Script Discussion S05E02


Staff member
Letter writing!

So, this episode is one of the first instances in our story where characters will be communicating with one another via written letter. It is a symptom of a dramatic adaptation that it is usually much more interesting to put characters in a scene together, rather than to have them exchanging messages back and forth (via letter or messenger). Certainly, geography will require it in the future as well, and there will be instances when the story will require not just communication by letter, but for the audience to know the contents of a letter (either as it is written, or when it is delivered).

So, what do letters look like in First Age Beleriand?

Good question. Tolkien doesn't exactly give us a lot of examples there. He does, however, give us a very detailed example of a letter written by the High King of the Noldor to the King of Númenor in the Second Age, which should serve as a good model. It's given in Unfinished Tales, in the Tale of Aldarion and Erendis. There is also the King's Letter, written by Aragorn to Sam in the 4th Age in Sindarin, but for our purposes, let's look at Gil-galad's letter from SA 883:

When Aldarion left the chamber, Meneldur looked at the letter that his son had given him, wondering; for he saw that it came from King Gil-galad in Lindon. It was sealed, and bore his device of white stars upon a blue rondure. Upon the outer fold was written:​
Given at Mithlond to the hand of the Lord Aldarion King's Heir of Númenórë, to be delivered to the High King at Armenelos in person.​
Then Meneldur broke the seal and read:​
Ereinion Gil-galad son of Fingon* to Tar-Meneldur of the line of Eärendil, greeting: the Valar keep you, and may no shadow fall upon the Isle of Kings.​
Long I have owed you thanks, for you have so many times sent to me your son Anardil Aldarion: the greatest Elf-friend that now is among Men, as I deem. At this time I ask your pardon, if I have detained him overlong in my service; for I had great need of the knowledge of Men and their tongues which he alone possesses. He has dared many perils to bring me counsel. Of my need, he will speak to you; yet he does not guess how great it is, being young and full of hope. Therefore I write this for the eyes of the King of Numénórë only.​
A new shadow arises in the East. It is no tyranny of evil Men, as your son believes; but a servant of Morgoth is stirring, and evil things wake again. Each year it gains in strength, for most Men are ripe to its purpose. Not far off is the day, I judge, when it will become too great for the Eldar unaided to withstand. Therefore, whenever I behold a tall ship of the Kings of Men, my heart is eased. And now I make bold to seek your help. If you have any strength of Men to spare, lend it to me, I beg.​
Your son will report to you, if you will, all our reasons. But in fine it is his counsel (and that is ever wise) that when assault comes, as it surely will, we will seek to hold the Westlands, where still the Eldar dwell, and Men of your race, whose hearts are not yet darkened. At the least we must defend Eriador about the long rivers west of the mountains that we name Hithaeglir: our chief defense. But in that mountain-wall there is a great gap southward in the land of Calenardhon; and by that way inroad from the East must come. Already enmity creeps along the coast towards it. It could be defended and assault hindered, did we hold some seat of power upon the nearer shore.​
So the Lord Aldarion long has seen. At Vinyalondë by the mouth of Gwathló he has long labored to establish such haven, secure against sea and land; but his mighty works have been in vain. He has great knowledge in such matters, for he has learned much of Círdan, and he understands better than any the needs of your great ships. But he has never had men enough; whereas Círdan has no wrights or masons to spare.​
The King will know his own needs; but if he will listen with favour to the Lord Aldarion, and support him as he may, then hope will be greater in the world. The memories of the First Age are dim, and all things in Middle-earth grow colder. Let not the ancient friendship of Eldar and Dúnedain wane also.​
Behold! The darkness that is to come is filled with hatred for us, but it hates you no less. The Great Sea will not be too wide for its wings, if it is suffered to come to full growth.​
Manwë keep you under the One, and send fair wind to your sails.​
Meneldur let the parchment fall into his lap.​
Unlike modern letters, it does not begin with an address to the person the letter is intended for and end with a signature from the person writing the letter. Instead, it begins with an identification of the letter writer, continues with an address to the intended recipient, and then the body of the letter follows. This is typical for medieval letters, and immediately recalls a more ancient epistolary form. Speaking's the letter of St. Paul to Philemon from the New Testament:

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.​
I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints ; and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother. Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you—since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—​
I appeal to you for my child Onesimus , whom I have begotten in my imprisonment , who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.​

Clearly I chose this as one of the shorter epistles, but also it is interesting because there is a distinction between dictating to a scribe versus writing it yourself within the text of the letter. You will note that the introduction at the beginning is handled in much the same way that the letter of Gil-galad is handled by Tolkien in Unfinished Tales. This was a standard form of letter writing for a very large chunk of history, and writing in this style automatically gives a remove of time to the writing.

So, my suggestion is that we use the following format for letter-writing:

<Name of sender> <title of sender> to <name of recipient> <title of recipient>, greeting: <culturally appropriate well wishes/ salutation>​
Body of letter.​
Closing wish/blessing/salutation (again, culturally appropriate).​

I think that would be in keeping with how Tolkien chose to handle letter-writing in this story.

* Yes, yes, that's an edit by CJRT.

For the curious, the King's Letter from HoME IX: Sauron Defeated consists mostly of Aragorn greeting Sam's family, and looks like this:

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Staff member
Ah, yes. We can tell Hamilton was writing Washington's letters ;)

As I said...a very common format over a large chunk of history, but using it automatically makes something feel very old. Now, in the 18th century, they were saying 'dear sir' in the greeting and signing off. So you get the 'your obedient servant' and the name of the sender at the end. Hobbits could write letters that sound like they are from colonial America, but hobbits should definitely have a letter-writing style that is distinct from the FIrst Age Noldor.
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Staff member
Thursday's podcast focused on the A-plot, and we will continue with the discussion of Episode 2 on January 14th during the Episode 3 discussion.

There were two major departures from the text that were discussed in the 5-20 session as they relate to Aredhel's story in this episode: the deaths of all of Aredhel's companions in the attack by Tevildo's cats, and Aredhel's decision to seek out Eöl in Nan Elmoth.

Over the two hour discussion, it was determined that the deaths of Aredhel's companions freed up the need for her to look for them, or for them to look for her, and so the story could progress from that point without the audience left questioning why they gave up so easily. Her decision to persevere on her own after the deaths of her companions is now a brave deliberation. It was important to preserve the idea of Turgon finding out about her possible death, though, so that he can react to that during their later reunion. The eagles bringing evidence of her demise was considered sufficient - Turgon can be left to grieve with some suspense about the outcome.

Corey Olsen was more concerned about the decision to have Aredhel seek out Eöl in Nan Elmoth, because it destroys one of the parallels to the Beren and Lúthien story. While acknowledging that giving her a reason to be in the forest is positive, and a mission-oriented reason fits the characterization we are giving Aredhel, he was concerned about losing that seemingly serendipitous meeting. It was determined that we could have Aredhel pass through the enchantments of Nan Elmoth, and then stand transfixed when the spell is lifted. The first meeting of Aredhel and Eöl thus becomes a gender-reversed version of the meeting of Beren and Lúthien. Aredhel is entering the clearing where Eöl makes his home after passing through the dangers of cats/Nan Dungortheb/Nan Elmoth's defenses. While we know that Eöl is not thrilled with Noldor or trespassers, he's interested in this one and intentionally turns on the charm.

Here's the outline updated for the current state; no doubt we will make further edits in January.

The Silmarillion Film Project
Season 5, Episode 2: The Wide World

Central conflict:

A-Plot: Aredhel departs Gondolin, and winds up in Nan Elmoth.
Protagonist: Aredhel
B-Plot: Fingolfin visits Nargothrond
POV character: Fingolfin
C-Plot: Bëor prepares Adanel to be his successor, while his people learn to live life in Nargothrond, making a new home for themselves in this elvish city.
POV character: Bëor

Episode Outline

Teaser: Frame - Incánus and the queen discuss the cult of Sauron. The queen has a ‘benign neglect’ attitude - she dislikes ‘foreign’ influence, but considers them weak at the moment. She has a greater concern though; her sons are not ready for the challenges of leadership. The elder son is not interested in learning about the past, and the younger son is not interested in the here and now. They look down on the sons in a courtyard from a balcony.

Act I
Scene 1: Gondolin - Aredhel’s departure. She says farewell to Idril and leaves her House to Penlod. Meanwhile, Turgon instructs Aredhel’s travelling companions, who are members of her House, on the importance of travelling north to visit High King Fingolfin before travelling anywhere else. Turgon publicly informs his people that Aredhel is leaving on a diplomatic mission to the High King, and that this is a special case that does not invalidate the strict ‘no one may leave’ policy.

Scene 2: Nargothrond - Finrod invites Bëor to travel with him. Bëor declines, saying he would rather stay in Nargothrond. Finrod is disappointed, but visits Círdan by the Sea and discusses the Men in Nargothrond and the situation in Beleriand with him.

Scene 3: Pass of Aglon - Fingon is visiting the Fëanoreans. He writes a letter home to his father. There are dwarves at the fortress. Eöl’s name comes up in a negative context; he is a thorn in the side of the Fëanoreans. Fingon, Celegorm, and Curufin leave for a time.

Scene 4: Forest of Brethil - Aredhel travels south to Doriath, wishing to visit Galadriel. She is denied entrance to Doriath by the March-wardens, who warn Aredhel’s company of the dangers nearby - the cats of Tevildo and the spiders of Nan Dungortheb.

Act II
Scene 5: Near the Forest of Brethil - Tevildo and his cats attack Aredhel’s party! They are scattered. Aredhel comes across some of her companions, dead. She wraps her cloak around a shivering, dying elf. Tevildo appears and tells her she’s the last remaining elf. She flees; she has gotten these people killed. Tevildo watches her go. A cat grabs the cloak and drags it off.

