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The Gallery Cafe

Gallery Cafe

5th February



In this still from TT we see Elrond at Rivendell. The striking part of the image is the balcony. Here we see two of the key symbols of the elvish world beautifully combined:



First there is the spiral. Spirals are everywhere in Lothlorien and Rivendell. Itís fun to watch Fellowship and simply count the number of times spirals appear. Sometimes they are symbols (the CrownSpiral worn by Galadriel) and sometimes mystical portents of some new power (see how when Frodo grasps Samís arm in the Anduin it makes a spiral shape).

Above all spirals are to be found where the elves are. The spiral forms on the balcony above are made up of and intertwined with Peacocks tails. Peacocks are a traditional symbol of immortality. Put the two forms together, the Peacock and the spiral and you have the traditional Cadeuces or winged spiral:

The cadeuces means immortality which is present in the ordinary mortal world. The elves live in the world of men yet wear their immortality in their symbols.

18th November

'Frank' sends this excellent set of observations on Edoras:

In viewing the Quicktime Video on the making of Edoras: The Rohan Capital, on www.lordoftherings.net, I understand three of the symbols that adorn Meduseld, the Golden Hall but I do not understand a fourth:

The horse reminds us of the strength, swiftness and loyalty found in the kingdom of the Rohan. On the front of Meduseld there is a row of horse heads that suggests that the people of the Rohan stand together. The teasers and photos show the riders of the Rohan whether on horse or foot they are often in ranks of four.

The Golden Hall and at least one other building have several horns at or near the top. The horn is another ancient symbol of strength and it crowns the building. We should find strength within.

On the floor of Meduseld appears to have a Celtic knot traced into it that continues but the steps to the throne. The knot symbolizes connection and solidarity. It suggests that the whole community is united behind the king, that they are bonded together with the king.

What creature holds the torches? Is it a bird, a lizard, a salamander (which is often associated with fire) or a dragon? Does it have a sinister meaning such as a symbol of the secret enemy, Saruman?

The symbols tell us that there should be strength in Meduseld. But Wormtongue has weakened the king. With the king weaken the whole kingdom is bond with the weakness. When Gandalf heals the king he heals the whole kingdom. It will be interesting to see if, in the movie, the people of Rohan are listless, frustrated and hopeless before the healing and what change will take place in them after the healing.

Thank you for creating one of the most interesting sites about LOTR. The thought provoking articles and essays have added to my enjoyment of the movie The Fellowship of the Ring.

Sincerely Yours

Frank

Art of the Rings will be presenting a comprehensive guide to the kingdom of Rohan and the symbols of Edoras soon. October 28th

We are going to see more of Galadriel's Swan boat in the extended FOTR. There is a commentary here that looks at the symbolism and design of the boat in the context of the overrall look of Lothlorien. The commentary is in two parts; lokk at the images first and then follow the link to the commentary. The commentary looks at the importance of spirals and lemniscates in Lothlorien. It's important to see the Swan boat as integral to the principles on which the whole kingdom is based. The swan boat is not really a new element in terms of the principles of design and symbolism we have seen elsewhere. Perhaps this is why it was dropped. This is a pity because the Swan boat is the centrepiece of the symbolic language woven into the architecture of Galadriel's kingdom. Swans are a symbol of the goddess Venus who rode a Swan between the earthly and spiritual worlds. Lothlorien itself is a bridge between worlds. The bridges we see in Lothlorien are symbolic of the link point that is the whole kingdom. October 19th

There is a lot written about swords in the trilogy. Hereís an angle though you might not have considered. Connecting with it might help you get more out of all the comings and goings which swords in the trilogy are characterised by. Why does PJ/Robinson delay the arrival of Narsil to Aragorn? This question causes loads of chin rubbing on lots of message boards. AOR can give you an original take on this:

Letís head back to Edoras and the Golden hall wherein sits the depleted and sapped King Theoden. Wormtongue has drained the king of his independent will and thereby conquered the entire kingdom of Rohan. The scope of the kingís will has shrunk to nought. The kings sword has been put away. This symbolises the banishment of the kingís will. In symbolism the sword is an archetype of will. The sword-will of the king is his will over his entire kingdom. Without his sword all of the kingís subject suffer insecurity.

