Moria Pt. 2 ~ The troll attack, and "I'm not hurt"....
This is the first of two sets of Balin's Tomb screencaps from the Moria sequence. This one shows the attack on Frodo and his friends in the tomb, the next will show the revealing of the mithril shirt. I really only planned to make caps of the “Mithril Shirt” sequence, but I so appreciated the sight of Frodo overcoming fear to defend himself and his friends, I decided to make caps of that scene, too, as a lead-in. I love how when the Orcs break through the door and Gandalf sounds the call, not just Frodo but all the hobbits -- who had been paralyzed with terror -- are galvanized, giving their own battle cries, charging into the fray, weapons flailing.
The film does a fine job with the action, although it is already a tremendously exciting scene in the book. The dialogue is not kept, though. There’s no “For the Shire” or admiring quip about "the hobbit's bite". Except for Sam’s line (“I think I’m getting the hang of this!”), there’s mostly shouting, and the calling of each other’s names.
Book scene, abridged, from The Bridge of Khazad-dûm:
(…) There was a blow on the door that made it quiver; and then it began to grind slowly open, driving back the wedges. A huge arm and shoulder, with a dark skin of greenish scales, was thrust through the widening gap. Then a great, flat, toeless foot was forced through below. There was a dead silence outside.
Boromir leaped forward and hewed at the arm with all his might; but his sword rang, glanced aside, and fell from his shaken hand. The blade was notched.
Suddenly, and to his own surprise, Frodo felt a hot wrath blaze up in his heart. ‘The Shire!’ he cried, and springing beside Boromir, he stooped and stabbed with Sting at the hideous foot. There was a bellow, and the foot jerked back, nearly wrenching Sting from Frodo’s arm. Black drops dripped form the blade and smoked on the floor. Boromir hurled himself against the door and slammed it again.
‘One for the Shire!’ cried Aragorn. ‘The hobbit’s bite is deep! You have a good blade, Frodo son of Drogo!’
(…) But even as they retreated, and before Pippin and Merry had reached the stair outside, a huge orc-chieftain, almost man-high, clad in black mail from head to foot, leaped into the chamber; behind him his followers clustered in the doorway. His broad flat face was swart, his eyes were like coals, and his tongue was read; he wielded a great spear. With a thrust of his huge shield he turned Boromir’s sword and bore him backwards, throwing him to the ground. Diving under Aragorn’s blow with the speed of a striking snake he charged into the Company and thrust with his spear straight at Frodo. The blow caught him on the right side, and Frodo was hurled against the wall and pinned. Sam, with a cry, hacked at the spearshaft, and it broke. But even as the orc flung down the truncheon and swept out his scimitar, Andúril came down upon his helm. There was a flash like flame and the helm burst asunder. The orc fell with cloven head. His followers fled howling, as Boromir and Aragorn sprang at them.
Doom, doom went the drums in the deep. The great voice rolled out again.
The film's battle scene is sketched by the caps below: the four hobbits stand wary, pulling close together as the noise of the drums builds and blows are struck upon the door. They draw their swords. When through the breaking door they see glimpses of Orc faces and their weapons, they stand paralyzed. But at Gandalf's command they rush into the fray. The troll breaks through and the cousins hide behind a pillar. Sam whacks Orcs with his pan, while the troll finds the others in their hiding place. Frodo is hiding behind the pillar again, but the troll sniffs him out, too. Startled, he stumbles back into the corner. The troll grabs him by the right foot and pulls Frodo towards him; he calls for Aragorn as he whacks at the troll's forearm with Sting. Aragorn intervenes, leaping in, and spears the troll. But the troll is tough and dashes Aragorn against a wall, who falls dazed. Frodo runs to Aragorn but the troll follows. Frodo brandishes Sting again, smiting under its forearm, but the troll blocks Frodo with the spear shaft, and he is thrown back. It is then that the troll is able to spear Frodo, pinning him against the wall.
As usual, all the caps have been cropped and tweaked for brightness, contrast and focus.
~ The troll attack in Balin’s tomb, from the EE of FotR:
Overcoming one's fear in order to come to the aid of others is a recurring motif, when it comes to combat. I noted that in the book it is when Frodo sees Boromir's assault fail against the troll, his sword glancing aside notched, Frodo surprises himself, yelling, "For the Shire" and lunging in to strike. Similarly in the Barrow downs, it was the sight of his friends in mortal peril that moved Frodo to overcome his intense fear to act.
In the film, Frodo wields Sting the first time in self-defense (because the troll is dragging him in for the kill). But the second time he strikes, it's to protect Aragorn. Likewise, when Merry and Pippin are inspired to leap upon the back of the troll, using their swords, it is in response to seeing Frodo fall. These are book-faithful touches and I appreciate them.
The main difference between the book and film scenes is that when Frodo falls, in the book the action continues, the Fellowship still under attack. In the film, everything comes to a hault, time suspended (no doubt meant to be a book-end to the moment when Shelob stings him in RotK). The attack resumes only after a period of extended slo-mo close-ups of Frodo reacting with echoing groans, other voices calling, "Frodo!".
As the following excerpt shows, dialogue that takes place in the film in a quiet moment while Frodo recovers from the spear-thrust, in the book is exchanged on the run. I love that Aragorn thinks he’s carrying a lifeless Frodo over his shoulder until the body speaks up. “I am all right. I can walk. Put me down!” Frodo protests to Aragorn's surprise. As I typed this, I kept thinking of the scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail when one of the plague dead, hoisted over a shoulder, keeps protesting feebly, “I’m not dead yet!"
Book scene continued, abridged, from The Bridge of Khazad-dûm:
‘Now!’ shouted Gandalf. ‘Now is the last chance. Run for it!’
Aragorn picked up Frodo where he lay by the wall and made for the stair, pushing Merry and Pippin in front of him. The others followed (…).
‘I am all right,’ gasped Frodo. ‘I can walk. Put me down!’
Aragorn nearly dropped him in his amazement. ‘I thought you were dead’ he cried.
‘Not yet!’ said Gandalf. ‘But there is not time for wonder. Off your go, all of you, down the stairs.’
(…Gandalf tells about putting the shutting spell on the door as they catch their breath.) ‘And now what about you, Frodo? There was not time to say so, but I have never been more delighted in my life than when you spoke. I feared that it was a brave but dead hobbit that Aragorn was carrying.’
‘What about me?’ said Frodo. ‘I am alive, and whole I think. I am bruised and in pain, but it is not too bad.’
‘Well,’ said Aragorn, ‘I can only say that hobbits are made of a stuff so tough that I have never met the like of it. Had I known, I would have spoken softer in the Inn at Bree! That spear-thrust would have skewered a wild boar!’
‘Well, it did not skewer me, I am glad to say,’ said Frodo; ‘though I feel as if I had been caught between a hammer and an anvil.’ He said no more. He found breathing painful.
‘You take after Bilbo,’ said Gandalf. ‘There is more about you than meets the eye, as I said of him long ago.’ Frodo wondered if the remark meant more than it said.
~ Pulled up by Aragorn, Frodo revives, assuring the others, "I'm not hurt".
* Note to opera fans: Doesn't Frodo look as though he's singing a plaintive aria in these caps with his hand to his breast?