LotRFI Pt.20–Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Unlike the death of Gandalf, I saw the fissures forming in the Fellowship long before Frodo set out on his own. The decision seemed like the appropriate one to me, and I loved how Sam is the only member of the Fellowship that understands how Frodo is thinking; this understanding put Sam and me in a very small club together. This was one of the first scenes where I started to understand Sam’s depth. His ability to parse out his master’s actions and understand the animating emotions is more than I expected of Sam up to this point. We will have more on my interpretation of Sam later, when he really comes into his own.

Image copyright Cor Blok

For now, I also wanted to focus on the importance of the “breaking” of the Fellowship. Many fans cheered Jackson’s decision to include the death of Boromir in the first film. I have to admit that I did not appreciate the change for several reasons. First, is the fact that Tolkien’s text is formatted in such a way to emphasize that the end of the Fellowship is not death, but the physical, and perhaps mental, splitting of the group. If death were the cause for the ending of the Fellowship, then the Fellowship was already broken in Moria. The end of the Fellowship, however, is when Boromir falls to temptation and tries to take the ring. This sparks an abiding mistrust in Frodo. This infighting and conflict is the brokenness indicated by the chapter title.

This idea is underscored in the first chapter of the second volume. Here, Boromir mends the rent he caused by dying for Pippin and Merry; furthermore, Aragorn indicates that, if the Fellowship remains true to one another, then it will not have been in vain, regardless of the outcome.

‘My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer. The Company has played its part. Yet we that remain cannot forsake our companions while we have strength left’ (TT, I, i, 419).

Therefore the “breaking” of the Fellowship is a temporary condition that exists in the gap between books two and three. It is rectified by Boromir’s death, not caused by it.

This sentiment is one that I felt when I was younger, but I could not really express it well. It has taken considerable time and reflection to be able to make it seem as clean and neat as it does here.

Where do wee go from here?

I want to focus on Boromir’s death a bit more, then head into Rohan!

​What do you think?

Did you like Jackson’s change?
What do you think is the true “breaking of the Fellowship?”
​Have I missed something? Let me know!

6 thoughts on “LotRFI Pt.20–Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

  1. Mike P.

    In defense of Peter Jackson, which is not something I say very often, the term “The breaking of the Fellowship” doesn’t exist in the movies, and therefore any arguments about what comprises it don’t really apply to that space.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Mike! Thanks for responding! I guess I should clarify that I am not trying to say that my interpretation is ‘the right’ interpretation. I am more just stating a personal preference from my first reading.

      Did you prefer Boromir dying at the end of FotR or at the beginning of TT??


      1. Mike P.

        Honestly, it doesn’t make a big difference to me. To me, the “book boundaries” are just artificial stopping points that don’t really have a lot of meaning for me. They’re not really a part of my memory or experience of the story, which in my brain is just a continuous stream of events.


  2. krblack42

    The needs and exigencies of a set of novels is different from those of a set of films, so I don’t feel that there needs to be a consistent answer across both mediums. I appreciate the subtlety of your analysis, and have always felt that “The Death of Boromir” makes a fitting and dignified start to The Two Towers. I don’t take this as a reason to impugn Jackson, however. Of course on film he is going to depict the events as they happen, which is contemporaneous with Frodo and Sam’s departure, and not just relate them in flashback. In a visual medium it would have been foolish to reintroduce the character of Boromir at the start of the next film only to remind the audience of someone they will not be concerned with for the rest of the movie (flashback scene to his departure from Gondor told from the point of view of Faramir included in the extended edition notwithstanding).

    What your argument illustrates the subtleties to be found in the text which the films inevitably leave behind. However, the films bring their own pleasures and capacities, as well as a flood of new readers. I say cheers to the dedicated artisans of New Zealand who brought them forth, as well as cheers to The Professor.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your interpretation of the breaking of the Fellowship as the physical and mental splitting of the group! And I agree that it was caused by the doubt that arises in Frodo’s mind after Boromir’s fall–something that Galadriel hints to Boromir in Lothlorien.

    However, I agree with Jackson’s decision to move Boromir’s death. Tolkien originally wrote LotR as one large book and thus I assume he didn’t intend for Boromir’s death to occur at the start of a separate book. To me, Boromir’s death really occurs in a following chapter, one intimately connected to all the preceding events. And someone could certainly get this experience if they chose to buy LotR as one volume, instead of three. (I admittedly don’t have such a volume. It seems difficult to carry around.)

    However, Jackson was working with three separate texts from the start, and it makes sense to me to add some finality to the ending of the first film by closing Boromir’s story. The Two Towers could have had an interesting start if he had introduced Boromir briefly just to kill him off, but I’m not sure audiences would have been emotionally satisfied with that. It seems cheap, somehow, to start off with a sudden death. Or kind of like you’re announcing that everything is bleak and gritty and it’s all downhill from here. I prefer the arc where The Two Towers seems to be beginning a new chapter with the characters each going their separate ways, each determined to do their duty. It makes it seem more hopeful, somehow. And I think LotR is very much about hope.

    Liked by 1 person

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