Saturday, January 24


On Being The Wrong Size

There's a problem with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies: The scale doesn't make sense.  Little things, like the fact that the town of Dale is about as big as Minas Tirith.  And big things like the dwarves' attempt to drown Smaug in molten gold.

If we assume that the volume of molten gold is about the same as an Olympic swimming pool (and frankly, it looks larger), then we're talking about 2.5 million litres of gold.  That would weigh close to 50 thousand tons - 50 billion grams.  Gold in our world is currently runs about $40 per gram.

That's two trillion dollars worth of gold right there.  And never mind the hoard itself, which is much larger.

It's possible that gold is more common in Middle Earth than on Earth, but that just means it's less valuable, since it has little practical use in a pre-industrial economy.  (It doesn't corrode, which is good, but it's soft and very heavy.)

And the dwarves pay Bard in silver, not in gold, and yet that is enough for him to risk his life to smuggle them into Esgaroth.  Either the values of silver and gold are inverted - in which case the dwarves wouldn't be hoarding gold - or the economy of Middle Earth is bigger than Earth's - which isn't possible; they have nothing we'd even recognise as a city in the modern sense.

Of course, this particular part is Peter Jackson, not Tolkien, and The Hobbit is a children's story (and canonically, is told by Bilbo, who is not an entirely reliable narrator).

Still...  Where is everybody in the Lord of the Rings movies?  The world seems to be utterly depopulated.  It's the movie equivalent of a Bioware game.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 04:48 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 The gold hoard is actually a Dwarven mine tailings pit?

Posted by: Mauser at Saturday, January 24 2015 05:47 PM (TJ7ih)

2 They're mining for iron and dammit, more of that useless yellow crap?

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, January 24 2015 11:56 PM (PiXy!)

3 The fight with Smaug really pissed me off, Jackson just pulled that one out of someplace dark and stinky. Made no sense at all, either technically, or in terms of the book's plot. 
As for where everybody is, in the Lord of the Rings, I think it's worth remembering that the Fellowship were actively avoiding populated areas, because the spies of Mordor were known to be all over the place, and the last thing they wanted was for Sauron to get wind of what they were up to. That was quite explicit in the books.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at Sunday, January 25 2015 05:18 AM (L5yWw)

4 A good point.  Also, the area between Minas Tirith and Mordor would have been depopulated; Minas Ithil was taken and Osgiliath destroyed, so there wasn't much reason to hang around.  Looking at the map (for the first time in a long while), almost all of Gondor lay south and east of the capital.

So Jackson got that one pretty much right.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, January 25 2015 04:24 PM (2yngH)

5 South and west, that is.  Mordor is to the east.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, January 25 2015 04:42 PM (2yngH)

6 In the books, Middle Earth is fairly depopulated, partly due to the previous war against Sauron and partly the whole raids by goblins and orks and trolls and 'evil men' thing. The other thing is that the whole continent survives on medieval era tech which doesn't allow that many big cities, there isn't enough food. Which raises the question, how many elves are there in Rivendel and where do they get their food from? Imports from Bree and the Shire?

Posted by: Rikto at Monday, January 26 2015 09:36 AM (zDlKl)

7 Also I hate 80-90% of the 2nd hobbit film. I'm glad I haven't had to watch the 3rd.

Posted by: Riktol at Monday, January 26 2015 09:37 AM (zDlKl)

8 Pixy, bug report. The HTML editor works fine in Firefox 34.0.5 but it doesn't work in IE 11 (11.0.9600.17501).

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Wednesday, February 04 2015 02:38 PM (+rSRq)

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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