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Frodo's fate (2)
Just over a year ago I posted my first entry about "Frodo's fate" (LINK). I had intended to do a series of posts with screenshots from The Return Of The King, between Mount Doom and the Grey Havens. Ever since reading the books for the first time I have felt sad about Frodo’s decision to leave Middle Earth. It seemed so unfair after all he had gone through. The films helped me to understand why he had to go and I wanted to share that.

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I didn't continue after that first post for several reasons. First of all, real life intervened. But I also found it difficult to decide what to include. My mental image of Frodo is primarily formed by Tolkien's books. The films added to my understanding but several scenes in this crucial period are so different from book-canon that I found it hard to choose. But now, I've decided that I don't want to leave all those lovely screenshots buried in my computer. Some of them, at least, are going to be posted in this Journal. So, here they come.....

Today's choice of scene is: "Aragorn's Coronation". The book equivalent is "The Field of Cormallen", which is told from Sam's perspective, so we are left wondering what Frodo might have felt.

“I don’t deserve this”

In the DVD-extras of the extended edition of Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson says of this scene: “You can hear people sniffling in the theater and it’s usually me”. It is a moving moment when Aragorn, the elf Lords and all the Gondorians bow low before the hobbits. The reaction of the four hobbits to this homage is very revealing. In the first frame, Merry and Pippin look rather pleased with themselves while Sam and Frodo look confused. In the following frames, Merry and Sam start to look overawed but Frodo’s reaction is very different. Frodo looks distressed.

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In the next frames the camera zooms in on Frodo and we see in his face that he rejects this homage. The edges of the mouth are pulled down and the chin is puckered. It’s a clear “No”.

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And in the last few frames he can stand it no longer. The mouth suddenly opens as if he wants to shout: “No, I don’t deserve this”.

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What this scene shows to me is that Frodo feels unworthy to receive this honor. After all, the Ring was destroyed by "Fate", not by him. He must have felt guilty for failing to throw the Ring into the fire. Corroding guilt must have been one of the reasons why he chose to seek healing beyond Middle Earth.

It's really easy for me to think about Frodo as a real person and to imagine his feelings. But my brain tells me that what I see is created by RL people: the actor, the director, the cinematographer. I would love to know what happened between Elijah Wood and Peter Jackson when they created this scene......


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Glad to hear you read this scene in the same way as I did, Mews. Much as I admire the whole sequence of Aragorn's coronation, it's the shots that focus on Frodo that move me most.

I'm glad you will be doing more of these posts. Elijah does such a wonderful job of showing Frodo's distress in this scene. It always hurts that Frodo may have felt that he failed and didn't deserve honor. His strength to get the ring there, with Sam's help, and his mercy to Gollum which allowed him to be there at the crucial moment were all a part of the 'Fate' that led to the destruction of the Ring.

I agree completely. Frodo's endurance and mercy to Gollum were essential components for allowing that "Fate" to happen.

Now that I’ve picked up on posting my screenshots from LOTR, I hope I'll keep going. My computer is "full of them". :-)

What this scene shows to me is that Frodo feels unworthy to receive this honor.

You know, I never thought of that. You give me new insight into this scene.

Dear Frodo. This is why I love to write stories where he's respected, loved, and healing in the West.

"new insight into this scene"
I had the book as my background and couldn't really grasp what Frodo felt because Tolkien chose to make Sam the narrator in the last chapters. Seeing the film gave me these ideas and that made Frodo's departure more acceptable.

I completely understand why you want to write stories about Frodo where he is respected and loved. I would love to do the same thing if I had your way with words.

I'm with Peter - the tears start flowing in this scene, and from then to the end of the credits, it's full on waterworks. Frodo (more specifically 'frolijah') ripped my heart out picture by picture, bless him.

I got teary-eyed just by working on these screenshots.
Bless him, indeed!

Thanks for pointing this out. I fear I didn't notice.

I've always had "a thing" for Frodo, so I tend to focus on him. ;-)

I enjoy reading your impressions of this scene. I think that Frodo may have had some inkling that what began (in his mind) as a small task may have significant impact on the rest of his life and not necessarily in a happy way. While Merry & Pip may accept it as their due, Frodo is able to look farther ahead than his companions.

Anyway that's what I think, I'd also love to know what direction PJ gave the boys for the scene especially since Elijah didn't read the books.

Glad you liked the post, Romeny. I loved making and selecting the screenshots. To me, it's a very moving scene.
I agree that Frodo looked farther ahead than his companions. He must have felt at this stage that he was damaged beyond any healing he could find in Middle Earth.

the coronation scene was heart-welling for me. i couldn't hold back the tears so i just let them flow. to see, what, practically all of middle earth showing their deep appreciation for these hobbits was so powerful but i never thought of it from frodo's perspective in the way you described here. i'll look at this scene in a different way now. :)

The homage that all of Middle Earth paid the hobbits also brought tears to my eyes. But I thought the film makers included this close up of Frodo for a purpose. It hints that we shouldn't expect "happily ever after" for Frodo.
The scene is brief. I would have wanted to see another 5 seconds of Frodo's distressed face here. Like in many other scenes ("The Turn" in FOTR comes to mind) the editors cut far too rigorously for my taste. Elijah's acting is subtle and the viewer needs time to get the full impact of it. Too much of Frodo ended up on the cutting room floor to make room for all those interminable battles.
Sorry for this rant. :-)

Glad to see this series continued! I think maybe also he is incredibly moved by what the people are doing and is near to tears. Certainly there is the "What in the Four Farthings are you doing?! I screwed up!!" That is what I always thought too but later I thought he was so moved. I like Pippin's reaction too - so him - "wow this is cool!" And Sam's confused "What are these people doing?" - so him there too, being uncomfortable with the adulation. Hope to see more soon. Frodo lives!! He is real, don't you know.

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)

"later I thought he was so moved"
You may well be right. I was searching the scenes for any hints as to why Frodo decided to leave Middle Earth. So, I'm sure that coloured my interpretation.
I liked your remarks about Pippin and Sam's reaction. It's all so well thought out.
Of course, Frodo lives!! I wouldn't think about him so often if he wasn't. :-)

I totally agree. It's so heartbreaking ...

Heartbreaking, indeed. One of the reasons I loved the films is that they helped me to understand Frodo's feelings after The Ring was destroyed. I've never really forgiven Tolkien for shifting the focus of his story to Sam at this stage. To me, Tolkien just discarded Frodo and that seemed a very unfair thing to do to a courageous hobbit who had just lost his soul by doing what he had to do.

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