Frodo’s Elven Cloak at the Dead Marshes

Frodo and Sam (Dead Marshes) 2

Did Sam fail to see Frodo?

The following is not a discussion or analysis post. It is a question.

I’d like to put forward something that’s been on my mind ever since I watched The Two Towers.

Remember the scene where Frodo, Sam and Gollum are hiding from a Black Rider during the Dead Marshes sequence?

It always struck me how odd it was that as Frodo was slumped on the ground in pain, Sam – just for a moment – runs past his master without noticing him. As he reaches the concealing shrub, he turns round and runs back to him.

At first, I thought it was simply an odd editorial cut or camera angle, showing Sam unaware that Frodo was still lying on the ground. But upon closer inspection, Sam does indeed run directly past his master and fails to spot him.

Here’s the shot in question (only 3 seconds):

Could this be due to the elven cloaks from Lórien? Under moonlight and shrouded in mist, even at that distance Sam would have failed to see Frodo. Was this intentional, and used as foreshadowing for when the cloaks come in use in the next scene when they are hiding from Easterlings at the Black Gate?

Frodo and Sam (Dead Marshes)

Sam should have seen Frodo at that distance

Or am I looking too much into this and it all boils down to a slightly misplaced camera angle that should have left Frodo out of frame?

It’s possible I’m completely wrong about this, but please tell me someone else has thought about this too? 🙂

Copyright of video clip and images belongs to New Line Cinema

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17 thoughts on “Frodo’s Elven Cloak at the Dead Marshes

  1. Huh, never noticed this! I guess Sam was just in such a hurry that his reaction to seeing Frodo in his periphery was delayed by a few seconds? That seems like the most likely explanation.

  2. It is possible that these cloaks had had a long research and test period, and the elves had ironed out the problems of wearers not being able to spot each other. On the other hand, perhaps William Rufus II was accidentally shot and killed in England because he was wearing an elven cloak. 😉

  3. In moments of extreme danger or panic, “my safety first” is the primary thought for most people. Of course, Sam is usually “better” than that, so it is safe to assume that in the twilight Sam didn’t notice Frodo right away. Or it could simply be a poorly choreographed scene which is what I’m placing my money on. No subtext, just a mistake in placing and timing. Interesting thing to notice, though. I can’t say that it ever caught my attention until your post.

  4. Yeah, I thought about it myself and I wondered too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. There were other similar scenes in the films where Sam seemd to fail to notice where and in what a state Frodo was – so different from the book Sam. For example as Frodo was attrackted by the foul power of Minas Morgul and Sam failed to notice that Frodo began to drag himself towards the gate. I wondered that too why didn’t Sam grab Frodo immediately by the arm to prevent him from it. All in all Frodo and Sam has a different relationship as to that in the books – but that is expectable in some level in a film, isn’t it? I think in this particular scene of yours it’s most likely that Sam is so shocked by the Nasgul that for a moment he forget about Frodo (and about everything else) and sees nothing except where to hide.

    • Oh Judit, I’m so glad I’m not the only one! The Minas Morgul example is a great point too. But yes, there must be some difference in the relationship between film and book.

  5. It’s possible he just assumed that Frodo would get himself up. By this point in the films, though, it would be safer to assume that Frodo would fall down. That’s pretty much all movie-Frodo does, and Sam surely would have caught on by this point. So I’m going to go with your version – cloak it is!

    • Hehe! In the book, at least, Sam does seem to be a bit too conscious of Frodo’s every single move. Probably, the filmmakers wanted to show Sam minding for his own safety for once! 😀

  6. I thought of something as I read the books and watched the films.
    The One Ring affects the minds of the ringbearer and people around him, which in this case is mostly Frodo and Sam. In the last Return of the King, in the book, there is a part where Frodo gets sick and faints due to the poison of Shelob. Sam, after putting a sword in Shelob, finds Frodo on the ground not awake and quickly decides that Shelob killed Frodo. Then, he takes the One Ring from Frodo to finish the mission (However, he returns to rescue Frodo after he finds out that Frodo is alive). Some people view this excerpt as a heroic part, because of Sam deciding to finish the mission even if Frodo might be dead. On the other hand, I think that Sam was manipulated by the One Ring into taking the Ring and getting caught by Sauron (Though Sam’s love for Frodo wins over the power the Ring has over him. That I think is because the Ring didn’t have a close connection with Sam). The old Sam from The Two Towers would have not decided that his master is dead so quickly. Even if he did, he would have at least hidden Frodo’s body or taken it with him. Therefore, I think the One Ring manipulated Sam.
    In the movie, at the Dead Marshes part, I think Peter Jackson was trying to create a scene where it shows that Sam is influenced by the One Ring. Actually, I never noticed it while I was watching, and this is a conclusion I came up with after you mentioned it (You have eyes of a Great Eagle!). If Sam had not found Frodo when he was passing by, the Black Rider on a Nazgul would have surely found Frodo.
    Anyways, this is just my theory. I could be totally wrong and it might have been because of the elven cloaks. 🙂

    • Hey Will thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yours is certainly an intriguing theory. The Ring certainly had a hold on both bearer and those around. I’m not sure, however, whether the Ring would have compelled Sam to go back to Frodo – I think it would rather have made everything in its power to keep Frodo exposed to the Ringwraith and return back to its Master.

      It’s really a tricky subject this one, I must say! 🙂

  7. I think the cloak may have delayed Sam in seeing his master but I agree with Carissa that panic may have also set in and Sam was just running for cover only to turn around. You know, the classic “Oh crap! I forgot he’s still back there!” Either way, I think both reasons are plausible.

  8. I always took Celeborn’s comment about the cloak shielding them from unfriendly eyes quite literally — unfriendly eyes only — so I would say it’s impossible for it to have hidden Frodo from Sam. It just seems like he was hurrying for the shelter then realizes that Frodo isn’t moving himself and needs some extra encouragement. 😛

    • Good point Sarah, then again I also remember (in the book) Eomer commenting how his eored passed by the plains of Rohan without almost noticing the Three Hunters sitting by. Seems a tricky issue! 🙂

  9. It almost seems, to me, that he’s running at Smeagol and then realizes that he has more important issues at hand and returns to Frodo. I don’t know if that’s just me, but I know how much in the book and movie his hatred of Gollum is highlighted, so maybe he is rushing at Gollum in a sudden rage of blame? I guess I could be making a mountain out of a mole hill, but where’s the harm in that?!

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