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Old 02-10-2005, 08:39 PM   #81
the phantom
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who actually got to put his own personal vision of the story on film!
Most of the complaints have nothing to do with PJ's "vision" (or personal interpretation) of the story.

If PJ thinks that elves have pointy ears and you don't agree, or if he thinks that Faramir is 6'4" but you think he's 6'6"- that would be where his "vision of the story" would come into play.

But what about having Faramir taking Frodo to Osgiliath? You could read the entire book upside down and backwards and there's still no possible way you could view or interpret the story like that.

Such errors are not errors of interpretation- they are errors of lunacy that succeed only in confusing viewers and lowering the quality of the tale.
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Old 02-10-2005, 10:15 PM   #82
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Question Confused?

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Originally Posted by the phantom
But what about having Faramir taking Frodo to Osgiliath? ... Such errors are not errors of interpretation- they are errors of lunacy that succeed only in confusing viewers and lowering the quality of the tale.
How was it confusing to have Faramir take Frodo to Osgiliath? He had come across stangers in the wilderness. They might be spies of Sauron. Safest course is to escort them to Minas Tirith. Then he discovers that Frodo is carrying the Ring. So, at the same time as discharging his duty, he gets to bring his father something that he desperately wants. Seems pretty clear to me.

If anyone didn't get that, they really did need the films dumbing down.
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Old 02-11-2005, 12:03 AM   #83
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My main point was that many of PJ's changes were not matters of interpretation, and the Faramir incident was my absolute proof of that. You can't deny that point. I didn't mention that particular incident with the confusion aspect in mind. I've already listed several PJ additions that were confusing to viewers in this post.

But since you brought it up the Faramir/Osgiliath episode also adds something confusing to the story. It introduces the infamous "Nazgul moment", which you must admit was horrible planning.

The Nazgul finds the hobbit with the Ring right outside Mordor and yet we're to believe that this information never gets to Sauron??

During this scene my friend exclaimed, "Oh no! Sauron knows where the Ring is now!"

But based on later events in the movie, Sauron obviously didn't know. It's as if PJ threw in the scene with absolutely no thought about the repercussions.

Every event has (or should have) an effect on the rest of the story. In other words, if Aragorn were to get his armed chopped off in the first film, that event should cause him to appear without an arm for the rest of the movie. If you add something, you must follow that change through to the end and make sure that the rest of the story reflects the addition you made. That is the danger in putting in things that did not actually happen.
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Old 02-11-2005, 01:48 AM   #84
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You may like pop music for example, but you can not claim that Britany Spears(or even a real band like Metallica for that matter ) is the intellecual equivilant of Mozart. To me the difference between the books and the movies is the difference between hearing great classical music from an orchestra and hearing the cell phone ringer version.
It is interesting that you draw the argument in this sort of paradigm, Neithan. I think there is a subtle play of rarefied to popular that makes its transition with the movie versions of Lord of the Rings and, as Lalwendë stated earlier, disturbs the "sacred text," or perhaps, in my own words, it destroys a personal innocence from the years before the movie, when one's own mental images and insights were not troubled by an "officially sanctioned" visual version of same.

It is interesting to note that a writer like Edgar Allan Poe was considered a "hack" not so long ago, and even in my own lifetime, the works of H.P. Lovecraft migrated from the dusty, mildewed back shelves of used book stores to the shiny, fresh reprints with glossy covers in the "classics" section of major chain bookstores. Sometimes, it feels better to share a secret and know that it is somehow uniquely yours, or to meet a few underground "like-minded souls," who have been touched by the realm of Middle Earth in a different, but deeply thought-out way with a process as profound as your own. Once upon a time, when you said "Frodo Lives," there was an esoteric meaning, a sort of secret society understanding that is lost when something bubbles into the mainstream. You are just as likely to hear, "I love Lord of the Rings. That elf is hot!" and know that your sacred text has been vulgarized by its popularization. I try to resist reacting negatively to such a line when I encounter it in real life and when asked my opinion, I simply say something like, "Sure, I liked Legolas. He was humble, unassuming and always helpful, if a little silly at times." *pause for confused looks* They don't even want to ask why I like Frodo.... My 12 year old cousin loves me because I give hour long responses to questions like "What is that ring Aragorn is wearing?" Now he knows who Finrod Felagund is and who he's related to, etc. etc. ! (Aw, he's probably forgotten by now--if I keep it up, I'll eventually get him to read the books just to find out for himself!)

