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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

The Tower of Cirith Ungol Pt. 2: Sam rescues Frodo, plus main essay for series (#2 of 3).

Posted on 2007.08.19 at 20:23
Tags: , ,
~*~



Discussion for "The Tower of Cirith Ungol":


In this scene, the differences between the book and film are apparent to any fan. Most obviously, book Frodo wakes up completely naked while film Frodo wakes up minus his shirt. That Frodo is naked and captive in the Tower has been given a lurid, even prurient spin in fanfic by some, perhaps inspired by the spectacle of beautiful film-Frodo bound and shirtless writhing and straining against his bonds on the big screen.

But the primary thing the nakedness of Frodo conveys to me is a sense of his extreme vulnerability. That was why I was sorry the filmmakers chose not to film the scene as written. They didn't need to show anything. Upper torso shots would have got the point across, preserving both the PG-13 rating and the sense of Frodo's acute vulnerability as a captive of orcs in the Tower. A clothed captive feels defenceless enough, but a captive stripped of every protective covering feels a defencelessness that is abject. Interrogating prisoners who have been stripped naked is a time-honored strategy. That it allows easy access to the captive's body is only one of its virtues. Being made to stand (or sit or lie) naked before clothed, armed "interrogators" increases exponentially the sense of intimidation and imminent violation. Naked prisoners are more easily terrorized, demoralized, humiliated, and inclined to despair. And prisoners who despair are the most likely of all to tell their secrets.

Frodo’s nakedness in the Tower also gives a deeper emotional context to his subsequent statement to Sam on Gorgoroth, “I’m naked in the dark, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire” (the icon of the Eye). Remembering this scene, when Frodo was literally naked, in a nearly-dark cell, with no “veil” between him and the burning eyes of his captors, makes the line far more powerful and resonant.

In spite of any rough treatment the orcs may have subjected him to, the horror Frodo feels seems to have been more mental than physical. He tells Sam that after the orcs revived him, forcing “some horrible burning drink” down his throat (perhaps the same sort of draught the Uruk-hai used to revive Merry in TTT), they stripped him of everything....


"[T]hen two great brutes came and questioned me until I thought I should go mad, standing over me, gloating, fingering their knives. I’ll never forget their claws and eyes.”

"I’ll never forget their claws and eyes." I read that not as them actually ripping his flesh, but brandishing and flourishing their claws the way they were "fingering their knives". And their eyes were horrible in the way they pored over and into him, obscenely enjoying their cruel power over him: "gloating". I felt I should go mad, he says . From the endless questioning, the sense of threat, and the way they looked at him.

Again, my point is that the trauma Frodo underwent in the Tower was more psychological than physical. Frodo does not seem to have sustained serious injuries. But Frodo must have looked in a bad way or Sam would not have asked, “Can you walk?” Frodo had the "ugly whip-weal", of course, which struck Sam immediately, but he apparently was not covered in weals. Yet he much have looked pitiable; scratched and bruised, perhaps. Notable was the fact that the orcs left Frodo in the chamber unbound (his hands are bound with thick rope in the film). Sam enters the room to see Frodo on the pile of filthy rags, “his arm flung up, shielding his head”. His hands are not tied. Perhaps they tied him up for "questioning", but I am guessing the orcs thought he looked so weak and debilitated, and the chamber so secure, they felt they needn't bother binding him to subdue him.

So, in answer to Sam, Frodo could and did walk. “I’m all right,” he says, getting up and pacing the chamber a few times. But, he explains, “I feel very tired, and I’ve a pain here,” indicating the place at the back of his neck above his shoulder where he had been stung. Frodo apparently was unaware of what “hit” him.

Frodo's “I’m all right,” always strikes me as the essence of heroic hobbit understatement. He has suffered the terrors and ordeals of Minas Morgul, the Stairs, the Tunnel, and the Lair. He believes all his friends are probably dead, perhaps now even Sam. He has been stung by a giant diabolical spider, and still aches from it. He has been made captive by brutal orcs, stripped, and interrogated until he thinks he should go mad. Worst of all, he has lost the Ring (so he thinks), and the Quest has failed, all because of his folly (so he thinks), and the free lands will fall.

"I'm all right," he says. He certainly is. After everything he endures in the Tower, he still doesn't crack, telling the enemy nothing. Yes, he's all right.



