The LOTR Movie Site
July 16, 2000

No Movie Can Be As Good as THE Book
Lee B.

As much as I liked the preview, I, too, think that the rumored changes to Arwen's character would be at best mildly amusing and at worst a disaster. Casting Liv Tyler in that role, however, is a sort of poetic justice because Arwen of the LoTR is 99% looks and maybe, with enough luck, 1% personality (rejoice, Hollywood). As opposed to, say, Galadriel or Eowyn (rejoice, PC crowd).

Arwen's symbolic significance in the book is more important than her minor role as a character. She is emphatically an _IN_action figure that IMO represents the tragic decline and fading of the Eldar in the Third Age. Her only merit is looking like a clone of Luthien. Even her life story, albeit sad, is unoriginal.The Elves of Rivendell treasure Arwen first and foremost because she reminds them of Luthien--who had infinitely more character, dignity and presence. Unlike Luthien and Galadriel, who fight the Enemy, Arwen, armed with two thousand years of alleged wisdom and experience, consummately succeeds at doing nothing. Except sporting her official Ms. Middle-Earth "last treasure of the Eldar" looks (TM) and being the tragic damsel in distress. After all, serving as the heirloom of the house must be a tough job. Sure enough, she handles that job in a loveliest, most sublime, graceful and ladylike manner, as befits a perfect heroine of a medieval romance. In the meantime, her knight in shining armor is out there risking his life every second to save the world--all to convince Elrond to part with his most valuable piece of property.

It wasn't necessary for Arwen to ride to battle to take action--most Eldar women chose other venues. (Nevermind Great-grandma Idril leading refugees out of the burning Gondolin and being in charge of the city's defense). However, someone of Arwen's lineage and history could have done something more constructive than just to embroider a battle standard and send it to Aragorn. Arwen's function as a passive observer is not just a tribute to the archetypal plot of medieval romance--a fair lady elevated far above all things crude and material, serving as inspiration to her knight. Galadriel and Luthien were just as noble and wise, and valuable to their people, but they did not shun action. Neither did Eowyn, a mortal of "lesser" lineage, who did not have the luxury of eternal beauty and agelong wisdom, but who refused to just sit around and be the treasure of her house.

Arwen's character is remarkably consistent with Tolkien's idea of the fading and passing of the Elves--which to me is one of the saddest and most moving aspects of the story: "...Our power is diminished, and Lothlorien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away. We must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten..."

JRRT knew what he was doing when he portrayed Arwen as he did. There is really no need to add to a masterpiece. The audiences that favor action babewatch or romances of epic proportions could save themselves time and money and watch "Xena" or "Titanic," depending on their respective preferences.