View Full Version : Gandalf's Staff

27-09-2010, 00:54
So the movies clearly show Saruman taking Gandalf's staff away from him when they fight. The books I don't think are explicit in this but it is reasonable to assume there as well.

How does he get it back after he escapes?

The whole bit about the breaking of Saruman's staff, as well as his comment about Gandalf wanting the rods of the 5 wizards, and Wormtongue's orders about the staff all indicate that a wizard's staff is not just a piece of wood.

Do you reckon a wizard can make himself a new staff? What?

27-09-2010, 01:07
This was never truly explored in any great depth by Tolkien. Anything you might think about the supposed power of a wizard's staff is likely to be as true as anyone else's opinion.

Perhaps others night have read more extensively, but that is about as definitie as I can get.

Whitwort Stormbringer
27-09-2010, 01:30
So the movies clearly show Saruman taking Gandalf's staff away from him when they fight. The books I don't think are explicit in this but it is reasonable to assume there as well.

How does he get it back after he escapes?
I've wondered that too, and I think it's just a plot hole.

With regards to your other questions, I don't recall anything specific in any of his writing on the power of the staves, if they're ultimately just a symbol of office, etc., although it does seem that you can reasonably infer that the wizards derived some power from them. The examples you provided (breaking Saruman's staff, Wormtongue worrying about disarming Gandalf) also support that notion.

Based on the movies, I would say that the wizards can make themselves new staves if the need arises, since Gandalf the White has a fancy new upgrade over Gandalf the Grey's gnarled old stick. Also, doesn't he have a new staff at the battle of the Black Gate, even though the Witch King destroyed it earlier?

In the books, I don't remember whether or not his staff was confirmed to be different, but it seems like a reasonable assumption since it probably wouldn't have survived the fall with the balrog.

27-09-2010, 02:11
The transition between Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White involved him dieing and being sent back, so I have always assumed he was sent back with a new staff appropriate to his new level of power/status.

I don't think he has his staff at the black gate in the movies. I am watching them now, I will try to remember to look when I get to the end.

The Witch King breaking Gandalf's staff in the movies has always annoyed me since the books very strongly imply that shattering of a wizard's staff strips him of power and authority.

27-09-2010, 18:16
I think it's just a mistake in the film.

Saruman takes his staff, and somehow he retrieves it when escaping on Gwahir. Saruman doesn't take his staff in the book.
Then he falls in Moria, that's the end of his brown staff.

He's now Gandalf the White and is given a new white staff. The Witch King shatters it, then he has the same staff at the Grey Havens.

Can't explain it...... spare ones in his cupboard?

I don't think they should have put it in the film, it's not in the book. It implies that the Witch King is more powerful than Gandalf the White, because it's a symbol of being stripped of power.
Gandalf the Grey fights off 5 Nazgul off Weathertop, and i think he confronts the Witch King at the gates of Minas Tirith in the books, and the Witch King retreats?? (but i might be wrong about that)

27-09-2010, 21:35
As far as that goes, Gandalf was more than a match for any one of the nazghul, perhaps een all of them. He was a Maia after all. In fact, he was pretty close to Sauron's equal, although perhaps less of a warrior and more of a counsellor.

The reason (s) he was leary of facing the Wraiths had more to do with revealing himself in all his power to Sauron before he was ready. It was hinted at that Gandalf spent most of his time and energy hiding his true nature and potential from Sauron, in an effort to keep the enemy from devoting time and energy to bringing Gandalf to battle. Gandalf wanted the time to organize men, seeing as they would inherit middle Earth after The elves left. The council of the wise might have had the power on their own to defeat Sauron and take Mordor back, but the idea was to inspire man to do it, and thus give them a starting point based on good from which to take over the rule of Earth.

27-09-2010, 23:16
I recall reading somewhere that that wasn't exactly a voluntary thing, when the wizards were sent to Middle Earth they were forbidden from using their full power because the Valar swore not to interfere so openly again.

A not illogical speculation is that the staffs were connected to that restriction in some way since the breaking of Saruman's implied the end of most of his power, but that still doesn't explain Gandalf's reacquisition of his staff between his escape and fall.

27-09-2010, 23:58
they were forbidden from using their full power because the Valar swore not to interfere so openly again.

Yes, you're right. The Valar didn't want to make the same mistake by intervening too much.
The idea was to help Men achieve their own destiny. So the Istrai were supposed to use wisdom, rather than go in with fireballs blazing all over :)

Regarding if it was voluntary that the wizards went to middle-earth .... It was Manw who called the coucil, he asked for volunteers to go. Two came forward Saruman and Alatar. Manw then asked where Gandalf was. Gandalf replied he felt he was too weak, and he was afraid of Sauron. Manw said that was all the more reason to go, and commanded him to go as the third.

