Monday, November 11, 2013

MEC Day 11: Favorite Battle

"How? How can fire undo stone? What sort of device could bring down the wall?"

It's probably no surprise to many that I claim the battle for Helm's Deep as my favorite battle. I love the action in these films, so watching the fighting sequences are often my favorite parts. And the battle for Helm's Deep is no exception. For this day of the challenge, I had way too much looking up pictures of Helm's Deep, so instead of writing a big, long post about the battle, this is going to be all pictures with all the quotes and commentary I can muster. There was no rule in the challenge that stated I had to write a three point essay on why I liked Helm's Deep the best, nor do I expect this post to make much sense. 

Anywho, trivial introduction aside... here we go!

Eowyn leads the people to Helm's Deep, the great mountain fortress of Rohan. After the discovery of Wormtongue's deception, Theoden fears that Saruman will try to attack his people, so he orders them to flee to Helm's Deep, where he hopes that they can more easily defend themselves.

Gimli: Helm's Deep? They flee to the mountains when they should stand and fight! Who will defend them if not their king?

Aragorn: He's only doing what he thinks is best for his people. Helm's Deep has saved them in the past. 

Gandalf: There's no way out of that ravine. Theoden is walking into a trap. He thinks he's leading them to safety. What they will get is a massacre.

 An accidental scout, Aragorn sees the coming Uruk-Hai. Thus informed, he travels to Helm's Deep to warn Theoden. But he meets Legolas first.

"Le abdollen." Legolas says, meaning you're late, when Aragorn walks in. Then, "You look terrible." You know you're with a true friend when you come back after being thought dead and the first thing he says to you is an insult about your appearance.

This is one of my favorite speeches from Middle-Earth as Theoden contemplates the coming battle. 

Theoden: Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountains, like wind in the meadow. The days have gone down in the west, behind the hills, into shadow. How has it come to this?

One of the most heart-breaking things in all of LOTR is the scene in which the young boys of Rohan gear up and get ready to fight the Uruk-Hai. Some looked frightened at the prospect of a fight, as they know the Uruks are no picnic, yet others seem to know that they are facing death, and they've accepted that fact. To be so young but willing to die for the sake of your country...

Aragorn: Farmers, farriers, stableboys. These are no soldiers.

Gimli: Most have seen too many winters.

Legolas: Or too few. Look at them. They're frightened. I can see it in their eyes. (in Elvish) And they should be. Three hundred... against ten thousand!

Aragorn: (in Elvish) They have more hope of defending themselves here than at Edoras...

Legolas: (in Elvish) Aragorn, they cannot win this fight. They are all going to die!

Aragorn: Then I shall die as one of them!

*facepalm* Aragorn, there was a reason you were using Elvish.

Meet Haleth, son of Hama, the guy who perished in the warg attack earlier. Without his father, Haleth prepares for battle. Sure, he's not as young as some of Rohan's recruits, but he has had no experience in battle. Is he nervous? Most likely. And do you see the kid standing behind him? The one with the helmet? That's Viggo Mortensen's (Aragorn) son. The very kid that talked his dad into accepting the role of Aragorn. He deserves a high-five.

Aragorn: What is your name?

Haleth: Haleth. Son of Hama, my lord. The men say that we will not last the night. They say that it is hopeless.

Aragorn: Give me your sword.

(Haleth hands over the weapon, and for a few minutes Aragorn swings it around, testing its weight)

Aragorn: This is a good sword, Haleth son of Hama. There is always hope.

(summon epic music as Aragorn returns to the armory to equip himself for battle)

Legolas: We have trusted you this far, you have not lead us astray. Forgive me. I was wrong to despair.

Aragorn: (in Elvish) There is nothing to forgive, Legolas.

Gimli: (walks in robed in a chain mail coat) If we had time, I'd get this adjusted. (the edges of the coat drop to the floor) It's a little tight across the chest.

 I love the dialogue that goes on between the three hunters, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Their quest to rescue Merry and Pippin ended in fighting for Rohan, and what began as three simple hunters soon became three of the closest friends in all of Middle-Earth. There is no denying that they look out for each other, though they all have their teasing moments. Legolas's and Aragorn's faces when Gimli walks out in the chain mail are hilarious! Gimli, the strudy and stout dwarf, used to the heavy, iron armor of his people, attempting to wear the wardrobe of a man of Rohan, tall and athletic... I'm mightily amused, too!

*cheers* Elrond and Galadriel did not leave Middle-Earth to its doom! Although, we're slightly outraged because this didn't happen in the book. Really? Elves at Helm's Deep! *folds arms* The very thought! But... Elves at Helm's Deep! Now we get to see some more elegant bows and fighting sequences!! *cough* I mean, we're still very much outraged.

Haldir: I bring word from Elrond of Rivendell. Long ago an alliance once existed between elves and men. We fought and died together. We come to honor that allegiance.

Even though this is not bookically (is that a word?) accurate, I must say that I really appreciate this move on the Elves' part. Let's put this in perspective, shall we? Elves are a Middle-Earth race that live for thousands of years; Legolas, at the time of this battle, was well over one thousand years himself. They're no newbies, peoples, when it comes to life and battles and all that. Yet, their time is over. They're leaving Middle-Earth, traveling to the Grey Havens where the ships take them across the sea. 

The elves that accompanied Haldir to Helm's Deep were probably scheduled to cross on one of the next ships, yet they chose not to, but instead to go to the aid of a people who meant almost nothing to them. 

The alliance that existed between Elves and Men was one that was in place when Sauron first came into power. They fought together against him. And they won. Yet when Isildur took the Ring and succumbed to its power, the Elves turned away from the Men, not breaking all ties between them, but coming close to it. The Elves didn't trust Men anymore; how could they? In the eyes of the Elves, Men were pathetic beings with awfully short life spans. Why should they care? Yet, at the time when Rohan was at its direst need, the Elves answered. They knew that it might be their last fight, but they were willing to die, if need be, for the freedom and protection of another people. And Helm's Deep proved to be their last fight; if my memory serves me rightly, not one elf made it out of the Hornburg alive. Imagine that, if you can. Giving up your life so that someone different than you, someone you don't even know, could live and go free. If that's not a strong example of brotherly love, I don't know what is.

Ten thousand strong, the Uruks march on Helm's Deep. Duhn, duhn, DUHN!!!

And the women and children wait in fear. The two little kids in this picture are, in fact, Peter Jackson's two children, Kate and Billy Jackson. They make appearances in all three LOTR films. They make great Rohan refugees, don't they?

Did you know that Peter Jackson planed a battle sequence inside of the Glittering Caves? Apparently, from the above picture, Eowyn got a chance to use her sword, yet PJ didn't like how the scene went with the rest of the film, and so it was cut. 

AND... did you further know that Arwen was originally planned to be at Helm's Deep with Haldir? How they planned on that I don't know, as Haldir and his regiment of Elves were from Lothlorien and Arwen was in Rivendell, but that's another story. Actually, glimpses of Arwen at Helm's Deep are still in the finished cut of The Two Towers. I think it might be a quick shot of her on the very edge of the screen, or a glimpse of her sleeve or something (I'm sorry; I forgot), but she's there! It's like Where's Waldo all over again, 'cept she's an elf... in pink.

The actual battle for Helm's Deep hasn't started yet, and I'm sure you're all wondering when it will. This is s'posed to be my favorite battle post, remember? Hang on, we'll get to that. The battle stuff all starts with the preparations and the leading-up-to drama. And the before stuff is some of the best stuff you'll ever see in TTT. For instance, the above Middle-Earth problem. No one but Legolas would think to offer a dwarf a box to stand on when he complained about not being able to see over the wall.

Gimli: Well, lad, whatever luck you live by, let's hope it lasts the night.

Legolas: Your friends are with you, Aragorn.

Gimli: Let's hope they last the night.

So it begins. The Uruks have come to destroy the people of Rohan, and the suspense is high.

And then it begins to rain. As much as I like the Little LOTR things picture above, it irks me that they wrote "The first raindrop IN King Theoden's armor" when it clearly needs to be "ON King Theoden's armor." We have some serious problems, folks, if a drop of water can go in the king's breastplate. Sounds like a pretty crucial preposition.

Aragorn: (in Elvish) Show them no mercy, for you shall receive none!

And then the battle starts with this guy right here (that's Haleth next to him, if anyone's interested). The men of Rohan guard the Hornburg while their older buddies the Elves line the Deeping Wall. The Uruk-Hai march up about a stone's throw away from the wall and stop. The general roars (my siblings and I always joke about how he's talking role call to make sure no Uruks stopped for drive-through), and everything just stops. 

It's the deep breath before the plunge.

Oh, no... sorry. That's the siege of Gondor and Pelennor Fields. Back into TTT. *ahem*

In that lull, muscles tense, eyebrows twitch, every archer's fingers tremble on his bowstring. And in this man's (pictured above) case, tremble too much. His arrow releases and strikes a Uruk in the front row. He falls dead dramatically at the head of a column and his fellows are struck with the grief of the passing of their companion. Good, 'ole Joe, they say, he will be much missed. Or something like that. I don't exactly speak their dark language, so I took literary license to paraphrase.

