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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Moria Pt. 1: Frodo and Gandalf talk about Pity, plus jan-u-wine's "In Durin's Halls"....

Posted on 2007.02.14 at 08:58
Tags: , ,

When I was at my mother’s last month, I watched all the LotR films on her big, lovely flat-screen TV, something we don’t own. While watching this scene I thought what fine screencaps it would make.

Having watched all the films through again, I don’t think there’s a scene in the trilogy in which Frodo looks younger. More than in any of the scenes that come before it, Frodo’s face looks terribly young in this exchange with Gandalf, his cheeks still plumped with the underlying fat of childhood. Even though he's wearing the same costume and make-up as in other sequences, in this scene Elijah Wood looks little older than he did in The Ice Storm or even Oliver Twist.

It may seem odd to have Frodo still so young-looking half-way into the Quest, but I think it serves the film-story well. When I watch Frodo in this scene, spitting out his testy complaint to Gandalf after finding that Gollum has followed them into the mines, I can’t help comparing him to the Frodo who spares Gollum in Shelob’s tunnel, two films later. The angry, even contemptuous face of the plump-cheeked boy has become that of a care-worn adult, lined and streaked with dirt and tears and sweat, weary with bone-deep tiredness.

When I watch the scene in Shelob's tunnel I am referred back, consciously or unconsciously, to this early scene with Gandalf in Moria about Gollum and the showing of pity. To have finished Gollum off, throttling him in the tunnel, would have been the consummation of callow Frodo's wish. But Frodo in the tunnel is sadder, wiser, and far older than the hobbit who entered Moria only months before.


The tone of Frodo’s condemning remark (“It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him while he had the chance!") comes across differently in the book, as it is set in a different place in the narrative. The remark comes early on, just after Gandalf has told Frodo of the nature of the Ring -- dreadful and terrible. Gandalf checks Frodo's vindictive response, reminding him of the wholesome effects of Bilbo's "Pity", and Frodo relents a little. "I am sorry," Frodo apologizes, "but I am frightened." Alarm and distress seem to have prompted his ejaculation more than the spirit of judgement, although Frodo clearly finds Gollum contemptible (“He deserves death”).

After Gandalf delivers his admonition in the film, Frodo is chastened by the wizard's words, but he makes no explicit apology. But his worried, aggrieved face foreshadows the one he will show in the crises to come, when he will struggle again and again to discern -- and do -- what he thinks is right towards Gollum -- even after Gollum has not only followed him into the mines but betrayed him, cut him off from his dearest friend, and tried to kill him in order to get the Ring. That Frodo spares him at this point, mid-throttle (how sweet it must have felt), shows how far Frodo has come from the Mines of Moria.


~*~


For easy reference, I am including excerpts from both the book and film scenes. I have provided quite a lot of the book scene because the lines used in the film come from various places in the sequence. And just because I love it, I have included the concluding bit when it is said of Frodo, "a great desire to follow Bilbo flamed up in his heart – to follow Bilbo, and even perhaps to find him again," along with Gandalf's remark that hobbits "really are amazing creatures". Indeed they are. Well, at least a few of them.


Again, there are a lot of screencaps (36), so I apologize to dial-up readers. Also, as usual, the caps have been tweaked and cropped.



~*~




Film scene from FotR:


Frodo looks down into the cavern and sees a small figure leaping from stone to stone. Startled, he approaches Gandalf.

Frodo: There’s something down there.

Gandalf: It’s Gollum.

Frodo: Gollum?

Gandalf: He’s been following us for three days.

Frodo: He escaped the dungeons of Barad-Dur!

Gandalf: Escaped? Or was set loose?

From the distance below, Gollum looks up, his large eyes pierces the darkness and observes the company

Gandalf: He hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself. He will never be rid of his need for it.

Frodo: It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had the chance!

Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo?

Gandalf: Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise can not see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.

Gollum slinks off. Frodo sits down next to Gandalf

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you also were meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.





Book scene, abridged, from The Shadow of the Past :


Before the story of Gollum, before the story of Isildur and Gil-galad, Gandalf has told Frodo that the Ring is the One Ring, and that Sauron has arisen again.


‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do the the time that is given us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black.



Gandalf tells Frodo the story of how Sauron lost the Ring, how it was discovered in the Great River by Déagol of finishing up by confirming that the nine Ringwraiths are now looking for the Shire, and for Baggins....


’But this is terrible!’ cried Frodo. ‘Far worse than the worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings. O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am really afraid. What as I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!’

‘Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership with the Ring so. With Pity.’

‘I am sorry,’ said Frodo. ‘But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.’

‘You have not seen him,’ Gandalf broke in.

‘No, and I don’t want to,’ said Frodo. ‘I can’t understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.’

‘Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is boung up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many – yours not least. In any case we did not kill him: he is very old and very wretched. The Wood-elves have him in prison, but they treat him with such kindness as they can find in their wise hearts.’

‘All the same,’ said Frodo, ‘even if Bilbo could not kill Gollum, I wish he had not kept the Ring. I wish he had never found it, and that I had not got it! (…)



Trying to encourage Frodo, Gandalf tells him:


’There was more than one power at work, Frodo. The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildur’s hand and betrayed him; then when a chance came it caught poor Déagol, and he was murdered; and after that Gollum, and it devoured him. It could make no further use of him; he was too small and mean; and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again. So now, when its master was awake once more and sending out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoned Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo from the Shire!

Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.’

‘It is not,’ said Frodo. (…)



Gandalf tells Frodo that the Ring must be cast into the Cracks of Doom, if Frodo really wishes to destroy it.


‘I do really wish to destroy it!’ cried Frodo. ‘Or, well, to have it destroyed. I am not made for perilous quests. I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?’

‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’

‘But I have so little of any of these things!’ (…)

’I should like to save the Shire, if I could – though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don’t feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.

‘Of course, I have sometimes thought of going away, but I imagined that as a kind of holiday, a series of adventures like Bilbo’s or better, ending in peace. But this would mean exile, a flight from danger into danger, drawing it after me. And I suppose I must go alone, if I am to do that and save the Shire. But I feel very small, and very uprooted, and well – desperate. The Enemy is so strong and terrible.’

He did not tell Gandalf, but as he was speaking a great desire to follow Bilbo flamed up in his heart – to follow Bilbo, and even perhaps to find him again. It was so strong that it overcame his fear: he could almost have run out there and then down the road without his hat, as Bilbo had done on a similar morning long ago.

‘My dear Frodo!’ exclaimed Gandalf. ‘Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.’




~*~




The Screencaps.




~ From FotR: "There's something down there..."


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~*~






After I posted this, I found out that jan-u-wine had written a brilliant short poem that went very well with these caps. In it Frodo reflects on being in the long dark of Moria.

Jan-u-wine's "In Durin's Halls" is below.





In Durin's Halls
~ by jan-u-wine




It grew desperate there,

desperate
within the close
confines of Khazad-dum,

evil
waiting before,

devilry following hard after.

Poison spreading,
even in our midst.

And there,
with the dark,

in the dark,
came the smooth, certain first
fear

that I should never know Home again.

And I must not,
between the goodly cause of all that lies behind,
and the darkened prospect of that which yet

stays ahead....

I must not
think

on that.

Only.......

this vastness,

empty now of light
and being,

empty
of all

save
emptiness,

stills my very heart
with
dread,

shortens my breath,
steals thought

and reason from my mind.

And I stand my watch,
and

stay sleepless
through the others',

balanced
neatly upon the dagger-edge

of hopelessness,

darkness pooling
like oil-smirched

midnight water,
closing my heart,

taking me.

It grew desperate in the realm of Khazad-dum.

But never as desperate as I.




~*~






Recent Screencap Entries:

Moria Pt. 1: "The Pity of Bilbo", plus jan-u-wine's In Durin's Halls.
Moria Pt. 2: Troll attack and "I'm not hurt".
Moria Pt. 3: The Mithril Shirt ~ A Screen Icon.

Links to all other LotR screencaps: HERE.



~ Mechtild


Comments:


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Summer aka Summershobbit
summershobbit at 2007-02-14 15:15 (UTC) (Link)
First off these are beautiful pics! I always loved Elijah in the Fellowship the best in appearance. I just love those little plump cheeks and yes I always thought, Baby Frodo in this scene. So young. So innocent. That was also very interesting what you said. I hadn't given that much thought to it and the truth remains because of Frodo's compassion and allowing Gollum to live, he secured the mission. Lovely!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 19:49 (UTC) (Link)
the truth remains because of Frodo's compassion and allowing Gollum to live, he secured the mission.

