June 20, 2001

On Arwen and Her Role
Chad G.

It is clear that many people here are disappointed with both Liv Tyler's casting in the role of Arwen, and with Peter Jackson's (alleged) increase in her role. Firstly, let me state that while I consider Tyler to have the right look for the role, I also am concerned with her acting ability and offended by her obvious ignorance of Tolkien's text.

However, when it comes to the expansion of Arwen's role, I believe I'm at odds with many members here. I think that some change is not only necessary, but is actually an improvement on Tolkien's original concept of Arwen. Even Arwen taking a role in helping (a little bit) during the War of the Ring is, I believe, a good thing. And here's why...

One of the chief arguments I hear is that Arwen is supposed to be one of the symbols of the fading elfin race. She cannot interfere because the elves are fading from middle-earth and it is the time of humans to act and dominate in their stead. Well, remember first that Arwen has more human blood in her than elfin. Remember second that at the end of the novels she chooses mortality, effectively becoming a human and taking (we presume) an important role in the rebuilding of the human kingdom in middle-earth. Don't you think that her taking more action than the other elves in the plot of the story would act as good foreshadowing for her ultimate choice? Basically, her choice to become mortal at the end will not be a total surprise that has no apparent motivation, but will be a case of gradual character development--we will gradually see her become more human, acting out more against the will of her elfin companions.

While I also don't want to see a "warrior-princess" (and I doubt we will), nor to see her take Eowyn's role in killing the witch-king, I would nevertheless like to see an Arwen who is willing to act, to help the man she loves. After all, if she loves him enough to choose mortality, SURELY she'd love him enough to aid him just a little? And if in doing this, we see a little more of her character, as well as seeing a gradual progression towards her choice to become human, then the movie will only be improved, IMHO.

And for those of you worried about the fading glory of the elves being properly portrayed, remember that Elrond and Galadriel will still be there to effectively communicate this. And I think that once the "Gray Havens" finale has been shown in the cinema, all viewers, fans and non-fans alike, will understand that the time of magic has passed, and the time of man has begun.