September 12, 2001

More Productive Discussion
Steve L.

This is a response to "Calm Down," by Richard H. Right on!

So, your favorite scene is the standoff at the gates of Minas Tirith? Yes, it's a great moment in the story, and also exciting because the Rohirrim arrive just then sounding their horns. Why, exactly, is that your favorite scene?

There are too many great moments, though, for me to name one scene alone as my favorite. I love the scene in the Council of Elrond when Frodo offers to take the ring to Mordor and Boromir nearly laughs at the idea; then Elrond judges that Frodo is "fated" to have that task if he undertakes it freely, though none should lay it on him. It makes me think of the greater powers at work in the world, and the complex intertwining of free will and destiny. It's the same with Bilbo's decision not to kill Gollum, about which Gandalf says something like, "The pity of Bilbo will rule the fates of many."  

Another favorite scene is, of course, the slaying of the Witch King, the captain of the Ringwraiths. It's another moment when you can feel the hand of destiny in the actions of ordinary people following their hearts. A thousand years earlier it was foretold that the Witch King would not fall by the hand of man. Who could have guessed it would be a woman and a hobbit who destroy him? What's more, they are two people who were not even supposed to be in the battle at all, but could not bear to be left behind when those they loved went to war. No warlike heroics were expected of them at all, yet they together overcame one of the most powerful evil creatures of their age motivated mainly by love! I know that sounds sappy, but I think it's true and that's why the scene always gets to me. It reminds me of the story of Beren and Luthien, in which they through love were able to achieve what the mightiest armies of High Elves and Men could not: the recovery of a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth. I think it is

A few other favorite scenes are the ones when Gandalf reveals something of his true power and origins after returning from Moria: his meeting with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in Fangorn; when he enlivens Theoden and exposes Wormtongue as Saruman's servant; and when he faces Saruman at Isengard. Gandalf explains that after dying in battle he was "sent back" to complete his task, revealing that he is in fact a servant of the Valar and they are watching, helping as they may. Then with Theoden he reveals his power to inspire and give hope to the enemies of the Dark Lord--the very purpose for which he was sent to Middle Earth. If he had not arrived then to stir up Theoden, it's doubtful the Rohirrim would ever have arrived to aid Minas Tirith. I think the moment when Gandalf breaks Saruman's staff and casts him from the Order of the Istari symbolizes his coming into his own. As he says, he has become what Saruman should have been.

Oh! Speaking of cool scenes with Gandalf, I also love the part when he meets Denethor together with Pippin, and then Faramir arrives. A lot of threads of the story and the history of Middle Earth come together then as Denethor questions Pippin and Faramir. Then there's also Gandalf's rescue of Faramir from the Houses of the Dead and attempt to save Denethor from self-destruction. That is a tragic scene in which a potentially great but narrow-minded leader destroys himself needlessly, blinded by pride and despair. And again love plays a key role, as Beregond's violation of duty and disobedience of the king for the love of Faramir is primarily what saves him.

Anyway, that's my first contribution to the topic of favorite scenes. Would anyone else like to add their thoughts? There is SO MUCH that can be said on this topic, and I'm sure people like the various scenes for different reasons, or are affected by them in somewhat different ways.