Log in

No account? Create an account
March 2018   01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Fireside Scene Pt. 4 ~ "Amazing Creatures....!"

Posted on 2006.01.19 at 11:13
Tags: , , , , ,
Here is the last small set of caps for this sequence, the ones that I planned to cap originally for my "lighter side of Frodo" project....

I cannot look at this little sequence without experiencing a nearly fatal desire to pinch Frodo's bonny cheeks and crush him to my bosom. The face Frodo lifts to Gandalf is so young, so fresh, so plucky, so confident, so high-hearted, my old curmudgeonly heart just melts.

And if it affected me that way then, back when I first saw Fellowship, it affected me far more deeply and with greater complexity after I had seen the full trilogy.

After Return of the King, I would see that fresh face of FotR on my screen, but superimposed over it in my mind would be the images of that face to come: faces of terrible worry, of fury, of dread, of pain, suffering and despair. Finally there would be the still beautiful but wan face of resigned diminishment, the Frodo who inhabits the too-tidy rooms of Bag End.

"How do you go back to an old life...?" When I watch that scene now, in my mind I see the face of Frodo in these early screencaps and I weep.

More than any other early scene of Frodo -- not the "money shot," not the "cart smile." nor the faces of laughter during the party scenes -- this moment is the one that most exemplifies to me the light-hearted, hopeful young hobbit Frodo was before he went off on the Quest. The contrast shows most vividly what Frodo has lost. He gained a great deal from what he went through, too, but the look on this young face we never see again.

No, I take that back. There is the farewell smile at the Grey Havens. That smile had everything I see in these shots, but far more. In the shots I am posting below, Frodo is hopeful out of his own shining nature, but also out of his ignorance of what can and will befall him.

At the end of the film, he has lived and learned more of suffering and evil than any hobbit should or could. His last smile is all the more radiant to me because he could feel renewed hope in spite of having lost that innocence, in spite of what had happened to him.

~ Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring, full-screen edition of the theatrical release:

"I can cut across country easily enough!"

"My dear Frodo, hobbits really are amazing creatures! You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you."

Click HERE for table of Frodo and Elijah Wood Screencaps.

~ Mechtild


aquila0212 at 2006-01-19 17:56 (UTC) (Link)
mechtild at 2006-01-19 21:59 (UTC) (Link)
At first I thought you meant you were getting all choked up, when you said "Throat." Then I realized you meant you wanted to chew on it. ;)
shirebound at 2006-01-19 18:07 (UTC) (Link)
the look on this young face we never see again


I also love the obvious and undiluted trust Frodo shows in Gandalf, which punctuates even more the shock and loss and disbelief he felt at Gandalf's fall in Moria.

mechtild at 2006-01-19 22:00 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, Shirebound. The fall of Gandalf. I'll never forget how nearly hysterical I was when I first read that scene decades ago. I knew nothing about the plot of the book from others, I was devastated. How could Frodo not have been more so?
ellinestel at 2006-01-19 23:13 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my... :(
pearlette at 2006-01-19 23:39 (UTC) (Link)
You're breaking my heart! :(

I fell passionately in love with the book first time, and Frodo in Mordor moved me tremendously. But I can honestly say that it was Ian Holm who really made Frodo come alive for me. The BBC Grey Havens breaks my heart.

I don't feel Frodo's agonies as much in the film. There are scenes in PJ's ROTK that I just adore, which are sublime and moving and beautifully done. There are also a few scenes that REALLY piss me off SO much - Frodo sending Sam away is unforgivable.

And then Sam's battling of Shelob in the film is so gung-ho and triumphant. Not that I have any objection to Sam being gung-ho, you're cheering him on, but in the book (and the BBC play) that scene is so utterly nightmarish. You don't really feel the depth of Sam's despair in the film. I miss the Choices of Master Samwise. :( And Gollum's near-repentance (possibly the most heartbreaking moment in the entire story.) So I just don't feel the agonies of Frodo and Sam in Mordor. It's too rushed ... and it's hard to take Sauron the Lighthouse very seriously. :p

But, there are moments of sublimity in PJ's LOTR. The post-destruction of the Ring scenes in the film are absolutely incredible. Perfect.

And another perfectly judged scene is this one in the Bag End parlour, with a young, valiant, pure-hearted hobbit gazing trustfully up at Gandalf, his beloved counsellor and mentor.


mechtild at 2006-01-20 04:55 (UTC) (Link)
Pearl, I wrote you an answer then wrote one again, but it got erased. I am sorry! Maybe it will appear in your email reply notification.
(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2006-01-20 04:37 (UTC) (Link)
Mews, thank you so much for your thoughtful post. Yes, the lighting is just what is needed for the scene, "delicate," yes. I finished watching a film with my daughter a few minutes ago and have been checking my friend's list. Having read your LJ entry, all the more am I appreciative of your taking the time to visit and comment.

Take heart from the hobbit with the restored, rosy-cheeked face. I'll try to follow my own suggestion, too. This must be a down-in-the-dumps time of year. In the northern hemisphere, at least. :)

~ Mechtild
frodosweetstuff at 2006-01-20 14:29 (UTC) (Link)
No, I take that back. There is the farewell smile at the Grey Havens. That smile had everything I see in these shots, but far more. In the shots I am posting below, Frodo is hopeful out of his own shining nature, but also out of his ignorance of what can and will befall him.

At the end of the film, he has lived and learned more of suffering and evil than any hobbit should or could. His last smile is all the more radiant to me because he could feel renewed hope in spite of having lost that innocence, in spite of what had happened to him.

I find these observations very interesting and I think you are right! I never saw it like that. I said somewhere else recently that after reading the books for the first time I interpreted the end as metaphor for death, possibly suicide (I read a book without the appendices). I can still see why I understood it like that but I think now that there is a different interpretation which is much more plausible - and touching.

mechtild at 2006-01-20 15:04 (UTC) (Link)
When I first read the book I was devastated, devastated by the end. I thought of it only as a metaphor for death, and I think the film emphasizes that take in "Tolkien-virgin" viewers. In related writings, Tolkien even admitted that Frodo's sailing was a metaphor for one's journey towards death (although not death itself).

Back then, I didn't know anything about the rest of Tolkien's Middle-earth mythology or back-story, I had no idea where he was going, only that he was going and not coming back and like Sam I sat and stared into what seemed like a never ending grey twilight by the shores of the book. Only after reading Tolkien's other stuff, and especially the things he said about what he intended to be Frodo's fate here and there in "Letters," did I begin to see that Frodo was actually heading into the promise of a renewed life, a renewed happiness that was no longer possible if he stayed in his old one. That was the beginning of my being able to see his going from Frodo's POV, and not from Sam's POV (and as I reader I strongly identifying with the bereft Sam).

Decades later, I still am so in love with Frodo and what he is for me - a bridge or medium through whom I experience the larger, deeper, higher things of life -- all wrapped up in Faerie -- that I still grieve everytime over his departure. But, as I have got older, I find I have been more and more able to see my own life from Frodo's POV, and realise that there comes a time for endings, for leaving, and for gearing oneself up for the next thing when the time has comes. I'm past fifty. A lot of people I have known have died or utterly changed and left my life. I have left the lives of others. I couldn't see that coming as a young reader, but now I see it and know it.

The Sam part of me still sobs over Frodo's going. But the Frodo part of myself is hopeful and turns her face into the wind towards the West.
Re: On Faërie - (Anonymous) Expand
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2006-01-23 13:55 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you Mechtild, you certainly know how to choose heart stopping screen-caps. They are so completely beautiful. Your project “lighter side of Frodo” is very much appreciated.

Thank you too for sharing your thoughts regarding the suffering and despair of Frodo.

