A Few of My Favorite Book Moments

Continuing with favorite moments in art . . .

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie: My favorite line, which is excluded from audio plays and the Suchet movie, occurs when the four detectives and four possible murderers are seated around the dinner table. Mr. Shaitana (played brilliantly but disconcertingly in the movie by Alexander Siddig of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fame) discourses on different types of murder. After he finishes, there's a brief moment of silence; then Mrs. Oliver speaks:
“Is it twenty-to or twenty past? An angel passing … My feet aren’t crossed— it must be a black angel!”
Another favorite Agatha Christie line from Death on the Nile is always excluded from alternate versions. At the end of the book, Poirot speaks with Jacqueline De Bellefort. He deplores the choices that she made that took her down such a terrible path. Jacqueline attempts to comfort him:
"Don't mind so much for me, M. Poirot. . . . Do you remember when I said I must follow my star? You said it might be a false star. And I said, 'That very bad star, that star fall down.'" 
In The Fellowship of the Rings, one of my favorite scenes is the scene at the inn: Strider and Frodo are speaking when Sam comes barreling in, full of fury. At Sam's challenge, Aragorn responds:
"If I had killed the real Strider, Sam, then I could kill you. And I should have killed you already without much talk. If I was after the Ring, I could have it--NOW!"

He stood up, and seemed suddenly to grow taller. In his eyes gleamed a light, keen and commanding. Throwing back his cloak, he laid his hand on the hilt of a sword that had hung concealed by his side. They did not dare to move. Sam sat wide-mouthed staring at him dumbly.

"But I am the real Strider, fortunately," he said, looking down at them with his face softened by a sudden smile. "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will."
Interesting enough, although I love this scene, it wouldn't have worked in the movie. Visuals impact viewers differently than words. It is not that books are "deeper" or more profound--it is rather than books can be "dense" without running the risk of confusing the reader.

In the movie, this scene would have altered the dynamics of the Aragorn/Frodo relationship. Instead of Aragorn being someone Frodo intuitively decides to trust, Aragorn would have become a kind of Spike character (Is he trustworthy? Is he dangerous?), distracting the viewers from the real threat, the Nine Riders. (Jackson does allow ambiguity to creep into the relationship towards the end of Fellowship after Boromir's betrayal throws the entire Fellowship into confusion.)

The Lord of the Rings radio dramatization, starring the excellent Ian Holm as Frodo and Bill Nighy as Sam contains many lovely moments (Robert Stephens plays Aragorn; he has one of those marble voices--kind of guttural and almost lisping, as if he has marbles in his mouth: he is absolutely fantastic!). One of my favorites occurs when Sam sings part of the ballad of Gil-galad:

Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing:
the last who realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and Sea.

His sword was long, his lance was keen, 
his shining helm afar was seen; 
the countless stars of heaven's field
were mirrored in his silver shield.

But long ago he rode away, 
and where he dwelleth none can say; 
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are.

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