This is a particularly important chapter as it relates to the overall plot. The brief stay at Rivendell therefore is clearly a major
event. Here we are introduced to a significant character featured in “The Lord of the Rings”, Elrond the half-elven. As the return of Sauron has not yet been confirmed by the White Council, I would imagine that Hugo Weaving (who has stated that he plans to reprise is role) would portray Elrond as somewhat less solemn and pessimistic. On the whole, we will probably see him more in keeping with the way he was written in “The Hobbit” – a wise and genial host.
And here his role is important to explain the origins of the company’s newly-acquired Elvish blades and to translate the moon letters on Thrain’s map. Here we have another (perhaps a better opportunity to show the audience some of the geography of Wilderland and explain the route that they plan to follow, showing some of the landmarks they will eventually encounter.
It has been reported that Peter Jackson still has the original scale model of Rivendell from the trilogy and it’s likely that the sets that weren’t saved were digitally scanned for future reproduction on a green screen.
This will also be our introduction to the Elves as a race and it should be noted that their characterization will need to be altered from the way they are presented here if the producers are to maintain consistency with the Elves shown in “The Lord of the Rings”. In “The Hobbit”, the Elves of Rivendell are playful and whimsical. While these Grey-Elves (Sindar) are not of the same nobility as the Noldor Elves of Lothlorien, it would seem out of place to have them gleefully singing “Tra-la-la-lally, here down in the valley…” as Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves approach.
To the extent that there is Elvish singing, I would expect that composer Howard Shore would create a song and translate it into Sindarin. “The Annotated Hobbit” highlights a song that was present in one of Tolkien’s manuscripts but was not included in the final text of the book called “Elvish Song in Rivendell” that could be used or adapted. The overall musical theme could start with a more subtle and muted version of the Rivendell theme that Shore wrote for inclusion in “The Fellowship of the Ring”.
These Elves, unlike those of Lothlorien, will probably be dark-haired like Elrond, Arwen and Elrond’s sons (Elladan and Elrohir, who briefly appeared in “The Return of the King” reforging the Shards of Narsil). While it would not be surprising to see Elladan and Elrohir in this scene, it would not be in keeping with Tolkien’s official chronology to show Arwen as she is supposed to be living with her grandmother, Galadriel, in Lothlorien during this time.
Jackson has always sought an expanded role for Arwen - considering the lack of strong female roles in the films – but it seems too extraneous to try and include her here. Likewise, while there has been speculation that we could see Aragorn, I don’t find it practical for the future King of Gondor to make an appearance. First of all, in the year of this Quest for Erebor – 2941 Third Age – Aragorn is only ten years old and does not yet know of his Dunedain heritage. Until he turns 20 in 2951 T.A., Aragorn is know by the name given to him by his adoptive guardian, Elrond: Estel (which in Sindarin means “hope”).
Peter Jackson has been know to play it fast and loose with Tolkien’s timeline. The most start example is the missing 17 years between Bilbo’s last birthday party and Frodo finally setting out with the Ring in “Fellowship”. But I am skeptical that he and Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens will make such a wholesale change. That being said, if some time during production it is confirmed that either Viggo Mortensen or Liv Tyler has been officially attached to the project, I will take a look at the possibilities and implications for the films in a separate post.
Ironically, the title of this chapter is quite literal in identifying the rest as a short one as the company arrives in the evening and leaves the next morning. As written, the interaction with Elrond and the Elves is quite brief. Jackson could very well take this opportunity to lengthen the scenes and add some material to the script. Perhaps this could be a time for reflection over the history of the Dwarves (Thorin’s line in particular), of Gandalf’s discovery of Thrain in Dol Guldur (seen through flashback) or some other plot elements.
Originally this project was planned as two separate films, “The Hobbit” proper and a “bridge” film that would feature events leading up to “The Lord of the Rings”. The producers and (at the time) Director Guillermo del Toro explored material from other sources, such as “Unfinished Tales”, that could be put into this latter film. One of those topics was the White Council and its investigations into the identity of the Necromancer as well as the ultimate discovery that Sauron had indeed returned.
