Set around 250 years before Théoden’s rule, this new anime feature focuses on Helm Hammerhand and the creation of Helm’s Deep. With the movie being made by New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Animation, and executive produced by Philippa Boyens (who co-wrote Peter Jackson’s films), there is a distinct cinematic lineage here.
Today, Warner Bros announced that the film will reach theatres on April 12, 2024.
And along with that news, we have a first look at conceptual art from the film (via Variety)
Wondering what the plot will be? Unless we get some unnecessary hubris from the screenwriters, it should follow what Tolkien wrote. Below is the verbatim text from The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, The House of Eorl, that speaks of Helm Hammerhand…
‘Of the Kings of the Mark between Eorl and Théoden most is said of Helm Hammerhand. He was a grim man of great strength. There was at that time a man named Freca, who claimed descent from King Fréawine, though he had, men said, much Dunlendish blood, and was dark-haired. He grew rich and powerful, having wide lands on either side of the Adorn. Near its source he made himself a stronghold and paid little heed to the king. Helm mistrusted him, but called him to his councils; and he came when it pleased him.
‘To one of these councils Freca rode with many men, and he asked the hand of Helm’s daughter for his son Wulf. But Helm said: “You have grown big since you were last here; but it is mostly fat, I guess”; and men laughed at that, for Freca was wide in the belt.
‘Then Freca fell in a rage and reviled the king, and said this at the last: “Old kings that refuse a proffered staff may fall on their knees.” Helm answered: “Come! The marriage of your son is a trifle. Let Helm and Freca deal with it later. Meanwhile the king and his council have matters of moment to consider.”
‘When the council was over, Helm stood up and laid his great hand on Freca’s shoulder, saying: “The king does not permit brawls in his house, but men are freer outside”; and he forced Freca to walk before him out from Edoras into the field. To Freca’s men that came up he said: “Be off! We need no hearers. We are going to speak of a private matter alone. Go and talk to my men!” And they looked and saw that the king’s men and his friends far outnumbered them, and they drew back.
‘“Now, Dunlending,” said the king, “you have only Helm to deal with, alone and unarmed. But you have said much already, and it is my turn to speak. Freca, your folly has grown with your belly. You talk of a staff! If Helm dislikes a crooked staff that is thrust on him, he breaks it. So!” With that he smote Freca such a blow with his fist that he fell back stunned, and died soon after.
‘Helm then proclaimed Freca’s son and near kin the king’s enemies; and they fled, for at once Helm sent many men riding to the west marches.’
Four years later (2758) great troubles came to Rohan, and no help could be sent from Gondor, for three fleets of the Corsairs attacked it and there was war on all its coasts. At the same time Rohan was again invaded from the East, and the Dunlendings seeing their chance came over the Isen and down from Isengard. It was soon known that Wulf was their leader. They were in great force, for they were joined by enemies of Gondor that landed in the mouths of Lefnui and Isen.
The Rohirrim were defeated and their land was overrun; and those who were not slain or enslaved fled to the dales of the mountains. Helm was driven back with great loss from the Crossings of Isen and took refuge in the Hornburg and the ravine behind (which was after known as Helm’s Deep). There he was besieged. Wulf took Edoras and sat in Meduseld and called himself king. There Haleth Helm’s son fell, last of all, defending the doors.
‘Soon afterwards the Long Winter began, and Rohan lay under snow for nearly five months (November to March, 2758-9). Both the Rohirrim and their foes suffered grievously in the cold, and in the dearth that lasted longer. In Helm’s Deep there was a great hunger after Yule; and being in despair, against the king’s counsel, Háma his younger son led men out on a sortie and foray, but they were lost in the snow. Helm grew fierce and gaunt for famine and grief; and the dread of him alone was worth many men in the defence of the Burg. He would go out by himself, clad in white, and stalk like a snow-troll into the camps of his enemies, and slay many men with his hands. It was believed that if he bore no weapon no weapon would bite on him. The Dunlendings said that if he could find no food he ate men. That tale lasted long in Dunland. Helm had a great horn, and soon it was marked that before he sallied forth he would blow a blast upon it that echoed in the Deep; and then so great a fear fell on his enemies that instead of gathering to take him or kill him they fled away down the Coomb.
‘One night men heard the horn blowing, but Helm did not return. In the morning there came a sun-gleam, the first for long days, and they saw a white figure standing still on the Dike, alone, for none of the Dunlendings dared come near. There stood Helm, dead as a stone, but his knees were unbent. Yet men said that the horn was still heard at times in the Deep and the wraith of Helm would walk among the foes of Rohan and kill men with fear.
‘Soon after the winter broke. Then Fréaláf, son of Hild, Helm’s sister, came down out of Dunharrow, to which many had fled; and with a small company of desperate men he surprised Wulf in Meduseld and slew him, and regained Edoras. There were great floods after the snows, and the vale of Entwash became a vast fen. The Eastern invaders perished or withdrew; and there came help at last from Gondor, by the roads both east and west of the mountains. Before the year (2759) was ended the Dunlendings were driven out, even from Isengard; and then Fréaláf became king.
‘Helm was brought from the Hornburg and laid in the ninth mound. Ever after the white simbelmynë grew there most thickly, so that the mound seemed to be snow-clad. When Fréaláf died a new line of mounds was begun.’