Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most colossal undertakings in cinema history, and makes possible a world of almost impossible enchantment. Based on J.R.R. Tolkien's brilliant high-fantasy novels, the films chronicle the Fellowship of the Ring as they navigate the perils of Middle-Earth to prevent Sauron the Destroyer from finding the One Ring. At the center of the quest is Frodo Baggins, a young hobbit small of stature but big of heart, whose indefatigable journey to save his home and kinsmen will forever alter the course of his destiny.
Elijah Wood brings Frodo Baggins to life as though he lept out of the pages of Tolkien's works. He is dressed based on the costumes of lead costume designer Ngila Dickson and her accomplished team, who had to design Frodo's costume as well as nineteen thousand others. It's due to their craftsmanship and dedication that the people of Middle-Earth seem so real, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy earns its place as a cinematic masterpiece. Relive Frodo's journey with 10 hidden details about his costume you may have missed in the films.
10 IT NEEDED TO BE MADE IN 4 DIFFERENT SIZES
Head costume designer Ngila Dickson had an enormous undertaking on her hands creating the costumes for all of the trilogy's leads. Not simply because they were overly complicated themselves, but because they needed to be created in several different sizes.
As you watch the films, you may notice that Frodo and the hobbits are brought to life by a variety of actors, each needing their own version of his wardrobe. In Frodo's case, there's principle talent Elijah Wood, his stand in, his stunt double, and his "mini me", a little person performer brought in for sequences that required scale beside the other human and elf actors.
9 IT WAS PURPOSEFULLY EXAGGERATED
Hobbits, like their wardrobes, are uncomplicated. They are practical, but anything but plain. Great care was taken in deciding the Hobbit outfits so that they never came across as ordinary, but instead emphasized what was unique about their stature and place in Middle-Earth.
As you watch the special features for the trilogy, you learn that in order to better transform a human-sized actor such as Elijah Wood into a halfling like Frodo, certain aspects of the costume needed to be exaggerated. Like other hobbits, his cuffs started a little above his wrist, and his pockets were made overly large, so that when he put his hands in them, the gesture had an almost comical effect.
8 IT WAS MEANT TO EVOKE AN 18TH CENTURY COUNTRYMAN
Ngila Dickson looked to history and to the illustrations in J.R.R. Tolkien's works to find inspiration for dressing Frodo and the other hobbits. Given that The Shire was a farming community, and hobbits lived in cottages built into the very earth, she felt that they should dress like 18th century countrymen wearing Earth tones.
After basing them off English countrymen, Dickson decided to chop off their trousers at the calf, which gave a greater emphasis on their very large feet. It offered them greater mobility and also drew attention to their undeniably most recognizable physical feature.
7 HE HAD THE STATUS OF A GENTLEMAN
Frodo is the cousin of Bilbo Baggins, but the elder Baggins adopted him when his parents died in TA 3001, making him his only heir. After his adventure in The Hobbit, Bilbo's share of Smaug's treasure set him up nicely in Bag End, affording him respect and status in Hobbiton. As a result, Frodo's costume more closely resembles a gentleman, and elevates him above his peers Sam, Merry, and Pippin.
To set him apart from his fellows hobbits, Frodo was dressed in velvets and other materials that conveyed his access to wealth. The color of his clothing was often brighter and less worn than his friends, especially Sam, but his travel cloak was designed for function over fancy.
6 THE HOBBIT FEET WERE SLIPPERS
While the clothes may not have seemed particularly difficult to get into for the hobbits, three-layered suits and traveling cloaks weren't the only aspects of their costumes. The pieces that needed to be started early on in the shooting day were the feet and the ears.
Elijah Wood's day would begin before dawn. Before he would be put into his clothing for the day, he would need his prosthetic feet applied. Glue was applied to the bottom of his feet and he slid into them like slippers, before they were air-dried and painted with an airbrush to match his skin tone. He had to do this entirely while standing so that his ankles wouldn't bend at the wrong places.
5 IT HAD TO BE VISIBLY AGED AND WEATHERED
The costumes of the Fellowship needed to not only appear like they could take a beating, but actually be durable enough for the actors to wear them during scenes involving horseback riding, mountain climbing, and charging into battle. They also had to be cleaned periodically, though!
The more dirt that accumulated on Frodo's outfit, such as his traveling cloak, the more convincingly weathered it would look. Often the costumes couldn't be laundered, lest they lose the appearance that they were worn clothing, not simply "costumes" the actors put on, so the cleaning process had to be gentle.
4 HARNESSES HAD TO BE INCORPORATED
Participating in the Lord of the Rings trilogy meant that principle actors were required to do a lot of stunt work. Even though most of them had stunt doubles, they were stilled required to be hooked up to certain harnesses to authentically telegraph falls, blows, or in Frodo's case, being caught in Shelob's spider web.
While stuck in Shelob's web, being taunted by Gollum, Elijah Wood had to be hooked up to a harnesses which was fixed around his costume, which then suspended him by his wrists and ankles on bungee chords. He had to hold his eyes open for an extended period of time to mimic being paralyzed in his cocoon.
3 THE MITHRIL UNDERSHIRT WASN'T VERY HELPFUL
In Tolkien's works, Frodo Baggins inherited his mithril shirt from Bilbo Baggins, said to be passed down to him from an elven prince. If Peter Jackson followed this logic, it would account for the mithril shirt hanging conspicuously low on Frodo's frame.
Consider the places in which Frodo is stabbed in the trilogy and where his mithril protects him. It hangs so low on his chest that he's able to be pierced by a Nazgul blade on Weathertop, a wound we still see when he's stung by Shelob's stinger, which either pierces the mithril altogether or happens further up his chest (in the books it occurred in his unprotected neck area).
2 HIS SWORD WAS MADE FOR AN ELF LORD
According to The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare companion, the sword that Bilbo Baggins gives Frodo was intended for an elf of great rank. Its craftsmanship is peerless, and meant to reflect the natural beauty found in nature, like all elven blades.
Its shape is meant to resemble a leaf, with a raised midrib to look like its stem. It has an inscription on the blade, "Sting is my name - I am the spider's bane.".The wooden handgrip has an inlaid silver patterned to look like stylized plants, as well as twisting vines and leaves. Even the leather scabbard has the same pattern of twisting fauna.
1 HIS CLOAK PIN WAS FOR MORE THAN DECORATION
After the Fellowship's visit to Lothlorien, Galadriel gave each of the party a leaf brooch to fasten their traveling cloaks. Named the "Leaves of Lorien", these brooches were meant to resemble the newly opened leaves of a beech tree. They would prove as much more than decorative touches.
Frodo flashed his pin to Faramir in Henneth Annun to validate his story, and Peregrin Took used this to tell Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli they were on the right track by dropping his pin on the ground after he was kidnapped with Merry by Uruk-hai.