Many "The Lord of the Rings" fans were taken by surprise when "The War of the Rohirrim" was announced as an animated film. Besides euphoria, there was also a big amount of skepticism regarding the movie, which takes place about 260 years before Frodo's journey to Mount Doom. As the name "The War of the Rohirrim" suggests, this time the focus is on a very specific group of people: the inhabitants of Rohan, who already played a particular role in "The Two Towers". The prideful horsemen have surely left a lasting impression on many, which makes the story about their background all the more exciting. One more reason for us to take a more in-depth look at all the current facts about the production and the plot. And while not all of you are anime fans - it seems that something very special is waiting for us this time!
Chronological Order of Events
Ever since the Amazon series "The Rings of Power", if not earlier, we have known about the great significance of the ages in Tolkien's world. While the First Age ends with the defeat of Morgoth, the series is set in the Second Age, which concludes with the apparent demise of Sauron.
"The War of the Rohirrim" is now set at a very particular time in the Third Age. More precisely, in the year 2758, exactly 260 years before Gandalf sends Frodo on his way with the Ring. This is called the time of the Long Winter, because Rohan was completely snow-covered for more than 5 months. The makers of the movie obviously rely even more on references to the Norse mythology here - after all, Rohan was already strongly reminiscent of Viking culture in the old movies.
The new "Lord of the Rings" movie is about the big conflict between the Rohirrim and the Dunlendings. So here is a quick summary of the meaning of these names:
The Rohirrim, also known as the Riders of Rohan, are a proud people of humans living in the region of Rohan. Their history dates back to the First Age of Middle-earth. They are originally descended from the Northmen, who eventually settled in the area that would eventually become Rohan.
The Rohirrim are famous for their horsemanship and their deeply established horse culture. Horses are of crucial importance to them and the connection between people and horses is a central part of their lives. They breed and care for horses that are particularly suitable for war.
The society of the Rohirrim is divided into several kingdoms, with the King of Rohan being the supreme ruler. The capital of Rohan is Edoras, where the Golden Hall of Meduseld is situated - the king's seat. The Rohirrim are also known for their love of poetry and their people's ancient language.
The Dunlendings were originally a tribe of people who lived in the western parts of Rohan before the Rohirrim moved into the region. The Dunlendings enjoyed a long history and culture before they were displaced by the Rohirrim. This led to a strong enmity between the two peoples.
The Dunlendings lived mainly from livestock and agriculture and were widely known as herdsmen. Their community was organized into tribes and they had their own deities and customs.
The conflict between the Dunlendings and the Rohirrim lasted for centuries. The Rohirrim eventually conquered the lands of the Dunlendings and forced them into the mountains of Dunland. This led to deep resentment and mistrust between the two peoples. So it's not surprising that they sided with Saruman during the events of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
As with most stories from Middle-earth, the general storylines are already known from Tolkien's books. It remains to be seen whether the creators will fully stick to them and which details will be added that have not been mentioned yet. Roughly, the story of "The War of the Rohirrim" is about the following:
The film is set at a time when the realm of Rohan is again in an intense conflict with the Dunlendings. Helm Hammerhand is the ninth king of Rohan. King Freca, the leader of the Dunlendings, challenges Helm to marry his daughter Hera to his son Wulf - an insult that ultimately leads to a disastrous war between the two clans. During this dramatic confrontation, a stronghold plays a pivotal role that fans of "The Lord of the Rings" are sure to be very familiar with: Helm's Deep, the scene of an epic battle in "The Two Towers".
However, this film does not only put emphasis on the two kings - the spotlight is also on their offspring. On the one hand, there's the brave princess Hera, who grows up in the midst of war and becomes a fearless warrior. On the other hand, there's Wulf, the heir to the throne of Dunland - muscular, armed with an axe and with a scarred face. He is the main villain of the film.
The first scenes from the film were already presented at the film festival in Annecy, France, this past June. As a result, some details about "The War of the Rohirrim" are known already. The movie delves deeper into the culture of the horsemen people, which is mainly centered on warfare. Family power structures and conflicts are at the center of the plot, with honor and loyalty seen as being more important than wealth and physical possessions.
In addition, the movie also promises to tell supernatural ghost stories, a theme that can fully utilize the possibilities of animation. Concept drawings published so far also show impressive depictions of oliphaunts and orcs in the thick of battle. The images released so far definitely make us eager for more and suggest a dark and serious story. In the finished film, we can presumably look forward to seeing spectacular scenes and a more in-depth portrayal of Tolkien's world.
The female lead of the movie will be Hera. She is the daughter of Helm Hammerhand. She was not named in Tolkien's writings, so her character is entirely the work of the film's authors. By them, however, she is neither described as a warrior princess nor as a princess in distress. Her main task will be to show the audience Middle-earth from a woman's perspective. The first comments about Hera describe her as vulnerable and wild, a somewhat boyish character. She has red hair in an untidy braid, wears leather armor and wields a sword. Gaia Wise will provide the voice of the princess, who is the daughter of actress Emma Thompson.
Her father Helm Hammerhand was the ninth king of Rohan. He got his name "Hammerhand" because of a legendary action that we will probably get to see in the new movie. Helm is above all a very ferocious warrior, dreaded by his enemies and regarded as invulnerable. After all, his deeds have gone down in history - it's not a coincidence that the fortress Helm's Deep is named after him. The king is dubbed by Hollywood star Brian Cox. He is experienced in the role of a patriarch, for example as the head of the family in the hit series "Succession" or as King Agamemnon in "Troy".
The counterpart to Hera is Wulf. The king's son travels through Dunland, always looking out for allies in the fight against Rohan. He is a tall, buff guy with long ruffled hair, armed with an axe and covered in furs and a torn cloak. A scar above his eye makes him look like a true barbarian. Wulf is voiced by Luke Pasqualino, who most of you will know from the Netflix series "Shadow and Bone".
Freca, Wulf's father, will also have an important role in the story. Not only is he powerful, but he is also rich, owning many lands by the Adorn, the river that runs through Rohan. He also claims to be of noble descent from Dunland, which will prove to be of great importance later in the plot. Freca is dubbed by Shaun Dooley, whose voice we know from the video game "Elden Ring".
The last character worth knowing is Fréaláf. He is the nephew of Helm Hammerhand. During the war, he mainly stays in the mountain fastness Dunharrow, which, similar to Helm's Deep, is considered impregnable. We don't know how he will enter in the events yet. His voice will be provided by a Hollywood newcomer, namely Laurence Ubong Williams.
For the movie "The War of the Rohirrim", New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Animation are in charge of the production. The project has already been in the making for almost two years and holds the promise of winning the hearts of fans. This is because the creative direction is in the hands of the highly respected anime director Kenji Kamiyama, who is most associated with cult anime such as "Ghost in the Shell" and "Ultraman". Kamiyama has also made a name for himself at Warner Bros. before, where he created the thrilling anime series "Blade Runner: Black Lotus".
The first people to talk about the new "Lord of the Rings" movie are already stating that the animation is very reminiscent of the anime from the 90s. But don't worry, the magical spirit of the earlier "Lord of the Rings" films will probably remain in this new work as well: Peter Jackson's iconic visions served as a significant inspirational source for countless scenes in the upcoming film.
According to the makers, the challenge was to convert the world and characters into an animated style without losing the charm of the original films. Daniel Falkner, the art director of the movies, was instrumental in achieving this goal. Together with the creative team, he immersed himself in the archives to find the familiar models from the past films and further shape them.
Unfortunately, we haven't been able to watch a trailer or teaser yet, but there is still some time until the movie's release anyway. It was recently postponed from April to the end of next year. Now "The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim" is scheduled to hit theaters on December 13, 2024.