4.10. The Choices of Master Samwise by RubySandybanks
How it happens in the movie:
The scene opens with Frodo rushing towards the tower of Cirith Ungol with obvious determination. He stays close to the rock wall using his hands to help guide him along; he is focused on the tower ahead. Shelob emerges noiselessly from a hole in the rock high above and behind Frodo. She creeps up stealthily behind him. He is unaware of her presence. He hears the sound of rocks or pebbles tumbling to the ground. Surprised and anxious, he turns around quickly, scans the area, but sees nothing. Directly above and behind him appears Shelob’s stinger dripping venom. Frodo turns back towards the tower. She raises it high and savagely jabs Frodo in the upper right chest area. His reaction is immediate: he foams at the mouth; he gasps for breath; his eyes lose focus; and he falls back unconscious. Shelob catches him and immediately begins to spin a web around him making ghastly wet sounds as she does.
In the foreground, a hand enters holding a sword. It is Samwise gripping Sting in one hand and the shining Phial of Galadriel in the other. He says authoritatively, ‘Let him go, you filth.’ Shelob studies him briefly. Sam repeats, ‘Let him go!’ and Shelob drops Frodo, who is now completely encased in her webbing, to the ground. Sam cries out, ‘You will not touch him again.’ Shelob screeches and prepares to attack. Sam rushes at Shelob saying, ‘C’mon and finish it.’ She advances.
Sam slashes at her forelegs. Shelob lifts him up and tosses him a short distance away causing Sam to drop the phial. She advances on Sam brushing away the phial as she approaches. A furious struggle entails with Shelob pushing Sam up the rock face, while he holds onto her mandibles. He frantically kicks at Shelob’s head forcing her down, which allows him to escape briefly. He scrambles up the rock face, but she grasps him. He tumbles over her back and falls to the ground below. Sam scrambles to his feet and prepares to defend himself, while Shelob creeps menacingly above. She drops and rushes towards him. Sam grips Sting tightly and then stabs her in the eye. She retreats, cowers briefly, and then prepares to attack again. Sam advances. Again, he stabs her in the head, but this time Sting becomes stuck. Shelob furiously tries to shake herself free of Sam and his sword. He loses his grip on Sting’s hilt, and the sword goes flying to the ground. Shelob fiercely pushes Sam. He falls face down on the ground. Sting is just within his grasp. Just as his fingertips touch the hilt of the sword, Shelob stomps heavily on it. Sam turns to find Shelob above him raising her stinger. Three times, he dodges her attempts to jab him. Finally, he grabs Sting, holds it upright, and buries it deep in Shelob’s abdomen. Shelob screeches and backs up. Her legs weaken, and she falls heavily to the ground. She picks herself up and screeching in pain backs up towards a hole in the rock. Thrusting the bright phial at her repeatedly and saying, ‘Back,’ Sam forces her into the hole. Shelob disappears.
Sam rushes over to Frodo calling his name. He kneels down, places Sting on the ground, and tears away the webbing from Frodo’s face. Shelob’s green slime covers Sam’s hands. Frodo’s eyes stare up at him unseeing, and he is deathly pale. Sam begins to weep. He shakes Frodo calling his name. He lifts Frodo up and holds him close. Sam begs Frodo, ‘Wake up. Don’t leave me alone. Don’t go where I can’t follow. Wake up.’ Tears fall from Sam’s eyes. He says, ‘Not asleep.’ And pulls Frodo closer to him. ‘Dead,’ he says. Weeping, and overcome with grief, Sam rocks Frodo in his arms for a few moments. The colour of Sting’s blade changes to blue. Sam hears Orc voices approaching. He hears one of them lash out at another, ‘You get back scum!’
