4.07. The Stories That Really Matter by AinarielPalantir
How did it happen in the movie?
Frodo and Sam are in Osgiliath that is under attack and the Nazgûl are also there. Frodo is taken over by the power of the Ring and he walks up to a Nazgûl. He offers the Ring to it and almost puts it on but Sam runs up, takes his hands and pulls him away. They fall to the ground and infuriated Frodo takes his sword and points it towards Sam’s throat. Sam asks if Frodo doesn’t know his Sam and after a few seconds Frodo comes back to reality and dropping his sword he says “I can’t do this Sam”. Standing by a window looking out Sam says: “I know. It’s all wrong. By rights, we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you that meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.”
Frodo then asks “What are we holding on to Sam?”, and Sam answers: “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
Frodo seems confused and sad but also like he understands and even Gollum looks sad. Faramir comes and says he finally understands Frodo and orders his men to release them even when one of his men warns him that his own life will be then forfeit.
How did it happen in the book?
The whole scene is fabulous, it creates good ending to this part of Frodo’s and Sam’s journey and Sam’s speech really brings tears to your eyes. But because in the book Faramir doesn’t bring Frodo and Sam to Osgiliath but releases them in Henneth Annûn, the scene itself is made up but it contains things that refer to some other places in the book.
Frodo offering the Ring to the Nazgûl is a reference to something that happens in front of Minas Morgul when the hosts of Morgul are marching out. Frodo feels the Witch-King and under the power of the Ring he almost can’t stop himself from putting the Ring on. At the last minute his own will wins and he gets strength from Galadriel’s phial.
The writers say that Frodo threatening Sam with his sword was just “great drama” and also a chance for Sam to start evolving his strength because Frodo is obviously starting to fade away. In the book Frodo doesn’t threaten Sam with his sword at any point. Later when the Ring has taken control over him almost entirely, Frodo shouts at Sam and warns him to stay away but he doesn’t use his sword. In Mordor when Sam suggests he could carry the Ring it says in the book “(Frodo’s) hand strayed to his sword-hilt.”
Later in the movie Sam and Frodo are wondering if their adventure will be put into songs and tales and the writers say that that’s why the stories had to be mentioned earlier somewhere in the movie. Sam talking about the Great Stories in Osgiliath was that time. This was also the moment where the writers wanted to tie all the story lines together and tell what this whole movie is about; crystallize a theme or a thought of this movie. They felt it was about story telling, value of stories and our need to know there are universal values of good.
In the book The Great Stories are mentioned in the chapter The Stairs of Cirith Ungol when Frodo and Sam are resting from the exhausting climbing, feeling hungry and thirsty and Sam says he doesn’t like the smell of the place.
Frodo: “I don’t like anything here at all, step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.”
Sam: “Yes, that’s so.And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say.”
Sam: “But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end.” [4.VIII.]
Our Gallery has has screencaps of the theatrical version, as well as the extended edition.
A transcript of 'The Lord Of the Rings: The Two Towers' can be found in our Film Fun & Facts section.
A summary of 'The Lord Of the Rings: The Two Towers' can be found in Elrond's Library.
Some articles that are related to this sequence:
- The Middle-earth section has an article about The Stewards and the Royal Family of Gondor.
Forum threads related to this sequence:
- You can discuss this sequence in detail in TTT Sequence by Sequence #14: Osgiliath & The End in the Movies Forum. There's also a thread about Gollum/Sméagol discussing the character in TTT and ROTK, and one called The Truth About Faramir.
Take a look at how some artists saw this part in the book:
- The Ruins of Osgiliath by Alan Lee
- The Nazgul of Mordor by Alan Lee
Looking for something more creative - you may find it here: