Legolas Greenleaf by Ithildin
Legolas in The Two Towers
Who was Legolas in the movie? Legolas, along with Aragorn and Gimli, make up the three members of the Fellowship that pursue the Uruk-hai band that had captured Merry and Pippin. The movie accentuates the warrior aspect of the character.
Who is Legolas in the book? Legolas, along with Aragorn and Gimli (the Three Hunters), make up the three members of the Fellowship that pursue the Uruk-hai band that had captured Merry and Pippin. In the book Legolas’ sense of humor is more apparent and his behavior at times gives us a peek into the ‘otherness’ of his elvish nature and outlook.
Changes in The Two Towers
In the book we meet ‘Legolas the Elf’ who not only possesses the keen senses and physical abilities of his kindred, but also the merry heart of a Wood-elf, a wealth of curiosity, a deep compassion for others and a concern for all living things. He is very observant, and though not well traveled, he demonstrates considerable knowledge of lore. Though the character’s background remains a mystery, through him we are given some tantalizing glimpses into elvish perspective.
In the movies we meet ‘Legolas the warrior,’ an intensely focused individual who excels as a scout and in battle. Like his literary counterpart, he is a tireless runner and virtually fearless. Movie-Legolas’ astounding elven abilities are emphasized and showcased in events that are not included in the books. He is granted few lines, and none of the lighthearted banter that he utters in the book. In the movie his humor seems confined to acerbic exchanges with Gimli.
In the course of the film, ‘The Two Towers,’ we see Legolas move beyond the role of somewhat aloof guardian, into the role of a fiercely loyal and caring friend to his companions as the journey brings him closer to the other members of the Fellowship.
The Riders of Rohan
In the second installment of the film trilogy the first scenes involving the Three Hunters show them running across
Scenes when they stopped to sleep were not included in the film. In the book we note that Legolas was usually the first to awaken, if he had ever slept. The night grew ever colder. Aragorn and Gimli slept fitfully, and whenever they awoke they saw Legolas standing beside them, or walking to and fro, singing softly to himself in his own tongue, and as he sang the white stars opened in the hard black vault above. And it is also in the book that we learn that when Elves do sleep they can sleep with their eyes open: With that he fell asleep. Legolas already lay motionless, his fair hands folded upon his breast, his eyes unclosed, blending living night and deep dream, as is the way with Elves.
Legolas’ keen elven eyesight is alluded to in the movie when Aragorn calls, “Legolas, what do your Elf-eyes see?” In the book we learn just how superior the Elf’s eyes are: But Legolas stood beside him, shading his bright elven-eyes with his long slender hand, and he saw not a shadow, nor a blur, but the small figures of horsemen, many horsemen, and the glint of morning on the tips of their spears was like the twinkle of minute stars beyond the edge of mortal sight.’ He could tell that there were 105 horsemen, they had yellow hair and their leader was very tall – when they were still 15 miles away!
The White Rider
In both book and film it is Aragorn who tracks the hobbits and their captors, but the book gives the characters more time for dialogue. The hobbits’ disappearance was baffling, but even in his frustration at trying to unravel the mystery, Legolas’ irrepressible nature lightens the mood as he speculates how the hobbits might have escaped from the Uruk-hai. After that, I suppose, he turned his arms into wings and flew away singing into the trees. It should be easy to find him: we only need wings ourselves!’
As they venture into Fangorn Forest, Legolas is very curious about the wood, and he senses things about it the others cannot. In the book he noted that the trees nearby were not evil and he felt the anger of the wood and the tension in the air while Gimli merely complained that the forest was stuffy and musty. However, in the film it is Gimli who remarks about the tense air in the forest and Legolas is given Treebeard’s lines about the ancient Elves awakening the trees and teaching them to speak. When Legolas says ’This forest is old, very old,’ it is one of the few occasions that the character is allowed to speak a portion of his own lines, almost unchanged from book to film.
Another event that occurs only in the book concerns the messages Gandalf the White brings to each of them from Galadriel. Legolas’ message contains a somewhat ominous sounding admonition: ‘Legolas Greenleaf long under tree, In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore, Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.’
The Elf does not seem to understand the meaning of the warning and is perturbed by it. ‘Dark are her words,’ said Legolas, ‘and little do they mean to those that receive them.’
This foreshadowing and all other traces of the Elf’s encounter with the Sea-longing are omitted from the films entirely.
The King of the Golden Hall
Upon arrival at Meduseld, Aragorn and his companions are required to leave their weapons at the door. In the book they voice many objections (most were omitted from the film) but they finally comply. The movie version of entering Meduseld has Wormtongue’s thugs trying to prevent Gandalf from approaching Théoden. Weaponless, the Three Hunters fight them off barehanded; Legolas striking with the palm of his hand rather than his fists. The fight scene was not in the book.
As Théoden and the people of Edoras trek to Helm’s Deep, a vicious pack of Saruman’s wargs ridden by merciless Orcs charge the refugees. As Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli join Théoden and his few warriors in fighting the wargs the Elf mounts Arod at a full gallop in a spectacular CG-enhanced flip which lands him neatly in the saddle in front of Gimli.
