It is a good chance that you have seen and remember the scene “the drinking game” from the Return of the King Extended Edition. The game Legolas won. So, how will the new Hobbit movies deal with the drunk Elven guard and butler in the Hobbit?
The drinking game scene from the extended version of the Return of the King has been heavily questioned by fans. Many consider it to be just another nail in the coffin of Gimli as a comic relief character – personally I just think it’s a good laugh. Some question whether or not an elf really can outdrink a dwarf. To me the biggest issue is the inconsistency with the drunk elves in the Hobbit.
Let us first examine the scene from the movie. Before the drinking game Gimli already appears to be under the influence of alcohol. We do not know how much Legolas has had to drink prior to the game but he appears to be in good shape. The game starts and Gimli speaks his famous line “Here, here. It’s the dwarves that go swimming with little hairy women.” Very eloquently put indeed. Cut to the end of the game and we can count at least 16 pints in front of Gimli. No doubt an astounding achievement! Legolas admits he is feeling something, Gimli falls over and that’s the end of that. Game over.
How does this compare to the scene in the Hobbit. The dwarves have been caught by the wood-elves and are imprisoned in Thranduil’s Halls. Bilbo is lurking using the Ring and desperately tries to come up with a rescue plan. The possibility presents itself on the day of a great feast. The captain of the guards and the butler Galion decide to taste of the wine to “see if it is fit for the king’s table“. The text reads:
“It must be a potent wine to make a wood-elf drowsy; but this wine, it would seem, was the heady vintage of the great gardens of Dorwinion, not meant for his soldiers or his servants, but for the king’s feast only, and for smaller bowls not for the butler’s great flagons.”
The elves fall asleep and Bilbo escape with the dwarves.
In most cases wine is stronger than beer. This particular wine is stated to be especially potent. As a sidenote, it must also be extremely good since they transport it all the way from Dorwinion. Anyway, even if the wine in the Hobbit was extremely strong Legolas should have shown some signs of intoxication after drinking that amount of beer. Elves are depicted as being resistant to alcohol not immune. It is of course possible that Legolas has become tolerant to alcohol.
Thranduil and Legolas was Sindar elves but rules mostly over Silvan elves. Some people suggest this explains why Legolas is more resistant to alcohol as Sindar are generally considered more powerful elves than Silvan. In a way this could explain what is meant by “not meant for his soldiers or his servants, but for the king’s feast only“.
It is perhaps the case that the scene was not very well thought through. If so this discussion is rather meaningless. I am very interested to see how they will deal with this inconsistency in the upcoming movies. If they will comment it or not. Maybe they will remove the scene completely and have Tauriel free the dwarves?