You might have seen the trailer for the third installment of the Hobbit movies, if not you can see it here. I cannot hide that I am slightly excited by the prospects of this movie and also the discussions that will come up around it. Does the movie deviate too much from Tolkien’s books? Have they picked the right locations in our beautiful New Zealand country side? Are the battles epic and the computer tricks novel enough?
One discussion that has come up around this franchise sometimes but never really made front page is a social one. While many orcs, the evil and brutal grounddwelling creatures fighting for the bad side, are computer generated, some are played by real people. And these real actors are nearly all Maori. The argument is, apparently, that the tall and wide shouldered physique of the Maori men lends itself to Tolkien’s description of the orcs.
However, I find this rather troublesome. Here we are in the 21st century and we fiddle around with the very 19th century idea of native people being simple and brutish, ‘naturally’ suitable to play nasty creatures running around with clubs. If I remember the books correctly, Tolkien described dwarves as strong chested, broad guys with dark skin. Why not cast a Maori as one of the dwarves? How tall the actor is should not play a role in a movie that is centred on hobbits.