7

In the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when Frodo falls in the Dead Marshes on the way to the Black Gate and gets rescued by Gollum, they have the following conversation:

Frodo: "Gollum?"
Gollum: "Don't follow the lights?" (Gollum goes away)
Frodo: "Gollum!" (Gollum looks back in a strange look then goes on)

In the movie, it looks like Frodo saw Gollum or something about him, and that Gollum knew what Frodo saw and didn't want to discuss it (because he avoided talking with Frodo).

So why did Frodo call Gollum directly after he was saved? And, why did Gollum ignore him?

  • 5
    if only there was a novelization of the film.... – NKCampbell Sep 21 '17 at 19:38
  • 3
    @NKCampbell get real. That would never catch on. – akaioi Sep 22 '17 at 1:11
  • 3
    probably right @akaioi - it wouldn't be faithful to the films at all – NKCampbell Sep 22 '17 at 1:13
  • This transcript I found doesn't have the third line you quote, and the stage directions appear to explain the scene perfectly. – AakashM Sep 22 '17 at 12:55
15

The bodies in the Dead Marshes are fell corpses from the Battle of Dagorlad (The Last Alliance of Men and Elves against Sauron, depicted in the prolouge of the first film). They are ghostly / unreachable corpses that seem to have an ethereal light or "candle" around them. Gollum relates this information to the hobbits, and tells them to not touch or enter the water, lest they die (ie - 'light candles of their own') as well (either from basic drowning or supernatural curse is unstated I believe).

In the film, Gollum tells them to not follow the lights - namely, don't get distracted by the light (like a mirage) and tumble into the water. Frodo however, does exactly that, and Gollum saves him. What Frodo "sees" when saying / looking at Gollum after being saved is a last vestige of humanity in Gollum, that he, Gollum, would save Frodo. Frodo surely expected that it was Sam that had rescued him, not Gollum. In the film, Gollum reiterates "don't follow the lights" - as an "I told you not to do that, see, something bad can happen to you, I know what I'm talking about, you can trust me."

In the book, Gollum knows not to follow the lights because he tried to reach out and touch them on his original journey through the Marshes and was unable to.

Quotes from the scene in the book:

'The Dead Marshes, yes, yes: that is their names,' he cackled. `You should not look in when the candles are lit.'

`Who are they? What are they? ' asked Sam shuddering, turning to Frodo, who was now behind him.

'I don't know,' said Frodo in a dreamlike voice. 'But I have seen them too. In the pools when the candles were lit. They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. A fell light is in them.'

Frodo hid his eyes in his hands. 'I know not who they are; but I thought I saw there Men and Elves, and Orcs beside them.' 'Yes, yes,' said Gollum. `All dead, all rotten. Elves and Men and Orcs. The Dead Marshes. There was a great battle long ago, yes, so they told him when Smeagol was young, when I was young before the Precious came. It was a great battle. Tall Men with long swords, and terrible Elves, and Orcses shrieking. They fought on the plain for days and months at the Black Gates. But the Marshes have grown since then, swallowed up the graves; always creeping, creeping.'

'But that is an age and more ago,' said Sam. 'The Dead can't be really there! Is it some devilry hatched in the Dark Land? '

'Who knows? Smeagol doesn't know,' answered Gollum. 'You cannot reach them, you cannot touch them. We tried once, .yes, precious. I tried once; but you cannot reach them. Only shapes to see, perhaps, not to touch. No precious! All dead.' Sam looked darkly at him and shuddered again, thinking that he guessed why Smeagol had tried to touch them. `Well, I don't want to see them,' he said.

'Yes, yes,' said Gollum. `But slowly, very slowly. Very carefully! Or hobbits go down to join the Dead ones and light little candles.

  • I updated my question, what I want to know is why did Frodo call Gollum when he was rescued? and why did Gollum ignore him? – MrGeek Sep 21 '17 at 20:04
  • 1
    @NKCampbell I basically posted a duplicate of your answer; I'm sorry, I can guarantee that I was in good faith, I think that we were writing at the same time but you were more quick. – Sekhemty Sep 21 '17 at 20:31
  • @MrGeek - I actually addressed that in my original answer - look at the paragraph starting w/ "In the film" - ultimately - it's speculation honestly, since that only happens in the film and not the book – NKCampbell Sep 21 '17 at 20:50
  • no worries @Sekhemty - happens all the time to everyone around here at some point :) – NKCampbell Sep 21 '17 at 20:51
  • @MrGeek: I see two possible explanations. (1) Gollum was simply annoyed that Frodo "followed the lights" after he had told him to not do that ("stupid Hobbitses. I even warned them") (2) Part of Gollum is annoyed that he chose to save Frodo instead of only saving the Ring. Either way, Gollum is annoyed and therefore ignores Frodo. – Flater Sep 22 '17 at 10:44
4

The Dead Marshes were located near Dagorlad, a place near the Gates of Mordor where many battles were fought during the history of Middle Earth1.

The first and probably most important of these battles was the Battle of Dagorlad during the War of the Last Alliance2, when the Elves of Gil-Galad and Elrond, together with the Men lead by Elendil and Isildur, fought against the hosts of Mordor, lead by Sauron himself, that still possessed a physical form at the time.

Another battle was fought here during the Third Era between Gondor and the Easterlings3.

Over time,the Marshes grew and covered a greater area, submerging the burial places of those dead during the battles.

The "lights" that Frodo saw were in fact the "spirits", so to speak, of those dead Men, Elves and Orcs: they felt the power of the Ring, and "called" Frodo to them.

Gollum had knowledge of the whole area, he was aware of the dead and knew the safe paths inside the Marshes: he was basically warning Frodo to follow him along these paths and not to be allured by the temptations of the dead.


1. The name Dagor-lad itself, in Sindarin Elvish, meant something like "Battle (dagor) Plain (lad)".
2. The battle shown at the beginning of The Felloswip of the Ring, the movie.
3. The final battle against Sauron at the end of The Lord of the Rings was fought here too, but it happened later than the crossing of the Marshes by Frodo, so it is not relevant here.

  • I updated my question, what I want to know is why did Frodo call Gollum when he was rescued? and why did Gollum ignore him? – MrGeek Sep 21 '17 at 20:04
  • 1
    Well, you changed the meaning of your question after you already had two answers... I suppose that with only Sam and Gollum there, it is not surprising that he called one of them; and when you are scared to death, maybe calling the name of another person is a pretty natural thing to do. – Sekhemty Sep 21 '17 at 20:33

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