Evan Cooney: 'I was asked to do a thread https://twitter.com/EvanCooney0717/status/1290728350504423435 on why “lore context” for Gandalf’s fight with the Balrog in the Lord of the Rings is so important and makes the scene much more intense and powerful than first impression. So here we go...
...Let’s focus on what is said. To keep this post relatable, I’ll stick with the lines from the Peter Jackson movies instead of getting too deep with the books, also Jackson does the scene justice IMO: “I am a servant of the secret fire” is a reference to the secret fire of Illuvatar, the monotheistic god of the Tolkien universe. The secret fire refers to his power to give life. Here, Gandalf reveals and identifies himself as not an old decrepit wizard, but one of the Maia.
The Maia are a class of beings that you could think of as angels in the Tolkien universe. There are Maia that chose to stay good and Maia that chose to side with the evil Melkor (story for another thread), much like angels and fallen angels. Sauron is the strongest of the Maia. Balrogs were also Maia that had sided with the darkness. So “I am a servant of the secret fire” is Gandalf identifying himself as a Maia that remained good, revealing his power and his authority.
Let's move on to “the dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun.” “Udun” or Utumno was the first fortress of Melkor, the original dark lord and Saurons master, it is where orcs and all matter of evil creatures were first made. So I’m referring to the Balrog as “flame of udun” Gandalf is saying, “I know exactly who, and what you are.”
And for the last line I’m going to take the line from the books because it's more powerful, Gandalf establishes himself as the Balrogs good counterpart, and executes his authority over it by saying “YOU CANNOT PASS”. This line is deep, and powerful.
“You cannot pass” isn't Gandalf saying “I’m not going to let you pass”. It's Gandalf saying, “You do not have the authority to pass” as in: there are greater forces at work and providence will not allow you to stop us. Tolkien’s personal belief in divine providence in our world affected his writings. This taking authority over evil that Gandalf executes is so inspiring and fills me with awe and I cant help but think of comparisons in our own walk through life.
Thanks for coming to my ted talk…
.#books #noted #sciencefiction #2020-08-05