Thanks for commenting, Summershobbit. Yep, it was a good thing Gandalf was there to advise him. Little puppy Frodo really needed the guidance. It didn't go to waste on him, either.
Shirebound
shirebound at 2007-02-14 15:24 (UTC) (Link)
Those caps are stunning, and the play of emotions across his face are astonishing. It's been quite awhile since I sat down and watched any of the films, and maybe it's time I did so.

*hugs you*
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 19:51 (UTC) (Link)
Why, thank you, Shirebound. I am glad I re-watched the films. So much stood out, saying "screencap me".
Belleferret
belleferret at 2007-02-14 16:35 (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful caps. Elijah's angelic face is so expressive.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 19:52 (UTC) (Link)
It is *definitely* that. :)
julchen11
julchen11 at 2007-02-14 18:51 (UTC) (Link)
When I watched this scene the first time I thought – oh my, he looks so very young, look at this baby face… One can feel how frightened he is at this very moment.
As you say in later scenes he looks more mature, wiser … beautiful he looks all the time.
Thank you, love, for this wonderful post.
Your quotes, the caps – simply perfect as always.
I’ll go now watching my favourite movies all at one – I guess it will become a long night , every single minute is worth it to stay awake *giggles*

Love you
Julchen
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 19:53 (UTC) (Link)
Now, don't stay up all night, Julchen. You need to be fresh in order not to miss anything! :)
(Deleted comment)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 19:58 (UTC) (Link)
I love looking at these moments in caps, Mews. I suppose it would have the same effect with any good performance by an actor, but when I look at the Frodo caps, any of them, it's as though each one opens up different emotions and nuances in my mind, setting off a series of other "frames" that never were filmed on the walls of my mind. I just can't experience that imaginative ripple effect when watching the scene in progress -- which is only appropriate, of course.

They are two very different ways of appreciating film performances (watching the scenes playing vs. slowly scrolling through screencaps), and I love them both.
Maeglian
maeglian at 2007-02-14 20:15 (UTC) (Link)
Good to see you back home and back on the net! :-)

I'm always in a rush these days and I have too little time to comment properly, but I wanted to thank you for this lovely entry. The caps are beautiful, and the scene one of my favourites..... the only one where the subject of pity and mercy is actually addressed out loud and in a context of character introspection and develoment, I think. I'm very glad this occurred in FotR because I do feel that PJ&CVo. did lose this element a bit from sight (or at least let it drown in the general hullaballoo) in the two next films, after they knew the success of FotR and while paying too much attention to special effects instead of portrayal of character development (IMO). I agree with you that there is an obvious referback from the fight between Frodo and Gollum outside Shelob's lair, - but it would have been lovely to have it more outspoken; - in that scene and also in the Sam/Frodo/Gollum scene at Mt. Doom.

Your comparison between the childish innocen-looking Moria Frodo and the later Shelob's lair Frodo is very much to the point though.

In addition to the words on the need for showing pity*mercy, in the conversation in Moria is also the motto, as it were, for the heros of the entire trilogy, and I love it in all its simple yet profond beauty:

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 23:01 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for dropping in, Maeglian! Well-said on the inadequate treatment of the mercy/pity theme in the trilogy, although I'm pleased they managed to put in as much as they did.

I think your remark pointed up that explicit dialogue about the theme tended to go by the wayside, the film-makers relying on facial expressions and visuals to carry the emotional message. To a surprising degree it worked, perhaps because EW managed to convey such a loving, rarefied side to Frodo. What I didn't like was the way the writers stressed Frodo's empathic identification with Gollum as the reason for his merciful choices, more like armchair-psychology than Tolkien. Still, there were some very moving scenes where pity or mercy was shown, even if it was not named in words.

Maeglian, perhaps you saw the screencap entry from last week, but just in case you might like it (the Farewell to Rivendell scene from the EE of FotR), here it is: http://mechtild.livejournal.com/59401.html

hobbitlove83
hobbitlove83 at 2007-02-14 20:19 (UTC) (Link)
Our beautiful young man... such an expressive face!

Thank you so much, darling Mechtild, for bringing back those wonderful memories!

I really ought to watch FOtR again this weekend!

*hugs you*
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 23:02 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for commenting, Hobbitlove. Yes, you might enjoy rewatching, if only to pause through the scenes with The Face. :)
shelbyshire at 2007-02-14 22:04 (UTC) (Link)
Not much time to post but...I have always noted how he seems to have two different looks in this scene. In the first part when we can see his whole face, he appears so young, his face full, and his hair pretty thick. When he turns, looks down, and we see his profile from the side, he looks suddenly older. I think you can see it better watching it then viewing screencaps. Anyways, it's probably just that I've watched it too many times. :) Lately, I've been watching TTT more than the other two. But, as always and forever, Frodo is just gorgeous!

Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 23:08 (UTC) (Link)
When he turns, looks down, and we see his profile from the side, he looks suddenly older. I think you can see it better watching it then viewing screencaps. Anyways, it's probably just that I've watched it too many times. :)

Maybe he actually is older, Shelbyshire, for I noticed it, too. You know how there was a year between takes of the "Go home, Sam," scene. Maybe the shots where Frodo is standing apparently behind Gandalf were shot at a different time from the ones in which he says, "I wish none of this had happened to me", in which Gandalf doesn't appear.

I say this only because EW's face, still forming, really did change during the three years of principle photography and pick-ups.

One day I hope they publish a detailed, full log of all the shooting days, so that nuts like us can figure out just when each sequence was shot, then put it all in real chronological order.
frolijah_fan_54
frolijah_fan_54 at 2007-02-14 22:30 (UTC) (Link)
These are just gorgeous - thank you so much!! His beauty is just beyond words - at least for me. Others can be so articulate - I just sit and stare and am entranced.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 23:09 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, we're staring right along with you. We just blab at the same time. Thanks for posting, Frolijah Fan.
taerie
taerie at 2007-02-14 22:51 (UTC) (Link)
Ahh Mechtild.. It feels so good to look at new screencaps again. I don't have dial up any more but when I did it could be frustrating but never never did I begruge the time it took to download some really nice pictures of that face. So you needn't apologize.. anybody who doesn't want to look at him that much can take a hike elsewhere.
This moment I probably shouldn't comment too much on (since I am usually thinking some pretty sour thoughts about immortal Gandalf and what he is saying about time to Frodo.) but I DO want to blither over Frodo's face here. Especially how his face looks so rounded and young and then when he looks up he displays that masculine jaw that always makes me turn all weak in the knees and think thoughts inappropriate for a woman of my age to think of him. (Don't worry I am unrepentant.)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-14 23:13 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, don't repent. I'm not repenting, and I want company in my impentence.

Yeah, that jaw.... *think gnawing thoughts*

Taerie, did you see the screencaps from last week? If not, you might love them. They're from the "Farewell from Rivendell" scene, in the EE of FotR:

http://mechtild.livejournal.com/59401.html?nc=54
monet
grean at 2007-02-15 02:04 (UTC) (Link)
What a positively gorgeous post. The screen caps are startling in their beauty.
Frodo in Moria with Gandalf, there discussion about mercy. This is one I had with my son after we watched the film. He insisted that Sam would have thrown the ring in for Frodo. I tried to explain to him that Sam would never have hurt Frodo, how was Sam supposed to wrestle the ring from Frodo then dispose of it. I go so far as to argue that no one could have just tossed the ring in. It had to happen the way it did. Something the Ring could not for see and guard against. I could go on but I think I got off track. I love to read other peoples opinions on the whether fores and why hows for hours.
As for Elijah's performance and his looks in this scene, oh dear me... the child was stunning. His performance perfectly nuanced.
I love the way Peter let Elijah with sometimes just a look fill in for sheets of descriptive narrative. Elijah is very much a directors actor. A very good one is going to get an oscar out of him some day. I think he deserved one for Frodo but the acadamy , shrugs.
Sorry I am babbling now. Way off topic. Loved reading everyones comments and may I friend you please.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-15 04:27 (UTC) (Link)
I love the way Peter let Elijah with sometimes just a look fill in for sheets of descriptive narrative. Elijah is very much a directors actor. A very good one is going to get an oscar out of him some day. I think he deserved one for Frodo but the acadamy

Yes, Elijah is the sort of actor Peter Jackson could do this with. If you have been reading the blog of his current director for "The Oxford Murders", it sounds as though Alex de la Iglesia is enjoying working with him just as well.