"How do you go back to an old life...?"

That is a heartbreaking scene it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. There are many scenes that make me cry, in the book and the films, but I actually - griev - through this sequence in the film.

There is a heartrending illustration, by Willow Wode, a close-up of the smile (screen-cap above) that Frodo gives to Gandalf at Bag End. It is set beside another close-up of Frodo, on Mount Doom, for comparison. Iirc it’s entitled Damaged.

On a lighter side.

You have whetted my appetite with the snippets regarding Faërie. I’ll soon need to invest in another bookcase - literally. (no pun intended) :D

You wrote:

Frodo who inhabits the too-tidy rooms of Bag End.

More details please regarding too-tidy rooms – this sounds really psychological – Estë wants more, more, more!

If Frodo wore shoelaces and someone noticed that he tied them in a particular way I’d want to know the ins and outs – obsessed with Frodo – what me? *rolls eyes*


mechtild at 2006-01-23 19:50 (UTC) (Link)
Estë, my sweet! It's lovely to see your icon swooning here.

You have whetted my appetite with the snippets regarding Faërie. I’ll soon need to invest in another bookcase - literally. (no pun intended) :D

"The Tolkien Reader" is quite a good volume to have. I ordered mine from Amazon, a cheap little paperback; mine was only $6.99 new last year. In it, under the larger title, "Tree and Leaf", along with the fantastic just-named essay, "On Fairy-stories," is his short, semi-autobiographical, allegorical story, "Leaf by Niggle." This story, which I love, is why I called myself "The Niece of Niggle" in my old TORc sig. It also has among the "Tom Bombadil" poems the wrenching Frodo-associated poem, "The Sea-bell." *sob*

There is a heartrending illustration, by Willow Wode, a close-up of the smile (screen-cap above) that Frodo gives to Gandalf at Bag End. It is set beside another close-up of Frodo, on Mount Doom, for comparison. Iirc it’s entitled Damaged.

I looked under "Art" on Willow-wode's site and didn't see this, somehow. Am I in need of new glasses? ("Yes.") Could you link it, Estë?

More details please regarding too-tidy rooms – this sounds really psychological – Estë wants more, more, more!

I think this was discussed in threads after RotK came out. Anyway, in the film, there is a sharp difference between the state of Bag End's interior when Bilbo was master than when Frodo lived there after the Quest. Bilbo's Bag End is full of clutter: stacks of papers and books are here and there, implying works in progress, research being done. Maps lie spread out, hinting at his interests and also at his plans to leave. Everything speaks of a hobbit with a mind still learning, still engaged, still imagining and feeling about for a personal future. Messy. Seeking. A hobbit still enthused with life. Outside, it is high summer, pots of flowers inside and flowers outside, windows thrown open. The candles are lit on the mantle, the hearth has a fire, dirtied plates and cups are here and there. There is grit on the floor and crumbs on the table.

In the last Bag End scene, the viewer sees Frodo strolling gracefully through a dimly, autumnally-lit Bag End. The light coming through the panes is beautiful but wan like the scene's hero. The floor is polished, nothing is out of place. There is no soot; the fire and candles are not lit. There is no clutter, no hint of "works-in-progress," other than the one volume on the desk that Frodo is shown working on, nearly finished, the Red Book.

Some posters saw this orderliness, this tidiness as the sign that Rosie was a very good housekeeper. But, no, in the film, Rosie and Sam don't live at Bag End, they live down the Row. Some saw it as a sign of Frodo's own consideration. He knew he was leaving, so all had been put in order, ready to hand it over to the Gamgees, ship-shape and spiff-spoff.

Others saw it as a revealing of Frodo's inner state. That there was no clutter, no fire, no projects or works in progress showed how Frodo no longer had any interest, any verve for the life he had led in the Shire. He no longer had a sense of his own future there, perhaps anywhere in Middle-earth. Tidy, empty, echoing: Bag End was no longer a home; in his heart, he had already left it. It was a house to him now, no longer a home.