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lindil: Because what they are, enters my porus mind and fight's with the stories that I know better than the texts of my own Faith and I have read many year before I converted, and a minature battle ensues, which thusly disturbs my heart.
(Before I begin, I must say it is good to see your posts again, lindil! ) Indeed, I think this somehow illustrates my point, and in some ways validates both sides, because it is the very incompleteness and broad strokes of PJ's vision that leaves so much of Middle Earth open and still free for roaming. In some ways, this is a human tendency to equate a partially conceived vision with a fleshed out possible whole vision, thus marred by the partial deviations in the pastiche. Personally, I assume all the business with Tom Bombadil happened offscreen and the fact that I'm familiar with the books makes it easy for me to forgive the holes in the story such as this. It is a little harder to forgive Faramir and Denethor, but somehow, I manage to tell myself that these mockups are simply reflections without the substance present in the books, like a painting that suggests something larger but must present itself with a broad brush. I personally thought that the addition of the one scene of Faramir telling Denethor that he had sent Frodo and Sam along on their quest instead of bringing the Ring to Minas Tirith was the one really positive EE addition to Faramir's character, precisely because it illustrates the fact that Faramir does have a sensibility beyond mere one step advantage, a modern yearning for acceptance and, most of all, it proves Faramir can think for himself. It would have pleased me even more if they had drawn a direct connection between Faramir's decision and his familiarity with Gandalf's teachings. (Or perhaps if Boromir had pointed up a diametrically opposite opinion earlier to contrast the two with respect to the battle of Might vs. Lore, with Gandalf as its focal point. ) But I ramble, don't I?

While I'm at it, I will say that I thought Theoden's line ("No parent should have to bury their child," ) was, as Neithan points out, a cliche, a modern one, a "movie of the week" line. I thought "that I should live to see the last days of my house," to be poignant enough, personally. It is understated, with great implications, seeing Theoden's position as it stands then.

I figure this post has gone on long enough, but also that I'm entitled to a somewhat long post, having not posted for some days....been wrapped up in a book about chaos. Thus, I flipped a coin to decide whether or not to post this stream of consciousness and it came up "no post," so I decided to defy it and post anyway. Talk about a strange attractor! heh heh...Actually it was davem who gave me the thought, as he posted something somewhere and added this bit of info just to let us know that if the deterministic flow in his local area was a bit different, we might not have seen his post! (Or he might have ended up doing exactly what I am doing now!) Tallyho all!

Cheers,
Lyta
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Last edited by Lyta_Underhill; 02-11-2005 at 02:01 AM. Reason: clarification and correction of bad phrasings
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Old 02-11-2005, 05:08 AM   #85
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Originally Posted by Fordim
I've got to say right from the outset that I am a wholehearted fan of the films, both as films and as adaptations of the story. I think that they succeed in every respect. Sure, the characters and events got changed, plot elements were rearranged, relationships altered, but the thematic concerns of the story came through loud and clear.
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Originally Posted by Fordim
but I also think they were entirely successful with their intended aim: they preserved and presented the ideals and themes of the story in a completely different medium.
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Originally Posted by Fordim
PJ and crew did not do anything of the kind to the core values and vision of LotR. They changed all the props and stays of story telling, and adapted them to the screen so that those core values and vision could be maintained and made accessible to a movie going audience. Moral? Yer darn right that PJ and crew had a moral obligation to Tolkien to maintain his vision -- and they did, by maintaining Tolkien's moral vision!

I am a wholehearted fan of the films, but as films. They are in no way perfect adaptations. Jackson committed a fundamental error and that is to alter the story. They don’t succeed in every respect. What is a story without its plot? What happens to a story if the plot changes? It is a different story. And who carries a story along? The characters within the story. If events in the plot are changed then the characters will be changed because their experience will be altered. And if characters are changed, then we would expect them to react to plot events differently.

Theme is what can only come through once plot and character have been established, as they are the central core of a story. Theme only happens once it has something to attach itself to. Theme is only what we see in a story, much in the same way we only see things in a mirror if they are there to be reflected in the first place.

The thematic concerns were skewed and altered because the plot and characters were altered. If somebody made a version of Jane Eyre and had Jane be beautiful and Rochester still in love with his wife in the attic, then the whole story would be fundamentally different. If theme is all that ultimately matters then why not set the story in modern times? With new characters? And a different plot? But the theme will also fail if the plot and the characters cannot hold it all up.

