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Old 08-27-2021, 08:27 PM   #1
Leaf
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Wrongly remembered. The blurry lines between film and book headcanon.

After some time of absence on my part in the depths of the barrow downs and a re-watch and a re-read of the trilogy I'd like to return and discuss a minor thing. I find it interesting because, somehow, the film interpretation managed to color my reading of the book for quite some time on that detail. I would like to address something that I noticed while re-reading Fellowship. And I would love to hear your thoughts on this and if there are any similar things that you remember in favor of the film's interpretation. Im talking about the interaction between Frodo an Bilbo after they meet again at the party in Rivendell.

Quote:
‘Have you got it here?’ he asked in a whisper. ‘I can’t help feeling curious, you know, after all I’ve heard. I should very much like just to peep at it again.’

‘Yes, I’ve got it,’ answered Frodo, feeling a strange reluctance. ‘It looks just the same as ever it did.’

‘Well, I should just like to see it for a moment,’ said Bilbo.

When he had dressed, Frodo found that while he slept the Ring had been hung about his neck on a new chain, light but strong. Slowly he drew it out. Bilbo put out his hand. But Frodo quickly drew back the Ring. To his distress and amazement he found that he was no longer looking at Bilbo; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and through it he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands. He felt a desire to strike him. The music and singing round them seemed to falter, and a silence fell.

Bilbo looked quickly at Frodo’s face and passed his hand across his eyes. ‘I understand now,’ he said. ‘Put it away! I am sorry: sorry you have come in for this burden; sorry about everything. [...] Frodo hid the Ring away, and the shadow passed leaving hardly a shred of memory. The light and music of Rivendell was about him again. Bilbo smiled and laughed happily.
I always used to remember this passage in the way the according scene in fellowship plays out: Seeing the Ring again brings out the worst in Bilbo. He channels his inner Gollum, so to speak, which brings about a real physical change in the way he looks and he tries to take the Ring from Frodo. So, the focus of the attention is clearly on Bilbo and his desire for the Ring. The purpose of the scene is to show the audience that the Ring has terrible lasting effects for it's bearers.

Now I think that this is not what really happens. When I try to ignore evil-face film Bilbo, who manages to jump-scare Frodo and the audience alike, and focus on the way the passage is written, it is much more plausible to me that it really isn't about how much the Ring has changed Bilbo to this day, but about how it already changed Frodo in a horrible way: I would suggests that Frodo's vision of this little wrinkled creature is a Ring-induced hallucination or a change of Frodo's perspective, so to speak and not something that is happening to Bilbo in a physical sense.

Bilbo's undue insistance on seeing 'It' surely is caused by the aforementioned lasting effects of the Ring. He then 'puts out his hand'. But he actually doesn't try to grab it to take it away from Frodo like he does in the movie! At least the text doesn't say so. This is a much more passive affront. Yet it is still enough to trigger something inside of Frodo ('a shadow seemed to have fallen between them') that turns his beloved uncle into a 'little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands.' Up to a point where he even desires to strike him, simply because this little creature dared to demand to touch the Ring. This makes Bilbo's reaction harrowing: '‘I understand now,’ he said. ‘Put it away! I am sorry: sorry you have come in for this burden; sorry about everything.[...]' Upon seeing Frodo's reaction he is able to self-reflect back and understand where his own desires for the Ring came from and why it was so hard to depart from It when he left the shire. This makes Bilbo, understandibly, feel guilty and he apologizes to Frodo.

I understand why the movie interprets this text passage in the way it did. And it is a great scene! It is much harder to actually show how Frodo feels inside. Although they could have done something visual that indicates that we aren't looking at reality per se. Ultimately, the scene does get the broader point across, but loses some of the nuance, I think.
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Old 08-27-2021, 09:42 PM   #2
Morsul the Dark
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That scene along with some others fall under the umbrella of works in book not on screen. They were almost forced to use an actual change on Bilbo otherwise it doesn’t work.

I think one that works here is Saruman’s pits. In the movie they’re just too big and deep probably but it’s all I can picture.
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Old 08-31-2021, 08:33 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Morsul the Dark View Post
That scene along with some others fall under the umbrella of works in book not on screen. They were almost forced to use an actual change on Bilbo otherwise it doesn’t work.

I think one that works here is Saruman’s pits. In the movie they’re just too big and deep probably but it’s all I can picture.
I disagree. The problem here rather is "works in book not in Peter Jackson's hands." Addicted to jump scares and other cheap horror-movie stunts, not very good at all with internal psychology.
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Old 09-11-2021, 12:56 PM   #4
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It's probably been going on about a year since I did the same thing...read the books again, re-watched the films, and this was a scene/moment in the book that caught my attention as well.

I suppose there needed to be the decision to either film this moment or not. And once making the decision to film it, I'm glad they did, even though as you said PJ portrayed it differently. I was writing my opinions of this on Facebook, so after tracking that post down, I'll just copy and paste to add here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myself
I will conclude this part with another bit involving Bilbo. I was going to put the picture of "Demonic face Bilbo" because that remains one of the scariest single moments in a movie for me. It's well done, but I don't want to give anyone nightmares. Anyway "Demonic Bilbo" when he asks Frodo to see the Ring again in Rivendell, from what I remember was not liked by a lot of Tolkien fans. The criticism being Jackson was reverting to his days as a cheap-scare horror director, because Bilbo undergoes no physical change in the books. It is all from Frodo's perspective what "seems to happen" to Bilbo's face. Again, I must respectfully disagree on this one. Movies have to rely on visuals, so if they do include that scene from the books how do you visually portray Frodo's perception of the change that comes over Bilbo when seeing the ring? I mean you can not include it at all, but I'm definitely glad it was! I see it as I was being placed in Frodo's shoes, seeing it through Frodo's eyes. Even if that's not the literal shot. However, we do see Frodo's reaction to "Demonic Bilbo" and experience what Frodo does when seeing what the Ring does to a previous Ring-bearer. And like Frodo, I was terrified. Terrified seeing what happened to this kind and adored character (played perfectly by Ian Holm) who was reading captivating tales to hobbit children about his adventures.
I never thought about it from your take:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaf
Now I think that this is not what really happens. When I try to ignore evil-face film Bilbo, who manages to jump-scare Frodo and the audience alike, and focus on the way the passage is written, it is much more plausible to me that it really isn't about how much the Ring has changed Bilbo to this day, but about how it already changed Frodo in a horrible way: I would suggests that Frodo's vision of this little wrinkled creature is a Ring-induced hallucination or a change of Frodo's perspective, so to speak and not something that is happening to Bilbo in a physical sense.
I agree that Bilbo doesn't go through any physical changes, but never considered the meaning not only shows how Bilbo still desires the Ring, but how the Ring has also changed Frodo. Frodo is filled with a desire to "strike" the "little, wrinkled creature." I would say that is the Ring urging Frodo to strike Bilbo, because that doesn't seem like a Frodo-thing to do. Maybe Frodo remembers this moment when he sees and pities Gollum?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaf
Ultimately, the scene does get the broader point across, but loses some of the nuance, I think.
That is generally my thoughts about Peter Jackson's LOTR movies. As movies I enjoyed them, and still do, but all art is subjective and they're not going to be everyone's cup of tea. As adaptations, on the surface they seem to convey the broader picture, but scratch the surface just a bit and they miss the point entirely.
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Old 09-17-2021, 07:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
I never thought about it from your take:


I agree that Bilbo doesn't go through any physical changes, but never considered the meaning not only shows how Bilbo still desires the Ring, but how the Ring has also changed Frodo. Frodo is filled with a desire to "strike" the "little, wrinkled creature." I would say that is the Ring urging Frodo to strike Bilbo, because that doesn't seem like a Frodo-thing to do. Maybe Frodo remembers this moment when he sees and pities Gollum?
Thanks for considering my point of view! I suppose the book version is inherently ambiguous and it could be that both are true at the same time: Bilbo's desire for the Ring breaks through in that moment AND Frodo has an exaggerated perception and reaction due to the Ring's influence. In that way the Ring's influence manages to estrange the former and the current Ringbearer from one another and their otherwise strong relationship.

I'm sure you are right about Frodo and his important feeling of pity towards Gollum, an actual little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands.

What gets me about this description in regards to Bilbo is that it could be, at face value, not so far off from reality in the sense that Bilbo is pretty old and probably also pretty wrinkled. His face might be kind of sunken and his hands boney from weight loss due to his age. However, those aren't the kind of things you would view as despicable, if you even notice them, when you look at your beloved parents or grandparents! It's like the Ring took away all the love Frodo had for that old Hobbit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
That is generally my thoughts about Peter Jackson's LOTR movies. As movies I enjoyed them, and still do, but all art is subjective and they're not going to be everyone's cup of tea. As adaptations, on the surface they seem to convey the broader picture, but scratch the surface just a bit and they miss the point entirely.
Man, as movies I absolutely adore them. Especially when you consider how action adventure/fantasy-movies have evolved since then in the last two decades.

PJ's movies have their problems, even if you don't look at them as adaptations of the literature. But the technical realization, the attention to detail and the use of every trick from the book of a filmmaker marks the end of an era. From the practical effects, miniatures, sets, real locations, costumes, props, make-up etc. I don't think we will see anything like it again in the foreseeable future. Movies just aren't made like this anymore.

In addition, PJ and his team, even if you don't share it, had a vision and they implemented it. The films are not the primary product of endless producer board meetings, re-edits, audience test screenings and marked research divisions, and it shows. Although it is entirely possible that I'm finally becoming the grumpy man that is blinded by nostalgia and the good ol' days.

Last edited by Leaf; 09-17-2021 at 08:18 PM.
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