The final part of the film scene comes from material at the end of The Council of Elrond, but also from the beginning of the chapter that follows.
In The Ring Goes South we learn that it is not until December that Elrond tells Frodo and Sam that he is sending others to go with them. In the film this two-month period is packed into the last minutes of the council scene, when everyone steps [or runs] forward to volunteer for the mission. Even if their decisions seem a bit precipitate, the extreme compression of the book scene makes for a rousing finale. Merry and Pippin’s “We’re coming, too!” provides laughs, then Elrond's pronouncement ("Nine companions, so be it...") restores the scene to the heroic. The tone is lifted to grandeur by the swell of the “Fellowship Theme" (ah, Howard, you genius!). But lest things become too elevated, Pip’s “Where are we going?” brings things down to earth again, providing a satisfying little button to the scene rather like a pleasurable burp at the end of a good meal.
The precipitate volunteerism demonstrated by the members of the Fellowship in the film contrasts with the way the Fellowship is formed in the book. Nearly two months have passed since the Council when Elrond tells Frodo and Sam that he has chosen companions to go with them. He speaks as though he has assigned them, but it seems likelier that they were first consulted, or that they even had approached Elrond first, which is closer to what the film shows. Surely none would have been compelled to go. Elrond strongly stressed that Frodo’s offer must be made freely, and he declares that no binding oath may be laid upon the members of the Fellowship to force them to stick out the Quest. Elrond’s insistence that each member’s decision be fully voluntary probably stems from the evil and misery he saw caused by the oath of Feanor, which in the end compelled those who took it to act against their consciences, even wickedly.
There are many fine things in both the film and book scenes, but there isn’t room to talk about them without making this post too long. However I did want to lift up Tolkien’s deft touch in creating the red star that Frodo notices as the months pass. As the Moon wanes Frodo can see it from his window, “deep in the heavens, burning like a watchful eye that glared above the trees on the brink of the valley”. Repeat readers catch the reference at once, but what a brilliant way to subtly introduce the first-time reader to the malevolent intent of the Eye.
Also, after reading John Garth's Tolkien and the Great War, I wonder if Gandalf's remark to Elrond about why Pippin and Merry should be allowed to go reflected Tolkien's own WWI experience. Gandalf says in the "The Ring Goes South",
'It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy. I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom. '
From what I've read, Tolkien was not very keen to be a soldier. But with his friends he volunteered and entered into an experience of war that was more terrible (and bloody and tedious and wearying) than anything any of them had imagined. Would they have stayed at home had they known? Or, like the hobbits, would they have gone anyway, drawn by their sense of honour and strong bonds of friendship?
I asked jan-u-wine if I could post one of her poems in this post, and she said yes. It appears below the screencaps.
On Being Part of a Grand Story, written from Sam’s point of view, is set in the dark days of the Quest, when Sam and Frodo are near to the End of all Things. But its beauty and poignancy are enhanced by putting it here, I think, in juxtapostion to Sam at the Council, still radiant with hope and zeal to be sent with his master on the Quest.
I want to note that the first book excerpt below begins immediately after Frodo has volunteered to take the Ring and Elrond has accepted his offer, putting Frodo in the same company as “the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador, and Húrin, and Túrin, and Beren”. It concludes The Council of Elrond. I already quoted much of the second excerpt in Riv. 6 to help illustrate the original film scene in that post, but I repeat it here because this is where it actually belongs.
From The Council of Elrond:‘But you won’t send him off alone surely, Master?’ cried Sam, unable to contain himself any longer, and jumping up from the corner where he had been quietly sitting on the floor.
‘No indeed!’ said Elrond, turning towards him with a smile. ‘You at least shall go with him. It is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.’
Sam sat down, blushing and muttering. ‘A nice pickle we have landed ourselves in, Mr. Frodo!’ he said, shaking his head.
From The Ring Goes South:Later that day the hobbits held a meeting of their own in Bilbo’s room. Merry and Pippin were indignant when they heard that Sam had crept into the Council, and had been chosen as Frodo’s companion.
‘It’s most unfair,’ said Pippin. ‘Instead of throwing him out, and clapping him in chains, Elrond goes and rewards him for his cheek!’
‘Rewards!’ said Frodo. ‘I can’t imagine a more severe punishment. You are not thinking what you are saying: condemned to go on this hopeless journey, a reward? Yesterday I dreamed that my task was done, and I could rest here, a long while, perhaps for good.’
‘I don’t wonder,’ said Merry, ‘and I wish you could. But we are envying Sam, not you. If you have to go, then it will be a punishment for any of us to be left behind, even in Rivendell. We have come a long way with you and been through some stiff times. We want to go on.’
‘That’s what I meant,’ said Pippin. ‘We hobbits ought to stick together, and we will. I shall go, unless they chain me up. There must be someone with intelligence in the party.’
‘Then you certainly will not be chosen, Peregrin Took!’ said Gandalf, looking in through the window, which was near the ground. ‘But you are all worrying yourselves unnecessarily. Nothing is decided yet.’
‘Nothing decided!’ cried Pippin. ‘Then what were you all doing? You were shut up for hours.’
‘Talking,’ said Bilbo. ‘There was a deal of talk, and everyone had an eye-opener. Even old Gandalf. I think Legolas’s bit of news about Gollum caught even him on the hop, though he passed it off.’
‘You were wrong,’ said Gandalf. ‘You were inattentive. I had already heard of it from Gwaihir. If you want to know, the only real eye-openers, as you put it, were you and Frodo; and I was the only one that was not surprised.’
‘Well, anyway,’ said Bilbo, ‘nothing was decided beyond choosing poor Frodo and Sam. I was afraid all the time that it might come to that, if I was let off. But if you ask me, Elrond will send out a fair number, when the reports come in. Have they started yet, Gandalf?’
‘Yes,’ said the wizard. (…) ‘So cheer up, Frodo! You will probably make quite a long stay here.’
‘Ah!’ said Sam gloomily. ‘We’ll just wait long enough for winter to come.’
‘That can’t be helped,’ said Bilbo. ‘It’s your fault partly, Frodo my lad: insisting on waiting for my birthday. A funny way of honouring it, I can’t help thinking. Not the day I should have chosen for letting the S.-B.s into Bag End. But there it is: you can’t wait now till spring; and you can’t go till the reports come back.
[Gandalf elucidates on the fact that the Ringwraiths are not destroyed, even if their horses were. Admitting the right of Pippin’s statement—that someone of intelligence would be needed in the party—Gandalf says he thinks he will go with them.]
So great was Frodo’s delight at this announcement that Gandalf left the window-sill, where he had been sitting, and took off his hat and bowed. ‘I only said I think I shall come. Do not count on anything yet. In this matter Elrond will have much to say, and your friend the Strider. Which reminds me, I want to see Elrond. I must be off.’
‘How long do you think I shall have here?’ said Frodo to Bilbo when Gandalf had gone.
‘Oh, I don’t know. I can’t count days in Rivendell,’ said Bilbo. ‘But quite long, I should think. We can have many a good talk. What about helping me with my book, and making a start on the next? Have you thought of an ending?’
‘Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant,’ said Frodo.
‘Oh, that won’t do!’ said Bilbo. ‘Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?’
‘It will do well, if it ever comes to that,’ said Frodo.
‘Ah!’ said Sam. ‘And where will they live? That’s what I often wonder.’
For a while the hobbits continued to talk and think of the past journey and of the perils that lay ahead; but such was the virtue of the land of Rivendell that soon all fear and anxiety was lifted from their minds. The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.
So the days slipped away, as each morning dawned bright and fair, and each evening followed cool and clear. But autumn was waning fast; slowly the golden light faded to pale silver, and the lingering leaves fell from the naked trees. A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the east. The Hunter’s Moon waxed round in the night sky, and put to flight all the lesser stars. But low in the South one star shone red. Every night, as the Moon waned again, it shone brighter and brighter. Frodo could see it from his window, deep in the heavens, burning like a watchful eye that glared above the trees on the brink of the valley.
[Two months pass. In December the scouts began to return, bringing no reports of the Riders except for the bodies of their drowned horses, and no reports of Gollum.]
Elrond summoned the hobbits to him. He looked gravely at Frodo. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘If the Ring is to set out, it must go soon. But those who go with it must not count on their errand being aided by war or force. They must pass into the domain of the Enemy far from aid. Do you still hold to your word, Frodo, that you will be the Ring-bearer?’
‘I do,’ said Frodo. ‘I will go with Sam.’
‘Then I cannot help you much, not even with counsel,’ said Elrond. ‘I can foresee very little of your road; and how your task is to be achieved I do not know. (…) You will meet many foes, some open, and some disguised; and you may find friends upon your way when you least look for it. I will send out messages, such as I can contrive, to those whom I know in the wide world; but so perilous are the lands now become that some may well miscarry, or come no quicker than you yourself.
‘And I will choose you companions to go with you, as far as they will or fortune allows. (…) The Company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders that are evil. With you and your faithful servant, Gandalf will go; for this shall be his great task, and maybe the end of his labours.
‘For the rest, they shall represent the other Free Peoples of the World (…). Legolas shall be for the Elves; and Gimli son of Glóin for the Dwarves. (…) For men you shall have Aragorn son of Arathorn, for the Ring of Isildur concerns him closely.’
‘Strider!’ cried Frodo.
‘Yes,’ he said with a smile. ‘I ask leave once again to be your companion, Frodo.’
‘I would have begged you to come,’ said Frodo….
[Boromir, too, will come, which leaves two more places. Elrond thinks to send two Elves from his household.]
‘But that will leave no place for us!’ cried Pippin in dismay. ‘We don’t want to be left behind. We want to go with Frodo.’
‘That is because you do not understand and cannot imagine what lies ahead,’ said Elrond.
‘Neither does Frodo,’ said Gandalf, unexpectedly supporting Pippin. ‘Nor do any of us see clearly. It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy. I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom. Even if you chose for us an elf-lord, such as Glorfindel, he could not storm the Dark Tower, nor open the road to the Fire by the power that is in him.’
‘You speak gravely,’ said Elrond, ‘but I am in doubt. The Shire, I forebode, is not free now from peril; and these two I had thought to send back there as messengers, to do what they could, according to the fashion of their country, to warn the people of their danger. In any case, I judge that the younger of these two, Peregrin Took, should remain. My heart is against his going.’
‘Then, Master Elrond, you will have to lock me in prison, or send me home tied in a sack,’ said Pippin. ‘For otherwise I shall follow the Company.’
‘Let it be so then. You shall go,’ said Elrond, and he sighed. Now the tale of Nine is filled. In seven days the Company must depart.’
The Sword of Elendil is reforged, renamed by Aragorn Andúril. Aragorn and Gandalf walk together and speak together about the mission before them.
Sometimes Frodo was with them; but he was content to lean on their guidance, and he spent as much time as he could with Bilbo.
[Sam, who has been hiding behind the greenery, jumps out and runs up to stand by Frodo. Aragorn lifts his hand to let Sam come through. Frodo watches as Sam addresses Elrond.]
Sam: Here! Mr. Frodo's not going anywhere without me!
Elrond: No, indeed, it is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he is summoned to a secret Council, and you are not.
Merry: Hoy! We're coming too!
[Merry and Pippin, peeping in from a doorway, patter forward to stand by Frodo.]
Merry: You'll have to send us home tied up in a sack to stop us.
Pippin: Anyway, you need people of intelligence on this sort of mission… quest… thing.
Merry: Well that rules you out, Pip.
Elrond: Nine companions. So be it. You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring.
Pippin: Great! Where are we going?
On Being Part of a Grand Story
~ by jan-u-wine
would be a tale
and them as
and it's the ones
that need telling
This one here,
in the telling.
It isn't so.
to other eyes.
It isn't so......
it isn't so.
in happier times
that will be,
shall make it small
like a shiny toy
lit by curiosity....
by far-away fears.
bound by magik spells,
trees of light....
will all be
a story to them,
in happier times,
tell our tale.
~ Riv. 10: Council of Elrond 4 – ‘Though I do not know the way’, plus jan-u-wine’s 'The Counsel of Elrond’.