Script Discussion S05E11

Odola

Well-Known Member
I think the Athrabeth conversation after the feast with Fingolfin (currently sitting at pages 60-67) needs some heavy adaptation work.

This is in many ways the heart of the Athrabeth, so I do not want to tear apart at it, slashing ruthlessly. And yet, at the same time, I think it could use a *lot* of amendment. Not merely to make it more concise, but also to focus the discussion of hope.

Finrod opens with asking Andreth's reaction to the happy vision of Arda Healed he shared with her earlier. The first two pages of the scene are Finrod waxing poetic about the role reversal of Elves and Men in this future paradise, while intercutting with Fingolfin's departure.

Then, Andreth throws cold water on it. Nice dream, but that's not the reality here and now, is it? How would we ever get there?

Now we are ready to talk about hope, and Finrod can define Amdir and Estel. This is not new to the audience; it's a 'refresher' - Estel was described in Season 1, as it is Aragorn's name as a child, and 10-year-old Estel is a main character in our Frame. And in Season 4, Finrod and Turgon discussed Amdir and Estel when they had their visions from Ulmo. It's fine for Finrod to define terms for Andreth, but I wanted to point out that we have already been over this ground before. Keep the 'defining terms' part as to-the-point as possible.

Andreth counters with the 'flight in a dream' language, stating that what Finrod calls Estel must be vain hope, since it is not based on reason, and it is not something Men have. We then get into the 'Old Hope'.

Screeeeeeching halt. How about... no. Prophesying the incarnation of Jesus Christ is not a thing we ought to be doing in our Silm Film script. Yes, I am well aware that Eru entering into Arda someday is in the original. But that is not the story we are telling - we are *never* going to deliver on that hope, and so it will look like Andreth is right and it is a false hope. That *does not work* in this adaptation! The Messianic Hope of the people of Bëor is...Eärendil. Let's prophesy *his* coming! They came to Beleriand seeking 'the Light in the West'. Let's use that as the Old Hope. The Old Hope that, someday, the mortal Men would reach the uttermost West and be mortal no longer, having seen the primordial light that shines there without blemish....an escape from Death. Finrod has mentioned the light of the Silmarils in his vision of Arda Healed, so it can fit. They have discussed how Andreth thinks that mortality is not natural to Men.

Andreth can still claim that she does not believe that this will ever happen, but it *will* - and so estel will prove true. That is a rather important aspect of Estel...it cannot be disappointed, despite the fates of individuals. The audience, seeing the whole story, will know that the hope was not in vain, even if they had to wait many generations for it to come to fruition. Even if the tale of Beren and Lúthien and the tale of Eärendil are only in part a realization of this hope.

I realize that this will cut out a good deal of the conversation about Eru and the Valar, and will require rewriting to keep any of the original content. I am fine with making some conjecture about what Eru's role in bringing about Arda Healed might be, but mostly simply trusting that Eru *does* have a plan, rather than articulating how that might come to pass. I know that is frustrating, but I think it a very important step in the adaptation process. If it is a choice between retaining a clever reference to the incarnation of Eru as a Man, or maintaining the truth of the estel hope....well, I think it is clear which I choose.

We discussed the Old Hope at 2:06:32 in the original script discussion for this episode.
The problem is, of Earendil is the fullfilment of the Old Hope of humans conquering death by reaching Valinor, then how can you consider his son's Elos descendants' claim to this hope to be a sin warranting the destruction of Numenor? Then they are completely in the right in their action.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
The defeat of Morgoth should be the outcome of the hope, and we know that in reality the War of Wrath does not take Morgoth away, people still need to be doing the work of fighting evil, as it is expressed through Morgoth and Sauron. There’s been lots of exploration of the nature of that evil in SilmFilm so far. The ultimate realisation of hope is far far in the future - even the Elves understand this. Numenoreans were still being impatient even though they could not see it.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
The defeat of Morgoth should be the outcome of the hope, and we know that in reality the War of Wrath does not take Morgoth away, people still need to be doing the work of fighting evil, as it is expressed through Morgoth and Sauron. There’s been lots of exploration of the nature of that evil in SilmFilm so far. The ultimate realisation of hope is far far in the future - even the Elves understand this. Numenoreans were still being impatient even though they could not see it.
Yeah, but then the overcoming of death is not the ultimate goal (also) for humans. It is the overcoming of evil. If one focusses on the ultimate goal, one's own death stops to be one's ultimate concern. This is a viable position (also) for humans, but not one Andreth embraces in this discussion.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Eärendil is partial fulfilment only - he personally goes into the West, and he personally is granted a dispensation from death. His life is, however, not 'eternal' - he is longeval as an elf, and will last until the stars fall from the sky. But not 'forever.' Most likely, anyway - he's probably going to survive the Dagor Dagorath, surrender the silmaril he's been caretaker for, and then watch Arda be remade. So, he's very much part of this 'final' story that we are not telling.