I tend to think it shows Frodo's readiness to leave, but I tend to warm to the idea that it shows Frodo's inner state, even more. "Tidy, empty, echoing: Bag End was no longer a home; in his heart, he had already left...."
taerie at 2006-01-24 14:44 (UTC) (Link)
Not sure this is the place to bring this up.. so sorry if it isn't. It certainly is a downer but I felt like writing about it.
My husband said something that brought me up short the other day. He said that to him, it was obvious that I equated Frodo with my brother. This, had never occurred to me before.. and I had to think about it.
I see the meaning in the sacrificial prince story.. with my mind.. but my heart rejects it utterly. As you know, it is not beautiful to me. It is only heartbreaking and unjust.
When I was a little girl I lost my beloved older brother who was no older than Elijah Wood was when he began being Frodo. He was in the service and he was killed in a plane crash when he was coming home at the end of his service. He had dark curly hair and big luminous eyes. He was beautiful and a talented musician and writer and sculptor already as young as he was. When he was only twelve my single parent mom had to rely on him to take care of two younger sisters.. (and I was only an infant.) when she had to work full time to keep us all alive. He faithfully did this and hid us from a marauding father who my mom was afraid would take us. I was only a child when he was killed but I remember his voice and his gentleness and playful sense of humor and how he would hold me in his lap and sing to me. And when he was gone how hurt and confused I was that he would never come back. They told me how he was going to a better place.. but I wanted to see that better place and see him being happy and alright.
My mother had taken a fatal wound. She died young because if this.. and she was the heart of my family. I guess that all might be the reason that Frodo being so hurt and going away and leaving the Shire so young and with so much more to do and be to Sam (me).. will never, ever be beautiful to me but only terribly unjust. I wanted very much to see him be better in that other place.. and see him be happy and alright and I never will. Matt says that you are supposed to accept it all on faith.. (He has a very sour view of Tolkien's Christian attitude in the story although the story itself he loves as much as I do.) Anyway, It is an interesting thought. Thanks for getting me thinking about the subject. I think it is important to understand yourself whether or not it fixes anything. (And I still have no idea if all this has anything to do with anything.. Maybe I just hate endings in fantasy that don't include a happily ever after for a brave hero.. because that happens enough in real life.)
mechtild at 2006-01-26 22:47 (UTC) (Link)
I now regret having written all that, Taerie. I have not been helpful, dragging in a lot of Frodo/Tolkien stuff, when that was really not the point. Anyway, I apologize for not speaking more to what you were saying.

You needn't answer, but how old were you when your mom died? I don't think anyone is reading this entry anymore, so probably no one will see what you say besides me.
mechtild at 2006-01-25 19:10 (UTC) (Link)

On Frodo's "sacrificial position"

(((((Taerie))))), thank you for writing from your heart. What a tragic thing your family had to endure! Your brother was stricken down, with no time for any of you to accept it, much less even think about the idea of losing him. It was just 'there': a huge, ugly, inexplicable blow. As if he had happened to be at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. No wonder you all were so terribly affected. And no wonder you could see no "redeeming" or "ennobling" or "beautiful" features in such a death. It would not seem that there were any.

But, without seeming unfeeling, I think Tolkien was showing Frodo's leaving Middle-earth (and eventually dying) as something different from what happened to your brother. Your brother's death would be more like that of a Gondorian soldier, patrolling the ramparts of Minas Tirith when a trebuchet failed and collapsed on him. Was the Gondorian's death unjust? I should imagine, in LotR, it would not be, since he would have fallen in service to a just cause, even if he died accidentally. But there is no way the Gondorian's death wouldn't be a shame and a waste, and a tragedy to all who loved him.

Nothing like that has happened in my family. Everyone who has died in mine has been very ill, first, suffering a great deal. I think this made their deaths feel more like mercies than an injustices. And I don't think anyone needs to have any religious faith to experience this.

I think that is what Tolkien was thinking of for Frodo, in letting him sail to the Undying Lands, to be healed, if possible, eventually to die. Frodo was suffering, suffering in a manner that was incurable and only getting worse. If he could be cured, the cure was not available in Middle-earth.

I think you would agree with this, Taerie, but that your real complaint is against the fact that Tolkien wrote it that way at all -- with a hero who ended up so wounded he could find no rest in his own world, his own mind and body. But Tolkien was writing from life, I am guessing, thinking of so many men who ended up sacrificing themselves in terms of their health - bodily, mentally, emotionally, spiritually - in WWI. But why should he chose to write about such sad stuff, you may ask. Why could he not have written a more formula fairy story? In fairy stories, it is part of the structure that the wicked be vanquished and punished, but the hero honoured and celebrated, winning the princess and living to a ripe old age surrounded by progeny. Tolkien didn't do that, obviously.

I am suggesting that the reason you love/hate this book is because Tolkien did NOT do that. If he had, you would and I would not be obsessing, still talking about it after all these years. Just as the story would have finished, "and they lived happily ever after. ~ the End," so it would have ended in our living imaginations and hearts. It would have been all tidied up and could be put away. But this story...we can't seem to "put away."


mechtild at 2006-01-25 19:11 (UTC) (Link)

On Frodo's "sacrificial position", cont'd....

...cont'd from previous post...

Tolkien says that he did provide a "eucatastrophe" for LotR, the happy, joyous turn, plucked at the last moment from the jaws of darkness and death, but readers complain that the eucatastrophe isn't there, or, not it isn't there enough.

He is right and they are right. The eucatrastrophe is there for Middle-earth, but it's not there for others, veterans like Frodo. There was a happy ending, but at a great cost. Not to all, but to some. That's how life is. I think Tolkien wrote the story that way because it was true to life as he knew it. It is the trueness at the heart of LotR that comes through for readers, I think, hooking them even while they hate it. Look how they hate and love the book's ending: throwing it down in tears only to pick it up again and start from the beginning.

In Tolkien's Letter #246, he is answering a reader about whether Frodo's failure to throw in the Ring at the end was a moral failure ("No, JRRT explained). He says,

Moral failure can only be asserted, I think, when a man's effort or endurance falls short of his limits, and the blame decreases as that limit is closer approached. Nonetheless, I think it can be observed in history and experience that some individuals seem to be placed in 'sacrificial' positions: situations or tasks that for perfection of solution demand powers beyond their utmost limits, even beyond all possible limits for an incarnate creature in a physical world - in which a body may be destroyed, or so maimed that it affects the mind and will. Judgement upon any such case should then depend on the motives and disposition with which he started out, and should weigh his actions against the utmost possibility of his powers, all along the road to whatever proved the breaking-point.

Frodo undertook his quest out of love -- to save the world he knew from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the task. His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that. I do not myself see that the breaking of his mind and will under demonic pressure after torment was any more a moral failure than the breaking of his body would have been - say, by being strangled by Gollum, or crushed by a falling rock.

I bold-faced the sentence pertinent to your remark but quoted the whole section, simply because I think it is so good.

What happens to Frodo in LotR is terrible, but his struggle to survive and endure it, his sufferings, made him what he became by the end of the Quest: scarred, yes, damaged, yes, dogged by nightmares and sorrow, yes. But, nobler, more elevated and refined in spirit, wiser in heart, more beautiful, and more worthy to be cherished than any character I have ever known.

And it would not have happened had Tolkien let Frodo live, "happily ever after, until the end of his days," the way Bilbo would have liked his own story to end. That's just my opinion, of course.

Anyway, Taerie, I probably have spoken inadequately to your feelings. They deserved a better answer.
Previous Entry  Next Entry