used to go and do homage to Thrór because he was the most powerful ruler in that part of the world (while resenting doing so and secretly coveting his treasures) and perhaps he was on his way to some kind of political visit to Erebor when he saw Smaug attacking and decided "let them burn" as it were. That's an awful lot of film embellishment coupled with interpolation on my part though.

It's also possible that he was on his way to attack the mountain to recover those jewels he covets from the novel, which are embellished in the films to have belonged to the wife who was killed by dragons (which gave him the scar which was part of the original point of the thread). That's another thing that only exists in the filmmakers' heads, however.

Either way, it doesn't look like he and his Elves were en route; it looks like they were just waiting around for no reason, an example of the clumsiness in the visual language of the films that is very common.

In the rest of the films, Mirkwood is still several days' march from the Mountain as it is in the book.
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Old 02-16-2017, 10:55 AM   #14
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"His people neither mined nor worked metals or jewels, nor did they bother much with trade or with tilling the earth."
"Nor did they bother much" doesn't mean they didn't do it at all. I think it probably means they did it exactly to the level that it supplied their necessities but did not engage in trade for profit or base their entire way of life around it.

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It does defy logic. How would they possibly have had ample warning to assemble a force and go to the Mountain in time to see Smaug in action? And that leaves aside the question of why they'd go.

It just makes me less and less rueful that I haven't seen the films.
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In the rest of the films, Mirkwood is still several days' march from the Mountain as it is in the book.
My memory of the landscape shots in the movie is that they universally asserted that all of Middle earth is about 5 miles square. Of course, consistent travel times was not a strong point in the films.
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Old 02-16-2017, 10:44 PM   #15
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"Nor did they bother much" doesn't mean they didn't do it at all. I think it probably means they did it exactly to the level that it supplied their necessities but did not engage in trade for profit or base their entire way of life around it.
That's a good point, and perhaps it's something of an effort on Professor Tolkien's part to foreshadow the greedy Master and Thorin and contrast the way of life the Professor preferred (which the Wood Elves at least evoke to an extent, if not wholly – they certainly still have negative traits, "more dangerous and less wise") to the possessive attitudes the novel criticises.

That is to say, why Thranduil and his people certainly aren't perfect, they are "good people" and in some degree that is because they are not to the same degree affected by the traits upon which the novel looks unfavourably.
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Old 03-16-2017, 05:41 PM   #16
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Of course, when Tolkien wrote them they were Avari: not evil, but certainly eerie, "primitive" and dangerous. As much as anything he was differentiating them from the "civilized" Eldar of Beleriand.
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