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Old 04-18-2005, 10:52 AM   #1
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Aragorn and Arwen: More than kissing?

Note that this thread is meant to be a mature discussion regarding Aragorn's and Arwen's relationship.

When watching the movies, this old wizard noted that Aragorn hung around Arwen's room a bit, and I think that they kissed while in the prone position. He seemed quite at ease around her and her room. Is one then to assume that while Aragorn was in Rivendell that he and Arwen were intimate?

If so, then to me this is another difference from the books. Is this a modernization by PJ for the 'younger than me' viewers who expect this to be shown or at least implied in movies today? I assumed that A&A may have held hands and shared a secret kiss or two, but that would have been about it - this is fantasy, and anything else usually happens after the end of the movie or is at least completely off-screen.

Again, if so, then how did 'Dad' aka Elrond feel about this? Was this why he wanted Aragorn out of the house, Arwen out of Middle Earth and the whole thing to end?

If A&A were already lovers, then what was stopping them from just eloping and living out their days in obscurity (or at least until Sauron turned the world to darkness)?

After re-viewing the same, something just didn't seem right - then again, maybe it's just that I'm old... .
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Old 04-18-2005, 12:07 PM   #2
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This issue has been discussed before in relation to the books and the stories of Aragorn and Arwen, and Beren and Luthien.

Regarding the books, neither of these couples can have consummated their relationships prior to marriage since by doing so they would have become married according to the laws of the Eldar by which although there are customary vows and ceremonies it is the act of union that makes the marrriage.

As far as the film goes, I think it merely leaves it up to the interpretation of the viewer - though I don't think it was excessive. I mean they were fully dressed and if youthink of the parts of the tale of Beren and Luthien that got people excited in the other thread (the fact that they went off together unchaperoned and the line "that in his arms lay glistening" etc ..) it seems quite tame. And if I remember the scene you are talking about.... wasn't it part of a dream sequence?

I have bumped the thread to which I refer since I still can't link.

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Old 04-18-2005, 12:34 PM   #3
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I think that the more 'intimate' scenes between Aragorn and Arwen in the films were merely the product of Peter Jackson's wish to 'beef up' Arwen's part and to take the film away from being seen as a boys only action story.
She is hardly mentioned in the book and the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the Appendices is a highly romanticised story which leaves most of the details of their courtship to our imagination. I think that this is a good thing too. After all:
"Then for a season they wandered together in the glades of Lothlorien," can conjure up different pictures of 'romance' depending on the reader's age and experience.

I don't know if Tolkien meant to imply that they were intimate. However, I think we need to remember that he was himself brought up in the Romantic Tradition and the idea of Courtly Love (ie pure and chaste) seemed to appeal to him. His own enforced separation from his beloved Edith has echoes in that of not only Beren and Luthien but of Aragorn and Arwen too.
There is also the moral climate of that time to take into account. Those were the days when film stars playing a married couple couldn't be shown even sitting on the same bed, without one of them having at least one foot on the floor!

In the film version of the story, I can see why Elrond would have been a bit put out, to say the least, at what seemed to be going on under his roof. He does seem to spend most of his time in a bad mood! However, in the book Elrond is only grieved at the relationship because of the differences in their lineages and more importantly because in loving Aragorn, Arwen must accept a mortal life and be forever sundered from her people.

Even if Arwen and Aragorn were already lovers I still don't see that they would have eloped. They couldn't hope to live out their days in obscurity, as you say, because Aragorn had a higher purpose to fulfill. Denying this would have made Aragorn lose something of his nobility. He would not have been the man she fell in love with. Besides, Arwen loved her dad and her duty towards him would have kept her from going against his wishes.
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Old 04-18-2005, 12:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mithalwen
As far as the film goes, I think it merely leaves it up to the interpretation of the viewer - though I don't think it was excessive. I mean they were fully dressed and if youthink of the parts of the tale of Beren and Luthien that got people excited in the other thread (the fact that they went off together unchaperoned and the line "that in his arms lay glistening" etc ..) it seems quite tame. And if I remember the scene you are talking about.... wasn't it part of a dream sequence?
Didn't think that there was anything explicit in the scenes, just wanted to know what the younger generation 'saw.' As you say, if they consumated their relationship, then technically they were married, and so this would affect Elrond's decision (maybe) regarding helping Aragorn. And if I were he, and if Arwen and Elrond were cool with the status quo, then I think that I would have caught up with the Fellowship sometime later - "sure, I'll be right behind you guys..."

I just felt that A&A seemed comfortable in each other's presence, and this did not give the feeling of the formality and 'jitters' associated with courting. Aragorn seemed to be crashed out on her bed with his boots up on her dresser (no, that's not in the film!) - not the thing one might expect in a fantasy film in a scene with two noble high breds in love.
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Old 04-18-2005, 12:55 PM   #5
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I have to say that that is one of the irritating things about elves (apart from the impossible elegance, skill, beauty, immortality things) is that in addition to all those things they generally have the instinct to know who the right person is for them and generally get it right .... obviously since they are stuck with each other for ever it is a good thing but..... for already lesser mortals, it is a bit galling.

