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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Ithilien Pt. 4 ~ “We’re Not in Decent Places….”

Posted on 2007.06.16 at 19:09
Tags: ,
~*~


I capped this scene because it is well-shot, well-acted, and Frodo and Sam look great in the frames. However, I think it was a huge mistake to put it in the EE. I am guessing the scene was written and shot before the filmmakers finalized Sam and Frodo's part of the story, and they cut it from the theatrical when they saw it no longer made sense in the larger film.

In their opening scene in RotK, it is made clear by Frodo's responses to Sam's plans for rationing their food "for the journey home", that he does not expect to survive the Quest. (The way the scene plays, it recalls the Dead Marshes scene in the book in which Frodo asks Sam—should they actually complete their mission and are present when the Ring goes into the Fire—whether they will have any need of food and drink.) Later, in the waterskin scene on Gorgoroth, Frodo and Sam are shown reaching an understanding: Sam finally sees (as Frodo has seen all along) that there will be no return journey. Then comes this little EE scene in which Frodo is shown saying, "I don't think I'll be coming back", as if it had just dawned on him. Like I said, it's a very well-done scene, but utterly senseless in the context of the rest of the film.

Still, it makes great screencaps. I love the quality of the light. Although I have brightened and sharpened the images, it really does have a unique sort of lighting, both very clear and very soft at once. And the frames capture a lot of what many love in film-Frodo, with his sensitive sort of poignancy, and in Sam, with his strong, grounded warmth as he provides encouragement.

Speaking of Sam providing encouragement, that's the other thing I don't like about this scene (besides it making no sense within the larger context). It is difficult to find fault with a scene because Sam provides comfort to a rather daunted Frodo. In the book, Sam does in fact encourage Frodo all through the Quest, more and more as Frodo becomes increasingly stressed and bowed under the burden of the Ring and the Eye. But the films tend to highlight this dynamic—Sam encouraging Frodo—omitting or downplaying book moments in which Frodo is the strong one, the leader, the one who keeps them going on their road. The two hobbits are very lovely in this scene, their faces like flowers. But why must Sam always be the robust, hardy perennial, and Frodo the delicate hot-house flower, whom Gardener Gamgee must constantly tend and protect? One of the points about Frodo as Ring-bearer is that he is exemplary of his race, a people notably "difficult to daunt or kill". If hobbits are generally thus, Frodo is more so. One tends not to get that impression in the films.

The last dialogue in FotR is Frodo saying wistfully they probably won't see their companions again. "We may yet, Mr. Frodo, we may," says Sam warmly. Encouraged, Frodo affirms with equal warmth, "I'm glad you're with me". Most of the audience is thinking the same thing: Thank heaven for Sam Gamgee or where would the mission be?

At the end of TTT, Sam again is given dialogue that shows him as indispensible. Frodo, dispirited and beaten after his struggle on the walls of Osgiliath, must be told by Sam [at considerable length] what they are fighting for, and what's worth holding onto. Poor Frodo.

In not_alone's fine series "The Journey of Frodo", detailing the making of the trilogy from Elijah Wood's POV, she just posted Ch. 7 ~ Playtime. In it she provides this quote:

When asked by a TV interviewer how Frodo would handle this challenge, Elijah replied “Oh God, I don`t know. . . I think Sam would probably come to his aid. Frodo can never do much by himself!!”.

Exactly. With the impression reinforced subtly over the course of the three films, intentionally or not the filmmakers did such a job on Frodo as a character, even his actor believed Frodo Baggins—Bronwe athan Harthad ("endurance beyond hope") and Iorhael ("wise, venerable elder") and, with Sam, Conin en Annûn ("princes of the West")—really wasn't up to much.

Even more trying is when the films not only leave Frodo's lines out, but give his lines to others. This happens in the EE Cross-roads scene (which follows immediately from this scene). There Sam gets Frodo's lines, and his key, character-revealing line is cut.

