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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Confusion over a line in The Two Towers


Aug 22 2012, 9:32pm

Post #1 of 8 (1061 views)
Confusion over a line in The Two Towers Can't Post

I'm sure that this has been asked before at some point.

Somebody asked me a question recently about LOTR and I couldn't come up with a decent explanation.

Madril warns Faramir that his life will be forfeit if he resolves to let Frodo and Sam go, which he does. Despite this, there seems to be no mention of this matter again in the films. Whilst Faramir is scolded by Denethor when he informs him of his decision, no further punishments are carried out.

Whilst Denethor would probably not take the life of his own son in this way, he effectively sends Faramir to his death when he instructs him to reclaim Osgiliath. Later he then nearly burns Faramir alive, but no specific action is taken and the matter of the law is not mentioned again in the films.

Was this a mere oversight on Jackson's part or am I missing something?

"Radagast is, of course, a worthy wizard, a master of shapes and changes of hue, and he has much lore of herbs and beasts, and birds are especially his friends."-Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings.


Aug 22 2012, 11:38pm

Post #2 of 8 (503 views)
Never thought of that. [In reply to] Can't Post

But yeah, seems a little odd that it wouldn't come up (and the other two occasions you mentioned were for entirely different reasons). Not much of a sacrifice, to have his life forfeit by letting them go, if it never actually happens, nor is brought up.

(This post was edited by Macfeast on Aug 22 2012, 11:40pm)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Aug 23 2012, 7:34am

Post #3 of 8 (513 views)
I asked the exact same question a couple years ago... [In reply to] Can't Post

... and got some great insight into what it all boiled down to.

Here's a link to that old discussion Smile

The Plan 9 Interview... in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the release of The Fellowship of the Ring.

(This post was edited by Earl on Aug 23 2012, 7:35am)


Aug 23 2012, 8:17am

Post #4 of 8 (433 views)
Thanks for this Earl! [In reply to] Can't Post

It is certainly a very interesting thread, and full of insight. It definitely provides some good answers.

"Radagast is, of course, a worthy wizard, a master of shapes and changes of hue, and he has much lore of herbs and beasts, and birds are especially his friends."-Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings.


Aug 23 2012, 11:10am

Post #5 of 8 (437 views)
I think it explains a bit why Faramir accepts the death ride out... [In reply to] Can't Post

He's been trying to earn his Father's love and respect, disobeys the guy for the higher good, but underneath that he's still got to deal with the fact that doing the right thing will lead to the exact opposite of what he wants, personally. That's a tough thing to resolve, psychologically. The death ride gives him a way to make up for his actions, in a weird and self destructive sort of way.

It also occurs to me that in the TE, there's no mention at all of Frodo to Denethor, so he might not have even known that Faramir let the hobbits go. So I think the line in TTT is there to show that Faramir' "quality", more than anything else. They didn't need it as a plot device, as Denethor's reasons for sending Faramir out on the death ride are cast as strategic, from a skewed point of view, a chance for Faramir to redeem himself for losing Osgliath, and a way to punish someone for the death of Boromir -- more so than for not bringing back the "mighty gift".

I always liked the "at least we understand one another line", also. I's a nice moment when Faramir acknowledges that they are both on the same side and that it's only circumstances that have put them at odds.


Forum Admin / Moderator

Aug 23 2012, 1:42pm

Post #6 of 8 (402 views)
No problem! Great minds... [In reply to] Can't Post

... question alike Angelic

The Plan 9 Interview... in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the release of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Lurker in the Dark
The Shire

Aug 24 2012, 1:16am

Post #7 of 8 (342 views)
Forfeit [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkein would undoubtably have used 'forfeit' in its technical sense - that of an asset subject to disposal in accord with a decision of law, and until such decision to belong to the legal authorities.

In releasing the Hobbits Faramir placed his life 'in the hands of the law', for the law to decide what to do with it including 'taking' or extinguishing it - although slavery for a time if not premanently would be another option. However in a High Civilisation such as Gondor the law would only make such decision after carefully considering all the circumstances, including hearing from Faramir as to why he did what he did. Faramir presumably hoped if not believed that at such a hearing he would be found to have acted correctly in which case the forfeiture would be revoked and his life returned to him.

Given the background of a major invasion and seige it isn't surprising that no time could found for a full hearing of the matter before Gondor's judges, and I'm sure that after Aragorn's coronation and the restoration of full civil authority Faramir's actions in this particular case would be formally considered, found to be justified and the forfeit lifted.


Aug 24 2012, 11:09pm

Post #8 of 8 (456 views)
In a slightly different vein... [In reply to] Can't Post

Wasn't there a similar reference to it being a capital offense for Eomer to allow Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli to travel through Rohan. I may be blurring the story lines between the book and the movies here, but this idea of holding negligent defenders to the standard of forfeiting their life seems to be a recurring theme in Tolkien's world. I wonder if his time in the military contributed to that mindset.

"If you listen closely, you can hear the gods laughing."


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