Frodo was altered. Instead of being shown as the brave figure who willingly takes on a burden and does not shirk from fear, he is presented as a frightened boy who has been victimised. He does not counter attack the Nazgul at Weathertop, he merely takes the blade, and thus becomes a victim. This ultimately also detracts from the moment when Merry and Eowyn take on the Witch King, as we have already seen that such a figure can indeed be 'taken on' by those brave enough to do so. Hence Frodo fails in another of his strengths, his ability to inspire others to bravery. And another one of the branches on Tolkien's tree is chopped down. He is taken to Rivendell by Arwen, he does not raise the waters of the Bruinen by himself, which would have shown his incipient goodness of spirit. Galadriel patronises him, everyone has to protect him. Frodo’s achievement is demeaned by this. Film Frodo is not always a popular figure, and I have heard many say that they did not like him, that he was 'a wimp'. That makes me recoil in horror, as Frodo is nothing like 'a wimp'. How exactly then, does this rewriting appeal to a broader audience? Shouldn't Frodo have been made even tougher if anything? Now that would have made sense according to Jackson's arguments.

Aragorn is not given Anduril at the right time. Instead of being a Man who is impelled to carry out his destiny whether he likes it or not, he becomes a Man who seems to have a choice in whether to carry out his destiny. Instead of coming out of the north as a kingly figure who causes amazement and inspires Men, he comes out of the north as an uncertain figure and Jackson struggles to make us believe that he is a Man who can inspire other Men to great deeds. As others have said, at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, it looks as though the victory is entirely due to the Army of the Dead. This again demeans the bravery of not only Aragorn, but also other Men, including the Rohirrim.

Core values were altered and Tolkien’s moral vision was altered. This is the difference between Tolkien, who was a master of story-telling and Jackson, who is a master of visualisation. If he had not allowed needless alteration of such fundamental aspects such as plot and character then his films would have been even more successful. The main criticism I hear about them is that at times they were confusing, and the confusion always occurs where the storytelling was changed.

I cannot accept that certain changes were made to make the film more accessible. To take a recent example, we had the film of King Arthur where Arturius (sp?) was keenly aware of his duty and thence his manifest destiny. Audiences did not struggle with this, so why would they struggle with the same concept in Aragorn? And why, when we have a brave Frodo already, turn him into someone who comes across as a victim, is often spiteful, and does not inspire those who his changed character was meant to inspire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
How was it confusing to have Faramir take Frodo to Osgiliath? He had come across stangers in the wilderness. They might be spies of Sauron. Safest course is to escort them to Minas Tirith. Then he discovers that Frodo is carrying the Ring. So, at the same time as discharging his duty, he gets to bring his father something that he desperately wants. Seems pretty clear to me.

If anyone didn't get that, they really did need the films dumbing down.

This is not clear at all. We see Faramir listening to the pleas of Frodo and Sam to release them, but he does not. Thus Faramir is set up as having something essentially cruel within his character. This then demeans his own sacrifice on the Pelennor Fields. In taking his captives to Osgiliath, in even contemplating giving the Ring to his father, he has shown weakness. We might be led into thinking he is not so far removed from Boromir after all. He has also taken the Hobbits as close to Minas Tirith as it is possible to get without going through the gates and then he releases them, where they could quite easily be recaptured, possibly by another of the soldiers who would wish to ‘prove himself’ to Denethor, following this line of logic. The whole secrecy of their mission, the essence of how they manage to get into Mordor, is taken away. And then of course the Nazgul arrives and as phantom says, right on the edges of Mordor, sees the Ring, yet Sauron does not hear of this? This goes against everything we have been told so far in the films and makes people question the storytelling.

The films are in no measure perfect adaptations, and anyone who just watches the films will fail to grasp much of the story and its themes. In that respect they have failed which is a shame as they are stunning and thoroughly enjoyable; the changes remain inexplicable and they spoil the films, much in the same way as the sudden discovery of a coffee ring on the Mona Lisa would spoil that.
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Old 02-11-2005, 07:40 AM   #86
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I've been following along silently with this discussion, intrigued at how the same topic can take different shapes with different posters. But finallyI feel compelled to join in with an historical observation.

You know, it wasn't so long ago that people complained Tolkien had dumbed down his sources of inspiration.



