When you look at the original source material of the Hobbit, it is a children's bedtime tale with 13 stunted creatures called dwarves, and a hobbit. These dwarves were meant to be silly characters, more like Snow White's famous entourage. Because of this stereotype, dwarves are seen as little more than comic relief in pop-culture. Even my own wife didn't get the reverence and respect I hold for them. Of course mine stems from being more entrenched in geek culture, with things like Warhammer and heroic legends of Warcraft's Bronzebeard brothers.
This all changed with this movie. You watched legions of dwarves heroically face off against an innumerable horde of orcs and goblins. You see a young one face off against a powerful foe and succeed in a fight akin to King Isildur's match with Sauron in The Fellowship of the Ring.You see more than plucky characters here, you see bold and brave, stern and gruff, skilled and purposeful. This movie showed it all. I wish I had some screenshots to show examples of awesome dwarftitude. So I will just describe a few goose-bump inducing examples:
- Thorin rising from the tree, oaken shield on one arm, walking boldly to face the pale orc.
- A dwarf blacksmith holding a glowing hot piece of metal in a gloved hand above his head, and 2 great hammers converge from the ceiling to shape it, during the beginning intro.
- The choir of deep voices humming the song of the misty mountains. (This will be my new lullaby for my kids from now on)
- The band leaping from the trees to take on the giant trolls with their warcry.
- The whole escape from Goblin Town.
It is important to note that the charm of Tolkein's original story is there. In the movie we hear a few lighthearted songs and jokes, and they aren't without their blunders or diplomatic faux pas'. They can be amazingly badass warriors, as well as the brunt of a joke or two on occasion.
But after the credits rolled, I turned to my wife and said "Now do you get why I like dwarves so much?" To which she admitted she did. And that's what matters.
So who is my favorite of the company of dwarves? It's sort of a toss up between two.
Dwalin, the first one that arrived at Bilbo's home, probably ekes out over the top simply because he's the most armed of the group, sporting 2 great-axes crossed at his back, and a massive warhammer at grip. On top of that you have a plethora of knives tucked away in just about every available spot, and even his gloves cover the knuckles in the sharp geometric patterns seen in all of their armor and weaponry. He was never hesitant to use any of it, or lacking skill. Whenever I made a dwarf fighter in DnD, this is pretty much how I imagined him.
Bifur is one that gets much less screen time and lines, but for a reason. See that in his forehead? It's a goblin axe-blade. He must have taken it during the battle for Moria, and like the stout warrior he is, fought on. Their surgeons probably realized that removing the blade would kill him, so they decided to just leave it in, allowing his flesh to grow around it. There is a side effect to it, though. And the reason for so few lines and little screen-time. It hit the right part of his frontal lobe which caused a permanent switch in his language center to ancient dwarvish. That would also be why only Gandalf ever responded to his babbling. He's the only one that could understand him! (Face it, do you ever remember any latin language lessons? If you took an injury that switched you to speak only latin, could others understand you?) He follows close behind Dwalin simply because he's got a f***ing goblin axe sticking out of his head!
Which was your favorite dwarf?