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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

The Emyn Muil, Pt. 2-a ~ “Catch it, Mr. Frodo!”....

Posted on 2007.04.14 at 18:59
Tags: ,

The descent down the cliff face by rope does not appear in the theatrical version of TTT, but is part of a very nicely-done extended scene in the EE. Its tone and purpose is quite different from the book scene, but it serves the film well.

The tone is humorous, light, and warm. Frodo and Sam exchange the sort of banter they haven’t shared since Bilbo’s farewell party. Frodo shows he can still tease, and Sam is the endearing hobbit without guile.

With the invention of Sam’s box of salt, “the best salt in all the Shire”, the writers show Frodo’s increased love and longing for the home he left behind, and new esteem for his travelling companion, who, in the film, is typically better in touch with what really matters. The film scene finishes up with Sam and Frodo’s exchange about the Elven rope. This also is used differently (but well) in the film, but I’ll save that for the next post.

Film scene, first part, from the EE of TTT:

Frodo and Sam climb down a cliff face in the Emyn Muil using Sam’s Elven rope:

Sam: Can you see the bottom?

Frodo: No! Don't look down, Sam! Just keep going!

Sam: Catch it! Grab it, Mr. Frodo! (Frodo catches it but slips and falls.)

Sam: Mr. Frodo!

Frodo: (Frodo lands and calls up to Sam) I think I've found the bottom!

Sam: Bogs and rope, and goodness knows what. It's not natural. None of it.

Frodo: (Looking at the small box he caught) What's in this?

Sam: Nothing. Just a bit of seasoning. I thought maybe if we was having a roast chicken one night or something.

Frodo: Roast chicken?

Sam: You never know.

Frodo: Sam. My dear Sam.


In the book, the descent down the cliff face at the end of the gully has a very different tone. A fierce storm is whipping up, night is near, and Frodo is desperate to get out of the open where he feels terribly exposed to the Eye, which he increasingly senses looking for him and at him. Before Sam has remembered he has rope in his pack, Frodo, refusing to wait till morning, tries to scramble down unaided in the growing dark.

Book scene, from "The Taming of Sméagol":

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. (…)

‘There’s nothing for it but to scramble down this gully, Sam,’ said Frodo. Let’s see where it leads to!’

Frodo eases himself down and calls to Sam that he’s found a ledge, but his words are cut short.

The hurrying darkness, now gathering great speed, rushed up form the East and swallowed the sky. There was a dry splitting crack of thunder high overhead. Searing lightning smote down into the hills. Then came a blast of savage wind, and with it, mingling with its roar, there came a high shrill shriek. The hobbits had heard just such a cry far away in the Marish as they fled from Hobbiton, and even there in the woods of the Shire it had frozen their blood. Out here in the waste its terror was far greater: it pierced them with cold blades of horror and despair, stopping heart and breath. Sam fell flat on this face. Involuntarily Frodo loosed his hold and put his hands over his head and ears. He swayed, slipped, and slithered downwards with a wailing cry.

Sam heard him and crawled with an effort to the edge. ‘Master, master!’ he called. ‘Master!’

He heard no answer. He found he was shaking all over, but he gathered his breath, and once again he shouted: ‘Master!’ The wind seemed to blow his voice back into his throat, but as it passed, roaring up the gully and away over the fills, a faint answering cry came to his ears:

‘All right, all right! I’m here. But I can’t see.’

Frodo was calling with a weak voice. He was not actually very far away. He had slid and not fallen, and had come up with a jolt to his feet on a wider ledge not many yards lower down. Fortunately the rock-face at this point leaned well back and the wind had pressed him against the cliff, so that he had not toppled over. He steadied himself a little, laying his face against the cold stone, feeling his heart pounding. But either the darkness had grown complete, or else his eyes had lost their sight. All was black about him. He wondered if he had been struck blind. He took a deep breath.

‘Come back! Come back!’ he heard Sam’s voice out of the blackness above.

‘I can’t,’ he said. ‘I can’t see. I can’t find any hold. I can’t move yet.’

‘What can I do, Mr. Frodo? What can I do?’ shouted Sam, leaning out dangerously far. Why could not his master see? It was dim, certainly, but not as dark as all that. He could see Frodo below him, a grey forlorn figure splayed against the cliff. But he was faor out of the reach of any helping hand.

There was another crack of thunder; and then the rain came. In a blinding sheet, mingled with hail, it drove against the cliff, bitter cold.

‘I’m coming down to you,’ shouted Sam, though how he hoped to help in that way he could not have said.

‘No, no! wait!’ Frodo called back, more strongly now. ‘I shall be better soon. I feel better already. Wait! You can’t do anything without a rope.’

‘Rope!’ cried Sam, talking wildly to himself in his excitement and relief. ‘Well, if I don’t deserve to be hung on the end of one as a warning to numbskulls! You’re nowt but a ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee: that’s what the Gaffer said to me often enough, it being a word of his. Rope!’

