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Old 06-19-2017, 10:29 PM   #52
The Sixth Wizard
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
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In response to the above about LOTR, I'd say that to me at least, certain narrative changes which fall flat are inevitable in an adaptation of a massive piece of written work. The immensity of the task almost guarantees a few failures, but I am also cynical about Hollywood in general so I am happy with any sort of care taken and quality produced, however hampered. I agree that some of the dramatic roadblocks were cheesy and could have been done better, but I try to put it in the perspective of the tone of the work overall and the difficulty of pleasing both a cinematic audience and dedicated group of literature fans. I imagine the realisation of this sort of work is a very difficult balancing act, between a lot of different interest groups: story, production, direction, acting, props, music (!), CGI, and of course the moneybags at the top. With that in mind I think the final product was squarely excellent and as faithful as any film was ever going to be.

I think most of the casting choices were inspired. There were a few I thought were underwhelming - Legolas was a pretty boy who couldn't speak Elvish convincingly, Gimli was "meh", and I thought Elrond was just a wooden scowl (although that went for most of the Elves, so it might have been stylistic). Frodo himself was too young and played straight, but I give the series a pass due to the "Matrix" effect - big movies' protagonists are often casted in that "neutral" way to provide a "stand-in" for the audience. But consider some of the bullseyes. The menacing drone of Christopher Lee and the caring whisper of Ian McKellan, both coming from a background on the stage. Theoden brings an absolute presence to any scene he is in, as does Sam Gamgee. That is not even to start on Andy Serkis. Viggo Mortensen, fluent in several languages, whose looks somehow straddle the line between youthful energy and aged wisdom, and who broke his own toes with his method acting - we could have had Nicholas Cage. I have heard people criticise Gandalf by saying he is too recognisable, and they can't help but see Ian McKellan playing a role. One might as well say he's too good for one's liking. I have heard others say that Aragorn was too short. Too short!?! There is just no pleasing some people.

And as for the LOTR dialogue being praised - I wholeheartedly agree. The more source dialogue which can be compellingly brought to life on screen the better. I think the task is more difficult than it seems, though. As George Orwell would tell you, it can be more difficult knowing how to be concise than how to be inclusive. The screenwriters could not pull each scene directly from the books because they are far too long, or don't serve the emotive differences required at that stage of a film, or are simply too obtuse for a modern audience to grapple with. In place of that, the movies have shifted pieces of dialogue from different parts of the books, compressing some, while leaving many climactic moments intact. When I think of the mammoth effort which must have gone into first reading every line of dialogue and description, figuring out which would effectively translate into cinema, and then making the decisions as to which to include and where, it boggles the mind.

Remember that some people actually thought the Gollum scene in AUJ was the lowlight of the film. They said it was too boring and out-of-character for Gollum. Of course, most people thought it was the only redeeming feature of the film. I personally think the scene translated the less menacing Gollum of The Hobbit very well given his character in the LOTR films. But the response of the philistines illustrates the peril of using too much book dialogue in what is ultimately a visual medium. Audiences are going to get bored, or they'll just have no idea what is going on. We have lots of archaic, flowery, source dialogue used in the LOTR films in such a way that it adds tension to scenes, and can be understood via context. Audiences are probably learning new words from these films, and I think it's quite an achievement. It's no coincidence the movies have spawned so many memes given their wealth of quotable lines. The achievement is magnified when we compare the Hobbit films, despite having plenty of room to incorporate source dialogue, invented most of their lines and were accordingly panned.
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