What Happened To Thranduil’s Face When He Was Arguing With Thorin In The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug?

It has been years since The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug came out, and we still haven’t forgotten the legendary scene brimming with pure emotion and brilliant acting. Of course, I am talking about the heated discussion between Thranduil and Thorin, where Thranduil’s face suddenly turned deeply scarred for a moment and then returned to normal. As much as fans enjoy this scene, many are not sure about what happened to Thranduil’s face and why it was so deeply wounded. If you have the same doubt, then this article is for you.

The Battle of Verdun

What Happened To Thranduil’s Face When He Was Arguing With Thorin?

Before talking about what was up with Thranduil’s face, let us see what Thranduil said to Thorin.

Thranduil knew what Thorin and the other Dwarves were after and offered to let them go in exchange for the Gems of Lasgalen, but Thorin refused, prompting their imprisonment. During their heated conversation, when Thorin says –

You turned away from the suffering of my people in the inferno that destroyed us!”

Thranduil becomes infuriated at this and says-

Do not talk to me of dragon fire! I know its wrath and ruin.” 

It is then that he inhales, and a deep scar appears on his cheek, after which he says with much emotion,

I have faced the great serpents of the North.”

How Did Thranduil Get His Scar?

That Thranduil, the Elven King, has an extensive scar and probably a blind eye baffled us. Thranduil’s face, evident from his words, was burned by a dragon in the North. While we do not have a record of Thranduil actually being wounded by dragon fire, the War of Wrath lasted over four decades, so he certainly could have faced many dragons during this time (and faced the wrath of Dragon fire). Thranduil’s scars are decidedly non-canonical, and in all likelihood, Peter Jackson took creative liberty with the story to give an appropriate history and backstory for Thranduil. It gives us a glimpse into why he became so damaged (emotionally as well as physically).

On a symbolic note, Thranduil’s scars could represent the pain he has endured in the war, like watching his father die in the battle of the Last Alliance, for instance. Not present in the books, Thranduil’s prior experience with Dragons was included in the movie to explain his deep isolationism and the reason for his reluctance to help the Dwarves. There was also a suggestion that a firedrake killed Thrandruil’s wife, which explains her absence from the movie.

How Did Thranduil Hide His Scars?

In the moment of pure emotion, while talking to Thorin, Thranduil’s deep scars appear suddenly to the point that he appears blind in one eye. One implication is that Thranduil uses Elf magic to disguise his Dragon fire wounds. Elves can mask imperfections in their physical appearance using magic, and when something breaks that subconscious concentration, the true extent of injuries is visible. In Thranduil’s case, the distress of reliving Dragon fire memory and the anger he felt towards Dwarves revealed his disfigurement momentarily. It also points towards the fact that despite having great healing powers, Elves cannot fully heal scars by Dragon’s fire.

The scar could very well be an illusion, and it is possible that-:

  • Thranduil summoned the memory of the wound, and it manifested on his face briefly, or
  • He created the scar on the spot to emphasize his point to Thorin.

The Concept Of Fëar & Hröa

The sudden appearance of scars on Thranduil’s face also relates to one of Tolkien’s lore: Elves’ Fëar, a metaphysical concept similar to that of spirit, occasionally influences the Hröa, the physical body, particularly under moments of extreme stress. It can manifest as physical changes that reflect the state of mind, deep war scars in the case of Thranduil. 

I hope that this article was able to demystify Thranduil’s scars for you.

Related Read: The Hidden Significance Behind Galadriel Giving 3 Hair Strands To Gimli