While the Eye of Sauron is fixed upon the battle at the Black Gate, Frodo and Sam are in the clear. The distraction has escalated into a full-blown battle, with the Mordor Orcs tightening the noose around the necks of the remaining soldiers of Mankind. As if they haven’t had enough trouble, the Nazgûl descend. The Men didn’t ride out to meet their enemy with any thought of victory. However, the coming of fell-beasts brings additional concern to an already losing fight.
As Gandalf fights alongside the Men, in a brief moment of clarity, a familiar moth flies in front of his face. It may not be the same moth that brought him the rescuing wings of Gwaihir while he was imprisoned in the Tower of Orthanc. It nevertheless brings a joyous new development with a brighter expression on Gandalf’s face.
Above their heads another battle commences, that between the Nazgûl and the Eagles.
Eagles! The Eagles are coming!Pippin
Sam enters the door into the Crack of Mount Doom. The fumes of the molten lava flowing beneath his feet, obstruct his eyesight. He cannot see where his friend is.
Sam finally notices Frodo standing on the ledge above the molten lava river. He turns to Sam in an acknowledging move to ascertain his position.
Frodo: “I’m here, Sam.”
Sam: “Destroy it!”
Following Sam’s instruction, Frodo holds the Ring on its chain out above the lava. This is the moment they traveled so far to accomplish. Nothing stands in Frodo’s way now. No enemies, no disruptions, no distractions, he is alone with the Ring. There is nothing to it but to open his palms and let the Ring along with the chain fall into the molten lava beneath him.
Go on. Now! Throw it in the fire!Sam
There is an expression of anguish on Frodo’s face. As he looks at the Ring and then at its fate below his feet, indecisiveness overtakes him. The molten lava beneath his feet seems to be a terrible punishment for the Ring he still holds in his hand. He is torn between what the right thing to do is and what he himself wants to do.
Seduction of the Ring
What are you waiting for? Just let it go!Sam
Every surrounding sound fades away and all Frodo can hear is the Ring’s voice emanating.
Since he took the Ring from around his neck and held it in front of him, his eyes never left its sight. From a slightly superior standpoint toward it, with his eyes looking down his chin. The longer he stares at the Ring, his chin along with his eyes form a more inferior position towards the Ring.
Initially, in his dominant mode, Frodo may have thought to possess the will to destroy the Ring. He stood with a determined expression and body language on the ledge. It seemed he would be able to complete his mission right then and there. As the Ring dangled on its chain above the ledge, it had ample time to address Frodo in its last efforts to ensnare the carrier.
Frodo’s determination faltered the longer his eyes focused on the Ring. The voice of Sauron, so close to him, as if he were right there staring at him whispering, drawing him in. His head slowly began to change its position, moving downward. Frodo’s eyes assumed a more complacent submissive position themselves. He seems almost hypnotized by the sheer power emanating from the Ring.
To Sam’s disgust, Frodo cups the Ring in his hand and turns to Sam.
The Ring is mine!Frodo
Frodo snaps the Ring off of its chain with a wicked smile on his face as his finger comes ever closer to the Ring. Sauron’s influence has reached its peak. The last remains of Frodo’s inner world have been shattered. There are no positive characteristics in him now that can overweigh the damage the Ring has caused.
As Sam is witnessing this terrible outcome of all they have been through, an overwhelming sense of sadness and futility washes over him. Not only does he see his friend being taken over by the power of the Ring, but his own sacrifices and those of the rest of middle-Earth have come to naught.
This scene is very much reminiscent of the scene on the same ledge 3000 years ago, when Elrond pleaded Isildur to destroy the Ring. History repeating.
Frodo puts on the Ring and disappears.
As the Ring wraps safely around Frodo’s finger, the Eyes of Sauron quickly turns its gaze to Mount Doom. Its focus is changed from the diversion of the Men. The surviving Nazgûl screech and fly towards the Ring in an effort to find the Hobbit who is now safely ensconced in the Void, uncovering his position and drawing danger to himself.
For all their efforts, the diversion may have given Frodo enough time to bring the Ring to its birthplace, but the ultimate outcome of its destruction could not be made sure. It befuddles them to see the fell-beasts fly away from the battle. They cannot but guess what drove them away.
In the Cracks of Doom, Frodo’s footprints form on the ground in front of Sam. Sam looks at his friend’s footprints in the dust confusingly, he is unable to stop him advancing. Without a second look behind his shoulder, Gollum appears, hitting Sam on the head with a rock. Sam falls to the ground, instantly unconscious.
Gollum, being much more experienced in the ways of the Ring and its invisibility traits, manages to run up to Frodo and jump on him. Although one of them is invisible, the struggle is plainly seen between the two as Gollum’s wretched body jerks from one point to another.
Meanwhile, at the Black Gate, Aragorn faces a troll heading his way. His eyes show the terror of the creature’s bulky physical appearance. He may be able to smite down Orcs, Harads or any other sort of humanoid creature, but this may just be out of his league.
Fearful but determined, he engages the troll in a fight.
While Sam comes to consciousness he observes the struggle between Frodo and Gollum. Followed by a painful scream, Gollum bites off Frodo’s finger. Suddenly, Frodo appears from the Void screaming, holding his bloodied hand and falling to his knees in pain.
Gollum takes the Ring from Frodo’s severed finger. At the same time, Aragorn is thrown to the ground by the troll. Two evils in two different places dominate the situation. Legolas, seeing Aragorn on the ground, makes his way towards him. It is not an easy task, even for him, for the Orcs have formed a tight noose around them.
Dance of joy
Gollum, for his part, feels relief at finally taking possession of the Ring. Ever since Bilbo Baggins took it from him in the caves of the Misty Mountains, over 60 years ago, he has been only half a creature. His existence was purposeless, directionless and meaningless. All he cared about, all he thought about since that fateful day, was retrieving the Ring. Once again having his Precious in his hands, finally experiencing joy again, having something to live for. Now, his moment has come.
A childlike sense of awe and wonderment takes over him. He leaps for joy in an almost dance-like movement. The purity of the joy combined with the malice of its object is almost a paradox. For one to be this excited over possessing something as evil as the Ring of Power is a clear statement to the state of mind of that individual.
As Frodo put the Ring on, his expression was that of wickedness, cunning, villainous. He is aware of the power he possessed by placing the Ring on his finger. He knew its power, so the greed and want of it distorted his facial features into someone else, someone who knows how powerful this weapon of the enemy really is and what it could bring him.
The music accompanying the two different reactions to the possession of the Ring very distinctly. The chorus’ singing becomes ever louder and higher in pitch. The composition itself builds in a crescendo that one would think would resolve itself in an explosion. However, as soon as Gollum takes possession of the Ring, the voices calm along with the surrounding music, leaving a lonely female voice cry in melancholy.
Sin eriol ûm beleg úgannen Only thus, a great evil, unmade
Ú cilith 'war There is not other choice
Ú men 'war There is no other way
Boe min mebi One of you must take it,
Boe min bango One of you must pay.
Text by Philippa Boyens
Sindarin translation by David Salo
Sung by Renée Fleming
Follow me to my next post.