Notes: Very long essay ahead, wrapping up the final part of my last Frodo screencap series. I don't plan to do any other large-scale capping projects. I'll still make new caps to illustrate reflections or poems, but the ongoing project I've been working on since 2005 is at an end. I'll post a brief entry providing links for browsing the full collection in the coming days. But feel free to skip the essay and go straight to the caps and poem. As with the previous entry, in addition to my caps there are several spectacular caps by Blossom. Don't miss them. And visit Blossom's gorgeous Frodo website, In Dreams. Also featured is the brilliant conclusion to jan-u-wine's Lórien Suite. It appears below the fullscreen caps.As was the case with much of the screenplay for the previous post, there is no book equivalent to this scene about being a ring-bearer. Frodo never says he knows what he must do but is afraid to do it, and Galadriel never tells him even the smallest person can change the course of the future. Yet the dialogue sounds the sort of thing they'd say in the book. What's different are a couple of themes that run through the rest of the scene.
First, there is the greatly emphasized element of warning and impending doom. Particular to the film version of Galadriel's Mirror, Galadriel warns Frodo that, because of the Ring, the Fellowship is breaking. "Already it has begun", she says. She speaks pointedly about Boromir: "he will try to take the Ring. You know of whom I speak." Even worse, she says, "one by one, it will destroy them all". This addition not only "ups the ante" generally, it heightens the potential for fear and angst for Frodo in particular, interjecting a sense of personal danger that isn't there in the book. Besides the heightened sense of danger to Frodo from members of the Fellowship, the filmmakers go on to portray Galadriel herself as a danger. She is decidedly hostile to him at the eaves of the wood, bringing him up sharp with her whispered, "Frodo, your coming to us is as the footsteps of doom; you bring great evil here, Ring-bearer". Not the friendliest of welcomes. Little flashes of warmth do occur between them as the Lórien scene progresses, but they are interspersed through exchanges more often sinister in mood. In her "Scary Lady" temptation scene, Galadriel's tone goes beyond vaguely malevolent to monstrous, terrifying, even berserk. Galadriel, and her realm, is very Perilous indeed. (See jan-u-wine's persuasive divergence below.)
Second, in this scene, the filmmakers establish Frodo as radically alone as Ring-bearer. In any great tale or myth, the hero's helpers and mentors are stripped away so that he goes to his final contest alone. This happens in Lord of the Rings. Frodo ends up alone because of unforeseen circumstances (e.g. Gandalf falls in Moria; Aragorn and the rest are scattered by the orc attack--even though Frodo doesn't know about this in the book; Sam is detained by Gollum's attack in Shelob's Lair and before the entrance to the Sammath Naur), but also because of active evil.
At Amon Hen, desire for the Ring acts upon Boromir until he tries to take the Ring by force. This assault, combined with his subsequent harrowing experience on the Seat of Seeing, precipitates Frodo's decision to leave the Fellowship and go on alone. Seeing what has happened to Boromir, book Frodo fears the same thing will happen to the rest of the company, some of whom are very dear to him. Alone at the top of Amon Hen, Frodo perceives,'This at least is plain: the evil of the Ring is already at work even in the Company, and the Ring must leave them before it does more harm. I will go alone. Some I cannot trust, and those I can trust are too dear to me: poor old Sam, and Merry and Pippin. Strider, too: his heart yearns for Minas Tirith, and he will be needed there, now Boromir has fallen into evil. I will go alone. At once.'
