The LOTR Movie Site
February 22, 2000

The Neverending Arwen Debate
Chris Skinner

I'm a Tolkien freak and purist. I read the Hobbit before I read anything else of book length; I learned to read reading it. I read most of Fellowship before I read my first Hardy Boys book.

So, that establishes my emotional connection.

I fully support the notion of an expanded role for Arwen. Flashbacks, more fully fleshed out at the Council of Elrond, some scenes at the end. What ever you like.  But I DON"T like the rumors of "warrior maiden" at all. 

Here's the deal. Arwen is not human. She's not mortal until she makes that choice. Imagine the mind of such a being, the spirit, and the sacrifice. The hobbits, humans, and dwarves of the trilogy can't really comprehend her; as with Glorfindel, Elrond, and even Legolas, she is beyond their ken. Remember what the Elf-lord Lindar says: "Sheep may look different to other sheep, or even the shepherd." But Elves can't be bothered to keep mortals sorted out. This pretty much sums up how Elves see mortals, and Arwen Undumiel is not a mortal for most of the LOR. She's the direct descendant of Luthien Tinuviel, for goodness sake!  She's centuries old by the time she makes her choice to marry Aragorn.

And he does love her, but he's the last of the line of the Kings of Numenor. She is as much a family heirloom as she is his mate; they MUST be together. It is Destiny. One of the great bits of the LOR is his obvious affection for (and perhaps even yearning for), Eowyn and the life she is promised with Faramir. Aragorn is barely human himself by the time he's crowned king. Sure, he's mortal, but he isn't Strider anymore, and giving that part of himself up is a question of painful duty; it grieves him, something he makes quite clear to Merry and Pippin in Return of the King.

To make Arwen a rebellious, barely post-teen warrior princess goes far beyond stretching credibility. It argues that Peter Jackson doesn't understand or care about the central mythos of the LOR. Again, as many posters have said, this fact alone doesn't mean the movies will be bad. They'll simply have NOTHING to do with Tolkein. In which case, why bother? Film Tad Williams instead--much easier.

And for all of those who think that the Tolkien purists are a bunch of antiquarian geeks: right on!  Most of us are. But if you decide that Elves can be rebellious in the way Eowyn is in the LOR, and in the way Jackson seems to be re-writing Arwen, you aren't getting Tolkien. The children of Elrond would never try to rewrite their fate. That would be tantamount to siding with Sauron. Legolas, the least "Elvish" of the Elves encountered by the party, gets pretty alien by the time Aragorn and Gimli are crossing Rohan with him. To give Arwen "human" motivation and a sword completely violates the whole nature of Elven interaction with other races. They are either a mystery or they ain't.