A bowlegged orc carrying a whip, followed by several others, comes into view. He sees Frodo and says, ‘What’s this? Looks like old Shelob’s been having a bit of fun.’ Another larger Orc responds, ‘Killed another one has she?’ The first orc prods Frodo with his whip and answers, ‘No, this fellow ain’t dead.’ From his hiding place Sam, in shocked disbelief, utters, ‘Not dead.’ The first Orc responds, ‘She jabs him with her stinger, and he goes as limp as a boned fish. Then she has her way with them. That’s how she likes to feed. Fresh blood.’ He orders those with him to take Frodo to the tower. Two orcs lift and carry Frodo up the stairs. Sam berates himself saying, ‘Samwise you fool.’ One orc mentions that the captive will be awake in a couple of hours to which the whip-carrying orc responds, ‘Then he’ll wish he’d never been born.’ He heads to the stairs, turns, surveys the area around him, turns again and rambles up the stairs. Sam looks on.
A note on Shagrat and Gorbag:
A quick image search on this Internet site (and others) reveals that Shagrat is the orc on the left and Gorbag, the orc on the right. Gorbag has the greater speaking role. The words that Gorbag speaks concerning Shelob are close (almost exact) to the words spoken by Shagrat in the book. And it is Gorbag who expresses the idea that Frodo is dead. In the book Gorbag says, ‘He’s nothing but carrion now!’ [4.X.]
How it happens in the book:
Sam, with sword in hand, rushes towards Frodo and sees him encased in Shelob’s cords from ankle to shoulder. She is half lifting, half dragging Frodo’s body away and takes no heed of Sam until he is upon her. Sam takes action; he does not question whether he is ‘brave, or loyal, or filled with rage.’ [4.X.] With his left hand, he picks up Sting, which Frodo had dropped, and savagely attacks Shelob. Almost before she is aware of Sam, he slices off one of her claws and stabs at her clustered eyes: one of them goes dark. Sam is now underneath Shelob’s belly; the smell almost knocks him out. Before Shelob can lower her swollen, grotesque abdomen to flatten him, Sam slices across her belly. He inflicts a dreadful gash but ‘knobbed and pitted with corruption’ is ‘her age-old hide, but ever thickened from within with layer on layer of evil growth.’ [4.X.] Shelob raises her entire bulk over Sam’s head; poisonous froth oozes from the wound. She bears down her whole weight on Sam, but Sam readies himself. He drops his own sword and with both hands holds Sting point upward. Her great belly descends upon Sting, which penetrates deep into her flesh, while Sam is slowly pressed to the ground. Never before has Shelob felt such agony. She shudders, gathers her legs under her and springs back in shock.
Sam’s senses waver from Shelob’s reek, but the sight of Frodo inspires him to persevere. Sam sees his death in Shelob’s eyes. From her beak, venom exudes; her wounded eye seeps; her belly shudders; her legs shake. She is intent now on killing Sam. He reaches for the phial in his pocket and says, ‘Galadriel.’ He hears the voices of Elves. Unaware of what he is saying, Sam cries, ‘Gilthoniel A Elbereth!’ And then:
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
o menel palan-diriel,
le nallon sí di’nguruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos! [4.X.]
Tolkien (roughly) translates Sam’s incantation in ‘The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien’ (letter #211, pg. 278):
O Elbereth Starkindler
from heaven gazing-afar,
to thee I cry now in the shadow of (the fear of) death.
O look towards me, Everwhite!
The words motivate Sam. He is now, ‘Samwise the hobbit, Hamfast’s son, again.’ Sam goads Shelob to attack. In Sam’s hand, the phial burns brightly ‘like a star that leaping from the firmament sears the dark air with intolerable light.’ The light is unbearable to Shelob; her head fills with excruciating pain. She falls back desperately beating the air with her forelegs, turns her head, rolls aside and crawls towards the tunnel. Sam advances on her. Just as she slides into the opening, Sam slashes at her legs. She is gone: her fate unknown.
Sam drags himself over to Frodo and calls out to him. Frodo is motionless and does not answer. Shelob had advanced swiftly behind him and had stung him in the neck, as he ran obliviously up the path. Sam cuts the cords binding Frodo and checks for signs of life. He finds none. He pleads with Frodo, ‘Don’t leave me here alone! It’s your Sam calling. Don’t go where I can’t follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo!’ For a time, Sam is overwhelmed with anger. He slashes the air, hits rocks, and shouts threats. He then returns to Frodo and looks at his face. Suddenly Sam remembers the image ‘revealed to him in the mirror of Galadriel in Lórien: Frodo with a pale face lying fast asleep under a great dark cliff.’ He had thought that Frodo was asleep in the image. He says, ‘He’s dead! Not asleep, dead!’ As Sam utters these words, the colour of Frodo’s face seems to take on a ghastly hue.
A profound despair envelops Sam, and his world goes black. When he recovers, he asks himself what he should do. He wonders if he has come all this way for nothing. He remembers his words to Frodo when they had first set out, ‘I have something to do before the end. I must see it through, sir, if you understand.’ He had not understood them then. He now questions what he can do: surely, not leave Frodo, dead and unburied, and go home. He wonders if he is meant to go on. He trembles with fear and doubt. Sam ultimately decides that it is his fate to leave Frodo and carry on.
Sam begins to weep. He folds Frodo’s hands upon his breast and wraps his cloak around him. He places his own sword from the Barrows on one side of Frodo’s body and Faramir’s staff on the other. He apologizes to Frodo for taking Sting and the star-glass; he hopes that Frodo will understand. Sam carries on his inner struggle as he sits holding Frodo’s hand. He thinks of going on for the sake of vengeance: of killing Gollum, but decides that that is not a worthy reason to leave Frodo. He considers the road behind and dismisses going back. The thought to ‘see it through’ arises. He resists the thought that he should take the ring to the Crack of Doom. Sam shudders at the thought but it persists, ‘What? Me take the Ring from him? The Council gave it to him.’ The response is clear and instantaneous, `And the Council gave him companions, so that the errand should not fail. And you are the last of all the Company. The errand must not fail.’ Sam lacks self-confidence; twice he tells himself that he is ‘sure to go wrong.’ He considers the ring and what will become of it. Only one option seems feasible: to take the ring lest it fall into enemy hands.
Bending over, Sam gently removes the chain with the ring from around Frodo’s head and kisses his cold forehead. He asks Frodo for forgiveness and says, ‘And if the Lady could hear me and give me one wish, I would wish to come back and find you again. Good-bye!’ He puts the chain around his own neck and feels the weight of the ring pulling his head down. The weight lessens as Sam finds new strength. With one last look at Frodo, Sam turns and continues up the path. Soon he nears the top of a flight of stairs; above looms the orc-tower. He turns hoping to see Frodo. He doubts his decision to leave Frodo and take the ring. It goes completely ‘against the grain of his nature.’ He hopes his one wish will be fulfilled, and grudgingly pushes on.
Suddenly Sam hears Orcs shouting from above and behind him. He turns and sees torches coming out of a tunnel below. There is no escape. Without thought, he puts on the ring. Sam’s perception is affected at once. His sense of time seems greatly expanded, and his sense of hearing is greatly increased. His sense of vision is diminished. Things appear vague rather than dark. He perceives himself to be alone in a world grey and hazy. He feels ‘uniquely visible’ rather than invisible; he knows the Eye is searching for him. The ring pulls his hand heavily down. Sam flattens himself against the cliff as the Orc army, distorted and shadowy to his eyes, passes him by. The Orcs above and those below meet each other. There is much shouting, and Sam is surprised that he understands their speech. He surmises that the ability to understand tongues is perhaps a power that the ring bestows on its wearer. The ring does not give Sam courage however. Sam thinks only of hiding; he listens intently.
The Orc leaders, Gorbag and Shagrat meet one another. Shagrat asks Gorbag why he has come. Gorbag answers that he has ‘orders.’ Shagrat retorts that he is in command of the pass. The leaders conversation is interrupted from a yell below. The Orcs believe they have found a spy. There is much hollering and blowing of horns. Sam is roused from his fear as he has heard dreadful tales about Orcs. He dismisses the quest and his hard decisions. Uncertain of what he can do but certain that his place is with his master, Sam hurries down to where Frodo lay.
Once again, Sam considers his options. He reasons that there are too many Orcs to kill, and they would see Sting shining bright. Eventually they would overpower and kill him. Self-doubt and self-pity penetrate his thoughts. He is weary; his legs do not move quickly enough. ‘The path seemed miles long.’ He is unable to see the Orcs in the mist. Sam forces himself on and readies Sting to be drawn.
Amid much hooting and laughing, four Orcs lift and carry Frodo’s body away. Struggle as he might, Sam is unable to catch up with the Orcs who carry their prize into a tunnel. He draws Sting, it flickers blue, but the Orcs do not see it. He forces himself on and sees the last of the Orcs enter the tunnel. Sam rests in order to catch his breath; he wipes his face, curses the Orcs, and continues the chase. Inside the tunnel, the thin mist that Sam had perceived himself to be in turns to a heavy fog. He sees torches ahead but cannot catch up with the Orcs. They travel fast in tunnels, and they are familiar with this one, as it the quickest route from the Dead City over the mountains. Over the years, the Orcs have carved many tunnels in order to avoid Shelob. Among the garbled noise of Orc voices, Sam distinguishes two voices: Gorbag and Shagrat. He listens intently.
Gorbag complains to Shagrat about the noise that Shagrat’s troops are making and worries about attracting Shelob. Shagrat says that Gorbag is half to blame for the noise. He tells Gorbag that Shelob sat on a pin and asks if he did not see the mess that she left behind while crawling back into her hole. He comments that they have lucked out and have found something that Lugbúrz wants. Gorbag wonders what they have found and remarks that it looks Elvish to him but ‘undersized.’ Shagrat admits that he won’t know what it is until the prisoner is looked at. Gorbag states that even the Top Ones make mistakes. Shagrat hushes Gorbag declaring that the Top Ones have eyes and ears everywhere even among his own troops. He says that both The Nazgûl and Lugbúrz are troubled, and that ‘something nearly slipped.’ Gorbag questions this remark, but Shagrat tells him that he knows of a place where they can talk later.
Sam watches as the torches disappear, and then he hears a bump. He thinks that the Orcs have gone into the tunnel that he and Frodo had earlier found blocked. A massive stone seems to block the entrance. Sam hears Orc voices behind. Enraged at his separation from Frodo, he desperately pushes at the rock. He lunges at it and throws his body at it – to no avail. Defeated, he listens closely hoping to gather important information. He hopes that Gorbag, an Orc from Minas Morgul, will come out and that he will be able to slip unnoticed into the tunnel.
Tolkien gives the reader a rare insight into the minds of Orcs. It seems they do at least entertain life without war. Gorbag says, ‘What d’you say? – If we get a chance, you and me’ll slip off and set up somewhere on our own with a few trusty lads, somewhere where there’s good loot nice and handy, and no big bosses.’
‘Ah!’ said Shagrat. ‘Like old times.’ [4.X.]
Sam learns a great deal by eavesdropping on the leaders’ discussion. Shagrat explains that an hour earlier he had received an order that spies might be on the stairs and to go to the head of the stairs. Gorbag informs Shagrat that more than two days earlier the Silent Watchers had been uneasy, but his patrol was not ordered out for another day. Furthermore, Lugbúrz was sent no message because the ‘Great Signal’ had called the Nazgûl to war. Shagrat says, ‘The Eye was busy elsewhere, I suppose. Big things going on away west, they say.’ Gorbag asks Shagrat what he had been doing to allow enemies up the stairs. Shagrat retorts that Shelob was about and adds, ‘My lads saw her and her Sneak.’ Gorbag asks about Shelob’s Sneak. Shagrat describes him as a ‘little thin black fellow; like a spider himself, or perhaps more like a starved frog.’ He tells Gorbag that the Sneak was first seen leaving Lugbúrz years ago and orders had been given to allow him to pass. Shagrat reasons that Shelob and her Sneak have an understanding. He presumes that her Sneak is not good to eat. Shagrat reproaches Gorbag about his guard in the valley saying that the Sneak had been seen the day before all the commotion. Shagrat says, ‘I thought her Sneak had brought her a toy…’ He adds, ‘Nothing gets by Shelob when she’s on the hunt.’
