The Elf Said What?!?!Posted: 24 February 2011
Now that there’s a new Lord of the Rings film firmly on the horizon, I thought it was high time to be geeky again!
There are, in my eyes, two different kinds of LOTR geek. First, you have ‘the Purist’, and then you have what’s known as ‘the Ringer’. Ringers (like Trekkies) are fans who love the films and indulge in all-nighter bumper viewings of all the extended versions back-to-back, but perhaps haven’t read the books themselves. Purists are the kind of fan who won’t touch the films with a barge pole, on account of the grave departures in plot or character from the original books. Purists look down on Ringers as lacking some sort of intelligence, and Ringers think that Purists are a bit snobbish, actually.
It’s perhaps a bit ironic that I’m a bit of both. I love the film adaptations of the books, in spite of all their idiosyncrasies and deliberate differences from the original books. I believe both are amazing masterpieces in their own right. Although, it’s true that a very impractical part of me still laments the loss of Tom Bombadil. It also wonders why Elrond, one of the most important Elves in Middle-earth, travelled unaccompanied for thousands of miles just to give Aragorn a sword – when he could’ve avoided the journey completely by handing it over back in Rivendell. As he did in the book.
If you were nodding furiously at the above paragraph, chances are you’re more of a Purist. You may be interested to know that some of the beloved parts of the book that you missed are there after all; in places and from mouths you may have not expected them to be.
That Whispering in Elvish at the Beginning
At the very beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel says the following;
“The world is changed. I feel it in the waters. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.”
Strangely enough, this line was not created by Peter Jackson or any of his team, nor was it spoken by Galadriel at any point in the books. Its origin however can be found near the end of The Return of the King when the party returning to Rivendell pass Isengard and are reunited with Treebeard there. Treebeard is the one who speaks this line, and actually says it to Galadriel.
“Then Treebeard said farewell to each of them in turn, and he bowed three times slowly and with great reverence to Celeborn and Galadriel. “It is long, long since we met by stock or by stone, A vanimar, vanimálion nostari!” he said. “It is sad we should meet only thus at the ending. For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air. I do not think we shall meet again.”
RotK II 6 “Many Partings” page 959
Sean Bean’s Best Line
“Have you ever seen it, Aragorn? The White Tower of Ecthelion. Glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver. Its banners caught high in the morning breeze. Have you ever been called home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?”
This is a nice quote from Boromir, speaking about his love for his home to Aragorn during the Fellowship’s stay in Lothlorien. Interestingly, this was never actually spoken by a character in the books; rather it is a paraphrased version of the paragraph describing Pippin’s first glimpse of the White Tower in The Return of the King, when Gandalf takes him to Minas Tirith.
“Even as Pippin gazed in wonder the walls passed from looming grey to white, blushing faintly in the dawn; and suddenly the sun climbed over the eastern shadow and sent forth a shaft that smote the face of the City. Then Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high within the topmost wall, shone out against the sky, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, tall and fair and shapely, and its pinnacle glittered as if it were wrought of crystals; and white banners broke and fluttered from the battlements in the morning breeze, and high and far he heard a clear ringing as of silver trumpets.”
RotK I 1 “Minas Tirith” pages 734-735
That Creepy Poem of Gollum’s
Did you hear it? During The Two Towers, the night after he rescues Frodo from the Dead Marshes, Gollum sings a rather disturbing song which goes like this;
“Cold be heart and hand and bone, Cold be travellers far from home. They do not see what lies ahead, when sun has failed and moon is dead.”
OK, so it’s not that creepy. But the original most certainly was; and I love it. During The Fellowship of The Ring when the Hobbits become lost and trapped in a barrow on the Barrow Downs, this was the chant of the Barrow-wight who captured them. Only Frodo was awake to hear the Barrow-wight chant this unpleasant song, which almost casts a spell on him to render him unconscious; but he keeps enough wits about him to call to Tom Bombadil for help, using the song he taught the Hobbits. I would imagine if this particular ‘deleted scene’ had made it into the film version, millions of kiddies across the country would’ve had nightmares.
“Suddenly a song began: a cold murmur, rising and falling. The voice seemed far away and immeasurably dreary, sometimes high in the air and thin, sometimes like a low moan from the ground. Out of the formless stream of sad but horrible sounds, strings of words would now and again shape themselves: grim, hard, cold words, heartless and miserable. The night was railing against the morning of which it was bereaved, and the cold was cursing the warmth for which it hungered. Frodo was chilled to the marrow. After a while the song became clearer, and with dread in his heart he perceived that it had changed into an incantation:
Cold be hand and heart and bone,
and cold be sleep under stone:
never more to wake on stony bed,
never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.
In the black wind the stars shall die,
and still on gold here let them lie,
till the dark lord lifts his hand
over dead sea and withered land.”
FoTR I 8 “Fog on the Barrow-Downs” pages 137-138
How To Stop An Old Willow From Eating Hobbits
If you’re geeky enough to have your own copy of the extended edition of The Two Towers, you may have encountered the scene where Merry and Pippin almost get swallowed by a particularly hungry tree. Luckily, Treebeard is around to save the day;
“Away with you! You should not be waking. Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water. Go to sleep. Away with you!”
This is probably the quote that most fans of the books will pick up straight away on seeing the Extended Edition of The Two Towers. This is because this verse Treebeard speaks to free Merry and Pippin from the grips of a willow tree is almost exactly the same as one of Tom Bombadil’s sayings from The Fellowship of The Ring. The fact that its origin is very similar (it was used by Bombadil to free Merry and Pippin from Old Man Willow during the Hobbits’ journey through the Old Forest) is a good indication that this scene was a nod to the fans and consolation that Tom wasn’t included in the film version of The Fellowship of The Ring. It certainly made me smile when I heard it!
“Tom sprang away, and breaking off a hanging branch smote the side of the willow with it. “You let them out again, Old Man Willow!” he said. “What be you a-thinking of? You should not be waking. Eat earth! Dig deep! Drink water! Go to sleep! Bombadil is talking!” He then seized Merry’s feet and drew him out of the suddenly widening crack.”
FoTR I 6 “The Old Forest” page 118
Wormtongue: Every Shieldmaiden’s Secret Crush?
“Oh, but you are alone. Who knows what you’ve spoken to to the darkness, in the bitter watches of the night, when all your life seems to shrink. The walls of your bower closing in about you. A hutch to trammel some wild thing in.”
Wormtongue is possibly one of my least favourite characters in The Lord of the Rings, and it’s probably not hard to see why. In this scene, Éowyn discovers that her cousin Théodred died during the night from his battle wounds, and kneels at his bedside, grieving. Wormtongue finds her there and instead of grieving himself or trying to comfort her, he seems almost overjoyed at Théodred’s death and delights in tormenting Éowyn about her hapless situation. Little wonder, for as Théodred was the king’s only son and heir, he knows that if he marries Éowyn he will be king of Rohan. And so, he sinks so low as to attack her when she is at her most vulnerable. Needless to say, Éowyn hates him with a passion.
It’s interesting then to note that this quote’s origin has a much different setting, and has a tone of pity and understanding to it rather than Wormtongue’s bitter spite. In The Return of the King when Éowyn has been carried from the fields of Pelennor, she is taken to the Houses of Healing on the sixth level of Minas Tirith. It is here that Aragorn comes to heal her of the Witch King’s “Black Breath”, and a discussion ensues between Aragorn, Éomer and Gandalf about why she has been stricken by such a seemingly untreatable malady. Gandalf tells Éomer about the devices used by Saruman to control Théoden, and how he understands Éowyn’s predicament, to tend her fading king and watch the decline of her country as well as her beloved uncle, helpless.
“My lord, if your sister’s love for you, and her will still bent to her duty, had not restrained her lips, you might have heard even such things as these escape them. But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?”
RotK I 8 “The Houses of Healing” page 849
Ooops. Maybe We Should’ve Given Him the Sword Before He Left
“From the ashes a fire shall be woken
A light from the shadows shall spring
Renewed shall be blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king.”
The poem Arwen speaks during this scene is arguably one of the most famous Tolkien ever wrote. Obviously it is about Aragorn, a prophecy almost of the outcome of the story. In this scene, Arwen finally convinced her father Elrond to reforge Narsil and take the re-forged sword to Aragorn, who is currently among the armies of Rohan at Dunharrow. Several hundred miles away *ahem*.
Of course, as I mentioned briefly at the start of the post, this scene and the one that precedes it were not a part of the books; at least, not at this stage in the story. At this point Arwen had “disappeared” into the background, and it was unsure of whether she had returned to Aman with the other Elves or not. Another distinct difference is that the shards of Narsil were never seen being displayed or kept in Rivendell; we learn of their whereabouts before the Hobbits reach the Blessed Valley. When Aragorn apprehends them in the Prancing Pony in Bree, he shows them his sword, broken “a foot below the hilt.” Shortly before this, Frodo was handed a letter by Barliman Butterbur from Gandalf (which should have been sent to Frodo, but he forgot). In it was written an urgent note to leave the Shire, and to trust a man called Strider. After this was written the following words:
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
FoTR I 10 “Strider” page 167