In the film's account of what happens at the breaking of the Fellowship (which is different from the book's in most respects), Frodo seems to decide to go it alone in order to save the Ring and thus the mission. That he must get away at once to salvage the Quest is reinforced by Aragorn. The two are suddenly set upon by a swarm of orcs. Aragorn, like Gandalf at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, urges Frodo to run. Frodo has drawn his sword but complies, running until he comes upon Merry and Pippin, who urge him to hide with them. Frodo refuses and goes on, leaving the cousins to create a diversion for the pursuing orcs (the brave lads! it resembles the way they try to stand between Frodo and the wraiths on Weathertop). On the banks of the Anduin Frodo stops, as if again undecided. "I wish the ring had never come to me!" he laments, "I wish none of this had happened!" Gandalf's remembered voice comes back to him, saying, "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide; all you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you." Or, "Just get on with it, dear boy; do now what needs to be done". Frodo's resolve stiffens: the Quest comes first: he tucks the Ring away, marches down to the river, leaps into a boat and pushes off.
Book Frodo performs similar outward actions: he, too, is assaulted by Boromir, has a harrowing (but different) experience at the top of Amon Hen, and, resolving to go alone to Mordor, leaps into a boat and pushes off into the Anduin. But he does it for a different primary reason. He would not have thought going off alone at this point a desirable strategy, still so far from Mordor and Mt. Doom as he was, knowing himself to be inexpert at wilderness survival, and without map or guide. He leaves because he is pressed by a desire to spare his friends bodily harm and spiritual corruption. He chooses the "least-worst" option of going off in secret, leaving them behind (except Sam, of course, who won't be left), because he cannot bear to endanger them further.
However, in the book account, Frodo is not attacked by orcs. He is not even aware the others are under siege. This makes things very different for film Frodo. He goes off alone in the midst of an attack not to spare his friends but in order to accomplish his mission. When Aragorn tells him to run, his command means not only "save yourself", but "save the Quest". If all else is lost, the Ring-bearer must be saved. Even if Frodo has reason to believe that the supremely capable champions of the company will be able to vanquish the party of orcs (Aragorn dispersed five Ringwraiths with a sword and a flaming brand, after all), he knows there's a chance he could be killed and the Ring taken. Apart from the immediate danger, Frodo further believes that one by one his companions will try to take the Ring: Gandalf has suggested it and Galadriel has stated it. If this were to happen the Ring will not be destroyed and the Quest would fail.
Perhaps, since the filmmakers chose not to use Frodo's book motive of sparing his friends, they wrote the scene the way they did in order to make it crystal clear why Frodo still felt compelled to go at once and alone to Mordor. The attack made getting the Ring away from enemy hands seem crucial. But even then, it would have been reasonable for Frodo to lay low and wait to see if any of the company survived, companions who still could help him get closer to his goal. But the fear that the Ring would be taken from him, by these same people--a fear carefully developed in preceding scenes--made his decision to leave alone at once sure. This fear not only precipitated his departure, it ate away at his relationships, amplifying his sense of being inescapably alone.
But Frodo's aloneness in the films has a secondary aspect to it. His isolation is not only the result of fanned paranoia and distrust, it is the result of being the Ring-bearer as such. This aloneness he shares with Galadriel. "To wear a Ring of power is to be alone," she tells him in one of lines peculiar to this scene. Experiencing aloneness, as ring-bearers, is basic to their on-screen connection.
Frodo and Galadriel do share a special connection in the book that is based on wearing and bearing such rings, but it is based more on the unique way of perceiving that results from it, not isolation, especially not paranoid isolation. Book Galadriel notes that Frodo can see Nenya on her hand, whereas Sam cannot. He has a new keenness of sight on account of the Ring. Because he has worn and bears a ring of power, she says, he can perceive her thoughts, "more clearly than many that are accounted wise". (The film scene, I think, means to show this heightened perception by the way they exchange mind-speech, but, since it amounts to saying silently what they would say out loud, and they are alone in the Glade, it seems rather pointless.)
