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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Why are the elves at Helm's Deep?

Lurker in the Dark
The Shire

Aug 24 2012, 2:19am

Post #1 of 15 (1341 views)
Why are the elves at Helm's Deep? Can't Post

My apologies if this has been canvassed before.

In the cinema for my first viewing of TT my biggest surprise was the presence of the Elves at Helm's Deep.

In the book, of course, they're not there. When Haldir arrives in the film he brings "word from Elrond of Rivendell. An alliance once existed between Elves and Men. Long ago we fought and died together." But that's all by way of explanation, and it's not enough for me.

"Long ago" the Elves were at home in Middle Earth and wanting to stay, so fighting for it makes sense. Now they have given up on Middle Earth and are leaving. Too, Elves are immortal unless, it seems, something kills them. So why give up immortality in the Undying Lands - which from Gandalf's description seems pretty pleasant - to die, really die, for a lost cause. And if you're going to do that, why not do it where it might really matter - facing Saruman at Gondor rather than at a side-show which is all Saruman and Helm's Deep is?

And why does Haldir bring word from Elrond of Rivendell when he and his army is from Lothlorien and, presumably, Galadriel?

I believe from hints elsewhere that the film originally intended for the Elves to come to Helm's Deep as a result of pressure from Arwen, and from the Appendices to the Extended Edition DVD it seems it was at one point intended to have Arwen herself fighting at Helm's Deep.

I assume that it was decided late in the day to delete Arwen's presence at Helm's Deep, and although this makes the presence of the Elven Army there as well superfluous it was hardly possible to also delete the scenes involving them as they are in so many.

I can certainly see there might be some difficulty in having both Arwen and Eowyn at Helm's Deep, particularly with Arwen fighting in the front lines and Eowyn banished to the caves - Eowyn would not like that one little bit - but surely that would have been thought through during story-boarding. Without Arwen the presence of the Elves, other than Legolas, is quite unnecessary and even, to my mind, clunky. To have included them in production was surely expensive in money, time and resources which indicates they were thought to be important as a support to Arwen's inclusion, which suggests Arwen's inclusion here was thought to be significant. Yet not significant enough to survive editing.

The Wikipedia entry for LotR makes reference to a possible 'Ultimate' edition of LotR which could include Arwen at Helm's Deep, and for me this is a consummation devoutly to be wished for as it currently stands I think either the Elves have to be there because Arwen's pursuades Elrond and Galadriel both to support Aragorn, or not be there at all. The 'twix and 'tween we have presently is most unsatisfactory in my view.


Aug 24 2012, 2:57am

Post #2 of 15 (821 views)
From what I can remember [In reply to] Can't Post

Arwen was originally supposed to lead the Elves herself, as you said. The problem is that when the decision to revert Arwen to her book-self much of Helm's Deep had already been filmed. Add to that, I think Peter liked having the Elves there. I think, cinematically, their arrival is a great moment, and Haldir's death is also good film. I have a feeling he didn't want to lose these things.

Any "ultimate edition" (which I would love to see!) couldn't fix this, though. I'm almost certain that Liv never filmed anything for the story past Helm's Deep, and I've certainly never heard what that story might have been (though I would like to know). Plus, Arwen's busy at the time leaving for Valinor, and since I love the scenes between her and Elrond, I wouldn't want to see those removed. I think our best bet is to someday see the Helm's Deep footage as deleted scenes but nothing more.

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast, as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower."

Lurker in the Dark
The Shire

Aug 24 2012, 3:33am

Post #3 of 15 (802 views)
Arwen at Helm's Deep [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
I think, cinematically, their arrival is a great moment, and Haldir's death is also good film. I have a feeling he didn't want to lose these things.

I think the death of Haldir, and all the elves, would be more powerful if the full 'meaning' of their sacrifice was evident. Of course Gandalf kind'a tells Pippin that the Undying Lands are where Pippin - and presumably all of us - go after death, which kind'a leaves it open as to whether that's where Haldir and the others are going anyway, dead or alive. Which kind'a suggests that by dying at Helm's Deep they just saved themselves a walk to the Grey Havens and a sea journey in an open boat!

