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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Elrond and Arwen at the Paths of the Dead


Jul 15 2021, 5:30pm

Post #1 of 9 (2304 views)
Elrond and Arwen at the Paths of the Dead Can't Post

So we all know how Arwen's role shifted around like crazy during the production of the Lord of the Rings. I have a what-if scenario that I'd like to run by you guys.

Arwen starts off very active in the story, and her role gradually diminishes, even as she returns closer to her role in the book. She also has a mini arc in which she contemplates and almost does leave Middle-earth out of a loss of hope in Aragorn and Middle-earth's future.

What most fans find to be strange is her sudden near-death experience in ROTK that seems to come out of nowhere. We also have a rather strange moment where Elrond pops up in Dunharrow and then... vanishes? Just decides to go back to Rivendell after dropping off the magic sword? Kinda weird. We also have a situation where Jackson didn't quite know what to do with the Paths of the Dead and never created something to his satisfaction.

What I would propose, ratherĖ is something slightly closer to the bookĖ†in that: what if Arwen accompanied Elrond to Dunharrow, and the two of them joined the Three Hunters in their quest to gather the Army of the Dead?

It would highlight Arwen's trajectory that she undergoes throughout Jackson's story, and interject a stronger payoff to her role in Fellowship, where she and Aragorn share a moment regarding her faith in him despite his being a descendant of Isildur. Her presence here would be one way to pay that off.

I also wonder how Jackson might have alternatively made the Paths of the Dead sequence more compelling. We know he sacrificed his design decisions because of what competitors on Pirates of the Carribbean were doing, and we got the scrubbing bubbles look as a result.

My thinking in sending Arwen and Elrond with the Three Hunters is more in line with making Jackson's work stronger as a film, not as adaptations of Tolkien's work, but on that point: By putting Elrond, Arwen, and Aragorn together, you also have a really strong way to directly put the conflict at play in the appendices into the film in a way they never quite managed to do.

I don't really know what I'm getting at here, but there's a general weakness in the ROTK film regarding Arwen's role and the Paths of the Dead sequence, and I'm trying to put my finger on if those two could be resolved with one decision.

The consensus will probably be "No, the films are perfect as they are now," but c'est la vie.


Jul 15 2021, 9:38pm

Post #2 of 9 (2272 views)
Elladan and Elrohir? [In reply to] Can't Post

I would have considered having the sons of Elrond bring the reforged Narsil to Aragorn and have them remain with the Three Hunters just as they did with along with the Grey Company in the book. I would have probably first introduced the twins at the Council of Elrond or even earlier (instead of either Glorfindel or Arwen) before Aragorn and the hobbits reached Rivendell.



Jul 15 2021, 10:46pm

Post #3 of 9 (2272 views)
I think eliminating them for the purpose of a 9 hr adaptation [In reply to] Can't Post

...and emphasizing Elrond and Arwen is smart for the medium. The Paths of the Dead in the movie is an opportunity to really hone in on a core group of characters. A last hurrah of adventure, if you will.

But in a miniseries / television show, though? Absolutely.

Chen G.

Jul 16 2021, 12:27am

Post #4 of 9 (2267 views)
I don't think Arwen was ever going to go to the Paths of the Dead [In reply to] Can't Post

Rather, she would have stayed behind with the Rohirrim and joined their ride and help Eowyn take down the Witch King. She would then fall grievously ill from striking him down, which is where the idea of the dying Arwen stemmed from: Aragorn has to defeat Sauron to remove this threat from her person.

I think the treatment has Elladan and Elrohir in the Paths of the Dead, which are described as made of flesh. They actually had Erkenbrand here only to meet his death, and in early drafts even toyed with making the King of the Dead a cursed Isildur.


Jul 16 2021, 6:35pm

Post #5 of 9 (2209 views)
Iím not speaking to what was done in the treatment, per se [In reply to] Can't Post

Rather, a hypothetical proposal for making the films stronger / resonant / less disjointed. I donít think putting Arwen and Eowyn side by side on the Pelennor is a good idea.

Those are really interesting facts, though. Iíd love all the scripts to be made available in full.

Kelly of Water's Edge

Jul 22 2021, 8:02pm

Post #6 of 9 (1917 views)
Absolutely not! [In reply to] Can't Post

His assist to Eowyn is Merry's big moment. If you take that away from him, you've taken away the entire reason for him being on the quest.

He already got short shrift compared to the other Hobbits, with his first confrontation with the Witch King not being included. IMO, that was a defining character moment with him, foreshadowing his later destiny and beginning his lifelong friendship with Aragon, who was deeply impressed that Merry was even still standing in the aftermath.

Each Hobbit had a distinct personality, and was exactly where he needed to be to play a role he was suited for to defeat the enemy. Frodo's compassion made him the one suited to be Ringbearer, because Gollum's role was essential in the end. Sam's love for him and down to earth practicality made him the one suited to be his companion. Pippin's talent for diplomacy made him the best suited to deal with Denethor. And Merry's training as heir to Buckland, which as an outer territory of the Shire had to be prepared to be the first to deal with any sort of external threat, made him born to be Eowyn's assistant in their task.


Jul 24 2021, 6:30pm

Post #7 of 9 (1821 views)
Could you elaborate on this? [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
We know he sacrificed his design decisions because of what competitors on Pirates of the Carribbean were doing, and we got the scrubbing bubbles look as a result.

Was this mentioned in the appendices or something? How exactly did PJ change design decisions based on the Pirates films?

Chen G.

Jul 24 2021, 6:38pm

Post #8 of 9 (1821 views)
I don't think they changed the design [In reply to] Can't Post

The nature of doing The Lord of the Rings back-to-back as a long production was that occasionally they will have working on something for years and, before it gets a chance to be seen, someone else had done something similar, so that the movie does come out it will look as though they had copied someone else's work.

A few examples would be the similarities to Gladiator: that film was being made effectivelly concurrently with The Lord of the Rings and therefore couldn't have influenced Jackson's filmmaking, and yet many seem to credit it with influencing Jackson. That's just because they're in the same idiom.

Another example was the shot following the masonary that the Gondorians launch into the Orc ranks: its been nicknamed the "Pearl Harbour shot" because Michael Bay had done a similar shot in the apoynmous film, and yet Jackson couldn't have copied Bay's shot since his shot was in the works since before Bay's film was made.

And, yes, the same is true of the Army of the Dead: Weta were working on it for a while and then they saw the Pirates trailer. I don't know that they actually changed the design, but the similarities did raise a concern among them.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 24 2021, 9:33pm

Post #9 of 9 (1805 views)
PJ mentions it in one of the appendices of the EE DVD, [In reply to] Can't Post

about how they had the great idea of having the King of the Dead moving from flesh-looking to skull-looking when he confronts Aragorn, then one of PJ's team came up and said "Have you seen the Pirates of the Caribbean?" and the pirates who turn skeletal in moonlight.

They were too far down the design phase to change the KotD's look so they stuck with it.

Though I haven't heard of the scrubbing bubbles' design being in response to the Pirates movie.

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