Here are more gorgeous shots of Frodo with the Star-glass, plus his moment of bravery when he strikes at Shelob. It’s a terribly exciting sequence, with Frodo barely escaping, then getting caught in the web. Elijah Wood is riveting.
But forgive me if I say there is no contest, not the slightest, with the book scene. Like film Frodo, book Frodo (with Sam) tries to run for it, but he stops. He sees it’s no good. They must make a stand. He turns, calls upon Galadriel, and advances, amazingly, utterly brave and desperate, towards his adversary. It makes me melt every time I read it—for Frodo, and for Tolkien, for writing such an unforgettable scene.
Here’s the passage that particularly thrills my soul:
Then Frodo’s heart flamed within him, and without thinking what he did, whether it was folly or despair or courage, he took the Phial in his left hand, and with his right hand drew his sword. Sting flashed out, and the sharp elven-blade sparkled in the silver light, but at its edges a blue fire flicked. Then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet the eyes.
Frodo’s heart “flamed within him” back in Bag End, too, when he was first possessed by a sudden desire to follow Bilbo, in spite of the dreadfulness of the Quest. Reading it made my own heart flame up, wanting to follow Frodo. In this context, it fills me with admiring love. But it's the last line that delivers the final blow, the one about "Frodo, hobbit of the Shire", walking steadily down to meet his doom. It's like a microcosm of the way book Frodo responds to the challenge of the Quest throughout the story, always to the best of his ability, with every fibre of his being, persevering, without expectation for himself, even beyond hope.
Below, the excerpt is shown in context.
Book scene, cont’d, from Shelob’s Tunnel, TTT.
Frodo and Sam, horror-stricken, began slowly to back away, their own gaze held by the dreadful stare of those baleful eyes; but as they backed so the eyes advanced. Frodo’s hand wavered, and slowly the Phial drooped. Then suddenly, released from the holding spell to run a little while in vain panic for the amusement of the eyes, they both turned and fled together; but even as they ran Frodo looked back and saw with terror that at once the eyes came leaping up behind. The stench of death was like a cloud about him.
‘Stand! stand!’ he cried desperately. ‘Running is no use.’
Slowly the eyes crept nearer.
‘Galadriel!’ he called, and gathering his courage he lifted up the Phial once more. The eyes halted. For a moment their regard relaxed, as if some hint of doubt troubled them. Then Frodo’s heart flamed within him, and without thinking what he did, whether it was folly or despair or courage, he took the Phial in his left hand, and with his right hand drew his sword. Sting flashed out, and the sharp elven-blade sparkled in the silver light, but at its edges a blue fire flicked. Then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet the eyes.
They wavered. Doubt came into them as the light approached. One by one they dimmed, and slowly they drew back. No brightness so deadly had ever afflicted them before. From sun and moon and star they had been safe underground, but now a star had descended into the very earth. Still it approached, and the eyes began to quail. One by one they all went dark; they turned away, and a great bulk, beyond the light’s reach, heaved its huge shadow between. They were gone.
‘Master, master!’ cried Sam. He was close behind, his own sword drawn and ready. ‘Stars and glory! But the Elves would make a song of that, if ever they heard of it! And may I live to tell them and hear them sing. But don’t go on, master! Don’t go down to that den! Now’s our only chance. Now let’s get out of this foul hole!’
Film Scene (there are no lines for this section):Frodo scrambles to his feet and holds the Phial aloft as he faces Shelob. She advances and Frodo falls backwards, but he strikes her with Sting. She rears back. Frodo gets up and pelts along the passage, Shelob pursuing. Looking back, Frodo runs into a giant net of spiderwebbing that blocks the tunnel. He is trapped and is held suspended in the web.
Entries in the Shelob's Lair series:
~ Pt. 1: Entering the tunnel.
~ Pt. 2: Frodo is betrayed.
~ Pt. 3: Shelob perceived, plus jan-u-wine’s “That Which Waits”.
~ Pt. 4: The Star-glass.
~ Pt. 5: Shelob attacks.
~ Pt. 6: Gollum taunts Frodo.
~ Pt. 7: Frodo attacked by Gollum.
~ Pt. 8: Gollum makes his plea.
~ Pt. 9: Frodo resolves to go forward, plus jan-u-wine’s “The Web-ring”.
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