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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

The Emyn Muil, Pt. 1 ~ “We’re Not Alone”....

Posted on 2007.04.14 at 01:42
Tags: ,

Here begin screencaps for The Two Towers.

I haven't yet posted screencaps from the TTT, but there will be series from scenes in the Emyn Muil, the Dead Marshes, the Black Gate, Henneth Annun and the Forbidden Pool, and Osgiliath. I've made and tweaked all the caps, but it will take a while to write posts for them all. If I get fed up writing presentations and excerpting book and film texts, I may just post the screencaps plain. I know some readers really like to read the intros (and have the bits of book and film to refer to), but my guess is most people skip over all that and head for the pictures.

The Two Towers.

Frodo did not fare as well in the second film as he did in the first, the screenwriters undermining his character (compared to his book self) in many instances. Nevertheless, his scenes are treasure troves of great screencaps. I think I enjoy the caps more than watching the actual film, when it comes to many of Frodo's scenes, especially the scenes that warp Frodo's character the most.

Take Frodo's scenes with Faramir, in which significant departures were made. The departures changed not only the story line but the tone, even the themes in Tolkien's book. Yet many of the caps made from these scenes are beautiful.

How did Film Faramir and his Men—Men descended from Númenor—get to be such thugs? I suppose the film-makers hinted at the direction they would take back in FotR, when they showed Aragorn, Númenor's finest, and the heir of Isildur, hustling Frodo Baggins the halfling (and the best hobbit in the Shire) up the stairs of the Prancing Pony to send him sprawling across the floor like a common criminal apprehended by the local tough cop-on-the-beat.

I should have been prepared, then, to see a similarly noble book character like Faramir hustling Frodo Baggins roughly through the woods of Ithilien, having him hauled into the hide-out to be bullied and threatened, finally to be pushed and shoved down the hills to Osgiliath to send to Faramir's deranged father as a "mighty gift". [Why send Frodo at all? I always wondered. Why not just take the Ring and send *it*? For Faramir, Frodo is like the cereal box with a prize inside. Why bother to send the box?]

The EE of TTT (which does have some fine moments) makes these characters look even worse. Faramir not only roughly accosts Gollum down at the Pool, in the EE he allows his thuggy Rangers to savagely beat him. As far as they are concerned, they are beating an aged, scarred, starved and naked creature, less than half their size. These are Gondor's finest! Save us from Gondor's worst. Orc mischief, as Treebeard would say.

Worse for me (as a Frodo fan) is that Frodo is shown sitting by while it happens. He is, after all, sitting in the very same cave. The sounds of Gollum's screams and weeping, the fists and boots of the Rangers thudding into flesh and bone must have filled the entire hide-out. Yet there's Frodo, quite unconcerned with Gollum's plight, too taken up with his own *issues*.

Sam says to Frodo, he should take the opportunity to get away. Put on the Ring. Disappear. (Well, Sam was never a fan of Gollum in either book or film.) Does Frodo answer, affronted, "How can I leave, Sam? These Men are beating one who is in my charge, who has even saved me twice, and, most important, whom I promised to keep from harm if he came to me"? He does not. Frodo pays no attention at all to what is happening to Gollum in the same cave. Instead, he sits dismal and dejected, telling how he can't put on the Ring because Sauron will see him. "The Ring is taking me," he says. By doing nothing to intervene while Faramir's men brutally beat the one he has taken under his care tells me the Ring has already taken him.

But I grow heated. For the fact is, in spite of heart-felt complaints like these, I really do love The Two Towers. I loved it from the first viewing, shocked as I was by the departures, loving it for its dramatic power, epic sweep, the Rohan characters, the great score, and the development of the Aragorn story-line. Faramir and Frodo did not fare so well, as I said.

Yet still I loved Frodo and Faramir. How could that be? Bear in mind I was not yet a swooner for Frodo. That happened after RotK.

In the past year I have decided that the credit goes to the actors who played the parts. It’s as if each actor's own intelligence, integrity, and warmth came through in the roles, no matter what the writers had the characters do. Aragorn kicks Frodo around, but few viewers doubt that Aragorn does not love Frodo, or think Aragorn a cad. I have reached the opinion that this is because Viggo Mortenson himself—behind-the-scenes hero of stunties, cast and crew—came through the character, no matter what he did. Likewise, Faramir does thuggy things, yet David Wenham still manages to convince me that Faramir is a decent, kind, nice man. I think I have to give credit to David Wenham, who, from all reports, is a decent, kind, nice man. Frodo does inept, vacillating things, falls down a lot, and frequently shows poor judgement. But Elijah Wood manages to produce a Frodo who nevertheless seems noble, wise, steadfast, and possessed of some inner steel. As with Viggo Mortenson and David Wenham, I think more and more that film-Frodo's fine points are actually his actor's, coming through his character in spite of what is actually there in the pages of film script. In the screencaps, his facial work is so expressive and so evocative, when I look at them in light of Tolkien's story, I find myself imagining the book scenes as they might have been played.

So: my belated apologies to Elijah Wood for not giving him more credit as an actor and as a person in the past.

The screencaps.

As I said, apart from whether I liked this or that part of The Two Towers as an adaptation of Tolkien’s book, even very problematic scenes could make great screencaps. The art design for the shots, and the power of the acting make the screencaps worth looking at no matter what the actors are actually saying or doing.

In the beginning of TTT (apart from the FABULOUS opening sequence inside Moria), the filmmakers do very well. They successfully take a number of vignettes from the Emyn Muil section of the book—even inventing one (the box of salt)—and put them together very economically. Some nuances are lost, of course, nuances that matter to me, but much is retained. I have nothing but admiration for the Emyn Muil sequences in the film.

In the opening scene for Sam and Frodo capped below, the film-makers gave a quite faithful impression of the Emyn Muil. They let Frodo have a dramatic vision of the Eye, but it fit, making more visceral Frodo's more stoic book remark that "there's an Eye in it"—referring to the land of shadow in the East.

In the EE of the film, the "We're not alone" section actually follows the caps that will come next, the scene of the descent by Elven rope and the box of salt.


Book scene, from "The Taming of Sméagol":

’What a fix!’ said Sam. (…) We’ve come the wrong way the wrong way altogether, seemingly. We can’t get down; and if we did get down, we’d find all that green land a nasty bog, I’ll warrant. Phew! Can you smell it?’ He sniffed at the wind.

‘Yes, I can smell it,’ said Frodo, but he did not move, and his eyes remained fixed, staring out towards the dark line and the flickering flame. ‘Mordor!’ he muttered under his breath. ‘If I must go there, I wish I could come there quickly and make an end!’ He shuddered. The wind was chilly and yet heavy with an odour of cold decay. ‘Well,’ he said, at last withdrawing his eyes, ‘we cannot stay here all night, fix or no fix. We must find a more sheltered spot, and camp once more; and perhaps another day will show us a path.’

‘Or another and another and another,’ muttered Sam. ‘Or maybe no day. We’ve come the wrong way.’

‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘It’s my doom, I think, to go to that Shadow yonder, so that a way will be found.”

The scene continues....

’Did you see them again, Mr. Frodo?’ asked Sam, as they sat, stiff and chilled, munching wafers of lembas, in the cold grey of early morning.

‘No,’ said Frodo. ‘I’ve heard nothing, and seen nothing, for two nights now.’

‘Nor me,’ said Sam. ‘Grrr! Those eyes did give me a turn! But perhaps we’ve shaken him off at last, the miserable slinker. Gollum! I’ll give him gollum in his throat, if ever I get my hands on his neck.’

‘I hope you’ll never need to,’ said Frodo. ‘I don’t know how he followed us; but it may be that he’s lost us again, as you say. In this dry bleak land we can’t leave many footprints, nor much scent, even for his snuffling nose.’

‘I hope that’s the way of it,’ said Sam. ‘I wish we could be rid of him for good!’

‘So do I,’ said Frodo; but he’s not my chief trouble. I wish we could get away from these hills! I hate them. I feel all naked on the east side, stuck up here with nothing but the dead flats between me and that Shadow yonder. There’s an Eye in it. Come on! We’ve got to get down today somehow.’

