- Lord of the Rings -Let’s Speculate About What Galadriel Might Do On Amazon’s 'Lord of the Rings' Series
Pretty much the only actor whose role we're sure of in Amazon’s forthcoming Lord of the Rings series is Morfydd Clark as Galadriel. Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel is, of course, iconic. But a series format theoretically allows us to dive deeper into Galadriel's story. It's sort of a longitudinal study, rather than a snapshot of a moment in time.
And while there are plenty of other characters that hold similar promise — don’t worry, I’ll be talking about them at some point in the future — Galadriel is perhaps the most interesting female character in the legendarium. Not least of which because, as with many characters whose histories begin in the First Age of Tolkien’s world, Galadriel’s history was still very much in flux at the time of Tolkien’s death and contains a whole lot of diametrically opposed elements.
What We Know
The firm details of Galadriel’s life are that she was the daughter of Finarfin, son of Finwë, King of the Noldor, and his second wife Indis — making her one of the most prominent Noldorin Elves in Valinor. She hated her half-uncle Fëanor, who seemed enamored by her at least at some point, but nevertheless decided to join the Fëanorian faction of the Elves in leaving Valinor for Middle-earth because she very much wanted to build a queendom of her own.
All of these Elves ended up falling under a ban that forbade their return to Valinor, and though most of them were pardoned at the end of the First Age and encouraged to come back to the Blessed Lands, Galadriel (for reasons unclear) was not, and was of the mind that even if she had been pardoned, she still wouldn’t go back.
Once in Middle-earth, she goes to the Kingdom of Doriath in Beleriand, ruled over by her kinsman Thingol and his Maia wife Melian. In The Silmarillion, this is where she meets her husband Celeborn (known in Telerin as Teleporno and no, we won’t be talking more about that here), who’s the son of Thingol’s brother Elmo. (Look, this was pre-Sesame Street.) In possibly the last writing Tolkien ever did on the subject of Middle-earth, a month or so before he died, though, Celeborn was recast as the grandson of Thingol’s other brother Olwë and a fellow resident of Valinor, and he and Galadriel came to Middle-earth together.
But, well, Amazon doesn’t have the rights to any of that material, and once Galadriel gets to Middle-earth, she and Celeborn aren’t heard from much until the Second Age. That’s where things get interesting.
Depending on when the series starts — just after the Valar have destroyed Beleriand? When the Men of Númenor are returning to Middle-earth? — Galadriel could be in any number of places, doing any number of things. Celeborn is at one point lord of one of the fiefs of Lindon, so she could easily be there with him, but several centuries into the Second Age, they head on over to Eregion, just on the western side of the Misty Mountains. This is where Galadriel forms a strong connection to Celebrimbor, Lord of Eregion, because they’re both Noldorin Elves who love making things. At one point, Tolkien had Celeborn and Galadriel as the original rulers of Eregion, though this version of their story seems to have been abandoned.
It’s in Eregion that we see what our modern eyes would interpret as cracks in Galadriel’s marriage. Galadriel eventually goes through the Misty Mountains via Khazad-dûm to hang out in what will eventually become the realm of Lothlórien with her and Celeborn’s daughter, and Celeborn refuses to go because he hates Dwarves. This isn’t the first time Galadriel has just up and left her husband — in the First Age, she leaves him in Doriath for a while and lives with her brother Finrod Felagund.
It isn’t the last time they’re parted, either. After the fall of Eregion, Celeborn goes to the newly established Rivendell instead of meeting up with Galadriel and their daughter. Hell, she leaves him behind in Middle-earth to sail off to Valinor at the end of The Lord of the Rings.
Now, the actual reason for these many meetings and partings is (likely) that elves’ marriages are true joinings of the spirit for all time. What’s a few centuries apart when you’re immortal? After all, Galadriel’s a strong, independent woman who uses her alone time to set up valuable relationships that lead to, for example, ruling over Lothlórien.
At the same time, as written, there just doesn’t seem all that much love and affection between them — it feels, at best, like it has the “It’s Complicated” designation on Facebook. Which is understandable, given that Celeborn as seen in the Peter Jackson trilogy — and the original LotR text — is the cinematic equivalent of Ambien. We all know Galadriel’s the real power here, so why even bother with this guy?
I kid, I would never argue for the jettisoning of the character Galadriel describes as “the wisest of the Elves of Middle-earth,” even if she does then promptly run wisdom circles around the guy. But perhaps there is a bit of a rift here that can be explored. We see an unhappy marriage amongst Men in the story “Aldarion and Erendis” — maybe Elves can be fallible as well when it comes to picking their partners.
The Heart of Elvendom
Celeborn and Galadriel have to eventually end up as Lord and Lady of Lothlórien by the end of the series; by the Third Age, that's where they are and what they're doing. Surprise, surprise: the writers have a couple different ways to get them there.
As far as we know in The Lord of the Rings, Galadriel and Celeborn had a daughter, Celebrían, who married Elrond. That’s all fine and dandy, but in basically the only text we have about the Second Age from the perspective of the Elves, “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn” (found in Unfinished Tales and written after The Lord of the Rings), they also have a son, Amroth. Also known as the King of Lórien.
That makes Galadriel and Celeborn’s eventual takeover of Lórien a little more understandable. Once again, though, Tolkien seemed to change his mind about this, and in later writings simply had Galadriel and Celeborn take control of Lórien after the death and disappearance, respectively, of the last two kings, Amdír and his son Amroth.
High Elf or no, the fact that Galadriel and Celeborn were able to just kind of take over Lórien feels — again, to modern sensibilities — like the Monty Python And The Holy Grail scene in which a peasant shouts, “You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!” Y’know, just ‘cause one of you grew up in the Light of the Two Trees doesn’t mean you can just assume control of a place and its people.
That said, the takeover of Lórien is a long way off from the start of the series, giving the writers plenty of room to play with Galadriel’s incredible ambition. She left literal paradise for the promise of her own realm — she finally got what she wanted, in the end; only to realize the futility of such ambition. No matter how the writers get there, that's the core of the character: a woman of boundless ambition and power, learning the limits of both.
Image: New Line