One of the themes that seems to have been introduced in the film adaptation of The Hobbit, is the contrast between different types of light. Two instances unique to the film adaptation come to mind.

  1. When Kili speaks to Taurial, he calls star light cold and distant, preferring warm torch light or the firey hunter's moon in his story. Taurial has the reverse preference, favouring 'pure' star light.

    Kili: Sounds like quite a party you're having up there.
    Tauriel: It is Mereth Nuin Giliath; The Feast of Starlight. All light is sacred to the Eldar, but the Wood Elves loves best the light of the stars.
    Kili: I always thought it is a cold light, remote and far away.
    Tauriel: It is memory, precious and pure.
    Tauriel: Like your promise.
    [she holds his stone in her hand and he takes it back, she turns and looks up]
    Tauriel: I have walked there sometimes, beyond the forest and up into the night. I have seen the world fall away and the white light forever fill the air. Kili: I saw a fire moon once. It rose over the pass near Dunland. Huge! Red and gold it was, it filled the sky. We were an escort for some merchants from Ered Luin, they were trading in silverwork for furs. We took the Greenway south, keeping the mountain to our left, and then it appeared. This huge fire moon lighting our path. I wish I could show you...

  2. When the door is opened by the last light on Durin's day, it is not to sunlight, nor a warm hunter's moon but cold ethereal moon light.

The only similar use of lighting in the book I can recall is the sunlight that petrifies the trolls.

This play on lighting seems to parallel the difference between Dwarves and Elves. Did Peter Jackson deliberately introduce this theme/cinematic device? Or did this nuance exist in the original?

  • Does anyone else have a snappier title?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 19:10
  • 4
    This is NOT offtopic but IMHO would get better answers on Movies.SE Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 19:35
  • 4
    I don't recall this in the original, but the Elves - not just wood Elves - loved starlight especially. Eldar means "people of the stars."
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 19:53
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    @DVK and Richard, these are more about how those themes are used to leverage the themes in the story. Less about how it was physically achieved.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 22:40
  • 3
    I only clicked into this question to find out what dichotomous means...
    – Daft
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 15:39

4 Answers 4


Both aspects you mention were introduced or altered by the screenplay writers, but both are well grounded in Tolkien's original writings.

  1. The character Tauriel does not exist in the book, and when describing the escape from the elven realm, it only mentions that there was "a feast". However, Tolkien did have a very strong connection between the Elves and the stars, because when the first Elves awoke, the sun and moon did not exist yet, and Middle-Earth was not reached by the light of the two Trees of Valinor. So starlight was all they had, and their name for their people, Eldar actually means "people of the stars". And of course, it makes perfect sense for the Dwarves, who often live underground, not to care much about stars.

  2. In the book, the door is opened by the last rays of the sun on Durin's Day, but only when a large thrush appears and knocks a snail on the rock. However, the moon is also visible at that time, and the appearance of the thrush was foretold by "moon letters" written on Thror's map, which could only be read in the light of the moon in the same shape and season they were written in.

  • There's also the writing on the Doors of Durin in Moria, which were outlines in a material that can only be seen in moonlight or starlight. Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 19:09
  • @MarkBessey Ithildin :-) Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 5:07

Light is not used thematically in The Hobbit book, as far as I recall - but Jackson doesn't limit his reference sources to just the one book (or even just The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings).

Tolkien wrote masses of background and history, only a portion of which has been published. In this expanded history, the Elves are shown to love the starlight. However, it does seem a bit odd that the Dwarves (who were created in the darkness before the sun and moon and dwell underground) would associate with daylight. Then again, the reference to the fire moon would match the warm light of a fire or a torch, such as the Dwarves would use in their dwellings and mines.

Still, much more over the sources, Jackson would have lent his own interpretation, and used cinematic decisions to make the movie work rather than just stick to literary motifs. Chances are, the switch to using the moonlight rather than the sunset was as much for drama, and for giving Bilbo a "purpose" again, as for any kind of association to Dwarves or Elves. Possibly, moonlight is the light of magic - but unless Jackson has spelt out his reasoning here, we'll never really know.


Dwarves apparently are quite interested in astronomy, they needed to calculate and observe the moon phases to predict when Durin's Day will come which was special astronomic event (sun and moon are both in the sky together in the last day of autumn, marking first day of dwarves new year, but not all of those first days of year in their calendar are specifically Durin's Days, besides the calendar of dwarves appear to be based on moon) also they called at least one star constellation: Durin's Crown (appears in dark reflective water of Mirrormere whether it's night or day and does not reflect anything else).

Dwarves may by their very nature prefer to live underground in mountains and great hills, but their cities and strongholds are not dark, they are well lit with crystal lamps and there are often great windows and shafts in the mountain sides on the highest levels of their underground realms (those shafts could possibly also serve another purpose as ventilation system), Tolkien's dwarves are not your generic fantasy dwarves, they are more polite (they like good manners) and are also touched by beauty like Gimli's reaction to caves of Aglarond (their description is indeed breathtaking), they are not any sort of dirty, uncultured brutes like it is the case with dwrves of many other fantasy worlds but crafstmen who really love their work and artists in many ways, they like music, many can play on instruments like harps, viols, fiddles, drums, clarinets, so beauty of natural light especially when reflected in precious gems in many colors would be something valued by dwarves.

Motivation of PJ are not clear possibly he didn't thought that much about it, maybe he indeed wanted to form a difference between dwarves and elves, making the dwarves more associated with warm firelight, more...folksy, mundane, and the elves as more ethereal but that differentiaion is misled, both Wood Elves and dwarves loved feasting and lighting fires and warmth, of coruse it is true that Wood Elves liked to wander in the open ,,in twilight of our Sun and Moon, but loved best the stars", but then in Lothlorien the light of sun is even more prevalent: ,,It is sunshine and bright day, right enough', he said. 'I thought Elves were all for moon and stars: but this is more elvish than anything I heard tell of." as Samwise Gamgee said.


I perceived a dichotomy in Tolkien's legendarium between gold and silver, sun and moon, sunlight and moon/starlight. Even in Elvish there are different words for light, for example cale means "light", but silme refers to "white" light from moon and stars. The Elves are definitely connected to the stars and the starlight while Men are connected to the Sun. The first lights in the world was Ormal and Illuin, two divine lamps radiating yellow and white light respectively, then the Two Trees of Valinor, Laurelin and Telperion, radiating golden and silver light, from which came the light of the Sun and Moon.

The pair is also seen in the name of Elendil's sword Narsil which is composed of the roots for anar (sun) and sil (white light) and the sons of Elendil, Anarion (meaning son of the sun) and Isildur (meaning servant of the moon), and their respective fiefs, Anorien with Minas Anor and Ithilien with Minas Ithil.

Although this pattern exists throughout the legendarium, I am not aware of any connection between a specific kind of light and the Dwarves. But it's possible that the filmmakers had this dichotomy in mind while writing the dialogue.

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