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In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers just before the Battle of Helm's Deep when Haldir and the Elven army arrives, Haldir greets Aragorn and Legolas. When Aragorn greets Haldir the army doesn't move but when Legolas greets Haldir the army turns in unison to face them.

What's the significance/reasoning behind this?

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    I always just assumed they were saluting him, basically saying, "we're at your command!"
    – sanpaco
    Jan 18 '20 at 7:00
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This is never elaborated on in the movies, nor can I find any explicit interview that answers this question.

However, Legolas is royalty (as the prince of the Woodland Realm), so it would make sense for the Elven troops to acknowledge him; at least more so than Aragorn, who at this point is not yet widely known nor treated as having any royal importance).


Secondly, it may be a matter of marching protocol that the troops only turn once all of them have come to a halt (for the same reason why armies march in sync and stick to formations - to convey the image of a well oiled machine).

When Haldir starts speaking, the troops are still marching. The troops behind Haldir did halt earlier than when they turn to face left; but it's possible the troops in the back were still filing in (we don't see them on screen), and the elves only turned when all troops were halted.


Paulie_D may also be right that the elves' response may be related to Haldir speaking to Theoden (i.e. the order of business), rather than Haldir having just greeted Legolas (i.e. a personal interaction).

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    Legolas being royalty and them acknowledging his presence by turning to face him makes the most sense to me. +1.
    – Charles
    Jan 17 '20 at 15:35
  • A machine so well oiled that its marching formations do not require verbal cues. Which surely, just like in real life, the director had to say something like, Halt.... Dress left. Order arms.
    – Mazura
    Jan 18 '20 at 20:07
  • @Mazura: Not sure what your point is. For simple everyday things, soldiers quickly learn the cues. And even if not, why couldn't there have been a ranking officer among them who gave the command? We don't get a good overview of every marching elf.
    – Flater
    Jan 18 '20 at 21:30
  • I always assumed commands for a marching formation would be given from the front. We're well within earshot of the color bearers; no commands whatsoever can be heard. My point is that's one hell of a "well oiled machine", +1. I think you're 'also right' : it's "easily attributed to editing causing the particular timing".
    – Mazura
    Jan 18 '20 at 21:42
  • "One hell of a well-oiled machine" would be entirely in keeping with the idea of elves as fancy and graceful and just generally more adept at nearly everything than real-world humans.
    – Ben
    Jan 18 '20 at 22:43
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When Aragorn greets Haldir the army doesn't move but when Legolas greets Haldir the army turns in unison to face them.

I don't think this has anything to do with Legolas as they don't do this until after Haldir & Legolas have greeted each other.

I suspect that this is more to do with the Elves turning to face Theoden to acknowledge their commitment to the fight.

Haldir indicates this by saying..

                                HALDIR
                     [Turning to Théoden] We are proud to 
                     fight alongside men, once more.
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  • If you watch the linked video they turn before Haldir speaks those words. Immediately when Legolas and Haldir lay hands on each other the camera cuts to the soldiers who change their line of sight from forward to the side (to look at Legolas/Haldir) and then they change their stance. IMO their behavior is a direct response to Legolas and Haldir's interaction and not anything that has to do with Theoden.
    – Charles
    Jan 17 '20 at 15:32
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    That's just it...it's an opinion. There's no official indication (in the script of otherwise) why they do this so it's just a cool thing to do for the movie. in the book, Haldir wasn't even there.
    – Paulie_D
    Jan 17 '20 at 15:52
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    @Charles: To be fair, that's easily attributed to editing causing the particular timing. Especially if the reason for them turning was never explicitly communicated to the editor.
    – Flater
    Jan 17 '20 at 16:47
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It's a display of force and a sign of respect. Remember, when Theoden comes into frame, the Elves turn in "Salute" to the welcoming monarch.

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They turned to Legolas. Theoden and Aragorn are both shown in the scene before elves turn to salute. Theory that they are waiting for everyone to fill in is not valid. If they are walking in a column, as they are, they don't to wait for others that long. If it was the case, I'm pretty sure Haldir would take a waiting stance until he can 'properly' do it. If they wanted to show respect to Theodon, why did they wait until Legolas? You can clearly see they start turning around the same second Haldir and Legolas exchange a manly only arm hug. Then in the next frame you see Legolas standing behind Haldir and smirking happily like a kid. Since Haldir isn't there in the books, I they simply wanted to put more elves in the story. That scene and the whole battle work for me since I first watched it.

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    This doesn't seem to answer the actual question, which is why they turned to face Legolas. Please be aware that Stack Exchange is a strict Q&A site, not a discussion forum; answers are for answering the question, not for refuting other people's answers.
    – F1Krazy
    2 days ago

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