The film version of the Tower is very different. The matter of Frodo's lack of complete nakedness is a minor detail. Being deprived of his shirt and vest is adequate for the re-worked scene. He does not need to be naked to make the point. He is not the pathetic figure of the book, stripped of clothes and Ring and bearing up under endless questioning and intimidation. Film Frodo is shown waking up just as the argument between Gorbag and Shagrat erupts over his “shiny shirt". It is then that Frodo, hands bound and head still covered with scraps of webbing, feels about and finds that not only the shiny shirt but the Ring is gone. The orcs pay no attention to him, launching immediately into the conflict that takes them out of the room, leaving Frodo alone. Thus being shirtless is all that is necessary to establish that he’s been searched, that the orcs have taken the mithril corselet, and that he no longer has the Ring.

It is at this point, too, that the film scene really takes off. All the book's pathos of Frodo as a captive—of what he endured, of Sam finding him in a pititable state and weeping over him and cradling him, of Frodo having an attack of madness and seeing Sam as an orc—none of that is touched upon in the film. But the film scene is going somewhere else: straight past all that to the temptation of Sam by the Ring, and the near-conflict between the friends over the handing-over of the accursed treasure.

Sam’s temptation in the book happens in the Pass, before he gets to the Tower. He is wearing the Ring, and the accent of the temptation is on how the Ring plays upon its wearer's strengths, not his weaknesses. Wearing the Ring, Sam sees himself greatly enlarged, a hero saving the day, then as the gardener who will make desolate Mordor into a garden. As Gandalf and Galadriel warned, the good-hearted person will start off wishing to use the Ring for good, but that is not where it will end.

In the film, Sam never puts on the Ring. His temptation is shown as similar to Boromir's. Mesmerized by the golden circle hanging from its chain, he is reluctant to hand it over when asked. But then the similarity to Boromir's temptation ends and begins to resemble Frodo's. In the Tower, his hand outstretched, Sam's eyes widen, as if in sudden fear and alarm. He recoils his hand, as if he is seeing Frodo as someone else; someone strange and menacing. Then, still unsure, he stretches out his hand again, but tentatively.

Perhaps Sam has just had his own moment of seeing a loved one transform into a grasping orc, just as Frodo did in the book. The film scene seems to promote this, portraying Frodo as all the more understanding. He wants the Ring back badly, that is clear, but it is also clear that he is filled with empathy as he watches Sam's disorientation and struggle, recognizing Sam's fit for what it is: the very thing he has experienced himself. And he does not want this to be Sam's lot.

But, wait. When did Frodo experience the transformation of Sam into an orc, if that part of the book's Tower scene was cut? Preparing these posts, it struck me that the "Frodo-sees-Sam-turn-into-an-orc" moment is there, but moved to an earlier scene, that of the climactic conflict on the Stairs.

In the book scene, Sam offers to help carry the Ring on the grounds that it will be even more difficult to bear once they enter Mordor. "I could share it with you, maybe?" he says. The suggestion precipitates Frodo's fit. "Thief!" Frodo shouts at him, until Sam is on his knees, weeping, "as if stabbed in the heart." On the Stairs, Sam makes nearly the same offer, precipitating a similar fit. Frodo on the Stairs, like Frodo captive in the Tower, is beaten down by travail and fear and fatigue, and relentless questioning—but not by orcs, by Gollum. Like Frodo in the Tower, he recoils from Sam in fear and alarm, his face the picture of revulsion. And film Sam, too, ends up on his knees, weeping, "as if he had been stabbed in the heart".

But, unlike the book scene in the Tower, the film's Stairs scene has no moment of reconciliation. Frodo does not come to his senses and ask Sam's pardon. Not yet. It does happen in the film, but not until the reunion in the Tower. True, the film's script does not have the depth or pathos of the book's reconciliation scene, but it does "work". The lines are minimal, but the acting provides warmth and hints at a richer subtext. Frodo's look of pained relief at the sight of Sam, and Sam’s beatific smile, say volumes: “Sam, I am so ashamed, so sorry, and so glad to see you." "There, there, Mr. Frodo. I’m just that glad you’re alive. Never mind all that what happened on the Stairs.”

And "mind all that" they don't. Until Gollum shows up again on the slopes of Mt. Doom, the conflict between Sam and Frodo that festered and grew from the Emyn Muil until it erupted on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol might never have existed, all of it a bad dream.

Perhaps this scene was the filmmakers' way of smoothing the ruffled sensibilites of so many LotR fans. "All right, you've been warm all along, but now we're done. We've had our go at 'upping of the ante' for Frodo and Sam, and now we've put the characters back, safe and sound, right where Tolkien left them. It wasn't so bad, was it?"

Well, I suppose not, since I'm still here making these screencaps and writing these posts.




~*~



Film Scene: Sam rescues Frodo.


Sam enters the Tower of Cirith Ungol. Three Orcs come down the stairs, whom Sam fights, striking them off the stairs.

Sam: That’s for Frodo! That one’s for the Shire! And that’s for my old Gaffer! (At the top of the tower, Gorbag threatens Frodo.)

Gorbag: Stop your squirming, you rat! I'm gonna bleed you like a stuck pig!

Sam: (From behind Gorbag, running him through.) Not if I stick you first.

Frodo: Sam! Oh Sam, I'm so sorry! Sorry for everything.

Sam: Let's get you out of here.

Frodo: It's too late. It's over. They've taken It! Sam! They took the Ring!

Sam: Begging your pardon, but they haven't. I thought I'd lost you so I took It. (Sam pulls the Ring on its chain from his pocket and shows it to Frodo.) Only for safe-keeping.

Frodo: Give It to me. Give me the Ring, Sam. (Sam appears to struggle, hesitating to give it back as he holds it out.)

Frodo: Sam! Give me the Ring. (Sam slowly extends his hand and Frodo snatches it from Sam’s hand.)



~*~




Book scene, continued, from The Tower of Cirith Ungol.


But now he could hear nothing. Yes, he could hear something, but not a voice. Footsteps were approaching. Now a door was being opened quietly in the passage above; the hinges creaked. Sam crouched down listening. The door closed with a dull thud; and then a snarling orc-voice rang out.

‘Ho la! You up there, you dunghill rat! Stop your squeaking, or I’ll come and deal with you. D’you hear?’

There was no answer.

‘All right,’ growled Snaga. ‘But I’ll come and have a look at you all the same, and see what you’re up to.’ (…) He heard the hideous voice speaking again.

‘You lie quiet, or you’ll pay for it! You’ve not got long to live in peace, I guess; but if you don’t want the fun to begin right now, keep your trap shut, see? There’s a reminder for you!’ There was the sound of a crack of a whip.

At that rage blazed in Sam’s heart to a sudden fury. He sprang up, ran, and went up the ladder like a cat. His head came out in the middle of the floor of a large round chamber. A red lamp hung from its roof; the westward window-slit was high and dark. Something was lying on the floor by the wall under the window, but over it a black orc-shape was straddled. It raised a whip a second time, but the blow never fell.

With a cry Sam leapt across the floor, Sting in hand. The orc wheeled round, but before it could make a move Sam slashed its whip-hand from its arm. Howling with pain and fear but desperate the orc charged head-down at him. Sam’s next blow went wide, and thrown off his balance he fell backwards, clutching at the orc as it stumbled over him. Before he could scramble up he heard a cry and a thud. The orc in its wild haste had tripped on the ladder-head and fallen through the open trap-door. Sam gave no more thought to it. He ran to the figure on the floor. It was Frodo.


He was naked, lying as if in a swoon on a heap of filthy rags; his arm was flung up, shielding his head, and across his side there ran an ugly whip-weal.

‘Frodo! Mr. Frodo, my dear!’ cried Sam, tears almost blinding him. ‘It’s Sam, I’ve come!’ He half lifted his master and hugged him to his breast. Frodo opened his eyes.

‘Am I still dreaming?’ he muttered. ‘But the other dreams were horrible.’

‘You’re not dreaming at all, Master,’ said Sam. ‘It’s real. It’s me. I’ve come.’

‘I can hardly believe it,’ said Frodo, clutching him. ‘There was an orc with a whip, and then it turns into Sam! Then I wasn’t dreaming after all when I heard that singing down below, and I tried to answer? Was it you?’

‘It was indeed, Mr. Frodo. I’d given up hope, almost. I couldn’t find you.’

‘Well, you have now, Sam, dear Sam,’ said Frodo, and he lay back in Sam’s gentle arms, closing his eyes, like a child at rest when night-fears are driven away by some beloved voice or hand.

