Maimed Maedhros


Staff member
I am not sure how much we intend to show about Maedhros' captivity in Angband, but we will show him hanging from his wrist on the cliff when Fingon rescues him. He'll likely be emaciated/starved, parched with thirst, and in great pain. Any ideas on how to depict that?

Keep in mind that if we make him too tortured, the audience will dehumanize him and be unaffected. So, we have to be extreme enough to show his ordeal, without being too extreme.

...and then we cut his hand off. We may not show the actual amputation on screen, but we will definitely be showing the aftermath with the bloody stump and his recovery. Not sure that the Noldor healers have much experience with amputations and know how to treat that properly (the skin won't just 'naturally' grow over the stump, and it takes some work and treatment to get it right).

Will we design some sort of a prosthetic for him to use afterwards, or will it be a visible stump?
Most artwork of Maedhros post-amputation (eg Jenny Dolfen) does not depict him with a prosthetic (Ted Nasmith's depiction of Maedhros' suicide got the arm wrong, he's shown holding the Silmaril in his right hand, which was amputated).

I don't think we're planning a Jaime Lannister-type one

and prosthetics are typically not depicted in Tolkien as far as I know, with the exception of the claw-like spike shoved into Azog the Defiler's left arm for The Hobbit films.
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I agree, we aren't going to give him a golden hand. For one thing, that is both heavy and not terribly practical. And it's also true that Tolkien never mentions prosthetics for the amputees in his stories. But...he also isn't describing them in any great detail. Realistically, it's useful to have something, even if just a hook for a hand or a pegleg for a leg, to help with basic tasks. Being maimed severely limits what you can do, and elves are resourceful....they'd think up some work arounds. I wouldn't want anything as useful as Luke Skywalker's prosthetic hand, as that is so realistic so as to make the audience almost forget he's missing his hand at times. And maybe he mostly doesn't wear anything at all. But surely he'd have something he could use to help him grasp things at times?

As for the 'how emaciated' part, there is a variety in the artwork.

This is one of the most poignant (and most clearly in rough shape) depictions. The hand looks grey, destroyed, and permanently claw-like, so that even if there were no emergency amputation, he might still have a useless dead hand. He is filthy, bloody, dehydrated and clearly miserable. He's clinging to Fingon, who is healthy and strong by contrast.


Artist: Katarzyna Chmiel-Gugulska

Jenny Dolfen's depiction (or one of them!) emphasizes the strain of hanging from his wrist for so long:

Whereas in this image, Kasiopeia (Katarzyna Chmiel-Gugulska) emphasizes how skinny he is:

In this (much older!) image by Jenny Dolfen, Maedhros seems to be in pretty decent shape, all things considered!

In this more recent image, he's still relatively clean/pretty, but much more clearly starved and completely unconscious:

This is the ONLY depiction of Maedhros with a prostehic i can think of... it's by Liz Danforth and the prosthetic hand looks like it is actually usable, almost like a robotic hand... i dont't know if we want to go that way, but i think a feanorian genius-smith or a Dwarf-genius smith perhapt COULD produce such a thing... maybe rather a dwarf, because of the necessary nanotechnology... elves are not much into mechanics and machines i think..
Yeah, I don't want a functional robotic hand. I do not necessarily think we need show anything other than a stump, just, realistically, they'd do something practical for him, right?
Yeah, I don't want a functional robotic hand. I do not necessarily think we need show anything other than a stump, just, realistically, they'd do something practical for him, right?

At the very least, you would expect there to be something to keep a shield from easily slipping off his arm. Running into battle with a sword in one hand and the other hand empty has never been a good idea.
What I dislike about Jamie Lannister's prosthetic hand is that it is impractical. It is heavy, clunky, and does little to help him function. It's just for show (and to avoid having to use special effects to subtract out the actor's hand in every scene). Of course..that's the whole point of his storyline, that he is maimed and struggling and his family is all about appearances, so it was a great choice for that show. It would be a terrible choice for Maedhros, though, who is way too practical to want a useless vanity hand.

Captain Hook (or any pirate hook) has a lot of associations we probably don't want. But the advantage is that a hook is practical. It allows a person to grasp things in a way that a stump does not, which allows for a wider range of abilities than you would have if you were one-handed without a prosthetic at all. So, could we design something that doesn't look like a modern prosthetic, and doesn't look like Captain Hook, but does look like something that would be useful? Even in current times, there are reasons to use hooks as prosthetics for those who do not have a hand.

