It has been eighteen years since we were introduced to Peter Jackson’s cinematic version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings...
As Tolkien’s book trilogy is dense and crammed with additional characters, if you haven’t read them you might find yourself filled with some questions about the way things play out in the films. Today, we’re going to TRY to answer some of them that have been brewing for nearly two decades.
Now, I have been doing some low-key research on some theories and thoughts I had based on the Lord of the Rings films. The reasoning behind elements of one of my favorite series was an interesting task to undertake. As some of you know, if I find something that a creator on YouTube can explain well, I’ll happily share it with you folks. As I see it, we’re all just trying to figure out some of the most burning questions and thoughts to movies, games and books that we want further examination on. So, with that said – I’ll be including some videos that go deep and that helped me understand some of the finer details and I’ll also be explaining beneath. I want you guys to get ALL of the info to put these crazy things to rest so we can sleep easier at night!
Reaching out to my Twitter feed, I asked what folks thought were the most curious aspects to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not only was I VERY quickly inundated with tons of Tolkien lore, but I realized a TON of people had questions that I hadn’t even thought about! However, let’s dig into some of the ones that were asked the most which means perhaps they should’ve had more screen lore time in the films.
1. The Freakin’ Eagles!
While I only included a few folks who had this question, and rightfully so, my mentions were FILLED with people wanting to understand why Gandalf was being stingy with the Eagles. No, not the real-life Hotel California crooners, but the Eagles that swooped in quite interestingly throughout the films. Gandalf can summon them, heck, they can swoop in and steal him from his Saruman imprisonment when not snatchin’ your Hobbits up from the volcanic hell of Mount Doom. Well, good news: MatPat over at Film Theory has definitely explained this after so much research that it made my brain hurt and I LOVE me some research. I will try and break down what I’ve learned from both MatPat’s video and smaller sources just so we can all be on the same big crazy page.
Essentially, the problem is that the Eagles aren’t just.. you know, big ol’ birbs. These Eagles are their own sentient race of fantasy animals and are considered their own power. In fact, MatPat’s video also helps with some other questions (see: “What is up with the Ents!? What is their purpose!?”) as into how they came to be. The three Gods of Middle-Earth were filling the world with its inhabitants, its flora, fauna and surface. One of them came to the two others to create the Eagles at the very beginning of Middle-Earth. They are as old as the Ents and actually rank above the other intelligent races. In fact, this will come into play later when we talk Bombadil and Frodo.
Now, if you noticed — the Eagles aren’t actually involved in any scenes where the One Ring can be held or in their possession. Why is this? Because they’re POWERFUL beings. Maybe you’re asking “Okay, but couldn’t they have helped more with travel for the rest of the Fellowship?” and the answer is actually included in the film. See, the Fellowship is meant to stay out of Sauron’s ever watchful eye. With those Eagles being so massive and creatures of power, their movements would be captured by Sauron quite easily. This would then alert Sauron to the movement of this group and kind of kill the movies/books before they even truly began.
Long story short, the Eagles are too powerful to be trusted with the One Ring and are too massive in scale to help them travel as they would alert Sauron merely by their presence. Tolkien himself stated, as MatPat researched, that he didn’t want the Eagles to be used too much as a tool to aid the Fellowship and/or progress the story. That isn’t their purpose, as they should be considered a race of near Gods and just as much trouble for the Fellowship as the lesser races of Middle-Earth are to the Ring.
2. Okay, but WHERE is Tom Bombadil!?
Now, there are SO many theories as into who/what/why Tom Bombadil exists in the Lord of the Rings novels. There are not a lot of quotes from the man himself on the matter, though. More often than not, Bombadil is somewhat theorized to be a self-insert of Tolkien himself. A character that has some lore one can dig up about him, but isn’t a danger nor does he sway the power of the Fellowship’s story. If you’re going to self-insert, at least make it someone fun but not pivotal?
Other theories go deeper and one of them is such that it captured my imagination. See, there were a LOT of people asking about yer-boy Bombadil. He’s a dancing little happy creature that, if his point is needed, one could argue that he shows the moral landscape that is needing protection from Sauron. To the naked eye, he serves as proof that there is something wonderful and pure that needs protecting but, well, is there more to that? I included this video by ScreenNerds to discuss the Witch-King theory that my buddy Nihilist up there mentioned, as I was kind of taken by the possibilities. Thoughts?
In the book, Bombadil not only houses Sam and Frodo but wears the ring, can see Frodo when he’s wearing it, seems to have no care for owning it and just general goes about his life. What makes Bombadil so different that he isn’t swayed? In the books it’s mentioned that Bombadil has no ‘Father’ which could mean no mortal one. Was he the child of a God? The physical embodiment of Earth? An ancient being that is not swayed by concepts of power? Okay, with all of those questions out there about the book, how come they haven’t put him in the movies?
Essentially, the films had to take a lot of elements of the books and streamline the overall story to make a stronger film narrative. By including Bombadil in the film, it actually sets up more questions to be answered that aren’t the main story. The main story is about, first and foremost, the Fellowship. Introducing Bombadil in the first film would kind of dismantle the idea that the audience needs to have: The One Ring is all-powerful. Frodo is simple and pure enough that he has no need for power, thus he can be trusted to carry it, but if they show Bombadil happily bouncing it about – it takes Frodo’s purpose away. If Tom Bombadil can do essentially what Frodo can do and even better, by resisting the urges of the One Ring as WELL as its problems, why even include the Every-Man Frodo? It breaks down the story.
Did Tolkien self-insert a problem into the books that nobody cared to look into or did Peter Jackson just realize that Bombadillio wouldn’t actually work for audiences and snipped him out? What do you guys think?
Well, seeing as how Twitter exploded into questions and theories, I decided I’m going to do at least two more of these and try to answer some of the unanswered questions a lot of us Lord of the Rings film fans have. What questions do you have? Are you curious how anyone could survive Mount Doom’s volcanic gases and heat? Perhaps you’re wondering why Galadriel wasn’t at the first meeting of the Fellowship? What IS Shadowfax really? What’s the deal with Arwen being so different in the books than in the films? We shall get to these and more!