Well, this is the review I was reluctant to do . . . but Fili and Kili showed up at Bag End right after Dwalin and Balin, so review them I shall. After all, there are some positive things to say about these guys, so it's not going to be all that bad. Really. I promise.
Let's start this post out with a look at how Tolkien described these two younger dwarves:
It was two more dwarves, both with blue hoods, silver belts, and yellow beards; and each of them carried a bag of tools and a spade.
After reading the author's description, I have to admit that the Rankin and Bass cartoon did a decent job of portraying these guys. They've got the the blue hoods (though I don't see any silver bells) and the yellow beards, and I guess those little pouches they're carrying could be bags of tools . . . though they must be pretty small tools. All in all, I like the way these two dwarves look. Of course, they're nothing like what's coming right after the break . . .
Ba-baam! Fili and Kili!
Sheesh, ba-baam is right. I mean, look at these guys. Kili looks like he's either a runner-up on Hell's Kitchen (just look at those meat-cleavers he's sporting) or a regular stunt double on some B-rated kung-fu film. And then there's Fili. Um . . . Fili kinda defies description. He's short like a dwarf, thin like an elf, and I can only assume that he has some kind of lingering psychological trauma due to all the mocking he endured during grade school because of his wimpy beard. Or maybe not. Maybe those long, flowing tresses were the actual target of bullying. Who knows? To be fair, Fili does have a few things going for him: his eyebrows are wicked-expressive, and he can shoot a bow. So its not all downhill.
If you've read anything about these two, you'll know I'm not alone in my uncomfortable-ness with them. The just don't look that much like dwarves. They're too skinny, too handsome and their beards are way too short. The thing is, there's just not much we can do about it, so the world will just have to trust Mr. Jackson to do right by these two.
Here's the description that came with the photo:
Two of the youngest dwarves, Fili and Kili have been born into the royal line of Durin and raised under the stern guardianship of their uncle, Thorin Oakensheild. Neither has ever travelled far, nor ever seen the fabled Dwarf City of Erebor. For both, the journey to the Lonely Mountain represents adventure and excitement. Skilled fighters, both brothers set off on their adventure armed with the invincible courage of youth, neither being able to imagine the fate which lies before them.
In all honesty, Kili doesn't really bother me all that much. He has a respectable beard, which is always a plus when dealing with dwarves, and he looks just stocky enough to be taken seriously. And, even though I poked some fun at them earlier, those two sword-hatchet hybrids are really cool. They look like serious orc-chopping tools of justice. Another thing I appreciate is that he's a yellow-haired dwarf, just like Mr. Tolkien ordered. I like that attention to detail. Plus, the guy has an infectious smile. He looks like he's just pulled the biggest joke in history on you, and you have no clue. While not quite so dapper looking as Fili, Kili still seems remarkably handsome for a dwarf, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that since dwarves live so much longer than men, it might just be possible that young dwarves might look a lot different than old dwarves. Maybe they just age badly. In the end, I think I'd rate movie Kili as a solid 5 out of 10. Not bad, but not that good either.
Now, Fili is a little harder to like. If there were a dwarf line of Barbie dolls, Fili would be Ken. There's no two ways about it. But, since I've already pointed out what I don't like about him (at length), so I'll try and discuss what I do like about him. First and foremost, he's got a bow. I love this. In the book both Fili and Kili use their bows quite a bit, mostly in Mirkwood, if I'm remembering right. But even though the dwarves in The Hobbit are pretty much the archetypes for all fantasy dwarves, somehow the idea got around that they only use axes. So, its refreshing to see a dwarf with a bow. Second . . . nope, never mind. There is no second. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm trying to keep an open mind about Fili–Mr. Jackson hasn't gone wrong yet, in my opinion–but at the moment his bow is about the only cool thing about him. I'd give this guy a 3 out of 10.
Last but not least, I'll just mention a bit 'o history:
The dwarves of Durin's line founded Moria during the First Age (read: a really, really, really long time before the events of The Hobbit). It wasn't until the Third Age that the dwarves dug too deep and unearthed the Balrog, which proceeded to kill everyone in site, including the current king of Khazad-dûm, Durin VI, and his son, Nain.
After that, the dwarves abandoned the Black Pit and Nain's son Thrain I founded Erebor, the kingdom under the Lonely Mountain. His son, Thorin I (not the Thorin), moved north to the Grey Mountains. The great-great-great-grandson, Thrór must have gotten cold, because he went back to the Lonely Mountain and reestablished the kingdom there.
Under Thrór the dwarves prospered, and it was not long after that Smaug heard of their riches and decided all that gold would make a nice bed to lay on. The Dragon invaded Erebor, killed most of the dwarves, and Thrór and his family, including his son Thrain II, his grandson Thorin (the Thorin) and granddaughter Dís, barely escaped through a secret door (yes, that secret door) with their lives. And how, you might ask, do Fili and Kili fit into this? I'll let the author himself answer that:
Dís Thraín's daughter was there. She was the mother of Fíli and Kíli, who were born in the Ered Luin.
–The Return of the King; App. A: Durin's Folk; p. 357 (footnote 2)
How did Thraín's family end up in the Ered Luin? Where, for that matter is the Ered Luin? That, my friends, is a story for another time.
Coming soon: Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin and Gloin