As always, I got a lot of enjoyable mail in response to my review which appeared yesterday as Tehanu’s 21st Note yesterday. I’ll be away for the next week so I won’t be able to respond to any more, but here are some important points other people brought up.

Most important, because a lot of people mentioned it: Frodo didn’t push Gollum, they both fell together. Many people have written to correct me on this, having watched that scene carefully. As Erather puts it: “Frodo does *not* push Gollum into the fire. They’re fighting and both fall. Frodo at that moment is still totally under the Ring’s influence, and must have it back (not destroy it).”

Nimrodel adds, “You can see on his face that he’s very seriously considering just letting go and ending it all (though some have said he *still* wants the Ring at that point), but it’s Sam’s love that pulls him back.”

DM disagrees with me that the film makes Aragorn do all his heroics out of his love for Arwen: “Aragorn seems to deny that he’s doing it all for the sake of love –the little two-line conversation in Elvish that Elrond & Aragorn share seems to point AWAY from Aragorn doing this “to save his love.” It went something like this:

Elrond: “I bring hope to mankind.” Aragorn: “I save none for myself.”

Doesn’t this seem like Aragorn has acknowledged that Arwen will die… he saves no hope for himself…especially since this all plays out only minutes after Aragorn has awoken from his dream/premonition that Arwen is on her death bed?”

Julie wrote: “How DARE they cheapen Aragorn’s heroic motivation by making it personal in the end. What a Cheat! But, on the other hand, it’s a wonderful motivation for making Elrond finally bow to the need to reforge the sword, deliver it to Aragorn, and help him with the Paths of the Dead advice. A very necessary plot point and I can’t think of any other motivation that would have worked on him, based on the character as developed in the film.

She adds, “When he says “I’ll keep no… [hope] for myself” I read that as trying to remove that cheapening motifivation from his character – that he’s not going to hope for success for personal gain – but to continue on the way he has been. Sort of trying to negate the cheapening motivation that they needed for other reasons. Didn’t quite work for me – but that’s how I interpreted things.

“Which brings me to the whole Arwen dying thing. The only way I was able to interpret that (and again, I wasn’t using the written word as a baseline reference) is that when she clutches Frodo on the banks of the river in FOTR and says “whatever grace is given me, let it pass to him” – she’s linking her life into FRODO’s. [This is something I thought also at the time – Tehanu] His fate therefore also becomes hers. Thus as his lifeforce fades in ROTK, so does hers. If he fails, she too will die. Therefore the time frame for her dying is imminent – and explains Elrond’s sudden sense of urgency.”

Megan writes about Denethor’s suicide, which is a controversial scene:

“In the movie, it is aided by Gandalf who now becomes a murderer, especially terrible because it seems Denethor is depicted as though he may have snapped out of his madness, but it was too late, Shadowfax had already pushed him into the fire. The book uses this scene to describe the destruction of pure unbridled despair as opposed to the accomplishments of courage and hope. But the movie only uses it to show how crazy Denethor was… and there was no use of the Palatir to hint that Sauron was using despair and fear as a weapon to insure his victories in Middle Earth.” We’re still hunting for great artworks of the past that are reflected in the film. Miguel thought the pose and look of Frodo as he is borne by the Eagle is suggested by Reubens’ The Entombment

Keep looking, everyone. A lot of you know far more about art than me.