THE FILM: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
THE PAIRING: Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett)
THE MOMENT: Galadriel encouragingly caresses a vulnerable Gandalf
THE QUICK OVERVIEW – RETURN TO MIDDLE-EARTH
After successfully adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of Rings for the big screen, Peter Jackson turned his sights to Tolkien’s Middle-earth forerunner, The Hobbit. Under Jackson’s direction, Tolkien’s classic quest tale of a band of dwarves (and one hobbit) out to find a treasure was turned into a three-film epic. Much background and many asides and tangents were added to the otherwise compact narrative of the novel. Some additions and interpretations were more canonical than others.
For those few in the dark, The Hobbit is a tale of a hobbit, a halfling, named Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who embarks on a very unexpected adventure with a pack of dwarves. Headed by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the dwarves are out to reclaim their birthright, the Lonely Mountain, and its treasures, which have been usurped by the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) generations before. The wise and mysterious wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), is aiding and abetting and enabling this quest.
This band of brothers have many adventures in their quest and encounter many dangerous and wondrous things. Orcs, trolls, goblins, wolves, giant eagles, giant spiders, elves and much more are encountered on this journey. And this journey might just have some unexpected consequences, laying the groundwork and setting in motion the events of The Lord of the Rings, during which Bilbo’s nephew Frodo with his own companions must embark on their own mission.
THE LEAD-IN – SEEKING REFUGE AND COUNSEL
Fleeing from a flock of orcs, Gandalf and company seek refuge in Rivendell, the magical realm of the elven Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving). Elves and dwarves have an uneasy relationship at best, but Thorin swallows his pride and seeks Elrond’s help in deciphering moon runes on their map of the Lonely Mountain. Elrond complies, but in the process learns of the dwarves’ true purpose, of their quest to enter the mountain, oust the dragon and reclaim the treasures of the mountain. He warns of the dangers of this mission.
Later, Gandalf is then summoned to an emergency council meeting – a White Council session – where three of the most powerful beings of Middle-earth are now aware of and interested in this dwarf quest. Lord Elrond is host to this council meeting, called by the white wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), who has invited Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), the Lady of Lórien and the mightiest and fairest of all the remaining elves in Middle-earth. Gandalf is surprised and pleased to see her, indicating that many years have passed and he has become old and grey since their last meeting. She, however, remains as regal and beautiful as ever.
Saruman accuses Gandalf of meddling, of looking for trouble when none exists. Saruman and Elrond are not convinced that something evil stirs in the shadows. Gandalf is – sure, that is, that the necromancer Sauron is not truly gone. And he is concerned that the terrifying dragon Smaug, who guards the treasures under the Lonely Mountain, could be used to very nefarious and destructive ends, should evil openly raise its head again.
Galadriel lets Gandalf speak. She listens to his concerns about a growing darkness and sickness. Saruman remains skeptical and dismissive. Elrond is unsure. Galadriel silently watches, listening, probing Gandalf’s thoughts, speaking to him telepathically. Gandalf produces his proof of things amiss – a sword of a Witch King meant to be buried in a magically sealed tomb. Still, Saruman is dismissive and aims to disband this dwarf company and forbid their quest.
But it is too late. Galadriel shares a secret smile with Gandalf, as she realizes that Gandalf has used this meeting as a distraction for the dwarves to leave Rivendell unnoticed.
Dawn begins to break.
THE ROMANTIC MOMENT BETWEEN GALADRIEL & GANDALF – A TANTALIZING TOUCH AND A BRIEF CARESS
The dwarves escaping into the wild and the meeting thus adjourned, Gandalf and Galadriel stand alone in the breaking dawn. She sides with him, telling him that he is doing the right thing in helping Thorin. But she fears that this quest has set in motion unforeseeable forces, that evil moves in the shadows, growing daily in strength.
“You must be careful,” she warns.
And then she asks why Gandalf has brought along a halfling, a hobbit, on this quest.
Gandalf is not rightly sure, but explains, “Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I’ve found. I’ve found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay, simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I’m afraid. It gives me courage.”
Gandalf – this great wizard – stands there, vulnerable, scared. Galadriel moves to face him, reaching for his hands.
“Do not be afraid, Mithrandir,” Galadriel says, as she reaches to tenderly move an errant lock from Gandalf’s face.
Staring deep into his eyes, she continues, “You are not alone. If you should ever need my help, I will come.”
The camera pans to their hands, as she slowly withdraws her touch and is gone. Gandalf’s fingers twitch.
It’s a nanosecond, but long enough to feel the longing in that twitch, to notice the impulsive reaction in this otherwise controlled man. Those twitching fingers reached for her, hoping to maintain the connection and lengthen the caress. But Galadriel is gone. And Gandalf is a wizard on a mission.
Gandalf and Galadriel?! It’s certainly not in the Tolkien canon, but it sure is a tantalizing thought!
Where to Watch: DVD, Amazon Video.
Photo Credits: MGM/New Line Cinema/WingNut Films.