I’m a Moron & Questions About BotFA

Yesterday, I was invited to go see a late-ish showing of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies with some of my high school friends. I wanted to say no originally, because I’ve seen it already and I needed to be up pretty early this morning, but then I reconsidered and decided I have to stop saying no to opportunities to do fun things.

Anyway, we had a group of 6 people total and were taking my friend’s minivan. Since I was one of the first people to get in the car, I thought it was only right for me to climb into the farthest back row rather than the middle row, so that I wouldn’t have to force people to climb over me. The minivan is well-loved, so the lights in the car didn’t turn on when the car doors were open and… well, the back seat wasn’t up. So when I climbed around the middle seats, turned around, and reached behind me for the seat…

I just landed on the floor of the van. Hard. On top of a tire iron, actually.

OH how we all laughed. I laughed the hardest, I think because my body didn’t know how to deal with what had just happened. I really thought there would be a seat up and had not even considered that it might be stowed away. My friend opened the trunk door to see my just on my butt, on this tire iron, laughing hysterically but also in pain.

There is now a bruise on my outer thigh/hip/butt area that doesn’t look too bad on the surface at all, thank goodness. (But it does hurt quite a bit to lie on my side. D:)

NOW I have a lot of questions about BotFA and a second viewing just made them more salient in my head. They are spoiler-y so they will come after this video. Please keep in mind that I have not read the novels so if these are questions that can be answered in the novel, or that you know the answers to, please do let me know! I want to know what is going on here.

  1. What are the timelines for this movie exactly? By the end of it, we understand that Bilbo has been away for 30 months. No matter how long The Hobbit film trilogy has been, we’ve obviously had a lot condensed. (The trek through the Misty Mountains alone, according to my friend, took at least 6 months.) But where things get weird in the film is for things like when the dwarves that were at Laketown are reunited with the rest at Erebor. In movie time, it seemed like about 10 minutes to row and then walk there. But Bilbo runs out and tells them that Thorin has been ill with dragon sickness for days. DAYS. It was at that moment in this movie that I just started wondering, how much time is actually passing here?? Even if I want to think that okay, it should take reasonable time to get to a faraway mountain, sure. BUT what about when Bilbo just casually runs from Dale to Ravenhill to warn Thorin about the Gundabad orcs? He definitely did that in less than a day. Unless this battle took place over the course of several days? Which maybe it did but that definitely did not translate on screen at all. The timeline seemed just very crazy, it was difficult for me to understand how much time was passing.
  2. Where did those battle rams come from during the Battle? Thorin just hops onto one after Dain loses his battle boar? And Fili, Kili, and Dwalin just have battle rams, too? Am I supposed to assume they were just given to them by Dain’s army?
  3. What is the determining factor for what language they speak? For example, Legolas and Tauriel switched in and out of Elvish very frequently, even in talking to each other. Is this just to make it easier for movie-viewers to not read subtitles always? But do all creatures of Middle Earth understand Elvish? Because okay, then they speak English (I guess) when speaking between species but what about speaking to each other. It would feel very awkward to be talking to each other in Elvish and then to suddenly speak in English? I didn’t understand why the switch. What makes someone switch?
  4. What is the deal with these Eagles exactly? They always act as this deus ex machina device in these Tolkien films, but only show up at the last moment that they can provide any substantial help. Not understanding what is going on with them and, again, I get the feeling that my lack of understanding of the timeline may have something to do with this? (How long does it take Radagast to round up the beasts and the birds? How long does it take for the Eagles to fly to the mountain?)
  5. With regards to Legolas’s epic battle scenes: how and why? If you remember from the LotR trilogy, Legolas always had these way too good to be true fight sequences.

