Fan Film: Born of Hope

In addition to The Hunt for Gollum, yet another Lord of the Rings inspired fan-made indie film exists. This one is called Born of Hope. It is set earlier than The Hunt for Gollum, which features Aragorn as an adult and is set just after Bilbo leaves Bag End but before Frodo leaves Bag End. Instead, Born of Hope is set before Aragorn’s time and tells the story of his parents—Arathorn and Gilraen—how they met, fell in love, were married, had Aragorn, and how Gilraen eventually fled with Aragron to Rivendell, where he was raised.

However, I shouldn’t give away the entire plot before you’ve had a chance to see it for yourself. Go ahead, watch it below!

Please share your thoughts about what you’ve just seen in the comments. Here are some of my own.

More Narration Than Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum features narration in the beginning to set the scene for the story. Fellowship of the Ring does the same. However, both movies let the stories tell themselves after that narration. In the case of Born of Hope, though, you hear narration after nearly every scene. Unlike The Hunt for Gollum, which features an unknown male narrator, Born of Hope‘s narration comes from Gilraen, Aragorn’s mother, which is revealed at the end of the film. It’s not a bad thing to have narration, though if there’s too much, people might start to think that they’re hearing the story being told rather than seeing the story being told. Particularly in the beginning—the exposition is a bit too long for my taste and the narration gets rather ethereal and abstract before the story actually begins.

In addition to more narration, this story also features more dialogue. This makes sense—Born of Hope is roughly half an hour longer than The Hunt for Gollum—but the “high speech” feels unnatural at times in this film, whereas it feels totally authentic to me in The Lord of the Rings. I also think I heard “mae govannen” more often in this film than I have in LOTRO!

Born of Hope, A Love Story

Lord of the Rings certainly has its fair share of love stories. Beren and Luthien. Aragorn and Arwen. Faramir and Eowyn. But these have always been secondary to the greater epic being told. Born of Hope, on the other hand, is a film where joy, hope, and love are central to the story. Arathorn falls in love with and marries Gilraen. Elgarain, Arathorn’s friend and fellow ranger, also loves Arathorn, but her love is unrequited, as he sees her as a sister. In an attempt to free her heart of him, she chooses to leave. Her friend Dirhaborn finds her as she is about to leave and confesses his love for her, only for both to be killed in battle moments later.

I saw many parallels in this film’s love stories. Firstly, Gilraen is a blonde and Elgarain is a brunette, so my mind jumped immediately to Eowyn and Arwen, but in this case, Arathorn chooses the woman most similar in appearance to Eowyn, rather than the one who looks most like Arwen. Later, Elrond’s twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir, meet with Arathorn, and in greeting, he asks them how their father and sister are. This reminds me that Arwen, their sister, is much older than Aragorn. I feel like I should have known this already, but it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around it. A quick appendix check reveals that Arwen is 2,690 years older than Aragorn!

My mind also thought about Les Miserables: Marius chooses Cosette, the blonde, rather than Eponine, the brunette. And what happens to both Eponine and Elgarain? They die, after being wounded in battle, in the arms of the men they love. Watching Arathorn struggle to ask Dirhael for Gilraen’s hand in marriage also made me think about Fiddler on the Roof and Motel’s struggle to ask Tevye for Tzeitl’s hand in marriage. Maybe I merely have musicals on my mind today.

Even Less Action Throughout

There’s very little action throughout the first two-thirds of this film. There’s one initial ambush in the beginning of the film, and an epic battle scene when the orcs attack the village in the last third of the film, but that’s about it. The rest of the story features narration, love, and dialogue. Again, these are not bad things. However, you have to think about your audience. Many Lord of the Rings fans care only (or care mostly) about the action or battle scenes. I am not like that, but I am trying to think about both sides in this.

There is a journey in this film too—Arathorn leaves to try to discover the orcs’ purpose for stealing rings. It is during this journey that you can see the best scenery of the film. However, most of the rest of the film takes place in a makeshift village surrounded by a forest, which is not much to see. Eventually, Arathorn does discover the orcs’ purpose for stealing rings. I thought they might be looking for the One Ring, but instead, they appear to be searching for the Ring of Barahir—the ring of the Kings of Gondor—the ring that identifies the oldest living Heir of Elendil, Isildur’s heir—the ring that Arathorn’s father, Arador wears.

This seems like a rather odd plot line to me. Orcs are made to kill and to destroy. They appear smarter in this film than I think they should be. Would orcs have enough wits to recognize the ring of Barahir? Would Sauron trust mere orcs with such a task as hunting down a very particular ring? Even as Saruman searches for the One Ring, he doesn’t even tell his highest Uruk-Hai chief what the hobbits might have—only to capture them and bring them to him alive and unspoiled.

Eventually, Arador passes the ring on to Arathorn. He does this as he dies after battling with a troll. This scene was surprisingly good. I wasn’t expecting the special effects to be as good as they were, but that troll looked pretty convincing. Not as convincing as the trolls from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, but very good nonetheless.

Again, much later, Arathorn passes the ring on to Aragorn, as he dies in battle trying to free their lands of orcs. In this passing, Arathorn refers to Gilraen as his joy and to Aragorn as their hope. This much is true: Middle Earth would have no hope if not for Aragorn. He is the ultimate hero.

Again, please share your own thoughts about Born of Hope: The Ring of Barahir in the comments.