Tolkien fact 58 – Faramir

One of the more drastic departures from the book in Peter Jackson’s movies surrounds the character of Faramir, brother of Boromir and youngest son of Denethor II, Steward of Gondor.

faramir

Faramir was born to Denethor II and Finduilas of Dol Amroth. His mother died when he was five and he grew up in his loving older brother’s shadow, receiving less favor from his father than perhaps he should have. He did not grudge his brother for this but instead grew up to be wiser than him and no less valiant in combat. Faramir took to liking and welcoming Gandalf who wandered into Gondor from time to time and this did little to gain his father’s favor who did not like Gandalf. Boromir and Faramir became great Captains in Gondor’s army and led many raids and defenses against Mordor. It came to pass that Faramir had a dream in which he heard a voice say this fateful riddle:

‟Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur’s Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand”

He had this dream two more times and Boromir had it once himself. Their father told them nothing more about it other than Imladris was the Elven name for Rivendell, home of Elrond. Faramir was chosen to seek Elrond in Rivendell but Boromir stepped in and took the charge upon himself, fearing that the quest was dangerous and vain. Months later, as he tells Frodo, Faramir was at Osgiliath by the River Anduin and saw a boat, that he thought was a vision or dream, float by filled almost completely with water. In it, to his dismay, was the body of Boromir, laid as if in a funeral boat with many swords under his feet. This was in accordance with the manner Aragorn arranged Boromir after finding him dead above the Falls of Rauros.

Many who were fans of The Lord of the Rings before the 2000’s movies were eager to see many iconic scenes and people from the book come to life such as the Balrog, Lórien, Helm’s Deep, Treebeard, Mordor, among others. Perhaps one scene they did not expect to receive alterations was when Frodo is captured by Faramir in Ithilien.

The book plays out in this manner: Sam and Frodo are found by the Rangers of Ithilien, which Faramir is Captain of, and are taken to their secret hideout called Henneth Annûn, The Window of the Sunset, a network of caves concealed by a waterfall. Gollum evades capture and Faramir questions, kindly, Frodo and Sam about their reasons for being so far South and if they know anything about the creature that eluded the Rangers’ hunters. Through such questioning, Faramir guesses they are on a quest of great importance and that they held some evil weapon of the Enemy though he says of it:

“But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.”

Sam later reveals the truth that they are carrying the Ring of Power and Faramir stays true to his word and, after some events involving Gollum, lets them leave and provides them with supplies for the last stage of their journey. This juxtaposes Faramir’s wisdom with his brother’s rashness in desiring to use the Ring and is key to understanding Faramir’s character.

This is very different to how the scene plays out in the movie: Faramir captures Frodo and Sam and, once the purpose of their quest is revealed (through Gollum) he says the Ring will go Gondor so as to prove his worth (assuming he means to his father). Eventually he repents of this, but reluctantly and after he brings Frodo and Sam and Gollum to Osgiliath, putting them in unnecessary danger.

Though the story ultimately plays out the same, it is unfortunate to see this kind of degradation of such a wise character. Faramir eventually becomes the Prince of Ithilien, after Aragorn takes the throne, and marries Éowyn of Rohan, having met and fallen in love with her while in the Houses of Healing in Gondor.

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