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Old 06-18-2012, 08:24 AM   #1
Boromir88
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Movie Characters Revisited: Frodo

Frodo seems to catch some of the most flack for being a badly written and portrayed character in the films. I have to say, though, I think Jackson et alia wrote the part well, but this is one of the times when the choice of actor (Elijah Wood) was not good.

I mean there is the part on Weathertop when Frodo falls down right away, and doesn't show any of that "elvish" courage to make a strike back, but all-in-all, I thought the part was well-written. In The Shire after finding out about the Ring, he quite confidentally takes it, asking "What must I do?" In Rivendell, of course, he stands up amongst the squabling elves, dwarves, men and a wizard to say "I will take it." (The expressions from everyone at the council too, captured the purpose of having the small one amongst warriors and wise-men saying "I will take it.")

There is also the event of Frodo sending Sam away, but I have some thoughts on that, after hearing from others. And can't forget the end of TTT where Frodo waltzes the Ring right up to the Nazgul, in Osgiliath, but that creates more of a major plot hole than actually being a problem with Frodo's movie portrayal. But, I'm also looking at it from the standpoint of trying to show the Ring gradually breaking down Frodo, and changing him. I think that was scripted well, but did not come through the best because Elijah Wood gave a pretty weak performance. I mean the lines were there, for Frodo to show that famous courage in the books, but the actor came up weak and unconvincing.

Some other things of note, the Frodo-Gollum relationship from TTT thru ROTK was great, a lot of which had to do with Andy Serkis. Were you getting the feeling Frodo was not only pitying Gollum, but Gollum physically represented what was quite literally happening to Frodo, or what Frodo felt was happening to him, because of the Ring? Maybe it's just being familiar with the book plot, and it's not something that overtly came through in the films, but I was feeling the dread and terror of Frodo recognizing:

1. What the Ring made Gollum and...
2. What the Ring was actually doing to Frodo, and understanding Gollum on a level that Sam, nor any other non-ring bearer could.

So, I think I rambled enough, let's start there and I've got some more fodder to throw in and we see where this goes.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:30 AM   #2
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I want to start off by saying that one of my most favourite scenes in the whole trilogy is when Frodo claims the Ring on Mount Doom. That one was very well done in terms of the acting, however shaky it was in other scenes. I suppose it's more credit to the costumes and lighting, though, but I still like it. If you just take this scene compared to the beginning, and ignore some things in between, you'd admire the change from this to this.

I do agree about the overall acting being weak. Frodo is supposed to show pain through courage and strength. In the movie all he shows is pain. Really whenever I imagine Frodo anywhere in between Shire and Mt. Doom, the expression on his face is invariably a variation of this.

Don't get me started on sending Sam away! I know they want to show that the Ring (and Stinker) are working on Frodo, but this is pushing the line just too far.

And Osgiliath too -- but I suppose I detest Faramir's portrayal/role in that part more than Frodo's, so I'll rant about that when we talk about Faramir.

I'm not so sure about the Frodo-Gollum relationship, but my memory is not very clear on that. When/if I watch the movie again I might be able to comment. The one thing I do remember is that there was a moment when Gollum comes soooooo close to repentance in the books - and it's just not there in the movies.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:15 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
I'm not so sure about the Frodo-Gollum relationship, but my memory is not very clear on that. When/if I watch the movie again I might be able to comment. The one thing I do remember is that there was a moment when Gollum comes soooooo close to repentance in the books - and it's just not there in the movies.
We can get more into this with Gollum's thread, which after thinking I did some rearranging and bumped Gollum up to the next one. I think it would make the most sense, considering the connected Frodo-Gollum-Sam plot. That way there is some bit of logical flow, instead of hopping from Frodo, to Aragorn, to Legolas and Gimli, back to Gollum...etc. I sort of just haphazardly made a list, and didn't think about the order, so I hope no one minds the re-arranging.

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Originally Posted by G55
Don't get me started on sending Sam away! I know they want to show that the Ring (and Stinker) are working on Frodo, but this is pushing the line just too far.
Ah, but see, what I want to ask you is which character is destroyed more by that invented scene? Yes, Jackson invented this "Go Home" part and maybe just for some cliche hollywood movie tension, instead of actually trying to give us some quality insight into the character. Maybe, I do give Jackson too much credit in this regard, when really he just wants battles, dwarf-tossing jokes, and drummed up movie-melodrama.