The ultimate hope is, of course, that Eru will heal Arda, so that it will no longer be Arda Marred, and then the Elves and Men can live there together in paradise without end.

My point was not to 'change' the nature of the Old Hope that Andreth speaks of, but rather to make certain that any prophetic utterances associated with how that might come to pass should be something that can be fulfilled (at least in part) by either Beren/Lúthien (in the next part of the conversation about Aegnor and Andreth), or by Eärendil (in this part). There is room for speculation about the final end of everything (even if we won't reach it), but there is *not* room for a prophetic utterance about how that will come about if we are not going to tell that story. Unfulfilled prophecies are not how you demonstrate to the audience that the ultimate hope you have given your characters is true!

A promise that Eru will personally enter into Arda as part of his own creation definitely is not a promise that we are going to see fulfilled at any time during the telling of the story of the First, Second, or Third Age. So, we are not going to make that promise onscreen in Silm Film. I am okay with Men having 'some part to play' in Eru's plan to heal Arda. I am not okay with including any reference to Eru becoming an incarnate Man to make this happen.


As for Numenor...Amandil's attempt to reach the West is based on the precedent set by Eärendil. That's not inconsistency; it simply wasn't his destiny to make it. Just as no mariner Turgon sent was able to make it, but Eärendil did.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
It would be good as much as possible to gear the Athrabeth towards a) mutual understanding about how Elves and Humans view mortality/death (which is something central to the theme of this season), with reflection on how Humans can be seen as inheritors rather than followers and so that evens the playing field in the Elf/Human relationship, b) setting up the extreme 'doom' scenario that an Elf/Human marriage would entail (i.e. Beren and Luthien, but not Aegnor and Andreth), and c) some discussion of estel and amdir in this discussion to remind viewers of this concept, which as Marie notes, has been part of other seasons and storylines. Anything that gets too close to a messianic future starts getting me uncomfortable and doesn't really fit with the way the series is panning out. Estel and Amdir can also feature in the conversations Fingolfin is having with others (e.g. Orodreth and Maedhros) in this episode.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I recognize that we do not have time to rewrite the Athrabeth. Happily, there is plenty of material there so that we can cross out some problematic content and still keep the heart of the discussion what it is.

I think that if we remove the references to Eru entering into Arda (for the purpose of healing it), we can avoid the explicit discussion of the Incarnation of Eru, which is...something I consider extremely problematic in the context of our TV show.

On the other hand, that excision will not remove the 'Old Hope' of Andreth's people. They can still have hope that, in some way, Eru will heal Arda Marred. I am okay with the discussion of Arda Healed, and Finrod's vision of a paradise where Elves and Men can be together, solving both their fears of ending/death....and even the conjecture that Men may somehow play a role in that.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
As for Numenor...Amandil's attempt to reach the West is based on the precedent set by Eärendil. That's not inconsistency; it simply wasn't his destiny to make it. Just as no mariner Turgon sent was able to make it, but Eärendil did.
But something just "not being one's fate" is not a transgression. You cannnot know for sure if something is your fate or not untill you try it out. "Trying out" is not a rebellion. And Amandils attempt to reach Valinor was a transgression and a big one at that - it required a temporary abdication of the Valar and Eru changing the shape of the world. As such it was a "fate-changing" event. - None of Turgons mariners required such an intervention, nor was any of those condemmed, they've just failed. - As such Earendil's fate cannot be the answer to the hope of men as men's hope lies beyong Arda and cannot be fullfilled within. And it was the betrayal of this "hope beyong Arda" that Amandil commited in his attempt. Earendil is the answer to the hope of the elves though, for sure. Elves long for the restoration of Arda as it should have been - as such they long for the lost past. But humans look forward to it being recreated anew in future - being aware they the current one is "marred beyond repair". Maybe this is what Felagund discovers in his discussion with Andreth - that the elvish hope is ultimately futile and that the human hope - however vague and uncertain - is the only one for Arda as a whole if one were to think things out to their very end.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Confusing...
Elves hope is within Arda as such Earendil is their hope bearer. He opened the way to their earthly paradise - Valinor - for them. But Valinor is not the human paradise. As such for humans Earendil is a misdirection at best - see Amandil. But Arda will pass, so will Valinor with it and then all the elves will die. Whatever hope is there for elves afterwards, if any, lies in the place/state mortals reach when they leave Arda.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, I agree that Eärendil is not the final hope of Men or Elves. His role at the end of the First Age is a messianic one, though, and there are prophecies and hopes pointed towards what he will accomplish.

