Here begins the last of my RotK screencap posts, marking the home stretch of this long-running project (only about 35 entries to go).
Because of the way it opens up the meaning of these caps, I am also posting jan-u-wine's Too Often. It appears below the screencaps, and is not to be missed.
I have already capped quite a few of Frodo's scenes from RotK, some from the Plain of Gorgoroth, the “I can see the Shire” scene after the fall of Barad-dûr, the Eagles scene, and all the scenes at the end of the film after the coronation (see the “All Frodo and Elijah Screencaps” link at the bottom of this and every post for a list).
Note: Speaking of the “All Frodo and Elijah screencaps” link, because this table of links has become very large, it takes a very long time to load. Therefore I plan to subdivide the table into smaller tables, interlinking them: one for each LotR film, one for the behind-the-scenes and extras caps, and one for the caps of Elijah Wood in other roles. I will post an announcement when I do this, just in case anyone is trying to use the links at the bottoms of entries. It will take a while to go through and change all those links, since there are now more than a hundred and twenty of them.
The film scene.
However much I love Howard Shore's score for the opening of RotK, I have mixed feelings about the scene in which Gollum's history is told. Coming just after that, all the more is Frodo’s first scene one I really love. The scene doesn’t have a direct parallel in the book, but it picks up the mood of impending gloom and darkness that permeates the chapter in which Frodo and Sam leave Faramir and what is, essentially, the last homely house of the West before they enter Mordor. It also conveys a sense of the book’s portrayal of Frodo as a character who is more and more difficult to read as the Quest becomes darker.
The film scene is presented as a sort of parallel to the TTT night-time scene in the Dead Marshes in which Frodo relates to the Ring as if he were a courting lover. All is quiet and, as in the Marshes scene, Sam is asleep and Gollum nowhere to be seen. Frodo is alone with his thoughts. The camera moves the viewer closer, offering a picture without words of what Frodo is experiencing.
The action is basically the same as in the Dead Marshes, but the tone is very different. No longer does Frodo gaze at his “treasure” like a smitten lover, fondling it in pleasurable reverie. He seems well past the “so bright, so beautiful” stage of his relationship with the Ring. But he is not less enthralled. He grimaces with pain as he rubs his neck where the weight of the Ring has made it raw. But glancing around furtively, to make sure no one sees him do it (perhaps, especially, Sam), it seems as though Frodo can't wait to pull the Ring from its hiding place. As in the Dead Marshes, he turns it over in his fingers. He examines it briefly but intently, soon interrupted. But the touching is not the rhythmic stroking of the Marshes scene. It's more like he is checking it—perhaps to reassure himself that it’s still there, and still the Ring: solid and real. And still, in a sense, his.
The genius of the moment is that although it is vivid, it is evocative, not explicit, leaving the sense up to the viewer, all of whom have their own ideas at to what Frodo is thinking.
There is no film script to accompany these particular caps, since actual dialogue doesn’t take place until Sam wakes up (in the next post). Below I have posted an excerpt from the book, to help establish the mood and look of this sequence, even though it is not identical to what ended up in the film. I thought the film design people (visual and sound editing) did a great job portraying a land at the edge of awakening, spring just about to burst forth, yet held back, as if in suspense: brooding, watchful, a bit bleak, as if the land had experienced a late frost.
As usual, the caps (made from the “full screen” version) have been adjusted for lighting and focus.
I might add that the caps are beautiful simply as images: wonderfully lit and shot for the ultimate in moody introspection, featuring the king of moody introspection himself. Without exaggeration, scrolling through them makes me a little breathless. I am awed both by Frodo's expressive beauty and by the skill of the film artists, whose combined skills made the scene what it is.
Book scene, from The Journey to the Cross-roads.
Having parted from Faramir, Frodo and Sam follow Gollum into Ithilien and growing darkness.
The sun rose and passed overhead unseen, and began to sink, and the light through the trees to the west grew golden; and always they walked in cool green shadow, and all about them was silence. The birds seemed all to have flown away or to have fallen dumb.
Darkness came early to the silent woods, and before the fall of night they halted, weary, for they had walked seven leagues or more from Henneth Annûn. Frodo lay and slept away the night on the deep mould beneath an ancient tree. Sam beside him was more uneasy: he woke many times, but there was never a sign of Gollum, who had slipped off as soon as the others had settled to rest. Whether he had slept by himself in some hole nearby, or had wandered restlessly prowling through the night, he did not say; but he returned with the first glimmer of light, and roused his companions.
‘Must get up, yes they must! he said. ‘Long ways to go still, south and east. Hobbits must make haste!’
That day passed much as the day before had gone, except that the silence seemed deeper; the air grew heavy, and it began to be stifling under the trees. It felt as if thunder was brewing. Gollum often paused, sniffing the air, and then he would mutter to himself and urge them to greater speed.