    His scene in this movie is no different, maybe even worse. You suspend belief a lot for this films, but it’s believable because the world is so intricate and well-built. HOWEVER, Legolas always defies basic physics in his scenes and that gets really distracting. Is it cool? Sure, but it’s way too much.
  6. WHERE IS THE ARKENSTONE? My friend tells me that, in the book, they do make the trade. In the movie, it is obsessed over for half and then promptly forgotten about after this grand battle. I understand that a battle is a worthy distraction, but does no one care that Bard just casually has it? Or maybe Thranduil has it? WHO KNOWS, all I know is Thorin certainly did not have it.
  7. Why did it take Legolas so long to find Aragorn? And how old is Aragorn that he was still around to be found? This was also partially answered for me in that Aragorn is has some sort of crazy longevity. But okay, so I don’t know how old Bilbo is at the beginning of The Hobbit (I think 50-ish?), by in LotR he is celebrating his 111th birthday. So 60 years? To go North and find this ranger who is the son of Arathorn and goes by Strider? (AND THEN how long did it take for him to get to Gundebad with Tauriel?)

Also, I started feeling very sad for Legolas the second viewing. I understand that Kili, being more of a romantic, won Tauriel’s heart, sure. But I feel like Legolas’s actions equaled Kili’s in showing his devotion, maybe even more. There are 2 parallel scenes that I compared when I thought about who Tauriel’s heart chose:

Tauriel to Kili: They are your people.
Kili: <nods and walks away after giving her a talisman>

Tauriel to Legolas: He is your King.
Legolas: He may be my King but he does not command my heart. [Let’s go on a romantic journey to the place where my mother died.]
(Note: [This part] is not a direct quote, but I like to think it’s implied.)

I mean, Legolas left everything he knew for her. He was a prince, and he turned his back on his father and his people to be with her. And at the end, he’s so broken-hearted that he just abandons the life he knew. I know that’s not how love works, but I feel like Legolas got very much ignored after Kili’s shows of romance. (But it was hella romantic, I’ll give him that. Hot dwarf knows what he’s doing.)

Still bothered by Thranduil’s inexplicable change of character at the end of the film. I just feel like there were so many things that could’ve been explored more with The Hobbit that they didn’t. Even though they could stretch all these battle scenes to make a short novel into a film trilogy. And eve though they could fit in Thorin’s weird hallucination sequence.

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6 thoughts on “I’m a Moron & Questions About BotFA

  1. 1. What are the timelines for this movie exactly?

    First I’m going to give you the CANON (book) timeline, and then try to explain some changes in the film.

    TA. 2770 Destruction of Dale, Smaug takes Erebor
    TA. 2790 Death of Thrór (Thorin’s grandfather), Dwarves prepare for war, Gerontius Took born
    TA. 2793 War of the Dwarves and Orcs begins
    TA. 2799 Battle of Nanduhirion, Deaths of Azog (yes, Azog is actually dead in the books), Náin, Frerin (Fili and Kili’s father) and Fundin, War of the Dwarves and Orcs ends.
    TA. 2802 Thráin II and Thorin II Oakenshield come to Ered Luin (Blue Mountains)
    TA. 2845 Thráin II captured and Ring of Durin (one of the seven dwarven rings of power) taken, Gandalf enters Moria
    TA. 2850 Gandalf secretly enters Dol Guldur, Death of Thráin II (if you’ve watched Desolation of Smaug Extended Scenes, you probably have some idea of this… though of course, the timeline is off)
    TA. 2851 White Council meets to discuss Dol Guldur
    TA. 2873 Arathorn II (Aragorn’s father) born
    TA. 2890 Bilbo Baggins born
    TA. 2907 Gilraen (Aragorn’s mother) born
    TA. 2931 Aragorn born
    TA. 2941 Bilbo gains the One Ring, Sauron driven from Dol Guldur, Thorin II Oakenshield becomes King of Erebor, Battle of Five Armies, Dáin II becomes King of Erebor, Deaths of Hildigrim Took, Fíli, Kíli, Bolg, Smaug and Thorin II Oakenshield

    Now, the entire Quest (as well as the Battle of the Five Armies) technically takes place in Third Age 2941. I know it seems like it should take longer, but no. Gandalf decided to include Bilbo to the Quest in Yestarë, which is the first day of the year.
    If you’re looking for a day-to-day explanation (for example: they reached Rivendell in April 19th, they were captured by trolls in this day, they passed this place on this day etc…) then I’m afraid that’s not possible. Even the date of the Battle of the Five Armies (widely believed to be 23 November T.A. 2941) is speculative.
    However, canonically, it states that ALL the events of the Quest for Erebor took place in TA. 2941, so we can assume that the whole thing lasted roughly (but no more than) a year.

