The End of All Things
Note: This is a fairly long page, and I didn't want to disrupt the flow of images with commentary, so the underlined numbers in the following paragraphs are links to the caps with those same numbers. BTW, as is made possible by the acting in this scene, the commentary ignores the fact that we're talking about two actors informing us about what the characters are feeling.
Pics 1-2 set up the scene, with Frodo and Sam having been thrown onto the little island of rock that's left in the middle of the lava flow. Some people have interpreted Frodo's returning memories in 3-16 as his life flashing before his eyes as he moves closer to death, but my feeling is that he's "simply" experiencing his mind becoming his again, which would be the reason for the happiness we see on his face. Not only are the returning memories a parallel to those he'd lost (as he described to Sam in the Wheel of Fire speech), but they don't span different events in his life. They're general memories of the Shire, then become specific memories of The Party - which makes more sense in the movie than it would have in the book, since in the movie he left the Shire so soon after The Party. This "coincidentally" gives Sam his opening to mention Rosie; but as opposed to the way this might have been written and delivered in - ahem - some other movies, this hardly comes across as a "device."
In the midst of this, in 12
-14, the audience sees Sam reacting to the same memories, but Frodo doesn't see it. He doesn't have to, once Sam starts talking. It's been said many times in many ways regarding this action, but what a guy... Frodo's lying there bleeding to death (if the lava or the poisonous fumes don't get them both first), but as soon as he realizes Sam needs comforting he pulls himself up to be with him. And Frodo realizes that Sam needs comforting as soon as Sam says Rosie's name (17
-19). From the theatrical edition of FotR
, and even more from the extended edition, we know that Frodo's probably the one person who would understand Rosie's significance to Sam.
The rest of the scene is almost a dance between the two, with roles of comforting and being comforted shifting as needed (literally). Frodo leads first; in both the book and the movie he understood and accepted sooner than Sam did that the quest would end in death, so Sam is coming to terms with things Frodo already has. Then Sam regains some of his composure and Frodo loses some of his focus on Sam. By pic 42
, Frodo has moved back into his own thoughts; but Sam has actively leaned toward Frodo, instead of just letting Frodo lean toward him. Even previous to 42, as soon as Sam recovers slightly, there are subtle shifts in the dynamic in nearly every frame.
, Frodo looks at Sam again, and in 50 he moves to hold him with both arms, but it's hard to tell if it's more for Sam's sake or his own--and that's probably something Frodo himself wouldn't know. In 52
, Sam has reciprocated by putting his hand on Frodo's arm. By 5
5-56, they've settled into what seem to be their chosen ways of waiting for death in each other's arms, with Sam (the sensate extravert) keeping Frodo unobtrusively within his field of vision and Frodo (the intuitive introvert) experiencing Sam's presence with closed eyes. (All of this, IMHO, making speculations on whether the two of them ever had a sexual relationship seem pretty trivial.)
The background on these two pages is made from the molten river.