Frodo the Brave

by Varda

PJ does not show Frodo as more cowardly than the book does; in the book he gives in to terror as soon as Gandalf tells him about the ring. It is then that Frodo wishes Gollum dead, and when Gandalf protests Frodo cries;
'I am sorry, but I am frightened and I do not feel any pity....'

Far from being brave he is cruel in his terror. Nor does he volunteer to go as brightly and bravely as he does in the film; he cries;
'I really do wish to destroy it....or, well, to see it destroyed, for I am not made for perilous quests...'

Frodo is apprehensive, afraid. He overcomes great terror to go on this quest, that is what makes him a hero. I do wish people would read the book before criticising Peter Jackson, who had the darn thing in his hands for four years! As the critic Marples points out, every time Frodo attempts some traditional action hero activity he is wounded; on Weathertop he draws his sword to stab the Nazgul and all he does is get badly wounded. He draws his sword in Moria again and gets transfixed by an orc. In the end he gives up his sword, to show his total non-violence.

Frodo's courage is to endure; that is his job, to bear. Gandalf tells him this at the start;

'You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess (that you were chosen for this task); not for power or wisdom...'

It is his very *ordinariness* that he is chosen, Frodo is you or me, Everyman.

Tolkien said in letters that in the Shire later on Frodo was tormented by the thought that he had failed. I never thought so, but the fact that the Ring overcome him at the end does show he is just a mortal, not superman. Given that from Tolkien himself, we should not begrudge Jackson showing him fearful in situations where we too would be fearful.

Frodo as a character is quite hard to pin down, as we are not given many glimpses into his thoughts as we are into Sam's. The initial interview with Gandalf gives us most of what we know of his views and attitudes, and in that he is angry and fearful and aggressive, hardly the sweet person most people think of him as.

In fact Frodo tells us little, as if he has drawn into himself to survive this ordeal, and shut himself off from nearly everyone except Sam. He thus becomes a bit of an enigma, almost all things to all men, you can project your own ideas and even ideals onto Frodo; but very little can be confirmed by the book except by inference.

So Peter Jackson had to 'find' a Frodo for the screen, and I think he found him in his view of hobbits. One of the other actors, I think it was Dom Monaghan said that Jackson loved hobbits, and the scenes involving them. For him they symbolised an innocent, natural lifestyle in harmony with nature and each other. This is the Frodo PJ gives us to begin with; we meet him reading under a leafy tree, in an idyllic landscape where hobbits farm and play and laugh, a rural paradise. Frodo is laughing, he leaps into Gandalf's arms, unafraid to show love.

Jackson then, over three films, shows this good, kind and carefree person destroyed by a great evil which he has of his own free will, and knowing what it will do to him, taken on himself to get rid of for the sake of all. Jackson has filmed Frodo as a hero not just of an action movie but of a moral parable as well.

To show us this gradual destruction of Frodo it is important that we understand Frodo knows he is being eaten up. That is why he is afraid, why he shows terror. He will go on, but he suffers terribly and Peter Jackson takes it as his duty almost to make sure we are spared none of Frodo's agony. this is not a brave blockbuser hero unmoved in the face of danger; it is one of us, scared stiff and unable not to show it.

To show Frodo unmoved and courageous would make him more heroic, but less human. And Peter Jackson made a film, not in the end a blockbuster. He is greatly to be credited that he shows his characters afraid; Faramir in Osgiliath shows fear when he realises the city is being overrun. Théoden shows fear when he thinks he is about to be eaten by the fell beast. Eowyn shows fear when she sees the Witchking's mace; and so on. These are people, not statues of unrealistic champions.

It was Gandalf who said only small quiet footsteps would manage to penetrate the enemy's stronghold; Frodo knows he is small and weak, and he is afraid of what happens; but he goes on anyway.

Thanks PJ for a moving and humane interpretation of Frodo