A Elbereth, Gilthoniel!
I am more remiss in my posts about The Hobbit films than I am in anything else – with the exception of Pacific Rim and Star Trek Into Darkness. I had meant to write some posts about The Desolation of Smaug, but with my excitement over the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, I got distracted and did not write them. But better late than never, as they say!
Also, it might have been a good thing to have waited this long to post anything about The Hobbit film franchise. There were a lot of things hinted at in The Desolation of Smaug and, even though I have read Tolkien’s The Hobbit, I was not sure where Peter Jackson and his crew were going to go with The Battle of the Five Armies. Now I know, since I saw The Five Armies not too long ago, and I am ready to write about the films again.
Okay, if you saw my post “Twins Fíli and Kíli,” then I have an apology to make. Fíli and Kíli are not twins; Fíli is older than Kíli by five years, and I did not take the time to check out their respective ages when I wrote that post. I was under some weird impression that no one knew when they were born or something, and I made a guess that they were twins. I guessed poorly, and I made a note of my mistake on that post not too long ago. I also changed its title; it is now called “Fíli and Kíli.”
Now, to the subject of this post – Kíli and Tauriel.
Tauriel is not in any of Tolkien’s original works; she is a character made specifically for the film franchise. Like some Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans, when I heard about her and some sort of a love story or love triangle being part of the movies, I got nervous. I will not say I am a “purist” – someone who believes the movies should align exactly to the books – but I did not want the spirit of Tolkien’s epics marred in any way. Under the wrong kind of direction, I was sure that Tauriel’s part in The Hobbit films would be an unmitigated disaster.
Thankfully, Tauriel worked out just fine for the films. At six hundred years old, Tauriel is a fairly young Elf. In fact the actress who portrays her, Evangeline Lilly, is reported to have once referred to Tauriel as a “baby.” Tauriel has great fighting skills but she has never really left the Woodland Realm of her king, Thranduil. Oh, yeah, and Legolas has a crush on her.
So he is not at all happy when Tauriel and Kíli start a Romance Reel. This begins when the Woodland Elves rescue Thorin and Company from the spiders in Mirkwood. They round up every Dwarf except one: Kíli. Poor Kíli still has a spider chewing on his boot as it tries to drag him off. Before any of the Dwarves or Legolas’ company can react, Tauriel enters the scene. She kills the spider which is so determined to have Kíli for breakfast, then finishes off several more that attack the lone Dwarf.
Kíli’s response to this is an awed look at the Elf woman. Hard to say whether he was more impressed by her fighting skills or her amazing looks, but I think it was probably a combination of the two. Tauriel does not respond to him, but the expression on her face suggests she is pleased that he is so impressed with her.
The flirting does not stop there. Once taken to the Elves’ dungeon, Tauriel is the one to lock Kíli in his cell. When Legolas asks her why “that Dwarf” is staring at her, Tauriel responds that she has no idea, then mentions that he seems taller than most Dwarves. Legolas replies that while Kíli may be taller than the average Dwarf, he is no less ugly.
Sorry, Legolas, but that is hardly cause for dissuasion! Tauriel proves the truth of this when she goes to visit Kíli in the dungeons after Thranduil tells her not to answer Legolas’ romantic advances – or else. For her part, Tauriel certainly seems to like Legolas; she just does not appear to be romantically inclined toward him, as he is to her. During her conversation with Kíli in the dungeons, her romantic feelings are definitely directed toward “that Dwarf.” And, listening from the shadows above Kíli’s cell, Legolas is not very pleased with that.
Once Bilbo frees the Dwarves and gets them into the river, Tauriel and Legolas, along with the Elven guard, pursue the Company. The Dwarves are stopped at a river gate guarded by Elves, where a party of Orcs, led by Azog’s son Bolg, attacks. The Orcs kill the Elves guarding the river gate and, trapped where they are, the Dwarves cannot defend themselves very well or escape either group of pursuers.
Kíli decides to fix this problem. He gets out of his barrel and climbs up to the lever that will open the gate which has the Company trapped, intending to open it and drop back into his barrel. Along the way Fíli protects his younger brother by killing an Orc with a knife. Earlier in the film, when the Wood Elves disarm the Dwarves, Fíli is revealed to have knives of various sizes stashed all over his person. And the Elf who pushed him into his cell had to stop to remove yet another knife from his coat. It was a very cute touch to the film!
Kíli reaches the lever at the same time Bolg shoots him in the leg with a poisoned arrow. Tauriel then keeps the Orcs away from Kíli long enough for the young Dwarf to open the grate and drop back into his barrel. Then she watches as he and his Company are carried downstream past the border of Thranduil’s realm, clearly wanting to follow them and just as clearly torn by the fact that she cannot do so.
But she does follow them once she learns that the arrow Kíli was hit with was poisoned (gleaned during an interesting interrogation scene with Thranduil, Legolas and a captured Orc). Legolas in turn follows her, and together the two enter Lake-town. They find the Dwarves at Bard’s house, just in time to fight off Bolg and his Orcs. While Legolas pursues Bolg, Tauriel remains behind as Kíli’s condition worsens. Tauriel then uses the athelas found by Bofur to heal the young Dwarf’s injury and learns that Kíli has fallen in love with her. It is a love she signifies is returned with a simple hand grip.
