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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

New Art Travesties: Frodo in ‘Orlando’ ~ Six images, with a poem by jan-u-wine….

Posted on 2006.11.06 at 21:56
Tags: , , , , ,

~ Detail from Manip #1

Note: The Frodo art manips below are made from screencaps from a bed scene between a man and a woman. Nothing actually shows, but the lovers are meant to appear naked under the sheets. I therefore issue warnings for mild erotic content, het, and the faces of actors being used in photomanipulations.


Months ago, I was pining publicly about the difficulty I was having finding suitable art images that would make good romantic/erotic Frodo Art Travesty manips. Paintings and sculptures depicting lovers could be found, but the tone would be wrong, the man too massive, or, more typically, his facial position was not right. As with many filmed love scenes, the man’s face was usually turned away or obscured, the female’s face featured, instead. Since Frodo would be the star of any manip I made, not his lover, this would not suit.

I then browsed erotic photographs. While I could find plenty of pornographic stuff, het and gay, none of it conveyed the intimacy and sense of emotional connection I was looking for. After all, I didn’t want to portray Frodo as a porn star, but as a lover.

Estë ( este_tangletoes ), e-friend, fellow Frodo-fan, and appreciator of art, poetry, and fiction, including the erotic sort, suggested I take a look at the film version of Virginia Woolf’s novel, Orlando. I remembered this film when it came out, attracted to its publicity stills in the media.

~ DVD cover for ‘Orlando’, with signature image on front:

Orlando (1992), a quirky art film, was not available to rent, but I was able to order a copy through our inter-library loan program. Weeks passed and the DVD arrived.

For those who are interested, here is IDB's entry on Orlando. Below is a synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:

[Tilda] Swinton is Orlando, the melancholy, fiercely independent, and always humanistic poet whose story begins when Queen Elizabeth I—wonderfully played by Quentin Crisp—takes a shine to the beautiful boy. There are several amazing things about Orlando, not the least of which is that he is immortal, has the tendency to slip into death-like sleeps for long periods of time and, halfway through the 18th century, changes into a woman. Based on the novel by Virginia Woolf, the author's wit is deftly matched by director Sally Potter's translation of it to the screen. With spectacular sets and costumes, ORLANDO is lush to look at while retaining a charming intimacy.

Spanning four centuries to the present, ORLANDO mixes history with dramatized events—such as a great freeze during the 17th century that encases England in ice—resulting in fairy-tale enchantment and witty metaphor. Potter's signature vignette style takes Orlando on journeys both locational and emotional—as a patron to a mooching poet (Heathcote Williams), an ambassador to the Middle East, and a lover of an American explorer (Billy Zane)—in which he learns about all varieties of life, society, and gender in all of their complexities.

Here is another image of Orlando (still a man), in love with Sasha (Charlotte Valandrey), a mysterious and wanton Moscovite princess:

Here is a link to some more images of Tilda Swinton (in various wigs and make-ups) in the role of Orlando. I think she's awfully fascinating-looking.

I watched the film but was somewhat disappointed. Although it was witty and stylish, with good performances and lovely, almost surreal art direction, it really was not a very engaging film. It offered interesting ideas, titillating my mind, and it wonderfully filled my eyes, but my emotions remained unmoved.

Nevertheless, I saw at once that Estë was right: its love scene would make great manips.

Technical stuff.

This series of manips required more expertise than I had, so I learned a lot working on them. It took even longer than usual to find the right face for each screencap, cutting out trial heads and seeing how they looked, tossing out the “no”s. Once I had made a decision, I found more challenges. Frodo’s hair covered up Billy Zane’s shoulder or hand or ear, so that these had to be cut out and pasted over the hair. Sometimes more hair had to be cut out and added like a toupee, where the frame had cut it off to a great degree.

Then came all the hand-work: drawing, painting, and blending; making more hair, contouring necks that joined differently than in the original; more blending, more highlighting and shadowing and so forth. Tilda Swinton’s skin also needed to be darkened (jan-u-wine wisely advised this). Compared to her almost deathly pallor, Billy Zane looked like he’d been under a sunlamp for a month: not very film-Frodo-ish.

