“You shall not pass!”
— Gandalf in the The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship Of the Ring
Gandalf’s bellowing defiance encapsulated in this phrase has gone on to enter popular culture and to become immortalised in meme format. The wise wizard is the saviour prophet-like advisory to the hobbits on their dangerous quest. In this one dramatic scene he is seemingly removed as that source of security and the hobbits must go on to face their journey to Mordor alone.
The scene is part of the climax of the movie in which the fellowship must face down evil and escape the mountains to continue on their quest. They encounter a Balrog, a gigantic horned creature with malicious intentions. They flee together across a chasm on a treacherous bridge, but Gandalf turns with courage to face the evil, telling the creature to “go back to the shadow.”
The beast is stunned by Gandalf’s chanting and the power of his staff, which Gandalf plants into the bridge with impressive force. This is the iconic moment when he thunders, “You shall not pass!” with utter conviction.
We are allowed a brief moment of triumph when the beast tumbles down into the unknown and Gandalf turns to march on, but the beast ensnares Gandalf and pulls him into the abyss.
Gandalf seemed invincible to the audience, having already escaped the treacheries of Mount Doom. “You shall not pass!” however, becomes the motif for the whole series of Lord of the Rings: confronting darkness head on leads to certain victory.