Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

‘Wood Elves' (from FotR EE) ~ plus jan-u-wine’s “Bell” and “Mellon”.


I know I keep saying of this or that EE scene, "what a shame this scene wasn’t included in the theatrical version", but what a shame this wasn't included in the theatrical version! Not only is it beautiful, it accomplishes a lot, narratively. I'll mention just a few of the things I think this scene does well.

In spite of its brevity, the first and third parts of the scene establish a great deal about the pre-Quest relationship of Frodo and Sam. They aren't the palsy-walsy drinking buddies of the opening tavern and party scenes, but the young Master of Bag End and his capable servant. The opening has no actual lines, but much is said. While Frodo waits for supper, lounging in a tree enjoying a book and his pipe, Sam prepares their meal over an open fire, as if he has done it countless times. Later, trying to get to sleep, Sam is complaining, shifting restlessly, Frodo dozing off pleasantly, but one gets the feeling that this scenario has been played out many times before. It doesn't matter that in the book it is Frodo who is complaining, wishing he still had his feather bed. The point is their shared ease and the sense of routine that implies a history of shared experience. They are master and servant, long-acquainted friends, and hobbits used to tramping and camping in the countryside, separately and together.

Although the book's opening tells only of Frodo's predilection for tramping the Shire, even under the stars, it's clear in the Woody End and Old Forest chapters that Frodo and his companions are not camping together for the first time. Frodo very naturally takes the role of leader, assessing the scene and determining what their next move should be. Merry (once he joins them) acts as chief advisor, gathering and providing information, making suggestions, as well as working to keep up morale. Sam, by occupation as well as preference, takes greatest responsibility for seeing to the group's needs. Pippin (once he's been rolled out of bed) provides for entertainment. As the story progresses their roles expand and diversify, of course, but my point is that the companions seem to know what they are about—camping, and as a group—right from the start.

I think, therefore, this little EE scene of Frodo and Sam camping gives a good sense of the hobbits' know-how and camaraderie on the road, both born of long custom. A little of this is conveyed in the theatrical versions' early camping scenes, which include the hobbits stopping to prepare food after they leave Bree (which Strider won't permit), and the brief glimpse of them preparing a meal under Weathertop (interrupted by the arrival of the Nazgûl), but these all take place rather late in FotR. A film-viewer, having watched the four hobbits run all the way from the Marish to Bree without any kit or provision other than what Sam and Frodo have in their packs, might assume that it was Strider who taught them how to survive away from the comforts of home. This scene helps correct that impression.

The sleeping scene also provides an ironic contrast to later, darker ones that parallel it. Sam, who could not sleep between the roots of a leafy tree, will eventually learn to sleep on the edge of a corpse-filled bog, on a precipice overlooking the Morgul Vale, or in a crack in the earth on the smoking waste of Gorgoroth. Frodo, who dropped off so peacefully, will not know such peace again in Middle-earth.

The middle part of the EE scene, in which Frodo and Sam watch the departing Elves, also does a great deal in little space. First, a simple lighting effect introduces viewers to the idea that Elves, to us mortals, are creatures of wonder. All Elves are beautiful in an other-wordly way, but the Eldar (the ones who have lived in Valinor, in the light of the Two Trees) are also luminous, as if lit from within, reflecting the immortal light they once beheld. This extreme luminosity is used later for Arwen's entrance and scenes with Galadriel, but is not made apparent in the Prologue, in which Elf-warriors are shown in battle under Elrond and Gil-galad. Perhaps this was because the battle is fought in daylight. But the Elves Frodo and Sam see in the wood positively glow.

Secondly, the singing of the Elves as they walk through the wood, so solemn and grave, even mournful, introduces the idea of the melancholy of the Elves, particularly the Eldar, exiles from the Undying Lands. Even though the non-book audience does not know the words being sung, the sheer sound of their low, keening voices conveys a sense of their regret at leaving, and their longing for their lost home across to the Sea, to which they will sail.