    The movie timeline is a bit more complicated, because there are a few changes. For example, at the end of BoTFA, Thranduil tells Legolas to find Aragorn… which, as you can tell by the timeline, would be around 10 hence would not be a ranger.

    However, since PJ didn’t do the time gap back in Fellowship of the Ring (there was supposed to be a 17-years-long gap between Frodo inheriting the Ring and leaving the Shire) we can assume that Aragorn is 27.

    There’s also confusion about the Kingdom of Angmar. in AUJ, Galadriel says “When Angmar fell..” whereas Angmar still exists then.

    All in all, I would try not to over-think the movie timeline. What matters is that the Quest lasted roughly a year, and took place in TA. 2941.

    2. Where did those battle rams come from during the Battle?

    As far as I remember, they were not in the books. I would just accept them as PJ additions for the sake of visuality and move on. (Because I have no freaking idea either, to be honest.)

    3. What is the determining factor for what language they speak?

    Their race, plain and simple. When people of other races interact with each other, they usually use Westron (which is what you’ve called English.)

    The reason for that is: Dwarves don’t teach their language (Khuzdul) to the outsiders but are willing to learn other languages. Not all Men and Dwarves know Sindarin (the most common dialect of Elvish in Middle-Earth, though you should keep in mind that there’s no single Elvish language.) And since Men are more populous than these other two races, it makes sense that Westron is more common.

    Though it has been noted in the books that not all Elves of Mirkwood or Lothlorien speak Westron, for example. Also, Men of Gondor and the Dunedain are actually fluent Sindarin speakers, due to their past relationship with the Elves.

    I reckon that the reason why Legolas and Tauriel speaked mainly Westron was not only for the viewers (so they wouldn’t have to read subtitles every time two Elves spoke to each other) but also Tolkien never lived to complete the entire Sindarin language, so constructing conversations with it would be very difficult.

    There are many languages in Middle-Earth, not just the ones I’ve mentioned. But it makes sense that characters use Westron when talking to other races because there’s a much greater chance that they’ll be understood.

    4. What is the deal with these Eagles exactly?

    Here are two meta about “why the Eages didn’t just fly the Ring to Mordor/Dwarves to Erebor” and their origins.

    I need more people to be as tired of this argument as I am.

    5. With regards to Legolas’s epic battle scenes: how and why?

    Because PJ loves Orlando Bloom. Seriously, that’s the only explanation I can come up with. In the books, Legolas doesn’t use an orc shield as a skateboard, nor does he use an Oliphaunt as a slide, nor does he Mario his way up through falling bricks.
    It’s just for visuals, I’m guessing.

    6. WHERE IS THE ARKENSTONE?

    Speaking of movie canon, it’s probably still with Bard.

    After the Battle of Five Armies, Bard of Dale placed the Arkenstone on the breast of Thorin in Thorin’s tomb. Thus, nearly a thousand years after its discovery, the Arkenstone was buried once more in the depths beneath the Lonely Mountain.

    7. Why did it take Legolas so long to find Aragorn? And how old is Aragorn that he was still around to be found?

    Not canon. He would have been 10 (according to book canon) when Thranduil sends Legolas to find him in BoTFA, so nope.
    There’s a chance that they may have met shortly before the Council of Elrond in LoTR (when Aragorn entrusts his prisoner Gollum to Mirkwood Elves, though that story never made it to the films) but there’s no hint of it.

    It’s likely that they met in Rivendell at the beginning of FoTR. If not, they may have met in Mirkwood briefly, but certainly did not spend years together.

    As for Kili/Tauriel/Legolas love triangle… since Tauriel is an Original Character by Peter Jackson, there’s no canon background to that story. (Legolas is not even in The Hobbit book so…)

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