I don't think the return of Gandalf's staff after he's captured can be explained. There isn't one (we're talking film version here)
Maybe a minor spell from Gandalf that you don't see on the film? minor telekinesis

There's probably lots of additional material that doesn't make sense. Do Haldir's elves have time to travel 300 miles on foot to Helm's Deep?

28-09-2010, 11:33
I always looked at it this way, at least for the films. Gandalf's image was one of an old man with a staff. So when he appears to people, he will look that way. Saruman took away his staff, more as insult than anything. When he escaped, he was again Gandalf, an old man with a gnarled staff.

Chaplain of Chaos
30-09-2010, 17:25
You can think of the Istari and their staves as similar in some senses to Sauron and his ring. On a certain metaphysical level Sauron had tied his power to his ring. Just as on a certain level the physical spirit and power of the Istari was tied in with their staff. Also at least form what I remember from Return of the King (the book) Gandalf really did dread an encounter with the Witch King.

01-10-2010, 10:04
This is just speculation but.. perhaps he used magic ?

Either that or Radagast brought it to him :)

Personally I believe the staves and rods are merely symbols of power akin to a kings crown, and hold no power in themselves.

01-10-2010, 15:32
Not exactly relevant to how Gandalf the Grey got his staff back in Rivendell, but I just finished watching the movies and Gandalf the White does not have a staff during the battle at the Black Gate but he does at the harbors.

Chaplain of Chaos
01-10-2010, 16:13
One thing, I know this is a wargaming forum and I know the table top game has "magic" but Lord of the Rings does not have magic the way you think of it. Humans don't use magic, magic is an expression of Will that only certain living things are capable of. When Gandalf uses "magic" he is channeling his nature as a maia. He is exerting his own divine and innate power. The Elves through the forging of rings of power could channel and focus their own essence into a ring.

A human can't just chant some mumbo jumbo and make a door open. Magic isn't just A Wizard Did It.

04-10-2010, 20:03
As far as that goes, Gandalf was more than a ........over the rule of Earth.

This, pretty much.
As for the films, it's just a continuity error when the footage was being edited together. I believe the scene with Gandalf's staff being broken is only in the extended edition (not completely sure though) and so doesn't completely correlate with the version intended for theatrical release (where Gandalf still has his staff). Regardless, I still hated that scene. Both on the principle that one on one Gandalf could have taken the Witch King down, and that it added nothing to the film.

Back OT: I'm pretty sure that if Gandalf can take on the Balrog while skydiving to the "highest peak of the darkest dungeon" (or something to that effect). He could most certainly get himself a new staff:p

Commissar Vaughn
04-10-2010, 20:31
Maybe it was gift from the Elves? After all, after he was "sent back" to finish his task he had a weekend break in Lorien before he went and found the Three Hunters.

05-10-2010, 01:16
Respondents seem to have migrated the question away from Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf the White's staff is not a problem, the problem is how he gets his staff back from Saruman after he escapes from Isengard. He either doesn't need it or gets it back (or replaces it) quickly because I believe he is fighting Nazgul on Weathertop only a few days later.

05-10-2010, 10:13
A human can't just chant some mumbo jumbo and make a door open. Magic isn't just A Wizard Did It.

And yet that's exactly what happens !

"Whats the Elvish for 'friend' ?"

05-10-2010, 23:41
Forgotten Lore is right, we are getting into areas that don't need much explaining.

Saruman took Gandalf's staff, and imprisoned him. In the movie, and I think in the book as well, but I'm too tired to go look right now. After his escape, he seems to possess his staff again. I'm willing to accept simple movie shenanigans on that one, and I will have to actually read that part of the book again to develop any real opinion on it.

I'm still of the opinion (mine alone), that Oromir? (too tired to check) the Maia appears as Gandalf the grey, or Mithrandir, the grey pilgrim, and so anytime he is seen and is not under duress, he will appear as such; the kindly wise old traveller, sporting his gnarled old staff.

Intrepid Adventurer
06-10-2010, 11:39
lorin! That's his name in Valinor.

Pretty sure the staff means something in the books as well. In the books, Gandalf doesn't lose his staff, but does break Saruman's. The scene in the movie is just... weird. I don't see why PJ filmed that. Then again, the whole staff thing is blown up in the extended edition (virtually the only addition I didn't like).

So yeah, I'd go with the fact that the staffs are important in the books, but that PJ used that concept and used it in the films on several occasions where it did not appear in the books.