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Look Back In Anger ... Varda ...

Does anyone else when reading the Lord Of The Rings think, how did it get this bad without anyone noticing? I mean, there are orcs coming out of the woodwork and Black Riders running around; didn't anyone see all this coming? Who is in charge here?

In the film Elrond says to Gandalf 'who will you look to when we (the Elves) are gone?' so he at least sees his own race as the primary beings in Middle Earth, to which other races should look up. And there are the Istari, Gandalf, Saruman and Radagast (and just where did HE get to?)

But vigilance has been somewhat lax, because Sauron is not only back but well established. At the start of the film we see towers rising up upon towers, brilliant with never-ceasing forges and furnaces. Hard to miss, in fact.

Apparently, at a meeting of the Istari, the White Council, Saruman pulled the wool over everyone's eyes and lied about Sauron's return and the nature of the Ring. For that no-one could be blamed. But then the great ones, and the Elves, did nothing while Sauron grew and grew. Did no-one smell a rat? It must have been clear quite quickly that Saruman had told fibs.

Then there is the Eye. Soon it is searching Middle Earth. Galadriel says to Frodo 'I know what it is you saw...for it is also in my mind' and has been for a long time. But Galadriel, like Elrond, stays in her realm while Sauron rampages towards the West. Not in my backyard.......

In the film, Saruman says to Gandalf 'you know of what I speak' and Gandalf recoils; he shows not only fear but guilt. He does indeed know what Saruman is talking about; 'The Eye'. He has seen it too. As they walk in the soon to be destroyed garden of Orthanc Saruman, despite being the chief beneficiary of the short-sightedness and lack of preparation of his fellow wizards, cannot help telling Gandalf what an eejit he is;

'It was in the Shire all this time, under my very nose...' 'Yet you did not have the wits to see it. The love of the halfling's leaf has clearly slowed your mind.' It's not advice to stop smoking; it is awe at how much someone so wise could miss.

'They hide in their mountains, they care nothing for the troubles of others' Elrond says of the dwarves. It might apply to him and his people too. I believe Peter Jackson picked up on this, because in the book Boromir comes to Rivendell on an errand inspired by a dream, but in the film he comes full of indignant anger at people content to let Gondor burn and him and his people give up their lives for the safety of those who don't seem to care.

What puts the fat in the fire is the discovery of the Ring. Now Sauron is not just a nuisance, he could, if he gets the Ring, obtain global dominance. And the Ringbearers suddenly are vulnerable. Hence sudden activity. But the great ones have allowed themselves to be out maneuvered on the chessboard of Middle Earth; they cannot use the Ring, they cannot outgun it with their own; they are checkmated.

A tiny figure cast adrift in a great war, Pippin says to himself he is like a pawn on the wrong chessboard; he is right; it is pawns who now have to win the game, mortals and men and hobbits. The great ones, all but Gandalf, either can't or won't achieve this. But the reward is that the pawns inherit the chessboard when it is all over.

The Ragnarork of the elves is guaranteed when they hand this terrible chalice to hobbits and men. Gandalf says to Elrond 'It is a burden Frodo should never have had to carry', but Elrond is more interested in saving Rivendell.

Frodo's sacrifice has been often stressed. But he also pays for the mistakes of the great and wise, having to pick up the pieces and vie with the foes they can't meet. And the help they give is pretty shaky; Elrond gives Frodo a pat on the head and Galadriel gives him a torch. Gandalf promises 'I will help you to bear this burden, Frodo, as long as it is yours to bear'. But he fails to meet Frodo at Bree and Frodo is nearly killed on Weathertop; then he falls into the gulf in Moria and Frodo has only the help of someone possessing no great powers, or magic weapons, imperfect in everything but his love for Frodo; Sam.

In Mordor, Sam and Frodo watch endless armies leaving through the black gates, ranks and companies taking all day to pass out. Mordor can never be defeated by mere strength. In the end it is brought down by courage, hope, sacrifice and friendship.

Hindsight is great, in any war. What, you might ask, could the Elves have done anyway? If not great strength, they could have shared their great wisdom. Only Gandalf of the great ones tries to do this, and he is given a hot reception by both Théoden and Denethor, because the agents of Sauron have poisoned the minds of these rulers. In the ROTK his row with Denethor fizzles and crackles; he has seen his city brought to its knees and lost his son and now this guy shows up and tells him what he is doing wrong; I'm with Denethor.

When Elrond asks 'who will you look to now? Gandalf says 'It is in men that we must place our trust'. Elrond turns away in disgust. 'Men? Men are weak...' Oh the cheek! He who pays the piper calls the tune, Elrond.

Sorry, after a tough week, more musings.