In the book, after Frodo’s frightening visions in the Seat of Seeing at the top of Amon Hen, he makes his decision, slips on the Ring, and disappears: "He vanished and passed down the hill, less than a rustle of the wind."
There is no further tumult until he is pulling away from shore at Parth Galen and Sam flings himself into the water to follow him.
In the film, it is quite different. Much of Frodo’s internal wrangling about going or staying, which is expressed in internal dialogue in the book, is moved to the scene shown in the caps below. It is a scene in which Frodo has no lines. Instead of invisibly and quietly moving through the woods to the boats as he did in the book, Frodo is in haste, certain he is pursued by Orcs.
In the film's preceding scene, he and Aragorn have been interrupted by a force of Uruk-hai at the top of Amon Hen. Commanded by Aragorn, Frodo has dashed away and is shown careening down a hill (quite a contrast from the last time we saw him careening down a hill, at the sound of Gandalf’s cart arriving in Hobbiton).
Panting and alarmed, Frodo throws himself behind a tree. From the swiftly changing expressions on his face, his thoughts and feelings are in a roil. Just opposite, it turns out, Merry and Pippin are hiding from another party of pursuing Orcs. Come and hide with them, they urge. But, no, Frodo signals with a forceful shake of his head; he won’t.
It is Merry who first falls to what, in this new crisis, has crystallized as Frodo’s plan: he will not be coming with them, he will go on alone. Frodo must – or risk capture, and the capture of the Ring. Merry and Pippin then leap out to create a diversion and Frodo escapes.
The camera’s coverage of Frodo’s reactions in this scene is superb, even for LotR. All of Frodo's reactions are filmed in close-ups that have notable clarity. I notice these things because I always have to brighten and sharpen my screencaps when preparing these presentations, sometimes quite drastically. But these caps I lightened and sharpened much less.
Ah, these caps...!
Many of the frames are like works of art painted by a master, each demonstrating a nuance of human emotion: intense, specific and vividly clear. I almost cannot believe these frames were made from a real person, a living actor, they are each so perfect.
They are also completely Frodo. Elijah Wood often “disappears” into his role while playing Frodo, but, in these frames, I really can’t recognize him as the young man in the DVD extra’s, even when I mentally erase his mop of tossed, dark curls and his perfectly designed costume. In fact, Elijah Wood’s entire face looks like someone else’s to me in these frames. In these frames, Frodo's face even looks different to me than it does in the rest of the film. It is as if, in these caps, the inner transformation is so complete as Frodo makes his decision, it transforms his physical appearance.
In these close-ups, film-Frodo looks to me like a Byronic hero (if hobbit-sized), a hero of epic proportions, who stands on the brink of doing something of Magnitude.
Which is precisely what he goes on to do.
Note: I worked hard to pare down the number of frames, but I could not bring myself to toss out any of these that follow. There are twenty-six caps, which may take a while on dial-up. But they are all gems.
~ Screencaps from the Amon Hen scene, from the fullscreen version of the theatrical edition of FotR ~ Frodo pauses to hide as he flies to the river:
For other Frodo Screencap entries, see the table of links here.