Another benefit of this scene is that it shows Frodo and Sam's shared fascination with and love for the Elves. As the two hobbits watch the Elves as they pass, their own faces glow with reflected light—the light of Valinor, in fact—until they seem as beautiful and other-worldly as the Elves they are watching. Without any words, just with the lighting, the moment shows Frodo and Sam's awe and wonder in the presence of the Elves as something approaching enchantment. And viewers share in that enchantment. Even more than in the film’s scenes set in Lórien and Rivendell, this scene gives audiences their best sense of what it might be like to be in the presence of the Elves, and to be enchanted.

Finally, Sam’s remark at the sight of the Elves leaving Middle-earth—"I don't know why, it makes me sad”—is a deeply evocative and poignant moment, especially for viewers who know what is to come. It beautifully prefigures the sadness Sam will feel at the Grey Havens, when the one he has loved best will sail, just as will these Elves.

Jan-u-wine’s two poems, below, are set after young Frodo has come to live at Bag End. They both portray scenes that show of the beginnings not only of friendship and mutual esteem, but of Frodo and Sam’s shared love for the Elves and things Elvish. It was because of these poems that I capped this scene.

The first poem, Bell, is written from the point of view of Sam, recollecting a critical point in his young life when Frodo's presence made a crucial difference. I can’t express how beautiful I think the poem is, for its writing and for the way it establishes character. The second poem, Mellon, is written from Frodo's point of view as he watches little Sam at his lessons with Bilbo. Again, I think it a beautiful piece, gorgeously written, its word-images providing views into the lives of these three characters as rich and striking as light through jewel-coloured panes.


Film scene (from the EE):

Sam and Frodo are camped not far from the Road. Sam is cooking while Frodo sits in a tree, reading.

Frodo pauses and looks up, hearing something.

Frodo: Sam! Wood-elves!

The two creep through the bracken and watch from behind a log. Elves, very radiant, walk along the road as they sing the hymn to Elbereth.

Frodo: They're going to the harbour, beyond the White Towers, to the Grey Havens.

Sam: They're leaving Middle-earth.

Frodo: Never to return.

Sam: I don't know why, it makes me sad.

It is dark. Frodo and Sam are bedded down by their campfire. Sam fidgets uncomfortably but Frodo dozes, looking serene.

Sam: Everywhere I lie, there's a dirty great root sticking into my back.

Frodo: Just shut your eyes, and imagine you're back in your own bed, with a soft mattress and a lovely feather pillow.

Sam: It's not working, Mr. Frodo. I'm never going to be able to sleep out here.

Frodo: Me neither, Sam.

Frodo smiles and closes his eyes.




~ by jan-u-wine


Folk ask me,

they ask me
if I remember her.

Not much more than a faunt,
I was,

yet still I remember.

Working up Hill,
we were,

Da and I
and all the roses

full-hipped and lazy-lopped
in the last of autumn's heat.

I remember thinking how pretty May looked,
hair flying unbound about her heated face.

And she pulled Da aside and I could see then
that she were crying.

Da was n'er one to forget a thing,
but he forgot somewhat that day:

he left me there -

there within the heavy heat
and the late drone of the bees.

I were so very little.

I did not think what it all might mean,
I did not think to run down-Hill.

The young Master found me,
(and never have I told him, and never shall, how the sight and smell of roses,
dying in the sun, still makes me cry)

he found me, and May's hair-ribbon, fallen and held tight in my hand.

I remember
he almost smiled,

that odd, half-smile he has,
as though he knows a joke that no-one else could unlock the sense of....

he smiled,

until he saw the bit of ribbon.....

He didn't come inside,
the young Master,

took me up and ran from the crown to the chin of the Hill.

I remember I could feel his heart beating like bird's wings, fast and frightened,
as he set me to my feet.

And it weren't too late,


it weren't too soon,

And mum held me,
said my name,

just once

and then she was quiet.

And Da was taking me up,
pulling me from her arms,

and mumma was still looking
at me,

and her eyes were green, like mine.

Daisy closed them with a kiss.

Marigold cried then,
but she were just a faunt,

kept close in her woven-basket by the bed.

She weren't crying for aught that she knew.

Not like us.

I could not get the sense of it all:

how it was
between one breath and the next,
she was gone.

I remember how busy they were about her,

Daisy arranging her hair just so,
May washing her feet with tender care...

and Da....

he held her hand as though the world entire had fallen away...

I remember

the young Master still waiting outside
when I opened the door.

Without a word,
he lifted me

took me back up-Hill.

And all he knew, I think....


he knew to offer as comfort
were that which he knew as comfort

And so it was we walked far into the night

so far

until the Row was almost a memory below us,

candles winking like fallen stars in night-hooded windows....

and he told me stories the like I'd never heard before:

stories great and small,
nonsensical and serious

stories of Elves and Light
of Trees and Stars
and the lands under-Sea.

At last,
his voice thinned,


dawn was coming up, all rose and gold.

And all the things which might have seemed,
in the cloak of night,

to be a dream
were not.

And I cried for knowing that they were real.

I remember
he cried, too.

Folk ask me

if I remember.


I do.

I made a lot of suppositions in the writing of this piece, but they were "leaps" that seemed logical to me. Frodo was orphaned in 2980, at the age of twelve, and adopted by Bilbo nine years later*. He was familiar, of course, with the Gamgee family. One might even assume that Bell would take especial notice of the young Master, so sadly orphaned at a young age. In any case, they surely knew each other.

No date is given for Bell's death, but it appears that she must have died before the War of the Ring.** Frodo and Samwise left the Shire upon their 'adventure' in 3018, but it seems unlikely that she died between Bilbo's departure (in 3001) and their own, since surely such an important event in Sam's life would have been mentioned by him. To my mind, then, Bell died sometime between 2989 and 3001, and my guess is closer to the former date.....

*Encyclopedia of Arda
**Thain's Book


~ by jan-u-wine

cushioned-orange leaves
line the sleeping

The road waits,
chocolate with mud,
beyond the gate.

Soft warmth
from the grate,
touches my cheek,

like gilt-edged
the figures at the high desk.

Gold-hair'd to grey
they lean to each other....

nibs hard edge
upon ivory

Shy eyes,
green as old
beseech steadiness
from a wavering,
child-plump hand.

faded blue,
Uncle's eyes
the large roundness
of the effort.

Brows still dark
against the advance of age
the studied spill
of letters.


Samwise Gamgee
has learnt
to write
his name
this day.

In the dying spell of fire-light,
we sit,

Bittersweet chocolate,
poured hot
and thick
as porridge from the silver pot,
is our reward for an afternoon
of scholarly endeavour.

My cup is blue,
like the Sea.

Sam's is red,
like the roses
he loves so well.

There is honey'd seed-cake,
warm yet from the oven's touch.

as dusk gathers
in the corners,
stealing light
from the round window,
I know that Sam
me to read my lesson
to him.

These words.

Oh, they are like
these words...

like stars and velvet night
and leaves
shivering with pale moon.

I feel that I have always known them,
as if, in some other time,
they were my words.

They fall from me,
like a rope of gleaming
threading its way to
gentl'd silence.

Not even Uncle
when I have done.

He smiles
in that funny way
he has
and kisses
my forehead,
shutting the door
behind him.

I did not bother,
I realize,
to translate the verse
for the lad.

No matter.

His head lies
upon my shoulder,
small hand
to the fire's watchful
mouth pleased
in sleep.

Careful as can be,
I settle him against
the rug,

find the blotted
that has fallen
from his hand.

He will wish
to keep this ...

he will wish
to remember
this day.

Below the uncertain
which marks his name,

I trace the date-rune
in letters that run
like the Anduin.

The date-rune,
the new word
has taught me
to write



Recent entries:

~ EE Party Tent Scene, plus jan-u-wine’s ‘Dremes and Dragons’.

~ Ride to the Havens in widescreen, plus jan-u-wine’s “A Visit to Hobbiton” and “The Portrait”.

~ EE Cart Ride with Gandalf, plus jan-u-wine’s 'Halimath 1389'.

~ EE ‘Wood Elves!’ scene, plus jan-u-wine’s ‘Bell’ and ‘Mellon’.

~ Thank-you’s from Mechtild and jan-u-wine, plus screencap pairs.

Other Tables of Links:

~ Entries with jan-u-wine's poems.

~ Frodo & Elijah Wood screencap entries

~ Mechtild
Tags: essay, fellowship of the ring, frodo screencaps, jan-u-wine

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