This scene is guaranteed to give me goosie-bumps and/or tears every time I see it.
Why is this? I’m not a big horse lover. I mean, I love all animals but I’ve only ridden a horse twice in my life. The first time, the big black stallion had an itch in a sensitive place, and insisted on scratching it while my terrified 10 year old self sat on top of him, waiting to be thrown off and stomped on. The second time was only a few years ago. She was a lovely mare named Cinder, and I chatted her up the entire trail, because it seemed like the right thing to do. Anyway, that’s it. So what is it about Shadowfax, appearing out of nowhere, running in slow motion in response to his friend Gandalf’s special whistle?
Perhaps one reason is his pedigree. Legolas seemed pretty damn impressed, didn’t he? Well, he’s right to feel that way. There aren’t many horses in Middle-earth who come from the most majestic and swift Mearas. They’re said to have been tamed by the first King of Rohan, and they can understand human speech. Shadowfax was the current Lord of the Mearas, and was “given” to Gandalf by King Theoden. Apparently Shadowfax wasn’t going to be tamed by any Rohan royalty. He was bigger than that.
Which brings me to the special bond shared by Shadowfax and Mithrandir. They trust each other. They’re both super brave and have the confidence of good over evil to spur them on their quest. It’s like Shadowfax knows how important it is to defeat Sauron and will do whatever it takes. He speeds Gandalf all over the place, gathering the Rohan army to help at Helm’s Deep. He takes Gandalf and Pippin to Gondor so Denethor will get his shit together and fight Mordor (so that doesn’t work well, but you can’t cure crazy). And look at this friendship!
He isn’t going to run away and leave his wizard and hobbit bros to suffer at the hands of pure evil. Oh no, he will STAND STRONG. That is one amazing horse.
How could such an amazing fictional horse be portrayed on the screen? It should be quite the talented actor, right? Also, he’d have to be ridiculously good looking. I don’t know much about horses, but what I do know, in relation to their participation in the LOTR trilogy, is from the most excellent DVD extra feature called Home of the Horse Lords. If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest you correct that. You’ll learn how the amazing equines were acclimated to movie sets, the friendships they made with their human costars, and the lasting effect their fellowship had on everyone involved. Shadowfax was played by two stallions: Domero, who was used in mostly stationary shots, and Blanco, who is the one you see galloping around Minas Tirith and Rohan with Ian McKellan or his stunt double. Both of those beautiful horses are no longer with us, sadly. They are immortalized in these films, however, and for that I’m grateful.
I suppose it’s a combo of my immense love of all creatures, my adoration of Tolkien’s stories, and Peter Jackson’s movies that give me the special feels for the 54 second sequence, in which The White Wizard calls for his friend. It sums up the sentiment of the LOTR trilogy, in a way. When your friends need you, they’ll be there to help fight for good. Thanks, Lord Of All Horses!