Wednesday 14 March 2012

FanstRAvaganza 3: Is Peter Jackson colourblind?

This post is part of FanstRAvaganza 3, a week of blogging fun to honour our favourite Brit, Richard Armitage. Also posting in the The Hobbit chain today (Day 3) is Ana Cris at La Loba. More info about previous and upcoming posts in this chain can be found at the bottom of this page.


Since Peter Jackson decided to direct The Hobbit, he has expressed his concern about the fact that there are 13 dwarves in this story. Besides Thorin and a few others, the dwarves are not really that important in the original story and most of them don't even have anything to say. Imagine how difficult it must have been for Peter Jackson to create 13 different, interesting characters with so little information from the story to help him! How can he make sure that the audience identifies with the dwarves and doesn't spend the entire film thinking "was that Fili, or Bombur, or was it Gloin after all?"

On the other hand, the lack of information does give him enough freedom to create the dwarf characters from scratch and make them work well in the films. I thought he would definitely use the one clue that Tolkien's story does offer: the fact that the dwarves all wear coloured hoods. Surely that must give him a starting point for their specific characters. But...apparently not. Looking at the pictures of the dwarves that were recently released, the colours are not there. Only Thorin's sky-blue is obvious, although not in a hood, but in his armour. Is Peter Jackson colourblind?

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, King Under The Mountain, in The Hobbit

Let's go back to Tolkien's The Hobbit and take a look at the coloured hoods that the dwarves are wearing when they arrive at Bilbo's Hobbit hole. In order of their arrival:

Dwalin: Dark green
Balin: Scarlet red
Fili: Blue
Kili: Blue
Dori: Purple
Nori: Purple
Ori: Grey
Oin: Brown
Gloin: White
Bifur: Yellow
Bofur: Yellow
Bombur: Pale green
Thorin: Sky blue with a long silver tassel

These are mainly informed guesses. Tolkien doesn't specify exactly which dwarf wears which hood after the first few have arrived, but he lets Bilbo tell us about the hoods that are hanging on the pegs, every time another group of dwarves has stepped through his door. Now what can these colours tell us about the characters of the dwarves?

Thirteen dwarves, quite a challenge for Peter Jackson, director of The Hobbit

GREEN (Dwalin and Bombur)
Green is a relaxing colour, it's easy on the eyes. It reduces stress and brings a feeling of tranquility. It represents fertility and balance. Wearing it inspires harmony in others and restores your energy. Green symbolised faithfulness, unity and hope, dependability and tactfulness. People wearing green are quick to help others, even at their own expense.

RED (Balin)
Red is the colour of love: it stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It makes someone wearing red look heavier. Because it is such an extreme colour, it won't help you in negotiations or confrontations. Red things are popular targets for thieves.

BLUE (Fili, Kili and Thorin)
Blue is the colour of the sky and the ocean and it causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful blue colours cause the body to produce calming chemicals so people wearing blue are calm and level-headed. Blue symbolises loyalty, productivity and strength.

PURPLE (Dori and Nori)
Purple is the colour of royalty. It symbolises luxury, wealth and sophistication. It is also considered feminine and romantic. On the other hand, because it is only rarely found in nature, purple is also often regarded as fake or untrue.

GREY (Ori)
Grey is a combination of black and white and it's the most neutral of all colours. People who wear grey are conservative and prefer to fade into the background. They are neutral about life and like to protect themselves from the hectic world outside. They prefer a secure, safe and balanced existence.

Solid and reliable brown is the colour of the earth. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather and represents durability. It is considered a masculine colour and can also be seen as sad or wistful.

WHITE (Gloin)
White represents innocence and purity, even sterility. People who like white tend to be neat and immaculate in their homes and clothing. They are cautious buyers and shrewd business-people. People wearing white are considered critical and fussy but the colour also represents youth and simplicity.

YELLOW (Bifur and Bofur)
Yellow is a sunny and reflective colour. It grabs the attention. People wearing yellow are considered to be positive and optimistic but they tend to have explosive characters. Yellow can be overpowering next to other colours. It enhances concentration and speeds the metabolism.

And what about Thorin's silver tassel?
Silver is associated with prestige and science. It represents intuition, imagination and illusion. People wearing silver are considered to be sophisticated and wealthy but also cold and balanced. Wearing silver shows that you have a need for truth, honesty and a clear understanding of your purpose in life.

There you go. I hope this was useful and at least slightly entertaining.

And, Peter Jackson, if you're reading this: You're welcome!!! :-)


The The Hobbit chain was started on Monday by Mrs E.B. Darcy and La Loba. Yesterday, Mrs E.B. Darcy and The Queen treated us to more posts on this topic.
Be sure to check La Loba for another Day 3 post in this chain.
I'm already looking forward to tomorrow's posts from Antonia Romera and The Queen.
To make sure that you don't miss out on any of the fun, all events of FanstRAvaganza are listed here.


  1. This an excellent post! Original and thoughtful. Yes, I suspect some of us will have some confusion regarding who's who. Unless, PJ has other devices to distinguish.


    1. I can't wait to see what PJ is doing with 13 dwarf characters... Thanks for your comment!

  2. Hmmm, I thought I saw a bit of red or burgandy in the guy to the right of Thorin. Maybe their undershirts are colored? Or not.

    1. That's definitely a possibility, but it's not clear from the pictures. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

  3. Hi Inge,
    Lovely thoughts about the use of color in The Hobbit--most insigtful! I'll have to look closer for Thorin's silver tassel in his shots. A hard job gazing at Richard Armitage, but someone has to do it. Ha!
    Cheers! Grati ;->

  4. Wow, this is really interesting. I had no idea. Ana Cris should love this post. Wonder if he thought colored hoods would clash with the NZ landscape?

    1. That's a possibility. But maybe he's found another way of incorporating the colours. We've only had a very limited view of the dwarves until now... Maybe they will be wearing hoods when they arrive at Bilbo's house after all? I can't wait to see it!!

  5. Yes, you could definitely get hired as the "color consultant" on the set of The Hobbit! :)

    1. First task on set: taking a very close look at that silver tassel!! ;-)

  6. I love the whole issue of color psychology anyway, so this was especially interesting to me. :D

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, fedoralady! Thanks for your comment!

  7. Great post Inge, very interesting ! :-)

  8. I'm thinking that they may add colour to the costumes that match the descriptions in the book. The conceptual designers have managed to create a lot of individuality into all the dwarves' costumes. Thorin appears to have a lot of silver on his costume ... maybe that is a substitute for the silver tassle? Interesting post - thanks :)

    1. Or maybe there is indeed a silver tassel, but we just haven't seen it yet? That would be a nice surprise..
      Thanks for your comment Mulubinba!

  9. Really fascinating, Inge! I had know idea that there was so much detail associated with various colors. PJ should hire you as a color consultant!

    1. Wouldn't that just be a dream job! *sigh*

  10. Great post. I've studied a little the use of colors to treat diseases (chromotherapy), but I never did this association and symbolism when I read The Hobbit! It is so good, 'talk' with others who have the same interest!
    Ana Cris

    1. Indeed, I'm also learning so much about other RA admirers thanks to FanstRAvaganza. We truly are a very interesting community!

  11. Thanks Inge, great post.
    I'm also waiting to see how they handle the issue of color in the movie, the scene of the arrival of the dwarfs is one of my favorites in the whole book.

  12. I was wondering about it too, why hoods are not so coloured. But maybe this will be too coloured, and looking like old movies with Superman or Batman in purple thigts ;D