In the book scene, it is Frodo who points out to Sam, "Look! The king has got a crown again!" Then when the light strikes the statue, he adds spiritedly, "They cannot conquer for ever!" In the film scene, Frodo glances glumly at the statue's head where it lies, but trudges past it. It is Sam who turns and looks when the light comes through the clouds. Spoken as encouragement to Frodo Sam says, "Mr. Frodo, look! The king has got a crown again!" The "They cannot conquer for ever" line is cut completely.

Again, 'The Cross-roads' is a really nice little EE scene, but it is yet another instance in which Frodo is portrayed as someone with inadequate personal resources, who must continually be encouraged by others.




~*~




Film scene: “I don’t think I’ll be coming back”: EE scene.


Frodo and Sam follow Gollum through a thicket of bare brush..

Sam: Must be getting near tea-time. Leastways it would be in decent places, where there is still tea-time.

Gollum: (Turning back to Sam.) We’re not in decent places.

Sam: (Turning and seeing that Frodo has stopped walking.) Mr. Frodo? (Seeing that Frodo continues to stare strangely.) What is it?

Frodo: It’s just a feeling. I don’t think I’ll be coming back.

Sam: (Walking back to Frodo.) Yes, you will. ‘Course you will. That’s just morbid thinking. We’re going ‘there and back again’, just like Mr. Bilbo. You’ll see.



~*~




Book scene: from The Journey to the Cross-roads.


‘Wake up, wake up! Wake up, sleepies!’ he whispered. ‘Wake up! No time to lose. We must go, yes, we must go at once. No time to lose!’

Sam stared at him suspiciously: he seemed frightened or excited. ‘Go now? What’s your little game? It isn’t time yet. It can’t be tea-time even, leastways not in decent places where there is a tea-time.’

‘Silly!’ hissed Gollum. ‘We’re not in decent places. Time’s running short, yes, running fast. No time to lose. We must go. Wake up, Master, wake up!’ He clawed at Frodo; and Frodo, startled out of sleep, sat up suddenly and seized him by the arm. Gollum tore himself loose and backed away.

‘They mustn’t be silly,’ he hissed. ‘We must go. No time to lose!’ And nothing more could they get out of him. Where he had been, and what he thought was brewing to make him in such a hurry, he would not say. Sam was filled with deep suspicion, and showed it; but Frodo gave no sign of what was passing in his mind. He sighed, hoisted his pack, and prepared to go out into the ever-gathering darkness.


~*~












~ Frodo expresses his misgivings to Sam:


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~*~










Related Entries:


~ 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:


~ All Frodo and Elijah screencaps.




~ Mechtild


Comments:


Shirebound
shirebound at 2007-06-17 00:55 (UTC) (Link)
Even more trying is when the films not only leave Frodo's lines out, but give his lines to others.

You're so right. PJ had his own 'version' of Frodo that he wanted the films to portray, and he (and Elijah) certainly succeeded. But canon-Frodo doesn't really shine through except in very rare moments.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 17:29 (UTC) (Link)
It used to make me grieve that the films diminished Frodo's virtues so much, but eventually I was able to look at the films separately, as unique interpretations of the work just as any fan fiction is.

Some writers portray the Shire folk as the complacent, conventional, mostly pleasant people they are in the book. It's a bucolic, low-stress place, which was why Gandalf liked vacationing there. Others fill their Shire with hobbits driven by lust, hate, greed, envy, and every dark passion that sank Numenor into the Sea. Why do they do that? Perhaps for the same reason PJ did what he did to so many characters and scenes: to up the ante. If not much happens in the real Shire, make up a Shire where they do.

PJ seemed to think the Frodo and Sam scenes dull with both of them portrayed as thinking, competent hobbits who were able to handle themselves in some very dire situations, especially if they faced them with a united front. To liven things up, PJ let one of them fall into peril on a regular basis, necessitating his continual rescue by the other. That ploy getting over-used he then divide them up, allowing his peril-prone hero to get himself into an even worse scrape, which would make the rescue and reconciliation all the more exciting. And if you haven't read the book, this formula worked pretty well. Thank heaven he cast Elijah Wood as his Frodo, though, whose personal qualities seem to have shone through the scripted character.
(Deleted comment)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 17:32 (UTC) (Link)
You're so right about the light in this. It's beautiful.

