Friday, September 10, 2010

MTSBM: The Lay of Leithian

 I don't want to talk about it.
As we all know, the Lord of the Rings film trilogy is a marvel of modern film-making. More importantly, though, it made scads of money. The obvious Hollywood response to such an obvious cash cow is to milk it for all it’s worth, and to that end The Hobbit will be released in two parts sometime in the next five years. But The Hobbit is a happy children’s tale, not the gritty epic that is Lord of the Rings. I mean, come on, in the book, the main character wins the One Ring to Rule Them All in a riddle contest, and spends most of the climactic battle unconscious. Oh, and it has an even worse deus ex machina than Lord of the Rings. But even if The Hobbit does bomb, Hollywood executives need not fear! Because Tolkien had significantly more than just Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit up his literary sleeve. Tolkien wrote entire detailed histories of Middle-Earth, going back all the way to it’s creation, with stories spanning thousands of years. That’s a lot of movies. But one of these is so perfectly suited to be a movie that it’s almost shocking no Tolkien nerd has ever sent this idea off to MGM, and that is the Lay of Leithian, or Release from Bondage, possibly called more simply “Of Beren and Luthien.” The story goes sort of like this:

Beren is a part of a super badass bunch of guys fighting against Morgoth. For those of you who watched Lord of the Rings and can remember the Balrog and Sauron, Morgoth commanded armies of Balrogs, and Sauron was just another one of his lieutenants. Oh, and he’s a god. No biggie. Morgoth is waging war on all of Middle-Earth (more accurately, Middle-Earth is waging war on Morgoth, but that’s beside the point) and Beren’s happy homeland got in his way. So Morgoth attacked it, and Beren and company fought back so hard that Morgoth got mad, and sent all of his armies in there, until there were only twelve guys left. That’s right, remember that one scene with that giant army attacking Helm’s Deep? It was twelve guys against that. And they were winning. So then Morgoth tricked one of them into betraying his buddies, and killed them all, including Beren’s dad Barahir (probably played by Liam Neeson). Oops, I mean all except Beren. 

Like this, only with orcs instead of Nazis.
So then Beren kills the orcs who ambushed his dad, swears revenge, and continues the work his dad started, singlehandedly causing so much damage that no more orcs will go into his homeland (that’s right, the whole freaking country) and the bounty on his head is as high as the High King of the Elves (imagine killing so many terrorists that Osama Bin Laden puts a price on your head as high as the leader of the free world). I’m not sure who Beren would be played by: either Viggo Mortenson (too old), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (too young), or Hugh Jackman (too silly). But finally he gets bored of this, because the only thing left in his country is dirt, orcs, and butt-kicking, so he leaves.

The only problem is that he’s now in the middle of enemy territory, so he has to walk multiple miles through cliffs full of evil monsters with no food or water for days. Finally he staggers into the forest of Doriath, protecting by the magic of Melian, who’s like Sauron, only not evil. However, her spells that keep people out don’t work on Beren, because he’s way too cool for that. While staggering around looking like a homeless bum, he bumped into Luthien, the daughter of the Elf-King of Doriath, who also may or may not be the most beautiful sentient being ever to have existed (guess who I think should play her), while she’s singing and dancing. After he pries his jaw off the floor, and sticks his eyeballs back in, she’s gone. So he wanders around kind of stuttering for a while, thinking about her, who he calls Tinuviel (means nightingale). Finally he bumps into her again, and they, well . . . were happy for months, until some jerk minstrel who’s also in love with Luthien (like apparently everyone in the world) finds out and reports the whole problem to Luthien’s father the king. The king is super pissed about the whole thing, and brings Beren to the castle, but only after Luthien made him promise not to kill Beren. Nice dad. He’d probably be played by Nicolas Cage.

See the resemblance?
So Beren declares undying love for Luthien, which is the kind of thing you did in those days, and Luthien’s dad pulls the worst jerk move in the history of girlfriend’s dads. He says Beren could totally have Luthien, on one condition: he trade one of the Silmarils for her. The Silmarils, of course, are three jewels imbued with the light of the gods, which Morgoth stole from the Elves, and now keeps in his invincible fortress, imbedded in his crown, which he, you know, wears. It’s sort of like daring your friend to steal someone’s underwear. If that someone were an all-seeing god with no sense of humor who really liked his underwear.