Certainly, Grean, you may friend this journal. I don't post that often, usually in spurts, and it's almost entirely focussed on Frodo and/or LotR. My entries are usually of screencaps like these, or "Frodo Art Travesty" manips, plus reflections and/or fic or poetry to go with them them.

There are links on the side bar for the index pages that list the screencaps entries and the Art Travesty entries, if you are interested.
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2007-02-15 10:18 (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful caps, Mechling! Frodo-lad looks just like a cherub in this sequence. You have spoiled us again, and for that I thank you (((Group-hugs you, the cherub, Gandalf and all your commenters)))

Here is a link for you concerning lip-sync:

http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/specsformats/AV_lip_sync_delay.html

So now we have to do is shell out for a new amplifier and loudspeakers. *rolls eyes* Still when you consider what it is all in aid of (wink-wink nudge-nudge) it’s worth it in the end. Estë starts saving up for new amplifier etc., :-D


Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-15 14:15 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the link, Este. I forwarded it to my husband at once. He's been in favour of waiting to get a snazzy flat-screen HD TV, partly because we can't afford it, but also because he figured they would only get better and cheaper in the interim. Furthermore, as Americans, our TV isn't broadcast yet in HD anyway. It's great watching DVD's though, of course. But this lip sync issue seems to be a real problem. Surely it will not be an insurmountable one, however. It's annoying, to be sure!

Well, thanks to you, we know we haven't been imagining the difference.

*smooch*
Maewyn
maewyn_2 at 2007-02-15 13:40 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, he does look so young in these pictures. This is the moment when it all "gets real" - His future is sealed. Poor Frodo.

But he does look so beautiful in thise caps. Thank you for bringing them to us!

Oh, and I just had to use this icon! :)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-15 14:16 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, yes, your Moria icon! You really captured his mood, Maewyn. Thanks so much for using it here. (((((hug)))))
magpie_2
magpie_2 at 2007-02-17 04:29 (UTC) (Link)
you know, I really had something to say... then the light hit hit his jaw in the screencap *wibbles*

so lovely, thank you for doing these dear!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-17 05:14 (UTC) (Link)
So, you're one of the jaw fanciers, Goldie. There are a lot of them around here, so don't apologize.
(Anonymous) at 2007-02-19 00:27 (UTC) (Link)
Welcome back, Mechtild.

I had intended to comment on your ‘Leaving Rivendell’ post – it was remiss of me that I didn’t. Sorry! (I did get rather waylaid this week keeping up with the OM blog and the extras’ reports!) The Rivendell pictures, as usual, are exquisite. Thanks.

Regarding this entry – yes, Frodo does look very young here. In this exchange with Gandalf it’s wonderful to see Frodo’s reactions captured as still images. Such subtlety of expression, such clarity of emotion - you can almost feel what he’s feeling at Gandalf’s gentle reproach. Beautiful!

Thank you for searching out and quoting the book text relevant to the film scene, and including them in your commentary. I do think that overall PJ & co used Tolkien’s written dialogue very effectively, stealing it from one scene and adapting it to suit another.

I always look forward to a new set of Mechtild’s screencaps! They really are something to savour.

I LOVE your new LJ William Morris design.

Thank you again.
Love, Blossom.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-02-19 01:01 (UTC) (Link)
Hello, Blossom! I am so glad you could drop in. You are a real Frodo fan, even if you've a major soft spot for Mr. Wood. (I've been following the Oxford Murder posts, too - the translations of Alex de la Iglesia's blog, and the reports of the lecture scene extras this week.)

Yes, screencaps do offer a whole other way of appreciating the films and the performances in them, I agree. And I'm so happy you like the new William Morris treatment. I think I'm going to put the whole shebang back to centre, soon. I had moved it to a left justification so that images and the side bar wouldn't be cut off for folks with small monitors, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. I still like seeing more wallpaper on the left.
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