Gorbag refutes Shagrat’s last statement. He points out that something cut her web and escaped. He reasons that if the culprit had been alone, Shelob would have taken him to his ‘larder.’ He tells Shagrat, ‘But there was more than one.’ Upon hearing this, Sam becomes more attentive. Gorbag raises questions about who cut the cords from around the prisoner, and who stuck Shelob with a pin. He points out that no one has ever stuck a pin in Shelob. He concludes that someone extremely dangerous is on the loose. Shagrat asks Gorbag what it is: Gorbag responds, ‘I’d say there’s a large warrior loose, Elf most likely, with an elf-sword anyway, and an axe as well maybe…’ Sam smiles when he hears this.
Shagrat says that there may be other ways to read these signs. He first wants to examine their captive before doing anything else. Gorbag doubts that Shagrat will find much of interest on Frodo. He reasons that: ‘The big fellow with the sharp sword doesn’t seem to have thought him worth much anyhow – just left him lying: regular elvish trick.’ Shagrat suggests that they go have a look at Frodo. Gorbag insists that he and his ‘boys’ want in on the action. Shagrat asserts his orders: any trespasser is to be taken to the tower, stripped, and every item removed is to be carefully listed and described. The list is then to be taken to Lugbúrz immediately. Shagrat adds, ‘And the prisoner is to be kept safe and intact, under pain of death for every member of the guard, until He sends or comes Himself.’ Gorbag wonders if by stripped Shagrat means ‘teeth, nails, hair, and all’ as well. Shagrat assures him that He wants the prisoner in one piece. Gorbag laughs, and says that the prisoner is ‘nothing but carrion now.’ To this Shagrat replies, ‘When she binds with cords, she’s after meat. She doesn’t eat dead meat, nor suck cold blood. This fellow isn’t dead!’
The impact of these words is so intense that Sam nearly loses consciousness. He leans against the rock thinking that his heart knew that Frodo was alive all along, and he berates himself for using his head instead and thinks, ‘Samwise, it is not the best part of you.’ He castigates himself saying, ‘The trouble with you is that you never really had any hope.’ He wonders what to do now and thinking of nothing, he listens.
Shagrat says, ‘She’s got more than one poison. When she’s hunting, she just gives ‘em a dab in the neck and they go as limp as boned fish, and then she has her way with them.’ He tells Gorbag about how they had laughed upon finding Ufthak, who had been missing for several days; he was hanging up awake and glaring. They had left him there because they knew better than to meddle with Shelob. Shagrat comments that the prisoner would feel ill for awhile after awakening, and other than being confused, he would be all right. Gorbag suggests that, if they cannot hurt the prisoner, they can tell him some stories about Lugbúrz just for fun. Shagrat insists that they are to have no fun with the prisoner. Gorbag advises Shagrat to capture the ‘big one’ before sending a report to Lugbúrz.
The voices fade. Sam overcomes his shock and becomes furious. He berates himself saying, ‘Never leave your master, never, never: that was my right rule. And I knew it in my heart. May I be forgiven! Now I’ve got to get back to him. Somehow, somehow!’ He draws Sting and with the hilt hits the rock. In Sting’s blazing light, Sam sees that the block is door shaped, not too tall, and has an empty space at the top. Tired but determined, he scrambles over the top, drops, and then rushes, sword in hand, up the twisting tunnel. He finally catches up to Shagrat and Gorbag. Shagrat says that he is going to put the prisoner in the top chamber where he will not be tampered with. Shagrat says the prisoner is ‘precious,’ and he does not trust most of his own company and none of Gorbag’s.
Sam says, ‘You’re forgetting the great big elvish warrior that’s loose!’ He bolts around the corner but finds that he has miscalculated the distance. Perhaps it is because of the ring’s influence on his hearing or because of the layout and structure of the tunnel. Now the path is straight and he sees Shagrat and Gorbag some distance ahead. The Orcs carrying Frodo have already passed through a huge open gate and Shagrat and Gorbag are about to.
Sam hears a horrendous commotion of voices, horns, and gongs. He readies Sting for attack; he yells but no one hears. The door slams shut. The iron bars fall into place. Sam throws himself at the great doors hitting them hard, falls down and loses consciousness. Frodo is in the hands of the enemy.
Differences at a glance:
In the movie:
In the Theatrical Release, scene #33. The Choices of Master Samwise, is presented in ‘The Return of the King’ between scenes, #32. Breaking the Gate of Gondor and #34. Denethor’s Madness. In the Special Extended Edition DVD Edition, scene #43. The Choices of Master Samwise, is presented between scenes, #42. Breaking the Gate of Gondor and #44. Denethor’s Madness.
Frodo is an active participant at the beginning of the scene.
Shelob wraps Frodo from head to toe in her sticky webs.
Shelob stings Frodo in the upper right region of his body.
Frodo foams at the mouth.
Frodo’s eyes are open.
Sam uses Sting along with the Phial of Galadriel to attack Shelob.
The fight scene between Sam and Shelob is longer with more action than in the book.
Sam removes the Shelob’s sticky webs from Frodo’s face.
Sam leaves Frodo when he hears the Orcs.
Sam remains near the foot of the stairs, as he listens to the Orcs.
Whether or not Sam takes the ring is left a mystery.
The Orcs’ names are not mentioned.
Two Orcs carry Frodo away.
In the book:
In the book(s), Chapter 10, The Choices of Master Samwise, is found in Book 4 of ‘The Two Towers’, between Chapter 9, Shelob’s Lair and ‘The Return of the King’, Book 5, Chapter 1, Minas Tirith.
Frodo is a passive participant in the book.
Frodo’s experience with Shelob is summed up in one sentence.
Shelob wraps Frodo from ankle to shoulder in her cords.
Shelob pricks Frodo in the neck from the back.
Sam picks up Sting, which Frodo had dropped.
The fight scene between Shelob and Sam is relatively short.
Sam initially uses both his own sword and Sting to attack Shelob.
Sam uses Galadriel’s phial only after he has stabbed Shelob in the abdomen.
Sam calls upon Galadriel and finds himself speaking words that he does not know.
Frodo’s eyes are presumably closed.
Sam removes Shelob’s cords.
Sam lays his sword on one side of Frodo’s body and Faramir’s staff on the other.
Sam makes many choices throughout this chapter and weighs the options.
Sam leaves Frodo and walks up the stairs.
Sam is near the top of the stairs when he hears Orcs ahead and behind him.
Sam puts on the ring.
Shagrat and Gorbag have lengthy conversations.
Four Orcs lift and carry Frodo away.
Sam follows the Orcs.
Sam throws himself at the under-gate of the tower and knocks himself out.
Why the changes from book to movie:
Read the comments found under Books versus Movies: Shelob’s Lair: From the creators of the film for an explanation of changes made from book to movie, as it explains much about the changes made in The Choices of Master Samwise. This chapter of the book is reduced to a skeleton version in the film version. For the viewing audience, the story moves along at a faster pace, there is sustained dramatic tension, and Shelob takes up more space (in terms of time) than in the book. Shagrat and Gorbag are central characters in this chapter of the book that impart valuable information to the reader; yet, in the movie version, they are simply vehicles to let Sam know that Frodo is alive and he is to be taken. An important detail in the book that is noticeably absent from the film version is that Sam puts on the ring.
