What are Balrogs EXPLAINED? [Lord of the Rings Lore]

What are Balrogs EXPLAINED? [Lord of the Rings Lore]


Gandalf: You shall not pass! Hey SubFuries! We’re talking about Lord of the Rings today. That’s why I’m wearing my One Ring and this is my Balrog. It’s one of my favorite models and it’s what we’ll be talking about today. Undoubtedly, the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm is one of the most iconic moments of the story, where Gandalf confronts the Balrog to say: “I am a servant of the Secret Fire,” “wielder of the flame of Anor” “The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn.” “Go back to the Shadow.” Now this particular phrase, a lot of people don’t know, Actually references a lot of things to do with Balrogs Like why does he say the flame of Anor or talk about the secret fire? Because as awesome as Balrogs are we aren’t actually given that much in Lord of The Rings about what on earth they are or where they came from. So it’s time for your Tolkien lore nerd to start rambling. Now the story of the Balrogs takes us right back to the Music of the Ainur or the creation of all of Eä and Middle-Earth. and I need to introduce you to a character called Melkor. So Melkor was one of the many Ainur who were the “offspring of Eru Illuvatar’s thought, and they were with him before aught else was made.” Now the Ainur can be split up into two groups: the Valar and the Maiar. The Valar were the highest ranking, or most powerful of the Ainur, while the Maiar were the lower ranking or less powerful of the Ainur, kind of like low ranking angels. Now we don’t have time to get into all of Melkor’s story, But essentially he was one of the closest Ainur to the creator, Eru Illuvatar. Now Tolkien wrote that as all of the Valar and Maiar were singing together in the song of creation, “Melkor began to interweave matters of his own imagining…” “for he sought therein to increase the power and glory he had.” In other words he sang his own song of creation, he wanted to create his own things, his own beings, his own worlds even. He didn’t just want to fulfill the purpose laid down for him by Eru Illuvatar. Now Melkor may have wanted to have created things himself, but this isn’t where Balrogs come in just yet. No. There is a reason that Gandalf proclaims: “I am a servant of the Secret Fire” to the Balrog. The Secret Fire in Tolkien’s legendarium is essentially the power to create something, something original, something out of nothing. Tolkien wrote: “Illuvatar shall give to the Ainur’s thoughts the secret fire, being well pleased.” But Melkor wanted to create things of his own design outside of Eru Illuvatar’s. So “he had often gone off into the void places seeking the Secret Fire;” “for desire grew hot within him to bring into being things of his own.” But he couldn’t find it. Melkor lacked the ability to create things of his own design but he eventually learned that he could corrupt the other creations of Eru Illuvatar or the other Maiar around him. Tolkien wrote: “For of the Maiar, many were drawn to Melkor’s splendour in the days of his greatness…” “Dreadful among these spirits with the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire” “that in Middle-Earth were called the Balrogs, demons of terror.” The Balrogs are not creations of Melkor because he didn’t have the Secret Fire that would allow him to do that. They were corruptions of other Maiar around him. That’s what Gandalf, another Maiar, is meaning when he says “I am a servant of the Secret Fire.” That I am just as powerful as you, Balrog, and I am backed up by the ultimate power that your Master never had. Gandalf also identifies the Balrog as “the Flame of Udûn.” Udûn being the Sindarin word for hell and alluding to Utumno, Melkor’s fortress before the First Age. He’s saying “I know what you are and who you serve.” In the Silmarillion it’s implied that Balrogs weren’t just Maiar that turned to serve Melkor, But they were the first to turn to serve Melkor. Tolkien wrote: “Those spirits who first adhered to him in the days of his splendor… Balrogs they were named.” So it is possible, though not definite, that being a Balrog is also something of a position under Morgoth, rather than just a certiain type of creature. That, like Sauron gave more power to the Ringwraiths, Melkor gave more power to his Balrogs. Now this story often means that people tend to perceive Balrogs as mindless evil demons enslaved to the will of Morgoth but they’re actually a lot more than that. As we discussed before, Balrogs are Maiar on par with Sauron, though not as powerful, or Gandalf, who helped shape and create the world. They are imaginative and intelligent beings. They’re even described as having magical abilities akin to that of Gandalf: “It perceived me and my spell. What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible.” Gandalf literally cast a spell, and the Balrog perceived his magic and him and cast a counter to it. These two look different, but they are technically the same kind of being: Maiar. Speaking of the way they look, there is a reason that Balrogs look the way they do, as creatures of shadow and flame. Because Maiar have the ability to “clothe themselves in their own thought,” shape-shift into other forms that reflect who they are and their mood. We can probably assume that, just as Melkor, another Ainur, was once incredibly beautiful and became dark and twisted, the Balrogs too went from majestic and beautiful to terrible, that they “became most like Melkor… hearts of fire and they were cloaked in darkness” to reflect who they were during the first war with Morgoth. There is also a reason that Gandalf proclaims he is a “wielder of the flame of Anor.” Anor means sun in elvish, and alludes to Arien, a spirit of flame that was appointed by the Valar to be the guardian of the sun. Morgoth wished to corrupt her, She was incredibly powerful, but he never managed to. Now typically speaking, a Maiar is affiliated with one of the Valar. For example, Ossë served Ulmo, the Valar of the oceans and seas. Now while it’s never explicitly stated what kind of spirits Balrogs were or who they served before, It is implied that they were spirits of fire, like Arien. By proclaiming the “flame of Anor” Gandalf was reminding the Balrog that he was wielding the power of a spirit that not even their master, Melkor, was able to corrupt. But there you go: Balrogs were probably the first spirits to turn to serve Melkor after the music of creation. They were not created by Melkor, but probably corrupted spirits of flame that had their forms changed to reflect their evil hearts. They were cunning, intelligent and cruel, able to use magic and knowledge like Gandalf. But that’s all from me SubFuries. My question to you is: what do you think is one of the most iconic moments in film history? Any movie you like. Tell me down in the comments below. I’d love for you to join other SubFuries following me on Twitter, Wattpad, Facebook Links down there, supporting me on Patreon, emailing me, or sending me stuff you’ve made, at the links and address in the description below. Stay nerdy, SubFuries and I’ll see you in the future.

100 thoughts on “What are Balrogs EXPLAINED? [Lord of the Rings Lore]”

  1. How did Eowyn kill the Witch-King EXPLAINED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0NSuS5l7Ok&t=4s

    Let me know down below of any other Lord of the Rings questions you have 🙂 Also, what would you say is one of the most iconic moments in film history? Stay nerdy!

    ~ Tim

  2. (This is going to be strange, coming from a fantasy nerd)
    One of my favorite moments in cinema..
    Empire of The Sun..
    When the kid walks up on a Zero plane, being built.. and the touches it with the music playing (and the Japanese guard yelling at him to leave). Then 3 Japanese pilots walk up to him (their faces obscured so it could be any of the pilots). The kid turns around, sees them and salutes.. the three pilots come to attention and salute back..
    no idea why, but it moved me more than others I’ve seen..

  3. i did a little change to this said by king dain ll ironfoot "the hordes of hell are upon us to battle sons of durin"

  4. An iconic moment in film history is the scene in Jurassic Park (1993) where we see a cup of water with the surface rippling to the tremor of the approaching T-Rex’s footsteps.

    Another one is the final scene of The Departed, with the rat and the song Sweet Dreams.

    And another is in the movie The Place Beyond the Pines where Dane DeHaan’s character is talking to his dads old friend/crime partner and he finds his dad’s sunglasses. He puts them on and Ben Mendelsen’s character says “Yeah! You’re callin’ him back,” and then it cuts to the kid riding his bike down the same road his father rode down with the same music and camera movement.
    Edit: Also, idk if I'd call it iconic necessarily but I wanna mention the scene from The Big Lebowski where The Dude says "y'know that's just like your opinion man." It's an iconic line at least right?

  5. Can’t believe it took me this long to find these LotR videos. I’m just glad I watched his Avatar videos and was led to these!

  6. Balrogs originated from mount doom. Before the wring ess created by Sauron he enlisted the power of elves that had lived in the fiery mountains. He cursed the elves. The cursed elves would eventually become angry and grow fire instead of hair. One in particular put on more weight than the others and began eating gus fellow cursed elves. He ate so many cursed elves that he became the balrog that is seen in the films and books. It is also important to note that the role of the balrog we see in the film is actually Rosanne Barr in special effects makeup.

  7. fun fact; gandalf told the party to run and faced the balrog alone so that he can loot all the exp for himself, hence why he leveled up and became a white wizard 😀

  8. Its amazing how much Tolkien borrowed from the bible. The early history of Melkor and his relationship to Eru Illuvatar is almost the exact same as Lucifer's early history and his relationship to God.

  9. I wonder if it has anything to do with the nature of fire that Balrogs were the first to be corrupted? Fire, when controlled, can do very helpful things like cook food and forge metal. Otherwise, it can be quite destructive. Perhaps they were seduced by Melkor because he promised them freedom whereas the Maia Arien remained tame to the Vala(r) she served?

  10. I actually think "wielder of the Flame Anor" refers to Narya, the Ring of Fire, that Gandalf wields. But otherwise great analysis!

  11. Dawn in the Map Room from Raiders .
    The Ark hidden in Gov. warehouse.
    "Must go faster" because " Things in the mirror are closer than they appear. "

  12. Some older ones, on purpose, as many more recent ones are already mentioned.
    "I don't have to show you any badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!"
    "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? Just put your lips together… and blow."
    "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
    "Rosebud."

    But my favorite may be Moonwatcher smashing a tapir skull with a bone. The first tool, soon after having contact with The Monolith.
    Then his throwing a bone into the air, which turns into a spaceship made by his direct descendants, three million years later.

  13. I love how in detail this video is, but as an avid Tolkien Universe researcher, there is one small thing I disagree with—the Valar and Maiar concept only existed within the circles of the world (Arda)—before Ea, there were only Ainur, and they weren't separated into different ranks. Therefore, the terms Valar and Maiar only apply to the Ainur who chose to enter the world and shape it. Maiar also does not necessarily mean that they were a lot weaker than the Valar—some were just a smidge weaker than the Valar they serve.

    The Secret Fire does technically mean the power to create, but it probably is the Flame Imperishable, since it is both a fire and hidden from the rest of the world.

  14. Most iconic movie scene for me:

    Final showdown at the end of The Good the bad and the ugly – the music, il trio, perfects this already incredible scene

  15. huh, i thought "flame of anor" was an allusion of some kind to the "ring of fire" narya that he was secretly carrying around all that time, was there a connection to that?

  16. oh iconic moments in film history… well that's a matter of opinion i guess: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21h0G_gU9Tw

  17. Yeah really good summary of what balrogs are…. Read the silmarillion for those who dont know who the true dark lord morgoth the black is

  18. “so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

  19. In Return of the King
    Sam : “ I can’t carry it for you but I can carry you”
    Frodo: literally about to die
    Everyone watching: sobbing

    Or at the beginning of Unexpected Journey when Thorin is calling to Thranduil as Smaug takes Erebor and Thranduil just tilts his head like remember when you stole my gems ? And then Thranduil leaves with his army

  20. Sorry, a great tv quote, from Stargate.
    Coombs "Vulcan Felger, Vulcan! And I don't know how you can call yourself a scientist and not worship at the altar of Rodenberry!"
    Especially enjoyable since the person playing Coombs was a key character in Star Trek Voyager, Neelix.

  21. Ty for this great video! So that makes sense then that yes Gandalf killed the Balrog but it cost him his own life to do it because essentially…they are the same thing and equally matched in power so ultimately that fight, which took a long, long time, destroyed them both. And so that's why Eru then intervened and sent him back with more power than before in the form of Gandalf the white, on par with Saruman's power, maybe even more powerful, so maybe if such a scenario occurred again, he could overcome the shadow without being defeated. By dying, he actually levelled up xD

  22. the most iconomic scene was when theoden give speech to the rohirim before charging the orcs in the plains of minas tirith.

  23. What's the most iconic moment in film history hu, well I think we all know what that is.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo2SNtFofWI&t=7s

  24. Interesting how much of Tolkien's writing, who was a Christian and who was best friends with C.S. Lewis, was influenced by the Bible.  The narrative of Scripture is woven into rich patterns throughout his work.  Creation.  The fall.  Satan.  Demons.  Angels.  A messiah.  The coming great final battle.

  25. To me, the scene in pulp fiction where Jewls and Vincent where they retrieve the briefcase is my favorite scene of all time in film. I love every second of it.

    Another scene that I want to mention here is the scene from ratatouille where he gets his brother to try the different foods for the first time. He tells him to close his eyes and try and really feel what he’s eating. The animations is some of the most unique and amazing I’ve ever seen. It makes what you feel and taste into a visual expression and it’s a crime that that scene is overlooked.

  26. I always thought of Sauron as the most powerful of the Balrogs, though Gothmog held that official title.

    I would like to hear your opion of Ecthelion's battle with Balrogs. Christopher Tolkien has walked it back saying that Balrogs used to be less powerful, but that contradicts everything else in the Tolkien universe as every other creature becomes less powerful over time. Like Luthien, I like to think that Ecthelion was an elf even more powerful than most Maia.

  27. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

    “He made him an offer he couldn’t refuse”

    “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

    "If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

    “Why so serious?"

    If I have to name the movies then these are not iconic. First one is my favourite !

  28. I’ve never read any of the lotr books and I barely remember the movies but I always loved that scene with Gandalf and the balrog. You just might’ve convinced me to pick up the books and movies again

  29. "Where are all the white women at" Blazing Saddles
    "Dude where's my Car" Dude where's my Car
    "What Knockers" Young Frankenstein
    "Really Baby It's not mine" Austin Powers International man of mystery
    "I'll bet she gives great helmet" Space Balls
    "I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough water! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" Search for the Holy Grail

  30. 0:55 they are demons of the ancient world. Their foe is beyond any of you [ and its right behind us in the movie]
    Me: dude did you need any more info ?? ????

  31. Iconic moment in film history?

    Last scene of 'The Truman Show'; particularly when Truman's boat finally crashes into the edge of his world. That is meta-fictional on many levels and throws light on the whole film narrative, and on many of the cast.

  32. How much time did you take to research this and not actually take time to spend time in real life with with real people so you can actually spend time with real people and do preseant day things like a date or watching a movie or shopping with a friend or go on an adventure?

  33. Why would i ever subscribe to you when its apparent that you spend all your time researching thing rather than experiencing thing in real life with friends?

  34. Wow this totally changed the way i look at & understand Balrogs, very cool, now I’m very curious to see what they once looked like when they were “beautiful”

  35. One of the most iconic scenes in film history was actually completely ad libbed. It was the “Tears in Rain” soliloquy from the end of Blade Runner delivered by Rutger Hauer. Hauer had literally written that entire soliloquy in his head just a few minutes before filming the shot, and it remains one of the most beautiful speeches on film.

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