I first read Tolkien when I was 13 and (like many others before and after) totally fell in love with the Middle Earth thing. I’ve read the trilogy (and the Hobbit) probably a dozen times, listened to the BBC version five or six times, listened to the audio book twice and, of course, I seen the movies.
That being said, there’s a section of the LoTR that’s bothered me literally for decades: the death of Boromir. I know I’m not the first person to notice how dumb this scene is, because Jackson did some judicious rewriting. Even so, I’ve been waiting for decades to get this off my chest, so here goes.
If you recall the scene, the Fellowship of the Ring, minus Gandalf, end up at the waterfall where Frodo decides to take a walk.
Even though Frodo is carrying something that, if captured, means THE END OF THE WORLD, it’s an hour or so before anyone thinks to say “Hey, where the hell is Frodo?” and then only when Boromir stumbles into camp. Then, as if on cue, everybody freaks out and heads every which way, including Aragorn.
Eventually, Aragorn hears Boromir’s horn in the distance, hightails it back towards camp, where he finds Boromir all shot up. Boromir dies before telling Aragorn whether or not Frodo was captured.
Now, does Aragorn say to himself: “Hokey smoke! Those orcs might have Frodo and the Ring. I better go find them!”
Instead, Aragorn kneels down and has a good, long cry. Because that’s SO helpful.
Gimli and Legolas show up. Does Aragorn say: “Hey, Legolas, you’re pretty light in the loafers, uh, I mean fast on your feet. Go after those orcs before they get too long a head start and find out if they’ve got Frodo. Maybe you can distract the orcs with arrows or figure out how to rescue any hobbits they’ve captured.”
Instead, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli decide that the number one priority is not to find Frodo but to properly dispose of Boromir’s corpse.
So the three of them drag Boromir back to camp. Once there, they figure out that Frodo and Sam have crossed the river and are headed toward Mordor. Without a map or any idea how to get there.
Now, does Aragorn say: “Guys, I’m the only person in the group who’s ever been to Mordor, so I’m gonna go find Frodo and Sam and help them out or at least give them some idea of how to get there. You two follow the orcs and rescue Merry and Pippin, and we’ll meet up in Minas Tirith. Let’s go!”
Instead, the three of them decide to have a funeral party. They bundle Boromir’s corpse into one of the boats with some grave goods and shove the boat into the river. So, does anybody say at this point: “Great. We’ve disposed of the corpse. Let’s go!”
Instead, they decide that this is perfect time for some improvisational poetry.
Let’s face it, all that was necessary or appropriate at this point in time was something like: “Alas for Boromir! He was kind of a blowhard but he fought like a mofo. We’ll all miss him. Let’s go!”
No such luck.
Three stanzas later, the trio finally head off after the orcs, who now have a lead of several hours. Of course, everything all turns out okay in the end, but no matter how you cut it, that scene seriously sucks.