The LOTR Movie Site
March 22, 2000
Agruments Against Inclusion of BombadilB.R.
I have counted myself among Tom Bombadil's most ardent admirers for more than 25 years.
However, though he is among my favorite characters in the Triliogy, I am very much in
favor of the decision not to include him in the upcoming films. This is because his
character is complicated and, if the script does not provide sufficient background (going
all the way back to the first chapter of the Silmarillion), the audience will most likely
On the surface, Tom Bombadil is a comic character prancing about in those dreadful
yellow boots and belching out egocentric poetry of dubious quality. Yet his command over
Old Man Willow and the Barrow Wights bespeak the absolute power he wields in the Old
Forrest. What are audiences to make of this creature who claims to have lived since the
First Age and calls himself Eldest (his Elvish name is Iarwain Ben-adar which means
something like "oldest fatherless")? Is Bombadil some sort of Paul Bunyan of the
Old Forest or is he a kindly sylvan spite? In fact, Tom Bombadil seems to have been one of
the Maiar one of the lesser Ainur, or "holy ones," that had a direct hand
in the Blakean formation of
Middle Earth that Tolkien describes in the Silmarillion. To put this in context, among the
other Maiar inhabiting Middle Earth in the Third Age were Olorin (Gandalf), Curunir
(Saruman), and Sauron. Pretty impressive colleagues for the red-faced goof of the Old
Forest! The identification of Bombadil as Maiar makes Gandalf's visit to him at the end of
ROTK all the more poignant. Gandalf had to inform his fellow Maiar that the demise of
Sauron marked the end of their involvement in Middle Earth. It was time for Bombadil to
leave his beloved forest and the rest of Middle Earth to the mortal races and to return
Undying Lands. (Except for the last sentence, which is pretty much my own interpretation,
the source of all this is David Day's Tolkien Bestiary.)
So for me Bombadil has a this fin-de-sicle role. His departure from Middle Earth brings
closure to the Immortal races' meddling in the affairs of Middle Earth a meddling
brought to a head in Sauron's rise and fall. I find all this quite interesting, but I
don't think that it needs to be hashed out in film.
Another reason why the Bombadil episodes are probably best left out of the films is that
Tolkien himself did not seem to consider them terribly important. I recall reading a
Tolkien biography in which the author asked Tolkien what the character of Bombadil was all
about. I have since forgotten Tolkien's exact response (and no longer possess the
biography), but the gist was that Bombadil was kind of thrown in at the last moment.
Tolkien just needed something interesting to happen to the Hobbits on their way to
Rivendell. I am sure that the movies will have plenty of other interesting things to make
up for the absence of Old Tom's frolics.