Anyways, I think it is very fitting for Frodo's character, think on it some. He is the one that tried to ditch everyone at the end of FOTR (both books and movies). And referencing completely the books, to the barrow-wight scene, Frodo blames himself for the danger his friends are in. Frodo always feels personally responsible for the safety of his friends. It is probably his biggest motivation for accepting the burden of the Ring, because he is the person who will carry burdens if it means helping and lessening the load on those he cares about, or getting them out of danger. So Frodo telling Sam to "Go home" looks fairly consistent with his character (even though it is an invented scene). The real destruction is done to Sam, who would NEVER have listened to Frodo in the first place.

Or maybe, I need to remember Frodo's movie-motivation for telling Sam to go home, because if it is in some presumed way to keep Sam away from danger then I've got no problems. But then again, telling someone, especially Sam, to just go home on the edges of Mordor, alone...well that doesn't make sense from the POV of Frodo trying to protect Sam.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:18 AM   #4
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Talking about Elijah Wood's acting reminds me of this old joke.

And it does come quite close... even if the basic expression is a bit different from mr. Reeves'.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
Or maybe, I need to remember Frodo's movie-motivation for telling Sam to go home, because if it is in some presumed way to keep Sam away from danger then I've got no problems. But then again, telling someone, especially Sam, to just go home on the edges of Mordor, alone...well that doesn't make sense from the POV of Frodo trying to protect Sam.
Frodo's motivation was anything but concern for Sam's safety. What you said is true, for the most part, but not here. From what I remember Gollum threw some lembas crumbs onto Sam when the hobbits were sleeping, and then threw the rest of the lembas from some cliff. When Frodo and Sam woke up, they could not find the lembas, and Gollum said "whatss...whatss zzzisss?" (while shaking some crumbs off Sam's sleeve) - and thus Samwise Gamgee was framed.

Frodo got mad at Sam, since he beleived Gollum, and told Sam to just "go home" (which is a pretty stupid thing to say at that point if he really means it; Elijah Wood makes it sound like a "get lost, get out of my sight, not your business" sort of thing).


Just why?


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Talking about Elijah Wood's acting reminds me of this old joke.

And it does come quite close... even if the basic expression is a bit different from mr. Reeves'.
It's so true it's not even funny...
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:06 PM   #6
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Aw, Nog, you're not being fair. It's well known Keanu can only act "faintly smug vacancy", whereas Elijah can portray "petulance" "nausea" *and* "frozen horror". What a thespian!

Boro, as G55 says, in the "Go away" scene he's simply throwing a tantrum. However, you do make an interesting suggestion– yes, it's probably not fair to blame everything on the script and director– it may be that they had to work around the star's limitations.
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:48 AM   #7
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It's so true it's not even funny...
Oh, but it's so true, it's even funny!

Well, what might be funny is I re-watched the scenes in the Shire up through "The Shadow in the past" part...and I think it's the eyes. Wood doesn't sell anything through the eyes, more everything is expressionless, because most everything is a vacant stare, whether he's smiling or whatever. For example, even in this one, that you pointed out in your first post...

This is when Frodo is at Bilbo's party, and Bilbo is giving his speech, before the weird disappearing part. He's trying to smile and portray gladness, but the eyes are conveying blank day-dream staring and instead of portraying happy emotion, which just makes Frodo look creepy. (But I suppose creepy is more of an expression out of Elijah Wood then most other times? ).

I was paying particular attention to Bilbo's and Gandalf's scenes, since those had been done so well, and Ian Holm (which is not surprising at all) makes you believe in every emotion because he sells it with the eyes. I wish there was some way I could post a screen shot of pictures, but whenever anyone gets the chance, watch when Bilbo disappears from his party and is confronted by Gandalf in Bag End. This was discussed somewhat by Nog and Inzil in the Gandalf discussion, but both actors really sold their part. As opposed to Frodo's actor who doesn't seem cognizant, or at all aware of the present situation.

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Boro, as G55 says, in the "Go away" scene he's simply throwing a tantrum. However, you do make an interesting suggestion– yes, it's probably not fair to blame everything on the script and director– it may be that they had to work around the star's limitations.
Ah, right, and it's funny because I had just rewatched the films last week, but still forgot about the entire lembas scandal. "He doesn't eat them! He can't have taken them!" *headdesk wonderful logic Jackson, and I don't want to get started on the whole destruction for the purpose of lembas, being high and magical elf-food that sustains you for long periods to "mmm yummy elf cakes! I want to stuff a faceful of them!"* (this bit about the lembas comes courtesy of Form, but sadly he is absolutely correct). I think I wanted to believe a rational explanation to a complete Jackson-drama invention, that I forgot Frodo's movie motivations is actually a tantrum and over "yummy elf cakes."

And really I'm not sure if it is a script or actor's limitations, because Frodo could be one of those characters that just fails on every level. I had just been thinking, the lines are there to show Frodo's courage in accepting and taking on the burden of the Ring, as well as showing Frodo's resistance to the Ring gradually breaking down his will...but with the actor being completely unconvincing the "script" argument may be too easy. Then again, with distortions such as the ones we've discussed here, it looks like Frodo just failed completely as a strong lead character.

Which makes me wonder, if anyone thinks, the focus on Aragorn going through his own journey of "returning King" sort of pushes aside the importance of Frodo's journey, the actual "get the Ring to Mount Doom and find a way to destroy it." Although, this is more talking about plot decisions than characters...or maybe Wood being a poor choice for Frodo, that's what makes it seem as if Aragorn is the better developed, and his story is the "main" story?
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:57 AM   #8
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I think Elijah, more so than the other Hobbit actors, actually looked like Frodo, or at least my perception of Frodo; whereas, Sean Astin neither looked nor acted like Samwise at all (the most egregious casting error in my book).

Now, just because E. Wood looked like Frodo, does not mean he acted the part. Like Elrond in the movie, Frodo was far too whiney and effeminate. How Frodo managed to get from the Shire all the way to Mordor in one long unrestrained whine seems remarkable. I would have killed him myself right around Bree. But we do get brief snatches of Frodo every once in a while, particularly when Wood is not consciously acting the part. When Wood does not emote, he is fine, but the minute P. Jackson asked for fear or anguish or anger or sadness, Wood offers the same expression of a six year-old girl who fell off her bike and skinned her knee.
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:44 PM   #9
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I'm going to get this out before going any further: If a tree falls in a remote part of the universe, I'm blaming Peter Jackson until other evidence comes forth.

But on to Frodo:

Elijah Wood's eyes can get creepy, depending on the lighting and angle in which they are viewed. But other than that, I see no issue with Wood being the actor playing Frodo. It's one of those things where you never like the person chosen, but really can't tell how well others would have fared in the same film.

In the SbS, I'd named the character "Frodo Baggage" as he was not the everyman going above and beyond like in the books. My take on Book Frodo is that he's on a journey where he leaves bits and pieces of his hobbit self along the way, becoming more and more a leader/elf/wizard. Frodo chooses a hard road, and would have done it alone, and even sacrifice himself if need be - you can't but help of thinking of him as the hero, though not in the mold of an Aragorn.

In the movies, however, Baggage just whines a lot as he's carried by external forces from one situation to another.

- "Get off the Road!" It's stated with an unsaid, "...or I may burst into tears."

- Where's the resistance to the last at Weathertop?

- Being green sick was just wonderful, and when Arwen carried Baggage to the Ford...well, where's the Frodo that tells the Nine to go to Mordor?

- On cruel Caradhras it's Aragorn who gets Boromir to give the Ring back to Frodo...before the Hobbbit cried.

- The Watcher gets the whining going again, and in Moria it's Aragorn again that gets Frodo across the gap in that pre-Bridge scene.

- We get some relief from Baggage until Faramir shows up, and then Frodo starts begging the Steward's son to let him and the Ring go.

- Why exactly was Frodo holding the Ring out to the Winged Nazgul?