Gandalf knows the secret symbolic power of the sword because he is a wizard Gandalf knows that the Kingís sword must be brought out. Theoden must take his sword, be reconnected with his will.

Above: Theoden finds his will when his sword is returned to him

The return of the kingís will marks the final flight and defeat of Grima.

Letís return to Rivendell. Below are the scenes of Aragorn and Narsil

Aragorn contemplates the image of Isildur. Isildur is victorious through the wielding of the broken Narsil. Yet the inner battle within Isildur will be lost. Isildur has not the will to resist the ring. This is symbolised by the breaking of the sword.

Aragorn here contemplates the shards of Narsil. Yet Narsil will not be reforged in PJ/Robinsonís trilogy until the identity of Aragorn himself is reforged. The will of the future king is not yet ready. Once the identity of the king has been established then the will of the king can come in. Only then will the sword appear. The archetype of the kingís will is carried to him. Aragorn cannot take the sword at Rivendell. And neither can the sword take him.

October17th

Following on from yesterdayís piece below on Frodo and the landscape below are some moments which show Frodoís absorption into the surrounding landscape as the quest progresses:

In the shire: Frodo stands out from the background, though he shares similar colour tones to it he is an individual set against the green hue of his home.

After the loss of Gandalf: Frodo seems hardened and more like the rocks behind him. Frodo is hardened in suffering.

At the Anduin: Frodo again absorbed into background in a drmatic way.

At the Marshes: Frodo will be absorbed into the fog grey almost literally when he falls.

17th October

Take a look at these two images. The first is Frodo at the Emyn Muil (Jackson/Robinson) and the second is Sea of Fog (Casper Friedrich). The first is composed by two movie directors, the second a major artist. The techniques used by both are the same. The compositional principles are similar. Ok the directors have not dashed to a gallery and taken Friedrich to heart but in cinema there is often much overlap with painting.

Look at two details from the picture and the movie still.

In both the central figure in the foreground merges into the background. In Sea of Fog the figure seems to grow out of the rock. In TT Frodo almost completely blends into the landscape. Friedrich flattens the perspective to show a unity, an abiding spiritual connection between figure and landscape. PJ flattens the perspective in the TT shot (lessening the depth of field with digital enhancement) to show us:

Frodo is getting more absorbed into the landscape as he gets closer to Mordor. Frodoís identity is merging into the quest.

Frodoís inner spiritual agony is tied to the landscape. As the landscape changes so does the inner spiriitual state of the hero.

Thereís lots to ponder here. This is how the landscape is a separate character in the movie. Anyone any thoughts?

10th October

So why do we see Legolas up first in the Mirror of Galadriel? Some say itís just to get a nice shot of the Fellowship poster-elf for the female audience. Iíve seen this point made on many of the (less intelligent than this one) websites. Once again though I urge you that no shot in FOTR is superfluous. Legolas appears in the mirror because it refers us back to the Council of Elrond. The Mirror is there to reinforce Frodoís quest and to remind us the audience that our hero is as much engaged in an inner quest as an outer journey. Letís go back to the Council for a moment:

When Frodo looks into the ring, which sits on the council table, he sees an all-consuming fire. And whiostanding reflected in the ring looking straight back at Legolas. The eye contact with Frodo through the vehicle of the ring is emphasised because the other council members are all arguing and consumed by disagreement. The sacrificial fire though consumes Frodo and Legolas is the guardian of the threshold of that sacrificial flame.