One of these meetings, however, took place during Gandalf’s absence from the quest that comes later in the story and could find its way to a scene within this production. The meeting presumably takes place in Lothlorien. We know that three members of the White Council are Galadriel, Gandalf and Saruman but this group could be expanded to include Elrond, the wizard Radagast the Brown and other prominent Elves such as Glorfindel and Cirdan the Shipwright. One of the difficulties, however, in presenting such a scene is the availability of Christopher Lee as Saruman.
Lee is currently 88 years old and has stated that, though he would very much like to be part of this project, his is not up to traveling to New Zealand. It is conceivable that he could film his scenes in England with stand-in actors against a green screen. But in the event that this doesn’t work out I don’t know how you have a White Council scene without Saruman. One possibility that I see is to include some dialogue about the Necromancer, Dol Guldur and speculation about Sauron in a side conversation here at Rivendell between Gandalf and Elrond. [ed. note: on December 7, 2010 it was announced that Cate Blanchett was officially attached to the project - Sir Christopher Lee's own website confirmed on January 11th 2011 that he would be playing Saruman again - though no details of the logistics for filming, which begins in February 2011, were given.]
On a side note, I wanted to touch on an issue related to the calendar of Middle-Earth. (If you are turned off by quibbling minutia, then stop reading). In my analysis of Appendix D
to “The Lord of the Rings”, I was critical of a line used by Christopher Lee in the “Fellowship” movie. During the scene (not, incidentally, included in the book) where Gandalf and Saruman are in Orthanc discussing the Ring, Lee as the White Wizard says that the Nine Nazgul “crossed the River Isen on Mid-summer’s Eve”. The problem with this is that there is no Mid-summer’s Eve in the Middle-Earth calendar and I was curious as to where Jackson came up with that concept. I had dismissed it as being a mistaken reference to Mid-Year’s Day which, in conjunction with the two Yule and two Lithe Days, was used to account for five of the 365 days of the year, the remaining being divided equally among twelve 30-day months.
Mid-Year’s Day occurs between the sixth and seventh months (comparable to June and July) and falls fairly close to the summer solstice – the day of the year with the longest period of daylight. I was, however, particularly taken aback by the fact that this gaffe was spoken by Christopher Lee (practically a Tolkien scholar in his own right). Surely, I thought, he would have pointed out to Jackson that this reference was faulty.
In a comment added to that post, a reader pointed out that “on the existence of a mid-summer’s eve…Elrond mentions mid-summer’s eve at the end of Chapter 3 of The Hobbit”. I made a mental note of this but in re-reading this chapter I found that this observation is not entirely applicable. In deciphering the moon letters Elrond comments that, because he could read them by holding them up to the light of the current moon, they “must have been written on a mid-summer’s eve in a crescent moon, a long while ago.” [my emphasis] His reference to “a mid-summer’s evening” as opposed to “the” Mid-summer’s Eve or Day (as a specific date on the calendar) is merely a general meteorological observation about the condition under which the letters were written.
Not to belabor the point (too late), but Tolkien writes that later in the evening “they went down to the water to see the Elves dance and sing upon the mid-summer’s eve” and “the next morning was a mid-summer’s morning.” In other words, Tolkien refers to them as a typical evening and morning that happen to be taking place at a time of the year corresponding to mid-summer. The days are not capitalized as proper nouns as would be Yule, Lithe or Mid-Year’s Day. A note in “The Annotated Hobbit” explains that:
“The reference here to mid-summer is ambiguous. It could mean the summer solstice, around June 21, or it could mean June 24th, the Feast of St. John the Baptist.”
In any case, to have Saruman refer to the event of the Nazgul crossing the Isen as being on Mid-summer’s Eve or even any mid-summer’s eve for that matter is odd. In The Tale of Years, the specific date given is September 18 as the day when “The Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen.”
Sorry to beat this into the ground but every time I watch that scene it remains a pet peeve of mine. The alteration of Faramir’s character in “The Lord of the Rings” I have no real problem with but a mistaken reference to a date? Go figure. I suppose it’s the little things that most get to me.
Having seen the film, we can revisit Chapter Three here.