He appears to be in pain while holding the Palantir.

Why is this so?

  • Because Sauron is evil?
    – Adamant
    Jul 30, 2016 at 18:55
  • Hobbits considered strudy and look what a short chat with Sauron did to Pippin. Why you except a dunadan to be unaffected, especially as he was fighting for the control of the palantir?
    – user68762
    Jul 30, 2016 at 19:12
  • 1
    It is worth noting that in the books Aragorn has extended talks with Sauron trough the stones, the movies takes that specific plot point away from the books.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jul 30, 2016 at 20:11

3 Answers 3


For reference, this is the scene in question:

In the actor commentary on the scene, from the DVD, the palantír is described as a "direct line to evil"1.

It's worth comparing Aragorn's experience to Pippin's, from earlier in the film:

Basically as soon as he touches the Stone (or as soon as he's communicating with Sauron), Pippin is clearly in excruciating pain. Clearly there's something deeply uncomfortable about having a psychic phone call with Lucifer.

This is borne out by the text, although bear in mind this is information Peter Jackson could not have (legally admitted to have) used as reference:

  • Using the Stones is a mental workout:

    The use of the palantíri was a mental strain, especially on men of later days not trained to the task

    Unfinished Tales Part 4 Chapter III: "The Palantíri" Note 13

  • Using the Stone against Sauron is a particular strain. We learn this in the context of Denenthor's encounters with Sauron:

    The breaking strain of Denethor's confrontation of Sauron must be distinguished from the general strain of using the Stone.

    Unfinished Tales Part 4 Chapter III: "The Palantíri"

    This meshes well with the description from the commentary, of the stone as a "direct line to evil".

Aragorn is at an advantage because, as the Heir of Elendil, he's the lawful owner of the Stones, while Sauron is not:

In the case of Denethor, the Steward was strengthened, even against Sauron himself, by the fact the Stones were far more amenable to legitimate users: most of all to true "Heirs of Elendil" (as Aragorn), but also to one with inherited authority(as Denethor), as compared to Saruman, or Sauron.

Unfinished Tales Part 4 Chapter III: "The Palantíri"

However, he's still a mortal going up against a god-like being. You've got to expect some effort from a confrontation like that.

1 Thanks to Valorum for pointing this out

  • The actor's commentary on RotK describes the Palantir as a "direct line to evil"
    – Valorum
    Jul 30, 2016 at 20:01
  • @Valorum Cheer, added. I really should get around to watching those Jul 31, 2016 at 3:36

In addition to Jason's answer, I thought that even though the question appears to be about the movie, an answer quoting the book The Return of the King might be helpful.

After Aragorn has looked in the Palantir, we read this:

Together they went back into the Burg; yet for some time Aragorn sat silent at the table in the hall, and the others waited for him to speak. ‘Come!’ said Legolas at last. ‘Speak and be comforted, and shake off the shadow! What has happened since we came back to this grim place in the grey morning?’

‘A struggle somewhat grimmer for my part than the battle of the Hornburg,’ answered Aragorn. ‘I have looked in the Stone of Orthanc, my friends.’

‘You have looked in that accursed stone of wizardry!’ exclaimed Gimli with fear and astonishment in his face. ‘Did you say aught to – him? Even Gandalf feared that encounter.’

‘You forget to whom you speak,’ said Aragorn sternly, and his eyes glinted. ‘What do you fear that I should say to him? Did I not openly proclaim my title before the doors of Edoras? Nay, Gimli,’ he said in a softer voice, and the grimness left his face, and he looked like one who has laboured in sleepless pain for many nights. ‘Nay, my friends, I am the lawful master of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use it, or so I judged. The right cannot be doubted. The strength was enough – barely.’

The return of the King: The Passing of the Grey Company

Aragorn has been through a mental battle with the far more powerful Sauron. His inherited right to use the Palantir helped him win that battle (but barely - as Aragorn acknowledges). It is no wonder that he would be shaken both during and after such an ordeal.


Going up against Sauron and failing was Aragorn's greatest fear. Looking into the eyes of ultimate evil was him facing that fear. Add that to the connection it creates to the people communicating, and Aragorn was going to be a little shaky. And then Sauron confronts with his second greatest fear.

  • Unsourced, speculative, and paltry. Jul 31, 2016 at 3:32
  • petty; trivial. "naval glory struck him as paltry" synonyms worthless, petty, trivial, unimportant, insignificant, inconsequential, of little account/consequence, meaningless, negligible, nugatory, minor, footling, contemptible; More Feedback Translations and more definitions Paltry | Definition of Paltry by Merriam-Webster
    – turinsbane
    Jul 31, 2016 at 18:39

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