So on to the mirror

Now the oracular element is different (water not fire) though contained still in a circle form (the mirror rather than the ring) and there is friend Legolas the guardian of the oracle again; this time he turns to emphasise the direct eye contact.

There are deeper themes here to do with Elves, oracles and the unique guardianship role that Elves play as bridges between two worlds but that will come up in later pages. For now maybe we need to remember that no shot in Fellowship is there to bump up the ratings. Purpose, symbolism and metaphor are woven into this movie like an elvish spiral.

9th October 02

I am indebted to visitor 'Frank' for this

I have looked around and I have not found a mention of the black hairs in Sarumanís white beard right around his mouth. In the movie his beard looks stained although I believe that Tolkien mention that there were just a few black hairs that cold be seen. Christ said that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The black heart of Saruman is shown in the black hairs around his mouth. The evil and treacherous words have stained his beard just as there seems to be a black stain on the bottom lip of Wormtongue.

8th October 02

Two sets of observations have come in from visitors to AOR.

Deborah sends this:

I really enjoy your site, it gives me a whole new level of appreciation for the film. When I watched the new trailer for "The Two Towers," one brief scene struck me. It seemed familiar. It showed Frodo in a medium close-up looking upwards sadly as he walks along from the right of the screen towards the left. The look of complete vulnerability and resignation, the eyes looking far upwards instead of where he is walking, a hand reaching out to him from the left of the screen, somehow reminded me of paintings depicting the trials of Christ. I think that Peter Jackson is showing us that Frodo will be the Sacrifice needed to redeem Middle Earth. I found a painting by El Greco: "The Disrobing of Christ" with a very similar expression, which I will attach. I am unable to pull frames of the trailer for comparison, but perhaps if you pulled one of those frames and placed it next to the El Greco painting of Christ's head, it would strike you the same way.

Here is the frame from the trailer and a detail from the El Greco:

That was great Deborah, thanksÖ.We will never know unless we get Peter Jackson and Fran Robinson into a tutorial at AOR whether such juxtapositions actually constitute a reference to each other. The point is to let our own creativity out and enjoy the plausibility that a reference exists. The point here is not that PJ and co want to make Frodo into a christ figure. The reference is to the traditional rubric of sacrifice which is to be found at its most potent in paintings such as the El Greco above. Sacrifice is a theme that is constantly referenced to Frodo. Frodo is depicted as a little sacrificial lamb at the council of Elrond ( the round table is used to emphasise the theme by recalling a sacrificial stone). The theme of sacrifice will surely grow in the trilogy as Frodo collects more wounds. The thematic interplay of wounds, Frodo, and sacrifice will figure in future AOR studies.

Above, the table at the council of Elrond is a sacrificial stone, somewhere in style between an altar and a font. When the ring manifests itís fire to Frodo we are given a furtherer reference to the sacrificial quality of Frodoís offering to be the ringbearer. This is a sacrificial fire (below). Frodo will not just walk into Mordor but into his own sacrificial flame. Thew sacrifice is the inner quest of the hero, the journey to Mordor itís outer aspect.

We have heard again from Jimeous:

Regarding Galadriels' response to temptation

Galadriels dialogue during this piece

You offer it to me freely. I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired this. In place of a dark lord you would have a queen, not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn, treacherous as the sea, stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!

Detailed Breakdown incorporated with the Visuals

------------------------------------------------- Galadirel: You offer it to me freely. I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired this. In place of a dark lord you would have a queen....

Visuals: Frodo's perseption of Galadriel when she starts to transform where everything else is light and she first becomes "wraithlike". The "queen" she mentions at this early stage is not one of beauty, but one which is associated with the Dark Lord

Galadriel: .....not dark but beautiful....

Visuals: Galadriel appears as she was when the Fellowship first see her.

This is also the same way Frodo first sees Arwen. Beautiful is linked with a surreal light of purity

Galadriel: ....and terrible as the dawn....

Visuals: Galadriels voice now changes, incorporating a male voice, she has being shown in her wraithlike form

Galadriel: .....treacherous as the sea, stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!

Visuals: The continuation of the Wraithlike vision

* Galadriel's fingers elongated recalling the Witch King

* The "Light" is no longer beautiful, but Sinister perhaps a reminder of Saruman the Whites treachery

* Galadriel's sleeves are ripped to shreds

This is a further reminder that Frodo sees Galadriel as if he were wearing the One Ring. The reminder when he slipped on the Ring at Weathertop

* Galadriel wears a plated Corslet

The way its presented with the torn sleeves seems an abomination. She is not fully armored as one would expect. the Corslet is not only out of place with the rest of her outfit, but seems crudely lacking of Elvin beauty. If she were to wear armor, it would likely be something like Frodo's Mithril Shirt. Here the armor is suggesting power and defiance or in the dialogue "stronger than the foundations of the earth"

Light

-------------------- In the first instance, the light exposes Galadriel's temptation, it becomes a tool of revelaing the truth. In another instance light is used to enhance Galadriel's beauty, light now becomes a tool of purity. In the final instance light becomes harsh, unvieling the nature of treachery. Its sinister in its portrayal

Common themes

-----------------------

From the start to the end, the link with the One Ring is undeniable, its layered within the visuals of Galadriel. Her speech speaks of the outcome of possessing the One Ring. Her intentions are not sinister to begin with, yet they become such during the dialogue. The collective theme is a corruption of good by the One Ring, this is the same as Saruman's corruption toward lusting the Ring. It is also Boromir's fate. Both participants started with noble ideas, both had intention to do good, but slowly they changed, becoming obsessed with the One Ring. They had given in to the temptation. They did not "pass the test"

Jimeous

17 July 2002

I received this great post from Jimeous and I wanted to put it here right away:

One thing I noticed about the scene at Weathertop and the Battle with the Balrog is how they almost duplicated each other...

1. In both scenes we're given images of "shadow" and "flame"

Weathertop: Shadow from the Nazgul, flame from Aragon's torch. Ardon doesn't use it to stab, rather does sweeping movements with it Bridge: Balrog is both shadow and flame, his movements are one of sweeping, much like Aragon's torch.

2. Both scenes has 1 person who is fully capable of confronting the shadows

Weathertop: Aragon, has to jump in because the Hobbits are just outclassed and incapbale

Bridge: Gandalf with the Balrog, realises that the Fellowship are no match for the Balrog.

3. Both scenes end with a delayed response with fire Weathertop: Aragon turns and throws the torch, its eeirely a whip like action

Bridge: Gandalf is caught by the Balrog's fire whip

4. Both scenes end with a great loss and realisation Weathertop: Frodo's wound does more than injure him, a part of his innocence has also lost. He awakens in Rivendell a different Hobbit, full with realisation that the adventure he started is nothing like the one his Uncle Bilbo. Its not the wound which has him concerned, its the implications of the events.

Bridge: Gandalf's eventual fall is one which reminds us that no matter how much experienced or learned we are, there are some things which will happen that we are not prepared for. The incident affected all the Fellowship, like the invisible wound left by a Nazgul blade. Death not only brings sadness but implications that we don't need to shed blood to feel the most pain

Those are just some thoughts of mine

Jimeous

14May 2002

A visitor to the site sends this:

I just recently saw LOTR again, and found one scene very interesting in the context your article on hand symbolism.

'When Boromir handles Narsil, he cuts the index finger of his left hand, which somehow foreshadows his fate. By vainly imagining himself as the carrier of the illustrious weapon, he again uses the finger of the ego to test the blade, which then cuts it draws blood.'

and Mary has some observations on Sam's 'baptism' at the Anduin:

'One observation on Sam's near-drowning . . . to me, it's a symbol of baptism, which primarily stands for dying in Christ (dying to sin and selfishness) and rising, purified, to new life. As he runs into the water, he's leaving behind his old life and his desire, expressed in Rivendell, to return to the Shire. He knows that danger and very likely death await him by Frodo's side, but he is heedless of his own safety. When he comes up from the water, his "new life" is to fulfill his promise and serve Frodo, even at the cost of his own life.'