This entire sequence, including the warg attack, the gravity-defying elven-gymnastics, Aragorn’s fall and return from presumed death is found only in the film.
In this part of the movie there are several events that do not occur in the book. One scene takes place in the armory, where Legolas and Aragorn, both distressed by the knowledge that an untrained and ill-prepared group of old men and boys are about to face an enormous army of fierce Uruk-hai warriors, exchange harsh words concerning the impending slaughter. The Elf later apologizes to Aragorn for losing hope, and pledges his continued support. This behavior seems to differ substantially from that usually displayed by Legolas in the book, where he is often found encouraging his companions not to abandon hope even in dire circumstances.
Another unique-to-the-movie moment involves a further instance of stunt-choreographed elven agility when Legolas hops on a shield and surfs down a staircase firing arrows as he goes.
In the movie the Orc counting contest is a rather aggressive competition between Elf and dwarf that is carried over even into the next film. In the book we may see the contest in a somewhat different light.
‘Two!’ said Gimli, patting his axe. He had returned to his place on the wall.
‘Two?’ said Legolas. ‘I have done better, though now I must grope for spent arrows; all mine are gone. Yet I make my tale twenty at the least. But that is only a few leaves in a forest.’
In the book, when Gimli begins the orc counting contest Legolas must estimate his tally, so it seems he was not engaged in consciously counting the orcs he felled until Gimli challenged him. Later, when the Dwarf returns to the wall he finds Legolas sharpening his knife. Gimli boasts of having felled twenty-one orcs, and Legolas states that his count is up to two dozen, with the chilling observation that, ‘It has been knife-work up here.’ One gets the feeling that he leaves a great deal unsaid.
When Gimli is cut off from the Hornburg his safety is uncertain and the worried Elf expresses his wish that Gimli was there – specifically to inform him that his total had reached thirty-nine. I suspect this remark to be something of an attempt to cover his mounting concern for his friend’s safety.
After the battle, when the friends are finally reunited, Gimli exclaims, ‘Forty-two, Master Legolas!’ he cried. ‘Alas! My axe is notched: the forty-second had an iron collar on his neck. How is it with you?’
‘You have passed my score by one,’ answered Legolas. ‘But I do not grudge you the game, so glad am I to see you on your legs!’ (from: The Road to Isengard)
In the movie, however, Legolas smugly brags of his total and the two argue about who won the contest. Then the Elf seeks to up his score by shooting the dead (but still ‘twitching’) orc Gimli is sitting on.
The rest of Book 3
The chapters The Road to Isengard, The Voice of Saruman, and The Palantir are not discussed here because they are included in the third movie.
Directions: Legolas calls to Aragorn, “The Uruks have turned northeast. They are taking the hobbits to Isengard!” Umm, I believe Isengard was to the northwest.
Quivers and bows: Legolas, being right-handed, holds his bow in his left hand, and reaches with his right hand over his shoulder for his arrows. Aragorn wears his quiver over his left shoulder. In several scenes in TTT both of them appear to have their gear reversed. This may be due to the scene being mirror printed – possibly because the director preferred the composition that way. This involves most of the scenes from the time they reach the place where the Rohirrim defeated the Orcs, until Legolas notices the approach of Gandalf the White in Fangorn.
– Legolas rides with tack throughout the movie. In the book he asked the Rohirrim to remove both saddle and rein from Arod. “’I need them not,’ he said, and leaped lightly up, and to their wonder Arod was tame and willing beneath him, moving here and there with but a spoken word: such was the elvish way with all good beasts.” (The Riders of Rohan, TTT)
– In the book, before leaving Medulseld, the Rohirrim gifted the Three Hunters with whatever armor they needed: swords, shining mail, helms and a round shields. In the movie they acquire armor at Helm’s Deep. From that point on Legolas carries a sword of Rohan and wears leather shoulder pauldrons over his jerkin. He does not wear mail, a helm or carry a shield as he does in the book. Link to details on leather shoulder pauldrons: http://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/Elf/Legolas/ArmorL.htm
- Legolas in FOTR
- 3.01.*c. The Three Runners
- 3.05. The White Rider
Our Character Gallery has a separate section devoted to Legolas.
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 Orlando Bloom in our Cast & Crew Gallery or read a short biography in our Film, Fun & Facts section.
Some articles that are related to Legolas Greenleaf:
- The Middle-earth Section has an article about The Ruling Family of Mirkwood.
- The Weaponry Section has an article about War and Elves.
Forum threads related to Legolas/ Orlando Bloom:
- The Movies Forum has threads about Legolas' Lines in TTT, Legolas Books vs. Movies, Legolas' Heroism and The Archer God Exposed.
- The Books Forum talks about Legolas' Life and The History of Legolas and Mirkwood.
- In the Casting Forum you can find threads about Legolas and Orlando Bloom.
Take a look at how some artists saw Legolas in The Two Towers:
- Gimli and Legolas by Anke Eissmann
- Legolas in Edoras by FhÃªndil
- Legolas by Gwyllion
- Legolas and Gimli at Helms Deep by John Howe
- Gimli and Legolas by Per SjÃ¶gren
Preview the Legolas chat skin here.
Preview the Legolas Theme here.
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