Rivendell 4 ~ The Red Book: “This is wonderful!”, plus Pt. 2 of jan-u-wine’s “Rivendell Suite”.
A significant difference, to me, between the book and film versions of the Rivendell sequence, is the way Bilbo is portrayed. He is far more frail in the films. In the book, Bilbo still feels fit enough to volunteer to take the Ring to Mt. Doom. (He does it, incidentally—as will be seen in the book texts for the Council of Elrond series—in order to spare Frodo, not to get his hands on the Ring.) Even after he has become doddery when the Fellowship returns, Bilbo is strong enough to make the journey from the Misty Mountains to the Grey Havens on horseback. Even more striking to me than his great physical stamina, is Bilbo’s inner stamina. In the book, even though their relationship involves a lot of mutual kidding, the Elves of Rivendell obviously regard Bilbo not only with love but respect. He is dear to them, but also seen as someone of worth and character. Bilbo's essential honesty and decency have always shone, attributes that few Men and not every Elf (judging from their spotty history in Middle-earth) can match. To the Elves he is not “Mad Baggins” sitting on his riches in Bag End, nor even beloved “Uncle Bilbo”, he is their peer: a person of wit and great heart, the doer of resourceful and brave deeds, especially at the Lonely Mountain and the Battle of the Five Armies. He is a scholar, poet and humourist, yes, but also an honoured veteran, and taken seriously as such. I am sure it was an eye-opener to the hobbits, even to Frodo, to see how Bilbo was regarded by the high folk of Imladris.
The film scene, while different, has its own beauty. Bilbo’s greater frailty accentuates Frodo’s corresponding sweet, protective side. Bilbo is the one that needs caring for now, and Frodo must gird himself to be the strong one.
Part two of jan-u-wine's Rivendell Suite, written specifically for this series of entries featuring Bilbo and Frodo, continues in this post. Again, Jan-u-wine weaves her word-magic. One may stand at the Ring-bearer's shoulder as he turns the pages of the Red Book, even tip-toe inside his thoughts as he remembers waking up in this strange place, sees the map of the Shire before him, and begins to hear the call of Home.
In the meanwhile Frodo and Bilbo sat side by side, and Sam came quickly and placed himself near them. They talked together in soft voices, oblivious to the mirth and music in the hall about them. Bilbo had not much to say of himself. When he had left Hobbiton he had wandered off aimlessly, along the Road or in the country on either side; but somehow he had steered all the time towards Rivendell.
‘I got here without much adventure,’ he said, ‘and after a rest I went on with the dwarves to Dale: my last journey. I shan’t travel again. Old Balin had gone away. Then I came back here, and here I have been. I have done this and that. I have written some more of my book. And, of course, I make up a few songs. They sing them occasionally: just to please me, I think; for, of course, they aren’t really good enough for Rivendell. And I listen and I think. Time doesn’t seem to pass here; it just is. A remarkable place altogether.’
At this point in the book comes the scene in which Bilbo asks to see the Ring, and is transformed in Frodo’s eyes. After the shadow passes, the two catch up on Shire news. Aragorn returns, and he and Bilbo go off together to work on Bilbo’s song. Sam has fallen asleep.
Frodo, feeling a little forlorn, gives himself over to the magic of the Hall of Fire. The music of the voices and instruments transport him, turning into running water, a river of gold and silver flowing over him, drowning him, sinking him into sleep or a dream of music. The music turns into running water again, which turns into a voice. Frodo, his eyes still closed, begins to listen to the song of Eärendil, Bilbo’s new composition.
When it is over, Lindir, an Elf, asks for an encore, but Bilbo says it would be too tiring to repeat it. The hobbit and elf trade laughing barbs. Can’t Lindir tell which parts were Aragorn’s and which Bilbo’s? Lindir says he can’t tell the work of Mortals apart.
‘I won’t argue with you,’ said Bilbo. ‘I am sleepy after much music and singing. I’ll leave you to guess [which parts of the song were written by Bilbo and which by Aragorn], if you want to.’
He got up and came towards Frodo. ‘Well, that’s over,’ he said in a low voice. ‘It went better than I expected. I don’t often get asked for a second hearing. What did you think of it?’
‘I am not going to try and guess,’ said Frodo smiling.