- To skip ahead, Frodo's wilting in the rays of the Eye floodlight is so silly sad that it makes me think that one day I too can become an actor.

To me, Peter Jackson took this character and completely changed it for the worse. Book Frodo was strong, under enormous pressure, and determined and persistent. Movie Frodo started weak and never improved but for brief moments.
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Old 06-22-2012, 07:49 AM   #10
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I thought the single worst WRITING mistake was in the Flight to the Ford.
1) Frodo was carried like a piece of baggage (rather like Merry or Pippin
thought when they were captured by the orcs) [although giving Glorfindel's
bit to Arwen made sense].
2) And worst, Frodo does nada at the Ford, with Arwen instead using a "nothing"
line "If you want him, claim him' instead of Frodo drawing his sword and
saying: "By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the
Ring nor me!" That would have been a chance to show Frodo exerting a
sense of growing courage and resistance.
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Old 06-22-2012, 09:11 AM   #11
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...And worst, Frodo does nada at the Ford, with Arwen instead using a "nothing"
line "If you want him, claim him' instead of Frodo drawing his sword and
saying: "By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the
Ring nor me!" That would have been a chance to show Frodo exerting a
sense of growing courage and resistance.
That scene is such an egregious effront to canonicity that a 12 year-old fan-fic writer describing violet-eyed elfesses on pink-maned ponies could've done better. Arwen can call up the flood without a ring just by mumbling some pseudo-elvish gibberish in a Lauren Bacall-like whisper? I am surprised she didn't lead a one-elleth assault on the Morannon with such innate power. Xenarwen cometh!
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Old 06-22-2012, 09:31 AM   #12
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I know that this is a discussion about Frodo, but the *absolute* worst line in the movie is spoken at the Ford:

Nazgul, "Give up the Halfling, she-elf!"

She-elf?!? Seriously?

Why not, "Give up the He-Halfling, she-elf!"

And those of you interested, the script states that Arwen says, "Non o Chithaeglir, lasto Beth daer: Rimmo nin Briunen Dan in Ulaer!"

Anyway, like when Gandalf hits the floor when pwned by the Witch-King in RotK, Frodo hits the riverbank looking completely helpless. We couldn't have seen him somehow fighting the wound?
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Old 06-22-2012, 12:19 PM   #13
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Why not, "Give up the He-Halfling, she-elf!"
Because sometimes Frodo resembles a girl more than Arwen does.


It's an interesting thought, though, the "feminine" side of Frodo. It's present in the books too, but not to such extent. Perhaps it's just my mind convoluting his elvish personality, but I see him as a more feminine figure than, f. ex., Sam in the books. This is not to say that he is portrayed as a girl, but that it underlines the subtlety and grace and elvishness of his nature.

In the movies, Frodo whines and moans and faints and cries, and looses most of the characteristics that in the books give him the masculinity. At the same time, he even sometimes looks like a girl, forget about behaving like one.
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Old 06-22-2012, 07:34 PM   #14
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Because sometimes Frodo resembles a girl more than Arwen does.
Let's differentiate between looks and mannerisms (and stereotypes). As someone stated earlier, I don't think that we'd consider Xena 'manly' just because she fights instead of waiting around to be rescued.

The issue with Frodo's mannerisms is that he doesn't seem to be or to want to be in charge of the situation. This behavior isn't to me masculine or feminine, but annoying.

Sure, he takes action when at the Council he accepts the burden of the Ring. But before and after that, he doesn't seem to be ratcheting up his will or resolve.

Guess what I'm looking for is a Frodo that's gonna go down swinging, whether he's falling from a horse at the Ford or fighting Gollum in Mordor.

Wasn't there a line from Sam about Gollum mistaking Frodo for being soft just because he's not pistol-whipping Gollum like Faramir?

Another thought: remember the scene in the Tower of Cirith Ungol? When Sam finally finds Frodo, and Frodo makes Sam aware that the quest had failed as he no longer had the Ring. I don't get the feeling that Frodo was considering a plan to get the Ring back, or to take out a few Morgul rats before being captured...no, he seems defeated and about to whine.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:20 AM   #15
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Can only concur with what's been said already. Not enough strength in movie-Frodo. Combined with some weird and displeasing plot changes, it doesn't paint a very flattering picture.

Also, he falls down too often. Way too often.
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:27 AM   #16
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Should we take into account the fact that the book Frodo is a 50-year old hobbit (=40-year old man) who only looks 10 years younger than he is (thanks to the Ring) but still older then the rest of the hobbits. He is more experienced and superior to them in any respect. In the movie all hobbits look and act like teenagers; Sam seems to be even a bit more mature than Frodo.
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Old 06-28-2012, 05:30 AM   #17
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Sarumian, much agreed. The movie and book ages of the Hobbits are not even close. That said, even though Frodo is probably younger in the movies (don't even get me started on timelines...), this fact doesn't give PJ cover for not having Frodo 'grow' during the movie.

Like at what scene/point do you feel like Frodo's in control, or taking an active part in his part of this long story? I'm sure that there must be a few examples (and I don't think that the Council is one of them)?
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:55 PM   #18
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So many good points here.

Frodo, while I can't hate him because he's Frodo and a Hobbit, is one of the more unappealing aspects of the films. He's not old enough, and the other three Hobbits seem to be older than he is. He's too 'girly' and 'dreamy'. I can perhaps see that they may have been aiming for the effect that Frodo is enraptured by 'faerie' and is a nice, quiet Hobbit, but he's also got nerve and isn't a pushover which is how he comes across in the films. Baggage indeed.

His eyes are strange, and it's something I've not been able to quite put my finger on about Elijah Wood that I do not like - he stares too much (I have the same feeling about Tobey Maguire and Tara Reid - they both un-nerve me).

He's also too posh and his accent is jarring when heard alongside the other Hobbits. Merry and Pippin are part of the very top layer of Shire society but they have completely different accents, Merry's being similar to Sam's, who is part of the labouring class.

There's something endearing about Elijah Wood's role, but looking at it critically, he is in the wrong role.
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Old 06-29-2012, 06:53 AM   #19
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Not enough strength in movie-Frodo. Combined with some weird and displeasing plot changes, it doesn't paint a very flattering picture.

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One of my friends read the books becuase she couldn't wait a year to find out what happened next and was absolutely astonished to find out that in the books Frodo was brave and noble. As she said in the film he was only ever running away.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:12 AM   #20
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White Tree Have courage you stupid hobbit!

I think that Ejihad Wood did a good job as an actor but i think it was the scripts fault that he didn't seem as courageous and brave as he was in the books. I think Tolkein would be ashamed.
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:53 AM   #21
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One of my friends read the books becuase she couldn't wait a year to find out what happened next and was absolutely astonished to find out that in the books Frodo was brave and noble. As she said in the film he was only ever running away.
And when he wasn't doing that, he was standing around looking bug-eyed and helpless.
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:15 PM   #22
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The thing I take away from the movies is that Frodo is always pictured wide-eyed, whining, and moving in slow-motion. Check out how many shots of him are in slo-mo.
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Old 07-29-2012, 06:20 PM   #23
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In short: I was nine years old when I watched Fellowship in theaters and I was twelve when I read the books. The movies take precedent with me not only because I saw them first, but because nine was such an impressionable age (as well as symbolic--the Nine Walkers/Wraiths).
So this is terribly plebeian, but I loved the movies and thought the casting was perfect (more or less). My main critique with Elijah Wood's portrayal of Frodo is, as everyone else has said, his effeminacy. Perhaps this is due less about Wood and his eyes and more about what they gave him in way of script? Frodo's weakness while roaming the wilderness in way to Mordor brings out Sam's steadfast hope and courage (as well as loyal dedication to his master). Frodo's lack of hobbit-hardiness after being stabbed by the Morgul-blade demonstrates the frightening strength of the Wraiths/Mordor (which never really came across to me in the books-- Frodo fought the poison for over two weeks). I think the only flaw in that way of scripting was the lack of balance. Frodo surpassed "human" and relatable to become weak. Thoughts?

Somebody already brought this up, but Frodo's age in the movies may have a little to do with his effeminate nature. In the books he begins his adventure soon after his 51st birthday. On screen he appears to be in his mid-20's, at most. Wood himself began filming when he was only eighteen. Although Frodo was in possession of the Ring and described as more than "well preserved," I'm sure PJ and the casting crew gave away the part intentionally. A 40+ year old actor with garish makeup isn't going to measure up to the spritely, wide-eyed Elijah Wood. I believe it also balanced out the ages of Merry and Pippin, who were two of Frodo's youngest cousins.

Two of my favorite parts in the movie:
1) When Gollum attacks Sam in Emyn Muil and Frodo reacquaints Gollum with Sting. That was beautifully done and almost word-for-word with the book. Frodo can be ferocious when he wants to.
2) Frodo vs. the Nazgul on the parapet of Osgiliath in TT. Brilliant cinematography, visually stunning. Canon with the book? No. I love it regardless. When the music cuts out and all you can hear is the sound of the Nazgul's wings and the whistle of the ring it almost steals your breath.

I'm rambling now, but my only real complaint with Frodo was how he left the Fellowship. In the book it is blatantly clear that he does it to protect his friends from turning on one another because of the Ring. A very noble sacrifice. Although we get that scene when Boromir tries to take the Ring by force, the exposition isn't long enough to where the audience understands Frodo's true intentions for leaving (even with the internal monologue from Gandalf).
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Old 09-05-2012, 11:59 AM   #24
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Too passive, and too young.

Frodo was, in the books, definitely older, wiser, and as CT puts it, "more long-headed" than the other hobbits. It's no accident at all that Tolkien made him the same age as Bilbo was at the time of his adventure, 50: a middle-aged bachelor getting set in his ways.

Movie-Frodo comes across as a teenage emo.
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Old 09-05-2012, 03:26 PM   #25
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I shall now mentally bracket Frodo with a character in my second most beloved book series... Nicholas Forsyte who was a long-headed fellow..
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:42 AM   #26
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I'm very biased because I have the hots for Elijah.

If the scripting was better, more book-accurate, he'd have performed better, IMO. Elijah had the perfect Hobbit 'look'. Because of the scripting though they made Sam look older and more mature, grr.

When it came to 'crowd control' of the Hobbit group up until they meet Strider, Frodo is meant to be in charge. Instead it's like they're a bunch of uncontrolled troublemakers. Yes, with say Pippin, they ARE. But all are quite mature and show a lot of it before they reach Bree in the book.

Obviously it can be a positive storyline factor in a way in a movie to help stick a memory about Hobbits as sort of free, fun-lovers. But to the point of recklessness? That's not so. Hobbits don't like adventures or public misbehaviour, etc. So while on one had it's okay to show them as playful, like when Frodo & Sam are intercepted at Maggot's crop field on the other they seemed a little to childish.

And Sam gives the order "Get off him!" He grabs Shire aristocrats to pull them off Frodo, I mean talk about uncharacteristic class-insubordination Sam would never do!

2 days ago I listened to a very fascinating interview with Elijah by a radio station. I like him a lot, very smart, mature, etc. He wasn't able to show much of it in the film so....I blame the scripting more than anything else.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:59 PM   #27
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Too passive, and too young.

Frodo was, in the books, definitely older, wiser, and as CT puts it, "more long-headed" than the other hobbits. It's no accident at all that Tolkien made him the same age as Bilbo was at the time of his adventure, 50: a middle-aged bachelor getting set in his ways.

Movie-Frodo comes across as a teenage emo.
Heartily agree - but who is CT - Christopher Tolkien?
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:01 PM   #28
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I also very much agree with that.

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Heartily agree - but who is CT - Christopher Tolkien?
Yup. CT, CJRT, Christopher Tolkien - all one and the same.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:16 AM   #29
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Thanks, Galadriel55

I hadn't heard the term "long-headed" before. But I've googled for its definition and I'd say it fits Frodo pretty well:-

"long-headed - definition of long-headed by the Free Online ...
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/long-headed
long·head·ed also long-head·ed (lông h d d, l ng -). adj. 1. Anthropology Dolichocephalic. 2. Foresighted; wise. long-headed. adj. astute; shrewd; sagacious ... "
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