Even before Galadriel puts this aloneness into words, their isolation is established visually. Sam is cut from the scene, and Frodo goes to the Glade alone. The impression given viewers is that Galadriel has summoned Frodo and only Frodo. He is the one to whom she reveals dark things, he is the one with whom she shares private burdens—because they are ring-bearers. And bearing such rings they must ever be on their guard, trusting no one. Alas, persons who can trust no one must always be alone. This idea [that no one can be trusted] is quite a departure from the book's story line, in which Frodo is, from the first, urged to trust and depend on close companions. He is precisely not to try and go it alone. Frodo is alone at the climax in the Sammath Naur, as all mythic heroes must when they meet their arch-adversaries, but not until then.
Film-Frodo shows book sense in the Glade scene when he tells Galadriel, "I can't do this alone". But Galadriel is working for the screenwriters, not Tolkien. "Sorry, but you'll have to," is her response. (She actually says, "you are a ring-bearer, Frodo; to bear a ring of power is to be alone", but it amounts to the same thing.) Her response was probably written to show that Frodo now must gird his loins and be self-reliant. But as Frodo fans know, following this advice—trusting no one but other ring-bearers does not serve Frodo well. With Gandalf apparently dead and Galadriel far away, Frodo ends up trusting Gollum. By cutting himself off and refusing the help and advice of companions he should trust—his judgement increasingly skewed by the Ring—he makes worse and worse decisions. Poor film Frodo, sending Sam home, of all people. This "aloneness" was nearly fatal.
There is a positive effect of psychologically severing Frodo from his friends to establish the bond between Frodo and Galadriel. When he is near to despairing in the Pass of Cirith Ungol and is given a vision of Galadriel, it is extremely powerful. I think it is so powerful because of the scene in the Glade, which makes so much of their mutual, radical aloneness. It sets her up as the person who understands more than any other what Frodo has been going through. Thus her empathy arises out of unique shared experience, as bearers of rings of power. I don't think this benefit outweighs the detriments of the Glade scene, but it is a strength that results from the way the scene was written.
When I sent a draft of this intro. to jan-u-wine, she was moved to say perceptive things on the matter of film Frodo's accentuated aloneness, and film Galadriel's pronounced hostility to Frodo. For those who'd like to read more on the topic, read on.1. On film Galadriel's hostility: Jan offers the best, most gracious interpretation for what I have always seen as inexplicable hostility to Frodo. Although I don't believe the filmmakers had her interpretation in mind when they wrote the script, this is the way I will view the scene from now on.I want to talk a little about what you've said about Galadriel and her uh....mood....in the first part. I agree that she seems and feels hostile, and that her words to Frodo before he enters Lorien are spoken to him. However.....I want to add something: I believe that, although it is to Frodo she speaks, her hostility is not directed at him. It is the Ring she fears, both for itself and, I imagine, because she desires it. [It occurs to me that] after her temptation and choice, she does not act like that to him again (we are talking film here). It seems to me that, thereafter, she becomes that wise and kind elf lady that Tolkien described. She is stern, but certainly not hostile. So, perhaps what PJ is saying is that it is the Ring, all along.
I say [below] (quoting the book)...the only ones that need fear Lorien are those who bring some evil with them. ......Of course, Frodo DID bring some evil with him, but not in the sense that Aragorn meant (or else he'd not have been welcomed in the manner he was; had he been perceived as a threat to Lórien by dint of what he bore, Frodo would not have entered, or his entry would have been much different). My feeling is that the Lady had such a fine 'feel' for reading what lay within [the hearts of others] that she would know it was safe to let Frodo, with his burden of evil, enter, for that evil had not stricken his heart, not made HIM evil. The peril, I deem, in this case, was to the Lady herself.
2. On film Frodo's aloneness: Jan lifts up places where this is established, book and film:
I wanted to say (after reading what you have) that, to me, the "alone" thing started long before Lórien. As far back as Prancing Pony (maybe before), there were slender feelers that Frodo really couldn't trust anyone (not even himself). Now, granted, Prancing Pony played the way it ought, with book Aragorn and film Aragorn being presented as a seemingly untrustworthy person (and then proving trustworthy). But in light of latter events, the chink in the armour of Frodo's trust was already made. Even the comment of Frodo to Merry upon the road to Rivendell holds some paranoia (as does Frodo's wary stance in delivering the line): "I think an enemy would look fairer and seem fouler".
I think that Tolkien must have intended for there to be some "chinks"...after all, the story and characters wouldn't have been very interesting without them. But he didn't intend for the Fellowship to be portrayed as it was in the film: as a group of people who really needed leaving.
Then we have Weathertop, where the other hobbits are shown to be incapable of protecting Frodo (and ninnies to boot, as was Aragorn: why would he leave them in such a place, go off long enough for those events to happen? He wasn't just taking a piss, he was gone a LONG time, leaving four people he knew to not be savvy in grave danger. What might Frodo have thought of that? In the book, Strider does not leave them.
And what of Gandalf, NOT showing up at the Prancing Pony (although one admits that being held prisoner is a Very Good Excuse)? And when he falls in Moria, what, then, did Frodo think/feel? Here he is, 'abandoned' by his foremost counsellor, someone who'd promised to help him bear the Ring 'as long as it it is yours to bear'. Worse, film-Frodo doesn't even, apparently, know the way to Mordor — "Which way is it, Gandalf, left or right?" — without Gandalf . (What a disservice, PJ!) (...)
[Back to Lórien]: in the book, when the hobbits are passing into its woods, there is a conversation between Aragorn and Boromir wherein Aragorn says that the only ones that need fear Lórien are those that bring evil with them. Haldir (in the book) never says that Frodo cannot enter, that he brings great evil with him. It is GIMLI he says cannot enter (due to the ancient feud). Frodo is treated with great respect, being invited, with Legolas, to climb up onto the flet. What a contrast to the film scene, where Frodo is plainly told that he is tainted by that which he carries. He's treated as if he is carrying the plague, and should be eradicated before he might infect the world around him. The rest of the Fellowship draws away from him, leaving him with his obviously dark thoughts (grief for Gandalf, and what else ... a growing paranoia?). It does not make sense that Sam, of all people, would leave Frodo alone in such a moment, and the look that we see Sam giving him (reprised in the Mirror scene) is entirely out of character for Sam. Sam, looking at Frodo in an accusatory way? Nonsense. Sam would have been by Frodo's side, and Boromir would never have gotten his two farthings in (film-Boromir's consolation lines to Frodo).
Frodo is also shown apart from the others in the scene where Sam recites his poem about Gandalf. Only Frodo is shown as isolated from the rest. Although he is within ear shot, he is also definitely NOT 'with the Fellowship' in that moment.
Below the screencaps is jan-u-wine's fifth entry in her poem cycle, Lórien Suite. In this poem she returns to Frodo's point of view and brings the series to a brilliant conclusion.
[Galadriel listens gravely as Frodo continues, who still holds the Ring on his open palm. “I know what I must do,” he tells her, hesitantly.]
Frodo: It's just... I'm afraid to do it.
[Galadriel bends to meet Frodo at eye level.]
Galadriel: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
[Frodo closes the Ring in his hand.]
My Lady's form
graven with timeless purity,
limned by blessed grace.
For all the ages she has known
which I have not,
I pity her.
As if we were of one mind,
and resolute heart,
Within the hard tide
of the hard world,
she has made her choice,
with a gentl'd smile.
In her eyes,
in the echoing
of her thought,
I see my own choice
never could there be
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Even in this blessed realm,
in the burnt-blue velvet
I know fear.
Fear of the time that passes
fear of where my own choice,
now must lead,
fear of that which
would take those
whom I love
within the folly
of their own
Inside the prison of
I feel smaller, still,
as if I were but a single light
in a vast fortress of unending
It is, yet
to be that solitary
I am determined:
by small hope
Supplementary widescreen caps by Blossom:
~ Blossom's 'In Dreams': a Frodo website.
~ Entries with jan-u-wine's poems.
~ Main table for all entries