You are such an appreciator of lighting effects, I just knew you'd notice, Mews. It's a lovely light, sort of lemony, as if spring were just around the corner, the brittle twigs about to sprout tender shoots, the harsh angles of winter light softening as the air becomes more moist.
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Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 17:35 (UTC) (Link)
If it weren't for Elijah's beautiful portrayal of film-Frodo I could turn away in tears sometimes and PJ somehow always manages to redeem himself by giving us scenes of such utter beauty that I always find myself forgiving him!

I was just saying something like this to Shirebound but you said it better, Chickenlegs. Yes, the films are full of such beauty, even greatness, I forgive all the bad parts--or don't look, like in the beating of Gollum. And, yes, it was a stroke of providence that they chose EW. He brought so much integrity and beauty of spirit to that role. On the page, it really wasn't there, so it had to have come from him personally.
Rakshi
rakshi at 2007-06-17 01:22 (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely breathtaking.

Exquisite. I LOVED your take on all this... not to mention the wonderful caps. I agree that this scene shows them BOTH off to perfection.

Thank you!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 17:36 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Rakshi. It was a pleasure to make and refine these caps, the images are so lovely. And it's always satisfying, and clarifying, to write about the scenes.
verangel
verangel at 2007-06-17 05:11 (UTC) (Link)
I so love your thoughts here. This is one scene I was happy to see added, but in the long run, I can see everything you have pointed out.I have been bothered by scenes in the move because I felt Sam was given a little too much strength. What about what Frodo was doing, the fact he kept steady, tried so hard. Some of that got lost in the comments movie Sam got. Personally, I hated the speach at the end of TTT..it was long, overdrawn and made Frodo (who was sitting there saying he couldn't do it anymore) look weak. Frodo was NOT weak, in any way. The fact that he could make it with the strength of deep friendship does not mean he was weak. Sam was vulnerable and fearful. But we see all these bold comments made by Sam in the movie. I don't know why these scenes were played this way, But I can say that regardless of what they do, I just knew deep down inside that Frodo was suffering deeply from the ring and had incredible courage.I wish the move would have showed that more.
hugs you..great brakeout and I agreed totaly. xoxoxox v
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 17:43 (UTC) (Link)
Personally, I hated the speach at the end of TTT..it was long, overdrawn and made Frodo (who was sitting there saying he couldn't do it anymore) look weak. Frodo was NOT weak, in any way. The fact that he could make it with the strength of deep friendship does not mean he was weak. Sam was vulnerable and fearful. But we see all these bold comments made by Sam in the movie.

I certainly agree with all this, Verangel. But there were some important plusses to Frodo's "weak" portrayal. We got to see him experience and reveal a lot of emotion book Frodo didn't show. I think that, even more than his beautiful face, was what prompted so much love and passion and devotion in fans of Frodo's film incarnation. I don't fault the films for showing Frodo in his moments of despair and suffering and doubt, only that they didn't balance these moments with enough moments in which Frodo was strong and enduring with the will to carry on no matter what.
bagma
bagma at 2007-06-17 08:53 (UTC) (Link)
it is yet another instance in which Frodo is portrayed as someone with inadequate personal resources, who must continually be encouraged by others.

You are right, and I find that very irritating. Elijah is wonderful, of course, and I greatly admire his acting skills, but I would have loved to see him using his considerable talent to picture a strong and determined Frodo, as Tolkien wrote him.

Thank you for posting these beautiful caps, and for sharing your thoughts about the film. It's always a pleasure to read -and stare at!:)- your posts.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 17:50 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for commenting, Bagma. I am very happy to make these posts, as you can guess! I just wish I had more time these days to spend on them.

You wrote,

You are right, and I find that very irritating. Elijah is wonderful, of course, and I greatly admire his acting skills, but I would have loved to see him using his considerable talent to picture a strong and determined Frodo, as Tolkien wrote him.

I don't see how this could have happened, though, since EW did not read the book. He would only have the script and the filmmaker's direction to go on. I think the comment I quoted from not_alone's journal shows clearly how much he *didn't* know about how his character was portrayed in the original materal. I don't think he was being sarcastic, but merely stating (light-heartedly) the truth about his character according to the script: no matter what happens, Sam gets Frodo out of it. I am just thankful that EW's own "illuminated" qualities shone through the lines and business he was given to do in the three films so well, as compensation.
Maeglian
maeglian at 2007-06-17 09:28 (UTC) (Link)
OF course I agree with everything you write. This scene puts the crown, as it were, on the character assasination of Frodo Baggins. Even in looking at your beautiful images I want nothing as much as to smack Frodo and shake him, and to tell him: "This is not you!" (Perhaps since I can't get at PJ, who by rights should be the shakee). :-D Thank you for keeping such a calm and level head in your discussion of this. My temper *still* flares hotly when I contemplate it and its utter silliness.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 17:54 (UTC) (Link)
Even in looking at your beautiful images I want nothing as much as to smack Frodo and shake him, and to tell him: "This is not you!"

Very true, Maeglian. I roll my eyes a lot and make huffy noises when I watch this scene with the film rolling (so to speak), but when I look at the caps I am enchanted. That's the cool thing about caps, I've discovered. Even while they can open up a film scene, they also can open up a book scene, the film scene left behind. Many weak scenes have been redeemed for me in this way.

(Perhaps since I can't get at PJ, who by rights should be the shakee).

Oh come on, now. You'd rather take Frodo firmly by the shoulders any day, wouldn't you? ;)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
Whiteling
whiteling at 2007-06-17 11:19 (UTC) (Link)
Bah, the Cross-roads scene. *Such* a beautiful book moment, and what a cheesy one in the film. You know I am no purist, but at that point I can fully sympathise with any of you who complain about Frodo's downsizing. *pets Maeglian's hand soothingly*

But thanks for the marvellous screencaps!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 17:58 (UTC) (Link)
I don't think the Cross-roads scene is as damaging as this one to Frodo, although it does him no favours. Except for allowing him to look gorgeous, beautifully lit and photographed. That alone makes the scenes, for me, worth capping. Read my note to Bagma above. No, I won't make you do that. All I said, basically, was that the screencaps of a scene often become images that open up the book for me, their film context left behind as I ponder them. For instance, I can look at these caps and imagine them illustrating any number of "real" (i.e. book-based) conversations between Frodo and Sam rather than this one.
Claudia's Cove
claudia603 at 2007-06-17 12:42 (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting point about Frodo being portrayed as needing to be encouraged all the time while Sam is always the strong one. Book!Frodo did get them going several times, even in Mordor. It would have been nice to see that...

But Elijah!Frodo does make a lovely hot-house flower! :-)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-17 18:00 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, he does (make a lovely hot-house flower). At his best he's still exotic, but a durable exotic. I think that comes across in the films in the end: you can knock that beautiful hobbit down, but he gets up again. And again. And again. :)
pearlette
pearlette at 2007-06-18 12:27 (UTC) (Link)
When asked by a TV interviewer how Frodo would handle this challenge, Elijah replied “Oh God, I don`t know. . . I think Sam would probably come to his aid. Frodo can never do much by himself!!”.

Oh, Elijah! *fumes* Elijah DEAR!

Darn it, boy, why didn't you read LOTR while you were having your hobbit-feet put on each morning, which took HOURS and HOURS. :p

What did the dear boy do? He read American Psycho instead. Elijah WOOD!

Well, I second everything you and the others have said here about this scene, Mechtild.

However. Our consolation, as ever, is that both Fro and Sam do look absolutely gorgeous. Physically perfect, in terms of how each hobbit should look, and perfectly cast ... just a shame Frodo's characterisation was often a bit of a letdown!

*feasts her eyes on Frodo and Sam, turning the sound down* :p
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-06-18 12:42 (UTC) (Link)
*feasts her eyes on Frodo and Sam, turning the sound down* :p

Ah, that's the ticket. Or use Maeglian's approach: kiss them silly so they forget their lines. Having come to their senses in this pleasant manner, they'll say what they were supposed to have been saying. :)

Yes, we've all been going on about how lovely to look at they are in this scene, how lovely the lighting, etc. They even acted it well. But was "it" worth acting well? No.
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