Thranduil's scar

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Thranduil's scar

Postby wilko185 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:40 pm

So what do we think of Thranduil's scar? (screencap on this blog, if you missed what it looked like).

It's totally non-canon as far as I can tell. The main Middle-earth character with a scarred face is probably Morgoth. Like Sauron with his lost finger (and unlike the other Valar and Maiar), Morgoth had lost the power to assume another form, and was trapped in his damaged body with the scars an outward sign of inward corruption. Hardly an apt model for an elf lord. Tolkien generally follows the rules about good guys not being too horribly scarred, whereas bad guys can be ugly. E.g. Beren and Maedhros bear the scars the scars of their torment, but it's their severed hand, not on the face.

So, can a dragon scar be based on anything in the books? Well, there is some history of psychological scarring, (which we might expect PJ to not leave to an actor to merely emote :D ): Appendix B to the 'Galadriel and Celeborn' chapter describes how Thranduil saw his father Oropher slain at the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age, in the first assault upon Mordor. There follows a long period of peace, broken by rumous of was in the East:
Tolkien wrote:But there was in Thranduil's heart a still deeper shadow. He had seen the horror of Mordor and could not forget it. If ever he looked south its memory dimmed the light of the Sun ..

No dragons are mentioned at the Last Alliance (unless you take literally the statement: All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only). But in any case, Thranduil in the film says the scar is from facing "the great serpents of the North", not of Mordor. We know in the book that dragons were plaguing the north for years afterwards, so it's not implausible that Thranduil met one at some point - the Appendices tell us that in year 1977 of the Third Age: Frumgar leads the Éothéod into the North, and: Of his son, Fram, they tell that he slew Scatha, the great dragon of Ered Mithrin, and the land had peace from the long-worms afterwards..

Anyway, that's just background, which is increasingly irrelevant to the films :). The interesting thing about Thranduil's scar is that he hides it apparently at will (or, is it healed, and he chooses to resurrect it?). A mark of his vanity, perhaps? When I first saw Thranduil's scar, I was oddly reminded of Ged from Earthsea, though his bone-deep scars aren't from a dragon, they are a reminder of the dark side of himself. Thranduil's scar doesn't quite have the same resonance as does Ged's, but it adds a bit of character, seeming both a villain's scar and a hero's at the same time.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby atayavie » Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:55 am

Hey Wilko,

I agree that it's quite non-canon, but I have no problem with it. To me, it added some depth to his apparent isolationism and gave the audience a reason to believe he's done with war and fighting and evil forces. The scar illustrates how he just wants to be left alone and doesn't want to get dragged into Thorin's nonsense. ;)

The interesting thing about Thranduil's scar is that he hides it apparently at will (or, is it healed, and he chooses to resurrect it?). A mark of his vanity, perhaps?


I actually saw this more of he loses control when angry maybe; he hides the pain he's usually suffering, but when reminded too closely of past dangers he can't suppress it anymore? One possibility, anyway.

I myself am very fascinated about the scar and think it was an interesting choice for the movie. I wouldn't say I liked it, but it was neat.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby siddharth » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:52 am

The scar could have been done better. They could have made the scar a physical injury on his arm or shoulder or anywhere where it can be easily concealed. But I really don't see the point of a physio-magical (my word! :D) scar like that.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby heliona » Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:00 pm

siddharth wrote:They could have made the scar a physical injury on his arm or shoulder or anywhere where it can be easily concealed.


This is exactly my view. I liked the idea, but I wasn't keen on the execution.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby adsweet » Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:38 pm

Wouldn't the "serpents of the north" be a reference to the War of Wrath? Thranduil was certainly alive for the War of Wrath, and the War of Wrath was notable for the emergence of flying fire drakes under Morgoth's command. Participation in the War of Wrath would lead Thranduil to consider his suffering and experience with evil far greater and more significant than Thorin's, which would contribute to his attitude of superiority and isolation.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby heliona » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:49 pm

adsweet wrote:Thranduil was certainly alive for the War of Wrath, and the War of Wrath was notable for the emergence of flying fire drakes under Morgoth's command.


Considering the fact that Tolkien wrote barely anything about Thranduil, and we only know that he predates Second Age 1000*, how you can say that he was "certainly alive" for the War of Wrath, which was First Age 587? :?

*Thranduil's earliest mention is in Appendix B LotR, where we're told that he was among the Sindar who travelled eastward from Lindon 'before the building of the Barad-dûr'. Sauron started building the Barad-dûr in about Second Age 1000, so Thranduil must predate this.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby solicitr » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:51 pm

*Thranduil's earliest mention is in Appendix B LotR, where we're told that he was among the Sindar who travelled eastward from Lindon 'before the building of the Barad-dûr'. Sauron started building the Barad-dûr in about Second Age 1000, so Thranduil must predate this.


But we learn in Unfinished Tales, 'The History of Galadriel and Celeborn,' (pp. 258-59) not that Thranduil came from Beleriand, but rather that that his father Oropher was of Sindarin descent, and was killed in the War of the Last Alliance. This doesn't preclude Thranduil having been alive in SA 1000, or even in the Elder Days; but he wasn't a ruler until the Third Age.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby heliona » Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:10 pm

Yes, he wasn't a ruler until the Third Age, but I never said he was a ruler earlier on. All I'm saying is that we don't know anything about Thranduil's age apart from the presumption that he was around earlier than SA 1000 due to the note in Appendix B.

adsweet stated that he was "certainly" around for the War of Wrath, which was considerably before SA 1000, so I was merely questioning the certainty of that statement.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Lewenhart » Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:10 pm

I believe it is written in HoME that Elves do not scar (along with being free of age and disease). Not that everything in HoME is cannon or should absolutely be followed, but I think this is one of those things which was supposed to elevate them physically over Men and Dwarves.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby siddharth » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:26 pm

Lewenhart wrote:I
believe it is
written in HoME that Elves do not scar (along with being free of age and
disease). Not that everything in HoME is cannon or should absolutely be
followed, but I think this is one of those things which was supposed to
elevate them physically over Men and Dwarves.



It does. It's just a modified version of what cannon is I think. Instead
of Elves who can't be scarred (assuming what Lewenhart said is true, as I have not read HoME yet), we get Elves who can be scarred but who also can, by the grace of Valar, conceal their scar if they wish (and the effect apparently weakens when an elf gets pissed).

Coincidentally, we also get our first bleeding Elf in the same movie.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:47 pm

Lewenhart wrote:I believe it is written in HoME that Elves do not scar.


Where in HoME does it say that? I do not recall that.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Lembas_Junkie » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:57 am

wilko185 wrote:So what do we think of Thranduil's scar? (then later:) Anyway, that's just background (then later:) The interesting thing about Thranduil's scar is that he hides it apparently at will (or, is it healed, and he chooses to resurrect it?). A mark of his vanity, perhaps? When I first saw Thranduil's scar, I was oddly reminded of Ged from Earthsea, though his bone-deep scars aren't from a dragon, they are a reminder of the dark side of himself.


This is *exactly* the type of thread I came sleuthing for here on TORc - I have been wondering about his scar myself (especially after my second IMAX 3D viewing last night, hee hee!) as I had no previous recollection of dragons scarring Monsieur King Thranduil. Thank you, Wilko! 8)

Edit: and thanks to everyone else who contributed their thoughts as well, of course! :) And that his scar reminds me a bit of Harvey Dent, ha!
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Wildwood » Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:34 pm

I don't know what that was supposed to have been based upon, but I found it utterly ridiculous! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D And I didn't like the way that he just seemed to suddenly divine what the dwarves were doing in his neck of the woods. He's talking to Thorin, and he doesn't even really ask! He just blurts it out there. Like it was so apparent what they were there for?? Nope. Didn't like that part at all! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby BagginsGirl » Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:38 pm

I'm a little confused. Can elves scar or not? And if they can, can all elves magically conceal their scars if they want to?
I, also, liked the idea of his scar but wasn't really fond of it being a magical scar that can be hidden. And, to be honest, it was kinda creepy. At least I found his magical regenerating (de-generating) skin creepy. But that's just me :)
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Semprini » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:51 am

"Thranduil's scar" is a ridiculous scene. It is a silly idea. It is also a typical blockbuster cliche which reminded me of the scar of Javier Bardem in Skyfall. Another scene that screams "blockbuster!" and not "Tolkien"!
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby atayavie » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:41 am

Semprini wrote:"Thranduil's scar" is a ridiculous scene. It is a silly idea. It is also a typical blockbuster cliche which reminded me of the scar of Javier Bardem in Skyfall. Another scene that screams "blockbuster!" and not "Tolkien"!


I disagree. A casual audience wouldn't necessarily understand why Thranduil is a bit reclusive and perturbed about something. I think the scar idea was implemented as a backstory for Thranduil, which not even Tolkien said much about. It's character development that enhanced the scene, in my opinion. Otherwise, he's just another stern elf like Elrond or Galadriel.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Semprini » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:49 am

atayavie wrote:I disagree. A casual audience wouldn't necessarily understand why Thranduil is a bit reclusive and perturbed about something. I think the scar idea was implemented as a backstory for Thranduil, which not even Tolkien said much about. It's character development that enhanced the scene, in my opinion. Otherwise, he's just another stern elf like Elrond or Galadriel.


I know it is backstory, but it is a stupid idea, and it is also a film cliche. There are countless movies where it is suddenly revealed that a character has a hidden scar. What's next ? In film 3, there will be a flashback showing how Thranduil got the scar while teaming with The Avengers? (since his invincible son Legolas seems to be a member of that team ?)

This is simply bad cinema.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby heliona » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:10 am

BagginsGirl wrote:I'm a little confused. Can elves scar or not? And if they can, can all elves magically conceal their scars if they want to?
I, also, liked the idea of his scar but wasn't really fond of it being a magical scar that can be hidden. And, to be honest, it was kinda creepy. At least I found his magical regenerating (de-generating) skin creepy. But that's just me :)


I don't recall reading anywhere that elves can't scar. They have extraordinary healing powers:

JRR Tolkien wrote:They were thus capable of far greater and longer physical exertions (in pursuit of some dominant purpose of their minds) without weariness; they were not subject to diseases; they healed rapidly and completely after injuries that would have proved fatal to Men; and they could endure great physical pain for long periods. Their bodies could not, however, survive vital injuries, or violent assaults upon their structure; nor replace missing members (such as a hand hewn off). ~ (Author's notes, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, Morgoth's Ring)


But there doesn't seem to be a mention of scarring. (I'm sure someone more acquainted with HoME might be able to correct me.) Therefore, there's no mention of magical glamouring of scars, either. As far as I'm concerned, this is all made-up.

I liked the idea of the scar - I didn't like the idea of the magical scar coverage. I think it would have been much better (if they were going to go with a scar) that it'd been covered by clothing. Really, I think they could have done the same scene without any scar at all - Lee Pace certainly seems a good enough actor to convey the anguish and fierceness of saying he knows all about dragons without having to show any physical damage.

Wildy, I also didn't like the fact that Thranduil immediately knew all about Thorin and his quest. *sigh*
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Semprini » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:12 am

heliona wrote:[Lee Pace certainly seems a good enough actor to convey the anguish and fierceness of saying he knows all about dragons without having to show any physical damage.

Wildy, I also didn't like the fact that Thranduil immediately knew all about Thorin and his quest. *sigh*


Exactly.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Wildwood » Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:25 pm

Good point about the dragons! :D :D :D :D It could easily have been another one he fought with. In fact, I think Thorin accused him of NOT coming to their aid when Smaug struck, didn't he? So that would negate my impression pretty thoroughly! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D Apparently, then, he tangled with some other dragon. Makes sense. Long lives and all that! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D But that does not excuse his threatening manner, or the here-and-gone scar action. It just felt 10 kinds of wrong in any movie calling itself The Hobbit! Buuuuutttt...what else would anyone else expect me to feel? :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D I am absolutely a hobbit! You can almost tell what I will say on any given issue, without bothering to ask me! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby BagginsGirl » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:21 pm

Thanks heliona! I was a bit confused over it all
:)
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Frelga » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:09 pm

I actually liked the scar, and the fact that it was not explained. Given PJ's tendency to hit us over the head with a big neon sign flashing Plot Point! it was nice to have a moment that hints of a larger, mysterious world beyond the story.

A smaller scar would have done just as well, mind.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby rowanberry » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:25 am

heliona wrote:I liked the idea of the scar - I didn't like the idea of the magical scar coverage. I think it would have been much better (if they were going to go with a scar) that it'd been covered by clothing. Really, I think they could have done the same scene without any scar at all - Lee Pace certainly seems a good enough actor to convey the anguish and fierceness of saying he knows all about dragons without having to show any physical damage.


My thoughts, exactly. The way the scar scene was executed, it made me think of some old horror or sci-fi movie where the human disguise of a demon or alien starts to break down.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby DeadRinger » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:15 pm

Has anyone considered that perhaps he doesn't have a scar at all now, but is simply showing Thorin the wound he once received? That's how I prefer to see it. If he would have the power to hide a scar that way, then he would also have the power to show the past in the same manner.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby siddharth » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:42 pm

That could have been one explanation but it seemed more like an accident. Thranduil didn't want to show it, it got revealed itself.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby ngaur » Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:46 am

I don't know if one is supposed to see it as Thranduil naturally veiling a huge physical scar (Which would be ridiculous for an incarnate and a silly scene.) or as the Dwarf imagining things, afffected by the situation and the surrounding. The 'magic' of elves. I kind of decided on the latter, but the first goes better with the general tone of the movie.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby King Small » Tue Dec 31, 2013 3:18 pm

I think that scar was from the War of Wrath where the dragons were unleashed. The movie just wanted fans to feel depth with this character and also pushed fans who have no idea that there were other dragons (even more powerful than Smaug) that played pivotal roles in the Tolkien writings.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby ManFlesh » Tue Dec 31, 2013 3:52 pm

The scar scene reminded me of "Arwen is dying" from ROTK -- a half-baked idea that made its way into the script and ended up puzzling and confusing viewers (as evidenced by the many interpretations offered in this thread).
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby Frelga » Tue Dec 31, 2013 8:43 pm

DeadRinger wrote:Has anyone considered that perhaps he doesn't have a scar at all now, but is simply showing Thorin the wound he once received? That's how I prefer to see it. If he would have the power to hide a scar that way, then he would also have the power to show the past in the same manner.

I like that. I don't necessarily think that this is what PJ had in mind, but I can accept this explanation.
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Re: Thranduil's scar

Postby darthgandalf99 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:59 pm

DeadRinger wrote:Has anyone considered that perhaps he doesn't have a scar at all now, but is simply showing Thorin the wound he once received? That's how I prefer to see it. If he would have the power to hide a scar that way, then he would also have the power to show the past in the same manner.


That was my interpretation too, a metaphysical* reveal of former wounds.

*i.e. the psychic induction of hallucations in Thorin, causing him to see Thranduil's face as it once was.

That at least seems plausible in the context of movie-M.E. For Thranduil to be permanently hiding it doesn't really make much sense to me. If he could put in half as much effort or will to healing the wound as he would have to into permanently hiding it, maybe it wouldn't look quite as bad.
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