The changing of the world is focused on the transgression that Ar-Pharazon commits. Amandil's transgression was meant to warn the Valar of the impending attack by Ar-Pharazon's fleet. He was never seen again, so obviously it didn't work out, but they didn't change the world because of Amandil!
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Suggestion about Eärendil: when he arrives in Valinor (a few seasons down the line), perhaps it's here that we confirm to the audience that Finrod has returned to life?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Yes, I agree that Eärendil is not the final hope of Men or Elves. His role at the end of the First Age is a messianic one, though, and there are prophecies and hopes pointed towards what he will accomplish.

The changing of the world is focused on the transgression that Ar-Pharazon commits. Amandil's transgression was meant to warn the Valar of the impending attack by Ar-Pharazon's fleet. He was never seen again, so obviously it didn't work out, but they didn't change the world because of Amandil!
As far I understand the bending of the world was to make Valinor unreachable for any human - good or bad alike.
The issue of Earendil is what does he bring to the humans? He is the Messianic figure for elves, but for humans he brings the relative peace after the War of Wrath and the creation of human mini-Valinor which is Numenor. But he does not deliver them from death. Were mortality part of human nature they would have been happy and perfectly fine there living out their limited lives in bliss in Numenor. But it is in the human nature to try to conquer death, and as such Numenor could not have worked out in the end.
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
As far I understand the bending of the world was to make Valinor unreachable for any human - good or bad alike.
The issue of Earendil is what does he bring to the humans? He is the Messianic figure for elves, but for humans he brings the relative peace after the War of Wrath and the creation of human mini-Valinor which is Numenor. But he does not deliver them from death. Were mortality part of human nature they would have been happy and perfectly fine there living out their limited lives in bliss in Numenor. But it is in the human nature to try to conquer death, and as such Numenor could not have worked out in the end.
So why give them Numenor if they know it won't work out?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
So why give them Numenor if they know it won't work out?
The Valar do not know it. Is it not exactly what Finrod wonders about in his discussion with Andreth? Is human death itself the effect of evil or only human fear and disgust of it?
If the Valar assume human death a natural thing and only the fear of it the effect of evil influence then removing humans from the evil influnce should "cure" their fear of death. It doesn't. Which kind of proves Andreth's point - death is not natural to humans, but goes against human very nature and as such humans never fully reconcile themselves to it. Evil does feed on human fear of death but the human disgust for death cannot be "cured" as it is not an "illness" in itself.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
There's definitely a wrong way to do this, but I'm confident at this point that we will be able to find a middle ground that satisfies all parties, even if we're leaning really heavily on ambiguity to carry a lot of the load. Finding that ground on a reasonable timetable is more my concern at this stage.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
The Valar do not know it. Is it not exactly what Finrod wonders about in his discussion with Andreth? Is human death itself the effect of evil or only human fear and disgust of it?
If the Valar assume human death a natural thing and only the fear of it the effect of evil influence then removing humans from the evil influnce should "cure" their fear of death. It doesn't. Which kind of proves Andreth's point - death is not natural to humans, but goes against human very nature and as such humans never fully reconcile themselves to it. Evil does feed on human fear of death but the human disgust for death cannot be "cured" as it is not an "illness" in itself.
Weren't humans (in Tolkien's world) already imbued with mortality? If so, why is death not natural to humans outside of Morgoth's influence?
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Weren't humans (in Tolkien's world) already imbued with mortality? If so, why is death not natural to humans outside of Morgoth's influence?
According to what Andreth has heard from her elders - not so, but Finrod clearly starts out thinking they were. ;-) And as the "Translations from the Elvish" give us the elvish view on most matters, they of course do allign with Finrod's original ideas.
Given the disgust Arwen feels at the end when faced with Aragorn's death and given that Arwen was not under Morgoth's influence at that time, it does seem that the event itself is deeply disturbing and unnatural, and that not only the reaction to it by humans has been corrupted by evil influences.

