As mentioned in Pt. 1 of this series, the film scene is very different from the book scene it is based on. The most obvious difference is that there is no Sam in the film scene. But the main change is in the portrayal of Galadriel. At Henneth Annún, Sam tries to describe her to Faramir. "It ought to be song", he says, but makes do pulling together pairs of contrasting images. She's beautiful, lovely, "like a great tree in flower, sometimes a white daffadowndilly, small and slender like"; "hard as di'monds, soft as moonlight"; "warm as sunlight, cold as frost in the stars"; "proud and far-off as a snow-mountain, and as merry as any lass I ever saw with daisies in her hair". "Then she must be lovely indeed", says Faramir, "perilously fair.""'I don't know about perilous,' said Sam. 'It strikes me that folk takes their peril with them into Lórien, and finds it there because they've brought it. But perhaps you could call her perilous, because she's so strong in herself. You, you could dash yourself to pieces on her, like a ship on a rock; or drownd yourself, like a hobbit in a river. But neither rock nor river would be to blame.'"
The film seems to show the opposite: folk do find peril in Lórien, peril they did not bring with them, centered in the character of Galadriel. It is as though the filmmakers took Sam's diverse remarks and heavily underscored the "perilously fair" side of her at the expense of her warm, approachable side. In fact, only viewers of the EE version of FotR really get to see the Galadriel Sam and the Fellowship find charming and a font of consolation and encouragement. Film Galadriel does show concern and empathy for Frodo in the Mirror scene, but only fleeting glimpses. Mostly she is remote and mysterious, even inscrutable -- when she is not openly frightening.
The Mirror scene, for Frodo, is almost like a mythic trial. Like the hero who must answer the Sphinx's riddle or die, Frodo's encounter with Galadriel seems like an ordeal out of myth, a test he must pass in order to go on. Watching the EE gift-giving scene and lyrical farewell to Lórien, the only scene in which Galadriel really gets to display her gracious, beneficent side, it seems as though Frodo and the company are there only because they have won through the night's ordeal. "Bipolar": that's what film Galadriel has been humorously called, "either giving gifts or scaring the shit out of people". But, writing these posts, I wonder if her portrayal isn't part of the filmmakers' transformation of book Lórien, a mystical haven of refreshment and restoration, into the Perilous Realm: a world of great beauty but one fraught with danger. In such a place, the land of Faerie, the land of myth, goddesses rescue from death but also kill, and powerful, seductive female characters, like Homer's Circe and Calypso, give gifts to heroes, but only to those who pass their tests.
A new poem by jan-u-wine, written from Galadriel's point of view, appears below the caps. It is the second in her series, Lórien Suite. It is written to the film scene yet is imbued with a book-reader's sense of Galadriel's empathy and understanding.
I wanted to note, too, the way the book scene reminds us that Sam, not only Frodo, looks into the Mirror. He sees Frodo lying in the Pass (although he doesn't know that's what he sees), and he sees a ravaged Hobbiton: a test for Sam that makes plain to him, with Galadriel's help, that he has thrown in his lot with Frodo, no matter what is happening in his beloved Shire. Frodo sees visions, too, culminating in his vision of the Eye. No film scene, I am afraid, can convey for me the book's sense of the Eye, with its "black slit of a pupil that opens on a pit, a window into nothing". It makes me shiver.
~*~Book scene: The Mirror of Galadriel.
‘And you?’ she said, turning to Sam. ‘For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem also to use the same word of deceits of the Enemy. But this, if you will, is the magic of Galadriel. Did you not say that you wished to see Elf-magic?’
‘I did,’ said Sam, trembling a little between fear and curiosity. ‘I’ll have a peep, Lady, if you’re willing.’
‘And I’d not mind a glimpse of what’s going on at home,’ he said in an aside to Frodo. ‘It seems a terrible long time that I’ve been away. But there, like as not I’ll only see the stars, or something that I won’t understand.’
‘Like as not,’ said the Lady with a gentle laugh. ‘But come, you shall look and see what you may. Do not touch the water!’
Sam climbed up on the foot of the pedestal and leaned over the basin. The water looked hard and dark. Stars were reflected in it.
‘There’s only stars, as I thought,’ he said. Then he gave a low gasp, for the stars went out. As if a dark veil had been withdrawn, the Mirror grew grey, and then clear. There was shining sun, and the branches of trees were waving and tossing in the wind. But before Sam could make up his mind what it was that he saw, the light faded; and now he thought he saw Frodo with a pale face lying fast asleep under a great dark cliff. Then he seemed to see himself going along a dim passage, and climbing an endless winding stair. It came to him suddenly that he was looking urgently for something, but what it was he did not know. Like a dream the vision shifted and went back, and he saw the trees again. But this time they were not so close, and he could see what was going on: they were not waving in the wind, they were falling, crashing to the ground.
‘Hi!’ cried Sam, in an outraged voice. ‘There’s that Ted Sandyman a-cutting down trees as he shouldn’t. They didn’t ought to be felled: it’s that avenue beyond the mill that shades the road to Bywater. I wish I could get at Ted, and I’d fell him!’
But now Sam noticed that the Old Mill had vanished, and a large red-brick building was being put up where it had stood. Lots of folk were busily at work. There was a tall red chimney nearby. Black smoke seemed to cloud the surface of the Mirror.