In Reply To
Any "ultimate edition" (which I would love to see!) couldn't fix this, though. I'm almost certain that Liv never filmed anything for the story past Helm's Deep, and I've certainly never heard what that story might have been (though I would like to know). Plus, Arwen's busy at the time leaving for Valinor, and since I love the scenes between her and Elrond, I wouldn't want to see those removed. I think our best bet is to someday see the Helm's Deep footage as deleted scenes but nothing more.

I haven't checked but I'm sure in the Extra's to the Extended Edition RotK - in the feature about the stunties - there's a shot of the girl stuntie done up as Arwen in a fight scene beside the culvert in the Deeping Wall. I don't know how Peter et al had worked through the time-line and how the aftermath was resolved, but if they reached the point of shooting that - and I repeat my assertion that had Arwen not been at Helm's Deep they could have saved themselves the hassle of the whole elven thing there - it must have been fully story-boarded.

Maybe we'll eventually get an Ultimate Ultimate edition - the full, unexpurgated LotR and Hobbit on a Twenty-plus DVD set.


Aug 24 2012, 1:54pm

Post #4 of 15 (752 views)
I think the real question here is... [In reply to] Can't Post

How the hell did the Elves manage to get from Lorien to Helms Deep in the space of a couple of hours? Crazy

"A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities."

Superuser / Moderator

Aug 24 2012, 8:40pm

Post #5 of 15 (720 views)
The foresight of Elrond and Galadriel. [In reply to] Can't Post

There was a scene filmed of Elrond, Arwen and Galadriel together, presumably in Lothlorien. The Elven army would have had to have left Lothlorien weeks before they were needed, to get to Helm's Deep before the Uruk-hai did, which could be accomplished if Elrond or Galadriel had known what was coming.

Otherwise, they'd have needed a handy wormhole to move so far in less than a day.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories

Lurker in the Dark
The Shire

Aug 24 2012, 10:34pm

Post #6 of 15 (671 views)
Other questions [In reply to] Can't Post

A scene of Elrond and Arwen at Lothlorien at the time of Helm's Deep is interesting as I'm sure I read somewhere that there are scenes of an Orc attack on Rivendell at the same time.

Elrond's description of his 'foretelling' powers - re Arwen's future child - seems to indicate that he can only see possibilities which of course is what Galadriel tells Frodo that her Mirror shows. Hence rather than Elrond having powers of foresight I suppose it's possible that he looked at Arwen's futures in Galadriel's Mirror, and that perhaps the Mirror had shown them that a victory at Helm's Deep was necessary for Aragorn's final victory over Saruman even if it didn't make it certain, enabling them to dispatch the Elven Archers to Helm's Deep even before Theoden had made the decision to retreat there.

However although victory at Helm's Deep enabled the Rohrrim to be at the Battle of the Pelinor, and while that made for some spectacular film, the presence of the Rohhim didn't actually affect the outcome - Aragorn's arrival with the Army of the Dead did that.

So I still maintain the Elves would have been more useful - and suffered less - at Minas Tirith than at Helm's Deep.

And I'm still short of a reason why the elves, having taken the decision to abandon Middle Earth, should still elect to pay an awful price to help men defend it, especially in light of Galadriel's clear belief that the battle is lost. Arwen's arguments that brought it about, which I believe is the case, would surely be some powerful scenes.


Aug 25 2012, 1:38am

Post #7 of 15 (617 views)
The Witch King would stop the King of the Dead.// [In reply to] Can't Post



Aug 25 2012, 1:53am

Post #8 of 15 (632 views)
There was definitely a scene with Elrond and Galadriel [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw PJ talk about it on the appendices and show a brief clip. The footage from Galadriel's side was reused for the 'prologue' in the middle of the film where Elrond and Galadriel converse telepathically (supposedly, anyways).

The elves at Helm's Deep were a misstep, definitely, though not just because of the supposed inconsistencies that people bring up. The main problem was that they had such a grand entrance and last stand, but no actual finale or impact on the battle whatsoever. It's only stuff you're supposed to guess at, and even with Haldir's death, I wonder what happened to the rest of the elves.

I think the other reason, tying into wanting the moment overall, is that PJ drew a comparison to Zulu when talking about Helm's Deep. While following that pattern certainly made Helm's Deep the strongest part of the film, there's also a moment in the film in which the cavalry arrive to supposedly help the soldiers holding the fort, but then drive off. Perhaps PJ wanted to see what would happen if they had stayed (which, historically, they did! Wink ). That hopeful moment for the audience is certainly at the root of it.