I continue to mull over the parallels between Isengard and the eye of Sauron. See below how the transformed Isengard has a landscape based on fire and shadow: the same elements that make up the Eye...

and how Othanc has become the pupil of the Eye

13May 2002

Once again the artist Hieronymous Bosch comes to mind when scanning the picture of Isengard after Saruman has turned it into a reduced Mordor. See how the monstrous workings at Isengard bear similarity or Boch's vision of hell in these two images:

Bosch inspirations appear throughout Fellowship and are likely to figure again in TT in Mordor.

11 May 02


Gollum is being kept well under wraps but two aspects of the creature Gollum that may be important have already been prefaced in Fellowship. Gollum is likely to have extended and probing fingers (as in the book). Interestingly the Nazgul in wraith form also have extended fingers:



In the wraiths we get some clues about Gollum. The effect of being manipulated by darkness is that the ego of the victim is rerouted into the service of evil. The extended fingers, are a symbol of this. The fingers become instruments of a monodirectional will, they probe, take and stab. The creature Gollum is bound to have this as well and watching how the physical realisation of Gollum might mirror other agents of the dark lord will be interesting. Gollum is really a reduced Hobbit. All those aspects that endear us to Hobbits have been stripped away. Gollum is reduced to an abstraction, a kind of shadow. Abstract eyes and abstract hands are his only two aspects. Like the Nazgul the body has been shrunk or withdrawn enhancing the reduced, two dimensional aspect. The Nazgul have been humilliated in their mutillation, parodied kings. So Gollum is a parody of a hobbit. This makes an agent of evil more compliant to the master but breeds a kind of resentment to the master as well. PJ has said there will be more psychological games from Gollum than in the book.



When Galadriel is fighting the temptation of the freely offered ring she is seen as a battleground between light and shadow. At once the shadow side seems to almost take her over and her eyes enlarge and become almost 'gollum like.' Gollum is really a kind a frozen moment of temptation. The large eyes and darkened body refer to the victory of temptation, of darkness. Above is the moment when dark seems to drive the light out of Galadriel...see the eyes. Galadriel passes through temptation but Gollum is held there after years of possessing the ring.
08May02

Walking in the park on Saturday and as we turned round the river a beautiful swan took off from the water and flew under a willow and out into the parkland. This was a lothlorien moment if ever was. Plodding over the fields a week later and I come across a house wit a peacock in the garden. A legolas moment. So that set me off writing about the peacock on the quiver of Legolas. Rereading the piece its hard to convey the importance of symbols in Fellowship without a copy of the movie to hand. What is missing in that piece is how important the symbols are on Legolas. Grasping their meaning now will really make the next two episodes fun to watch. On his front Legolas wears a half spiral, on his back the peacock (immortality, changing colour spectrum) and on the side is that spiral platt in his hair. Getting a picture of the 3d placement of key symbols on Legolas will help later. Does anyone else have moments straight out of the books? I think that having a relationship with the symbolic aspect of LOR, either through the books or the movie(s) makes real changes in your perceptions especially in nature. Doing this kind of work is a kind of alchemy. Jung and Joseph Campbell were no fools, change happens. If you have any LOR 'moments' then mail me. It might help while we wait for more images of TT to be released. Touch Tolkien's pipe on the bottom of the page to mail.


May3 2002

A visitor, a professor from Michigan, makes these comments about hands symbolism in Fellowship:

'Several times Frodo offers the ring to various powerful people: Gandalf, Galadriel, Aragorn. When he offers the ring, he does so with an open hand, but as they each refuse the ring, he must reaffirm his willingness to c