Boromir Month

by Varda
June, '05

I got this great big LOTR film calendar at Ringcon, the pictures are about twice an A4, and this month the picture is a still from the ROTK EE, of Boromir as he claims back Osgiliath.

It is a fabulous picture; Boromir is on top of the ruins and behind him you can see every tumbled wall and stairway of the shattered city, with prominent to view the broken Dome of the Stars. You can see Boromir's face more clearly than in the film, and added to his triumph there is a tinge of desperation;
'I claim this city for Gondor...' but for how long, he is wondering. The banner flying overhead seems fragile and flimsy above the piles of stones that were once a city.

For of course Osgiliath is the poisoned chalice for the house of Denethor. To lose it would be a disaster, for that would allow the enemy into the Pelennor and facilitate a seige of Minas Tirith. But to hold it is also dangerous, extending and exposing scarce manpower. It is clear that orcs, like rats, would be more at home in ruins than armoured men and forest archers. Osgiliath was Gondor's Stalingrad, but in this terrain the orcs have the advantage.

The close up of ruined Osgiliath is poignant. It reminds us that this is the last true city of Gondor. No wonder Boromir fights so hard to retain it; for while they hold Osgiliath, even in ruins, they still hold the remnants of their civilisation. Boromir is feted as a hero for regaining it, while Faramir, fighting a dangerous, uncomfortable guerilla campaign to hold onto the hinterland, is scarcely thanked by his father.

Unlike Osgiliath which is a true city, Minas Tirith was a 'Tower of Guard', a garrison. Tolkien is not a city man, but even so, his Minas Tirith would have been an impossible place to live. There are no open spaces for markets, parks or meeting places. The children must have played among the seige engines and sentries.

In the book, Tolkien sends away all the civilians before the seige starts. But to where? We are told vaguely 'the south' but where could be as safe as a city when a land is overrun? That was the reason and purpose of the great Norman keeps that dot Ireland; to guard the people during invasions.

In the picture, Boromir is holding out his sword as he addresses his men, every inch the heroic warrior. He is wearing armour, but under the breastplate you can see a rich black velvet tunic. His men line the walls, watching his every move. But does Boromir believe they have won a lasting victory? The Boromir who arrives at Rivendell for the council is a man so driven by fear of his land being overrun that he will do anything to bring this Ring back to help it. This picture shows us the doubt that comes in the very hour of triumph.

Anyway, I have a very big picture of Boromir for all of June, Tongue Out I hope the month lives up to it...

Response from Primula:

I've often wondered where they all went that they could be so sure of safety as well - and did they all get back safely later on, or would there be another bottomless pool of tales to tell in what happened to these refugees?

The close, tall, steep city was more of the urban center, with Osgiliath the well-developed 'burbs. How would it be to have all of us driven from our various 'bedroom communities' into the old downtown of whatever the nearest major metropolis is, camping among the skyscrapers and then laid seige to even there?

I look to the hills, from whence comes my help...