But that day wore on, and when afternoon faded towards evening they were still scrambling along the ridge and had found no way of escape.

Sometimes in the silence of that barren country they fancied that they heard faint sounds behind them, a stone falling, or the imagined step of flapping feet on the rock. But if they halted and stood still listening, they heard no more, nothing but the wind sighing over the edges of the stones—yet even that reminded them of breath softly hissing through sharp teeth.

At last they were brought to a halt. The ridge took a sharper bend northward and was gashed by a deeper ravine. On the further side it reared up again, many fathoms at a single leap: a great grey cliff loomed before them, cut sheer down as if by a knife stroke. They could go no further forwards, and must turn now either west or east.


Expanded film scene, from The Two Towers:

After a night of rain, the hobbits continue climbing through difficult terrain.

Sam: This looks strangely familiar.

Frodo: It's because we've been here before. We're going in circles.

Sam: Ah. What is that 'orrid stink? I warrant there's a nasty bog nearby. Can you smell it?

Frodo: Yes. I can smell it.

Frodo: (Looking back at Sam.) We're not alone.


As usual, the screencaps of this scene have been cropped and adjusted for brightness, contrast and focus. They were made from the TTT EE DVD.

~ Frodo and Sam enter the Emyn Muil:

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Recent Entries:

~ The Emyn Muil, Pt. 1 ~ “We’re not alone.”

~ The Emyn Muil, Pt. 2a ~ "Catch it, Mr. Frodo!"

~ The Emyn Muil, Pt. 2b ~ "A Little Bit of Home", essay,
plus jan-u-wine's "A Gardener's Gift".

Other tables of links:

~ Entries with jan-u-wine's poems.

~ Entries with Frodo & Elijah Wood screencaps.

~ Art Travesty LJ entries.

~ ALBUM of all Art Travesties (images only).

~ Mechtild


Lizzy Wistaria
wispy_lass at 2007-04-14 11:39 (UTC) (Link)
Lovely screencaps Mechtild
This brings back a lot of memories you know *sighs* *sobs* *swoons*
Haven't seen TTT since 2005
mechtild at 2007-04-14 12:00 (UTC) (Link)
Flawed as TTT is, and as much as book Frodo was ill-served by it, I *do* love this film as film. Thanks for commenting, Wispy.
(Deleted comment)
pearlette at 2007-04-14 14:29 (UTC) (Link)
So much of the appeal of the characters does come from the warmth and strength and good qualities of the actors shining through in their portrayals of them, doesn't it?

Oh, nicely said, Mews. :) Even when PJ is doing something that would no doubt make the Professor frown fiercely, the actors he chose so well are still able to show their true quality ... the very highest. :)

*pauses to swoon*

Book Faramir for me will always have black hair and grey eyes! But lovely David Wenham incarnates the character so beautifully (with that deep husky voice too, meep) that I am perfecty able to imagine him with black hair and grey eyes. ;) :)
pearlette at 2007-04-14 14:30 (UTC) (Link)
Ack, typo in last line, that should read: perfectly able, of course.
mechtild at 2007-04-14 20:58 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Mews. I love what you said about the distinctive palette for TTT. Yes, it is rather bleak, almost wintry. Helm's Deep is dusty-grey by day, blue-black by night. Fangorn is green but murky. The Dead Marshes are lit in a brown, the Emyn Muil is grey. Even the lush plains of Rohan from the book are a rocky upland, grass struggling between the boulders and jagged outcroppings, looking wintry in its bleak windswept beauty. It's a land and a people waiting for life to come back, like Eowyn standing on the parapet looking it the distance, her hair and gown whipping in the wind.

Yes, Faramir in the films came across so well. But it was David Wenham, I think. It's really not in the writing of the role. Hats off to him and much gratitude for salvaging a character that could have been thoroughly spoiled. I could die of love for him in that EE scene with Eowyn in the Houses of Healing at the end of RotK. He's just what I pictured book Faramir to be, and far, far, far from the captain who baited and mistreated his captives in Ithilien.
pearlette at 2007-04-14 14:21 (UTC) (Link)
Your essays are excellent! :) Don't leave them out! :)

The crap that PJ pulled with Frodo and Faramir in TTT is offensive. When I compare the film's treatment of the Henneth Annun episode with the BBC's ... muah! It is a tribute to the performances of Wood and Wenham that somehow they (and indeed the other actors) always seem to rise above the worst of PJ's, um, PJ-isms.

