I love the caps for this scene. Except for "Nuclear Gladys" (as it was called on the messageboard I frequented while the films were coming out), the scene is uninterrupted cinematic gorgeousness. It's a different animal from the book's Lothlórien scenes, but as cinema it really works. The book's Lórien, with its images of jewel-fresh nature sparkling with "poignant freshness" under a golden sun, becomes a world of shadows , cold and luminous as if lit by a winter moon. Instead of a sense of safe haven, the Fellowship enters a realm pulsing with a feeling of foreboding and danger. Their Elven hosts warn rather than welcome. My book-reading self says, "this is wrong, wrong, wrong!" but my film-going self is mesmerised. Why does it work, and why does it seem faithful, even though it is so wide of the original? I think it's because it strongly evokes what Tolkien elsewhere said about Faerie.
Tolkien, in his fiction and poetry, and in his important essay on the subject, stressed that real Faerie isn't for children. It isn't sweet and safe, it is the Perilous Realm. In film-Lothlórien the tales of Rohan and Gondor are right: if you go in you might not come out -- or, if you do, you won't come out unchanged. The film's Galadriel is not the Elbereth-like Lady of the book, who, while she is strong in wisdom and unflinching in her truthfulness, abounds with consolation for the anguished and grieving, the restorer of flagging spirits and weary bodies. Film-Galadriel is more like the powerful female characters from Homer to D. G. Rossetti, goddesses, spell-weavers, sirens and other supernatural women who lure mortals into thraldom, even death. Even before the companions enter the Wood, when Galadriel speaks words in Frodo's mind the menace is so intense he feels them like a blow. And after Galadriel has met and welcomed the Fellowship, until the time that she sends them off with gifts and benedictions, the Lothlórien scenes are permeated with a sense of danger and deep enchantment.
Cate Blanchet's Galadriel and Elijah Wood's Frodo are superb vehicles for this dark, brooding enchantment, so beautifully lit, scored and filmed. If Wood's character has stepped out of a Caravaggio, Blanchet's is like a Pre-Raphaelite painting come to life. The LOTR films overall are steeped in imagery from great art, but in this scene even the individual frames look like paintings. The close-ups of Frodo are like animated pastels. No wonder so many fans have drawn portraits of him working from screencaps of this scene.
Happily, jan-u-wine has been inspired by this series to write a new Lothlórien poem cycle. The first part appears below the images. Reading it is like entering into the subtext of the scene, a powerful and evocative experience. I hope she will write more for the series.
Book scene: The Mirror of Galadriel.
The remaining Fellowship has been staying in Lothlórien for a while. Frodo and Sam are walking, talking about the Elves, Elvish magic, and the loveliness of the place. Sam says,
‘All the same, I’m beginning to feel that if we’ve got to go on, then we’d best get it over.
‘It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish, as my old gaffer used to say. And I don’t reckon that these folk can do much more to help us, magic or no. It’s when we leave this land that we shall miss Gandalf worse, I’m thinking.’
‘I am afraid that’s only too true, Sam,’ said Frodo. ‘Yet I hope very much that before we leave we shall see the Lady of the Elves again.’
Even as he spoke, they saw, as if she came in answer to their words, the Lady Galadriel approaching. Tall and white and fair she walked beneath the trees. She spoke no word, but beckoned to them.
Turning aside, she led them toward the southern slopes of the hill of Caras Galadhon, and passing through a high green hedge they came into an enclosed garden. No trees grew there, and it lay open to the sky. The evening star had risen and was shining with white fire above the western woods. Down a long flight of steps the Lady went into a deep green hollow, through which ran murmuring the silver stream that issued from the fountain on the hill. At the bottom, upon a low pedestal carved like a branching tree, stood a basin of silver, wide and shallow, and beside it stood a silver ewer.
With water from the stream Galadriel filled the basin to the brim, and breathed on it, and when the water was still again she spoke. ‘Here is the Mirror of Galadriel,’ she said. ‘I have brought you here so that you may look in it, if you will.’
The air was very still, and the dell was dark, and the Elf-lady beside him was tall and pale. ‘What shall we look for, and what shall we see?’ asked Frodo, filled with awe.
‘Many things I can command the Mirror to reveal,’ she answered, ‘and to some I can show what they desire to see. But the Mirror will also show things unbidden, and those are often stranger and more profitable than things which we wish to behold. What you will see, if you leave the Mirror free to work, I cannot tell. For it shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be. But which it is that he sees, even the wisest cannot always tell. Do you wish to look?’
Frodo did not answer.
Film scene:It is night and the Fellowship is asleep as Galadriel glides by. Frodo wakes up with a start, and, as if summoned, follows her. Galadriel descends a flight of mossy steps into a sunken garden. She fills a gleaming ewer with water from a spring-fed pool. As if she expected to see him there, she turns to Frodo and speaks.
Galadriel: Will you look into the mirror?
[As he answers,Frodo slowly descends the steps, never taking his eyes of Galadriel.]
Frodo: What will I see?
Galadriel: Even the wisest cannot tell. For the mirror shows many things.
[As she speaks, she pours the water into a silver basin on a carved stone pedestal.]
Galadriel: Things that were, things that are… As she empties the ewer: and some things that have not yet come to pass.
It is peaceful within this land,
to be held
that fairly sing
with the knowing of the Lady's voice,
to all but nothing
'midst the silver web
of her devising,
of bronze day
to blue-grey night,
jetted crystal fountains,
Within these borders,
close-held by the fair thrall
of her spell,
Overthrown by peril,
the dremes which
dremes of nothing....
and shadow unnameable....
I may not rest,
beneath the weight of them.
Of more peril this waking
for the Lady calls me.
arms adrift upon the winds of night,
feet bare and pale as any maids',
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It is cold within the encirclement of her glade,
the winter-water moon all but spent,
arrayed upon the dark cloak
of the sky.
Fair crowned with them she is,
the gold-silver of her hair
shining like cold-spun fire
in their light.
beyond all thought,
the peril of her eye,
the magik of her slender hand.
her voice, then,
like strings upon a lyre,
the far-off sound of wind-combed
More love than I have ever known blossoms like a wound inside of me.
Hard behind it rides a fear even greater.
Will I look into the Mirror?
Oh, my Lady of Beauty,
my Lady of Wisdom and Light:
What shall I look for?
my Lady of Peril,
What shall I See?