‘Stop chattering!’ cried Frodo, now recovered enough to feel both amused and annoyed. ‘Never mind your Gaffer! Are you trying to tell yourself you’ve got some rope in your pocket? If so, out with it!’

‘Yes, Mr. Frodo, in my pack and all. Carried it hundreds of miles and I’d clean forgotten it!’

‘Then get busy and let an end down!’

Quickly Sam unslung his pack and rummaged in it. There indeed at the bottom was a coil of the silken-grey rope made by the folk of Lórien. He cast an end to his master. The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo’s eyes, or else his sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen. Now that he had some point in the darkness to fix his eyes on, he felt less giddy. Leaving his weight forward, he made the end fast round his waist, and then he grasped the line with both hands.

Sam stepped back and braced his feet against a stump a yard or two from the edge. Half hauled, half scrambling, Frodo came up and threw himself on the ground.

The hobbits get drenched waiting out the storm. The storm lifts, and Frodo, feeling recovered, insists they try again to get out of the open.

‘It’s good to be able to see again,’ said Frodo, breathing deep. ‘Do you know, I thought for a bit that I had lost my sight? From the lightning or something else worse. I could see nothing, nothing at all, until the grey rope came down. It seemed to shimmer somehow.’

‘It does look sort of silver in the dark,’ said Sam. ‘Never noticed it before, though I can’t remember as I’ve ever had it out since I first stowed it.’


This is a wonderful, powerful scene, but I can understand why the filmmakers didn’t use it. It’s a complete drama in itself, but the drama is internal. From the outside, Frodo is merely cowering against a cliff face with Sam calling to him. I love that Frodo, struck blind by the power and terror of the Nazgul, recovers when he sees the Elven rope: a life line, physically and mentally, and a light in the darkness.

It reminds me of other scenes in which the touch of the phial of Galadriel, another source of Elven light—not even drawing it out but closing his hand around it—is able to lift the blackness from Frodo, if only for a little. These talismans, or physical tokens of the transcendent, are scattered throughout the story and are of great importance, in my view. So subtly handled are they, and so well-integrated into the whole narrative, I admire Tolkien the writer all the more every time one of them appears.


As usual, the screencaps of this scene have been cropped and adjusted for brightness, contrast and focus.

~ Frodo and Sam descend the cliff:

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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.

~ Frodo & Elijah Wood screencaps.

~ Art Travesty LJ entries.

~ ALBUM of all Art Travesties (images only).

~ Mechtild


(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2007-04-15 00:58 (UTC) (Link)
it's one of the last smiles we see from him until the end of RotK.

Which makes it all the dearer.
notabluemaia at 2007-04-15 01:21 (UTC) (Link)
Mechtild, those are such lovely, well-chosen caps. Both the EE and book scenes are favorites of mine, and you describe their differences and purposes well. Thank you.

I also love Frodo's expression here - he is so fond, so aware of 'salt of the earth' things about the Shire for which he longs and about Sam, here with him - but he still looks stressed, tense, even as he is amused and warm. Great acting - but the pics of him tug at my heart. Sam - oh, these are great of Sam, too, far more guileless, straightforward in the pics.

Thank you!
mechtild at 2007-04-15 03:18 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Nota, for commenting so thoughtfully. Yes, Frodo does look a bit strained, but it's the first time he's really laughed for a long time in the film. In the TE he doesn't even get that laugh. Sam is lovely in these scenes. If it was my purpose to do screencaps of Sam, too, in my ongoing project, I would have had twice as many.

In my early screencap entries, I only showed close-ups of Frodo, since that was the point. But as I've gone on making the posts, letting the caps re-tell the story more and more, book and/or film, I've included caps in which Frodo does not appear, in order to better establish the scenes.
Claudia's Cove
claudia603 at 2007-04-15 01:40 (UTC) (Link)
Just breathtaking. Utterly breathtaking.
mechtild at 2007-04-15 03:18 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Claudia!
wendylady1 at 2007-04-15 07:07 (UTC) (Link)
I am so glad they included this scene in the Extended DVD version, as it was one of my favourite scenes from the boook, even though, as you so rightly point out, it IS very different in tone and treatment...even so, the Elven rope scene WAS included, and that made me unaccountably happy !!!

The stress on Frodo's face is palpable as he clambers down over the rocky hill-face, and then when he finally lands on firm ground, and has his exchange with Sam, the relief if just as palpable...Elijah is such an internal actor, and this is one of those scenes where you can see exactly what is going on in Frodo's head !!
We are also treated to a really good insight into their relationship, in that short exchange, which has been changed from that of Master and Servant in the books, to one of affectionate friendship, developing into one akin to being Comrades in Arms...

Thank-you for reminding us of one of the best little scenes in TTT !!
mechtild at 2007-04-15 12:28 (UTC) (Link)
You are welcome, Wendy. I almost have part 3 ready, which has the caps I most love in this scene, further demonstrating EW's sensitivity and range. He's a gift for that, as you point out so well. Yes, the scene does show the development in their relationship, too.

Again, I wish they had left this scene in the theatrical version. It does a lot for the film, offering some lightness at the opening, and better developing their Frodo "character arc". The writers were keen to show Frodo's descent into inner darkness during this film. How much more of an impact his later despairing and mad scenes would have had if TTT viewers could have mentally compared them to *this* scene at the front of TTT. Otherwise they only had the first scenes in FotR to refer to, mentally, and it might have been a year since they had seen its light-hearted Frodo.

I can think of a few things I'd have preferred left out of TTT, in stead. Well, not left out, but trimmed.
mariole at 2007-04-15 14:06 (UTC) (Link)
*sigh* I love this scene, and your caps. Thanks for keeping the Frodo love alive! Cheers.
mechtild at 2007-04-16 01:07 (UTC) (Link)
Mariole! Great to see you! I was dearly hoping you would be amused by the 'Wonderbras for Men' posts, but, admittedly, there was no Frodo in them. (In the posts or in the wonderbras.)

I hope to post Pt. III of this scene tonight after the movies.
bandwench at 2007-04-15 21:27 (UTC) (Link)
Those are some pretty screen caps, Doll! Thanks so much for going to all the work to make and post them. Have lovingly snagged them all for my collection. *hugs*

Oh, while I am here . . . you did see the cropped version I did for you of "In the Clearing" and the version with the furry feet, didn't you? I'm sure you did, but I just thought I would check in case they slipped past you! Ü Goodness know *I* miss more than not myself!
mechtild at 2007-04-16 01:05 (UTC) (Link)
You made them after all???? No, I never saw the notice announcing them, Bandwench. How did I miss it? I've seen the notices for your Orliando Bloom and Elijah manips (you HAVE been busy!), but no Frodo re-do. I'll have to go and look tomorrow morning (I'll be out tonight). Thanks for the notice!
bandwench at 2007-04-16 02:31 (UTC) (Link)
Yup, I did make them and not too very long after we first discussed it! *shines halo* Here is a link to the entry where I listed the updates including the Furry Footed Frodo version of "In the Clearing." Hope you enjoy!
mechtild at 2007-04-16 04:52 (UTC) (Link)
Hi! I just got finished with the movie, but followed your link to see the new versions of "Frodo in the Clearing".

I think you did a great job on the foot hair, although I'll never love the look of hobbits' furry feet except as a vague, literary idea. How did you do it? Hand painting every strand? or cloning some real hair from somewhere else? I commented in your thread, by the way. If you answer about the hair, maybe you should answer there so I can scroll up and click open the image while I read the comment.
pearlette at 2007-04-15 22:48 (UTC) (Link)
This is such a sweet, touching scene, and one of those occasions when the films actually do justice to the Frodo/Sam relationship. *wibble*

Sam is adorable, and Frodo's "My dear Sam" is ... *WIBBLE*

*carries on wibbling* :p

mechtild at 2007-04-16 01:08 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, you'll wibble even more over the caps in Pt. III. I hope to post them tonight while you are sleeping.

Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2007-04-17 08:37 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Mechling! Simply beautiful. This scene has brightened an otherwise dull day.

mechtild at 2007-04-17 12:39 (UTC) (Link)
Dull? My Este having a dull day? Terrible! I hope it livens up soon. (It must be full spring there, no, like in England? Or are you too far north and away from the Atlantic for that?)
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2007-04-17 13:47 (UTC) (Link)
You cheer me up, no end, Mechling! Thank you. (((Hugs you)))

The weather here is fantastic. Spring has arrived. (Two weeks early this year in fact). The woods are full of wildflowers and birds.

But the spring sometimes brings the blues. Aaaand what makes it even worse is I have, at the moment, so little internet time. *rolls eyes*

...Or are you too far north and away from the Atlantic for that?

I'm in Stockholm, right next to the Baltic Sea. So usually it would be *brrrrrr*. Yesterday the temperature was 21C. I even saw a brave lass sunbathing in the nuddie, down by the little stream, close to our flat/appartment. I would have preferred it to have been nekkid Frodo, of course. :D

julchen11 at 2007-04-21 22:08 (UTC) (Link)
Gorgeous, simply gorgeous.
I love this little scene soooo much. "Sam, my dear Sam..." This kills me all the time ... Aren't they both adorable? Frodo's little smile ... the last smile for a long long time.
Fantastic work, my dear.
mechtild at 2007-04-21 23:15 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, they *are* adorable in this scene, and it *is* the last smile for a long time. What a shame it wasn't in the theatrical! Especially for that reason.

Thanks so much for posting, Julchen.
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