Edward Scissorhands? Ummmm.... where do I even begin?! I think I should start out by saying that Tim Burton's idea of 'whimsy' is completely antithetical to my view of fantasy in general. So, there's that. :p Edward's story is that he does not want the prosthetics he has, because they make certain interactions very difficult for him. And yet, even though he is very clear on this with everyone he meets and many of them offer to help him, no one makes any effort to change his situation in any way. But despite his handicap - Edward is an artist. He can create beautiful things with his shears that most people with hands can not. So, they are very the specific task of trimming topiary or ice sculptures. But to keep that cool skill, he has to give up everything else useful that hands can do, and live life with these giant sheers that are too sharp and pointy to interact with much (and it's not a choice he wanted or likes).

So, uh, yeah....not that. :p Though, yes, Maedhros should be a very competent fighter, regardless of what we give him, even missing a hand.

ETA: Though, as for Götz von Berlichingen...maybe? I don't think I like a metal glove that can be 'locked' into the grip of a weapon, but I'm much more willing to be convinced of something like this. It is simple enough and does not look like a robot hand. No one is going to ask if it needs batteries or anything like that. So, perhaps we can think of something like this as part of his armor that he wears in battle, even if not for day-to-day use. He is going to have to be able to ride a horse at some point, and elvish 'look ma, no reins!' tricks need *something* to help with that.
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What if he had some sort of unobtrusive metal plate fastened into or around his forearm/wrist, and have various tools (knives, shields, hooks, elven screwdrivers, etc.) or decorative panels that could fasten securely onto the plate, but be easily exchanged for other tools depending on what he is doing?
Corey's thoughts during Friday's session when this topic came up:

Alright, the more I think about it, the more I am coming down on the side of no prosthetic, other than the special shield that's been made for him. I'm coming down on the side of no prosthetic. And the reason I'm coming down on the side of no prosthetic is that I see Maedhros.... Bre, it's connected to what you were saying, about him owning his mistakes and things like that. There would be some things that he can't do, or has a very hard time doing, but I think that he would own that as well, that he would accept the limitations, and his focus would be not on 'how can I create a substitute for my right hand?' but, just as he went on with his sword, he taught himself the sword with his left hand, he's going to teach himself other things with his left hand as well. And he's not necessarily going to stop making things, but he going to do things that he can do with his left hand. So maybe, we don't get the training montage with it, but he also teaches himself to paint with his left hand, for instance. That kind of thing. If there was an art or undertaking of some kind that it's now physically impossible for him to do, he would do without. That seems to me to fit Maedhros much better.

Again, he's not trying to 'resume normal life.' He's not trying to get back to his life as it was before Thangorodrim. He is building a new life post-Thangorodrim. And his missing hand is not only part of that life, right, it is the reminder. It is central to that new life.

Dave also voted for no prosthetic, so...looks like we don't have to design an elven fake hand!
I'm onboard with this. The one caveat is that it enforces a certain type of shield grip. He won't be able to use a center-grip shield or buckle no matter what.
I don't picture Maedhros using a shield in battle. I think his fighting style/attitude towards the war with Morgoth would be more like Hurin's when he casts aside his shield in order to grip his axe with two hands. Maedhros obviously couldn't use a weapon two-handed, but perhaps he could have a shorter blade attached to his stump via a special bracer or something.
I don't picture Maedhros using a shield in battle. I think his fighting style/attitude towards the war with Morgoth would be more like Hurin's when he casts aside his shield in order to grip his axe with two hands. Maedhros obviously couldn't use a weapon two-handed, but perhaps he could have a shorter blade attached to his stump via a special bracer or something.

The issue with that is one of practicality. While duel-wielding was done in dueling, it is extremely rare to find examples of it on the battlefield, the reason being that a shield is such a tremendous advantage as to make it the obvious choice in most cases. There were certainly two-handed weapons used in battle, but as you say, that isn't really an option for Coppertop.
I would argue against Maedhros using a shield. While I agree that shields are extremely useful in battlefield combat, it might be impractical to have a shield attached to his arm that he could not remove efficiently without dropping or sheathing the sword in his other hand if he needed to do something that required the use of both arms.

True, dual wielding was much more common in individual combat, but soldiers often carried small blades, like the dagger or wakizashi, to use as a backup weapon, fighting in close quarters, or to finish off downed opponents. Maedhros' blade could be a small (5-10 in.) punching dagger with a bell guard that he could use to help parry or strike around shields or through chinks in helmets or armor. That would allow him to use his formerly dominant hand in a more active and versatile role than with a shield. Plus, it would look cooler to dramatically gesture with than a shield.