For Frodo’s faces, I had been collecting a file of screencaps in profile, since these are what are usually necessary for any image with two people relating to each other. Billy Zane’s essential beefiness could not be disguised in my first screencap, alas, although I did trim his arm where I could. He does not look like an all-out body-builder, but he is far more strongly-built than what most fans now think of as Frodo. In the other screencaps, Mr. Zane’s body shows very little, so his heftier physique did not matter.

Besides these things, there was the usual tweaking for colour, contrast, and focus to make elements work with each other in a convincing way – and — since manips 2 – 6 were to appear as a series, their values had to resemble each other, too.

For a more painterly finish, I added a grainy filter.

Source images for the manips.

I know some of you like to know what the original images that make a manip look like, so here are the Orlando screencaps and face shots that I used for each manip:

Manip # 1

~ base image:

~ Face image (wagon scene, RotK):

Manip # 2

~ base image:

~ Face image (tavern scene, RotK):

Manip # 3

~ base image:

~ Face image (Emyn Muil scene, TTT):

Manip # 4

~ base image:

~ Face image (“Get of the road” scene, FotR):

Manip # 5

~ base image:

~ Face image (Prancing Pony scene in Bree, FotR):

Manip # 6

~ base image:

~ Face image (Forbidden Pool scene, TTT):

Manip #1 was made from a screencap very close to the one that appears on the cover of the DVD. The scene is the morning after a night of love-making. The lighting is soft but bright. All the other manips were made from dark night scenes, which I had to lighten quite a bit.

I did not want a frame of her looking directly at the viewer, however ("asides" to the audience were a feature of Swinton's performance). Instead I chose a frame in which her expression was looking away, languidly, dreamily satisfied.

In the film scene, Billy Zane's lover looked drowsily amorous, pleased in an uncomplicated way, but Frodo’s face from the wagon scene makes the tone of the image more enigmatic, even dark, as if he knows something she does not.

I do love this manip, but because it really doesn’t go with the others in the series, I am posting it on its own.

Manip #1:

To me, the next four manips form a dramatic unit. For that reason, I am posting together in sequence. Although Frodo's hair is different in every picture (only making these manips did I realize how much the look of Frodo’s wig varied from scene to scene – just like the hair of a real person), they seem like little moments glimpsed of an encounter between Frodo and his lover.

I love how the mood shifts from frame to frame according to the changing gesture of her hand, the position of her head, and the expressions in Frodo’s face. At first Frodo seems quite young, as if surrendering himself to a lover’s appeal for the first time. I see trust opening to passion. But passion seems to subside to a post-coital mood that is older: reflective, almost melancholy.

jan-u-wine, who was my critical adviser on these, also found this series of four manips arresting. She wrote a poem for them, from Frodo’s point of view, imagining Frodo just before the start of the Quest.

Her poem moves me deeply as Frodo says goodbye to a love just beginning to open, but too late. It will never reach fruition. Frodo seems to have experienced it deeply enough, however, to feel its loss.

I do think these screencaps are beautiful, if flawed. They speak to me of the radiant but pensive loveliness this character has for me, a loveliness jan-u-wine’s poem draws out the more, its darkness setting off the light.

Manip# 2

Manip# 3

Manip# 4

Manip# 5

All else.

All else have I said farewell to:

riotous fields,
shorn now of their golden crop,

the green-rushed river,
slipping sweet and silent
on its road to the Sea.

Even my study embraces quiet
and unaccustomed order,

silver-nibbed quill finally at rest,
journals shelved,

in the spill of dying-autumn sun.

All else I may bid farewell.

All else.

All else save you.

Like to star-light you are,

like the prism’d dew-gems which adorn
the tender curve of the grasses
of Thistle Brook.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

have I touched

been touched


The sheet is soft and cool beneath me,

soft and warm above.

Your hair,
smelling of wood-smoke

and snow-wind,
dark as the cloak of the sky,

follows the tracery of your hand upon my breast.


I might laugh
at this ticklish touch,


were your lips not so near to mine,
your breath

becoming mine,

your hands
touching me,


eyes as gently insistent as your caress.

And I am almost afraid,

all my wanting
narrowing to this one moment,

this singular desire to know and be known,

frighted yearning to lose myself

within you.

And even all my desire does not stop the spill of my thoughts,
even your legs twining about mine,

your body moving over me,

drawing me inside you.

This might have been our marriage bed.
(and my hands are holding you to me,

this one time,

holding you,
my ear drinking the music of wordless cries).

might have been
so many things

that now shall never be.

(And you are quite still above me,

I want
to keep you


love-words ghosting upon my ear
as I move within the tightening circle of you,

your legs trembling along the length of mine,
gently imprisoned hands urging my restraint).

And even in the sweet almost-sleep which takes me,

even as your head lies, trusting,

upon my breast,
still, my thoughts, unbidden, unwanted, come ……

my thoughts,

threading outwards and away from every moment I should wish to hold,

as if I were not of warm flesh and blood,
as if

I were not meant to know even
this simple peace.

And now you feel it, too,

comes the knowing that this is no small farewell.

And I feel you,
feeling it,

like watered sunlight glinting upon a grey Sea,
far-away and final.

Your arms find their way about me,
holding me, promising me without words.

And even in this moment,

I am alone,

*more* alone,

for what we have shared,

desperate in the knowing
that this small portion
of joy

shall find its ending in sorrow.

And we do not speak,
but lie quietly together,

until the inevitability of the Sun’s
bright bands touch your cheek.

All else.

All else I have said farewell to.

And now,



Because its mood did not match that of the other manips, I am posting the last 'Orlando' manip below. I worked very hard on it, and it is quite lovely, but Frodo’s expression (from the Emyn Muil) was too .. trepidatious ... to work well with the group above.

Manip# 6

~ Mechtild

~ Jan-u-wine's Lord of the Rings-based poetry is featured at LotR Scrapbook.

~ Frodo Art Travesties Table of LJ Entries page HERE.

~ Frodo Art Travesties Album HERE.


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wendylady1 at 2006-11-07 06:20 (UTC) (Link)
These are FABULOUS !!!

Frodo really does suit the passionate, but tender, bed-scene doesn't he, and the beautiful graininess only serves to make them atmospheric...like a distant, but just-hung-on-to, memory...
These will be fuel for a thousand fantasies, for all the myriad Frodo fans out there, and maybe a thousand fics too !!

I remember this film quite well, and the quirkiness of it impressed me so much at the time... Tilda Swinton was just amazing in it, and Quentin Crisp was a somewhat memorable piece of casting !!
mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:07 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, heavens! Quentin Crisp was a revelation! I really did not love this film, but it was interesting, and had beautiful, arresting art design. I could look at stills forever. In a way, it reminded me of a Fellini film, a director I love, but who is also criticised for putting more into his surreal images than into the meat of his story.

I thank you for your comment, Wendy. First to post!
mariole at 2006-11-07 06:38 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, these are magnificent! Stunning! I will savor them again and again.

His air of trepidation made me think the manip might make a good illustration for one of Mariole’s fics in which her easily-flusterd-but-ever-aroused Frodo is about to be ravished by his admirer (as usual).

Boy, these deserve a fic if any manips ever do! I'll put my Muse to work! *savors Frodo again and again*
mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:05 (UTC) (Link)
His air of trepidation made me think the manip might make a good illustration for one of Mariole’s fics in which her easily-flusterd-but-ever-aroused Frodo is about to be ravished by his admirer (as usual).

Thank heaven you copied that! I just juggled the text and picture for that around again and lost my smart remark. *tweaks your naughty chin*
lame_pegasus at 2006-11-07 06:52 (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful, Mechtild. (And what a stunning poem!)Yes, I might actually see it as an illustration for BIGS (and even more with the strong, deep images of jan-u-wine's poetry in mind), though I certainly never imagined Lily with Tilda Swinton's face.# 4 and 5 are my absolute favorites.

And I don't agree with you about the last one. IMHO the expression on his face doesn't match mariole's somewhat "rustic" and explicit style... there is too much sadness and confusion in his gaze that won't fit.
mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:12 (UTC) (Link)
I thought the bitter-sweet running under your last F/L fic reminded me of this series. Your Frodo is far more mature than this one, of course, having been seasoned by the Quest. And your Lily is more traditionally good-looking, I suspect. And my Rosamunda looks more like Billy Zane! But I thought Tilda worked great as a suitable, evocative partner to Frodo, rather like the Meryl Streepish-looking woman in the "Frodo and the Enamoured Woman" manip.

