During the events of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, the Fellowship witness Gandalf facing the Balrog. When Gandalf falls, he’s still hanging on the cliff. And when Frodo cries out to Gandalf, Boromir prevents Frodo from going to him. Why didn’t the fellowship help Gandalf to get up?
This is the question that a lot of fans ask themself when watching or reading The Fellowship of the Ring. What you have to know, if you haven’t read the book, is that those events are slightly different in the book than in the movie. The short answer is, he told them, and time is of the essence!
Why Didn’t the Fellowship Help or Save Gandalf When he Faced Balrog?
In the novel, these events played out slightly differently. Gandalf was already at the rear end of the pack. The Hobbits, Gimli, and Legolas had already made it to the arch when the Balrog appeared. They stayed inside the arch (listening to what Gandalf told them) whereas the humans, Aragorn and Boromir decided to stand with Gandalf.
‘Over the bridge!’ cried Gandalf, recalling his strength. `Fly! This is a foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly! ‘ Aragorn and Boromir did not heed the command, but still held their ground, side by side, behind Gandalf at the far end of the bridge. The others halted just within the doorway at the hall’s end, and turned, unable to leave their leader to face the enemy alone.
Gandalf seems to have taken a few steps forward to attack the Balrog and in doing so, he caused the bridge to break. His companions (who at that point were about 10-15 feet behind him) were forced to run away unless they wanted to fall into the chasm.
When he actually fell, everything was over within seconds, so there is no way they could actually have time to help him not fall, also, that is really what he needed to become a real force – Gandalf the White!
With a bound the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge. Its whip whirled and hissed.
‘He cannot stand alone! ‘ cried Aragorn suddenly and ran back along the bridge. ‘ Elendil! ‘ he shouted. ‘I am with you, Gandalf!’
`Gondor! ‘ cried Boromir and leaped after him.
At that moment Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog’s feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.
With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. ‘Fly, you fools! ‘ he cried, and was gone.
The fires went out, and blank darkness fell. The Company stood rooted with horror staring into the pit. Even as Aragorn and Boromir came flying back, the rest of the bridge cracked and fell. With a cry Aragorn roused them.
If you are looking for an answer only regarding the movie, then possibly the best answer is the director’s commentary from the writer’s Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens.
They said that there are a few reasons in this scene that explain why Fellowship didn’t help or saved Gandalf when he was facing that huge abomination Balrog!
One is similar to the books, they were just too far away from the bridge and him to be able to help him. Also, the bridge already had some damages to it, so it could collapse any time with them on it.
Philippa Boyens also mentioned that there is one scene in the book where Frodo tells Faramir that Aragorn and Boromir had to watch out for them and if they didn’t had to, they would not have run away.
Also, Fran Walsh said that Gandalf with his quote “Fly, you fools!” meant that he let go rather than that he fell. Because he knew it was the decision he was going have to make after the moment he realized the mind of Saruman and his betrayal. He may even know what his destiny will be, also, he surely didn’t want to risk anyone else from the Fellowship, that maybe couldn’t be resurrected like him, die in futility attempts to save him.
Our conclusion on why the Fellowship didn’t save or help Gandalf
We think the main reason was that Gandalf was really helping them. The Balrogs were fierce and deadly enemies even of the Maiar, and far beyond the strength of all but a few of the Eldar and more than a match for any of the Kings of Men.
Surely, someone could argue that Aragorn could have used the Ring, well yes he could but in doing so he would be eaten by the Ring almost immediately. That was in fact the Big Secret in the War of the Ring – those little hobbit jokes of a people. Well, maybe they were, but Gollum (Stoor Hobbit) held the One Ring for an entire Age and wasn’t eaten by it or driven mad by gold lust. Only a hobbit could have approached Sammath Naur without being eaten by the Ring.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie they were in peril for their lives and the Balrog would have taken them out easily. While in the book they were commanded not to. Gandalf had weapons, others did not. He is the magician, Legolas is not a magician, neither are any of the rest of the company, so their weapons don’t count in this battle.