Warrior-Gardeners

Here are two images from the Lord of the Rings movies:

lotr_hands.jpg

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about them. The first comes as the fellowship breaks apart and Frodo seeks to venture to Mordor on his own.

Frodo: Go back Sam! I’m going to Mordor alone.

Sam: Of course you are, and I’m coming with you!

Frodo: You can’t swim! Sam! (Sam struggles to swim then sinks into the water)

Frodo: Sam!!! (Sam sinks deeper and deeper. He sees the sun shimmering up on the surface. His arm floats limply as he descends into the water. Suddenly Frodo’s hand reaches down and grabs Sam’s wrist. . Sam tightens his hand around Frodo’s. Frodo pulls him out of the water and up into the boat and Sam tumbles in)

Sam (dripping and crying): I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise! “Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.” And I don’t mean to! I don’t mean to.

In this scene, Samwise commits himself to sacrificial love, which leads to a death and resurrection, in which he is reconstituted as Samwise the Brave. He is no longer merely a gardener, missing his home. He is now a warrior-gardener, and from this point forward he is largely portrayed as one of the warrior heroes of the story, even doing battle with Shelob, alone in the dark. In fact, this transformation is highlighted in the Two Towers on two occasions.

Faramir: Speak.

Frodo: We are hobbits of the Shire. Frodo Baggins is my name and this is Samwise Gamgee.

Faramir: Your bodyguard?

Sam: His gardener.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sam: I wonder if people will ever say, ‘let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring.’ And they’ll say ‘yes, that’s one of my favorite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn’t he, dad.’ ‘Yes, my boy, the most famousest of hobbits. And that’s saying alot.’

Frodo: Huh, you left out one of the chief characters – Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam.

It strikes me that this is a portrayal of what the first Adam was to be. Adam was to guard and offer service in the garden (Genesis 2:15 uses the same words as used to describe the priestly duties found in Numbers 1:53, Numbers 3:8, Numbers 8:15 and elsewhere). He was to be a sort of warrior-gardener.

In a sense, then, Jesus became the true warrior-gardener who gave himself up in sacrificial love. I’m thinking particularly of the scene on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus even sheds his own blood doing battle (in prayer) against Satan.

The second image comes from the climactic scene at Mount Doom, as Sam saves Frodo from falling into the lava after Gollum has inadvertently destroyed the ring. Now Frodo is the one about to drown (in a lake of fire rather than water) and Sam raises him to new life. This too seems to be a death and resurrection scene, although in this case the resurrected Frodo is no longer suitable for his world and ultimately travels with the elves out of Middle Earth.

Two additional passages in the Bible come to mind as these two scenes of death and rebirth, first from water and then from fire, are compared.

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Luke 3:16

For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2 Peter 3:5-7

I don’t have any further thoughts on this parallel. Just noting it as it seems quite strong.

6 Comments

  1. Peter
    Jul 10, 2007

    Strong indeed. To me, that’s one of the most wondrous things about the Word and the world: you can find infinite parallels in the wake of an infinite Creator.

    Did you do those screen captures yourself?

  2. Jay
    Jul 10, 2007

    Yes. WinDVD can capture stills… you press ‘P’. If you press ‘P’ very rapidly, you can grab a whole series of images from a few seconds of film and then pick the best one.

  3. Mark
    Jul 10, 2007

    I thought the hand clasp in the water was highly artificial…. So I think they were intentionally attempting to bring the two events together.

  4. Peter
    Jul 10, 2007

    I agree that it was intentional, but isn’t that what good directors do?

    As for what’s artificial… what isn’t? This is a movie, after all.

  5. Mark
    Jul 11, 2007

    My point was that there is evidence that they wanted us to see things the way Jay is setting them out. The left us clues, which is indeed the mark of a good director.

  6. Jay
    Jul 11, 2007

    I agree, it seemed the hand clasps were very purposefully made parallel. In the water scene, it felt like Jackson wasn’t striving for realism but some artistic vision. Thus, Sam appears to sink several feet yet is saved when Frodo reaches a few inches below the surface and grabs him.

    The second hand clasp clarified for me the intentions of the first. They serve as bookends on the entire post-fellowship journey of Frodo and Sam.