And, yes, Viriginia, there is a point here about interpretation.
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Old 02-11-2005, 08:31 AM   #87
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Indeed, Bęthberry, a point that had occurred to me. And even now many academics and literary critics look down on LotR as "childish" or "boy's own" fantasy rather than a masterpiece of story-telling. And his books still get relegated to the sci-fi/fantasy section rather than the classic literature section in most book shops.

But let me nail this “confusion” issue.

First, Faramir taking Frodo to Osgiliath:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
This is not clear at all. We see Faramir listening to the pleas of Frodo and Sam to release them, but he does not. Thus Faramir is set up as having something essentially cruel within his character.
I accept that the Faramir presented on screen is a different character to the Faramir in the book. Whether or not a particular character change was justified and how we respond to it is subjective. You think that it is wrong to portray Faramir as having any weakness. I think that it actually makes him more credible and appealing (in the context of the film). Opinions on that will differ. But it’s not something that is going to cause confusion with audiences. They just get a different perspective.


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Originally Posted by the phantom
But since you brought it up the Faramir/Osgiliath episode also adds something confusing to the story. It introduces the infamous "Nazgul moment", which you must admit was horrible planning.
I said earlier that I thought the Nazgul incident could have been handled better. I have no problem with Frodo (film Frodo, that is) trying to offer up the Ring. The intention here is to provide a trigger for Faramir’s realisation that the Ring is dangerous and should not be brought to Minas Tirith. Together with Sam’s words, this is what prompts him to let them go. Osgiliath is actually closer to their destination that Henneth Annun, so he’s hardly doing them a disservice and he stocks them up with provisions. The problem lies with the fact that, the Nazgul having seen the Ring, Osgiliath should have been swarming with them within minutes. I would have preferred to see Faramir shoot the Nazgul’s Fell Beast, which would explain how Sam and Frodo were able to get away.


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Originally Posted by the phantom
I had to stop the film on more than one occasion to answer questions. Here's a few that were asked-
OK then. I shall address each one.


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1) It looks like that girl was making the river flood but then she looked surprised when the flood came. What's up with that?
Of course she was surprised. She wasn’t expecting it. If she had been, it would have made her look weaker. They are on the threshold of Rivendell. It doesn’t take much wit to work out (with a little patience) that the flood was invoked by either Elrond or Gandalf, who we subsequently learn is there, or both (as in the book). I can’t recall, but it may even have been explained in the following scene with Gandalf and Frodo. (Lalwendë, in the book it was Elrond and Gandalf that created the flood, not Frodo.)


Quote:
2) How come everyone's scared of those guys in black when that Elf girl wasn't and stood up to them?
Because she’s an Elf perhaps? (I can’t remember whether the films explain that she is a Half-Elf, but it doesn’t need to be explained for film purposes.)


Quote:
3) How was Aragorn able to take on five of those black guys on that hill including their leader but Gandalf gets his staff broken and about gets killed by him?
Flippant answer: In terms of when the films were released, these incidents were two years apart, so does it really matter? If you think that it does, well it is made clear that the Nazgul can be driven off by fire by virtue of the fact that Aragorn does just that. They withdraw to resume the chase at a more opportune moment. That much is clear (and mirrors what happens in the book). I don’t really care for the Witch King breaking Gandalf’s staff, but it can be explained. To my mind, the film quite clearly suggests (in the scene in Minas Morgul) that the Witch King’s power is increased prior to the attack on Minas Tirith (and I think that there is book justification for this). Even though he is still not as powerful as Gandalf the White, it is clear that, in Tolkien’s works generally, sheer power is not necessarily the determining factor in any hostile encounter. It is not difficult to imagine that the Witch King was able to seize the initiative and momentarily get the better of Gandalf.


Quote:
4) Saruman knew what Frodo was doing with the ring, and since Saruman was always in contact with Sauron how could Sauron have not known?
Who says Saruman was always in contact with Sauron? Who says Sauron wanted anything to do with Saruman once he had been defeated? There are any number of reasons why Saruman would not be able to communicate this to Sauron. Perhaps Jackson is relying a little bit on audiences using their imagination rather than treating them like dummies.


Quote:
5) Why were there only 300 men in Rohan to fight Saruman and defend Helm's Deep and then they instantly gather several thousand horseman to ride to Minas Tirith? Why didn't Theoden try to get all those guys to help him before?
Not much different from the book, except the number of defenders at Helm’s Deep is smaller. As in the book, the full force of Rohan could not be gathered without a full muster. This is clearly explained in the film.


