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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

The End of All Things: Pt. IV ~ “If ever I was to marry someone….”

Posted on 2006.03.20 at 15:36

Comments:


Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-03-21 15:14 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, Tearie, much ink has been spilled on the de-hero-ification of Frodo in the films. Book fans watching the films, like me, tended to just "fill in" material from the book at they watched. I appreciated the film portrayal as an illumination of the inner life of Frodo, bringing to the viewable outside what had remained hidden in the book portrayal of the emotionally reserved hobbit. But that persons who were not book fans tended to see Frodo very differently was made clear to me over and over again in viewer comments. They'd scratch their heads, wondering why such a wimpy, ineffectual guy, who couldn't keep the damned Ring in his pocket for ten minutes running was given the job instead of, well, anyone, pretty much. To so many viewers, Sam was the "real hero." Not just because he killed Shelob, did the rescue and the "action" stuff. But because all the way through, from the time they got to Bree, Sam was portrayed as the more astute, the more canny, the more assertive by far (always butting in and saying what he thought they ought to do or what Frodo ought to do), and the more noticing of the two. He was portrayed as, by far, the more reliable. People weren't being nasty or judgmental, they just were responding to what they saw. They liked Frodo, they felt for Frodo, but they thought him singularly ill-equipped to be the Ring-bearer.

As my brother said when we were discussing parts of the film that were most unsupported or were plot holes, "Well, to be honest, the hardest thing for me to believe was the scene at the Elves council in the first film, when Frodo gets up and says he'll take the Ring and they all say, OK, dude, go for it. Why did they do that? I still can't understand why no one tried to talk him out of it or just tell him flat out, no."
taerie
taerie at 2006-03-21 15:30 (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Your brother has a point. From what we had seen up to then.. (Non book readers.) only an idiot would hand the ring to the little fool. It is a hard bit to swallow. You would expect them to gently request that he sit down and be quiet and refreshments will be served later.

Frodo's angle could only be understood by somebody who already knew him. SAM was improved intellectually a lot. He was a bit of a moron although a sweet and brave and faithful one in the book.

Maybe the lack of understanding of Frodo cost Elijah Wood the oscar? (He was nominated but didn't win right? I don't watch those things.)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-03-21 15:51 (UTC) (Link)
No, unfortunately, neither actor was nominated. I think Sean was nominated for a best supporting actor at either the Globes or the SAG's for RotK, but he didn't win. Maybe he wasn't nominated for those, either, but there was a lot of buz about him being a possible. He really was outstanding in RotK, and Sam's was the sort of role (in that film only) that could attract awards attention. It had a very dramatic arc, all in one film. Frodo's "arc" was just as big and impressive but, for the sake of awards, it unfortunately was stretched throughout all three films. One has to see the whole trilogy to truly appreciate what Wood did with that part.

In fact, only Ian McKellen was nominated for an acting award (for FotR), out of all of the films, and he didn't win, either.
pearlette
pearlette at 2006-03-22 09:46 (UTC) (Link)
One has to see the whole trilogy to truly appreciate what Wood did with that part.

Absolutely. :)

Not everyone gets book Frodo either. I remember one colleague telling me that she'd read FOTR after seeing the first film (this was before TTT came out) and that she was far more impressed with Sam in the book than with Frodo, she felt that Sam had done so much more (i.e. why hadn't Tolkien made HIM Ring-bearer??) Now that I'm out of the clash and fury of fandom spats, I can critique her insights objectively and in a way I see what she means. I don't agree with her assessment of Frodo - she had failed to read between the lines, IMO. But I can see how Sam is more accessible as a character to some readers than Frodo is.

I know just what I think of Book Frodo. He's NOT a wimp, he is quiet and intelligent and stoic and has a dash of dry humour. He is wise and he has enormous inner strength (and spirituality). And Frodo's introspection is not perhaps so accessible to some people as Sam's lovely open heart is. (Of course, Sam has his detractors too ... some readers find him very irritating. It takes all sorts. :) )

Frodo is truly a light for those to see that can.

Mechtild
mechtild at 2006-03-22 14:43 (UTC) (Link)
Well, didn't even Tolkien call Sam, "the hero"? But he would never denigrate Frodo's role. I think he was talking about the difference in the roles they played. Sam's was the obvious, necessary "hero," rising to the occasion beautifully, but because he was able to -- he was not bearing the Ring. He was, in fact, merely doing his job - beautifully. But that he would be seen as the "hero" by readers is plain, and plain to Tolkien. Didn't he even say that Frodo himself suffered afterwards in part because he had wanted to be "the hero"? Tolkien related it to his last shred of pride, the bit of pride that needed to be dealt with on Tol Eressea. If he hadn't had it, he would have been able to accept that he had done just what he ought, and all that anyone could have done and more put in the same circumstance. But his bit of pride made him regret that he had not done the "heroic" thing.

Also, I think that readers can't help but focus on and love Sam's heroism precisely because it preserves Frodo, whom they love. In so far as they identify with Frodo, they love Sam for being a person whom they can count on to rescue and sustain them. In so far as they identify with Sam, they revel in the fact that they are able to rescue and sustain him.

Since the last part of the Quest is written from Sam's POV, it's difficult not to understand Sam better, to identify with him, and love him. And he really has been through an awful lot and grown a lot by the time the hobbis set foot in Mordor. Who would recognize that hobbit from the one we saw in the end of "The Shadow of the Past", when he seems little more than a goggle-eyed 'tween, squeeing about seeing the Elves?

Frodo is truly a light for those to see that can.

I think all lovers of the books can see this, but they see this more or less clearly depending upon what place they are in, in their own lives.

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