The LOTR Movie Site
October 21, 2000

Early Disclosure of Arwen's Expanded Role is a PR Coup
John R.

One of the movie producers' biggest concerns must be the possibility of unfavorable "word of mouth" from loyal Tolkien fans when the movie first opens in the theaters. Tolkien fans, shocked and surprised at Arwen's increased presence and Bombadil's absence, might howl so loudly that the rest of the moviegoing public will be scared away.

The public relations' solution is to release the news early and slowly, when only the fans are paying attention. (President Clinton used this technique to perfection in responding to the Starr investigative report.)

So one year from now, when we go to the movie, we will not be surprised to see Arwen replacing Glorfindel, or Arwen riding to Rohan carrying Aragorn's banner. And we won't be surprised when the hobbits completely bypass the Old Forest on the way to Bree. If the movie works, then the producers hope the fans' "word of mouth" will be favorable.

To be sure, these apparent changes in the story for the purpose of the movie make sense. Glorfindel is an unnecessary character who quickly disappears. All he really did was to bring Frodo a horse. Having Arwen find Aragorn and the hobbits, perhaps while Aragorn is explaining the story of Beren and Luthien and how he met his love under similar circumstances, is a concice way to tell a long, collateral love story.

Another easy way to expand Arwen' screen time without doing too much damage is to have her carry her furled banner to Aragorn in Rohan.
Perhaps the hint of a love triangle in Rohan, with Eowyn meeting Arwen and realizing that Aragorn is truly out of her reach. The girls get along when Arwen helps Eowyn dress up as a soldier to go with the Riders, perhaps in the same was Arwen presumably left Rivendell.

Bombadil is a great character, but unfortunately he does bog things down. Leaving out the Old Forest sequence creates two problems, which can be dealt with. First, how do the hobbits get their Barrow swords? Second, we don't get to see Sam as the only hobbit immune to Old Man Willow's spell (shades of Sam as wizard and warrior).

Perhaps we get Old Man Willow after all. Remember the publicity photo showing four hobbits in the middle of a fall in the forest? Perhaps they get trapped underground by the tree. Sam avoids the spell, saves the day, and the hobbits find the blades in the tree. I won't be offended.