Quote:
6) So the Witch King is easy to kill? You just poke a knife at his leg and he'll kneel down in front of you for a couple minutes and wait to be stabbed in the face? How'd he live so long?
Not much different from the book, save for the absence of the barrow blade. Since it seems to be generally accepted that it was right to leave out Tom Bombadil, and therefore the Barrow-Downs, how do you suggest this could have been included? Personally, I would have preferred some indication that Merry had a magical blade, but this would have involved further additional material. In any event, it is explicable on the basis that Merry got a sneak attack in on him. And it took another blow to kill him. That doesn’t make him easy to kill.


Quote:
Originally Posted by the phantom
And here's some random comments that were made-
1) Legolas: "A diversion!" My friends: "Duh! We're not that dumb."
2) Friend: "That elf-guy is mean." Me: "Tolkien said Elrond was 'as kind as summer', so he really wasn't that mean."
3) Galadriel: "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." My friends: "Ha, that was cheezy."
The first is a line designed to clarify. It may not have been necessary for everyone, but it will have helped explain what was happening to others. The second involves a change in character. Not confusing, just different. The third is a rendering of a concept on which Tolkien was very keen: that even the most humble can “show their mettle” and prevail. And it doesn’t seem too badly written to me. As I have already said, there are few screenplay writers who could have come up with lines to match Tolkien’s original dialogue.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
If he had not allowed needless alteration of such fundamental aspects such as plot and character then his films would have been even more successful.
Whether you agree with them or not, Jackson and co clearly did not feel that the changes were needless, otherwise they would not have made them. And they obviously felt that they were needed in order to make the films more successful. The films were stunningly successful, and so it is difficult (to my mind at least) to fault their the logic. Your theory, on the other hand, is untested.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
The main criticism I hear about them is that at times they were confusing, and the confusion always occurs where the storytelling was changed.
I don’t doubt you. But it is entirely different from my experience. The only criticisms of the changes that I have seen are those made by people who had read the book beforehand. I read a good many newspaper reviews of the films at the time that they were released, and not one of them criticised them for being confusing or unclear. The only significant criticism that I can recall, in fact, is that the last film was too long and should have ended with Aragorn’s coronation. Which matches up to my own experience. The feeling that the film had gone beyond its natural conclusion was palpable in some quarters of the cinema where I watched it. Imagine if they had included the Scouring of the Shire (one of my favourite chapters, I might add).
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:06 AM   #88
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The decision to have Faramir take Frodo to Osgiliath is an excellent excample of what I'm on about. It is a major change in the plot, and necessitates a major change in an important character, but it is a necessary change in order to preserve the import of that moment in its translation from text to film. In the story, Faramir has a counsel and they sit down and talk for a long time about what to do with Frodo and Sam. The drama of the scene is there, but it exists in the dialogue, and in the comparison/parallel that the scene enacts between itself and the earlier conversation between Aragorn and Eomer, as well as with reference to Boromir and his betrayal. In the book, it is the final movement in a long and intricately worked out/structured conversation. Were the film to have replicated this exactly -- well, boring is a word that comes to mind (20 minutes of talking heads). And simply cutting it down in length doesn't help, as that renders it shatteringly anticlimactic:

Faramir: You have the One Ring that destroyed my brother!

Frodo: Yes.

Faramir: Very well. Off you go.

CUT TO: Battle of Helms Deep. Then, End Credits.

Such a version of the tale would do the story a terrible disservice by suggesting that the "real" action of any importance or peril is the war going on in the west and not Frodo's journey. The decision to have Faramir take Frodo to Osgiliath dramatises (that is: makes it suitable for presentation as a drama, not more 'dramatic') a struggle that exists in the book in textual form, as words that people speak to each other.

Not only does the film preserve the importance of this struggle, and maintain its importance as equivalent to the military conflict elsewhere, it also allows the film to demonstrate how fully Faramir is the 'good' reflection of image of Boromir.

This is what I mean when I say that the films did a wonderful job of translation: the sense of Faramir as the better-Boromir, and of the terrible peril that Frodo passes through, these are maintained. As with all acts of translation, something is lost: the possiblity of direct and perfect translation is a dream only -- "je ne sais pas" is not the same as "I dunno". But the sense comes through loud and clear. And I do see PJ et al as translating and not interpreting -- interpretation is still left to the audience.

