A Lord of the Rings Movie Mistake Shows Arwen Was at Helm’s Deep

The Battle of Helm’s Deep remains one of the most iconic fights put to screen, taking up almost an hour of The Lord of the Rings yet never overstaying its welcome. However, director Peter Jackson made some changes from the original novel and even wanted to include Arwen fighting alongside Aragorn. And while that never made it to the final cut, Arwen can sometimes be spotted during the chaos.

Most big blockbusters change all the way up to the final cut. But most of the time, it’s impossible to audiences to notice what scenes are missing unless the production team is open about what did and didn’t make it into the theatrical release. And few are as open as the team behind The Lord of the Rings, as the behind-the-scenes footage show countless changes the trilogy went through before releasing, including Arwen’s place at Helm’s Deep.

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Arwen Appears During the Battle of Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings

The behind-the-scenes footage for Helm’s Deep shows Arwen’s actor Liv Tyler in training, often fighting orcs on set and running around the chaos. She wears a red cloak to stand out and interacts with members of the Fellowship numerous times. But, for whatever reason, this footage was unused, and Tyler was edited out. It’s possible that Jackson saw it as deviating too far from the books or decided that Helm’s Deep was overcrowded with characters.

Nevertheless, Arwen can still be spotted in the background of some scenes. The most notable is during a wide panning shot across the battle as Aragorn yells, „Retreat!“ and everyone rushes inside the keep. As Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli cross a small bridge, a fourth shadow appears running across, suggesting Arwen was there but edited out. And then, as the camera pans further into the keep, Arwen, in her red cloak, can be seen running among the crowds. Unless one searches for it, the mistake is easy to miss, but it still shows that even The Lord of the Rings is prone to errors.

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Was Arwen at Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings Novel?

One of Jackson’s biggest changes was including Elves at the Battle of Helm’s Deep. In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the fight only features the Men of Rohan, with even Legolas absent from the battle. But for the adaptation, the Elves of Lothlorien are included to up the spectacle. And from a movie-making standpoint, it makes sense, as in the novel, numerous battles are taking place across Middle-earth, but showing them all isn’t feasible for a movie’s runtime.

As for Arwen, she was nowhere to be seen during the original battle. It’s possible that, due to the lack of women in the novel, the adaptation wanted to shake things up and involve Arwen more. But whether it be due to time constraints or not wanting to have Aragorn’s love triangle with Arwen and Eowyn be too prominent, it was ultimately cut. For the sake of sticking to Tolkien’s original vision, plenty of fans agree Arwen shouldn’t have been there. But for the more casual movie-goer, it seems like a missed opportunity to improve Arwen’s character and give her something to do.