The LOTR Movie Site
March 11, 2000

Arwen: Eowyn or Luthien?
Jonathan Davis

First of all, let me say that I believe this will be a surpassingly excellent movie, one of the greatest movies of all time. I will certainly watch it as often and as long as I can, and I eagerly await its release. (Actually, 'wait' is like the very worst term to describe the agony of suspense I’m going through until it comes out.)

However, I’m afraid from what I’ve heard that it won’t be The Lord of the Rings.

It may be roughly – or more than roughly – Tolkien-based, but it still won’t be a film rendering of the Lord of the Rings. This isn’t so bad, actually, as I give a standing ovation to anyone who makes a movie even moderately based on Tolkien. Three cheers for Peter Jackson! However, given that this film is being heavily described as The Lord of the Rings Movie it seems to me that it would be best to actually stick to the book. I suppose we each have our own interpretation of LOTR, and our own little pet peeves of things we’d like changed. (Mine? Well, we could at least have Gandalf use his Elven ring of power once...and then there’s that nonsense about Cirdan’s beard.) However, that’s not really an excuse for departing so directly from the story line...especially when so departing flies in the face of what Tolkien has described, and adds a redundant character to the story line, to boot.

You see, we already have a ‘warrior princess’: Eowyn. MAN, I’m glad she’s in the book. :-) That scene where she defies the Nazgul “...but no living man am I! You look upon a woman...” should have the entire bleachers on their feet. I’m utterly confounded that Jackson even dreamed of cutting Eowyn’s role.

Converting Arwen into “just another Eowyn” seriously detracts from both of them.  I mean, really, if there were 6,000 Eowyns in the host of the Rohirrim, her actions would raise little more than a tolerant yawn from most readers. It’s her ‘uniqueness’ that makes her such a powerful character.

There really seems to be no reason to convert Arwen into an Eowyn to “enhance the roles of women” or similar language. Galadriel, Eowyn, Arwen...imagine what a dull book it would be without them. Enhancing the role of Arwen to simply to make Arwen a deeper character is a different story. I am all for an ‘enhanced role of Arwen’ as long as it sticks to Tokien’s description. He certainly provided plenty of material. You could easily fill many many minutes with the whole Aragorn/Arwen romance, and make Arwen a much more ‘developed’ character. This would be truly wonderful.

However, adding Arwen to the Nine or having her ride to Helm’s deep.... shudder.  Not what elf maidens do. Tolkien makes it abundantly clear that Arwen is a ‘second Luthien’ so to speak. And we all know Luthien never even handled a sword, most likely, let alone riding incognito against the express wishes of her parents to join human armies in hack and slash orc slaying expeditions.  Please...not another Xena.  

That’s just now what elves do, maidens or warriors.  Only VERY rarely did elves ride out to battle or adventures unless a very large group of elves was concerned.  They didn’t do that much solo adventuring. Others have already written about Elves and how they viewed their fate. Generally, they accepted it. I think they would have been rather loathe to go against what their destiny was, after seeing the horrible mess that Feanor’s rebellion got them in to.

On a side not, look at Galadriel. She and Feanor were the greatest of the Elves.   Obviously Galadriel was not simply told to stay at home and do sewing. She was held in high honor and esteem. However, she did not do ANY repeat ANY orc fighting. (Coincidentally, of all the great Elf-lords who led the Noldor into MIddle-Earth, she’s the only one who survived. All the others died.) Obviously, it’s possible for a female elf to have a very significant role without any ‘hack and slash’ necessary. 

On a very side note, someone else said, in a defence of Arwen riding to Helm’s Deep, that Galadriel was “very active physcially.” I am not sure what that comment was supposed to mean. Does it mean she went out and got her exercise, and didn’t travel everywhere in a litter? Or is it supposed to mean she went out and knocked down the walls of Dol Goldur with a pickaxe? 

I think that IF Arwen rode forth to be with Aragorn, any contribution she would have would be along the lines of what Luthien did, not grabbing a sword and helping out in the melee. I mean, good grief! They already had some two thousand strong Eorlingas with swords at Helm’s Deep, one more isn’t going to help.

When Luthien rode forth to aid Beren, it was only because he faced a task that he could not win through with swords alone. He needed some greater help, and Luthien gave it to him. I think that if Beren had had a whole army at his command, Luthien would have stayed at home. And so should Arwen. I mean, Luthien never rode up to Morgoth’s gates and sang those songs with the whole Elven host behind her, ready to run in and slay all Morgoth’s foul brood, did she?

Another thing that seems to be ignored by the movement to bring Arwen to helm’s deep is the general feeling of men towards Elves..especially female elves. The whole estrangement between the two races seems to have been conveniently ignored.  Remember how Eomer and Boromir reacted to the thought of Galadriel? I maintain they would have felt similarly about Arwen and would not generally have welcomed her to Helm’s Deep. That comment about how she could appear and her beauty would re-inspire the men, while it may seem good at first, isn’t really consistent with Tolkien.

Arwen does have a very significant role in that respect, however, which many others have commented on at great length. Arwen represents for Aragorn, in a way, all that he’s fighting to protect against Sauron. She’s perhaps the epitome of peace, of a final victory over Sauron, when the weapons can be put away and beauty and knowledge come into their own. (I’m putting this badly, I know.) 

She’d be utterly meaningless in this regard if she was out in the general melee, wielding a battle axe. If she’s going to be just like Eowyn, then why should Aragorn love her instead of Eowyn? Why doesn’t he fall for her? 

I guess one way to describe it is that Arwen is to Aragorn sort of what the Shire is to Frodo. Frodo goes on this quest in order to preserve the Shire, free and totally unconcerned/untainted with the evil of Sauron. He values the Shire so much because it is so far removed from the pain and agony of Sauron's almost inevitable conquest of Middle Earth. It is almost another world, a world of peace and bliss. 

I suppose the phrase that sums up how I feel about this movie is that Peter Jackson has come so close to successfully transferring the Lord of the Rings to film. It’s such a shame to halt the march to perfection now.

So, I have two things to say:
(1) Don’t make Arwen another Eowyn.
(2) Make that movie come out as soon as possible...please!