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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Breaking of Staves


Nov 3 2012, 8:38pm

Post #1 of 9 (878 views)
Breaking of Staves Can't Post

In the film versions Gandalf ends Sauramons power by breaking his staff but would not like wise Gandalf magical/supernatural power be ended by the Witch king ? And only in the epilogue of the third film is Gadalf hinted at having the third elf ring Thanks

Superuser / Moderator

Nov 3 2012, 8:56pm

Post #2 of 9 (585 views)
In the movie-verse [In reply to] Can't Post

the staves are symbols of power and also a tool through which the istari channel some of their power when necessary. (Perhaps they have a turbo-boost effect?)

Breaking Saruman's staff is certainly a symbolic gesture. We can only hypothesise about the practical effects of losing a staff: As you say, Gandalf retained his power when the Witch-king shattered his staff, so maybe Saruman either did not experience a loss of actual power or he had been relying on his staff too much and had become weakened by its loss. We'll never know for sure.

Good question for a discussion!

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

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís 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 beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories

Kristin Thompson

Nov 4 2012, 9:50am

Post #3 of 9 (476 views)
The film isn't consistent about the staffs [In reply to] Can't Post

The novel makes it clear that the staffs are necessary for the wizards to do their magic. Gandalf uses his, whether he's lighting a piece of wood on fire or making the outlines of the door appear at Moria or breaking the Bridge under the Balrog. When he breaks Saruman's staff, it's clearly a major event, and he later says that Saruman is incapable of anything more than making small, mean trouble.

But the film doesn't stick to that premise. I agree, the moment when the Witch King knocks Gandalf off his horse and breaks his staff is not consistent with the rest of the film. A lot of people have commented here on the Boards about how they don't like that scene and don't think it makes sense. I agree!


Nov 4 2012, 5:56pm

Post #4 of 9 (467 views)
I don't like the Gandalf staff thing either [In reply to] Can't Post

But the way that I I like to look at it, is that Gandalf actually is more powerful than the witch-king, and that the breaking of his staff was just a result of Gandalf's fear of not being able to overcome his foe.

Not entirely sure if this is what PJ and company were going for or not, but that's the only way that it makes sense to me.

Kristin Thompson

Nov 4 2012, 6:02pm

Post #5 of 9 (483 views)
It must puzzle film-firsters, though [In reply to] Can't Post

On the one hand, Gandalf can come galloping out from the city and zap the Nazgul so that they leave, but he can't even try to put up a fight against the Witch King? Sort of like the inevitable question from people who haven't read the book: why doesn't Gandalf ride an Eagle, or send Frodo on one, to Mount Doom. There are some definite gaps in the motivation of such moments.


Nov 5 2012, 2:17am

Post #6 of 9 (501 views)
Yes it must [In reply to] Can't Post

I wish the staff hadn't broken, but I still prefer the movie with the scene. The witch king's "the world of men will fall" followed by the horn of Rohan is perfect. Smile


Nov 7 2012, 1:08pm

Post #7 of 9 (404 views)
It doesn't make sense, but my own reasoning [In reply to] Can't Post

or how I like to think of it is that when the Witch-King breaks Gandalf's staff, it happens because Gandalf is absolutely exhausted - he looks so haggard and old during the battle - but because he is Gandalf the White, he ultimately doesn't need the staff, as he has transcended beyond the need to channel his power through 'worldly' objects.


Nov 17 2012, 11:04am

Post #8 of 9 (388 views)
that explanation makes sense... [In reply to] Can't Post

...although I suspect you put more thought into that scene than the filmmakers did. In myth and folklore the wand or staff is like an antenna; it focuses the power without being the source. As for the WK defeating GTW, I suppose they felt it would ramp up the tension but it raises more questions than it answers.


Nov 17 2012, 12:20pm

Post #9 of 9 (773 views)
I suppose [In reply to] Can't Post

they wanted to reinforce the idea that the WK was a serious threat and that no man could kill him, so when Eowyn kills him, it's even more impactful. Well, that's what I think when I try to look at it from a filmmaking point of view.


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