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Old 03-14-2016, 03:27 PM   #1
Michael Murry
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Peter Jackson Explains Why the ‘Hobbit’ Movies Are Such a Huge Mess

I apologize if others have already addressed this link, but apparently Peter Jackson has now admitted -- on an extended edition DVD that I will not purchase -- just how bad a job he did with these Hobbit films. Yeah. Do you think?

http://www.slashfilm.com/peter-jacks...zergnet_780774
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Old 03-14-2016, 04:19 PM   #2
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While I do appreciate the honesty, I suppose, I don't at all appreciate the travesty they made of The Hobbit - a genuinely wonderful story for all ages that generations of readers have passed down to their sons and daughters in turn like a family heirloom (or mathom, if you wish).

Offering what amounts to a half-arsed apology afterwards rings quite hollow, and it is disheartening. They didn't know what the hell they were doing and it shows. They slapped a bunch of disparate elements together, made up or transported characters and put them where they didn't belong, and generally made a CGI molehill out of a mountain of a tale.

I hope to Eru no one makes another damned Middle-earth movie ever again.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:21 AM   #3
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Thumbs up Thanks for the link

Thanks for that link, Michael!

This information is already known to people on the Downs; and I fully understand your point of view, Morthron. An 'apology' isn't much if it was only made in the extended edition DVD of the last film.

What annoys me is knowing that far younger and far more inexperienced people, given a fraction of the money that was spent here, could have produced something far better...
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Old 03-15-2016, 05:52 PM   #4
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What annoys me is knowing that far younger and far more inexperienced people, given a fraction of the money that was spent here, could have produced something far better...
Which is something PJ was at the time he directed the LotR trilogy: relatively unknown outside of cheap horror films, and certainly untried when it came to serious or big-budget films (the two terms not necessarily being synonymous).

He strayed here and there, but his hubris was often reined in by cooler heads ("No, Pete, Arwen should not be cutting off orc heads in Helms Deep!"), but much of the esthetic of the film, the cinematography and a greater part of the dialogue (whether or not the original character voiced the lines) was basically true to Tolkien's Middle-earth. Certainly, one can be annoyed at the character assassinations of Denethor and Faramir, the whole wasted 15 minutes of Aragorn falling off a cliff, then frenching his horse, or the entire "Arwen is dying" idiocy, but, for the most part, one got a sense of the depth and breadth of Middle-earth. If anything, his energy was commendable.

However, ten Oscars later, PJ was a different sort of director. Whether or not he forced out Guillermo del Toro (and the conspiracy theorist in me thinks he did, and GdT was simply too much of a gentleman to say what really happened), PJ decided that he alone should direct the films.

Again, hubris overpowered common sense: he ignored all the genuine humor and quaintness of Tolkien's tale, and in its place threw in troll snot, a diva operatic GoblinKing, unendurably long chutes 'n' ladders chases, sophomoric elf/dwarf sexual jokes, and bird-droppings on the hat of a psychedelicized wizard; admitting he had little time, he ignored the bigatures and extensive modeling and rendering that lent a sense of realism to the films, and instead opted for overbearing CGI that basically sucked the life out of Middle-earth; and worst of all, he absconded with the original plot and dialogue and threw it in the garbage, choosing in his pomposity and appalling effrontery to create characters and write the script with merely a nod to the original.

To quote Christopher Tolkien: "They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25."
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:19 PM   #5
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However, ten Oscars later, PJ was a different sort of director. Whether or not he forced out Guillermo del Toro (and the conspiracy theorist in me thinks he did, and GdT was simply too much of a gentleman to say what really happened), PJ decided that he alone should direct the films.

Again, hubris overpowered common sense: he ignored all the genuine humor and quaintness of Tolkien's tale, and in its place threw in troll snot, a diva operatic GoblinKing, unendurably long chutes 'n' ladders chases, sophomoric elf/dwarf sexual jokes, and bird-droppings on the hat of a psychedelicized wizard; admitting he had little time, he ignored the bigatures and extensive modeling and rendering that lent a sense of realism to the films, and instead opted for overbearing CGI that basically sucked the life out of Middle-earth; and worst of all, he absconded with the original plot and dialogue and threw it in the garbage, choosing in his pomposity and appalling effrontery to create characters and write the script with merely a nod to the original.
I've read other sources which blame executive interference rather than Peter Jackson, claiming that he didn't want to add many of these things in and was forced to do so by Warner Bros. This wouldn't surprise me if it was true, but who knows who to believe in these situations.

I find it odd that it seems like the narrative adaptation involved far less focus-tested corporate box-ticking mandated into it for The Lord of the Rings than for The Hobbit considering that it was on the former that Jackson was the much less tested director. Perhaps it already ticked enough boxes on its own so less needed to be added/exaggerated. For whatever reason New Line on its own seems to have been far less controlling than WB.
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Old 03-16-2016, 02:42 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Zigûr View Post
I've read other sources which blame executive interference rather than Peter Jackson, claiming that he didn't want to add many of these things in and was forced to do so by Warner Bros. This wouldn't surprise me if it was true, but who knows who to believe in these situations.

I find it odd that it seems like the narrative adaptation involved far less focus-tested corporate box-ticking mandated into it for The Lord of the Rings than for The Hobbit considering that it was on the former that Jackson was the much less tested director. Perhaps it already ticked enough boxes on its own so less needed to be added/exaggerated. For whatever reason New Line on its own seems to have been far less controlling than WB.
I heard New Line also pushed the "Hollywood" treatment, but Jackson stood up to them. I'm sure he could have done so this time, had he wanted to.
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Old 03-16-2016, 07:41 AM   #7
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The Eye We'll only know the truth later

To what you mentioned earlier about Jackson's LotR films, Morthoron, I would add: reducing Sauron to a disembodied eye on top of a tower; making Saruman turn evil and produce urks at very short notice; making Gandalf's removing evil influences from Theoden resemble something from The Exorcist; sending Elves to Helm's Deep; using the Dead to win the Battle of the Pelennor Fields; and having Gollum succeed in turning Frodo against Sam.

I read with interest what you had to say, Zigûr and Nerwen. The problem is that only later will we know the truth about whether 'pressure' or 'interference' from the studio, whatever one calls it, was a factor in what appeared as Jackson's Hobbit films.

I agree with you, Nerwen, if it was true that Jackson stood up to New Line regarding the first set of films, but did not to Warner for the second. It stands to reason that a director with a commercially successful set of films under his belt would have been better able to stand up to the relevant studio when filming another set.
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:49 PM   #8
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I heard New Line also pushed the "Hollywood" treatment, but Jackson stood up to them. I'm sure he could have done so this time, had he wanted to.
I suspect the reason is probably that either they were more stubborn or he simply didn't care as much. It might be a combination of the two, of course. Hadn't he said in the past that he wasn't as interested in The Hobbit as he was in The Lord of the Rings?

It's also probably the fact that, to my knowledge, he never wanted to direct the film(s) in the first place. These things seem to combine to form a director who simply isn't going to go to the trouble of putting up much of a fight with the studio.
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Old 03-17-2016, 09:09 AM   #9
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Boots I take a different tack

I lay most of the blame for things on Jackson and not the studio. No doubt the studio was a baleful influence, but I've seen too much about how the execrable deviations in the LOTR trilogy were mostly Jackson's doing to cut him any kind of slack when it comes to the mess that was The Hobbit.
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Old 05-21-2016, 10:27 PM   #10
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I suspect the reason is probably that either they were more stubborn or he simply didn't care as much. It might be a combination of the two, of course. Hadn't he said in the past that he wasn't as interested in The Hobbit as he was in The Lord of the Rings?

It's also probably the fact that, to my knowledge, he never wanted to direct the film(s) in the first place. These things seem to combine to form a director who simply isn't going to go to the trouble of putting up much of a fight with the studio.
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I lay most of the blame for things on Jackson and not the studio. No doubt the studio was a baleful influence, but I've seen too much about how the execrable deviations in the LOTR trilogy were mostly Jackson's doing to cut him any kind of slack when it comes to the mess that was The Hobbit.
l've been thinking about this a bit more. The thing is, when you look at blockbusters of the modern era, they're generally a lot slicker, a lot tidier... and, arguably, considerably more sterile than the "Hobbit" trilogy. So perhaps the final product is more of a three-way fight between what the studio wanted, what Jackson wanted, and the source material. While I don't find the result very satisfactory, I've come think what happened might be more complicated than just Jackson caving to the "suits". In that case I think we would have got something closer to a straight remake of "Lord of the Rings", only with the names changed.

Edit: Make that a four-way fight with Del Toro's left-over work as another enemy (as it were). And if we allow the rushed schedule as a fifth, maybe that's why "The Battle of the Five Armies" seemed like such a perfect title to those involved.
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Old 06-28-2016, 07:49 AM   #11
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Boots Peter Jackson explains reasons for changes from 'The Hobbit' book

I came across this on YouTube, and think that it's relevant to this thread.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q51QDWz50g

How many of us here are convinced by his explanation?
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Old 07-03-2016, 05:56 AM   #12
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I could not even watch that last video.

I refuse to even acknowledge that any of the Peter Jackson movies exist (even for the first trilogy).

I am hoping that eventually someone will be able to re-do the whole thing from beginning to end. And in doing so remain faithful to Tolkien's works.

It is one thing to place exposition into the lines of a character, thus essentially remaining true to the elements Tolkien wrote.

But it is an entirely different thing to make up, whole-cloth, elements that are not only no part of Tolkien's creation, but which utterly contradict that which he did create.

It would be another thing entirely if a movie-maker conceived novel elements for the movies, yet those inventions did not contradict established canon.

It is the re-writing of the canon that bothers me.

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Old 07-06-2016, 04:24 AM   #13
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I could not even watch that last video.

I refuse to even acknowledge that any of the Peter Jackson movies exist (even for the first trilogy).

I am hoping that eventually someone will be able to re-do the whole thing from beginning to end. And in doing so remain faithful to Tolkien's works.

It is one thing to place exposition into the lines of a character, thus essentially remaining true to the elements Tolkien wrote.

But it is an entirely different thing to make up, whole-cloth, elements that are not only no part of Tolkien's creation, but which utterly contradict that which he did create.

It would be another thing entirely if a movie-maker conceived novel elements for the movies, yet those inventions did not contradict established canon.

It is the re-writing of the canon that bothers me.

MB
Out of curiosity, what would you cite as an example of an element in the first trilogy that "utterly contradicts" Tolkien's work? I'd say many of the changes were dictated by the needs of an adaptation, but I agree there were some questionable ones.
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Old 07-07-2016, 01:59 AM   #14
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Out of curiosity, what would you cite as an example of an element in the first trilogy that "utterly contradicts" Tolkien's work? I'd say many of the changes were dictated by the needs of an adaptation, but I agree there were some questionable ones.
Let's see....

•*Elves with Crooked Swords (people might think here "What???" But this is actually a pretty important thing).
•*The Narrative of the Last Alliance and the "Destruction" of Sauron.
•*The Episode at Crickhollow and Bree.
• The fight on the SIDE of Amon Sul, NOT on its summit at the watchtower.
•*Arwen riding to save Frodo (i.e. no Glorfindel).
•*The Council of Elrond.
•*Reforging of Narsil ⇒ Anduril.
•*Anduril gives of no Light (when it should).
•*The trapping of Gandalf by Saruman.
• The narrative in trip through Moria (that in itself is a substantial sub-list).
•*Glamdring doesn't glow in the presence of Orcs (it should).
• The Balrog, while VERY impressive, was all wrong.
• The amount of Plate Armor on everyone and everything, but especially the Orcs in Moria....
• The Arrival in Lórien.
•*The Gifts of Galadriel.
• The trip down Anduin.
• The attack on Amon Hen.
•*The departure of Frodo, and the dissolution of the Fellowship.
• The "Three Hunters" episode.
•*The escape of Merry and Pippin, and the meeting of Fangorn.
•*Gimli, Aragorn, and Legolas' encounter with the Rohirrim, and their meeting of Gandalf the White.
• Nearly everything in Rohan (again, huge sub-list)
•*Aragorn falling off the Cliff.
•*Helm's Deep (another sub-list).
•*ESPECIALLY the Elves at Helm's Deep.
•*Huorns at Helm's Deep (they were there but not explained - which was in the book).
•*Traveling to Orthanc after Helm's Deep.
•*Staying with Fangorn at one of his homes in the forest w/ Merry & Pippin.
•*Entmoot.
•*Merry & Pippin at Orthanc.
•*Meeting of Saruman at Orthanc.
• Palintír Discovery/Attack
•*Death of Saruman at Orthanc.
•*Arrival of the Grey Company.
•*Winged Nazgûl in Rohan.
•*Lighting of Beacons.
•*Arrival of the Red Arrow.
•*Everything about Éowyn and Éomer.
•*WT F... Arwen dying??? What the freaking freak???
•*Trip of Pippin/Gandalf to Minas Tirith.
•*The Paths of the Dead.
•*The Walls of the Rammas Echor.
•*Minas Tirith being smaller than Bree.
•*The Travel of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum from the Emyn Muil to Ithilien.
•*Meeting of Faramir and Frodo/Sam.
•*Hennuth Anun.
•*Gollum at Hennuth Anun.
•*Faramir and Frodo talking about the One Ring.
•*Frodo being taken to Osgiliath.
• Osgiliath.
•*Travel to Shelob's Lair, and events within.
•*Denethor....
•*No Beregond.
•*Ok... Let's just say everything that happens at Minas Tirith. It is one of those "based upon the events of...."
•*Army of the Dead showing up at Minas Tirith.
• No Standard of the King from Arwen to Aragorn flown on the captured ships.
•*No Swan Knights.
• Everthing about the Witch King of Angmar at the Pelennor.
•*The Death of Denethor.
•*Cirith Ungol Scenes all wrong.
•*Frodo and Sam's trip through Mordor.
.
.
. (getting tired, cutting to the end)

•*No Scouring of the Shire

I am sure that there are many, many more. I used to have a scene-by-scene list, but after what they called The Hobbit came out... I decided it was easier to just pretend that nothing Tolkien has written has been made into a Live-Action movies.

And having had a brief exchange with the Tolkien Estate, that whole episode has really put them off ever allowing anyone else to attempt to put any of the remaining works of Tolkien on film.

Having taken a Film Class (or two), and having worked in the Film Industry in the 1980s... I know that it is completely possible to film a book, as written, and have it be just as enjoyable as the hack-jobs that often occur in Hollywood.

That was one of the things that was in one of the classes we had, where we were shown two short-films - roughly 30min each - of a short story - I can't recall the author. One of the films was basically 99% accurate to the original short story, and the other had been "greatly altered." We would not be told which one was the original until after we had seen both, and then we were handed the Short Story (it was about twenty pages long) to read.

After watching each film, we were to rate it on several categories (script, timing, cinematography, sets, costumes, etc.).

And, strangely, the film that adhered closest to the story did no worse than the greatly altered one.

After we had read the Short Story, we were asked to rate them again.

At that point, the one that adhered closest scored vastly greater than the altered one.

The professor teaching the class did this to show:

Most alteration of books when being made into movies is to satisfy the ego of the script writer and directors, who often have their own pet-peeves they wish to insert into everything they do, because they are not allowed to produce some pet-project they have which contains these elements.

In other words: The changes are Egregious. Movies of Books introduce the changes simply for the sake of change, nothing else.

And... In Peter Jackson's case.... When he produced The Lord of the Rings, he knew absolutely nothing about Tolkien's works beyond The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, nor did he know anything about Tolkien himself.

Thus he was not aware of the significance of even the smallest word(s) used by Tolkien for pretty much everything (such as why it is a perversion of Tolkien's works to have Elves with Swords Tolkien went out of the way to label "Crooked").

MB
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Old 05-30-2017, 12:12 PM   #15
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While the video goes a long way to explain how The Hobbit films ended up a pile of refuse, I don't feel bad for Jackson.

As the video Faramir Jones posted, Jackson himself says it was him and Boyens' decision to bloat The Hobbit into 3 films, not the studio's. He said people think it was a cash grab by the studio, but clearly states going from 2 films to 3 was his decision, because he didn't want to make a movie based on The Hobbit, he wanted a "prequel" to Lord of the Rings, 6 movies that all connected together.

So, no I don't feel bad for him, and I'm not one who's going to blame the studio for Jackson's choices. Maybe if he didn't unnecessarily pad the movies with stuff in an effort to make it a prequel trilogy to Lord of the Rings, he wouldn't have been in such a go-go-go time crunch. I remember reading the Viggo Mortensen article reflecting on the LOTR movies and The Hobbit. His comment about choices after LOTR, and Jackson's choices were astute, and I think accurate:

Quote:
"I guess Peter became like Ridley Scott – this one-man industry now, with all these people depending on him,” Mortensen adds. “But you can make a choice, I think. I asked Ridley when I worked with him (on 1997’s GI Jane), 'Why don’t you do another film like The Duellists [Scott’s 1977 debut, from a Joseph Conrad short story]?’ And Peter, I was sure he would do another intimately scaled film like Heavenly Creatures, maybe with this project about New Zealanders in the First World War he wanted to make. But then he did King Kong. And then he did The Lovely Bones – and I thought that would be his smaller movie. But the problem is, he did it on a $90 million budget. That should have been a $15 million movie. The special effects thing, the genie, was out of the bottle, and it has him. And he’s happy, I think…”
No more of this "woe is me" "the studio made me do this" "the studio put us under such a time crunch to get these movies out" "I didn't have time to plan like the Lord of the Rings". The Hobbit were 3 crappy films to try to copy the success of LOTR. They failed. He made his bed. If he's happy with his choices, good for him.
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Old 05-31-2017, 01:36 PM   #16
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IIt would be another thing entirely if a movie-maker conceived novel elements for the movies, yet those inventions did not contradict established canon.

It is the re-writing of the canon that bothers me.

MB
I would have been unbothered (not happy, but unbothered) if either of his trilogies were internally consistent. It's especially jarring when much hay was made of the fact that all 3 LotR movies were filmed by the same 'team' over 18 or so months.
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Old 06-14-2017, 08:39 AM   #17
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1420!

I was going to post that video as I just came across it on Youtube. It's definitely sad what became of the Hobbit as a film.

Honestly, I think the idea that the original LOTR movies need to be remade because of the long list of nitpicks above is pretty bunk. We simply cannot expect a film series to be meticulously faithful to a book series. I get that this is a Tolkien fan forum but we can't have our cake and eat it too. Most fantasy films, and films in general to be honest, are rubbish. There has never before or since been a fantasy epic which received LOTR's level of care, love, financial input, polish and still managed to be largely faithful to the source material while becoming a cultural phenomenon.

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, for example, had the Mulefa, a fantastical race of elephant-like creatures, cut out in the stage version and characters accordingly deleted. It still received good reviews, as far as I'm aware. Imagine how bad the LOTR films could have been with half the budget, half the run time and nobody who really understood the source material?

I think adaptations have to be faithful to the spirit of the source material, not the detail. This video, which includes a discussion of the LOTR movies, has shaped my opinion here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek2O6bVAIQQ

What is the spirit of the LOTR series? Basically, it's about small, brave, humble people triumphing over large, important, arrogant, powerful people. It's about pity and mercy, with violence as a last resort. And it's about having an adventure in a world which feels enormous.

This is why I feel the extended cuts of the LOTR trilogy are detrimental to the trilogy's experience. There are several moments in the extended edition which justify violence and fetishise it, much more than in the theatrical release. Think of Aragorn decapitating the Mouth of Sauron, who hadn't lifted a hand to attack him. Think of how Saruman dies like a comic book character, falling on to a spike. There is also an exchange between Gimli and Legolas where they talk about their kill counts after Helm's Deep. Rightly, these scenes were cut.

This sort of stuff is still there in the release (Legolas's exploits at surfing and Muma-killing particularly annoy me) but overall I think the spirit I mentioned above is pretty well preserved. The lines which stick with us from LOTR are Gandalf's "pity is what stayed Bilbo's hand", Sam's "I can carry you", and Theoden's sacrificial speech at Pelennor. We have the Hobbits, who, although they have to be sidelined sometimes by the epic stuff for the sake of cinema, are still central to the plot. We have quiet, serious moments and an ending emphasis on homecoming (I have come to terms with the fact that the Scouring of the Shire had to be cut - you can't have a second sub-climax in a nine hour epic). Basically, the spirit is retained.

The Hobbit movies, needless to say, were trash, because they didn't have any of the spirit of either book. Strangely, despite their long running time, the world of The Hobbit felt smaller after watching those movies. Once you see too much of a world, it starts having to repeat itself and the magic is broken. And the tone of the series is completely off. It doesn't know if it wants to be an epic, an adventure tale, a light-hearted comedy, or musing on greed. It doesn't know which characters are important. It's a mish-mash of rubbish. Let's just forget it happened.
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Old 06-14-2017, 09:15 AM   #18
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I was going to post that video as I just came across it on Youtube. It's definitely sad what became of the Hobbit as a film.

Honestly, I think the idea that the original LOTR movies need to be remade because of the long list of nitpicks above is pretty bunk. We simply cannot expect a film series to be meticulously faithful to a book series. I get that this is a Tolkien fan forum but we can't have our cake and eat it too.
I believe this may well be the most anti-film Tolkien fan forum on the internet... and I've still never seen anything like that list before. It's... amazing.
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Old 06-14-2017, 09:44 AM   #19
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We simply cannot expect a film series to be meticulously faithful to a book series. I get that this is a Tolkien fan forum but we can't have our cake and eat it too.
Personally, I just didn't want the cake.

The LOTR films were made with care, critically acclaimed, yeah yeah yeah.

Doughnuts are really tasty, but they're full of empty calories that I don't need in order to live.
That's PJ's films for me: in one word, unnecessary.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:16 AM   #20
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I get that this is a Tolkien fan forum but we can't have our cake and eat it too.
I think we should be allowed to want a different kind of cake.

Perhaps in this instance a cake that doesn't have so much stupid trash in it like elves at Helm's Deep, Faramir trying to take the Ring back to Minas Tirith until a Nazgul suddenly shows up, Théoden being reluctant to go aid Gondor, Denethor being a cowardly lunatic, the list goes on and on.

I have yet to see a sound justification as to why changes like these were needed to successfully adapt the novels to film.
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Old 06-14-2017, 11:59 AM   #21
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There was clearly a lot chsnged in LOTR book to film but on some level adaptation is expected they're just too different in mediums. The book (if ever done again) should be a series on par with Game of Thrones.

The Hobbit is a different animal. It really only needed one film, even two would have been stretching but ok. I watched the first in theatres knowing it was a trilogy and never watched the other two.

It wasn't an adaptation. It was a story based on the characters. It wasn't even entertaining which is the worst bit. The Bashki cartoon was more faithful.
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Old 06-14-2017, 09:09 PM   #22
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I think we should be allowed to want a different kind of cake.

Perhaps in this instance a cake that doesn't have so much stupid trash in it like elves at Helm's Deep, Faramir trying to take the Ring back to Minas Tirith until a Nazgul suddenly shows up, Théoden being reluctant to go aid Gondor, Denethor being a cowardly lunatic, the list goes on and on.

I have yet to see a sound justification as to why changes like these were needed to successfully adapt the novels to film.
I don't want sh*t all over my cake, thank you.
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Old 06-14-2017, 09:43 PM   #23
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1420!

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I think we should be allowed to want a different kind of cake.

Perhaps in this instance a cake that doesn't have so much stupid trash in it like elves at Helm's Deep, Faramir trying to take the Ring back to Minas Tirith until a Nazgul suddenly shows up, Théoden being reluctant to go aid Gondor, Denethor being a cowardly lunatic, the list goes on and on.

I have yet to see a sound justification as to why changes like these were needed to successfully adapt the novels to film.
Can I give the perspective of someone with actual media experience and training? In my view, many of the changes from book to film are justified due to the need for time compression and visual drama. This is, of course the "different mediums" argument in a nutshell, and I think it's fair as far as it goes.

But the things you're talking about- no. TTT (the film) especially has some strange storytelling decisions in it which I can't defend artistically and which I think might have more to do with the production history than anything else. I didn't realise this until recently, but it seems originally Jackson & Co. wrote the script for LotR as two films, meaning, presumeably, that everything in TTT (the book) was either cut or moved. And then when they did get the green light for three films, I suppose the middle part had to be sort of Frankensteined out of a.) the other scripts, b.) the Appendices and c.) thin air. I think the result is still a decent film, but arguably the fact they got away with it that time set an unfortunate precedent.

As an example of a major change I think was quite justified: giving Glorfindel's role to Arwen. Yes, I know you're all going to scream- but the fact is the "Glorfindel" section occupies such a tiny amount of screentime that there would have been no time to do anything with the character anyway. It would have been quite weird to introduce an apparently significant character only to have him disappear after a minute, never to be seen again. (Tolkien, by contrast, had a lot more time/space to work with).

I think much of the hostility to the "different mediums" argument from book fans comes from the way it has often been used as a supposedly irrefutable blanket defence of, well, everything. Also, perhaps, the fact that some of its proponents want to have their cake and eat it- some people who don't think the films should be like the books ("different mediums, guys") will happily bash the books for not being more like the films ("all those boring descriptions"). This was particularly noticeable in "The Hobbit" honeymoon period, when one heard quite a lot about how Jackson had "treated the material with more respect than Tolkien ever did"- because apparently JRRT wrote the book as a children's story by mistake.
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Old 06-15-2017, 01:38 AM   #24
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I have been recently introduced to a Finnish adaptation of LOTR. It was made with little budget, no CGI, no fancy action scenes, but really good acting and many book dialogues. I thought it was brilliant. But the thing is, there's also very little plot. Most of it is described in narration. It's the exact opposite of PJ movies: long slow dialogue scenes are connected by plot summary narration. No proper movie nowadays would make such choice. But what we get is very good acting, nearly pure Tolkien dialogues, theme and character exploration - and I think that's what many of us want to see when we think of a good screen adaptation. So hope is probably better placed in low budget fan films than in large scale productions.
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Old 06-15-2017, 02:09 AM   #25
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Yes, for me a lot of the "spirit" is found in Professor Tolkien's particular use of language, which for me at least is rather "music to my ears", and the dignity and high seriousness of much of the work. These are elements I don't think the films capture at all well. For instance I find a little lightness of heart from the Hobbits in the book highly preferable to the film's tendency to have Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli crack jokes or for characters like Denethor to be presented as grotesque and vulgar (which makes him annoying rather than tragic).

Ultimately however the adaptation is just an adaptation, and to me the book is the "real" thing, so it almost doesn't matter to me anymore because no adaptation is going to be able to give me what the book gives me - because it's not the book.

Over the years this train of thought has led me not towards wanting more faithful adaptations of source materials I already like, but rather towards a view that there is a certain kind of adaptation, typically the 'straightforward page to screen' one, which is quite pointless beyond making me aware of the source material, which I inevitably prefer.
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Old 06-15-2017, 03:37 AM   #26
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1420! Long post, procrastinating, apologies

I found this interesting article which suggests that JRRT would support Jackson's adaptation had he been alive to see it. At least, he would have been less hostile towards the trilogy than Christopher Tolkien turned out to be.

http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2013...-of-the-rings/

I think we need to remember that JRRT was already a practiced borrower and integrator of different sources - old English myths, Scandinavian myths, stories of civilisational conflict, mixed with his training as a linguist. I wouldn't say he was the Jimmy Page of fantasy, but obviously he drew on many sources and he was open to revisions and re-tellings of his stories to some extent. He revised Gollum's chapter in The Hobbit, for example, as part of his effort to integrate his two main works with each other. And before CT collated the Silmarillion, there was no set backstory to Middle Earth outside of what's written in LOTR. He said he was trying to create a sort of English national myth, a story which was more like history than fiction. Why wouldn't he be in favour of its realisation on the big screen?

As a side point, I will never understand why George RR Martin allowed the Game of Thrones show to be made before he finished his novels. Surely he must have known that he wouldn't finish A Time for Wolves by the end of the HBO series. It's a travesty that the ending to our generation's fantasy epic will be spoiled by a couple of hack showrunners who have to invent the characters' dialogue and actions from a list of plot points. I guess that's what the offer of a truckload of money will do to an author. But JRRT's seminal work is forever complete and self-contained - no movie trilogy, however terrible, can undermine it as an experience. Luckily, Jackson's first effort was pretty good.

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As an example of a major change I think was quite justified: giving Glorfindel's role to Arwen.
Definitely have to agree with that, especially given the modern world's gender politics. If the films were totally faithful, Eowyn's cameo in ROTK would be just about the only female appearance in the entire series. Remember that she gets hitched to a stranger almost immediately afterwards! There's Galadriel too, but she isn't exactly a relatable character for women.

Quote:
I think we should be allowed to want a different kind of cake.

Perhaps in this instance a cake that doesn't have so much stupid trash in it like elves at Helm's Deep, Faramir trying to take the Ring back to Minas Tirith until a Nazgul suddenly shows up, Théoden being reluctant to go aid Gondor, Denethor being a cowardly lunatic, the list goes on and on.
I think I can justify a few of those changes. Movies need more explicit, character-driven tension than books, story arcs with clear conclusions, whereas I think that space can be filled with exploration and worldbuilding in written form, because we experience the story in each character's mind rather than as a vista. The enjoyment of meeting Faramir in the novel comes from learning about his people and history, and we don't need him to desire the ring to keep us entertained. But it would undermine the dread surrounding the Ring to see him resist it in the film. We've already seen Galadriel, Gandalf and Aragorn bypass the temptation of the Ring at that point - how can we fear its corruption if some guy we just met resists it as well? It gives our heroes another challenge beyond "pit-stop at the Forbidden Pool" for TTT.

The same goes for Theoden, unfortunately. Narrative tension must be driven by characters. The book's excitement comes from material constraints - can they muster enough of the Rohirrim and travel to the Pelennor in time? There is less sense of geography in a film, where characters can travel hundreds of kilometres between scenes, without page-turning establishing a feeling of time passing, so we need something else to establish the same narrative roadblocks. That's why we need Denethor refusing aid, Theoden refusing to help, Faramir's rout, and Gondor's military failure all building towards the final triumph. The long list of failures makes final success more vivid - Theoden's initial reluctance ramps up his change of heart and bravery in the battle as well. Think of the movie Ents initially deciding to take no action, for another such example. I do agree that Denethor was a badly-written caricature, though.

To me, the most annoying, but not deal-breaking features of the films are a) tonal shifting between gritty realism and video-game action and b) character setbacks which are particularly contrived.

For the former, think of Legolas riding an Oliphaunt minutes after we've watched hundreds of skilled riders fail to take it down. We want our characters to do heroic things, but we want their feet on the ground when they do it. We can accept Eomer throwing his spear through the Mumak's handler, as a once-off, because he still seems mortal while doing it, but Legolas's antics were a step too far. If he simply shot it through the eye from a distance, PJ could have still hit the hammy "still only counts as one" dad-joke and our credulity would be intact. Maybe even make it a bit of character development since the fight scene in FOTR, where Legolas has to try three times to hit that cave troll in the neck (that would actually be a cool idea ... I wish I was on set for these movies). Another example was the Bridge of Khazad-dum bit, with the pillars conveniently swinging like a pendulum for our heroes to leap. What was so likeable about LOTR was how we could see the rain on the Uruks' helmets and the rust on their blades, how we felt the pain of Boromir being pin-cushioned and Frodo losing his fingers. We were viscerally engaged, on the ground, in the action scenes, despite their heroic elements. It goes without saying that Hobbit CGI trilogy was all video-game, and no grit.

For the latter, I think of Frodo deciding to tell Sam to "go home" as a plot contrivance in ROTK, and Aragorn falling off a cliff, Skyfall-style in TTT. I get that these movies needed something interesting to happen in the middle of their three-hour runtime, but those two examples stood out for me most as cliched or out-of-character. I was also a bit annoyed that Pippin and Gimli were painted as quite so stupid and comical, respectively. Then again, the uniform, demonstrative heroism of every Walker in the novel is a bit boring too (don't shoot me for that one). I would cut a few scenes and lines as egregious in all three films, like Pippin dropping the suit of armour in FOTR to set off the goblins. Again, these aren't massive quibbles, because they don't really affect the core elements of the story. They don't affect the communication of the themes of the work, unlike in The Hobbit, where Bilbo is nonsensically sidelined for large parts of a story supposedly about his courage and self-development.

I think we can definitely tell when dialogue has been written by an author rather than a screenwriter, and the more authorial source material, the better (assuming they're a decent author and not Suzanne Collins). You can just imagine how certain lines would have been written had there not been written dialogue to parse from the novel in LOTR. "I would cut off your head, dwarf, if it stood but a little higher from the ground" would become something like "don't make me behead you, dwarf". Gandalf's fantastic dialogue would be eviscerated. This is what makes me fear most for A Song of Ice and Fire, actually, as the showrunners have finally expended the last dregs of source dialogue now, and I think the difference will be (ahem) stark next season.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:02 AM   #27
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I'll defend the Pippin Armor Well scene.
The book has Pippin deliberately drop a stone in the well. It never sat well with me that that somehow alerted the goblins and orcs. The armor on the other hand a loud banging clanging ruckus makes much more sense to me.
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Old 06-15-2017, 06:24 AM   #28
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(...) And before CT collated the Silmarillion, there was no set backstory to Middle Earth outside of what's written in LOTR. He said he was trying to create a sort of English national myth, a story which was more like history than fiction. Why wouldn't he be in favour of its realisation on the big screen?

I believe Tolkien was open to the idea at one point, until he saw a film treatment filled with (in his opinion) unnecessary alterations and large scale point-missings, illustrated by his comments in the "Zimmerman letter". After that, I think he closed the door, and only later gave way due to cash fears, plus feeling that he had "once" made a sorta-agreement with his publisher (cash or kudos), concerning which he was later reminded of more than once, by his publisher.


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(...) But JRRT's seminal work is forever complete and self-contained - no movie trilogy, however terrible, can undermine it as an experience. Luckily, Jackson's first effort was pretty good.
I think the first three were mediocre, and bad in plenty of places. Add three later awfuls. And I wonder what the author of The Wizard of Oz would have to say about media colonization. In theory your first statement might be true. Even one of the Unwins tried something similar with Tolkien: the book is inviolate no matter what some filmmaker does with it on screen... that said, I think films can undermine book experiences in ways and measures, which is why I would advise folks read Tolkien's books before seeing Jackson's films.

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[giving Glorfindel's role to Arwen] Definitely have to agree with that, especially given the modern world's gender politics. If the films were totally faithful, Eowyn's cameo in ROTK would be just about the only female appearance in the entire series. Remember that she gets hitched to a stranger almost immediately afterwards! There's Galadriel too, but she isn't exactly a relatable character for women.
What I wouldn't agree with is Arwen needing to take Glorfindel's role to have a larger role in the films, nor did her entrance need to be altered in the way it was altered, once that decision was made.

In any case, Jackson's stated reason here was basically that there were too many introductions at this point, including a character that would drop out of the story. An arguable film concern, which again, does not lead only to his specific choice of how to address that concern.


And so on and so forth, mediums are different. Lather, rinse, repeat

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Old 06-15-2017, 06:34 AM   #29
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Quote:
Even one of the Unwins tried something similar with Tolkien: the book is inviolate no matter what some filmmaker does with it on screen... that said, I think films can undermine book experiences in ways and measures, which is why I would advise folks read Tolkien's books before seeing Jackson's films.
Yes, I agree with that strongly as well. That's why I fear for George RR Martin's tale. Almost nobody will have experienced the ending in its unadulterated form once it is finished. People had forty years to enjoy LOTR as a novel standing alone, but ASOIAF isn't going to be given that grace. Ah well.
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Old 06-15-2017, 06:54 AM   #30
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(...) It never sat well with me that that somehow alerted the goblins and orcs.
But all it takes is one goblin going to the well once too often.

Also one can never go to the goblin versus orc argument (orc/goblin same exact thing) too often! Beware of thread hijack. It can happen.
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Old 06-15-2017, 06:57 AM   #31
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Definitely have to agree with that, especially given the modern world's gender politics. If the films were totally faithful, Eowyn's cameo in ROTK would be just about the only female appearance in the entire series. Remember that she gets hitched to a stranger almost immediately afterwards! There's Galadriel too, but she isn't exactly a relatable character for women.
Oh, I don't know about that... *points to avatar* But then I'm a rather strange woman...
My point really is that though that particular change is often assumed to be all about gender politics, it really has just as much to do with narrative economy.

Quote:
I think I can justify a few of those changes. Movies need more explicit, character-driven tension than books, story arcs with clear conclusions, whereas I think that space can be filled with exploration and worldbuilding in written form, because we experience the story in each character's mind rather than as a vista. The enjoyment of meeting Faramir in the novel comes from learning about his people and history, and we don't need him to desire the ring to keep us entertained. But it would undermine the dread surrounding the Ring to see him resist it in the film. We've already seen Galadriel, Gandalf and Aragorn bypass the temptation of the Ring at that point - how can we fear its corruption if some guy we just met resists it as well? It gives our heroes another challenge beyond "pit-stop at the Forbidden Pool" for TTT.
I'm going to disagree here- I think if the film had actually let Faramir be more like the rather atypical character in the book, it would have been believable- it's just that Film Faramir is written as very much Generic Man. Also, his arc simply ends up repeating his brother's (until the end). It feels rather redundant to me.

Quote:
The same goes for Theoden, unfortunately. Narrative tension must be driven by characters. The book's excitement comes from material constraints - can they muster enough of the Rohirrim and travel to the Pelennor in time? There is less sense of geography in a film, where characters can travel hundreds of kilometres between scenes, without page-turning establishing a feeling of time passing, so we need something else to establish the same narrative roadblocks. That's why we need Denethor refusing aid, Theoden refusing to help, Faramir's rout, and Gondor's military failure all building towards the final triumph. The long list of failures makes final success more vivid - Theoden's initial reluctance ramps up his change of heart and bravery in the battle as well. Think of the movie Ents initially deciding to take no action, for another such example. I do agree that Denethor was a badly-written caricature, though.
But you see what I mean about repetitiveness? How many characters, or groups have that same "nope... nope... shan't.... wait, changed my mind, here I come!" arc? As you say, it's certainly the easiest type of obstacle to establish in a movie, and I just think the writers fell back on it too many times.

Quote:
For the latter, I think of Frodo deciding to tell Sam to "go home" as a plot contrivance in ROTK, and Aragorn falling off a cliff, Skyfall-style in TTT. I get that these movies needed something interesting to happen in the middle of their three-hour runtime, but those two examples stood out for me most as cliched or out-of-character.
Well, I can see the reasoning behind wanting Frodo isolated at that point- but yes, it was clumsily handled. Aragorn-over-the-cliff is quite unnecessary and doesn't even really help build tension (or whatever it was meant to do). But that's a feeling TTT tends to give me, that there's a bit of underlying anxiety showing through: "Help, what if the audience gets bored here? I know, let's spin the Plot Complication Wheel™"

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I was also a bit annoyed that Pippin and Gimli were painted as quite so stupid and comical, respectively. Then again, the uniform, demonstrative heroism of every Walker in the novel is a bit boring too (don't shoot me for that one). I would cut a few scenes and lines as egregious in all three films, like Pippin dropping the suit of armour in FOTR to set off the goblins.
Hey! That was one of my favourite bits! Besides, are you regarding it as one of the changes? Borderline, I should say- the original incident happened earlier and involved a stone, but the result was the same. And the thing with Pippin (in either version) is that he is quite a silly kid to begin with, but develops.

Agreed on Gimli. My least favourite aspect of the entire trilogy. Maybe if John Rhys-Davies was actually, you know, funny...

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Again, these aren't massive quibbles, because they don't really affect the core elements of the story. They don't affect the communication of the themes of the work, unlike in The Hobbit, where Bilbo is nonsensically sidelined for large parts of a story supposedly about his courage and self-development.
What, you expected a film called "The Hobbit" to be about a hobbit? Think outside the box, man!
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:13 AM   #32
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What I wouldn't agree with is Arwen needing to take Glorfindel's role to have a larger role in the films, nor did her entrance need to be altered in the way it was altered, once that decision was made.

In any case, Jackson's stated reason here was basically that there were too many introductions at this point, including a character that would drop out of the story. An arguable film concern, which again, does not lead only to his specific choice of how to address that concern.
Ah, I didn't know that was his stated reason- but as you see it occurred to me anyway. So there must be something in it.

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But all it takes is one goblin going to the well once too often.

Also one can never go to the goblin versus orc argument (orc/goblin same exact thing) too often! Beware of thread hijack. It can happen.
Is that a threat?
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:39 AM   #33
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Sting <----Sting, glowing in the presence of....?

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I'll defend the Pippin Armor Well scene.
The book has Pippin deliberately drop a stone in the well. It never sat well with me that that somehow alerted the goblins and orcs. The armor on the other hand a loud banging clanging ruckus makes much more sense to me.
You know what, though, to me that's a perfect illustration of what works in a novel vs a film, with neither necessarily being superior.

In the book, Pippin idly drops a stone down the well in the guard-room; they hear the ominous "tom-tap-tom" hammer, and hope nothing will come of it. This seems to be correct, they go on their way, and only later when they get ambushed in the Chamber of Mazarbul does it become clear that the goblins- or as it may be orcs- which are of course the same thing- or are they? were alerted.

In the film, the well is in the Chamber and the stone is replaced by an armoured skeleton which makes an awful clatter and causes an immediate response from the denizens of Moria.

Both of these are fine with respect to their different formats- a novel can afford to move slower and spend more time building up atmosphere; a film has to be quicker and (often) more spectacular.
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Old 06-15-2017, 08:10 AM   #34
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I didn't mind the armor in the well bit... Rhys-Davies sounding like Bert Lahr's sobbing lion was a far more horrific sound to my ear.

And yes, I can bloat any thread with pages and pages of goblin versus orc blather. I've done it before.

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Old 06-15-2017, 08:37 AM   #35
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The Appendices to the Extended Editions of the LOTR trilogy are well worth viewing (at least for myself, I don't think they would be for Inzil ). It explains a lot of the decisions Jackson & Co. made. I disagree that some of the character alterations were necessary, but it does show the time and care that was put into the LOTR films. I see what The Sixth Wizard means with "the spirit" argument, you get to see how everyone involved in the making of the films was a part in their success...from Alan Lee's and John Howe's involvement, Tom Shippey and Christopher Lee, set design, the bigatures, costume design, just the years of planning and pre-production that went into it...etc.

I don't agree with Faramir's alteration, Théoden's, Frodo's and some others. But I do understand the reasons for Denethor's (I don't see the need to have a scene with him being a slob). There was going to be an EE scene revealing Denethor also having a palantir, but ultimately it was removed even from the Extended because there just wasn't sufficient time to establish why Denethor has a palantir as well. Jackson didn't want to give the impression he was in league with Saruman and Sauron, but that he was a noble man that has been beaten down with grief by the death of his son (sons) and hopeless situation. In the end, it's got to be about Aragorn's arc becoming the King and saving his people. So an over-the-top portrayal of Denethor makes sense given the limited screen time and where Aragorn's arc has to end. He's clearly caricatured as a mad man, but the reasons for his madness are the same as Denethor's decline in the books...grief, despair and hopelessness.

Boromir's scene with Aragorn in Lothlorien is one of my favorites..."My father is a noble man, but his rule is failing. He looks to me to make things right." (Then Boromir describes the White Tower of Ecthelion, which is a description lifted right from the books..."Glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver...etc). But it establishes Gondor's desperation and need for the King's return.

In the movies, Denethor's motivations for not lighting the beacons is stated as "Do you think the eyes of the White Tower are blind?" He knows Aragorn is with Théoden and he "will not bow to this ranger from the North; last of a ragged house long bereft of lordship."

Denethor sending Faramir off on a death mission to retake Osgiliath. Gandalf's call out "Your father loves you Faramir. He will remember it before the end." And in the Pyre scene, Denethor shouting "You will not take my son from me."

So, overall, Denethor's decline into madness, while being over-the-top is caused by the same reasons as the books. He becomes tainted by politics, grief and despair. I think the one mistake they made with him (besides his eating habits), is I sorely miss the exchange between Faramir and Denethor (in the books)...when Faramir reminds his father that it was he who gave Boromir leave to Rivendell, and Denethor's reply "stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed for myself." (The Siege of Gondor). Such a wonderful line from the books, that I think John Noble could have pulled off masterfully.

I've said enough about The Hobbit trilogy being bloated, rushed, slapped together with CGI, it doesn't come close to the time and care that was put into the LOTR films and it really shows.
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Old 06-15-2017, 08:47 AM   #36
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the book is inviolate no matter what some filmmaker does with it on screen... that said, I think films can undermine book experiences in ways and measures, which is why I would advise folks read Tolkien's books before seeing Jackson's films.~Galin
I agree, in many ways the descriptions that are given in the books are tainted by the visuals of the movie. The "legacy" of the books aren't in danger, but it's hard to shake off the visuals of the movies after watching them, when reading the books. New Zealand really wasn't a good setting for Middle-earth.

Also, not that I'm complaining much, but the movies definitely portray a softer Boromir than Tolkien's Boromir.
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Old 06-15-2017, 09:50 AM   #37
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Sting

Boro, my problem with the film version of Denethor is that he comes across throughout as feeble and self-indulgent, such that it has no real impact when he finally cracks completely- whereas in the book it's really horrifying. A missed opportunity, I think- and I'd say he's given enough scenes to have been done "properly".

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I didn't mind the armor in the well bit... Rhys-Davies sounding like Bert Lahr's sobbing lion was a far more horrific sound to my ear.

And yes, I can bloat any thread with pages and pages of goblin versus orc blather. I've done it before.

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Speaking of missed opportunities, how is it that neither book nor films clarified this vital point? Surely the famous Exposition Elf could have helped out? In Moria, for instance-

BOROMIR
(grimly)
This is no mine ... It's a tomb!

GIMLI
(in horror)
Oh ... no ... no ... no...!

LEGOLAS pulls a crude arrow out of a SKELETON.

LEGOLAS
Goblins. Technically speaking, most authorities regard Goblins and Orcs as being effectively the same kind of creature, but in practice we tend to use the term "Goblin" to refer to the smaller breeds only, whereas...

The FELLOWSHIP draws swords and backs away, towards the ENTRANCE, while LEGOLAS continues to BABBLE like an IDIOT.

BOROMIR
We make for the Gap of Rohan. We should
never have brought Legolas.
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Old 06-15-2017, 09:55 AM   #38
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I agree, in many ways the descriptions that are given in the books are tainted by the visuals of the movie. The "legacy" of the books aren't in danger, but it's hard to shake off the visuals of the movies after watching them, when reading the books. New Zealand really wasn't a good setting for Middle-earth.
I think the visuals are the last things to complain about, actually.

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Also, not that I'm complaining much, but the movies definitely portray a softer Boromir than Tolkien's Boromir.
True, but for me that comes under the heading of "Logically and artistically justifiable changes".
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:43 PM   #39
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Perhaps I am being picky, but as someone who has ridden a fair number of horses over the years, it seems that the lumpy New Zealand terrain they chose to represent Rohan would be the last place in Middle-earth to have a thriving horse culture.
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Old 06-16-2017, 03:13 AM   #40
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Perhaps I am being picky, but as someone who has ridden a fair number of horses over the years, it seems that the lumpy New Zealand terrain they chose to represent Rohan would be the last place in Middle-earth to have a thriving horse culture.
All right, I concede you have a point there. But in general the New Zealand locations look "right" to me. It's subjective, of course.
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