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Musings

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter ... Varda ...

If you are beautiful, the Irish say your face is your fortune. Elijah Wood's face is his fortune, but not in the way of just beauty. As Frodo, his face shows all his feelings, his fears and, less and less, his joys. It is the clear glass filled with light that Gandalf speaks of in the book.

At Bilbo's birthday party Frodo watches his beloved uncle climb up to deliver his speech. Short and to the point, the hobbits all hope, not to be distracted from the food for too long. Frodo's face glows with happiness. Bilbo welcomes all the guests, with a round of applause for each clan. 'Bagginses and Boffinses' Frodo claps; yes Bilbo we love all the old duffers, however tiresome they can be. And the Bolgers and Bracegirdles and Chubbs, Grubbs and Proudfeet.....and where was I? Frodo's face changes ever so slightly as he sees Bilbo hesitate and fumble in his pocket. Then he gasps 'I've put this off for far too long' and Frodo's long suspicion returns and his smile vanishes and he turns his head as if to hear something out of earshot then Bilbo looks at him; 'Goodbye'

Frodo's face is an epilogue of loss, disappointment and hurt. Did the old hobbit ever know the damage he had done? Perhaps it was the Ring....

Later, much later, when Gandalf has tested the Ring and knows what it is, he reveals it all to Frodo, listening intently to the man he loves nearly as much as his gone-missing uncle Bilbo. He hunches his shoulders and leans on the table, brows drawn in concentration as little by little, like drops of blood, the horror compiles. Aware at last, he reaches up to the Wizard's great height with the Ring, his face full of fear and his voice shrill 'Take it! You must take it!' A last chance to save his life in the Shire, his life at all.

'You cannot offer me this Ring..' ' I'm giving it to you!' Frodo is shouting at Gandalf, but Gandalf's hesitant reply is louder than a shout 'Do not tempt me...' Frodo's stares at him wide-eyed, like the hare with the greyhound on her heels. Never before had Gandalf spoken to him so. Frodo drops his head and recoils. It is another loss for him. He barely hears Gandalf's reply, he has already understood. He closes his hand on the Ring like a trap springing, on him and on his life.

In Rivendell, pale and sad and wounded, he looks out over the valley of indescribable beauty and thinks he would have once loved this. He barely hears Sam fussing over the packs. Then Sam says to him 'I thought, now that you are on the mend, we could be off now. Off home'. Frodo keeps his back turned to Sam but raises his head. A look of terrible yearning comes into his face. The breeze from the valley stirs his untidy black hair, no longer shining but lank. Home! 'We did what Gandalf said, we got The Ring to Rivendell'. Hope that in his heart of hearts he knows is false rises up in Frodo and he turns and says shakily to Sam 'You're right, I am ready to go home' This time it is Sam who looks doubtful. They both know it can never be. Frodo puts his arm round Sam's shoulders...

In Moria, endless darkness on every side, they stop, lost. Aragorn and Boromir sit smoking together, Pippin complains to Merry how hungry he is. Frodo looks down into the chasm and with his unnaturally sharpened vision sees some part of the darkness come alive and creep after him. In horror, he scrambles over to Gandalf; 'It's Gollum' the wizard says calmly. 'Gollum!' Frodo's face is full of a hatred born of fear. 'It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him while he had the chance!' 'Pity?' Says Gandalf, turning to look at the tired, desperate hobbit beside him. 'It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand.' Frodo looks uncertainly at Gandalf. 'Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life; can you give it to them, Frodo?' Frodo looks lost and guilty. 'Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the wise cannot see all ends...' Frodo sits down, sick and lost. He will never understand. This thing will take him to his death and he will still not understand. He slumps beside Gandalf. 'I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.' He stares bleakly into a future full of only fear and evil. Gandalf pities him and speaks kindly. 'So do all that live to see such times. But it is not for them to decide. All they have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to them.' Frodo looks up at Gandalf, his face less distressed, searching for understanding of the wizard's words.

'There are other forces at work in the world besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring and in that case you too were meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought....'

In this darkness more deep than any night, far from home, with friends in peril and the future uncertain, Frodo looks up at Gandalf, his face pale and sharp, as if whittled and worn away by fear and trials and the long journey from Bag End is there for all to see....