Sam felt that he could sit like that in endless happiness; but it was not allowed. It was not enough for him to find his master, he had still to try and save him. He kissed Frodo’s forehead. ‘Come! Wake up, Mr. Frodo!’ he said, trying to sound as cheerful as he had when he drew back the curtains at Bag End on a summer’s morning.

Frodo sighed and sat up. ‘Where are we? How did I get here?’ he asked.

‘There’s no time for tales till we get somewhere else, Mr. Frodo,’ said Sam. ‘But you’re in the top of that tower you and me saw from away down by the tunnel before the orcs got you. How long ago that was I don’t know. More than a day, I guess.’

‘Only that?’ said Frodo. ‘It seems weeks. You must tell me all about it, if we get a chance. Something hit me, didn’t it? And I fell into darkness and foul dreams, and woke and found that waking was worse. Orcs were all round me. I think they had just been pouring some horrible burning drink down my throat. My head grew clear, but I was aching and weary. They stripped me of everything; and then two great brutes came and questioned me until I thought I should go mad, standing over me, gloating, fingering their knives. I’ll never forget their claws and eyes.’

‘You won’t, if you talk about them, Mr. Frodo,’ said Sam. ‘And if we don’t want to see them again, the sooner we get going the better. Can you walk?’

‘Yes, I can walk,’ said Frodo, getting up slowly. ‘I am not hurt, Sam. Only I feel very tired, and I’ve a pain here.’ He put his hand to the back of his neck above his left shoulder. He stood up, and it looked to Sam as if he was clothed in flame: his naked skin was scarlet in the light of the lamp above. Twice he paced across the floor.

‘That’s better!’ he said, his spirits rising a little. ‘I didn’t dare to move when I was left alone, or one of the guards came. Until the yelling and fighting began. The two big brutes: they quarrelled, I think. Over me and my things. I lay here terrified. And then all went deadly quiet, and that was worse.’

‘Yes, they quarrelled, seemingly,’ said Sam. ‘There must have been a couple of hundred of the dirty creatures in this place. A bit of a tall order for Sam Gamgee, as you might say. But they’ve done all the killing of themselves. That’s lucky, but it’s too long to make a song about, till we’re out of here. Now what’s to be done? You can’t go walking in the Black Land in naught but your skin, Mr. Frodo.’



~*~


















































































































































~*~







Just as a reminder, all my screencaps are tweaked and do not represent the true film image. Especially in dark scenes, I bring up the lighting quite a bit. I always crop the frames, too, removing the black bars (which I hate). I also increase the sharpness, more or less, of every image. My goal always is to better see Frodo’s face, although I try not to lose the original image’s visual feel.

Immediately below is a cap from Pt. 2 in its original state. For comparison, I have reposted the adjusted version.














~*~







Entries in the Tower of Cirith Ungol series:


~ Pt. 1: Frodo awakes, plus jan-u-wine’s “In Dremes”.


~ Pt. 2: Sam rescues Frodo, plus main essay for this series.


~ Pt. 3: Frodo takes back the Ring.





Table of all screencaps:


~ Frodo and Elijah screencaps Main Page.



~ Mechtild


Comments:


verangel
verangel at 2007-08-20 03:02 (UTC) (Link)
I always feel inadequate in posting here. The thorough way you meld these two seperate environments...book and film. Its flawless. You hit every word, thought and emotion from book to mind to screen and the results. I have to say that this scene I feel could have played so much better with the book. I can't see a single thing in this passage that wouldn't have had people in the theater gripped and held by it. I don't understand why they chose to ignore this moment in this way.
I read the book after. But in comparing the two scenes...I felt the movie lacked so many moments in this. One is really, the brutality on Frodo. He is an innocent and he has taken responsibility for something so great on his little shoulders. But his spirit and honor are so strong. Maybe they thought it made Frodo look weak on screen, but its hard for me to understand that because the words show strength...fear first, but strength of character at all times.

I really love the words here in this moment (Sam on finding Frodo) because they make me feel the comfort:

"Well, you have now, Sam, dear Sam,’ said Frodo, and he lay back in Sam’s gentle arms, closing his eyes, like a child at rest when night-fears are driven away by some beloved voice or hand."

Frodo has gone through amazing fear and trauma. Frodo can, in the smallest moment, feel Sam and know such comfort in his heart, even in those darkest of moments. Sam meant hope for Frodo because he was not alone.