As for Mariole's fic, I was teasing my "frightened Frodo". But think of her ch. 4 or 5 in TTT. The one with Pervinca in the furniture store room. She went somewhere else in that scene, into an almost-tenderness or intimacy that wasn't present in the rest of the more bawdy, romp-like story. I don't think Mariole has begun to test the waters when it comes to her love scenes. She's great at naughty romps, but she only rarely ventures into scenes that depict deeper feelings. She's touched a little of it in her S/F, but never in the sex scenes themselves. It happens when she is writing a chance encounter by the door, just passing by each other, things like that.
lily_the_hobbit at 2006-11-07 09:33 (UTC) (Link)
What a post to wake up to! Gorgeous! And the poem is stunning. Very intense!

Thanks for posting!
mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:13 (UTC) (Link)
You are welcome, Lily, and good morning!
maeglian at 2006-11-07 09:47 (UTC) (Link)
That series of four iis a manipping masterpiece. It's so beautiful. Perhaps especially the last of the four, though I'd be hard pressed to choose.

You've outdone yourself! :-)

I also enjoy it that you post the original pictures you've used, it's nice to get a glimpse of the artist at work.

I've watched "Orlando", many years ago by now. One of those films where you just had to go with the moods and yes, with the outstandingly lovely art direction, but which at the end left me a little cold. I by and large agree with your assessment of the film.
mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:14 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I think #5 (last of the four) got "fave" from Jan-u-wine, too. I'm awfully partial to #3 (fingers to lips). Well, heck, I love them all. I love the way they work as a group.

Orlando is not a film I'd ever buy, but I'd watch it again. Super visuals, but not much to grab a viewer, otherwise.
Starlit Woods
starlit_woods at 2006-11-07 10:55 (UTC) (Link)
These are really stunning Mechtild! I love Tilda Swinton and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw you'd done manips of her with Frodo!! :D Gorgeous :D
mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:15 (UTC) (Link)
Doesn't she look great? She conveys a great deal of sensitivity and tenderness, as well as intelligence. I love her in these and think she works really well with Frodo. Maybe we should write her a letter? :D
melyanna_65 at 2006-11-07 11:10 (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, dear Mechtild, this is one of my favourite posts ever!

What a stunning set of manips, the result is so real and convincing that I'm still rubbing my eyes! And the pics you used for Frodo's expressions are perfect!

The whole batch is wonderful, but n. 3 and n. 6 blew my mind away!

mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:17 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Melyanna. Now you can see how the whole Photobucket got me going. I knew there was nothing they could do about these since NOTHING is showing, but I'll bet whoever it was who reported my other images would find these "indecent", too.

Thanks so much for commenting. I do love these, too.
shirebound at 2006-11-07 13:00 (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, lovely as always. And Jan-u-Wine's poetry is so perfectly fitting. I especially love that picture where she's touching Frodo's chin.
(Anonymous) at 2006-11-07 13:46 (UTC) (Link)
Oh now.. this is REALLY gorgeous! My heart is thumping. I HATE that woman!!!! (But I love her too!!!)
Look what you've done to me Mechtild!
**explodes from conflicting emotions**
taerie at 2006-11-07 13:49 (UTC) (Link)
(Dunno why LJ is logging me out these days. That was me again.)
***detonates again**
frodos_smile at 2006-11-07 14:23 (UTC) (Link)
Oh... manip #5 and jan's poem are just heartbreaking! Both of you have done masterful jobs.

I shall now go spend an angsty Frodocholic day (but in a good way *wink*) slogging away at my RW duties.

Thank you. :-)
mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:19 (UTC) (Link)
Isn't that a stupendous poem? Oh, *dies*! Frodo, erotica, love, angst, beauty. I love it. Thanks, Frodo's Smile, for commenting.
earths_daughter at 2006-11-07 15:41 (UTC) (Link)
Good God, Mechtild, what are you trying to do to us? How can I get any work done with these to look at? The light on his face in no.5........aah.

Each time you post a manip I think they cannot get any better yet each time they do. And Jan-u-wine's poetry fits achingly well.
mechtild at 2006-11-07 17:21 (UTC) (Link)
And Jan-u-wine's poetry fits achingly well.