Beren, of course, instantly agrees and sets off cheerfully on his quest, because, psh, what’s a little god to someone as badass as him? Well, he sets off to one of his dad’s friends, Finrod Felagund, yet another one of the badass Kings of the Elves (to be played by Brad Pitt), but he bumps into a problem. And that would be the jerks of the story, Celegorm and Curufin (probably played by Ben Stiller and Orlando Bloom). See, some of the Elves have sworn an undying oath to utterly eradicate anyone who keeps the Silmarils from them, or attempts to possess the Silmarils. Which is, oops, Beren. Finrod just happens to be hosting these two douchebags, and so when he asks for some people to go help Beren, the two of them manage to persuade the whole city not to help him, so Beren goes off with just Finrod and ten buddies. Oh, and don’t forget Celegorm and Curufin, because they’ll show up again.
So they go off on their quest to bust into Angband, Morgoth’s evil fortress of evil, disguised as orcs, sort of like Frodo and Sam in Return of the King, only they don’t magically manage not to be noticed. In fact, Sauron himself, even though he’s just the lowly eastern general or Underling #603, manages to spot them and tries to reveal who they are with his magic, and Finrod tries to stop him. But this magic battle isn’t one of those silly wand-waving, poofy Harry Potter fights, no, this is . . . a rap battle. Seriously. Unfortunately, Finrod loses the rap battle (probably because Sauron would be voiced by James Earl Jones), so they all get stuck in prison, but since Sauron still can’t figure out what the heck they’re doing, he sends a werewolf to eat them one by one until they tell him what they’re doing.

Pretty weak treehouse-prison, you ask me.
At this point, Luthien apparently uses womanly intuition to figure out that Beren is in trouble (and exactly where he is) so she leaves to go help him. Unfortunately, her jerk dad finds out and sticks her in a prison treehouse, which she escapes with her magic hair that puts people to sleep. After escaping that, though, she bumps into the douchebag duo, Celegorm and Curufin, who pull yet another douche move and decide to capture her and force her to marry Celegorm (I’m imagining this being Ben Stiller). But Luthien manages to escape them with the counsel of Huan, Celegorm’s magical dog, who talks to her (note: he’s only allowed to speak three times in his life) (further note: he would be voiced by Morgan Freeman) and helps her escape, forsaking his douche master to join Luthien. Together, they run all the way to the place where Beren and Co. are ensconced for the perfect Hollywood escape plan: singing.

Unfortunately, by the time they get there, Sauron’s werewolf has eaten everyone except Beren and Finrod, and it’s coming again, this time for Beren. Finrod busts out of his bonds, no problem, and wrestles the werewolf to death with his bare hands. The reason he didn’t do this earlier? Well, he dies in the process. So Beren is chilling in the dungeon, grieving with his dying friends, and they have a heart-felt death scene. 

Pictured: Extreme badassery.
In the meantime, Luthien starts a, you guessed it, vocal assault on Sauron’s fortress. Sauron, worried that the power of her voice will take down his castle (apparently a genuine possibility, you can see why Zooey would be PERFECT), starts sending werewolves down there to take her out, but Huan just stealth kills them. Finally, confused why his minions keep not coming back, Sauron sends his most badass werewolf down there, and Huan takes him out too, but he manages to drag himself back to Sauron, and tell him that Huan is there. Huan, of course, is famous for how he will only die by the hands of the most powerful wolf ever to live. So Sauron, egomaniac shapeshifter that he is, decides he’ll just transform into the greatest wolf ever, and go take him down. Unfortunately for him, Luthien’s hair slows him down enough that in the ensuing awesome fight scene, he gets owned by Huan, and banished from his body, at which point Luthien reduces the entire castle to rubble by singing a song at it.

So Beren and Luthien are wandering around together again, when they come across *groan* Celegorm and Curufin. I almost want to change the actors on these guys, because they would get SO IRRITATING after a while. Anyway, they’re a little cheesed off, because they just got kicked out of a city for being flaming douches, so they logically decide to start busting heads, and try and kill the two. They fail miserably, due to Beren’s extreme badassery, and in the process Beren steals Curufin’s unbreakable knife, but takes an arrow for Luthien. After he gets healed, he decides it’s safer for Luthien for him to go by himself, so he sneaks off one night, but Luthien won’t put up with that crap, so she just follows them, and then disguised as a wolf and a vampire (no Twilight references, for the love of God) they ship off for the ultimate heist.

Unfortunately, when they show up at the gates of Angband, there’s a problem. Guarding the door is Carcharoth, the Red Maw, a wolf fed directly from the hand of Morgoth, who lives only to kill. Thankfully, Luthien puts it to sleep with a little magic, and they waltz into the throne room of Morgoth, where Luthien entrances everyone with her singing and presumably at least a little hip-waggling. Once they’re all asleep, Beren cuts a Silmaril out of the Iron Crown. Mission accomplished. But then, Beren gets greedy and decides as long as he’s there, might as well grab the other two Silmarils. Bad move. The unbreakable knife snaps, and a piece hits Morgoth, who starts to wake up. 

