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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Old images of Drogo Baggins found?

Posted on 2008.12.09 at 12:05

Comments:


Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2008-12-11 03:44 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, and as Tolkien said, hobbits came in brown. A reason I was disappointed with how PJ casted all the background hobbits. He could have hired local maori folk to play hobbits as well as orcs.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2008-12-11 04:20 (UTC) (Link)
I was disappointed with how PJ casted all the background hobbits.

Not just the background hobbits, all the hobbits. I think they decided to accentuate the "England of a vanished past" look to the Shire, rather than adhering strictly to Tolkien's description of his hobbits, which called for brown skin and brown curly (not wavy) hair. But if they had gone with Tolkien's actual description, they couldn't have cast the actors they chose for the leading hobbits roles, film-Frodo especially, who is nearly the palest person in the three film, not including Gothmog, lol.
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2008-12-11 04:32 (UTC) (Link)
Possibly. But I think Tolkien's description certainly gave more room for diversity than PJ took, which is a shame, seeing that Tolkien's limits on how he presented race came from a mindset from the middle of the last century, and PJ has no such excuse in this new century, alas.

BTW, there is another episode up of Bingo's adventures. Another will be following soon. (-:
Mechtild
mechtild at 2008-12-11 04:49 (UTC) (Link)
I think your point is good, Lavender, but I think that if he diversified the hobbits in the crowd scenes, he'd absolutely have to diversify the hobbits playing Bilbo, Frodo, Merry and Pippin: all heirs to families that have the greatest stature, wealth and authority in the Shire. Otherwise, I'm afraid it would look like what often pertains in this world: white people run things and enjoy most of their countrys' wealth, while persons of colour are limited to working and serving them.

More Bingo? Goody. But it must wait until tomorrow. I'm too tired to be a good audience! *yawn*
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2008-12-11 16:28 (UTC) (Link)
Unfortunately, if PJ stuck strictly to Tolkien's schema, then that is exactly how it would look because Frodo, Merry, and Pippin are Fallohides, which are supposed to be lighter skinned and the leaders and adventurers as compared to the typical Harefoot hobbits of the Shire. So it's all racially inflected. The work is so deeply anti-racist in its message on the fantastic metaphorical level with how it deals the the prejudices between Dwarf and Elf, but so racist in the concrete particulars in the investment in valuing skin deemed "fair" vs. "swarthy" orcs. The messages are mixed, which is not surprising from this most typical seeming white British professor who was yet born in Africa.

So following that schema, Sam is darker skinned than his companions, and especially if PJ decided to stick closer to the text's class-deferential Sam, that would have played totally face-palmingly racist. I'm glad PJ played down Sam's class-deferentialness--it's one of the areas of the text I always had trouble with.

For me, it would have been wonderful, if PJ did cast the main hobbits more diversely, and not to Tolkien's schema, even if it meant losing any of the favorites we're now used to. Still, barring that, as it is the racist norm of casting in Hollywood still today, more diverse skin tones among the background hobbits would be a good thing at least. The viewer can decide which of those background hobbits is Mayor Wil Whitfoot or any other. And it gives more jobs to actors of color for face time, rather than being covered in orc masks.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2008-12-11 17:50 (UTC) (Link)
See, now I read Tolkien's intro about the hobbit strains to say that the Tooks were the most strongly Fallohide, and that all the leading families had Fallohide blood, but that it was mixed, the Harfoots in particular in strong evidence in every part of the Shire. I assumed the Bagginses, for instance, were primarily Harfoot stock, since they're supposed to be clever and practical and hardy, which they seem to be, except for the errant streak that comes from the Fallohide, Tookish strain flowing in their veins, at least in isolated individuals, like Bilbo and Frodo. The Stoors seem more limited to water-side locations, so I thought it probable that the Brandybuck clan, for instance, would have strong Stoor connections, at least in its past, because they are a water-friendly located more towards traditional Stoor environs.

I have always thought that however English his Shire comes off, and it is *very* English, in the appendices and intros Tolkien always made clear that Hobbits actually had their own language, very different than Westron or the English he translated their talk into for us readers. I also thought that the description of hobbits was very non-English: besides being so very short, they had brown curly hair, brown complexions and faces that were more notable for their good humoured expressions than for beauty (vis-a-vis the beauty of the tall, slender, elegant Elves). Not that there aren't English people that are short, tan-skinned, curly haired and not noted for their Elf-like comeliness, but I thought this was another way Tolkien was showing that even though the hobbits, of all the folk of Middle-earth were most like the average English person, they actually were a quite different people.

It's funny, but this came up for me watching Brandon Walters as Nullah in "Australia" (topic in a more recent post). I thought he made a perfect book hobbit: his hair is only wavy, not curly, but he has the brown skin and the cheerful, open face: big expressive eyes, a mouth quick to smile, laugh, sing and enjoy a meal, but soft-contoured, not chiselled or remotely Greco-Roman. I think he's beautiful, but he does not look like an Elf, with an Elf's chiselled contours and austere elegance. And he does not look English. But he doesn't look like a stately Maori, or an aborginal Australian, either. He's a magical mix of characteristics you can't quite put your finger on, but one that says to me, "here is a *perfect* hobbit boy!"

Still, barring that, as it is the racist norm of casting in Hollywood still today, more diverse skin tones among the background hobbits would be a good thing at least. The viewer can decide which of those background hobbits is Mayor Wil Whitfoot or any other. And it gives more jobs to actors of color for face time, rather than being covered in orc masks.

You are probably right. Maybe in the second film to come more will be done to show diversity, especially if they have a scene at Brandy Hall, for instance, since Hobbiton and its people have already been established. There would certainly be more diversity at Bree, a town known for its range of folk, but film Bree seemed to be hobbit-less.


Edited at 2008-12-11 05:51 pm (UTC)
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