The the Uruks charge.

Legolas: (in Elvish) Their armour is weak at the neck and beneath the arm.

Aragorn gives the command to fire, and the slaughter begins. For the Uruk-Hai, at least. Many fall beneath the arrows, spears, and even rocks that the defenders sling down on top of them. Gimli, stuck behind the wall without his box, impatiently demands to know what's happening. All he knows is that Legolas and the Elves around him are constantly firing into the fray, but what their arrows hit, how is he to see? And determined to best Legolas in most Uruks killed, what good does standing out of sight with only an axe to wield?

The Uruks even the playing field by bringing out the first of their secret weapons: ladders!

Gimli: Good!

The count is on, and Gimli is anxious to take the lead, even though Legolas has a rather hefty head-start. 

This picture is epic. 

Forth comes the flame-bearer, and even knowing the perilous path that lies before him, onward he plunges. Aragorn knoweth not what new evil this may be, yet the sight of such an enemy fills him with a great premonition. What hath Saruman conjured for the poor people of Rohan and their comrades? This is the biggest of secret weapons that the wizard hath bestowed upon his troops.

Legolas looses another arrow, and strikes the Uruk as he runs. Yet, the monster continues on. Again, another arrow. The Uruk falters and, with his final ounce of strength, flings himself forward into the device Saruman conjured. 



Saruman: If the wall is breached, Helm's Deep will fall.

Grima Wormtongue: Even if it is breached, it would take a number beyond reckoning, thousands to storm the Keep.

Saruman: Tens of thousands.

Grima Wormtongue: But my lord, there is no such force.

(Saruman shows off his incredible army of ten thousand strong; Grima's mini candle sputters out as he can only gape in disbelief)

The explosion rocks the Hornburg, sending men and rubble alike into the night sky. Saruman got his force strong enough to storm the Keep, and fire undid stone. The Deeping Wall was torn in half, and the stronghold was breached.

A contingent of Elves lie in wait in the field beyond the gap in the wall, and as the Uruks surge forward. Aragorn leads the charge, and Uruks and Elves meet in hand-to-hand combat.

Legolas finds simply shooting the enemy from his height on the wall rather dull, considering the explosion sent Aragorn to the ground and Gimli followed soon thereafter. Oh, and as a side note, does anyone else notice that the three hunters have no respect for the practicality and proper usage of stairs? 

See what I mean? Who even knew that "stair-surfing" was a word? Legolas just coined it. But I will admit, this is one of the coolest stunts in all of LOTR. 

The Uruk-Hai march up the causeway leading the the front door of the Hornburg, and as they tear down the gate, Theoden asks Gimli and Aragorn to grant him some time to rebuild the gate. Best. Scene. Ever. And probably the most highly-quoted scene in the entire TTT... possibly in all of LOTR.

Gimli: Come on, we can take 'em!

Aragorn: It's a long way.

Gimli: (peeks) Toss me.

Aragorn: What?

Gimli: I cannot jump the distance! You'll have to toss me!

(Aragorn reaches for him, but Gimli throws up a hasty hand)

Gimli: Ah-eh-eh. Don't tell the elf.

Aragorn: Not a word. 

(Aragorn tosses the dwarf onto the causeway, and then jumps after him; the Uruks are much startled by their presence and find themselves the victims of Aragorn's blade and Gimli's axe)

Theoden strengths the gate against the Uruks' battering ram. Before putting up the last board, he orders Gimli and Aragorn to leave, yet as a Uruk jumps them from behind, he gets the gate fully closed off. Now, I'm not sure whether to glare at Theoden here, or applaud him for his trust. On one hand, I don't appreciate that he would leave them both, abandoned, on the causeway, especially after they got jumped from behind. Really? 

Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell? Where was Gondor when our enemies closed in about us? 

Take some of your own medicine, Theoden. *glare* Seems you might need it as badly as Gondor.

OR... did he simply trust in Aragorn's and Gimli's prowess in battle so much that he knew they would get out of that mess? Which, of course, they did. Was it that their reputations as warriors were so strong that Theoden didn't worry about their safekeeping? In which case, he's really confident in their skills.

And then Legolas gets his Mr. Incredible moment in throwing his friends a rope and pulling both up the side of the wall and back onto the battlements. 

Lament for Haldir.


But, no, I can't say that I'm utterly mad at Peter Jackson for filming it this way. For one, I admire the courage of the Elves and their willingness to die for the people of Rohan, and you really get that here with the death of Haldir. This is the moment that you realize that although they've struck great casualties into the Uruk lines, there are too many for the defenders to fight. The enemy is too strong, and the Elves have paid a terrible price. In his dying moments, Haldir looks around the field and sees his kinfolk dead in the mud. No longer are they the noble archers that marched into Helm's Deep. 

