LOTR--The Books This Time--Fatty Bolger and Other Great Scenes

In my previous LOTR reflections, I commented on Galadriel and Boromir. I also addressed Tolkien's use of dialog to show us the political wiliness of his bad guys.
A clever photo creation of Fatty!

As well as dialog, Tolkien was a master at creating invocative, sometimes heart-rending, images that linger in the brain.


One of my favorite images occurs in The Fellowship of the Ring and involves a character not mentioned--or at least not emphasized--in the movie: Fatty Bolger.

Fatty is one of Frodo's friends who stays behind in Buckland to provide the pretense that Frodo is still living in the Shire. Although Fatty is unrepentantly straightforward about his desire to stay out of dangerous situations, he nevertheless ends up in a dangerous situation. While some of the Black Riders are off chasing Gandalf and others are lurking in Bree, still others are sniffing around Buckland (this division of labor is why Frodo is not attacked by all the Riders on Weathertop).

At the beginning of Chapter 11, the Riders break into Buckland and ransack Frodo's home. But Fatty Bolger escapes. He runs desperately for help; due to his efforts, the Horn-call of Buckland is sounded, and the Riders are chased off.

It's a great scene, however short. And starts with a truly terrifying set of images:
The house at Crickhollow [in Buckland] stood silent. Fatty Bolger opened the door cautiously and peered out. A feeling of fear had been growing on him all day, and he was unable to rest or go to bed: there was a brooding threat in the breathless night-air. As he stared out into the gloom, a black shadow moved under the trees; the gate seemed to open of its own accord and close again with a sound.

Tolkien could definitely write horror when the mood was upon him: consider the brief but terrifying image in Return of the King when the orcs lob the heads of dead Gondor knights over the walls of Minas Tirith (yep, that's in the book).

Many of the movies' (more positive) iconic images also come straight out of Tolkien's text: Gandalf on the top of Saruman's tower; Eowyn standing alone on the steps of the Golden Hall in Edoras; Pippin and Merry sitting back and smoking at the ruins of Orthanc; the troubling yet necessary capture of Smeagol/Gollum at the Forbidden Pool; the crown of flowers about the king statue's head; the far less positive and disgusting image of Shelob (now, there's a nightmare for you!).

I so love it when a director respects his original text--even if he changes it, the respect shines through!

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