Lord of the Rings : The Towering Read - Book 4, Chapter 8

In the shadow of Cirith Ungol there is no question that we are completely within enemy territory.  The Ring reminds us of it's true allegiance and we witness a large host ride forth, led by the Witch-King of Angmar.  Frodo retains enough self-awareness and will to refrain from putting on the ring, but I find following passage quite telling.
"He knew that the Ring would only betray him, and that he not, even if he put it on, the power to face the Morgul-king - not yet."

NOT YET.  About that...

For not the last time, the vial of elven starlight proves to hold some virtue that drives away Sauron's shadow.  It's one of those things that we're given without full context here, but fits logic expanded on in other texts by Tolkien.  For now, we have to be satisfied that there is something about elvish nature itself that is anthema against Sauron's darkness.

To me the exchange between Sam and Frodo as they discuss how their adventure will be remembered as fanciful fireside tales is touching and sweet.
"No, they never end as tales," said Frodo.  "But the people in them come, and go when their part's ended.  Our part will end later - or sooner."
There is hope in it, hope that they will succeed to be remembered, as failure means few if any people to remember their quest.  Not only that, but I feel this nod acknowledges the importance of stories in our lives, be it our own story another's.  Stories come up regularly in Lord of the Rings, through history, song, or entertainment.

"Why, even Gollum might be good in a tale, better than he is to have by you, anyway.  And he used to like tales himself once, by his own account.  I wonder if he thinks he's the hero or the villain?"

Frodo is right - Gollum desperately wants to keep the ring out of Saron's grasp.  One thing I think the film touches on is that Gollum may be both the hero and villain of his story.  He still holds on to some of his humanity, something we see in moments such as when he watches the hobbits sleeping.

I feel like this chapter argues against the fight inserted earlier on in the films, before Frodo and Sam went free, regardless of it's role in transitioning between the second and third film.  We witness a great outpouring of host against the Men of Gondor, makes the hunting party combat a bit superfluous.

I'm also going to step a bit outside of the book narrative to give special mention to the addition that opens the film - the finding of the Ring and birth of Gollum.  Plus a moment to let Andy Serkis shine as an actor with his own face.  I like that they chose to showcase the tragedy of the Ring's influence, Smeagol's shocked mourning then triumph with the Ring in his hand.  Especially in this third film, Jackson frames Gollum by his tragedy, not just his villainy.

Back to the text comparison, Cirith Ungol looms as a dark and otherworldly fortress.  My impressions from the text are of a dark looming city, what the film gives us doesn't match with what I pull from the text, but works well none-the-less.  The Highlander-esque column of light does link the disparate parties together in experience, but out of the methods to heighten tension and represent Frodo's inner battle, it feels less successful than other aspects.  Frodo's suceptability to suggestion that Sam wants the Ring for himself works well for me as a supplement to the inner-battle that Frodo is slowly losing, and something that we don't really get to see as they hide from the dark host marching to war.


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