Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

Frodo's assumption into heaven

I have talked about this in emails to various conversation partners, but the following thought has been a consolation to me. That is, Tolkien gave Frodo a very great grace (according to his own beliefs) as to what would be his death. Tolkien let Frodo sail to the Undying Lands to sojourn until he died a bodily death, laying down his life, at last, voluntarily, as the faithful Men of the first houses did in the First Age of Middle-earth. Frodo then would be whisked off to Mandos, the House of Waiting for the dead of all the races, where his liminal self would wait until ... until whatever the fate of mortals was, beyond the Circles of the World.

What is the particular grace in this? It is that Frodo did not have to die in the Shire after years of decline and suffering? Of advanced age or disease, beating his body into a husk? No; like Mary or Enoch, Frodo was "lifted up" by the boat that sailed out of the Grey Havens on the 'straight road', directly to the lands that never know decay.

I am thinking of this because tonight my daugher asked me to stop off after work and rent Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Watching it tonight, this 1977 film did not look any older to me than it did when it was released. That made me happy.

As I watched this film tonight, a film I had adored when I saw it as young woman, I kept thinking, "Wow! How many times did Peter Jackson see this? How much of it seeped into his unconsciousness - or that of Boyens and Walsh?"

It had so many parallels for me with LotR ... it is the story of an "everyday, ordinary guy" - sort of hero, Roy [Richard Dreyfus], who eventually is whisked up and away to "heaven" - quite apart from any plan of his own. We see in the film how he (and others) is "called" by an initial contact and then an overpowering vision to travel away to another world with another people - a people gracious and good and filled with light. No, Spielberg's child-like, light-filled aliens don't look quite like Elves, but they may as well be.

But the "calling" sunders Roy from his family and community as it summons him to travel single-mindedly to the volcanic mountain of his vision, which turns out to be a tall, striated, flat-topped cone of rock rising out of the midst of a plain where he will meet whomever or whatever it is that has been calling him. It is not an active volcano like Mt. Doom, but is the exposed chimney of an extinct one, "Devil's Tower" in Wyoming, (U.S.A.) -- a site sacred to the native tribes of that region; a holy place according to their beliefs.

I thought there were many specific parallels between LotR and Close Encounters. Early in CE, when small alien craft are first encountered, the hero and others are caught on the road, overtaken by mysterious, rushing lights - (space craft)- beautiful but frightening -- you can almost hear them yelling, "Get off the road!" (but they are only mildly discomfited since the craft aren't Black Riders). Then there is a chase scene in which the "gatekeeper" is overidden: the craft whoosh through a highway toll booth stop, followed by police cars;e the tollkeeper nearly flattened. The main visual comparison, of course, is that in both the heroes in are being drawn to a mountain; a volcano; where they will meet their doom -- whatever it is.

Besides this, the similarity I see is between the fate of the "regular guy" hero who hears the call in this film and the "regular guy" in LotR (Frodo). Roy is called to struggle against all odds to meets his fate on the top of that flat-topped mountain, and, in so doing, be pulled by his fate out of his familiar milieu to enter an unknown, "celestial destiny." Yet, even as he leaves, he remains a regular human being, but his experiences have made him no longer suited to live among his fellow humans the way he had.

Anyway, the film was great. I loved it that Spielberg had the alien culture communicate with the peoples of earth by the use of majestic major chords (those that responded favourably on earth would intone it back). I kept thinking of the music that brought Arda into being, or the idea of "the music of the spheres" that Dante used in his "Comedy".

~ Mechtild

Here's a screencap of EW as Frodo from RotK, bathed with ethereal, golden light, a foretaste of his doom, the good, restoring part of it in Aman:

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~ Mechtild
Tags: films, frodo and the spiritual, tolkien and religion

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