Freaking eagles.
You can sort of imagine how this scene would work, Beren and Luthien freaking out and running out of there, but on their way out, Luthien doesn’t have time to put Carcharoth to sleep, so Beren tries to scare him off by waving the Silmaril at him. This backfires, because the wolf instead just bites his hand off with the Silmaril in it, which immediately starts burning the wolf’s stomach, causing him to go on an insane rampage. While he runs off to do that, eagles swoop down (yeah, yeah, I know, the eagles) and grab the two of them.

Beren barely survives, and when he wakes up Luthien’s father demands the Silmaril, which is currently in the wolf’s stomach. Lucky for them, the wolf has rampaged all the way to their forest, and busted through the enchantments. So, it’s wolf hunt time. And after another badass fight scene, Beren jumps in front of Luthien’s dad (why, one might ask? Who knows.), takes a mortal blow, Huan defeats Carcharoth, but dies in the process, the Silmaril is retrieved, and all is well, except for the part where Beren freaking DIES. Yup, he’s dead.

Luthien’s not super OK with this, so she heads off to, where else, the land of the gods, to get him back. Problem is, he’s human, she’s an elf. Soooo, when he dies he stays dead, so when she goes before the Lord of the Dead and sings the saddest song he’s ever heard (probably a She & Him song) he cries like a baby, but there’s nothing he can do about it. So she goes before the king of the gods who says there’s only one way: she either gets to go the Blessed Lands (heaven) and forget about him and be happy forever, or get him back by giving up her immortality. I think you can guess which one she chooses.

And they live happily ever after.

Sort of like this.


Beren: Unclear, possibly Viggo Mortenson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hugh Jackman, or other extreme badasses
Luthien: Zooey Deschanel
Thingol (Luthien’s father): Nicolas Cage
Barahir (Beren’s father): Liam Neeson
Sauron (voice): James Earl Jones
Huan (voice): Morgan Freeman
Celegorm: Ben Stiller
Curufin: Orlando Bloom (or possibly Owen Wilson)
Finrod Felagund: Brad Pitt

Death and Glory,


  1. Wowzers. That was WAY more in-depth than mine, and would be a super-good movie (Jude Law as Sauron, so much awesome). I really hope someone makes some really good Tolkien prequels after they're finished bludgeoning the Hobbit, there seems to be a decent amount of tolerably good script ideas out there.

  2. blackthorneesquireOctober 2, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    While I'm at it:

    This guy came up with a rather interesting idea for a movie about the Fall of Numenor.

  3. p.p.s still sounds awesome though.

  4. Generally speaking it sounds like this story has way too many dogs and wolves in general. p.s. Nicolas Cage? oh boy...

  5. Ho ho ho indeed. No, I really wouldn't have a problem cutting Huan out. Diehard Tolkien fans might whine, but the amount of Tolkien fans who seriously know Beren and Luthien is significantly smaller than the amount who know LotR, so it wouldn't be a big deal. Some parts of the story would have to be changed, and you'd lose some of the fight scenes, so it might be easier just to keep him and just cut him out of as many scenes as possible.

    I feel like one silly dog could hardly bring the movie down enough to impact its rousing success in any measurable way.

  6. blackthorneesquireOctober 2, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    I like Of Beren and Luthien, I really do. Tolkien clearly loved his wife very, very much and it's simultaneously one of his most readable and stylistically interesting stories because for once he put his world-building out of mind for five minutes to tell a cool story. It's also one of the only Middle-Earth stories that properly elaborates on Tolkien's concept of magic as strength of will - Finrod and Sauron seeking to bring ruin to each other not through appealing to gods or higher powers or mystical energies but by simply willpowering each other into unconsciousness. It also contains the badass death of the guy who should have been High King of the Noldor instead of that idiot Fingon and his coward brother Turgon, but I digress.

    Unfortunately there's one thing that drags the entire story down, I feel like Tolkien must have thrown it in there and just not given a damn, but Huan. I'm sorry, Huan is a travesty. Even for Tolkien's extended universe it's a travesty. Huan is Tolkien's very own Jar Jar Binks. Tolkien may have been hitting the pipe-weed a little too hard when he wrote that one. "I know, I'll write in a dog that beats up Sauron. Ho ho ho. That smug chump Lewis ought to piss his pants over something like that. Ho ho ho."

  7. Joseph, the amount of love I feel for you right now can't be put into words. Seriously. Best thing ever.


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