For this last set I just want to say how much these caps make me sigh for Frodo: partly for the acting, partly for the pathos of his bondage to the Ring (as seen in the bottom shots), and, well, because he's just such a dish in them. I am sure the frames of him dropping the Ring over his head—the contact of the worked metal against his chest sending a rush through him like pure heroin surging through his veins—have inspired more fantasies than can be counted.
The book scene? What is there to say? It is sheer beauty. I want to note that this scene is beautifully acted by Ian Holm and Bill Nighy in the 1981 BBC radio production of LotR. Ian Holm was fifty then, the same age as book-Frodo setting out on the Quest. Ever since hearing it, whenever I read this scene the voice I hear is Ian Holm's. But the face, I confess, continues to resemble film-Frodo's rather closely.
Film Scene: Frodo takes back the Ring.
Having snatched the Ring and chain from Sam’s hand, Frodo drops the Ring over his head with an expression of intense, euphoric relief. He seems to recover himself and looks up at Sam.
Frodo: You must understand, the Ring is my burden. It will destroy you, Sam.
Sam: Come on, Mr. Frodo. We’d best find you some clothes. You can't go walking to Mordor in naught but your skin.* my screencaps end here, but I am providing the rest of the scene’s dialogue for those interested.
Outside the tower two figures in orc armour look out over Mordor where all the orcs are encamped.
Sam: We did it, Mr. Frodo. We made it to Mordor.
Frodo: There are so many of them. We'll never get through unseen!
Frodo looks across to Barad-dur in the distance.
Frodo: It's Him! The Eye!
Sam: (Looking down into the valley.) We have to go in there, Mr. Frodo. There's nothing for it. Well, let’s make it down the hill for starters, shall we?
Orc commander: To the gate, you slugs! Move out! To the gate!
Sam: Look, the Orcs! They're moving off. You see, Mister Frodo, some luck at last.
They exchange looks, then descend.
Book scene: from The Tower of Cirith Ungol, continued.
‘They’ve taken everything, Sam,’ said Frodo. ‘Everything I had. Do you understand? Everything!’ He cowered on the floor again with bowed head, as his own words brought home to him the fullness of the disaster, and despair overwhelmed him. ‘The quest has failed, Sam. Even if we get out of here, we can’t escape. Only Elves can escape. Away, away out of Middle-earth, far away over the Sea. If even that is wide enough to keep the Shadow out.’
‘No, not everything, Mr. Frodo. It hasn’t failed, not yet. I took it, Mr. Frodo, begging your pardon. And I’ve kept it safe. It’s round my neck now, and a terrible burden it is, too.’ Sam fumbled for the Ring and its chain. ‘But I suppose you must take it back.’ Now it had come to it, Sam felt reluctant to give up the Ring and burden his master with it again.
‘You’ve got it?’ gasped Frodo. ‘You’ve got it here? Sam, you’re a marvel!’ Then quickly and strangely his tone changed. ‘Give it to me!’ he cried, standing up, holding out a trembling hand. ‘Give it me at once! You can’t have it!’
‘All right, Mr. Frodo,’ said Sam, rather startled. ‘Here it is!’ Slowly he drew the Ring out and passed the chain over his head. ‘But you’re in the land of Mordor now, sir; and when you get out, you’ll see the Fiery Mountain and all. You’ll find the Ring very dangerous now, and very hard to bear. It it’s too hard a job, I could share it with you, maybe.’
‘No, no!’ cried Frodo, snatching the Ring and chain from Sam’s hands. ‘No you won’t, you thief!’ He panted, staring at Sam with eyes wide with fear and enmity. Then suddenly, clasping the Ring in one clenched fist, he stood aghast. A mist seemed to clear from his eyes, and he passed a hand over his aching brow. The hideous vision had seemed so real to him, half bemused as he was with wound and fear. Sam had changed before his very eyes into an orc again, leering and pawing at his treasure, a foul little creature with greedy eyes and slobbering mouth. But now the vision had passed. There was Sam kneeling before him, his face wrung with pain, as if he had been stabbed in the heart; tears welled from his eyes.
‘O Sam!’ cried Frodo. ‘What have I said? What have I done? O Forgive me! After all you have done. It is the horrible power of the Ring. I wish it had never, never been found. But don’t mind me, Sam. I must carry the burden to the end. It can’t be altered. You can’t come between me and this doom.’
‘That’s all right, Mr. Frodo,’ said Sam, rubbing his sleeve across his eyes. ‘I understand. But I can still help, can’t I?’
~ Pt. 1: Frodo awakes, plus jan-u-wine’s “In Dremes”.
~ Pt. 2: Sam rescues Frodo, plus main essay for this series.
~ Pt. 3: Frodo takes back the Ring.
Table of all screencaps: