Dissecting A Scene- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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This scene takes place when Sam, Frodo, and Sméagol are in Osgiliath with Faramir and his men. During this time, the city is failing to stop Sauron’s army from overrunning it. Also, Merry and Pippen are rallying the Elks in order to destroy the mines in Isengard while Gandalf, Aragorn, Legalos, and Gimli are helping the men of Rohan battle the army at Helms Deep. It’s important to remember that this is a scene from the second Lord of the Rings movie: The Two Towers. By this point, the characters have been through so much hardship and are close to giving up. Sam and Frodo in particular need some bit of hope in order to push themselves forward.

At the beginning of the scene, we see Frodo aimlessly leaving Sam and their protective shelter to walk through an open battle scene. The audience immediately thinks that Frodo has finally lost it and no longer cares about his own safety. Sam, the person who presumably knows him the best, doesn’t understand what he’s doing. Due to the attack, the tension in this scene is already incredibly high, which could pose a problem for the writer/director because the goal is always to increase tension as a scene progresses. So in order to raise it even more, the director chooses to use slow motion. When Frodo then stops and looks out over the wall, he is greeted by the nasgul. The tension is raised again as the background noise falls away and all we are left with are little whispers from the ring or the nasgul and the flapping of the wings. In comes the dramatic music as Frodo holds up the ring. We are now at the edge of our seats, not just because of that initial tension from the storyline, but because multiple senses have been triggered. The slowmotion attacked our site and the silence and then music attacked our hearing. With all the information we gathered leading up to this scene, we know that, if Frodo puts on the ring, then he is giving both it and himself over to Sauron. At this moment all hope is almost lost. We see Faramir gazing upon the scene in horror, almost mimicking the audiences own reaction/feelings. We also see Sam running to try to stop him, but who knows if he will make it in time. And then you see Frodo about to put on the ring as the nasgul gets closer and closer. With each of these elements colliding, the tension is at its highest point as Frodo’s eyes roll to the back of his head. Then, just in time, Sam tackles Frodo and Faramir shoots down the nasgul. Everyone in the audience then let out a sigh of relief.

The scene transitions when Sam and Frodo are shown falling down the stairs to safety. We now know how courageous Sam is and how he is willing to put his life on the line for Frodo, but it isn’t until he goes into his speech that we truly understand his importance to the story. When Frodo pulls out sting and has that crazy look in his eyes, it is clear that he is still consumed by the powers of the ring. That mentality of giving up didn’t go away just because Sam pulled him away from the nasgul. There needs to be something that will bring Frodo back from this point of desperation. That’s why Sam says what he says to snap Frodo out of it and that’s why it’s important to show that Frodo cares about Sam just as much as Sam cares about him. Frodo is even appalled by what he almost did that he falls back and drops sting. Then, Frodo’s first words of the scene are spoken: “I can’t do this Sam”. These words carry so much weight and show that tension doesn’t have to be something dangerous. There doesn’t need to be a huge fight scene in order for there to be strife. It can come from emotional exhaustion. An inability to believe in one’s self. Once again he came so close to defeat. So close that he no longer believes that he has the ability to survive the next time this happens. So the writers make Sam the person who saves Frodo, but a character with nothing but blind hope is one dimentional and thus not realistic. They needed to show that Sam understands the frustrations that Frodo is having and that he is feeling them too, but knows how to push past that and find hope. They get this notion across when Sam whimpers and says they shouldn’t even be there, and counter it with “but we are.”

It’s time for Sam’s big inspirational speech as he looks off into the distance, across the ruins of Osgiliath to Helms Deep and then all the way to Mordor, their final destination. Sam talks about the great heroic stories you hear when you are little because it immediately connects the audience with the characters in this fantasy land. We have all heard those stories before. Even if you didn’t hear them when you were little, you’ve at least been engaged with one by watching the Fellowship of the Ring. It’s important to create this connection because an fantasy storyline like this could easily cause a disconnect between the characters and the audience if the writers aren’t careful. Then Sam talks about the darkness passing and how shadows don’t last. This is when a shift in viewpoint occurs. Frodo’s mindset dissolves and Sam’s overtakes it as it cuts to scenes of good triumphing over evil at Helms Deep and Isengard when not too long ago we believed there was no way good could win these battles. This allows Frodo, and the audience, to finally see the possibility of a happy ending. We feel Sam’s hope. Then, the climax of the scene occurs when Sam offers up his discovery. He says that every single character in those stories had a chance to turn back and go home, just like Sam and Frodo have that chance to give up right now, but they didn’t. Then, Frodo asks the ultimate question. He inquires about the thing that will drive them until the very end and Sam pulls Frodo up to his feet for emphasis and says that their driving force is the idea that there is still good in the world and that it’s worth fighting for. That is the most important part of the scene. While this speech is going on, we see Sméagol’s reaction. He looks like he too is being touched by Sam’s words, which will end up prolonging the fight between Sméagol and Gollum. Finally, Frodo is convinced by the good he sees in Sam.

It is then that we come to the end of the scene. We see that Faramir has been listening in on their conversation, and ends up doing something that his brother wasn’t able to do- he lets Frodo go. This moment solidifies the entire scene. Not only does it give Frodo, Sam, and Smeagul the ability to move on with their journey, but it also plays into the overall theme that not all men are power driven and that there is in fact good where one may not have seen it before.

Author Note: I chose this scene of this script because it transcends genres. One could be writing a movie that is the farthest thing from fantasy, but the basic principles are the same. Most scripts will have a part in them where the protagonist wants to give up, where they no longer see that light at the end of the tunnel. It is then up to the writer to figure out a way to make them see it again. It’s that redefining of the motivation that keeps the script going. I think that this scene shows that so incredibly well.


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