It does ache, doesn't it? I can quite picture this as something that might have been experienced even by canon Frodo. The love affair that never quite came to be. *sigh*
frodoholic at 2006-11-07 17:57 (UTC) (Link)
I don't advise listening to the song Goodbye My Lover looking at these amazing manips and reading jan u wine's heartbreaking poem all at the same time.
I began to choke up and hyper-ventilate so badly I need to go find my asthma inhaler!
I'm fine now.
Really. I think.
Thank you for all your hard work that goes into creating these manips. They are absolutely breathtaking! (pardon the pun)

mechtild at 2006-11-07 22:56 (UTC) (Link)
Your icon goes well with your post, Frodoholic. I have never heard "Goodbye My Lover", but I am woefully ignorant about music that's been made in the last twenty years. Who performs it?

Hang on to that asthma inhaler, in case you keep looking at these. But I have no other erotic/romantic things planned. It was just Este's tip that led me to this film. There really is very little in film scenes or porn that will do for my conception of what a Frodo love-making manip should be.
bagma at 2006-11-07 19:12 (UTC) (Link)
They are gorgeous! *happy sigh* Of course I'm a slasher at heart, so I must confess I mostly looked at Frodo's face...:) They are all beautiful, but #3 is stunning. Thank you for posting them!
mechtild at 2006-11-07 22:53 (UTC) (Link)
Awwwwww, Bagma! How sweet of you to come and comment. I know you are strictly Frodo/Somebody Male. I'm glad you were able to see the beauty of them. Reading fanfic, I can enjoy Frodo erotic AU, either slash or het scenarios, but I prefer writers to keep Frodo fairly close to his canon character. If it's a spoof, that's different, of course. But for serious fic, I'm looking for a Frodo I can recognize and a convincing relationship.

#3 kills me. Oh, to be those finger-tips!
whiteling at 2006-11-07 20:22 (UTC) (Link)
Aw, Mechtild, those new manip series is sensational! (Breathing calmly is a bit difficult at the moment... I hope I won't explode like Taerie! Or hyperventilate like Frodoholic!)
They are all wonderful, but #5 is my special darling. #3 almost breaks my heart with its tenderness.

I can only reiterate your own and Maeglian's obversations on the film - I saw it years ago and I too found it visually and aesthetically appealing, with a truly fascinating Tilda Swinton, gorgeous costumes and interiours, but it didn't touch my soul, all in all. But Este was dead right to recommend this film's images to you as a wonderful source for romantic Frodo love.

I'd like to add a special thank-you to Jan-U-Wine for her poem. Words fail me even to begin to describe the effect of her poetry on me. Just -- thank you.
mechtild at 2006-11-07 22:59 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Whiteling. You are so gracious. I really love these, too, and #5 and #3 are my favourites, too, if I had to choose. But I like them best in a sequence. I love the way they invite me as a viewer to enter into them, imagining the subtext of the suggested scene. But whatever I had imagined, Jan-u-wine's interpretation of the series simply flattened me with its poignant, sweet/sad, soft/sharp beauty.

I checked, you know, to see what else Sallie Potter had directed, but I didn't recognize anything. I suppose the film didn't make her famous.
ilthit at 2006-11-08 07:04 (UTC) (Link)
What can I say! You are really excellent good at putting Frodo's face in places. If I were to offer any criticism it would be to say that his head is a bit big in a couple of those, but that wouldn't be very fair, because they really are very well fitted in.

Also, again, whoooooo Tilda Swinton!
mechtild at 2006-11-08 14:40 (UTC) (Link)
You are probably right, Hyel. I thought his head was too large in almost all of them, but I chose the size by matching face-and-feature sizes with Billy Zane. Billy Zane's head is quite a bit bigger than Tilda Swinton's, which looked odd to me for Frodo (and whoever his lover might be), since I always picture Frodo as not that big for a hobbit, no doubt because EW wasn't that big compared to the other hobbit actors. So while I could cheat a little, reducing his head size, I had to pretty much stick with a match to Billy Zane's head proportions, or else the body-head match would be skewed. I think one of the things that makes his head look to big is that he's got those huge eyes - almost twice as big as Zane's, and a pile of hair.

I think Tilda looks GREAT. I'm going to give her a manip Oscar.
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