I already said in the last post how good I think Elijah Wood is in the scene, first goaded, then attacked by Gollum. I should add that Andy Serkis is excellent, too. The behind-the-scenes extras show that Andy was on board to rehearse and act this scene (unlike the Stairs of Cirith Ungol, in which the part of Gollum was read by another). Andy Serkis is an extremely committed actor, with an intense performing style. I am sure working with Andy helped bring out the fire in Elijah Wood’s performance.
As for the scene itself, the more I look at it the more I think the screenwriters’ based the scene not on the fight in the Shelob’s Lair chapter, but the one in Mount Doom. I think they used the “transfiguration” scene I was referring to in the last post, in which Gollum attacks Frodo, who is being carried by Sam. Frodo falls off, and he and Gollum struggle. To Sam, the two antagonists appear “locked together”, Gollum tearing at Frodo to get the Ring, Frodo fighting back “with a sudden fury” that amazes Sam, fury inspired by Gollum trying to get the Ring. Frodo throws Gollum off and rises up, quivering with rage, ordering him, “Down, creeping thing, and out of my path!” Gollum crouches before Frodo like “the shadow of a living thing,” a “creature now wholly ruined and defeated", yet "filled with a hideous lust and rage”. Frodo is "untouchable now by pity". Then Frodo seems to recover himself. Sam says he’ll take care of Gollum, and Frodo walks on, "slowly but erect", his mind seemingly elsewhere, towards the Sammath Naur.
In the filmed Shelob’s Lair scene, the action is very similar. Frodo, just escaped from the web trap, tumbles out into a larger way, bruised and exhausted. Even before he can catch his breath, Gollum pounces. Gollum’s fresh attack, scrabbling at the Ring around Frodo’s neck, spurs Frodo to a furious counter-attack. Frodo gets the upper hand, and would surely throttle Gollum, eyes blazing, but Gollum appeals to Frodo’s pity. Unlike the book scene on Mt Doom, Frodo still is capable of pity. He releases Gollum, gets up, his mind re-focussed on the trial ahead (“I have to destroy It, Sméagol, for both our sakes”), and slowly walks on.
Until I made these screencaps, I had been thinking the filmmakers based their scene on the book fight between Sam and Gollum in the Pass, but altering it into a fight for Gollum and Frodo. Recent reflection makes me think the scene much more closely resembles the book’s struggle on the slopes of Mt. Doom.
The book scene telling of Sam rushing to catch up to Frodo as he runs ahead is posted after the caps. Just a note: I will be posting the “transfiguration” scene I have been referring to (with Frodo and Gollum fighting on the side of Mt. Doom), in which Frodo seems to Sam “robed in white”, but not until I get to the film’s Mt. Doom sequence.
Film Scene:Frodo tumbles into a widening in the tunnel and Gollum jumps him, trying to take the Ring.
Gollum: Got away, did it, precious!! Not this time! Not this time!
Gollum, on top of Frodo, nearly gets his hands on the Ring. Frodo revives at this and throws him off.
Frodo: No! (Frodo fights back until he is on top of Gollum, choking him furiously.)
Gollum: (Gasping, trying to loose Frodo’s hands.) It wasn't us! It wasn't us! Sméagol wouldn't hurt Master! We promised! You must believe usss. It was the Precious! The Precious made us do it!
~ Frodo is attacked by Gollum in the tunnel:
Book scene, cont’d, from Shelob’s Tunnel, TTT.
Sam came up behind as fast as he could urge his legs; but glad as he was to be free, he was uneasy, and as he ran, he kept glancing back at the dark arch of the tunnel, fearing to see eyes, or some shape beyond his imagining, spring out in pursuit. Too little did he or his master know of the craft of Shelob. She had many exits to her lair….
Dread was round him, and enemies before him in the pass, and his master was in a fey mood running heedlessly to meet them. Turning his eyes away from the shadow behind and the deep gloom beneath the cliff upon his left, he looked ahead, and saw two things that increased his dismay. He saw that the sword which Frodo still held unsheathed was glittering with blue flame; and he saw that though the sky behind was now dark, still the window in the tower was glowing red.
‘Orcs!’ he muttered. ‘We’ll never rush it like this. There’s Orcs about, and worse than Orcs.’ Then returning quickly to his long habit of secrecy, he closed his hand about the precious Phial which he still bore. Red with his own living blood his hand shone for a moment, and then he thrust the revealing light deep into a pocket near his breast and drew his elven-cloak about him….
Hardly had Sam hidden the light of the star-glass when she came…. She was between Sam and his master. Either she did not see Sam, or she avoided him for the moment as the bearer of the light, and fixed all her intent upon one prey, upon Frodo, bereft of his Phial, running heedless up the path, unaware yet of his peril. Swiftly he ran, but Shelob was swifter; in a few leaps she would have him.
Sam gasped and gathered all his remaining breath to shout. ‘Look out behind!’ he yelled. ‘Look out, master! I’m’—but suddenly his cry was stifled.
A long clammy hand went over his mouth and another caught him by the neck, while something wrapped itself about his leg. Taken off his guard he toppled backwards into the arms of his attacker.
Just for laughs, here's a shot of Elijah and Andy clowning around while working on the fight in Shelob's Lair:
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”.
Tables of Links: