At Comic-Con last week, Julia, a female audience member explained that she made her dad change a number of the male characters in The Hobbit to women, including Gandalf and Smaug, because there were no other female characters. She asked the panel about the role of Galadriel in the films, and about the addition of the female elf Tauriel.
Philipa Boyens said that Galadriel “immediately brings a very powerful feminine energy into the film.” She commented on feeling “the weight of it being a bit of a boys own story” and writing the character of Tauriel to add another strong woman. Anticipating backlash from the purists, she explained, “We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien.”
Though it wasn’t touched on in the Comic-Con panel, an article in Total Film gave away the storyline of a Kili-Tauriel romance. “I guess he knows nothing can ever happen,” Aidan Turner, who plays Kili, said. “She’s about 20ft tall and he’s only two!”
As we sit around the Middle-earth News water-cooler, it’s obvious that there are widely differing opinions on the inclusion of Tauriel and the emphasis on romance in The Hobbit. Here to weigh in are the Middle-earth News reporters, themselves!
Rifflo – I think that having a “romance” in The Hobbit is a very good thing.
Now before I am strung up by the burly manly men or the people who may think that a female character cannot be a positive and strong presence just because of a romance…hear me out.
First, thinking like a fan or story lover. This expands on the story and gives a break in the darkness and lightens the scene. Not only that, a romance in a good way to see a characters personality deeper. I mean, we all act differently with our own “romances” then we do with our friends – ie: added story. After all, we are human. We have feelings. We love.
I remember my wife dragging me to see The Notebook, kicking and screaming, but I have to say….what a great movie! *fears “Man Card” will be taken away*
Second, thinking like a studio executive. The number one movie going demographic are women between the ages of 14-28. The majority of this age group and gender want to see a romance. We have to remember, when a studio makes a movie like this, they aren’t necessarily worried about the fans of the books, but of the non-fans. These are the people they are trying to attract. The book fans will come regardless.
Third, the addition of more female roles in The Hobbit would be a nice welcome. Like Peter Jackson did in the original trilogy, expanding the role of the female characters only added to the story and gives female fans a “connection” that may have not been there in the books. I sometimes watch movies and wonder what I will tell my girls when they get older what the reason is for there not being more woman heroes.
So embrace the romance! Not only is this good for character development and box office success, but the addition of more female heroes in the movie adds connection to the female audience.
Joseph Bradford – I hate the idea canonically, but I do understand why the filmmakers are putting this into the movie. On one hand, I do not want to see major story changes from the original books, and adding a love story element to the movie will do so. On the other hand, adding this character and the story she will bring to the movie will also garner a larger audience and get people to possibly read the books who might otherwise would never have done so.
Arguing against one of Rifflo’s points however, (Sorry Rifflo!), I do not think you need to lighten up a dark story. It does take away from the mood that the story is trying to convey. As far as I’m concerned she can be in the movie, BUT having her tied to a specific character’s love interest, a character who was in the original trilogy movies, can add some confusion to someone who watches The Hobbit and then LOTR for the first time. Unless something happens to the “love” interest in the Hobbit flicks that we don’t know yet, there can be a disconnect from The Hobbit to Fellowship of the Ring.
To be completely frank, I was all for Arwen getting a larger role in the movies, even after I read the books (which didn’t happen until I saw the movie for the corresponding book.). The main reason why the inclusion of Arwen’s character and the character in The Hobbit differs is because ARWEN already existed in the Canon! All they did was look at the Appendices and expand upon that. Tauriel is a character created for the movie, and the creation of her story and the love story between her and whichever character is totally new and independent of the Professor’s writing. I cannot see this as “expanding upon the story” because it’s the creation of a whole new story and putting in the middle of the main story. At the point in which this will happen, the book is dark and depressing. Mirkwood can be felt all around the party, and the captivity of the dwarves casts a shadow on the quest at hand. Bilbo’s ring adds the spark of hope, and that should be the focus. Not whether an Elf-chick is hot. I swear, if she in some way helps facilitate the escape from the Elf-kings halls, I think I might walk out of the theater.