I think the book handled every bit perfectly for film here. In fact, I think people would have connected stronger with the vision of this Frodo (these actors would have done this beautifully)going through these Tolkien moments. I have other ideas as to why they cut this out and it bothers me that they could think that way...won't say more.
The film scene was great. Of course I loved every moment of the film. This could have been a much bigger Frodo/Sam moment..well deserved since that is really the heart of the film. And, I can't imagine that it really would have took up more time. Maybe we could have done without the orcs fighting and falling and the long drama played out there. Orc are Orcs..gross and menacing. Didn't need to see them fight and fall over the shirt.


Hugs you...v


































pearlette
pearlette at 2007-08-20 09:38 (UTC) (Link)
Verangel, I have no idea why you would feel inadequate when you post such great comments. :):)

I have to say that this scene I feel could have played so much better with the book. I can't see a single thing in this passage that wouldn't have had people in the theater gripped and held by it.

I agree with you.

However, as I write in my post below, I am able to forgive this because of the film's portrayal of the reconciliation between Frodo and Sam in Cirith Ungol. Because Film Frodo is quite awesome here, really. And Film Sam is very believable too.

I read the book after. But in comparing the two scenes...I felt the movie lacked so many moments in this. One is really, the brutality on Frodo. He is an innocent and he has taken responsibility for something so great on his little shoulders. But his spirit and honor are so strong. Maybe they thought it made Frodo look weak on screen, but its hard for me to understand that because the words show strength...fear first, but strength of character at all times.

Yes, it's very odd, how the films so often portray Frodo as a wide-eyed, dewy innocent, less mature and wise than Book Frodo, and yet at the same time PJ diminishes the brutality and horror visited upon Frodo in Cirith Ungol and beyond.

I will never quite understand what the film-makers thought they were doing with Frodo's character, to be honest.

I found this scene tremendously powerful in the book when I read it for the first time: Frodo stripped and diminished, his spirit almost broken, clinging to Sam like a child clinging to his mother. Just wow.

I do really love the films - but you can't beat the book. :)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-08-21 01:52 (UTC) (Link)
I completely agree with you, Verangel, about the diminishment of the film scene by not portraying Sam's heart-rending finding and rescuing of Frodo. The film showed the physical rescue of Frodo--cutting his bonds and taking him out of the Tower--but not the emotional/spiritual rescue, or not comparably. As you said, Sam came to Frodo, nearly broken and in a pitiable state, taking him in his arms, and Frodo felt completely protected again, safe and cared for. Sam wished that it could never end! (although they had to go on). But that did not happen in the film.

But, as I said, the film scene portrayed Frodo's ordeal as mere captivity. The orcs had carried him off, searched his clothes and took his "shiny shirt" while he was sleeping, and that was it. There was no ordeal, no questioning. Considering the lack of the scene in which Sam sees Frodo in such a pitiable state he breaks down and weeps, the cradling scene would make less sense. Would Indiana Jones in a similar situation--a captive in a dank cell, bound, but finally alert--need a rescuer who would weep over him and cradle him in his arms? No. He would need a rescuer who would help him get on with what needed to be done. And that's what the filmmakers had Sam do. There was, indeed, an exchange of apology and forgiveness, but very down-played.

You said in regards to why they might have cut the consolation scene,

I have other ideas as to why they cut this out and it bothers me that they could think that way...won't say more.

I am guessing you meant that the filmmakers thought such a scene would look too 'loverly'. But, apart from S/F fans, few viewers picked up a same-sex love scenario running under the Frodo-Sam storyline. Even my brother, who would be taken aback by any homosexual innuendo, finally seeing the films, made no criticism about the relationship of Frodo and Sam, even with all the extended, affectionate looks and displays of affection that made many fans feel sure the films depicted Frodo and Sam as lovers, requited or unrequited. The makers of LotR were not clueless. They read the fansites and knew what a considerable segment of fans were looking for. But they didn't shy away from showing the two characters as intimate friends, who felt real, physicalized affection for each other. I really don't feel that Peter Jackson or his collaborators were afraid their films would make Sam and Frodo "look gay", but they *did* want the high angst and action to keep building and building. Anything that stood in the way of that goal, including moments of tender pathos of the highest order, was cut.
pearlette
pearlette at 2007-08-21 09:59 (UTC) (Link)
I really don't feel that Peter Jackson or his collaborators were afraid their films would make Sam and Frodo "look gay", but they *did* want the high angst and action to keep building and building. Anything that stood in the way of that goal, including moments of tender pathos of the highest order, was cut.

