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
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
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
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...