‘There’s some devilry at work in the Shire,’ he said. ‘Elrond knew what he was about when he wanted to send Mr. Merry back.’ Then suddenly Sam gave a cry and sprang away. ‘I can’t stay here,’ he said wildly. ‘I must go home. They’ve dug up Bagshot Row, and there’s the poor old gaffer going down the Hill with his bits of things on a barrow. I must go home!’
‘You cannot go home alone,’ said the Lady. ‘You did not wish to go home without your master before you looked in the Mirror, and yet you knew that evil things might well be happening in the Shire. Remember that the Mirror shows many things, and not all have yet come to pass. Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them. The Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds.’
Sam sat on the ground and put his head in his hands. ‘I wish I had never come here, and I don’t want to see no more magic,’ he said and fell silent. After a moment he spoke again thickly, as if struggling with tears. ‘No, I’ll go home by the long road with Mr. Frodo, or not at all,’ he said. ‘But I hope I do get back some day. If what I’ve seen turns out true, somebody’s going to catch it hot!’
‘Do you now wish to look, Frodo?’ said the Lady Galadriel. ‘You did not wish to see Elf-magic and were content.’
‘Do you advise me to look?’ asked Frodo.
‘No,’ she said. ‘I do not counsel you one way or the other. I am not a counsellor. You may learn something, and whether what you see be fair or evil, that may be profitable, and yet it may not. Seeing is both good and perilous. Yet I think, Frodo, that you have courage and wisdom enough for the venture, or I would not have brought you here. Do as you will!’
‘I will look,’ said Frodo, and he climbed on the pedestal and bent over the dark water. At once the Mirror cleared and he saw a twilit land. Mountains loomed dark in the distance against a pale sky. A long grey road wound back out of sight. Far away a figure came slowly down the road, faint and small at first, but growing larger and clearer as it approached. Suddenly Frodo realized that it reminded him of Gandalf. He almost called aloud the wizard’s name, and then he saw that the figure was clothed not in grey but in white, in a white that shone faintly in the dusk, and in its hand there was a white staff. The head was so bowed that he could see no face, and presently the figure turned aside round a bend in the road and went out of the Mirror’s view. Doubt came into Frodo’s mind: was this a vision of Gandalf on one of his many lonely journeys long ago, or was it Saruman?
The vision now changed. Brief and small but very vivid he caught a glimpse of Bilbo walking restlessly about his room. The table was littered with disordered papers; rain was beating on the windows.
Then there was a pause, and after it many swift scenes followed that Frodo in some way knew to be parts of a great history in which he had become involved. The mist cleared and he saw a sight which he had never seen before but knew at once: the Sea. Darkness fell. The sea rose and raged in a great storm. Then he saw against the Sun, sinking blood-red into a wrack of clouds, the black outline of a tall ship with torn sails riding up out of the West. Then a wide river flowing through a populous city. Then a white fortress with seven towers. And then again a ship with black sails, but now it was morning again, and the water rippled with light, and a banner bearing the emblem of a white tree shone in the sun. A smoke as of fire and battle arose; and into the mist a small ship passed away, twinkling with lights. It vanished, and Frodo sighed and prepared to draw away.
But suddenly the Mirror went altogether dark, as dark as if a hole had opened in the world of sight, and Frodo looked into emptiness. In the black abyss there appeared a single Eye that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the Mirror. So terrible was it that Frodo stood rooted, unable to cry out or to withdraw his gaze. The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat’s, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.
Then the Eye began to rove, searching this way and that; and Frodo knew with certainty and horror that among the many things that it sought he himself was one. But he also knew that it could not see him—not yet, not unless he willed it. The Ring that hung upon its chain about his neck grew heavy, heavier than a great stone, and his head was dragged downwards. The Mirror seemed to be growing hot and curls of steam were rising from the water. He was slipping forward.
‘Do not touch the water!’ said the Lady Galadriel softly. The vision faded, and Frodo found that he was looking at the cool stars twinkling in the silver basin. He stepped back shaking all over and looked at the Lady.
Film scene:Frodo steps up to the basin to look inside. Peering down, he sees nothing at first but his reflection in the dark water. Suddenly, the surface of the water moves and he sees a vision of Legolas, Merry and Pippin, then Sam, all looking at him with troubled expressions. He sees Bag End. Looking on in horror, he watches Hobbiton burn, the neighbors and friends he has known all his life enslaved. Sam appears, chained, and struck by an Orc. The Shire is a desolate wasteland.
A vision of the burning Eye fills the mirror
What shall I look for?
What shall I see?
* * * * *
Like the unwilling
of your foot
upon my stair,
like the hesitant
from the fading stars.
In another time,
should have answered you.
With great words,
and perilous pride,
have answered you.
A different Age
when the World
was not yet worn
an Age echoing yet
Within this glade,
there is no Song,
no gentle resonance
of the tender crafting of a world,
to the darkness
waiting, with surety,
There is only this moment,
sharp and fine
upon the knife-point
of your fear,
You *will* look.
Without words passing between us,
I feel your frightened thought:
I know what you will see.
And the glade becomes dark,
midnight'd and cold
with your seeing.
like a hammer
like Sea waves
on a winter-deep day.
It is *your* heart
I feel in my throat,
your tears that
close my eyes,
that opens them, at the last.