One More Thing: going to Osgiliath in the second film makes good narrative sense in at least two ways: first, it gives viewers a much better sense of the geography of the scene for the third film, and it introduces the realm of Gondor is an effective way so that it does not just emerge like a surprise in the third film.

Oh, and the Nazgul seeing the Ring in Osgiliath also makes sense in terms of later events. In the film, Gandalf does not know where Sauron will strike, so this must be a matter of some doubt. The fact that Sauron goes full bore after Minas Tirith makes sense if he has a report of a Halfling with the One in Osgiliath, under guard by the Men of Gondor. . .

(Shelob was wrong though: they should have made her more maia-like and not just a big spider.)
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:11 AM   #89
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About Faramir (again... )

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Originally Posted by SpM
But it’s not something that is going to cause confusion with audiences. They just get a different perspective
The changed character does cause confusion, as in his new role, Faramir is not entirely a 'good' person, and when the question is raised as to why he does not defy his cruel father, then this becomes justified. A man with such a personality might be expected to be more naturally suspicious and questioning and therefore more likely to defy a father who asks him to give up his own life. New Faramir would not have the sense of duty to the notion of a once noble father.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
The problem lies with the fact that, the Nazgul having seen the Ring, Osgiliath should have been swarming with them within minutes.
With the Fell Beast in Osgiliath seeing the Ring, not only ought Osgiliath to have been swarming with Nazgul in minutes, but in addition the whole of Ithilien, and I would not give odds on the chances of Frodo getting away at all, let alone getting into Mordor through a poorly guarded approach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
Of course she was surprised. She wasn’t expecting it. If she had been, it would have made her look weaker. They are on the threshold of Rivendell. It doesn’t take much wit to work out (with a little patience) that the flood was invoked by either Elrond or Gandalf, who we subsequently learn is there, or both (as in the book). I can’t recall, but it may even have been explained in the following scene with Gandalf and Frodo. (Lalwendë, in the book it was Elrond and Gandalf that created the flood, not Frodo.)
I actually thought that the look of surprise on Arwen's face was more due to Liv Tyler's 'acting' . But she does look as though she is 'invoking' something, so it's obvious where this confusion comes into play. there is little suggestion there that it is anyone other than she who has 'invoked' the flood. And yes, it is not Frodo who literally invokes the flood in the book, but it is his presence of mind which calls upon his guardians to help him; he does not sit there defenceless, he musters his own mental strength for a last fight.

The criticisms I have heard are from many non-readers, most of whom are fairly sharp-eyed and -eared, and well accustomed to following the 'logic' inherent in the sci-fi and fantasy genre, whether in films, books or on TV. These are the kind of people who Jackson was without a doubt trying to attract to his films, and unfortunately, the kind of people who are highly likely to spot illogical plot moves.

EDIT to pick up on something Fordim says:

Now, surely if Jackson was trying to leave elements of the film 'open to interpretation' then he was not making them more accessible? To leave plot areas open to interpretation would make the film more difficult to understand, and this would surely repel the 'popular audience'? I think where he leaves things 'open to interpretation' it is more likely he couldn't see a way to tie up the loose ends. I think that the explanation that they wanted to show some more of Gondor before RotK came out would possibly cut some ice in terms of an explanation, but it isn't the spin that Jackson put on it. After all, if you are a film director who has just spent hundreds of millions on making a film and then there is a plot hole it has to defended in some way. And whether they wanted to make the most of the 'cool' special effects or simply to show some of Gondor in advance of RotK we will never know as Jackson puts other reasons forward which don't wash.
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Old 02-11-2005, 02:21 PM   #90
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Quick response.

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Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
Of course she was surprised. She wasn’t expecting it. If she had been, it would have made her look weaker. They are on the threshold of Rivendell. It doesn’t take much wit to work out (with a little patience) that the flood was invoked by either Elrond or Gandalf, who we subsequently learn is there, or both (as in the book). I can’t recall, but it may even have been explained in the following scene with Gandalf and Frodo. (Lalwendë, in the book it was Elrond and Gandalf that created the flood, not Frodo.)
If you read the translation of her words at the ford its clear she was (or should have been) expecting it to happen:

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Nîn o Chithaeglir

lasto beth daer;

Rimmo nîn Bruinen

dan in Ulaer!