‘You needn’t,’ said Bilbo. ‘As a matter of fact it was all mine. Except that Aragorn insisted on my putting in a green stone. He seemed to think it important. I don’t know why. Otherwise he obviously thought the whole thing rather above my head, and he said that if I had the cheek to make verses about Eärendil in the house of Elrond, it was my affair. I suppose he was right.’
‘I don’t know,’ said Frodo. ‘It seemed to me to fit somehow, though I can’t explain. I was half asleep when you began, and it seemed to follow on from something that I was dreaming about. I didn’t understand that it was really you speaking until near the end.’
‘It is difficult to keep awake here, until you get used to it,’ said Bilbo. ‘Not that hobbits would ever acquire quite the elvish appetite for music and poetry and tales. They seem to like them as much as food, or more. They will be going on for a long time yet.’
~ from Many Meetings
Sitting on a bench in a covered porch or gallery, Frodo looks at Bilbo’s book. He reads the title page, then begins to flip through it. Bilbo, holding onto a column for support, is standing at the porch’s edge in the sun.
Frodo: “There and back again, A Hobbit's tale, by Bilbo Baggins.” This is wonderful!
Bilbo:(Turning to Frodo) I meant to go back. Wander the paths of Mirkwood, visit Lake-town, see the Lonely Mountain again. But age, it seems, has finally caught up with me.
Frodo watches as Bilbo carefully makes his way to the bench to join him. With Bilbo at his side, Frodo returns his attention to the book. Bilbo watches Frodo's response as he looks at the map of the Shire. Then they look at the map together, which the camera shows in close-up.
Frodo: I miss the Shire. I spent all my childhood pretending I was off somewhere else, off with you on one of your adventures....
Nothing of Home there was,
nothing, when first I woke.
Only autumn-honey'd light,
its odd-amber clarity
pushing shadows from me.
Between one instant and the next,
who I might be
Each moment, then,
might well have been but
the tumbled turnings of a dreme,
wonderful and yet far-away.
Somehow, they seemed not to touch me,
have aught to do with me, nor I with them.
With no small shock, I find Uncle's book
within my hands.
Uncle's book, smelling of midnight ink
and fine-wrought parchment.
the red of its binding battered by time and adventure,
the star upon its face ........fading.
Yet all of Home waits within,
Uncle's tale spinning out, twining his story to mine,
swords and dwarves, dragons and hoards,
My fingers touch the name of each beloved place,
falling at last upon the imagined green of the Hill,
the brass-bound door closing,
warm behind me,
the roots of the roof-tree burnished and familiar,
the fire orange-eyed and dying within the study's rounded hearth.
As if I had only now come back to myself, I feel my heart beating fast in my throat:
It is all still there: Home,
and not just within
the seeming-silent pages of this book.
I might never explain
to Uncle the yearning
that finds me, then, (a piercing as
sharp and sudden as ever that *other* blade was),
I cannot explain why
pain and joy fill me at the sight
of the less-than precise scrawl of the map,
mushroom-cap forests lying hard by
sleeping-giant's-knees of mountains,
wave-capped pool meeting baste-stitchery of the road.
*Wonderful*, I think,
tears risen tight within my throat, my mind awash with the simple
beauty of Home.
And the words leave my tongue before ever I knew,
even, that they were there:
And so it is.
Screencap lovers should know that the talented Blossom has capped these first Bilbo-Frodo scenes to create an animated gif and slideshow (with music and bits of dialogue), plus a gallery of selected caps. If you don’t know Blossom’s work, you are in for a treat. Her caps are all from the widescreen version, and are beautifully, expressively tweaked. Each one is a work of art. To show the difference, here is her version of one of the caps above. It’s gorgeous.
If you would like to see her slideshows and caps for this scene, go to her Frodo website, In Dreams. Go to the slideshow called “My Dear Boy”. The animated gif and the gallery of caps are accessed with links provided. You won’t be disappointed!
~ Riv. 3 – Reunion with Bilbo, plus Pt. 1 of jan-u-wine’s ‘Rivendell Suite'.
~ Riv. 5 – The Red Book: ‘I’m not like you, Bilbo’, plus Pt. 3 of jan-u-wine’s ‘Rivendell Suite’.