Light was fading fast when they came to the forest-end. There they sat under an old gnarled oak that sent its roots twisting like snakes down a steep crumbling bank. A deep dim valley lay before them. On its further side the woods gathered again, blue and grey under the sullen evening, and marched on southwards. To the right the Mountains of Gondor glowed, remote under a fire-flecked sky. To the left lay darkness: the towering walls of Mordor; and out of the darkness the long valley came, falling steeply in an ever-widening trough towards the Anduin. At its bottom ran a hurrying stream: Frodo could hear its stony voice coming up through the silence (…).
He turned to Gollum. ‘Do you know where we are?’ he said.
‘Yes, Master. Dangerous places. This is the road from the Tower of the Moon, Master, down to the ruined city by the shores of the River. The ruined city, yes, very nasty place, full of enemies. We shouldn’t have taken Men’s advice. Hobbits have come a long way out of the path. Must go east now, away up there.’ He waved his skinny arm towards the darkling mountains. ‘And we can’t use this road. Oh no! Cruel peoples come this way, down from the Tower.’
The three of them climb into the many-branched crotch of an huge holm-oak and rest there until midnight.As soon as they were down they went on again with Gollum leading, eastwards, up the dark sloping land. They could see little, for the night was now so deep that they were hardly aware of the stems of trees before they stumbled against them. The ground became more broken and walking was more difficult, but Gollum seemed in no way troubled. He led them through thickets and wastes of brambles; sometimes round the lip of a deep cleft or dark pit, sometimes down into black bush-shrouded hollows and out again; but if they ever went a little downward, always the further slope was longer and steeper. They were climbing steadily. At their first halt they looked back, and they could dimly perceive the roofs of the forest they had left behind, lying like a vast dense shadow, a darker night under the dark blank sky. There seemed to be a great blackness looming slowly out of the East, eating up the faint blurred stars. Later the sinking moon escaped from the pursuing cloud, but it was ringed all about with a sickly yellow glare.
At last Gollum turned to the hobbits. ‘Day soon,’ he said. ‘Hobbits must hurry. Not safe to stay in the open in these places. Make haste!’
Gollum leads them up on to a great hog-back of land covered with thick growth under which the hobbits could walk upright.On the further edge of this broad hill-back they stayed their march and crawled for hiding underneath a tangled knot of thorns. Their twisted boughs, stooping to the ground, were overridden by a clambering maze of old briars. Deep inside there was a hollow hall, raftered with dead branch and bramble, and roofed with the first leaves and shoots of spring. There they lay for a while, too tired yet to eat; and peering out through the holes in the covert they watched for the slow growth of day.
But no day came, only a dead brown twilight. In the East there was a dull red glare under the lowering cloud: it was not the red of dawn. Across the tumbled lands between, the mountains of the Ephel Dúath frowned at them, black and shapeless below where night lay thick and did not pass away, above with jagged tops and edges outlined hard and menacing against the fiery glow. Away to their right a great shoulder of the mountains stood out, dark and black amid the shadows, thrusting westwards.
The red glare over Mordor died away. The twilight deepened as great vapours rose in the East and crawled above them. Frodo and Sam took a little food and then lay down, but Gollum was restless. He would not eat any of their food, but he drank a little water and then crawled about under the bushes, sniffing and muttering. Then suddenly he disappeared.
‘Off hunting, I suppose,’ said Sam and yawned.
It was his turn to sleep first, and he was soon deep in a dream.
Jan-u-wine’s Too Often is posted below the screencaps. The narrative poem was written to portray Frodo’s thoughts about the Ring, but a little further on in the story. Nevertheless, I thought it and the screencaps set each other off so well I asked Jan if I might post it here. Graciously, she said yes.
~ In Ithilien, Sam sleeps as Frodo ponders the Ring.
I fear that
I shall die.
One truth remains:
from the touch
upon my throat,
one that I would
(were it not constant),
like the hard
of too-close fire
envelope of flame.
I can not
this to you,
When did my loathing
I will not
(even to myself)
what my hatred
I might lie down
as a shadow
beneath the unseeing
and never rise again.
I have not will enough
even for that.
For whatever time
I have left,
(with the harshness
about my neck
with my own blood),
I wish to hold It
listen to the sound
filling the hours
with heavy night,
peopling the blankness
of my mind
with all It has seen
in the secret Dark
of the World.
In one of the few
when I do not hear
(all wound about
with need by Its silence)
what I am to It.
Just another flicker
in the vast
dim light of time,
a means to an end.....
within my mind.
as It twists
about my neck,
upon the paths of my mind,
if that which we seek,
as the day
to too-close night,
if we do not seek
~ Ithilien Pt. 1: Ithilien Grows Dark ~ plus jan-u-wine’s “Too Often”.
Ithilien Pt. 2: “The Days Are Growing Darker”.
Ithilien Pt. 3: “I Need You On My Side.”
~ Ithilien Pt. 4: 'We're not in decent places.'
~ Ithilien Pt. 5: The Cross-roads, plus jan-u-wine's "At the Cross-roads of the King".
Tables of Links: