The Lord of the Rings Meme | ten scenes (2/10)
Farewell to Lórien.
This is my favorite fucking scene.
If you’ve read the Silmarillion, you know who Fëanor was. If you don’t, Fëanor was the dickhead who created the Silmarils: three indescribably beautiful and magical jewels that contained the light and essence of the world before it became flawed. They were the catalyst for basically every important thing that happened in the First Age of Middle Earth.
It is thought that the inspiration for the Silmarils came to Fëanor from the sight of Galadriel’s shining, silver-gold hair.
He begged her three times for single strand of her beautiful hair. And every time, Galadriel refused him. Even when she was young, Galadriel’s ability to see into other’s hearts was very strong, and she knew that Fëanor was filled with nothing but fire and greed.
Fast forward to the end of the Third Age.
Gimli, visiting Lorien, is also struck by Galadriel’s beauty. During the scene where she’s passing out her parting gifts to the Fellowship, Galadriel stops empty-handed in front of Gimli, because she doesn’t know what to offer a Dwarf. Gimli tells her: no gold, no treasure… just a single strand of hair to remember her beauty by.
She gives him three. Three.
And this is why Gimli gets to be an Elf Friend, people. Because Galadriel looks at him and thinks he deserves what she refused the greatest Elf who ever lived—- and then twice that. And because he has no idea of the significance of what she’s just given him, but he’s going to treasure it the rest of his life anyway.
Just look at that smile on Legolas’s face in the last panel. He gets it. He knows the backstory. And I’m pretty sure this is the moment he reconsiders whether Elves and Dwarves can’t be friends after all.
Most authors work maybe a few years on any given story. That makes this kind of layering possible but technically difficult. This isn’t true of the story of Middle Earth.
Around 1917, Tolkien started working on a set of evolving languages that later became the elven language family. In the early 1930s, he was grading papers for his day job as a professor at Oxford when he idly scrawled on a blank page the words ”In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
Tolkien died in 1973. He’d been working on his story, on his world, for over half a century. These moments are no accident. The story of Middle Earth is so rewarding because, while we draw out patterns and themes from our own history, they are literally built into the history of Middle Earth.
(For sticklers: the exchange between Galadriel and Feanor is actually recounted in “Unfinished Tales,” which is technically of dubious canonicity, expressing only the state of Tolkien’s development of these stories at his death. Still though… this is so great.)