The LOTR Movie Site
February 11, 2001

The Two Faces of Bombadil
Harry W.

On 02-07-01 Derek McG. said there were two perspectives on Bombadil: one, that he seems to be both unconcerned and unaffected by the world outside his kingdom, and two, that he is annoying because of his whimsical nature (songs, dress sense, etc. I have heard such remarks many times before, and I am myself guilty of finding the Bombadil chapters boring at times, but - There is no real dichotomy in this character. Figure - he acts as a deus ex machina device in rescuing the hobbits from the old forest and the barrow wights. Figure - the ring has no effect on him. Figure - his garish dress and love for nonsense songs. Tolkien has made an effort to put Bombadil OUTSIDE the story itself. He is an (albeit unsubtle) device to allow the author to intervene in events. One might say he is prompting the reader to take his eyes away from the page for a moment and realise all this is not real. I refer of course to the curcumstances under which the first drafts of LOTR were read by their first reader. Putting Bombadil in a film would be like having the director walk onto camera and instruct the bad guys to stop beating up on the good guys - we'd be getting into Dario Fo territory here. Bombadil is essential to the book, because he places it in its literary context, he is an antiphon both to the poetry of the Elves AND of the Hobbits; the drama of the Men and the humdrum of the hobbits. Bombadil is nonsense in a film, because Tolkien had no Cinema-specific message to give. PS, I think he's great...