Very perceptive analysis. :)

verangel
verangel at 2007-08-21 10:59 (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I never thought of any gay connotations when I saw these movies. I saw only love and extreme friendship and loyalty. But there were lots of comments and innuendos going on from talk shows and varying sights. They had countless discussions on one ring about this.
At the time I was horrified that anyone could think that of Sam and Frodo in that way. I never have seen them this way, ever.
pearlette
pearlette at 2007-08-20 09:30 (UTC) (Link)
Holy cow Batman but these screencaps are .. *guh*

That Frodo is naked and captive in the Tower has been given a lurid, even prurient spin in fanfic by some, perhaps inspired by the spectacle of beautiful film-Frodo bound and shirtless writhing and straining against his bonds on the big screen.

Can't imagine why that would be the case.

*titters wickedly*

I have read the odd darkfic but it has to be exceptionally well-written and psychologically convincing for me to do so. I intensely dislike fanfics in which the writer inflicts more agony on Frodo than Tolkien did. Ugh.

OK, so they cut out the 'Frodo thinking Sam was an Orc thing'. In its place, it seems to me, they also upped the ante by having Frodo attack Sam at the end of TTT.

But. I adore Film Frodo with the passion of a thousand suns in this scene, specifically when Sam visibly struggles with the temptation of the Ring. As you put it:

He wants the Ring back badly, that is clear, but it is also clear that he is filled with empathy as he watches Sam's disorientation and struggle, recognizing Sam's fit for what it is: the very thing he has experienced himself. And he does not want this to be Sam's lot.

Why do I adore him so, quite apart from the fact that he is so incredibly beautiful? Because here in Film Frodo's expressions and demeanor I see a lot of Book Frodo's resolve and steel. And inner wisdom.

It's a great little moment (and Astin is fantastic in this moment too). It's pretty much enough for me to forgive Film Cirith Ungol for not having the same menace, power and pathos as Book Cirith Ungol.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-08-21 02:06 (UTC) (Link)
Why do I adore him so, quite apart from the fact that he is so incredibly beautiful? Because here in Film Frodo's expressions and demeanor I see a lot of Book Frodo's resolve and steel. And inner wisdom.

Wow, Pearl, you're right! Those last frames really do show him again taking on not just the burden of the Ring, but the responsiblity of the Quest. Super observation. I *swoon* for him all over again! And for even worthier reasons. (He's still a dish, though.)
pearlette
pearlette at 2007-08-21 12:05 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, such a dish. One of the dishiest dishes that ever was ... dished. :p

Those last frames really do show him again taking on not just the burden of the Ring, but the responsiblity of the Quest.

This insight hit me over the head the first time I saw the scene, and it was Instant Love.
Shirebound
shirebound at 2007-08-20 11:38 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for 'bringing up the lighting' in these scenes. It really helps to capture the details.

it struck me that the "Frodo-sees-Sam-turn-into-an-orc" moment is there, but moved to an earlier scene, that of the climactic conflict on the Stairs.

What a great insight. I never thought of that!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-08-21 02:08 (UTC) (Link)
Shirebound--greetings! This whole series of posts has really made me think. I may be thinking some quirky things, but I'm thinking! Thanks for encouraging me in my "thought processes". :)
frodosweetstuff
frodosweetstuff at 2007-08-20 13:50 (UTC) (Link)
I'll better not leave a longer comment on this post because if I started going on about what the sight of Frodo's naked belly does to me, it would get VERY embarrassing...

Thank you for the screencaps!!! :)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-08-21 02:09 (UTC) (Link)
The belly? It is rather darling, isn't it? :)
frodosweetstuff
frodosweetstuff at 2007-08-21 08:01 (UTC) (Link)
Oh yes. *happy sigh* Sam is a very lucky guy... (well, not in Cirith Ungol but later, when they are back home and Frodo is healed and he gets to stroke that belly as often as he wants to... *dreams*

*coughs* It's kind of sad that Elijah thinks he needs to get rid of the baby fat and the cute belly.
 Paulie
not_alone at 2007-08-20 16:23 (UTC) (Link)
He was naked, lying as if in a swoon on a heap of filthy rags;

I remember so well the effect these words had on me the first time I read the book - and for the exact reason that you express:

"But the primary thing the nakedness of Frodo conveys to me is a sense of his extreme vulnerability. That was why I was sorry the filmmakers chose not to film the scene as written."

I also remember all the speculation about this scene before the film was released - will he/won't he be naked? Of course, many fans just wanted the titillation of seeing Elijah minus clothes but I can put my hand on my heart and say that the reason I was hoping he would be naked was for the effectiveness of the scene. As you say, it could easily have been done - he could have been partly in shadow or one of the 'filthy rags' could have been draped over his lower half. I feel we just needed to know he was naked and completely vulnerable.

I knew I had to prepare myself for some disappointments over this scene - it had played so often in my head the way I wanted to see it, ie as in the book - and I guessed it wouldn't be exactly the same. I think one of the most beautiful passages in the book is when Sam cradles Frodo in his arms and I was really upset that it wasn't in the film. I would guess that because we do get the cradling scene on Mt Doom PJ considered it would be too much - but I still think it's sad that we had to lose that.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the film version - I did, very much so - but I would have liked less Orcs - more Frodo and Sam!!



Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-08-21 02:21 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for posting, Not Alone. To be frank, I was very surprised they did so little with the Tower scene in terms of pathos. They tried mightily to make us weep for poor-Frodo-in-distress on Weathertop, at the Ford, in Shelob's Lair, etc. Why not in the Tower? But they didn't. Odd!

I really do enjoy watching the Tower scene, even if it is rather mild dramatically, compared to the book. I can't fault the acting or filming; it's just the lack of moment. Verangel above noted that Frodo's characterization was lessened by the lack of his being brutalized (psychologically, physically, both?) in this scene, the way he was in the books. I am certain she is right. The trauma he experienced in the Tower prompted his worst anniversary illnesses--the ordeal in which he "felt he was going mad" from the experience itself, and the ordeal in which he thought he had lost the Ring and foundered the Quest. Really, a very, very low time for him.

That it was so toned-down made much more inexplicable that Frodo felt he had to leave Middle-earth in the end. Book-readers all knew why he felt he had to sail, but book-virgins often were puzzled. What had happened to Frodo that was worse than what happened to the other hobbits, except getting his finger bitten off? A callow critique, but the lack of a true ordeal in Cirith Ungol helped further that impression.
Hobbity forever
periantari at 2007-08-24 04:09 (UTC) (Link)
i was coherent.. .until i saw Frodo... and Frodo's eyes...omg so blue just had me...
yeah...
i'm just swooning and incoherent now... but brilliant essay as always and when i wake frommy swoon, i will write something somewhat coherent.
lol

omg Frolijah!!!!!!! ♥

Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-08-24 04:37 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, he's a beauty all right. No need to explain being speechless. I said a lot, but I wrote it over many days, so there was plenty of speechlessness in between, lol.
Hobbity forever
periantari at 2007-08-24 04:42 (UTC) (Link)
yes i'm swoony and giggly and hyper and i ...think Frodo will make me an insomniac tonight. ;)
oh forever i am a fangirl. Forever. ♥ Frodo ♥

:hugsyou:
(Anonymous) at 2011-12-03 22:36 (UTC) (Link)

Cirith Ungol

I never thought about the nudity issue this way before, but it makes sense. Perhaps that was just one of the many nuances from the books that Peter Jackson missed.
I'm wondering - if they hadn't had the pg-13 restriction, if it would've been most effective to show Frodo exactly as he was in the books.
Of course I'm not a big fan of Peter Jackson's movies so I don't feel real strongly about it. I'm one of the rare few who prefers Bakshi. I guess they'd still have the same restrictions regarding nudity in an animated version as they did in the live version.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2011-12-03 22:52 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Cirith Ungol

My, my, you're coming to this after a while. :)

Well, even I don't appreciate the films the way I did, working hard to make them work (in my fan-mind) in ways they weren't written or directed to work. I am more removed from them emotionally than I was then, and can see the ways they diminish important characters and themes. But I still think they're great films, ripping yarns, and film classics, but they are, finally, just one group of artists' adaptation, a mammoth Tolkien film fanfic.

I could never warm to Bakshi's version somehow, though it sounds as though he meant well. Not because the story wasn't any good, but because of the look of it. I don't really like any animation-style art I've seen for LOTR. Certainly not the manga versions, but not Bakshi either.

Edited at 2011-12-03 10:54 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) at 2011-12-06 23:07 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Cirith Ungol

One thing I may not have phrased cleary is, hypothetically if it were rated R and didn't have as many restrictions, do you think it would be best if they didn't even partially conceal the nudity? That is, do you think it would make the scene even more powerful?
Mechtild
mechtild at 2011-12-10 01:35 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Cirith Ungol

I think they should have depicted him as having been held prisoner completely stripped, but I don't think it would have required an explicit depiction to convey to viewers that he was naked. Nakedness has been implied in films long before film nudity became explicit. Yes, I think the sense of Frodo as utterly vulnerable and helpless, which is exponentially increased when a prisoner is stripped (of clothes, protection, personality, respect, everything that stripping implies in clothed societies), was diminished by showing him left with clothes. The scene as shown implies the orcs took his upper garments not to intimidate, humiliate or torture him, but to get the treasure he wore, the "shiny shirt". That was no treat to wake up to (he must have been chilly, at least), but it wasn't at all what Tolkien described, even tersely, as what Frodo endured as prisoner.

I guess that was a super long way, lol, of saying, yes, I think it was less powerful, but that I don't think they needed to actually show him nude to let audiences know he was nude - they could have kept the PG-13 rating.
ואם לא עכשו אימתי
karin_woywod at 2012-07-20 11:49 (UTC) (Link)


I am currently dealing intensely with that scene, I even wrote a ficlet - rated G - about it here.


Have you seen this painting "The Tower Of Cirith Ungol" (2011) by Donato Giancola ? A detail of it can be found here.

And yup, I agree, the nakedness would have worked better in the films, to convey the utter vulnerability, the shock of being deprived of one's dignity. You know, Hobbits feel a bit vulnerable anyway, given the fact that almost every other being in Middle-Earth is taller than them and thus potentially stronger and being able to overpower them. But if you are in the hands of your enemies, and you have been stripped naked, faced with your enemies, you have nearly nothing left to oppose them with. And then there surely was some taunting, and there was some torturing (Sam notices the giant whip-weal, but, contrary to your opinion, I don't think that had been the only blow Frodo had received from the Orks).

Frodo really is at an all-time low. And it would have been better to show that in the film as well.

[ Says one half of responsible-and-entirely-serious-Karin. The other half is secretly enjoying the view of young-Elijah-Wood-flesh ;o) ]

Love,

- Karin.



Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-07-20 15:52 (UTC) (Link)
Good heavens, Karin, I didn't expect a comment on an entry from the archives. I'm pleased you found it interesting.

No, I had not seen that Giancola. It's not even posted at his site. It's awfully well-done, and very representative of his style. I saved it to my file of his pictures. Thanks so much for linking it!

I still disagree on the torturing, though I am sure they roughed him up physically, enough to seem like torture to me. Brutal treatment of a prisoner, slamming him around, threatening him, subjecting him to controlled terror meant to frighten him into a confession, happens under the eumphemism "interrogation" in secret forces.

But Shagrat's orders were clear: "safe and whole" the prisoner was to be delivered to Barad-dur, "on pain of death". Shagrat told Gorbag he was going to keep Frodo in the top chamber precisely because he didn't trust the rest of the orcs not to harm the prisoner. When he hears Sam singing and thinks it's Frodo, he yells for Frodo to shut up, "if he doesn't want the fun to begin". So whatever Shagrat considered to be torture, the "fun", it had not yet begun. But like I said, refraining from torture would not preclude treating the prisoner very roughly. They certainly could -- and did, from what Frodo told Sam -- threaten him with torture and death, backing it up with blows and slaps, maybe even superficial cuts (they kept "fingering their knives", he said, though he doesn't say they actually used knives on him), to terrify him into talking, or simply to watch him squirm; Frodo would not know they were under orders not to kill or seriously injure him.

I imagine that for Frodo the worst thing of all had already happened. As far as he knew, they had found and taken the Ring and the Quest had failed. The West and the Free Peoples all would fall, no matter what happened to him personally, and he'd never see anyone he loved again.

I think we are agreed that the film would have done better to stick to the book scene and, discreetly, let the audience know that Frodo had been stripped and was being held in a state completely and utterly vulnerable. That they let it seem that Frodo was waking up for the first time, never having been tortured or threatened, and merely with his mithril coat and shirt taken, greatly lessened the power and pathos of the scene.

Edited at 2012-07-20 03:55 pm (UTC)
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