A note on Sam, the Ring-Bearer:
In the commentary for The Tower of Cirith Ungol, Peter Jackson says they avoided having Samwise as a Ring-Bearer. This is relevant here because it is in the chapter, The Choices of Master Samwise, that Sam first puts on the ring. Christian Rivers, Visual Effects Concept Designer, has much more to say about this:
…the fact that we’ve used in the cinematic version that when the ring gets put on, Sauron is aware of its use and he’s aware of it presence at that very time.
And so to have Sam wear the ring right on the gates of mordor and not have it evoke some kind of, uh you know, awareness within Sauron would be inconsistency in the world. Also to have him wear it sort of belittles its power and even though we’ve build up the hobbits very resilient to its evil and Sam probably the most resilient out of all of them. To even, even to have someone else wear at this point in the film where we built up what it does to be a ring-bearer, uh it would have been too great an inconsistency.
From the Commentaries:
– Shelob issuing out from the hole above Frodo is based on a John Howe painting.
– The Tower of Cirith Ungol is based on an Alan Lee painting.
– Elijah Wood put two antacid tablets in his mouth and worked them into froth just prior to his foaming at the mouth sequence.
– When Sean Astin filmed the majority of his fight scene with Shelob, he had no idea what she would look like and had to rely solely on his imagination.
– Peter Jackson says that Elijah Wood had to spend the whole day with the webbing wrapped around him, as it had no opening.
– He also takes advantage of Elijah’s amazing ability to stare for minutes at a time.
– The segment where Sean Astin says, ‘Don’t go where I can’t follow,’ was his audition take: one out of three, that is.
– Fourteen Animators worked on Shelob.
– When Shelob is above the stairs looming down on Sam, Frodo’s body is missing.
– Just before Sam picks up Frodo, Frodo’s eyes are closed and his chin is covered. Before this frame and after it, Frodo’s eyes are open and his chin uncovered.
– Sam puts Sting on an uneven rock surface, but when it turns blue; it is on a flat surface.
My overall view of the film version of The Choices of Master Samwise…
Sam actually made few choices in the film version of this chapter. In the book, he makes many tough choices and weighs his options carefully. We get a great deal of insight into Sam’s thinking processes and character. We also learn more about Shelob, Shelob’s Sneak, the nature of Orcs, and the structure of the Orc army. We are made aware that Sauron’s thought is focused on the West. Much of this chapter would not have worked well in the film in my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed this scene in the movie. I believe that Peter Jackson kept the story on track. He kept in the essentials, and made it interesting, tense, and emotional.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien – Houghton Mifflin Company, Paperback, 2000
The Lord of the Rings, Edition – Published by HarperCollinsPublishers, 1991
The Return of the King, Special Extended Version
- 4.08. The Stairs of Cirith Ungol by RubySandybanks
- 4.09. Shelob's Lair by RubySandybanks
- 6.01. The Tower of Cirith Ungol by Morwinyoniel
- Samwise Gamgee by Rosearialelven
Our Gallery has has screencaps of the theatrical version, as well as the extended edition.
A transcript of 'The Lord Of the Rings: The Return of the King' can be found in our Film Fun & Facts section.
A summary of 'The Lord Of the Rings: The Return of the King' can be found in Elrond's Library.
Some articles that are related to this sequence:
- The Middle-earth Section of Elrond's Library has an article about Shelob.
Forum threads related to this sequence:
- You can discuss this sequence in detail in ROTK Sequence by Sequence #9: Shelob's Lair in the Movies Forum.
You can discuss the impact of this scene in the Changes in Frodo thread, also in the Movies Forum.
- Some discussions of Sam and the Ring in Inconsistencies in the Storyline and Samwise Gamgee and the Ring in the Books Forum.
- The Book Club discusses this chapter here.
Take a look at how some artists saw this part in the book:
- In Shelob's Lair by danku
- Shelob and Sam by John Howe
- Shelob and Sam by Roger Garland
- Sam, Sting and Shelob by the Brothers Hildebrandt
- Sam and Shelob by Per SjÃ¶gren
- Shelob the Great Spider by Lidia Postma
Looking for something more creative - you may find it here: