Arwen by Figwit
What does Arwen do in the movie?
In the movie, Arwen appears in two sequences, namely The Evenstar and Breath of Life.
We see her in a flashback-scene with Aragorn, when he takes a break during the trip to Helm’s Deep. He remembers the day before he left Rivendell: how Arwen supports him in his decision to accompany Frodo and tries to take some of the doubts away he has about his own destiny. The scene ends in a sweet kiss.
Then we see the moment when the Fellowship prepares to leave Rivendell, and Aragorn returns the Evenstar to Arwen – a moment she faces with silent dignity, refusing to take it back.
Her refusal is reflected later on in the movie, when Aragorn has fallen off a cliff after the fight with the warg riders: we see Arwen, or a vision of Arwen, hovering over a knocked-out Aragorn as she blesses him with the grace of the Valar. After we make sure Aragorn has recovered, we return to Arwen in Rivendell, where Elrond tells her about her possible future after Aragorn’s death. Because she realises there really isn’t that much left in Middle-earth for her, she decides to travel to the Grey Havens. The last we see of her, is when she leaves Rivendell with a whole group of her kin, leaving Elrond behind.
What does Arwen do in the book?
One of the main critiques on ‘The Two Towers’ is that it contains too much Arwen. This is especially relevant when compared to the relevant screen-time of other characters: Frodo, Sam and Gollum have a whole book to themselves, of which only six chapters made it into the movie, but only have five sequences for themselves; Merry and Pippin have three chapters in Book 3, but are hardly on-screen. With this in mind, the fact that Arwen – who isn’t even named in ‘The Two Towers’ – has two whole scenes for herself seems unfair.
However, not everything Arwen does was made up by Boyens, Walsh & Jackson.
1. The Other Woman
One of the main issues in writing ‘The Two Towers’, was to keep Arwen’s presence vivid in the memory of the audiences. A lot of readers had the experience of not remembering who Arwen was when she showed up in Book 6 to marry the hero – and a great number of bookies always supported the idea of having Éowyn marry Aragorn (as was Tolkien’s original plan).
It becomes completely absurd when you consider how much Éowyn and Aragorn are alike. Éowyn plays a very important part in ‘The Two Towers’, and giving her enough screen-time with Aragorn to construct a deep enough relationship there would naturally create a tension between them. So it was necessary to give Arwen a more crucial place in the story.
By comparison, in the books Aragorn doesn’t mention Arwen to Éowyn at all. He only vaguely hints at her existence when Éowyn questions his motives to take the Paths of the Dead: “Were I to go where my heart dwells, far in the North I would now be wandering in the fair valley of Rivendell.” [5.II.]
2. The Long Wait of Arwen Evenstar
Arwen’s tale is most often connected with images of her waiting in the gardens of Rivendell for Aragorn to come home. This is the classical image of the mediaeval lady, waiting for her knight to return to her, or rescue her – whichever be the case. Ladies, in those days, were supposed to wait.
This is however not exactly true to the spirit of the book. In the Appendixes, our only canonical source of information about Arwen, Tolkien writes that ‘when Aragorn was abroad, from afar she watched over him in thought’. [A(vi)]
In the movie, this small line was poured into the script as one of the most confusing moments of the scene – but perhaps also one of the most magical ones: when Arwen blesses Aragorn after he washes upon the shore. Her image is replaced with Brego’s nose nuzzling Aragorn’s face, leaving the audience a little baffled, but initially this scene shows how Arwen is with him, even when they are miles apart.
This scene, and the entire idea of Arwen waiting for Aragorn, becomes even stronger when you remember that Arwen really has nothing or no one to wait for: Aragorn very decidedly broke up with her before he left with the Fellowship. Much could be said about this change, but I’ll stick to the main point here that is relevant for our discussion of Arwen: the fact that she is still waiting, but no longer has something to wait for, places her in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, an audience could see her sacrifice as even greater, because she is not certain whether Aragorn – even if he should live – would still want her as his Queen. This kind of doubt was never present in Tolkien’s original tale of Arwen and Aragorn, but it does enhance Arwen’s position in the story.
On the other hand, of course, Elrond’s offer to take the ship to Valinor with her kin, becomes pressingly more logical, even to the extent that it would be absurd for Arwen to stay.
Hence the awful predictions Elrond makes about Arwen’s possible future: the image of Arwen’s grief, taken straight from the appendixes, combined with Elrond’s desperation should provide ample motivation for Arwen to make a different choice than she did in the books.
3. To Helm’s Deep or Not to Helm’s Deep?
In the movie we see Arwen leave Rivendell with a great host of her people. Originally, Arwen was supposed to take the shards of Narsil, have them re-forged and bring them to Aragorn in Helm’s Deep. Footage from this sequence was used in the Andúril-scene in ‘The Return of the King’, and though Arwen was removed from the battle ground, traces of her still appear in the background, as you can see here.
Whether it would have been a good idea to let Arwen fight at Helm’s Deep, or not, is a much-debated question even amongst Arwen-lovers. However, Liv Tyler decided it was a bad idea because a) the poor girl really didn’t look the part of a she-warrior, and b) Tyler also thought her character strayed too far from the books.
- 2.03. The Departure from Rivendell by Figwit
- 3.06.*b. Evenstar by Figwit
- 3.06.*d. Breath of Life/a> by Figwit
- Arwen in FOTR by Figwit
- Random Elves in The Two Towers by atalante_star
Our Character Gallery has a separate section devoted to Arwen.
It also has the screencaps of the theatrical version, as well as the extended edition.
A transcript of 'The Lord Of the Rings: The Two Towers' can be found in our Film Fun & Facts section.
A summary of 'The Lord Of the Rings: The Two Towers' can be found in Elrond's Library.
You can also check out some pictures of Liv Tyler in our Cast & Crew Gallery or read a short biography in our Film, Fun & Facts section.
Some articles that are related to Arwen UndÃ³miel:
The Middle-earth Section has articles about The Half-elven and their Ancestry and Arwen UndÃ³miel.
Forum threads related to Arwen / Liv Tyler:
- In the Movies Forum you can find threads like I Don't Like Arwen / Liv, Elves - Book vs. Film, Portrayal of Women In the Movies, Arwen - Why Her Part Worked and a
- The Books Forum talks about Arwen's Choice for Mortality, The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, Arwen and Aragorn's Relationship and When an Elf and a Mortal Marry.
- In the Casting Forum you can find threads about Arwen and Liv Tyler.
Take a look at how some artists saw Arwen in The Two Towers:
- The Long Wait of Arwen Evenstar by Michael Green
- Arwen by Gwyllion
- Arwen by John Howe
- Arwen by Kionurin
- Arwen by Maija PietikÃ¤inen
- Arwen by Per SjÃ¶gren
- Elrond and Arwen by ponine21
- Arwen in Rivendell by Ryuuri
- Arwen by Soraco
Preview the Arwen chat skin here.
Looking for something more creative - you may find it here: