Thread: Dumbing it down
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Old 02-13-2005, 08:23 PM   #109
Late Istar
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,150
Aiwendil has been trapped in the Barrow!
The Forum Ate My Post

Looks like a post I made last Thursday didn't get through - strange. Anyway, I feel it's worth at least just summing up some of the points I made there, even if the thread has moved on a bit.

The Saucepan Man wrote:
Yes, another production team might have done things slightly different. They might have excluded more of the additional scenes and included more of the original scenes and lines. But any film-maker is going to approach it from his or her interpretation of what will work best and, in the case of a film that is unlikely ever to be made other than as an action-heavy blockbuster, this will involve significant changes to conform with that approach and gain mass appeal.
This is true, but I don't think we should underestimate the degree to which a particular director's (or producer's or writer's) style comes through in a film. Had another director done these movies, I don't doubt that they would be quite different - and I don't mean just in terms of alterations from the book. Jackson, for example, based much of the visual style of Middle-earth on the work of John Howe and Alan Lee; one could easily imagine another director favoring the Hildebrandt brothers, for example. Another director would have emphasized points that Jackson ignored and ignored points Jackson emphasized. A lot of directors would have done worse. But I think that a few would have done better - and there are a number of specific decisions made by Jackson that I think were mistakes that were not inevitable, and that could just as easily not have been made.

Formendacil puts this point well:
But here's where PJ screwed up where my fandom was concerned: the LITTLE things. I can understand and even come close to approving the big changes, but the little ones elude me. Why does Aragorn's crown not fit the description of the one in the book? Why does Arwen have a CURVED sword?
Giving Elves curved blades, for example, is something that was surely not necessitated by the desire to conform to the modern Hollywood style. Now I don't doubt that Jackson had a reason for it; but he could very easily have done it the "right" way. This is what bothers me more than anything, and I think that my dissatisfaction with the many of the more major changes, if perhaps less justified, stems from the same source.

And all this remains a valid complaint, I think, even if one grants that it was right and proper for Jackson to go for stylistic conformity to other modern blockbusters - and many would, of course, question this. The Saucepan Man argues that:

We blithely refer here to the films being "Hollywood-ised", but this style of film did not just come about randomly. It arose to fulfil a demand. Film studios have sophisticated ways of discovering what it is that their target audiences want. They don't always get it right, but they are usually pretty accurate. They have found that people want lots of action in their blockbusters, and that's what the LotR films give them.
In other words, it was inevitable that the LotR movies would be "Hollywood-ised". Now I don't disagree. But I can lament a state of affairs even if it is an inevitable one. I am one of those who is not particularly well-pleased with the average modern Hollywood movie - most of my favorite films are from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Now I don't expect film-makers to turn down fortunes in potential profit, ignore current trends, and make movies that pander to my taste. But that doesn't mean I have to like, or pretend to like, what they produce.

An analogy that just popped into my head: despite the fact that increased urbanization and development are inevitable, especially in the New Jersey/Pennsylvania/New York area where I live, I am still dismayed and angered whenever I find that some particular patch of woods that I once knew has turned into an office complex.

So I would claim that:

1. Even granting Hollywood-ization, a tighter, more focused, more faithful adaptation could have been made.

2. An even greater trilogy of films could have been made by a director who refused to adopt certain aspects of the modern style.
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