Edit:
I do think this is very important point to get right.

One of the main topics of Tolkiens world is the nature of evil, the other is the nature of human mortality.

Both elves and Valar misinterpret humans by dismissing human own traditions and relaying on their own observations instead. As such both the Valar and Arwen herself miscalculate (Numenor, Aragorn's death). And the only ones who seem to at least partially aware of it were Finrod and Elrond.

If we do not consider Tolkiens work being just a fastinating adventure story and care for it to be internally coherent, we should strive to at least not to contradict Tolkien's ideas, even if we do not choose to present them in full to the audience.
 
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ouzaru

Well-Known Member
Weren't humans (in Tolkien's world) already imbued with mortality? If so, why is death not natural to humans outside of Morgoth's influence?
This question is debated in the Athrabeth, and no clear answer is given. It’s not even clear if Tolkien changed his mind, was he often did, or if he stuck to one specific interpretation, not the least reason being that the Athrabeth was never made to fit with the later Silmarillion. Finrod points out that other things die in Arda according to their nature, but Andreth insists (with various vague supports that Finrod variously accepts and rejects) that this was a change in Men’s nature. There is a lot of gesturing in the direction of a Christ-like Messiah, but this seems to me like an artifact from the Cottage of Lost Play days, when Middle-earth was literally our world, so it’s anyone’s guess if that was meant to change when that detail was altered. I forget what the notes say about when the Athrabeth was written, but there’s room to make educated guesses based on those details; but like most things with Tolkien’s unpublished material, making definitive statements about anything is hard.

Anyway, I think we are very super close. I need to sleep before the sun rises, but we’re up against it here: if you want a crack at this thing before it goes to the EPs, shoot your shot!
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
I have always loved Tolkien’s idea that death was a gift to Humans and went alongside the mystery of what their role is in creation (which remains a mystery to the Valar as well). That requires Humans to have faith that their ’short’ lives accomplish what they need to in the world. The corruption of this was to make Humans fear this or see death as a punishment. I know there is in this a Christian undertone of salvation at the end of the world, but I loved that the Ilúvatar’s ‘gift of men’ was a ‘gift’. I think in the Athrabeth we see an elderly Tolkien grappling with Human purpose as he faces his own mortality, which is part of the working through of the incarnation of Eru in the world into this dialogue. But I don’t think we need to go off the path in SilmFilm of presenting mortality as it was described in the Ainulindalë. In Season 1 it was not possible to talk about the gift of men because of the challenges of depicting the Ainulindalë, so this is the right time to be bringing it up, I think. This is part of Finrod’s wisdom - that Morgoth is not so mighty that he can alter the fate of Men or Elves - only Eru can do that. So the short life of humans compared with Elves must serve a purpose. That counter’s Andreth’s bitterness that humans had their immortality snatched away, or that they were punished for something.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
This question is debated in the Athrabeth, and no clear answer is given. It’s not even clear if Tolkien changed his mind, was he often did, or if he stuck to one specific interpretation, not the least reason being that the Athrabeth was never made to fit with the later Silmarillion. Finrod points out that other things die in Arda according to their nature, but Andreth insists (with various vague supports that Finrod variously accepts and rejects) that this was a change in Men’s nature. There is a lot of gesturing in the direction of a Christ-like Messiah, but this seems to me like an artifact from the Cottage of Lost Play days, when Middle-earth was literally our world, so it’s anyone’s guess if that was meant to change when that detail was altered. I forget what the notes say about when the Athrabeth was written, but there’s room to make educated guesses based on those details; but like most things with Tolkien’s unpublished material, making definitive statements about anything is hard.

Anyway, I think we are very super close. I need to sleep before the sun rises, but we’re up against it here: if you want a crack at this thing before it goes to the EPs, shoot your shot!
I had one more go at cutting some bits out of the Athrabeth dialogue. I think it is looking much more do-able. It will be interesting to see what the EPs say.
 
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