[Why send Frodo at all? I always wondered. Why not just take the Ring and send *it*? For Faramir, Frodo is like the cereal box with a prize inside. Why bother to send the box?]

*snort* Indeed. :D

Frodo did not fare as well in the second film as he did in the first, the screenwriters undermining his character (compared to his book self) in many instances.

To be honest, I think you could say this of Frodo's portrayal in all three films. I was remarkably forgiving of Frodo's characterisation in FOTR, all things considered. Mainly because the film simply blew me away on first viewing. It IS a fantastic film ... as are the other two! In each of the three films, there are things about Film Frodo's characterisation that frankly drive me crackers. Frodo's dropping the sword at Weathertop makes me gnash my teeth with a vengeance! I've therefore always chosen to concentrate on those aspects of Frodo that EJW portrays so very well, namely his purity of heart.

No quibbles about the Emyn Muil sequence though. :)

And whatever PJ does to Frodo's character in TTT, he does at least look incredibly hot throughout. :D
mechtild at 2007-04-14 21:04 (UTC) (Link)
And whatever PJ does to Frodo's character in TTT, he does at least look incredibly hot throughout. :D

He certainy does. And I intend to provide plenty of screencap evidence. Even "Frodo with PMS" looks good in screencaps.

Yes, they are WONDERFUL films, and I watch them that way. Even scenes that I decry because of what they do to book characters I love still tend to work well and film drama. I guess I can enjoy them because I just surrender myself to the film-story being told while I'm watching it. It's when the scenes are over that I blink, Smeagol-like, and say, "What? WHy did they do THAT????" While the film is rolling, though, I love even grossly miscarried scenes like Frodo standing on the wall of Osgiliath. It's just so beautiful, cinemagraphically, so well acted, shot, lit, and scored, I am swept away in spite of myself.
shirebound at 2007-04-14 14:38 (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful caps. And I really appreciate your insight that, "each actor's own intelligence, integrity, and warmth came through in the roles, no matter what the writers had the characters do". Hear hear! Why PJ felt it necessary to re-write (and 'warp', as you so aptly put it) so much of the text and characters' actions and words, is still a mystery to me. But we were able to see into the soul of each person, "whether or no".
mechtild at 2007-04-14 21:07 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Shirebound. PJ and Fran get an A+++ for their casting choices, even when they made a mistake. They realised they erred casting Stu Townsend and although it was traumatic, for they really are fairly nice filmmakers as people, they made a hard choice, dismissed him and called Viggo. It was the Casting Gods, perhaps, again coming to the rescue.

The more I learn about how the films were made, and how and why script choices were made, the more I have to credit the actors themselves, as artists and people, for producing the characters I find myself loving, as you say--"whether or no".
alyrthia at 2007-04-14 17:29 (UTC) (Link)
It never gets less gorgeous does it? It's always breathtaking, even after seeing Frolijah shots time and time again.

And your thoughts were altogether spot on, IMO.
mechtild at 2007-04-14 21:08 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Alyon. No, I never tire of looking at, or of thinking about these films and the book that inspired them. So far, anyway.
bagma at 2007-04-14 18:35 (UTC) (Link)
But... but... I always read your essays with great interest!:)

Thank you for the beautiful screencaps. TTT is not my favourite film (I prefer FotR), and the way PJ treats Frodo's and Faramir's characters made me cringe many times, but I am like you, I still love it.
mechtild at 2007-04-14 21:13 (UTC) (Link)
Funny, isn't it? That we could still be mad about a film with so many cringe-moments in it? But it is so for me and for others, apparently. Yes, I love FotR more, too. Yet I do love TTT, very much. When I was a fan of the Beatles, I might say, "In My Life" is a better song than "It's Only Love", but both songs were far better than the best songs of most other musicians of the day. It's like that for me with TTT.
melyanna_65 at 2007-04-14 19:41 (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful caps, thank you!