The whole moment is ruined by Smaug as he attacks Lake-town in retaliation for the Lake Men’s aid to Thorin and his Company, which allowed them to reach the Lonely Mountain. Tauriel helps Óin, Fíli, and Bofur get Kíli and Bard’s two daughters safely to the lake shore. Once there Kíli, much improved in health despite the night’s events, asks her to come with him to Erebor. When Tauriel tries to turn away he adds something in another language which brings her up short.
I am not sure whether he spoke Dwarvish or Elvish (it sounded Elvish to me). Whether or not he was using Sindarin or Khuzdul, Tauriel’s whole “I don’t understand you,” argument was more than somewhat useless because Kíli’s meaning was completely clear: one way or another he told her “I love you.” And she knew it. Why else would she come to a halt like that?
But the moment is dimmed when Legolas joins the two and tells Tauriel it is time to leave. Before he lets her go, however, Kíli gives her the token stone his mother gave him, as a promise of his love for her. Later, when he and the others arrive at Erebor, Kíli seems much less enthralled by the treasure hoard than his uncle or even his older brother. All the gold under the mountain cannot replace his love for Tauriel with the gold-lust which is a natural weakness the Dwarves of Middle-earth have.
Now, as I said, I have read The Hobbit. Not in quite some time, but I have read it. I knew Fíli, Kíli, and Thorin were all going to die. I just did not know how. I also knew that, because the three had received so much time onscreen, getting their characters expanded – plus Kíli and Tauriel’s love story – meant that watching them die was going to hurt. Really, really hurt.
I was more right than I guessed. I had to make myself watch Fíli’s murder. He did not receive as much screen time in theaters as Kíli did, but I imagine the extended versions of the films will have more scenes for him. And he was a fun character, mostly because he was so playful. Once he separated from Kíli after Thorin sent the two of them to scout for Orcs, I knew he would be the first of the three to die.
I also knew that Kíli was going to be furious when he found out his older brother had been killed. I did not realize he would get to see Fíli’s body land at his feet, but I knew he would fly at the Orcs in a rage over the murder of his brother.
When Tauriel challenged Thranduil and told him he was not going anywhere while the Dwarves and Men still needed help against the Orcs, I figured she would be there when Kíli died. I was impressed when Legolas told his father he was going with Tauriel to help the Dwarves. He obviously still loved Tauriel, but he also knew she loved Kíli. In which case, if she wanted to be with the Dwarf, Legolas was not going to stop her. He would always love her, but he would not separate her from Kíli just to have her for himself.
Or, if not that, he intended to have it out with Kíli when the Orcs were all dead to see which one of them Tauriel really did love.
But if that was his intention, he did not have that chance. Having been saved by Tauriel so many times, Kíli ended up repaying the favor when Bolg attacked her and had her on the ropes. With Tauriel too injured to help him fight Bolg, the big Orc was able to catch and hold Kíli long enough to stab him through the heart with the spike on the end of his mace.
I actually thought Kíli had the best death of the three Dwarves in the film. Fíli was murdered, plain and simple; he never got a chance to fight back and Azog did not let him die with even the small honor of defending himself. Thorin had a good death – he got to avenge his grandfather and his nephew, then got to see his old home restored to his people. That scene actually made me think of how Moses got a look at the Promised Land before he died, which was a nice touch on the filmmakers’ part, even if they did not write the scene with that in mind.
But of the three, Kíli alone died for love. He died protecting Tauriel not only from death, but from whatever wicked machinations Bolg had going through his mind with regard to her. I do not know exactly what would have happened to Tauriel if Bolg had decided to have “fun” with her prior to killing her, but considering that the Orcs are descended from warped, corrupted Elves, the outline of that picture is not pretty. Kíli died making sure she had a chance to fight back, which ended up buying Legolas the time he needed to get into a fight with Bolg when Tauriel became incapacitated after trying to kill the big Orc herself.
I really think Kíli had a good death; something Hollywood has forgotten to show us these days. Most death scenes in the movies of today are violent and focus on the pain the characters feel when parting from this world and those in it they love. Few movies these days show the audience that there is no better reason to die than for the love of another, and Kíli died with his eyes on the Elf woman he loved. I do not know how reasonable it was for the filmmakers to have him tell her he loved her as the spike was going into his chest, but all the same, it was a nice touch to a very poignant scene.
It was also nice to have Thranduil swallow his pride long enough to tell Tauriel that she really was in love with Kíli, since his death grieved her as deeply as it did.
We are not told in the movie what happens to Tauriel after the Battle of the Five Armies; whether she went back to Mirkwood or instead to the Grey Havens, or whether she died sometime after the Battle. For myself, because I really enjoyed the romance between her and Kíli, I like to think she went to the Grey Havens and from there to the Undying Lands, to wait until the time when she and Kíli could be together again. This could also be achieved by her dying of grief (Elves actually can die of grief, which I found surprising). I do not think, however, that she would take that particular road. At least, not from what we last saw of her in the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy.
Well, readers, I have done my best to explain what I think of Kíli and Tauriel’s romance and I am glad to have written it. So, in the same spirit as the Dwarves who first knocked on Bilbo’s round, green door, I am …
The Mithril Guardian
At your service!