|The LOTR Movie Site
October 2, 2000
I've been very impressed by most of your articles. I think I've reached two conclusions in reading them.
About heroes: I think most of us would call Frodo a hero, and I wanted to bring up something about him. One of Tolkien's (letters?) indicated that Frodo's role was to get the Ring to Mt. Doom. No more than that. Frodo's actions have bothered me at times, but it helps to remember that real-life heroes screw up, endanger others, and generally put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. Nobody ever expected Frodo to succeed. Nobody ever said that he was best for the job. The point of sending him to Mordor was that Sauron would think him too insignificant, too small, too human, too fallible, to be a real threat. Even the Ring didn't seem to take him seriously, or he might have come under its control much earlier. But there wasn't necessarily anybody better for the job either. Anyone less foolish--or less driven by need--wouldn't have accepted the task in the first part, and anyone more foolish would have been enslaved or killed long before Mordor. Frodo already had the Ring by the time they discovered its qualities. Once he understood what it was doing, he couldn't leave it quietly as Bilbo did. He knew the Ring would warp him. He knew it could addict him. Instead of endangering others by seeking refuge or trying to throw or give the Ring away, he chose to take the risk of bearing it to Mordor. He saved others from having to be hurt by it. That, in itself, is the apex of selfless commitment. He didn't just talk about it. He went. His personal failings actually contributed to the success of the quest in some ways because he had consecrated himself to a higher good than his own welfare.
I don't minimize Sam's heroism. That's why I think it appropriate that he and Frodo were honored as a team. Sam couldn't have gotten there without Frodo. He was no traveller and didn't have the kind of experience with other peoples that Frodo had. He resisted the Ring, quite effectively, but I'm not sure he would have done better than Frodo through the experience. On the other hand, Frodo couldn't have gotten to Mt. Doom without Sam--a friend so devoted that the Ring couldn't drive them apart. Frodo could care about Middle Earth as a whole--and Sam might have failed in the quest because that wasn't necessarily a strength for him--but Sam had ipmortant insight on a personal level too. Sam's day-to-day efforts and encouragement were critical, since Frodo wasn't capable of them. Sam could care about someone else enough to get him to Mt. Doom where he might not have cared enough to get himself there.
As for the Cracks of Doom: Sometimes, when we've done all we can, something has to make up the difference. But that doesn't mean we haven't given it everything that was in us. And THAT is real heroism for me. Giving selflessly by an act of will, no matter when in a quest that gift is offered. As Elrond very wisely said, when the Fellowship started out, "Let him not swear to walk in daylight who has never seen the night." (I'm paraphrasing this.)
Other topic: Most of you said what, in my heart, I wanted to say about what PJ is doing with Arwen and couldn't. Thank you. The point isn't that Jackson is expanding the role. The question is the motivations behind it and the direction in which he intends to do it. If he wants Hollywood's approbation, he will get it. I'd simply be disappointed in him.