The Lord of the Rings (1978) (part 6 of 11)
Cut to Alvin tossing and turning in bed, muttering feverishly in the vein of “No! Never!” Gandalf is there, just creepily watching him. Alvin starts awake, and no surprise here, Gandalf immediately starts telling him off. And waving his hands around. And pacing. Damn, get this guy some Ritalin, will you? Meanwhile, Alvin has a very pained expression on his face, so maybe he’s really not as dumb as all that.
Anyway, it turns out he’s in the palace of some guy named Elrond (who we’ll meet in a minute). Elrond magically healed him, and Gandalf explains he “added a few touches of [his] own.” Oh, I bet he added some “touches”, alright.
Gandalf tells the story of how he visited Aruman and was betrayed and trapped in a disco, and we get a flashback of that, and it’s all footage we’ve already seen. The only difference is now it’s all ripply like it’s being shot through water.
Apparently, a giant sparrow helped Gandalf escape. No, wait, it’s supposed to be an eagle. (The giant eagles are never seen again, but in the books they’re pals with Gandalf, and while he’s imprisoned, he sends a magical moth to them asking for help. No, I’m not making any of that up.) Gandalf finishes this little speech by petting Alvin on the head and telling him to rest. Whereupon Alvin turns toward the camera and actually gives us a frightened, pleading look. I think he just realised what movie he ended up in.
Fade to an Elven hall, where they’re playing some rather nice Baroque music. Here we’re reunited with our old friend Bilbo Baggins, who wandered off to Rivendell after he left the Shire. Amazingly, in seventeen years he hasn’t changed a bit. I wonder what his secret is?
Bilbo is reciting poetry when Alvin enters and completely interrupts the music. They’re reunited at last, and Bilbo immediately wants the Tap Washer back. Stop it, old man! That’s for when he proposes to Sam!
I distinctly remember how disturbing it was when Ian Holm as Bilbo told Frodo that he would “very much like to hold it, just once more… ” But here, it’s just plain pointless. Bilbo doesn’t turn evil or threatening, and instead gives up and bursts into tears. Way to go, Alvin. You just made your poor old uncle cry.
Now we enter the famous Council of Elrond, the elf in charge of Rivendell. In this key scene from the book, representatives of men, dwarves, and elves decide what to do about the Tap Washer and Sore-on. Unfortunately, Bakshi’s version of this scene only lasts about two minutes. Yeah, just skirt over the most crucial exposition in the whole story, guys. It shouldn’t be a problem. I mean, it’s not like the audience needs to know what this whole quest is all about or anything.
We’re introduced to Boromir, the son of the guy who’s minding Herman’s kingdom until he finally reclaims it. He has a big beard and a hilarious brown Viking helmet. Just for the record, Vikings only wore horned helmets at ceremonies. Elrond, who looks like an ugly Paul Reiser wearing a big gold medallion, announces that the Tap Washer of Doom can’t be hidden or destroyed. He says it must be sent to Mount Doom where it was made.
This sends Boromir into a rage. He shouts about how the Tap Washer can be used to save Middle Earth (guess he hasn’t read the book yet, either). He demands to know why Elrond is speaking of “hiding and destroying”, which I understand is a line straight from the book. Only problem is, Elrond just explicitly said they couldn’t do those things. I’d like to meet the scriptwriter, so I can give him a few valuable lessons. Delivered on the end of a sharp stick.
Gandalf starts hectoring them all, and implies that someone “small and quiet” has to take up the job of carrying the Tap Washer to Mordor and Mount Doom. Throwing the Tap Washer into the volcano of Mount Doom, it seems, is the only way to destroy it. Once again, I’m only pointing this out because the movie doesn’t bother to explain it.
Bilbo immediately thinks he has to do it, which is perfectly understandable, since technically it’s his fault they have the Tap Washer in the first place. Gandalf shoots this idea down (for no particular reason), and when Bilbo asks who he’s talking about, the wizard responds, “That’s what we’re trying to decide here!” He even thumps his fists on the table in exasperation, as if Bilbo is deliberately playing stupid. Then he rudely pushes Bilbo back into his seat, and Alvin stands up and volunteers to take the Tap Washer to Mordor.
This little segment makes Gandalf look like a colossal prick. Not only does he treat Bilbo badly and snarl at him for no reason, but he quite obviously suggests that it should be a hobbit who takes the Tap Washer to Mordor. So it’s not like he’s asking for volunteers; He’s specifically trying to goad Alvin into doing it. I mean, aside from Bilbo, there are no other “small and quiet” people around. The Idiot Cousins are elsewhere, and although it quickly turns out Sam is hanging around (evidently, security is rather lax in Rivendell), who in their right mind would entrust this task to him? I’m finding Gandalf more and more unlikeable by the minute. And by giving him so much screen time, they’re only compounding a felony.
Anyway, now that Alvin has “bravely” signed up for the Adventure of a Lifetime, Sam announces his unwelcome presence by saying that Alvin shouldn’t go by himself. In other words, he’ll take any chance to spend some private time with Alvin.
Elrond indulgently says that Sam will be going too, probably because he doesn’t want him hanging around Rivendell to hit on all the elves. Sam immediately makes a horribly self-satisfied expression, and starts mumbling about how they’ve landed themselves in “a nice pickle”. Well hell-oooo. Who volunteered, again?
Then comes a useless scene where Bilbo gives Alvin his Mithril shirt (fancy chainmail, to all you non LOTR-buffs) and his magic sword, which is called Sting. I have a replica of the Peter Jackson version of Sting. No, that’s not important. I’m just boasting. I’m guessing this scene was meant to evoke pathos, but since it doesn’t really work, it’s mostly extraneous.