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Hands on the ring

Hands on the ring

The portraits below make reference to the theme of temptation and redemption in a visual way. Each of these images portray transitional moments in the film. Each have a common thread.

Here the ring comes to Isildur. We see that the ring is still attached to the index finger of the Dark Lord. The ring has been captured in battle by Isildur after a spectacular strike by Isildur. Yet this portrait is almost that of a thief. It is as if Isildur has broken into a jewellers and is about to finger his loot. There is something in the composition of the hand. It is Isildur’s fingers that reach for the ring. He is not going to grab the ring and hold it up in triumph for all to see. No, this image tells of a darker drive within this character. The touch is held by the index finger first. This points to a predominance of ego in Isildur’s intentions for the ring. He sees the ring on the index finger of Sauron being transferred to his own. He is tempted.

At the council of Elrond we see Boromir getting his first sight of the ring. We are struck by the reaction. There is the index finger held against the lip. The index finger points to an egoic element in Boromir’s contemplation. There is a lot of self in this portrait. Gondor and its fate may be on Boromir’s mind but that finger reminds us of Isildur’s earlier gesture. Boromir’s eyes hint at a new vision of Gondor redeemed but that finger tells us he has been individually tempted.

Bilbo gives up the ring at the door of Bag End. The times has come to let it go. In letting go he will be free. The ring will pass and he will go. The ring falls from the flat of Bilbo’s outstretched hand. Earlier he has felt the ring drawn to his index finger but with Gandalf’s counsel he has found his way to freedom. Bilbo is redeemed by this act. All the consequences of his dabblings with the ring are paid off. His hand is held out in submission to Gandalf’s stricture. No hint of ego here.

At Lothlorien Frodo offers the ring to Galadriel. The lady of the wood faces temptation. Yet she approaches the freely offered ring with an open hand This portends that her approach is not likely to end in her giving in to temptation. Again the open hand signals openness to the possibiligy of not being swayed.

As the Fellowship leaves Lothlorien we see Galadriel on the bank. Is this a farewell or a reaffirmation of her temptation? She raises an open hand and we can be reminded that she has indeed passed the test.

There is a contrast in these portraits between the egoic hand and the open hand. The imagery is used again and again to signal underlying motives and intentions. Characters move into the temptation or openly go beyond it.

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