They died so that the people of Rohan could live.

They gave their lives so that others could keep their freedoms.

And that is the definition of a true friend: No man hath greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.

With his fading eyes, Haldir sees the bodies of the Elves, and you can see the great sorrow that he feels. He mourns their deaths, but does he regret his actions? No. He does not. He knew when they began their march to Helm's Deep that it was unlikely they would return. And yet, he was prepared to help a bunch of strangers to whatever end.

To whatever end.

I haven't the words to describe the next scene, so I'm just going to give you quotes. By this time, the Uruks have broken into the first level of the Hornburg, and they now beat away on the door to the second. The Elves have all followed their leader into death, and what few Rohirrim are left gather for one last stand, throwing whatever wood they can find against the gate to hold it.

Theoden: The fortress is taken! It is over.

Aragorn: You said this fortress would never fall while your men defend it! They still defend it! They have died defending it! 

(the camera switches to show the women and children huddled in fear; cries of "They're breaking in!" and "They're past the door!" echo in the caves)

Aragorn: Is there no other way for the women and children to get out of the caves? 

(Legolas epically turns over a table in the background and carts it away to the gate)

Aragorn: Is there no other way?

Gamling: There is one passage. It leads into the mountain. But they will not get far; the Uruk-Hai are too many.

Aragorn: Send word for the women and children to make for the mountain pass, and barricade the door!

Theoden: So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?

Aragorn: (after a moment's inspiration) Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them.

Theoden: For death and glory.

Aragorn: For Rohan. For your people.

The horn of Helm Hammerhand sounded in the Deep one last time, and the Rohirrim charge just as the Uruks batter down what remains of the second gate. *cue epic music*

And what to their wondering eyes should appear but a wizard in white and nephew Eomer.

Yes, yes, I know it don't rhyme, but you're kind missing the point!

Look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. 
At dawn, look to the east.

Gandalf returns on the fifth day at dawn, having found Eomer and his 200 (possibly more) horsemen riding northward on the plains of Rohan and convinced them to aid the king. They stand atop the ridge overlooking the battle and the stronghold. 

And just because this is an epic (yes, that word again) charge, we must include lots of pictures, mustn't we, precious?

Gandalf: Theoden King stands alone.

Eomer: Not alone. Rohirrim!

Eomer: To the king!

Can we appreciate the awesomeness of the timing Gandalf and Eomer put in their charge? They hit the front lines of Uruk-Hai just as the sun came up over the hill behind them, and thus were greatly aided by the light blinding their enemies' eyes.

Panic ensues for the Uruks, and it's every monster for himself. Or itself. Whichever you prefer. The two charges completely decimate them and push them back, and Saruman's minions flee for the trees.

For those of you who haven't seen TTT extended, you should. It doesn't show what actually happens to the Uruks who survive the battle in the original film, but it does in the extended. I won't spoil for you now, but YOU MUST SEE IT!

For those of you who have seen and memorized the extended editions as I have, high-five!

And thus, the battle was won.

But no, the game of golf was not invented at this time, peoples.

Gandalf: Sauron's wrath will be terrible, his retribution swift. The battle for Helm's Deep is over. The battle for Middle-Earth is about to begin.

In a scene from the extended, Legolas and Gimli meet after the battle and tally their score. I know I've posted this somewhere else in a challenge post, but it's worth repeating.

Legolas: Final count... forty-two.

Gimli: Forty-two? That's not bad for a pointy-eared elvish princeling. I myself am sitting pretty on forty-three.

Legolas: (shoots the Uruk Gimli is sitting on) Forty-three.

Gimli: He was already dead.

Legolas: He was twitching.

Gimli: He was twitching because he's got my axe embedded in his nervous system!

And that wraps up the battle of Helm's Deep... my favorite battle in Middle-Earth. Hopefully from this long, rambling post you can see why.

For more details about the 30 Day Middle-Earth Challenge, please visit here!



  1. I always feel so bad for the little boys whenever I watch this part of the movie... but definitely an epic battle! :)

  2. I was going to leave a LOOOOOOOOOONG rambling comment on why I absolutely love this post... but I'll just say EXCELLENT JOB ON THIS POST and save my raving and rambling for emails. :D

  3. Aaaaahh!!! That was sooo awesome!! I felt like I was practically watching the movie! Speaking of which, I need to see it again!
    Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn are the best. So funny. So loyal. So kind.
    Wonderful post!