Now I don’t mean to be overly negative. I understand, and at one time explained that the books and the movies are two separate entities and should be seen as such. The reason why I feel so strongly about this is the story doesn’t need this! The story is already captivating and awesome to begin with. If Sir Peter Jackson feels this will enhance the story, he’s not talking about the book’s story. He’s only referring to the story that the movie will convey, and that should be completely separate from the books. The success from the first Trilogy will get people into the theaters, not a rinky-dink love story that can clearly be seen as a PR and female demo grab (no offense ladies.)
Britta – It took me awhile to become comfortable with the inclusion of a female character – especially where they’ve taken an additional step and made her a “warrior.” (I agree with Joseph’s remark about Arwen’s heightened role being okay since her character already existed; but the creation of Tauriel, I worry, could distract from the story as a whole. I, too, hope she in no way helps them escape from the Elf-king’s halls.)
Yes, I think it’s great to have strong female characters in a film. But romance among an Elf and a Dwarf? It just doesn’t seem very Tolkien. There is no romance in The Hobbit, so why bother writing it in? I honestly think they could do the film justice without creating new characters or material.
And where Peter Jackson’s Dwarves don’t even look like Dwarves, it feels as though they’ve just added in this love story to spotlight two of the film’s most attractive stars in order to attract more moviegoers. Maybe if they mirror Gimli’s attraction to Galadriel, rather than turn this into a mutual romantic attraction, I wouldn’t be as fussy about it. But I still don’t like it and I wish they wouldn’t mess with The Hobbit in this way.
I understand they want to appeal to those who have not read the books, but I also think that many people will see the movie, love the romance, and upon reading The Hobbit will walk away extremely disappointed that it never happened in Tolkien’s version, but extremely pleased that Peter Jackson took the liberty of making a version they like better. The purist in me is silently weeping at the thought of that happening.
Lily Milos – I was honestly ecstatic when I first heard about the addition of a female elf. When I recently re-read The Hobbit, I was really struck by the lack of women in the story. There’s a brief mention of Kili and Fili’s mother, who is also Thorin’s sister, and though the Sackville-Bagginses are present at the end of the book, Lobelia is never referred to by her name.
I love camaraderie movies – from 300 to The A-Team, from The Lord of the Rings to Saving Private Ryan. And there all about men. I don’t love them any less for it, but I would be delighted if a piece of that genre could be about female camaraderie (and I’m not talking about The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I’m talking Amazons). So I’ll take two strong female characters being added into a story that’s still about the journey and adventures of 14, sometimes 15, men.
Since most of the elven characters in Mirkwood were not given names by Tolkien, I don’t think it’s necessarily out-of-context to make one of them a woman. But I agree with Britta about a romance between a dwarf and an elf not fitting in very well with Tolkien’s world. I really hope it’s an unrequited love that Kili has for Tauriel, and if she ever feels anything more than disdain for him, it’s more of a brotherly love, forged by battle.
Arwen Kester – The thought of a little romance between Kili and Tauriel in ‘The Hobbit’ films won’t bother me so long as it runs in the same veins as Peter Jackson portrayed Gimli’s attraction to Galadriel. What I always try to remember and set my mind to when watching PJ’s film adaptons is just that, it’s his adaptions. We all perceive what Tolkien wrote differently in our minds and I find it fascinating to watch the films and see the story through PJ’s eyes. There are parts that annoy the heck out of me. I would have loved to see more of Eowyn and Faramir falling in love, for instance, but there’s only so much you can put into a film. So, I’ll set my mind to a blank slate the first time I watch ‘The Hobbit’ films, expecting nothing but an adventurous story about a peculiar hobbit, a wise wizard, a little romance, and some very hot dwarves. What could go wrong??
Now that we’ve given our perspectives, it’s time for you to weigh in. What are your thoughts about the inclusion of Tauriel and a romance between her and Kili?