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. All of the characters have already been through so much and are close to giving up. Sam and Frodo in particular need some bit of hope in order to push themselves to go on.

At the beginning of the scene, we see Frodo aimlessly leaving Sam and the protective shelter to walk through an open battle scene. The audience immediately thinks that Frodo has finally lost it and doesn’t care about his safety anymore. Sam doesn’t even know what he’s doing. Due to the attack, the tension in this scene is already so high that, in order to raise it even more, the director chooses to use slow motion. Remember, a scene should constantly build tension throughout it in order for it to be affective. 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 because we know that he is about to give up the fight. 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 and 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. The tension is at its highest point as Frodo’s eyes are rolling to the back of his head. Then, just in time, Sam tackles Frodo and Faramir shoots down the nasgul. Everyone in the audience can then let out a sigh of relief.

The beginning of the scene transitions into the middle of the scene 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 is in this part of the scene where we get a sense of how important Sam is to Frodo as well. 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. That wouldn’t have been believable. At this point we need to know that there is something that will bring Frodo back from this point of desperation. Sam is so key to the storyline here because he is the only person who can do this. 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 so 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 because they sum up all of what just happened. 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. He is still in the all is lost mentality and Sam shows he understands. The writers make Sam the person who saves Frodo, but a character with nothing but blind hope is just not realistic. They needed to show that Sam understands the frustrations that Frodo is having and that he is feeling them too. They get this notion across when Sam whimpers and says they shouldn’t even be there. But then, Sam’s character is able to go from saying it’s not fair to saying there is hope through the line “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 Isengard. This speech talks about the great heroic stories you hear when you are little. It immediately connects you with the characters because we have all heard those stories before. Even if you didn’t hear them when you were little, you still have been engaged with one since the Fellowship of the Ring. Where the characters go through such terrible struggles and how, when it focuses on Frodo’s face, you connect with his feeling of not wanting to know the end because you’re not able to see the possibility of a happy one. It’s important to make the audience feel this way because an unrealistic 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 we break away from Frodo’s mindset and switch into Sam’s. It cuts to scenes of good triumphing over evil at Helms Deep and Isengard when not too long ago we believed that there was no way good could win. This gives us the ability to finally see that happy ending. We feel the hope that Sam is trying to pass on to Frodo. 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.

It is then that we come to the end of the scene where we see that Faramir has been listening all along. He does something that his brother wasn’t able to do, he lets Frodo go. This plays into the overall theme that not all men are power driven. It also gives Frodo, Sam, and Smeagul the ability to move on with their journey and shows Faramir as a good person. This transition is done well because it leads into difficult occurances that happen in the future with Faramir and his father as well as gives Sam and Frodo a second wind.

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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