One of my favorite scenes from the book has always been the coming of the Captains of the Outlands to the aid of Minas Tirith. It is a moment of expectation and excitement. It is a moment of joy and happiness in the dark of impending doom, countered by the desperate realization that too few have come. Danger presses on all sides, cutting off help; diminishing Gondor’s full strength by preventing a united front. Yet, even in disappointment, “‘every little is a gain'” (Tolkien 753). Here at the Gate, is a scene of hope countered cruelly by despair.
This scene strikes a chord. It evokes vibrant sensations of the tramping of feet, proud trumpets, proud knights and barely shrouded fear. Here at the Gate, more than any other moment in the siege of Gondor, is the desperation of the War more keenly felt. The Captains come, risking what few men they can, in fear their homes are being destroyed behind them. Yet they still come, proud and brave. They remain loyal.
Among so many exemplars of courage, this one is my favorite. The tension has been building, building so great it’s hard to bear. The coming of the Captains seems a final breath, a relief from the darkness. But it is a thin and wavering light. In intense expectation we watch the Captains come with the watchers at the Gate, frantically counting their numbers with them….and finding them achingly small. It is a moment of happy despair.
I would have loved to see this depicted in the film. It is a scene of such power and poignancy, which never fails to give me chills.
PS. I am going to be away for about a week, on vacation…so no posts for a while. I hope to get some work done on “Frodo, Gollum and the Ring,” dealing with the nature of Gollum’s taming, oath and whether Frodo ‘failed’. This post has been on my mind for a long time, and will require research and quotes…so I thank any readers for your patience.