So maybe since they "know"and they also have fixed boundaries... they are relaxed - though I wonder whether things would have been the same if Celebrian were around - daughters tend to be good at winding daddy and granny round their little fingers...
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Old 04-18-2005, 01:05 PM   #6
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I have to say that that is one of the irritating things about elves (apart from the impossible elegance, skill, beauty, immortality things) is that in addition to all those things they generally have the instinct to know who the right person is for them and generally get it right .... obviously since they are stuck with each other for ever it is a good thing but..... for already lesser mortals, it is a bit galling.
Though we are in the movies section of the forum, surely we could come up with a few elven relationships from the Silmarillion that were somewhat less than blissful. That one dark elf comes to mind.


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So maybe since they "know"and they also have fixed boundaries... they are relaxed - though I wonder whether things would have been the same if Celebrian were around - daughters tend to be good at winding daddy and granny round their little fingers...
But did the moviegoer think this, or is this the cultural norm today - they are dating, and so they hang out together unchaperoned. Elrond didn't have a shotgun, but surely some weapon was handy for keeping Aragorn in line and feet firmly planted on the floor.

And my daughters will not date - ever (or at least until I realize the cost of keeping them around as young adults ).
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Old 04-18-2005, 01:18 PM   #7
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Though we are in the movies section of the forum, surely we could come up with a few elven relationships from the Silmarillion that were somewhat less than blissful. That one dark elf comes to mind.

And my daughters will not date - ever (or at least until I realize the cost of keeping them around as young adults ).
Certainly there are notable exceptions but if you read HoME then it does say that in general that this is true.

As for the movies, I guess there are a variety of possible responses - I guess some will assume a modern relationship but I think that would devalue the plot. If they are already a couple de facto then there is no choice, no reward.....

I have tosay it was the kiss at the end that startled me... bit more full on than you expect in a "you may now kiss the bride", practically bites her head off ...lol

As for your daughters ... well reverse psychology can work - I think my pa's "I trust your judgement" was far more effective than heavyhandedness, and make sure that they have sufficient ambition to spend their entire time doing homework
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Old 04-18-2005, 02:19 PM   #8
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I have to say it was the kiss at the end that startled me... bit more full on than you expect in a "you may now kiss the bride", practically bites her head off ...lol
Me too
I actually jumped the first time that I saw Aragorn pounce on Arwen like that, and I can remember thinking how 'un elflike' it seemed...but then he's only human and a courtship of 40+ years is probably more than enough for anyone
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Old 04-18-2005, 02:39 PM   #9
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Me too
I actually jumped the first time that I saw Aragorn pounce on Arwen like that, and I can remember thinking how 'un elflike' it seemed...but then he's only human and a courtship of 40+ years is probably more than enough for anyone
Now I'm going to have to rewatch that scene just to see what all of the excitement is about. Must have missed it the first five times, or it's that Y chromosome obscuring my view of the same.

And I plan on not being too heavyhanded, but as Tolkien's works are the guiding force in my life, I will simply require that their dates to be kings of both the north and south kingdoms before courting can continue.

And if that doesn't work, answering the door dressed as the 'blue wizard' may have the desired effect .
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Old 04-18-2005, 04:35 PM   #10
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If A&A were already lovers, then what was stopping them from just eloping and living out their days in obscurity
I've always thought it was Arwen's bond with her father. You have to remember she loved him, too.
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I have to say it was the kiss at the end that startled me
Ditto.

I would just like to say that one of the things I enjoyed most about PJ's style in making LotR, is he didn't include any "behind closed doors" content. Most directors would have.

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Old 04-18-2005, 09:00 PM   #11
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I've always thought it was Arwen's bond with her father. You have to remember she loved him, too.
But she could have had the best of both worlds - hung out with Aragorn until he died, then go back with Dad - until Sauron devoured Rivendell. In the movie it just seems that they already had somewhat of a life together, and they just wanted to finish that 'war thing' so that both could move uptown .


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I would just like to say that one of the things I enjoyed most about PJ's style in making LotR, is he didn't include any "behind closed doors" content. Most directors would have.
Just rewatched the scene. There's the the first 'suck the lungs out while we twirl around kiss' followed by the more discrete 'Dad and the rest of the free world are watching kiss.' #1 was not as bad as I thought, as it was a combo bear hug, lift and spin while kissing hard.

In regards to behind closed doors, I would say that sometimes the imagined is more romantic/fantastic. Arwen kissing hard dilutes her elven air a bit, but I guess that it could have been much worse. And if we are to assume that Aragorn did not know the fate of Arwen - after the breaking of the evenstar necklace and/or her going to Valinor - I guess his passion can be excused, as his runner-up (Eowyn) was suddenly off of the list, and he may have felt that he was going to have to check out Ioreth's sisters.
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Old 04-19-2005, 02:52 AM   #12
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It is just the "going for the jugular" style attack - listen to the actors commentary!! and they didn' t have to wait 40 years to kiss... they were shown kissing in Rivendell.
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:17 AM   #13
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So they were. But, from the experience of a girl who's been seperated from her boyfriend for months on end (Rar. College for the both of us.), I can tell you that Aragorn's reaction did not surprise me in the slightest.

Mine does the exact same thing to me when we see each other for breaks, and there isn't even the war on and possibility of death and not seeing one another for approximately a year, thing.

I think it must be a guy thing.
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:32 AM   #14
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I think in the film they had made out that Aragorn might think Arwen to have somehow 'passed away'. There is the scene where Elrond tells Aragorn that Arwen is dying (the one where Elrond turns up at Dunharrow to indluge his love for cloak swirling in a camp fashion... ), and then couple this with the scene where the Evenstar 'breaks', and Aragorn may have lost some of his hope that Arwen would be his. So in the circumstances, his passion is quite understandable!

I didn't see anything untoward in their previous scenes together; I think these were left quite 'open' in the sense that the viewer could read into them what he or she wanted to see. Though looking at such scenes in the context of the film version of the story, the fact that Arwen has a vision of the child she would go on to have with Aragorn might also suggest that they had not yet slept together.

It is important to view the whole romance as something quite different to the one portrayed in the books. Tolkien stated that Elves did not have marriage ceremonies and that the 'act of union', as I think he delicately puts it, stood for such a ceremony and created a permanent bond - so as seen in the films, if they had slept together then they would have been already married; I think this shows why it's important to separate film and book. As to whether all Elves were always happy with their chosen partner, there is one example of a union that ended in a break - and that is when *Finwe's first 'wife' wearies of her physical existence and he takes another 'wife', but the eventual results of this are not entirely happy.

*EDIT - D'oh! I had originally put Feanor's first wife! A large handshake to anyone who managed to spot it before this swift edit.
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Old 04-19-2005, 06:34 AM   #15
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Eeek .... but as a spectator... couldn't help but think of a cobra lunging at its prey.....
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Old 04-19-2005, 08:00 AM   #16
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I didn't see anything untoward in their previous scenes together; I think these were left quite 'open' in the sense that the viewer could read into them what he or she wanted to see. Though looking at such scenes in the context of the film version of the story, the fact that Arwen has a vision of the child she would go on to have with Aragorn might also suggest that they had not yet slept together.
I agree that the scenes could be interpretted differently by various viewers. My take has been colored by a recent conversation with my brother who has a teenaged son. Seems that over the weekend my nephew had a girl over the house and the two watched a movie together in a darkened basement while my brother and his wife were upstairs. Also, other people have said that they at times take the girlfriend/boyfriend along when going on a trip.

It wasn't always like this, at least as far as I was aware, and so I considered that possibly Aragorn's hanging around in Arwen's room was more acceptable to today's audience. What I mean is where I would see the scenes as 'more than courting' the 18-25 crowd would see it as 'no big thing.'

It also occurred to me that assuming that Arwen and Aragorn are perceived as adults - actually older adults - then what's the big deal anyway. We're not viewing teenagers who are not fully clued in to the consequences of their actions.
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:29 AM   #17
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It wasn't always like this, at least as far as I was aware, and so I considered that possibly Aragorn's hanging around in Arwen's room was more acceptable to today's audience. What I mean is where I would see the scenes as 'more than courting' the 18-25 crowd would see it as 'no big thing.'
I myself would have seen those scenes as 'no big thing' - but then I am coming at this from the perspective of the books, where it is clear that two figures such as Aragorn and Arwen could be entirely trusted not to 'go too far' as they would be all too aware that if they did then this would mean they were together for life.

But it's interesting that you say that us older viewers (well, speaking for myself, I'm older anyway...not to be impolite ) would be more likely to read something into such scenes, as we were probably more likely to have had parents who were highly cautious about our boyfriends/girlfriends when we were young. I don't get that sense, but I also do not have any children; maybe it is something which parents perceive?
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Old 04-19-2005, 09:50 AM   #18
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I myself would have seen those scenes as 'no big thing' - but then I am coming at this from the perspective of the books, where it is clear that two figures such as Aragorn and Arwen could be entirely trusted not to 'go too far' as they would be all too aware that if they did then this would mean they were together for life.
Agreed. I've been trying to separate the books from the movies so that I get the 'full PJ experience.' Thought that in doing so I would understand some of the other posters in other threads more readily.

Plus again I see fantasy as including the 'dreamy romantic stuff' like the "Beauty and the Beast" TV series starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman from the past. Any 'spit-swapping' was off screen, and the build up to 'the kiss' was in most cases longer than the actual kiss itself (by the way, yes, I am a guy... ).


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But it's interesting that you say that us older viewers (well, speaking for myself, I'm older anyway...not to be impolite ) would be more likely to read something into such scenes, as we were probably more likely to have had parents who were highly cautious about our boyfriends/girlfriends when we were young. I don't get that sense, but I also do not have any children; maybe it is something which parents perceive?
It's possible that we are of the same generation, and most days it's the cliche of 'not the years but the miles.' Anyway, don't think that I see the scenes as more than they are due to being a parent (my oldest is into the 'no girls' stage of life), but possibly from being raised with cautious parents (and dating young women whose parents were the same) and having grown up in a part of the world in which everything takes place at least ten years after it happens elsewhere.
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Old 04-19-2005, 02:06 PM   #19
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It's possible that we are of the same generation, and most days it's the cliche of 'not the years but the miles.' Anyway, don't think that I see the scenes as more than they are due to being a parent (my oldest is into the 'no girls' stage of life), but possibly from being raised with cautious parents (and dating young women whose parents were the same) and having grown up in a part of the world in which everything takes place at least ten years after it happens elsewhere.
I think my own perspective must come from the fact that over the years I have always had many male friends and so would never have thought it odd to be in the company of men. To me, it seemed quite natural that Arwen and Aragorn could spend time alone and do little more than talk. Of course, they are a couple, and I think that's where some of the knowledge from the books comes in again. Tolkien made it clear that Elves tended to marry quite young (for an Elf at any rate) and have children young, so unless there was Elven contraception then it must also be assumed that they would abstain once their families were complete, or perhaps the 'urge' did not strike them (maybe once they had experienced nappies and howling etc. ).

But there I am again letting the books intrude on what the film portrays of this relationship...

Yet, in the films it was also made clear that Arwen was making an immeasurable sacrifice to give up her immortality to marry Aragorn. An intelligent viewer then might work out that to Arwen, this relationship would relatively speaking only last for what must have seemed mere 'weeks'. And so, it might be understandable that she would allow Aragorn to be as close to her as was possible before their marriage; she would after all want to enjoy his company as much as possible.
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Old 04-20-2005, 01:47 PM   #20
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I think my own perspective must come from the fact that over the years I have always had many male friends and so would never have thought it odd to be in the company of men. To me, it seemed quite natural that Arwen and Aragorn could spend time alone and do little more than talk. Of course, they are a couple, and I think that's where some of the knowledge from the books comes in again.
Not growing up in a monastery, I also had female friends in my life (even roomed with the same - what was I thinking? ), but with few exceptions (belching the alphabet was more of a male friend thing) these were treated just like their counterparts. They were friends, and so appropriate boundaries naturally ensued.

Arwen and Aragorn, though friends, were obviously much more as demonstrated by the kiss on the bridge scene, and so more could be assumed.


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Tolkien made it clear that Elves tended to marry quite young (for an Elf at any rate) and have children young, so unless there was Elven contraception then it must also be assumed that they would abstain once their families were complete, or perhaps the 'urge' did not strike them (maybe once they had experienced nappies and howling etc. ).
Having three little ones - one still in nappies, if I understand the word - I haven't the excess energy required to contemplate elvish physiology, gestation, fertility, etc and elf/man hybrids.


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Yet, in the films it was also made clear that Arwen was making an immeasurable sacrifice to give up her immortality to marry Aragorn. An intelligent viewer then might work out that to Arwen, this relationship would relatively speaking only last for what must have seemed mere 'weeks'. And so, it might be understandable that she would allow Aragorn to be as close to her as was possible before their marriage; she would after all want to enjoy his company as much as possible.
That works for me, as again this couple is something special not seen every day in Middle Earth. And if we assume from what was presented in the movies that Elrond is prescient, and he and Arwen 'see' Eldarion, then it's pretty much a done deal anyway unless Arwen takes the boat or Sauron is victorious.

Was also thinking about Aragorn's behavior around Eowyn. Their time together was limited, he really wasn't chasing her, but to me he acted more appropriately.
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Old 04-20-2005, 03:19 PM   #21
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Was also thinking about Aragorn's behavior around Eowyn. Their time together was limited, he really wasn't chasing her, but to me he acted more appropriately.
That's interesting, because Aragorn was also alone with Eowyn (ROTK EE, when he "tucks her in" and she tells him about her dream), and while watching this scene for the first time I actually thought it was odd, that the travel-stained (if battle-proven) stranger should be allowed into the room with the White Lady of Rohan while she is sleeping. And although he doesn't behave as tenderly towards Eowyn as he does towards Arwen, it's clear that Eowyn reads something into the attention he pays her.
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Old 04-20-2005, 09:22 PM   #22
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That's interesting, because Aragorn was also alone with Eowyn (ROTK EE, when he "tucks her in" and she tells him about her dream), and while watching this scene for the first time I actually thought it was odd, that the travel-stained (if battle-proven) stranger should be allowed into the room with the White Lady of Rohan while she is sleeping. And although he doesn't behave as tenderly towards Eowyn as he does towards Arwen, it's clear that Eowyn reads something into the attention he pays her.
Was it more brotherly? Or, because of their age/maturity difference, did he not see her as a possible mate/companion but as a little girl child? Not that he was ever considering 'unloving' Arwen.

And it was posted here (#30) regarding the strangeness of Eowyn's sleeping arrangement.
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Old 04-21-2005, 02:29 AM   #23
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About Aragorn being alone with Eowyn, I found that they presented her as leading a less 'sheltered' life than Arwen; she is seen serving drinks in a hall full of shouting drunken men immediately before the 'sleeping' scene in the Hall, which would suggest she is more used to being around such company. Though it did seem as though she'd been turfed out of her bedchamber and made to sleep on the sofa!

The scenes dealing with Aragorn/Arwen/Eowyn do make it clear just who he loves, and Aragorn is shown to behave in a gentlemanly fashion to Eowyn. I did not detect any instance in the films where he could have been accused of leading her into thinking he might have had feelings for her. It is also made clear how much Aragorn and Arwen love one another, and the nature of Arwen's sacrifice can be deduced. That I found to be handled well. Yet a few people have asked me why Aragorn didn't choose Eowyn once he had met her; perhaps that says a lot more about those viewers than about either film or book!
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Old 04-21-2005, 03:42 AM   #24
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Aragorn and Eowyn

I would have said there was a fairly obvious chemistry in TTT - far more than between Aragorn and Arwen - although I have warmed to Liv Tyler since I have learned more of how she put the breaks on the distortion of Arwen's character - I think it is one area where the late cast change shows up. While I would never swap back, for me Vggo IS Aragorn, I think Liv and Stuart Townsend would have been a more convincing couple, and I would love to see Miranda Otto and Viggo in a film where they were a couple....
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Old 04-21-2005, 09:02 PM   #25
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I did not detect any instance in the films where he could have been accused of leading her into thinking he might have had feelings for her.
Ha.

Remember in TTT when he rides off to meet the warg attack? He turns his horse around for a bit to lock eyes with her before he goes. I would definitely consider that "leading".

I mean, my friends are always ribbing me about liking some girl or flirting with some girl, and when I ask why in the world they think that, they give me lame answers like "Oh- you were looking at her. We saw you." I answer "Um, yes, it's hard to talk to someone and not look at the same time," and they say, "No, you glanced at her sometimes even when she wasn't talking." When they say that I just have to throw my hands up in disgust. I'm sure there are others who have had similar experiences.

For some people, all you have to do is glance at someone to be "leading", and Aragorn did more than glance. He gazed back at her before doing something dangerous. You can read quite a bit from that. It easily qualifies as leading in most people's books. His look said "This might be the last time I see you- just in case I die- I just wanted you to know that, um, well, you know..." or at the least his look said "I don't want to part with you, I hope I see you again."
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Old 04-22-2005, 02:09 AM   #26
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Remember in TTT when he rides off to meet the warg attack? He turns his horse around for a bit to lock eyes with her before he goes. I would definitely consider that "leading".
Thinking about it, I can see what you mean about this 'look'. There was a definite chemistry between the two actors, but a lot of the time I interpreted Aragorn's treatment of Eowyn in the film as more that he was concerned for her, a quite determined yet fragile young woman thrown into the midst of conflict. Remember his concern for Arwen when she turned up to 'rescue' Frodo (he was also probably wondering which broom cupboard she had locked Glorfindel in, sorry...couldn't resist that... ) . Reading the characters as they are presented, his 'looks' could easily be seen as him expressing concern. In this respect, looking back at Eowyn before the warg attack could also be that he wishes to impress upon her the danger she is in; after all, she has just expressed her objection to being asked to lead the women and children to Helm's Deep.

When a person interprets a 'look', which as you say can be entirely innocent, as something 'more', doesn't that say a lot more about the person who is receiving the glance than the person giving it? Like you say, you've been accused of 'giving looks' where they have not been intended.
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Old 04-22-2005, 09:59 AM   #27
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Thinking about it, I can see what you mean about this 'look'. There was a definite chemistry between the two actors, but a lot of the time I interpreted Aragorn's treatment of Eowyn in the film as more that he was concerned for her, a quite determined yet fragile young woman thrown into the midst of conflict. Remember his concern for Arwen when she turned up to 'rescue' Frodo (he was also probably wondering which broom cupboard she had locked Glorfindel in, sorry...couldn't resist that... ) . Reading the characters as they are presented, his 'looks' could easily be seen as him expressing concern. In this respect, looking back at Eowyn before the warg attack could also be that he wishes to impress upon her the danger she is in; after all, she has just expressed her objection to being asked to lead the women and children to Helm's Deep.
I'm agreeing with the phantom - PJ definitely (and purposely) muddied the waters in regards to the Arwen-Aragorn-Eowyn triangle. As I remember, this was to add tension to the second movie as non-readers might wonder, "which woman is Aragorn going to choose? (and just when is Gimli going to say something funny again?)"

The losing and regaining of the Evenstar necklace (I guess) was to show Aragorn reconsidering the Arwen deal. Luckily for all of us he had some really nice dreams while floating unconsciously down the river, and so he retakes the Evenstar as Eowyn looks on.


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When a person interprets a 'look', which as you say can be entirely innocent, as something 'more', doesn't that say a lot more about the person who is receiving the glance than the person giving it? Like you say, you've been accused of 'giving looks' where they have not been intended.
Agreed. Obviously 'the look' is in the eye of the beholder, or beholdee, or something. But on the other hand, sometimes you don't realize what you yourself are communicating via your facial expressions. The sage Bonnie Raitt once sang "...We stare just a little too long...Maybe they're seeing something we don't, Darlin'."
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Old 04-22-2005, 10:39 AM   #28
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I'm agreeing with the phantom - PJ definitely (and purposely) muddied the waters in regards to the Arwen-Aragorn-Eowyn triangle. As I remember, this was to add tension to the second movie as non-readers might wonder, "which woman is Aragorn going to choose? (and just when is Gimli going to say something funny again?)"

The losing and regaining of the Evenstar necklace (I guess) was to show Aragorn reconsidering the Arwen deal. Luckily for all of us he had some really nice dreams while floating unconsciously down the river, and so he retakes the Evenstar as Eowyn looks on.

I've found this thread very interesting, alatar, because it considers how we go about interpreting movies and books, even if you do suppose that hoary age interferes with what we think!

The point about Jackson wanting or needing some dramatic tension in TTT is well taken. The movie lags and, I would venture to say, while hoping not to be inundated with rotten tomatoes, that the book does also. (I notice that our Chapter by Chapter reading group certainly has bogged down and lost its former enthusiastic rate of posting.) But this could not be the only reason.

Now that I have people's hackles raised, let me get back to your main idea, the depiction of the romance of Arwen and Aragorn. As you suggest, this is the high romance of fantasy. It is not particularly well represented in modern fiction, where
faithful, unconsumated love is not high on the agenda these days. Nor, for that matter, is even faithful consumated love. Modern notions of chastity are vague and where they exist, they tend to be more limited than medieval concepts of chastity, which involved more than simply sexual self control or physical virginity. In a culture where even the Church finds pre-marital celebacy a hard sell, what's a poor film maker to do to put forward the idea without drawing ridicule and laughter?

I wonder if Jackson didn't spice things up suggestively in order to make the relationships have a more modern 'feel', just as he souped up Arwen to make her appear less traditional and passive. A matter, as you suggest, of the filmmaker trying to help his audience appreciate something a bit beyond ordinary realism.

Just a thought!
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Old 04-22-2005, 10:47 AM   #29
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I must say that I kind of read some of the scenes between A & A somewhat differently -- given that the expectation of modern audiences is that the lovers will have sex, it's interesting to note how PJ perhaps suggests that they are not as frankly and openly sexual as we might expect. Where are the revealing dresses? At what point do they kiss, embrace and then fall backwards into pillows? They are always fully clothed around one another and NEVER kiss in a private space (i.e. a room with a closed door) but out in the open where all the eyes of Rivendell (or Minas Tirith) are upon them.

It's almost as though PJ is taking it as a 'given' that they are sexual with one another and then working against that. Their most passionate scenes are upon the bridge when Arwen gives Aragorn the Evenstar (and I can guaranteed you that that moment didn't get beyond a kiss -- can you imagine what Daddy Agent Elrond would think looking out his window and seeing anything more?) and when they kiss each other at the coronation with thousands of people there gazing on. Again, not much more happening than a kiss.

Just occurs to me that the only moment in the films that is somewhat obviously sexual (that is, "these two are going to have sex now") comes at the very end when Sam and Rose go into their hole and shut the door. Yeah, they've got the kids with them, but they're purposely leaving the camera outside and so as soon as the kids are asleep, who's to know what happens?
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Old 04-22-2005, 01:02 PM   #30
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Where are the revealing dresses?
Hmm... laying about on a couch with a woman ddressed only in a few layers of sheer silky attire on...
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Old 04-22-2005, 01:07 PM   #31
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I've found this thread very interesting, alatar, because it considers how we go about interpreting movies and books, even if you do suppose that hoary age interferes with what we think!
Not with how we think (though there is that) but how we perceive. My take on this issue would be different if I would have viewed the films as a young man - assisting in the birth of my three children obviously has changed my perspective on relationships etc. And I started the thread with a note stating that I didn't want this to be a post-pubescent "Arwen is SO hot!' thread.

Not that she's not...


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The point about Jackson wanting or needing some dramatic tension in TTT is well taken. The movie lags and, I would venture to say, while hoping not to be inundated with rotten tomatoes, that the book does also. (I notice that our Chapter by Chapter reading group certainly has bogged down and lost its former enthusiastic rate of posting.) But this could not be the only reason.
I would disagree. PJ could have left TTT more like the book for me as I knew that Aragorn was already 'spoken for.' And compared to the 'Frodo/Sam Walking to Mordor' chapters, the adventures of the 'Three Hunters Who Lose Their Horses But Gain a White Wizard' weren't that bad. The ents in both cases were a bit of a drag, though.


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Now that I have people's hackles raised, let me get back to your main idea, the depiction of the romance of Arwen and Aragorn. As you suggest, this is the high romance of fantasy. It is not particularly well represented in modern fiction, where
faithful, unconsumated love is not high on the agenda these days. Nor, for that matter, is even faithful consumated love. Modern notions of chastity are vague and where they exist, they tend to be more limited than medieval concepts of chastity, which involved more than simply sexual self control or physical virginity. In a culture where even the Church finds pre-marital celebacy a hard sell, what's a poor film maker to do to put forward the idea without drawing ridicule and laughter?
But we already have wizards, Little Folk, Elves, a Burning Eye, a Balrog, etc - why not go completely 'unreal' and throw in some high romance? But you're right, modern audiences can only accept so much fantasy (sigh).


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I wonder if Jackson didn't spice things up suggestively in order to make the relationships have a more modern 'feel', just as he souped up Arwen to make her appear less traditional and passive. A matter, as you suggest, of the filmmaker trying to help his audience appreciate something a bit beyond ordinary realism.
In other threads it's been suggested that PJ 'humanized' the main characters somewhat in order to appear to a larger audience and to allow for Aragorn to shine.


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Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
I must say that I kind of read some of the scenes between A & A somewhat differently -- given that the expectation of modern audiences is that the lovers will have sex, it's interesting to note how PJ perhaps suggests that they are not as frankly and openly sexual as we might expect. Where are the revealing dresses? At what point do they kiss, embrace and then fall backwards into pillows? They are always fully clothed around one another and NEVER kiss in a private space (i.e. a room with a closed door) but out in the open where all the eyes of Rivendell (or Minas Tirith) are upon them.
Weren't the films rated PG-13 (in USA)? To me this would mean that the 'hit the pillow topless' scene would be excluded a priori. But my original question was that is it common for modern possibly abstinent couples to behave with such familiarity around each other, and was more being suggested (to those viewer slightly older than 13) by PJ? Were A&A in a state of high romance, were they courting, or were they an old couple that just hadn't gone legal?

Being somewhat older and married may be skewing my insight, and so I wondered what others (younger, older, single, married, etc) saw. Was PJ shooting for 'unconsumated lovers' and failed? Or did he intend on showing a less fantastic relationship?


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It's almost as though PJ is taking it as a 'given' that they are sexual with one another and then working against that. Their most passionate scenes are upon the bridge when Arwen gives Aragorn the Evenstar (and I can guaranteed you that that moment didn't get beyond a kiss -- can you imagine what Daddy Agent Elrond would think looking out his window and seeing anything more?) and when they kiss each other at the coronation with thousands of people there gazing on. Again, not much more happening than a kiss.
And there's exactly my point. I wouldn't have considered that PJ would have figured that it was 'a given' that they were sexual. Maybe it's me or my generation, but did not think that.


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Just occurs to me that the only moment in the films that is somewhat obviously sexual (that is, "these two are going to have sex now") comes at the very end when Sam and Rose go into their hole and shut the door. Yeah, they've got the kids with them, but they're purposely leaving the camera outside and so as soon as the kids are asleep, who's to know what happens?
That's funny, as I never saw that at all. And I assume that children only sleep 'in the movies.'

Thanks all for your thoughts.
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Old 04-22-2005, 01:55 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
I must say that I kind of read some of the scenes between A & A somewhat differently -- given that the expectation of modern audiences is that the lovers will have sex, it's interesting to note how PJ perhaps suggests that they are not as frankly and openly sexual as we might expect. Where are the revealing dresses? At what point do they kiss, embrace and then fall backwards into pillows? They are always fully clothed around one another and NEVER kiss in a private space (i.e. a room with a closed door) but out in the open where all the eyes of Rivendell (or Minas Tirith) are upon them.

It's almost as though PJ is taking it as a 'given' that they are sexual with one another and then working against that. Their most passionate scenes are upon the bridge when Arwen gives Aragorn the Evenstar (and I can guaranteed you that that moment didn't get beyond a kiss -- can you imagine what Daddy Agent Elrond would think looking out his window and seeing anything more?) and when they kiss each other at the coronation with thousands of people there gazing on. Again, not much more happening than a kiss.

Just occurs to me that the only moment in the films that is somewhat obviously sexual (that is, "these two are going to have sex now") comes at the very end when Sam and Rose go into their hole and shut the door. Yeah, they've got the kids with them, but they're purposely leaving the camera outside and so as soon as the kids are asleep, who's to know what happens?
Ohh, Fordim, the "less is less" approach! I like it! However, it seems to overlook the thorny issue of symbolism. We might not have a smoking cigar, but we do have a typical kind of understatement.

Since when are clothes an encumbrance? I seem to remember a scene in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss involving two fully clothed people and a bare arm. There was quite a description of an elbow and of a gentleman's handling of that elbow as the couple disembarked from a boat. When is a social act more than a social act?

And a kiss at a marriage ceremony or coronation is, after all, a symbolic public act which represents the union of the couple. And the scene on the bridge that stradles the two sides, water running beneath their feet? Where Arwen gives Aragorn a necklace to ring his neck?

Obviously your literary approach is just too, too post modern to consider old Freudian chestnuts.
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Old 04-22-2005, 02:00 PM   #33
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Obviously your literary approach is just too, too post modern to consider old Freudian chestnuts.
I guess if you look long and hard enough you can find what you are seeking. There's some Rorschach's test joke in there somewhere.
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Old 04-22-2005, 02:24 PM   #34
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I think that as we did not see any characters in a state of undress or in explicit scenes, then we can assume that the audience could exercise a considerable amount of imagination based on what they saw. For example, the phantom saw Aragorn's 'look' as a meaningful glance at Eowyn, while I saw it more as concern. I wonder if this was the intention of PJ; if so, then it was a good decision. This allowed both for those who wanted to see dramatic romantic tensions and for those who wanted to see the high romance.

I agree with Bethberry that a lot of symbolism was used in the films, or if not symbolism, then other signs that we might or might not read into. Arwen being dressed in a floaty garment can easily be read as she was in her nightwear or that she was simply wearing a nice floaty frock, depending on the viewer. But nowhere was explicit imagery used - and what a relief because these days it seems a film cannot be made without an obligatory sex scene.

Looking at older literature, much was indeed made of a simple look or a touch, and in many cases this is far more evocative than any explicit scene. Much is made of the function of clothing and other objects in attraction; a woman can be clothed head to toe yet still wear clothing intended to attract or suggest what is hidden, such as corsetry, heels, earrings and so forth. I think examples such as this show that explicit scenes and/or nudity do not always have to be used to show attraction between two people, a subtle look can indeed do just that.

So, I think the scenes with Arwen/Aragorn/Eowyn are actually subtly drawn and can suggest whatever we want to see in them. It's fascinating reading what everyone does see in them though!
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Old 04-22-2005, 07:51 PM   #35
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Since when are clothes an encumbrance? I seem to remember a scene in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss involving two fully clothed people and a bare arm. There was quite a description of an elbow and of a gentleman's handling of that elbow as the couple disembarked from a boat. When is a social act more than a social act? (Bethberry)
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So, I think the scenes with Arwen/Aragorn/Eowyn are actually subtly drawn and can suggest whatever we want to see in them. It's fascinating reading what everyone does see in them though! (Lalwende)
I also recall a scene in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome in which the two don't even touch--they hold either end of a ribbon. There's really something to be said for subtlety, and I think that the sort of thing shown between Aragorn and Arwen is actually *more* provocative than the usual grope-and-tussle shot in dim light. In film or in life, there is an added import to each kiss and glance, when the kisses and glances are not merely a prelude to the "main event," so to speak.
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Old 04-25-2005, 09:25 AM   #36
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I also recall a scene in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome in which the two don't even touch--they hold either end of a ribbon. There's really something to be said for subtlety, and I think that the sort of thing shown between Aragorn and Arwen is actually *more* provocative than the usual grope-and-tussle shot in dim light. In film or in life, there is an added import to each kiss and glance, when the kisses and glances are not merely a prelude to the "main event," so to speak.
Subtlety requires thought. It's like telling a love story without using certain words like 'love,' 'heart,' 'felt,' etc - it takes skill and talent (is that redundant?).

A kiss, a glance, a touch can say much more. If done well even those viewers who may require a little more hand feeding will 'get it.'

In the LOTR movies, PJ, as demonstrated by Saruman's fireball, the Witch-King's mace, the distortion of Gothmog's face, the breaking of Gandalf's staff, was either incapable of or chose not to employ subtlety.
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Old 04-25-2005, 02:29 PM   #37
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I agree with Bethberry that a lot of symbolism was used in the films, or if not symbolism, then other signs that we might or might not read into. Arwen being dressed in a floaty garment can easily be read as she was in her nightwear or that she was simply wearing a nice floaty frock, depending on the viewer. But nowhere was explicit imagery used - and what a relief because these days it seems a film cannot be made without an obligatory sex scene.
True. M y observation of this was definitly influenced by my own experience of laying about on a couch with a silky-clad woman. If I had not had that experience then I may not have read that into that scene.
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Old 05-03-2005, 03:28 PM   #38
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I pretty much assume that Aragorn and Arwen were getting it on way before the fall of Sauron. This goes for both books and movies; though I hesitated for some time as to whether or not my theory applied to the books, Tolkien being so stuffy in certain regards. But in the end, it made sense to me. Most Elves bond and mate for life; once the mate is chosen, a life-long commitment is usually the result. It makes sense why Aragorn and Arwen wouldn't want to make it public and official for a long time, the situation in the world being so volatile, but I think that in private they were as good as married.

I ultimately don't think it matters all that much, though. Tolkien didn't want to be too specific about the full nature of Aragorn and Arwen's relationship, neither did Peter Jackson. A lot of people see it differently, and I don't feel a burning need to prove my point to them. I think speculation is what makes the whole thing more fun.

alatar, you mentioned how background can affect interpretation, and I agree.
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Old 05-04-2005, 06:50 AM   #39
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Lush, I have to say I couldn't disagree more with you more on the books - there is so much textual evidence (in LOTR let alone in HoME and UT) and I think the love story loses its whole point is they were " de facto". However I have to get back to work so Iwon't go over all of it again.

I think your interpretation is more possible with the films because they don't go into the backstory so much and their scenes are much more open - however I still think it unlikely - epecially since Arwen sets out for the havens before the end.
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Old 05-04-2005, 03:37 PM   #40
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I must confess that until this discussion I had not really given the state of Aragorn and Arwen's relationship much thought. On re-reading Appendix A, it's interesting to note that Tolkien gave it the title; 'Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen'. Was this a deliberate device? Are we invited to 'fill in the gaps' each according to his/her experience, as it were?

With regard to the scenes mentioned earlier. On the bridge we see them alone together for the first time. It is highly romantic, the two pairs of hands clasped, he strong and she demure. A clear image of courtly love, especially when accompanied by the lilting theme music.
In the later scene, Arwen's negligee type gown and Aragorn's open necked tunic, with his bootless feet on the couch/bed, seemed to suggest to me that it was 'afterwards'. It is a very peaceful scene and Arwen's speech and body language towards Aragorn are very tender and 'wife-like'. I thought that it was beautiful and showed that the two characters were very comfortable and at ease with one another. It was a refreshing change to see lovers portrayed in that way, without the usual gymnastics that seem to count as romance in films these days!
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