Scene 6: Nargothrond - Finrod returns to Nargothrond. Bëor is instructing Adanel, training her to fill his role. They are preparing for the arrival of the High King, and he is reviewing the plans for a ceremony with her.

Scene 7: Nan Dungortheb - Aredhel rides through the forest as quickly as she can, shooting giant spiders and cutting her way through giant webs. She reaches the Pass of Aglon, where Celegorm and Curufin have a fortress, but are not home.

Scene 8: Nargothrond - Arrival of Fingolfin in Nargothrond. He is a benevolent king, but first talks to Finrod about the Men rather than spending time getting to know the Men. Finrod waxes poetic about how great Men are. He praises the speed with which they’ve developed their space in Nargothrond and adapted to their new lives. So much potential! Fingolfin views the work they have accomplished as primitive/childish. One item is gifted to him - a small doll.

Scene 9: Pass of Aglon - Aredhel meets the Dwarves who are travelling on to Doriath. These are the first Dwarves she has seen, and she is fascinated. She wants to know more about them and where they are from. They enjoy her company, and invite her to travel with them.

Scene 10: Nargothrond - Bëor and Adanel are overseeing preparations for an event. Or rather, Bëor is sitting there ‘supervising’ while Adanel runs around harried trying to get everything organized. Finrod sees this dynamic, and is disappointed in his friend.

Scene 11: On the Road between the Pass of Aglon and Doriath - Aredhel asks the Dwarves why they are not part of the Siege, and they explain that there is no need with their mountain fortresses. As they pass the forest, Aredhel is fascinated - there is something different about this place. The dwarves warn Aredhel against Nan Elmoth. The elf who lives in this woods has dangerous magic! But he is not allied with Morgoth - he is Morgoth’s enemy and a friend of the King of Nogrod. She decides to enter the forest and seek out Eöl.

Scene 12: Nargothrond - Bëor and Fingolfin discuss the larger world. (They are watching children at play. No attention is drawn to the fact that their play revolves around imitating "grown-up" behavior.) Bëor wants to know what the situation with Morgoth is. Fingolfin expresses confidence in the Siege, and reassures Bëor that the Men will not be called on to assist. Fingolfin is puzzled by Bëor’s obvious agéd appearance, which he assumes is due to grief. Having empathy for the Man, he inquires about Bëor’s losses, and brings up his own son’s grief over his lost wife.

Act IV
Scene 13: Nan Elmoth - Aredhel is lost in the enchantment of Nan Elmoth. When she makes it through, the magic falls away, and she sees Eöl; she stands transfixed. He is making arms/armor and singing over them. Eöl, who is not facing Aredhel, turns to face her. (Magic pool present)

Scene 14: Nargothrond - Finrod is frustrated by Bëor passing off his work to younger people. Can he not see that they are not ready for this? Bëor finally explains - “I will die some day.” Finrod takes this as a prophecy about his eventual fate. Fingolfin understands that this means mortality, and suddenly gains sympathy and understanding for the Men. (In the background, we see Men of various ages - child through 60 years.)

Scene 15: Nan Elmoth - Aredhel meets Eöl. He is charming, and compliments her strength for making it into his forest. Aredhel says she has sought him out because of his reputation - he is a great elf, an enemy of Morgoth, a friend of the dwarves. Flattery gets her everywhere. Eöl tells her that he knew her grandfather Finwë. She realizes that he is an ‘original’ Cuivienen elf, and that would make him the leader of the Avari, the lost fourth elf lord. She expresses something of her hope for him to be a leader in the fight against Morgoth.

Scene 16: Nargothrond - Fingolfin dictates a letter to Fingon. His conversation with Bëor has drawn his attention to the fact that Fingon needs to be trained and prepared to become High King some day if necessary. When he departs, he hands the gifted doll to a young human child.

Tag1: Frame - Harad - The brothers are getting instruction from a terrible instructor - it’s boring and about economics or something. The queen calls the instructor out of the room. Incánus begins with a booming voice, reciting a lay about the adventures of the First Age. He turns to face them. Let’s start at the beginning though.

Tag2: Gondolin - An eagle brings a dead cat with Aredhel’s bloody cloak in its mouth to Turgon.

Phillip Menzies

Staff member
I am going through the scripts and trying to capture musical moments. Did Rhiannon complete the script for Episode 2? I am not complaining. I know you guys are breaking all records to try to get scripts done before the sessions.

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I am going through the scripts and trying to capture musical moments. Did Rhiannon complete the script for Episode 2? I am not complaining. I know you guys are breaking all records to try to get scripts done before the sessions.
As of this moment, the only scripts that have been submitted for review have been Episodes 1 and 4.

Phillip Menzies

Staff member
I began to realise that as I progressed through the script discussions. The outlines will be good for doing music notations against, the scripts even better. I don't know if I will get time. It may end up being an off season task.