Note: For comparison, here is an unretouched screencap from this set, which I have otherwise lightened and sharpened:
Below I have posted the next set of Bree frames in their theatrical-release film sequence.
When I made the caps, pausing and stopping at each image, I saw for the first time that the filmmakers had chosen to intercut a close-up reaction shot (from the previous segment in which Frodo is opening his eyes), with a medium reaction shot of Frodo as he rises, turning and lurching into the crowd to get to Pippin at the bar. It goes by so quickly in the film, I never noticed it before.
I think what they did works for the filmed scene. The intersplicing of these discontinuous images (switching from Frodo seated still wide-eyed, to Frodo alarmed standing and turning, to Frodo seated wide-eyed, back to Frodo standing and turning), increases the sense of disorientation and urgency in Frodo, thus increasing the sense of concern in the viewer on Frodo’s behalf, even if it is only intuited as the film is rolling.
* * *
Frodo has just been shown opening his eyes as he hears Pippin shouting, "Baggins!"
“Sure I know a Baggins! He’s over there, Frodo Baggins. He's my second cousin once removed on his mother's side....” Pippin flutes loudly and jovially from his perch on the stool at the counter.
Frodo rises. He whirls about, alarmed, and plunges through the patrons to the bar. [What eye colour is revealed by brightening these middle-distance shots!]
“Steady on!” Pippin says as Frodo trips and falls.
Peter Jackson could have shot the next scene any number of ways. In the book, Frodo has been entertaining the assembly with a song (to divert attention from the blundering Pippin), falls from the table upon which he has been standing, and is seen to disappear. He sees no visions, hears no ominous sounds. The Ring ends up on his finger quite accidentally. The misgivings Frodo feels are relatively mild:
For a moment he wondered if the Ring itself had not played him a trick; perhaps it had tried to reveal itself in response to some wish or command that was felt in the room. He did not like the looks of the men that had gone out [ the swarthy Breelander, the squint-eyed southerner and Harry the gatekeeper].
Whatever Frodo felt, he does not seem unduly alarmed.
The next we hear from his POV is that he crawls away under the tables, feeling a fool, to pop up at Strider’s table in the corner. He takes the Ring off, becomes visible, and Strider reads him a lecture on his and his friends’ careless behaviour. Strider insinuates he knows about the Ring, and Frodo tries to appear unconcerned saying he’ll talk with Strider later. Frodo then announces his presence to the room full of hobbits and Men, who still are alarmed and disconcerted over his disappearance.
“I haven’t vanished,” Frodo ties to assure them cheerily. He’s merely been talking with Strider in the corner.
As with the rest of the Bree sequence, the way Frodo ends up with the Ring on his finger and disappearing is very, very different in the film from the book.
I had not planned to cap the moment when the Ring ends up on Frodo’s finger. I felt as though there were enough copies of that image floating around. But when I pause-forwarded to that scene I was completely arrested by the very first frame....
There are many ways Peter Jackson could have filmed even this version of the disappearance of Frodo. He could have shown Frodo running up to Pippin, tripping, Pippin turning to look and suddenly doing a reaction shot of alarm and surprise. The camera would pan to an empty place where Frodo had been standing. Then they’d show the reaction of the by-standers. Or, if PJ had been keen to show the Ring actually slipping onto Frodo’s finger, he could have shown him with his hand in his pocket fiddling with the Ring -- as Bilbo had done -- and as Frodo did in the book. If he wanted to stress the idea of the Ring as volitional -- that it wanted to end up slipping onto Frodo’s finger -- he could have done a side-view, showing Frodo’s hand, finger extended, with the Ring slipping onto it.
When I forwarded to the first screencap of the series in which the Ring lands on Frodo’s finger (after he has fallen), my mouth literally dropped open. That Peter Jackson went to all the massive CGI trouble to shoot this moment in the precise way he did, tells me it was done very intentionally.
“Heavens!!!” I said, “It’s another Peter Jackson bookend!”
Suddenly, this opening frame reminded me intensely of the one in the Sammath Naur in which Gollum is shown exulting after he has claimed the Ring. The camera shoots him from above, the POV going right through the Ring as he holds it in his upraised fingers.
The two shots are not composed identically, but the resemblance is strong, and PJ’s penchant for “bookends” is well know. I am sure it was intentional. It reinforced for me -- if in retrospect -- that this was where it begins in the films: the enslavement of Frodo to the Ring.
Almost like a lasso the Ring hovers, ready to drop. It does drop, sliding onto Frodo's finger as easily as the bridegroom slides the wedding ring onto the finger of the bride. Frodo extends his fingers up towards the camera -- his face conveys fear, panic, urgency, disbelief -- he reaches up -- in order to do what? Snatch back the Ring? Receive the Ring? Be ensnared by the Ring? Is he so in awe he stretches out his finger merely to touch it, like the hand of Adam meeting God’s on the Sistine Ceiling? -- as if an arc of invisible electricity connected them?
None of these? All of these...?
At the end of RotK Frodo claims the Ring. But, here at the beginning of the film trilogy, the Ring claims Frodo. Gollum would demonstrate both -- unforgettably -- two films and two years later: claiming the Ring even while It claiimed him, as if in unholy matrimony.
Anyway. It just struck me as I scrolled through the caps what an amazing bit of filmmaking this was, this particular choice for showing the Ring slipping onto Frodo’s hand.
I also thought what a lovely job Elijah Wood did as an actor, making real the descent of the Ring towards him as he stretched up his fingers to meet it in this bitter destiny.
For the next Bree screencap entry click HERE.
Click HERE for table of other Frodo [and Elijah Wood] screencaps.