Aug 25 2012, 3:57am

Post #9 of 15 (643 views)
Helm's Deep was the weakest part of the film [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, it and the Ent plotline.

The first half of the film, leading up to Helm's Deep, was far better.

(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Aug 25 2012, 3:57am)

Tol Eressea

Aug 25 2012, 6:25am

Post #10 of 15 (599 views)
i believe [In reply to] Can't Post

that talk Galadriel had with Elrond; "do we let them stand alone?" was most likely before Saruman sent his uruk-hai army towards Helm's Deep thus giving them ample time to make it there before Saruman's hordes.

From the bottom of the Long-Lake a dragon shall be possessed...green lights glowing out of the deep waters shall be seen where the dragon fell...reanimated shall be Smaug that was killed...and the Dark Lord will fly over Middle-Earth unopposed...raining fire down upon his enemies...


Aug 26 2012, 2:17am

Post #11 of 15 (576 views)
I think Arwen was originally supposed to look in the Mirror, too.// [In reply to] Can't Post


"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast, as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower."


Aug 26 2012, 3:19am

Post #12 of 15 (590 views)
Perhaps that's where her image in the palantir in EE RotK came from? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not entirely sure on that. Not sure if that was done in pick-ups or one of those carry-overs that they were able to integrate into the work. Actually, I realized that Arwen's plotline probably got the most shuffling out of all the stories. Originally there was Lothlorien and Helm's Deep, then there was supposed to be a near resolution in Two Towers (with her seeing the vision and the sword being reforged), and then they added the ill-advised plotline of being tied to the fate of The One. Not sure any alterations could have possibly pleased most folks, though! I've not met too many people who actually say they enjoy that storyline (so I must settle for myself!).


Aug 27 2012, 1:57am

Post #13 of 15 (560 views)
Because it's the big thing they needed in the film at that point... [In reply to] Can't Post

Right before this, we have the Rohan story at its darkest hour -- at Helm's Deep, all the heroes are at each other's throats and everyone thinks that they are all going to die.

And then we get the scene where Aragorn takes the first step to turn things around -- he stops talking about hope, and becomes it, for that scared young kid, by taking the sword he once threw aside and sort of spiritually making it into something new for the kid.

After that, Legolas admits he was wrong to despair...

And then there's the sound of that horn...

And then the Elves show up...

(You could call it a "turn to joy" moment, even...if you want to put it in Tolkien's terms...Smile)

Not that things are exactly easy after that. But it's the thing that begins to move that part of the story toward victory, instead of defeat.

Originally, we had a 2 film version, so I suspect that the rationale for how the elves ended up there made a bit more sense (Arwen brought them, from what I can gather); in the revision, they left it a bit more vague as to how they got there -- all we got was that bit of elven-telepathy instead to imply that the Elves were going to do something, but not exactly what. But in either scenario, I think they were working to build things to a certain point of doom and gloom and then use the Elves as the way out of that...



Aug 27 2012, 9:55am

Post #14 of 15 (653 views)
Lurker, when an elf dies [In reply to] Can't Post

their spirit goes to the Hall of Mandos for a period of reflection, the duration of which is dictated by their life. Once this time is over they are reincarnated in an identical body. This cycle continues as long as the world exists, for the elves are meant to live that long, and during that time death is an unnatural state for them as it is not the fate Eru made for them and it only occurs due to Melkors continuing influence in the world. The most visible example of this is Glorfindel, he died saving the refugees of Gondolin from a Balrog. He was reincarnated and returned to Middle Earth which was a notable exception as no others are noted as leaving the Undying Lands.

(This post was edited by ElendilTheShort on Aug 27 2012, 9:56am)


Sep 6 2012, 6:50pm

Post #15 of 15 (528 views)
A Simple Answer [In reply to] Can't Post

This is one of PJ's crazy ideas. I think it is pointless trying to search for a coherent explanation to this. They were clearly aware that it was likely against Tolkien's vision and they did it all the same. But the worst has been avoided: Arwen fighting in Helm's Deep. The fans have won this battle, and it was so much unpopular and critizised that they were forced to abandon the concept.


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