Legolas Greenleaf by Figwit
Who is Legolas in the movie?
Legolas is the only Elf in the Fellowship. He is a prince of Mirkwood, son of King Thranduil, and present for his people at the council of Elrond. He is an archer who makes good use of his Elvish senses.
Who was Legolas in the book?
Legolas Greenleaf is a son of King Thranduil of Mirkwood, who was sent to Rivendell to bring Lord Elrond the news of Gollum‘s escape. He is asked to participate in the council held just after his arrival, and is later assigned to the Fellowship that has to accompany to Mordor. He is a capable archer, but not much is known about him.
Changes in Fellowship of the Ring
Introduction at the council of Elrond
The introduction of Legolas happens rather late into the story, at the council of Elrond to be precise. However, plenty of changes have been made to this scene which also affect Legolas as a character (see also 2.02. The Council of Elrond).
First of all, the reason why Legolas was even in Rivendell is not told in the movie. We know from the book that Legolas came as a messenger for Thranduil, to inform Lord Elrond that Gollum had escaped the Mirkwood guards. This was upsetting news for the council and important for the quest of the Ring, and at the same it was a justification for Legolas’ presence. In the movie, this information was not included.
The number of speaking roles in the council-scene was also limited to Fellowship-members (and Elrond) which makes Legolas look like a very important and exceptional Elf. In the book, Erestor, Galdor and Glorfindel played a larger part in the decision to destroy the Ring, but they did not make the big screen.
Another impressive change is the fact that Legolas knows who Aragorn is. In the book, only Elrond, Gandalf and Aragorn himself seem aware of Aragorn’s heritage and the role he is to play in the upcoming war against Sauron (see also Aragorn son of Arathorn). This again increases the importance of Legolas, and also shows some kind of connection between the Elf and Aragorn.
Tolkien’s first description of Legolas is the following: There was also a strange Elf, clad in green and brown, Legolas, a messenger from his father, Thranduil, the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood. [2.II. The Council of Elrond] In other places Tolkien refers to him as ‘fair’. There are no further pointers about the colour of his eyes or his hair.
Presumably the WETA-team decided to make Legolas a blonde because in Tolkien’s works very few Elves are described as having dark or red hair. In ‘The Lord of the Rings’ only Elrond and his children, Arwen, Elrond and Elladan are described as having dark hair.
The costume department stayed very close to Tolkien’s description, and Legolas is almost always dressed in brown and green, except in Lothlórien where he wears a blue tunic.
From silly background Elf…
Tolkien portrays Legolas much like he portrayed the Mirkwood and Rivendell Elves in The Hobbit, or even Gildor‘s company: he doesn’t make an extremely wise or pensive impression, often does silly and pointless things and seems to enjoy making fun of his companions who are not Elvish in any way. In one of the most priceless scenes in ‘Fellowship of the Ring’, Legolas – who is unaffected by the cold and so light that he does not sink into the snow the others have to work their way through – runs away to scout the area saying that he ‘goes to find the sun’! (see also 2.03. The Ring Goes South). This side of Legolas is probably his most charming, and he often brings a light note to an otherwise depressing or difficult chapter or scene.
Another trait that is typical of Legolas is that he does know a fair amount of songs and tales, but doesn’t have much actual knowledge of Middle-earth and its inhabitants. When the Fellowship arrives in Lothlórien he tells his companions all about the Galadhrim and sings the Song of Nimrodel for them; but he doesn’t know if there still are any Elves in the woods.
…to fearless warrior.
In the movies the emphasis is put on Legolas’ Elvish skills and his expertise as an archer. Most scenes in which he plays a significant part were left out (walking on the snow, identifying the Balrog, singing in Lothlórien, shooting the fell beast with his new bow…) and in stead the writers placed him very often in the center of action when there were fights: we see him spot the crebain (something Sam does in the book), kill the watcher in the water and the cave-troll (both scenes were not in the book), leap across the broken staircase (not in the book), sense Uruk-hai (Aragorn senses some kind of persuit in the books) and do some cool stuff with two swords and a bunch of arrows. This results in very few lines, and a less playful spirit for our Legsy.
The reason for this change might be linked to the overall vision Jackson, Walsh and Boyens seemed to have on the Elves as a people: they preferred to not distinguish between the different ‘sorts’ of Elves and portrayed all Elves as aloof, wise, elegant and silent. The same approach was used on Legolas, which places him in the same category as Elrond and Galadriel – who are clearly very exceptional Elves in the book (also see Elrond Peredhil and Celeborn & Galadriel).
