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A Response To NZ Strider

December 24, 2002 at 3:32 pm by Demosthenes  - 

This response was written by EleanortheEdlest and posted on our boards. I’ve added it so as to give balance to the discussion on this issue – Dem.

I have just read NZ Strider’s ‘analysis’ of Faramir. I found it interesting that in this analysis he only mentions part of the time we see Faramir in “The Two Towers,” and also has apparently failed to note some very specific information Tolkien gives us on him in the appendices of “Return of the King.”

In the analysis we are given only the implications that Faramir’s actions are all grim & frightening related to the hobbits. Granted, they are that, but that is not all there is to Faramir’s character.

After his ‘strange, stern look’ Frodo recites the ‘Sword that was broken’ rhyme. How does Faramir respond? “In astonishment.” He also openly concedes – “It is some token of your truth that you also know them.”

Frodo explains the rhyme to him and, again, Faramir does not answer in a threatening, or even an interrogating, way. He responds “thoughtfully.” Is he still shrewd & guarded? Yes. His astonishment is genuine, though. He has much to think about. These traits do not make him only a threatening personality but, rather, someone we are seriously interested in knowing more of.

We are also shown Mablung in only an ominous light, when this is also clearly in contradiction with the book. Frodo discovers that they speak an Elven-tongue, thus making them “Dunedain of the South.” This alone would improve his opinion of them, and make them appear less evil. He engages these Rangers in conversation. The conversation is guarded, but there is no enmity such as we see in the film. Even Mablung’s “I do not think the Captain will leave you here…” is said with a laugh.

After Sam butts in it is almost as if Tolkien expects us to be ready for some awful response from Faramir, because he clarifies how Faramir’s response was given:

” ‘Patience!’ said Faramir, but without anger.” There is no animosity.

He also continues to be fair – “Do not speak before your master, whose wit is greater than yours.” The film-Faramir was anything but fair.

The analysis says that Faramir’s “response was not comic at all.” No, it wasn’t – but the opposite of comic does not have to imply danger, or anger – just that Faramir is a grave man.

The analysis also makes much use of how shrewd Faramir is in interrogation techniques. He was, indeed, a wise man – but some of the interrogation techniques smack of mistruths, and we have already been told (by Faramir himself): “I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood.” If he would not lay traps of mistruths with horrible enemies, then how can we think that he would be willing to do so with someone he might consider an ally? He is too just a man.

The analysis continues to press on about Faramir’s ‘interrogating’ abilities – yet obligingly skips over another area where we are given a different Faramir than that of the film.

“A shadow of sorrow passed over his face….” When talking about the dissolution of Gondor.

We are then given more about Faramir separate & apart from his interrogation – “… regarding Frodo with a new wonder in his eyes. ‘Much that was strange about you I begin now to understand…” The implication here? A ‘new wonder’ does not denote simply a keen warrior prying information out of those useful to him, it implies someone ready to listen and learn – someone who has kept parts of his soul open to wonder.

Their conversations about Boromir continue and Faramir makes an amazing declaration (even more amazing considering the knowledge we already have of him – he does not snare anybody with falsehoods):

“…Whatever befell on the North March, you, Frodo, I doubt no longer. If hard days have made me any judge of Men’s words and faces, then I may make a guess at Halflings!…” He does not doubt Frodo any more, he doubts what he, himself, should do. This is vastly different from the film, where has doubt about Frodo, and is proud & harsh long after Tolkien has him give up any worries he had on Frodo’s part.

Referring to their conversations on the way to the refuge we are once again told that Faramir uses an “interrogator’s trick.” However, a trick smacks of a snare or falsehood, something Faramir will not do. We know that, if he says he stopped the conversation b/c of its touchiness then that is why he stopped it. He may be incredibly astute at understanding many things from one sentence, but this does not exclude his honesty.

Faramir, of the book, also does something that the Faramir of the movie never does at this point – he asks forgivness. Consider:

“…Frodo, I pressed you hard at first about Isildur’s Bane. Forgive me! It was unwise in such an hour and place. I had not time for thought. We had a hard fight, and there was more than enough to fill my mind.” Ever & always, Faramir is honest. He did question Frodo hard. He does not think, however, that this is an area to be proud of, but rather an area where he needs to ask his ‘prisoner’s’ forgivneness.

And, then, among all this hard conversation & questioning, we get the real essence of Faramir, son of Gondor:

“But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.”

A couple comments on this area:

Faramir is honest. If he says he will not take the Ring, he will not take the Ring.

He expects Frodo to have fear, but assures him it is no longer necessary. This is not the action of a man seriously interested in taking the Ring for Gondor’s use. This is the action of a man ready to do right.

Frodo makes the, for the moment, wise decision to not elaborate any more. He really does not know this man. The analysis, however, makes it appear that this was simply a trick of Faramir’s – how so? If he has told Frodo not to fear him, he means it. If he is really interrogating him (and, apparently, using every trick in the book) then why would he tell Frodo this?

Inside the caves we are also given a brief, but vivid, glance into Faramir’s character, a glance this analysis skips. Anborn tells Faramir:

“I drew nigh and went up aloft as swift as any squirrel could. You will not have us slay wild beasts for no purpose….” What do we have here? A picture of Faramir as a kindly man. What do we have in the film? A Faramir that seems to approve of his men violently mistreating Gollum.

I also am not sure why the analysis says that Faramir’s quick glance to the hobbits shows more distrust against them. Frodo has already explained as much as is possible about Gollum. Faramir has told Frodo that he no longer has any doubts about Frodo’s being genuine. The glance is most likely a simple ‘connecting factor’ – realising that what Anborn saw is probably what Faramir has already seen, and what Frodo has given some account for.

After supper Frodo & Faramir have their discussion. No doubt about it – there is, indeed, dramatic tension in this conversation. Neither of them are being dishonest, but they are also not going to flood forth everything in their souls. There are very deft turnabouts on both sides and, if Faramir is going to be accused of being a most talented interrogator, then so must Frodo be.

Faramir’s talk is also not all about exacerbating information from Frodo. There is genuine disappointment & grief in his conversation – after talking about Boromir we find that “Faramir sighed and fell silent for a while.”

If the analysis mentions that Sam notes Faramir’s quick glance in their direction after hearing of Gollum, how come it does not also mention something else Sam noticed? “He had noted that Faramir seemed to refer to Elves with reverence, and this even more than his courtesy, and his food and wine, had won’s Sam respect and quieted his suspicions.”

Faramir is happy to discuss the elves, but he is also ever ready to pick up on anything relating to his brother. Apart from all the investigation tactics, is this not completely understandable? Faramir saw his brother’s faults, but he also loved him with a strong, brotherly affection.

The analysis stops before we’re even done hearing Faramir in the book. After he recites his speech about “A chance for Faramir, son of Gondor, to show his quality,” he does this:

“… Faramir sat down again in his chair and began to laugh quietly, and then suddenly became grave again.

‘Alas for Boromir! It was too sore a trial… We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor. We boast seldom, and then perform, or die in the attempt. Not if I found it on the highway would I take it I said. Even if I were such a man as to desire this thing and even though I knew not clearly what this thing was when I spoke, still I should take those words as a vow and be held by them.

But I am not such a man. Or I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee. Sit at peace! And be comforted, Samwise…”

Here, then, is the answer to the question that the analsyis rudely ends with: “will Faramir take the Ring?”

Tolkien clearly tells us No. He will not. He does not desire it. He does not desire to use it, even for Gondor’s glory or his father’s respect (which are probably the same thing). He is a just and kind man. He keeps his word.

The movie, however, goes completely against the grain with these qualities of Faramir’s. He does desire the Ring. He does desire to use it. He is not a kind man. He watches with assent & approval when Gollum is flung about. He does not keep his word – he gives Frodo every reason to think he will not harm Gollum, and then stands by & lets Gollum be harmed.

I would now like to answer some very specific ‘points’ in the analysis.

Most of the complaints about the presentation of Faramir in the movie have centred on these points:

1.) He was a good guy who never threatened the Hobbits

2.) He did NOT kidnap the Hobbits

3.) He did NOT want the Ring

4.) He was different from Boromir

As far as I can see, Tolkien’s presentation on Faramir has him threatening the Hobbits and kidnapping the Hobbits; Tolkien keeps suggesting that Faramir too may try for the Ring in the same way as Boromir already had.

Complaint #1 – My complaint is that Faramir would never have threatened the Hobbits without need. In the movie he seems to take delight in threatening characters smaller and weaker than he is.

Complaint #2 – Faramir would not have kidnapped the Hobbits the way it is shown in the movie. In the book he takes them to his cave simply whilst he decides what is best to be done. Forfeiting one’s life is not something you decide on quickly. He also has a responsibility to investigate all those on his land. He does not feel he has all the information, he can see the Hobbits need a rest, it isn’t even safe for them to continue at the moment. Solution? ‘Kidnap’ them while he decides the best course. Book? He decides to let them go.

Movie? He continues to hold them in bondage, after he’s learned about the Ring and decided a plan of action. His plan of action is vastly different than what the Faramir of the book would have done.

Complaint #3 – Tolkien does, indeed, through the Hobbits’ eyes, continually suggest that Faramir might take the Ring. Of course we are to suspect this – The Ring is an item of great danger, and we’ve got the example of the 9 wraiths (once men) falling prey to its power, along with witnessing what it did to Boromir. Tolkien doesn’t stop there, however. He surprises us by showing us a man who is not lured by it. A man who does right from the start. This is not what we get in the movie. Tolkien’s suggestion that Faramir might succumb and fact that he does not, is reversed in the movie. He does succumb, and then – against all odds – he ‘reforms.’

Complaint #4 – He was different than Boromir, and I’m really not sure why the film makers decided to make them similar.

I have a few more of my own complaints to offer:

#5 – He is cruel in the movie. This is not what we have of him in the book.

#6 – He is unduly hasty & judgmental. In the book he is “thoughtful,” “astonished” and “wondering” at much of what he hears. In the movie he seems willing to think the worst of everything and not give fair ‘trials’ to his ‘prisoners.’

—————–

3.) The movie then plays with another option: Faramir will send Frodo (and the Ring) to Minas Tirith (present in the book as well).

Not quite sure why this is ‘another option.’ Tolkien certainly doesn’t make it an option. Faramir finds out about the Ring and sends Frodo on his way. In the very beginning he considers sending Frodo to Minas Tirith, but this is even before he knows about the Ring! The movie is playing with an option Tolkien never gave.

In closing, I’d like to share the description of Faramir that we have from the RotK appendices:

“Faramir the younger was like him [Boromir] in looks but otherwise in mind. He read the hearts of men as shrewdly as his father, but what he read moved him sooner to pity than to scorn. He was gentle in bearing, and a lover of lore and of music, and therefore by many in those days his courage was judged less than his brother’s. But it was not so, except that he did not seek glory in danger without a purpose. He welcomed Gandalf at such times as he came to the City, and he learned what he could from his wisdom; and in this as in many other matters he displeased his father…

It did not seem possible to Faramir that any one in Gondor could rival Boromir, heir of Denetho, Captain of the White Tower; and of like mind was Boromir. Yet it proved otherwise at the test.”

Posted in Old Special Reports on December 24, 2002 by

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