Nailed it!

So last week I briefly shared one of the things Peter Jackson got wrong, and to be fair it’s not as big an issue for me as his treatment of Faramir was in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but that’s another issue. So what did Jackson get right in the third Hobbit film? What had me watching in wrapt attention yelling “Yes! Yes!” in my head so loudly that I didn’t even pay attention to the subtitles on the bottom of the screen?

Galadriel. Jackson portrayed her perfectly. But the small detail that have me raving was what Galadriel held in her hand as she called forth their true enemy, forcing him to reveal himself. You see, Galadriel is something special among the elves of Middle Earth. She is the last elf remaining in Middle Earth of those who saw the light of the trees in Valinor. She has actually seen the closest thing Ea (the world) had ever held to the uncreated light of Iluvatar. She saw that light and yet chose to leave it and return to Middle Earth. She abandoned the purest light the world could offer in exchange for the twilight. But yet, she bore it with her. She carried some of that light within her and this made her truly a force to be reckoned with.

But with that said, she was not of Sauron’s order. He, like Gandalf (Mithrandir), was one of the Maiar–a lesser order of angelic being–and she is a child of Iluvatar–bound to the world He created. But in her hand she carries a vial of water from her pool and this water contains the reflection of Earendil’s star–the last of the Silmarils created in ages long past by Feanor to preserve the light of the trees of Valinor. It is this light that forces Sauron and his wraiths to reveal themselves, because in Tolkien’s mythology the light has tremendous significance. This is why the elves (and later Frodo and Sam) cry out “Elbereth! Gilthoniel!” in times of greatest darkness. Elbereth and Gilthoniel are elvish names for one of the Valar (the greater order of angelic beings), Varda, who is most closely associated with the uncreated light of Iluvatar. They are, in essence, calling out “Light! Light!” in the darkness and watching the darkness flee. Brilliant stuff!

The simple fact that Jackson placed that vial in her hand for that crucial scene, speaks volumes about his familiarity with Tolkien’s mythology, which begs the question why he was so willing to play fast and loose with other pieces of Tolkien’s epic? Only Jackson can answer that, but for this little piece that Jackson totally nailed, I salute him!

For a fascinating read on the role of light in Tolkien’s mythology, see the amazing book Splintered Light, by Verlyn Flieger.

Just One of the Things Peter Jackson Got Wrong

Let me just first say that I love me some Tolkien movies. My first reaction on hearing Peter Jackson was turning The Hobbit into three movies was disappointment, but that lasted only until I realised it meant I would have more movies to watch and (hopefully) enjoy. And I did enjoy them, but not as a presentation of Tolkien’s books–rather as an adaptation of them. Because, let’s be honest, there’s a lot in those movies that was never Tolkien’s intention, and most of it could be cut without any real harm to the plot. Take the whole love triangle bit. That simply does not fit in Tolkien’s mythology, at least not as I understand it.

If you read The Silmarillion, which I think you should most certainly do, you will quickly see that there is a fundamental difference between elves and men (and even orcs) on one side, and dwarves on the other. Elves and men were created by the sole working of Iluvatar (God) whereas the rest of creation was propounded by Iluvatar as a musical theme to be sung by the valar (angels) and through their singing to bring into being the idea of Ea (the world). Iluvatar is the only one who can actually make the world exist, but the valar participate in that making as sub-creators. Orcs are the result of Melkor, or Morgoth’s, twisting of some of the first elves in the darkness of his stronghold. So even though they are bent and evil, they are still made by Iluvatar himself. Dwarves, on the other hand, are more like the world in how they were made. Aule, the master-craftsman of the valar, wanted to make creatures as Iluvatar had, not to dominate them, but to image his creator through the use of his gifts, and so he made the dwarves. But just as the world as sung by the valar had no life in it (it lacked the Flame Imperishable), so too did the dwarves. It was only after Aule explained himself and his motivations to Iluvatar that Iluvatar consented to breathe into them the Flame, and that only after the elves had awoken in Middle Earth as the firstborn children Iluvatar intended them to be.

So, that’s really just a long-winded way of saying that in my understanding though friendship, fellowship, and camaraderie between elves and dwarves is both possible and encouraged, a romantic relationship is most definitely not. The whole love triangle is given a great deal of screen time, when it probably wouldn’t even have been feasible in Tolkien’s conception of his world.

But really this post is just a necessary prelude to next week’s post about one thing Peter Jackson got right (and I mean he got it really right). So stay tuned!