Frodo is so beautiful that I can't stop staring at him (although I've seen his pics a thousands time). And, oh dear, his eyelashes!

*happy hugs*
mechtild at 2007-04-14 21:14 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I was rather gratuitous with the eyelash caps.... :)
Claudia's Cove
claudia603 at 2007-04-15 01:51 (UTC) (Link)
I was absolutely prepared for changes in the movie, even for major changes. I was prepared for them and therefore most changes (the exception being a few things like Denthor's character portrayal and Frodo not getting to face down the Ringwraiths) actually did not bother me even though they wildly diverted from story.

I understand why they had Frodo hauled up the stairs in Bree by Aragorn (and my kinky self kind of sort of rewound and played it again and again liked it), that movie dramatic tension and all, even though I know that book!Aragorn would not do it. And I see it more not so much as Aragorn acting like a thug or being a bully but in being so frustrated and frightened by Frodo's behavior in putting on the Ring in front of everyone that he just reacted physically by wanting to get Frodo out of there as quickly as possible to talk to him alone.

The Faramir stuff made much less sense to me, but again, they needed the dramatic tension. I really didn't mind Faramir and his men taking the hobbits prisoner and acting suspicious of them (after all, Faramir was supposed to slay them, technically), but I did think it was odd and upsetting that the Gondorians were beating the crap out of Gollum for no apparent reason. All the same, I think you're absolutely right in that despite these character changes in the movie, David Wenham and Viggo still managed to create the noble characters that we remember from the book!

/ah, sorry, I babbled on and on here! :D
mechtild at 2007-04-15 03:08 (UTC) (Link)
You weren't babbling at all! It made plenty of sense. And your explanation for the amped-up physicality (pushing, shoving, hauling, etc.) is just about what the director and writers would have said, and did say (in the director commentaries). It wouldn't be dramatic if Faramir were as noble and well-behaved as the Faramir in the book, they said, so they portrayed him as more threatening and unpredictable.

I said in a comment up there somewhere that most of these departures still worked for me as film-story, it just wasn't Tolkien. My pet peeves, apart from damaging departures, resulting in radically out-of-character behaviour, tended to be about inconsistencies. If Faramir wanted to send the Ring to his Father, why go to the trouble of sending Frodo, too? Or how did Sam get the Ring on its chain over Frodo's head and neck before the Orcs showed up (in the pass of Cirith Ungol) if Frodo's entire head and neck was covered in cobwebs? -- and was so still when the Orcs carried his body away? And how come when Frodo woke up in CU, with his hands bound, his head half-shrouded in cobwebs, it was cobweb-free when Sam entered the room? In the Go Home Sam scene, Gollum sprinkled lembas crumbs all over the back of Sam's elven cloak as he slept, yet when it came time for the confrontation, Sam either had no crumbs, or had them on the front of his clothes, where Gollum had *not* sprinkled them. (Well, with a whole year between shooting Frodo and Sam's coverage of the scene, and with Gollum not cast at all at the time, no wonder they had some problems.)

I complained about these sorts of things on a thread and was rightly admonished for straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. Who cared about the crumbs on his jacketses, lol, when Frodo was sending Sam home, for heaven's sake--and Sam was actually complying!?!
Claudia's Cove
claudia603 at 2007-04-15 12:18 (UTC) (Link)
UGH. I remember -- I absolutely hated that part when Frodo sent Sam home. Okay, I could see Frodo sending Sam home in a moment of Ring angst, but in no possible way would Sam actually leave him, not for a moment. He might go out of sight for a bit, but he would immediately follow Frodo!

Oh, yes, I understand what you mean about the inconsistencies! I'm often blissfully unobservant and so thankfully I missed most of them the first few times I watched until they were pointed out to me. :-)
mechtild at 2007-04-15 12:37 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I certainly didn't catch everything! Some were pointed out to me by others on messageboards. But I think years of reading mystery books and filmed versions of them has made me pay attention to these sorts of "visual clues". If there's a discrepancy in Frodo's webbing, I assume it's because there used to be a scene in there that got cut and was never restored. But the "crumbs on his jacketses" scene was long-planned (I'll explain my theory when I ever get to the "Go Home Sam" screencaps), and the detail of the crumbs -- putting them there and pointing them out was intentionally done. This was something for which, I thought, there was no excuse for screwing up.

As for "Go Home Sam," you'll have a chance to vent in the future, when I get to the RotK caps. That'll be a while since I have a lot of TTT caps to present first. But the caps are made and in the hopper. It's a wrong-headed scene, very wrong-headed. But it does work in the film, as film, and is powerfully acted. How could it not make great screencaps, "whether or no"? :)
Claudia's Cove
claudia603 at 2007-04-15 14:21 (UTC) (Link)
*grins* Indeed! I think the only major one I caught was where Merry and Pippin were tied up and then they showed Pippin clearly not tied up (while they were escaping the urukai)...
mechtild at 2007-04-16 01:00 (UTC) (Link)
You're right. That's a HUGE blooper! :)
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2007-04-16 13:42 (UTC) (Link)
I love your essays, please do not omit them. They focus on, imho, some of the best passages in the books.

Thank you, too, for these lovely screen-caps.

Yes, I was rather gratuitous with the eyelash caps.... :)

I’m a pervy Hobbit eyebrow-fancier :D

As for the discrepancies - I’m still awe-struck by the films to be too irritated by them.

mechling at 2007-04-16 14:00 (UTC) (Link)
Good morning, Este! I am working on Pt. 3 today, in fact. And what a long-winded essay it is turning out to be. I sometimes wonder if this isn't my last gasp, or at least my last, longest procrastination project ever to keep me from ever having to address the sadder half of Threshold.

As for the discrepancies - I’m still awe-struck by the films to be too irritated by them.

Did I not convey enough that I love the films, complaints and all? I still consider them not just good but great films, and I say that about very few. Flawed, but very great, like the best of the Men of Numenor, I suppose.

Ah, the eyebrows....

But why be picky? The eyelashes, the eyebrows, the bones under them, the eyes, the lips, the jaw, the chin, the line of the ear. The fingertip of my mind traces them all in turn and murmurs, "Beautiful".
Estelanui - Francesca
estelanui at 2007-04-24 17:27 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Mechtild, for these new TTT screencap series and for all the work that is behind your wonderful posts.
I have finally now some time to read your comments and look at these gorgeous images. It’s always a pleasure listen your voice and your opinion.

TTT movie is indeed very different from FOTR. Being sort of a ‘visual’ person, the first difference I noted in theatre was the photography dark and with a lot of blue tones. I always loved the amazing work with photography by Andrew Lesnie in the Trilogy.

About the Faramir interaction with the Hobbit in the movies I share the most part of you opinion. I so love in the book the Faramir’s trial to Frodo and their moving understanding each other. I feel the lacking of that beautiful chapter in the film.
Sometime I like to see image of Faramir an the Hobbit and I go to the site of Anke Eissmann, an amazing LotR illustrator in my opinion, HERE. This artist influenced my way to imagine the hobbits before the movies, look at this Frodo and Faramir watercolour. After the movie my image of the hobbits will be forever bounded with those of the actors , but Anke Eissmann’s representation has still a particular resonance for me.
mechtild at 2007-04-24 19:04 (UTC) (Link)
I loved opening your Eissmann link, Estelanui. I had only seen some of those. Her settings are very book-like to me. It's amazing, though, that those predated the films. Her Faramir didn't look like the film character, all her Men tending towards the lean and sharp-featured, but her Frodo was very EW-as-Frodo like in terms of the dark hair and a face with a lot of planes and angles. I do really love David Wenham's Faramir, even if he doesn't match the book description, and even though they had him do such out-of-character things. When I think of those moments I find myself saying, "Faramir must have had some sort of mysterious personality disorder in which he occasionally went out of his senses and behaved like someone else entirely!"

I loved Andrew Lesnie's work, too. He really was another artist whose talents meant SO much to the success and greatness of the films.
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