Relationship with Aragorn and Gimli
From very early on in the movie it is established that Legolas and Aragorn have a connection. At the council, Legolas jumps to Aragorn’s defence when Boromir insults him, unveiling his heritage. As was pointed out earlier in this article, Legolas in the book did not or could not have such knowledge. That he does know this in the movie, and feels so strongly about it, shows that he knows Aragorn very well.
This bond with Aragorn, expressed elsewhere in small warnings (like in Moria or at Amon Hen) only meant for the Ranger to hear, is a little at the expense of his changing relationship with Gimli (also see Gimli). Little attention is payed to it in the theatrical release, though there are some smaller scenes in the extended edition where first rivalry and later friendship are expressed: there is the small joke Legolas makes about Dwarves outside Moria, the ‘not the beard!’ incident on the crumbing staircase (the only part that made the theatrical cut), the shot where Legolas helps Gimli into a boat in Lórien and their small conversation about their gifts as they are rowing.
– According to Lozza, Legolas doesn’t ride saddle-less when he enters Rivendell.
– Perhaps not really a mistake, but I’m going to mention it here anyway: when Legolas reprimands Boromir at the council he says: This is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and heir to the throne of Gondor. You owe him your allegiance. This is rather jumping to conclusions, since it happened once before in the long history of Gondor and Arnor that the King of the Northern Realm wanted to claim the throne of Gondor but was denied by the Steward. More information about the complicated relationships between the north and the south can be found in Appendix A (ii), (iii) and (iv), which are included after Book 6 in most copies of the Trilogy.
– Although some complained that it was hardly noticeable, Legolas does walk on top of the snow while the others struggle to get on. He’s also the only one not suffering from cold, as is shown by his lack of cloak. This hardly makes up for the loss of ‘I go to find the sun!’ though.
– In general, Legolas seems to always run lightly and effortlessly, especially when everyone looks sweaty and tired.
– In the book, Legolas is pretty freaked out by the Balrog, and rightfully so: more Elves died at the hands of a Balrog than the other way around. Legolas keeps his cool in the movie, but this shot betrays a little more of what he’s really thinking. A nice nod to ‘Ai! A Balrog has come!’.
Our Gallery has a separate section devoted to Legolas. It also has the screencaps of Fellowship of the Ring and the Extended DVD.
A transcript of Lord Of the Rings: Fellowship Of the Ring can be found in our Film Fun & Facts section.
A summary of Lord Of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring can be found in Elrond's Library.
You can also check out some pictures of Orlando Bloom in our Gallery, or read a short biography in our Film, Fun & Facts section.
Some articles that are related to this character:
- The Middle-earth Section has an article about The Ruling Family of Mirkwood, as well as an article on Legolasâ€™ father Thranduil.
- The Weaponry Section has an article about War and Elves,
Forum threads related to this character / actor:
- The Movie Forum has a great number of threads about Legolas: Legolasâ€™s Heroism, Legolas Books vs. Movies, Legolas when Boromir dies and Legolasâ€™ Eyes in the Movie. Thereâ€™s also a thread about Elves â€“ books vs. movies and sepdetâ€™s The Boy With the Bow-article.
- In the Book Forum you can find threads about References to Legolas as a Warrior, Did Legolas known Aragorn before the Council, Legolas â€“ elf or warrior?, The Two Legolasâ€™, The History of Legolas and Mirkwood and Legolasâ€™ life.
- Legolas fans can take a look at Favorite Character/Actor: The Elves and Legolas! Legolas! Legolas! in the Casting Forum. There you can also ponder the dilemmaâ€™s Legolas or Orli, Legolas, Haldir or Figwit and Aragorn or Legolas. Thereâ€™s also a thread about Orlando Bloom.
Take a look at how some artists saw this character:
- Legolas by Bakshi
- Legolas by Inger Edelfelt
- Legolas shoots the Felbeast by Anke Eissman
- Legolas Greenleaf by Michael Green
- Legolas by Gwyllion
- Legolas by Sabra Hart
- Legolas by John Howe
- Legolas sketch by kaori
- Legolas with Galadrielâ€™s Bow by Michael Kaluta
- Legolas and Gimli (sketch) by Ted Nasmith
- Legolas by ncouto
- Legolas by oni-chan
- Galadriel, Gimli and Legolas by Per SjÃ¶gren
- Legolas by Soraco
- Legolas and Frodo by Rogzilla
- Elven Prince of Mirkwood by ValarSong
You can preview the Legolas Chatskin here.
You can preview the Legolas Theme here.
Not pleased with the book or the movie, take a look here:
For a humorous take on Legolas, read Cassie Claire's Very Secret Diary of Legolas, son of Weenus.