As some of you know, in the interests of perhaps producing an erotic illustration of Frodo, I had been looking through swoony face shots from The Return of the King. You know the sort I mean, the ones with him lying on the rock in the midst of the lava flow, after they have escaped from the Sammath Naur: Frodo has lost the Ring and a finger, but he experiences massive relief just knowing the Dark Tower has been destroyed and his sanity restored. As many fans have noted, these screencaps seen out of context also look like someone undergoing the extremities of erotic pleasure.
Maeglian, and one of my betas, Scarlet, were showing me some effects that could be made from screencaps. They used "Frodo on the rock" caps to demonstrate. I asked Scarlet, could she do me a pencil-drawing version of some caps with her program, if I picked a few out? Sure, she said, just send some nice, big, clear screencaps with good contrast.
But I didn't really have any. All the caps from "The End of All Things" scene that I had gleaned from LotR galleries were just like the scene in the film -- very atmospheric: dark, almost murky, and lit with a lot of red. Well, I'd just have to go ahead and cap the scene and apply the adjustments I had used on the other series of dark caps I've done (like the "Under the Tree Roots" scene and the ones from Bree).
I had meant to keep doing my screencaps in narrative order (I'm rather compulsive about chronological sequence), but, what the heck. The caps are done so I may as well post them....
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Last night I made a whopping 178 caps. With great effort, I have pared it down to 96. As you will see, all of these caps have been brightened, colour-corrected, and sharpened. The result is that the lighting and colour look a lot like the famous RotK poster of "Frodo the Martyr" in Mordor: bloody-necked, exhausted, filthy, sweaty, and beautiful.
The other result is that the expressions of Frodo (and Sam, when he comes on screen) are much easier to see, especially on a small computer screen. But, please remember that they are not like the real movie screencaps (which were probably digitally graded in post-production for the darkness and red lighting). So don't toss any "regular" screencaps you may have. Think of this set as supplemental.
Here's an example of an unretouched cap from this scene:
Curiously, one of the things that happened while I was making these caps was that I lost almost all interest in making erotic Frodo illustrations. Which was why I was bothering to make them at all!
Number one, how could the faces in these shots ever be improved upon by any drawing of mine? Number two, scrolling through these was like watching the scenes, but with even more impact. The narrative line came back to me so strongly I was too moved by the real scene to respond to them in my usual smutty way. (It'll come back, though, never fear.)
What a beautiful scene this is in every way: the art design and the visual conceptualizing of every shot; in the wafting breeze that keeps their hair (and the scene) moving; in the superb, heart-rendingly-perfect scoring, and, of course, in the performances of these two actors. I know they did a great job in scene after scene of the trilogy, but, for me, it is in this scene -- brought to fruition when the eagle bears Frodo up and away to Renee Fleming's heavenly singing of Howard Shore's music -- that the heart of the film and the story resides. The beauty of it makes me weep. The world is falling down around them, and these two friends, who have experienced so much together -- the sublime (in Rivendell and Lorien) and the most horrifically evil (in Mordor, and, for Frodo, in himself) -- will here lay down to die.
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The scene itself.
Up until this moment, Sam has been utterly engrossed with keeping Frodo alive (from love, and in order to complete the Quest). He hasn't had the liberty to pay any attention to his own feelings and needs. Suddenly, in the after-shocks of the Ring's destruction, he finds his own sense of personal loss and sorrow welling up inside him. Tired to death, with nothing left to accomplish, it overcomes him.
Frodo, his mind free (for the time being) of the domination of the Ring, and no longer consumed with bearing up under his terrible ordeal, can now be the one who bolsters up and consoles. He was not able to do this service for Sam before this. But, now, when Sam is in need, he can rise to the occasion. A few words of loving affirmation, an embrace, and tears shed together ease their hearts and soothe their spirits.
Why do I love this story, and this part of it in particular? Again, it's just so true to the heart of what matters in life. It's a story about two hobbits in Middle-earth, but it's a story about any of us, when the time comes for us to face our own "end of all things."
May each of us be given such a friend with whom to meet it.
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Screencaps #'s 00 - 11:
In this set of screencaps, Frodo and Sam have just escaped the Sammath Naur, barely getting away over a river of lava gushing out onto the plain of Gorgoroth. They scramble up onto a rocky outcropping. Frodo looks back towards where Barad-Dur had stood, the tower of the Eye. Ecstatic and amazed, he exclaims, "It's gone.... It's done!"
"Yes, Mr. Frodo," Sam answers, "It's over now." Sam shows a surprising lack of zeal.
There is another volcanic explosion which shakes the ground beneath them. They scramble up higher and throw themselves onto the rock. The camera comes close to show Frodo lying back, breathing deeply as he recovers.
In some of these, there is only the slightest difference, but I just couldn't make the decision to toss any of them. Each and every one is like a masterwork of painterly art.
Next entry here.
Click HERE for complete table of Frodo and Elijah Wood Screencaps.
ETA: I was given the heads-up that tgshaw had done an excellent screencap entry on "The End of All Things." It is at her fine website for looking at Elijah Wood's acting by examining his screencaps (not just from LotR). She also has written good essays and has a gallery for work she has done on caps with Photoshop.
Here is a link to her site, Frodo Lives ... Within Us Now. The page for her analysis of "The End of all Things" is HERE.
Reading it last night, I see that tg and I have said a lot of the same things, but she says more. Her caps have not been altered, either, preserving the film's original look. She has some Sam reference shots, too.