('Waters of the Misty Mountains

listen to the great word;

flow waters of Loudwater

against the Ringwraiths!')
Arwen is invoking the Bruinen to attack the Nazgul, so she has been given Elrond's power over the river.

(You can find translations of the elvish in the movies at http://www.elvish.org/gwaith/movie_fotr.htm)
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Old 02-11-2005, 02:31 PM   #91
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re Faramir's dialouge with the hobbits.
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Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
In the book, it is the final movement in a long and intricately worked out/structured conversation. Were the film to have replicated this exactly -- well, boring is a word that comes to mind (20 minutes of talking heads). And simply cutting it down in length doesn't help, as that renders it shatteringly anticlimactic
I totally agree. It's a pity we could not show Faramir's superb interrogation techniques. the way he leads the hobbits (sam in particular) into a false sense of security and thus tricks Sam into giving away their secret is a superbly written piece of the book. This was brought somewhat into the bbc radio version, but I don't think it would have worked on screen.
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Old 02-11-2005, 03:53 PM   #92
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Depends if you like a little bit of good dialogue and acting in your films.
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Old 02-12-2005, 01:53 PM   #93
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Very funny, Eomer. Word for word, just like the Council of Elrond, it would not have worked in this adaptation of the movie. It would have taken too long.

I would pay to watch a mini series version of the book, word for word as much as possible, with the Faramir scenes one of the highlights for me. But this would not work as a Major Film, as it would have to be, like the narrated full version available on CD, at least 54 hours long. Films are not made this way.

The only film that to me was written verbatim from the book was the excellent Shawshank Redemption from the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King. This film version cut some corners yes, but a lot of the dialougue and scenes from the book were in the film. But this was a novella, not a 1000+ page book that LOTR is.......
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Old 02-12-2005, 01:57 PM   #94
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Another novella which is rendered largely word for word is "A Christmas Carol"

However, I don't think any of us are calling for a word for word dramatic readthrough. Just a slightly less skewed major film.
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Old 02-13-2005, 01:20 AM   #95
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The Perilous Prologue

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The world is changed.I feel it in the water.
I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.
or:

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When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificance, ther was much talk and excitement in Hibbiton.
Just a warning, this is a bit of a rant!

I have silently watched this thread with much interest, trying not to post because I had already seen it in the Dumbing Down the Books thread, subsequently closed by the esteemed Barrow Wight because of assorted personal vehemence about this topic (at least, I assume that's the reason-i.e. it became too heated and personal.)

In all of this, no one has mentioned the use of the prologue, a very tricksy device.

The first quote above is followed by twenty minutes (the producers stopwatch, not mine), of film depicting the Battle of the 'Last Alliance', including Gil-Galad and Aiglos, as well as Elendil's death and the severing of the Ring from Sauron's hand ( (Never mind that the BOOK indicates that Sauron was already dead when Isildur cut the ring from his hand. Even that's debatable.) and the death of Isildur. The fact in this is that as much debate as there is about "Wimpy" movie-Frodo compared to "Brave" book-Frodo or Arwen the courageous she-elf or the demure and unattainable princess of Imladris, no one seems to question the beginning of each telling of this story. Now, any financially successful author (and certainly any good editor) will tell you that a strong opening is essential to a successful project. Yet, no one seems to wonder that these two tellings of this story start almost three thousand years apart from each other.

Now, please don't think that I'm completely satisfied with the film as it is. There are many flaws, mostly when it diverges from Tolkien's thoughtful plot. I was also disappointed when the characters were radically changed from what Tolkien envisioned. I wonder, why is it that no one questions Peter Jackson's use of such an extensive prologue when Tolkien found no need for such a device? Even Bakshi summarized 'The Hobbit' with a prologue of sorts in his animated version some years ago. I have very little memory of the Bakshi version, except that the Black Riders were very frightening, and that he used a lot of 'live action' animation (Filming Live actors and then animating over top the negatives of that film).

So, what was wrong with Tolkien's opening of the story, his attack, as it were, that film-makers seem to avoid it? Why do they feel the need to 'explain' the Ring before we even encounter the main characters? Even in most films, we meet the main characters before we are confronted with the crux of the story. This is even more frequent in novels. So, why change from one device to another?

The answer lies in two DIFFERENT art forms. Film is not the same as literature! It's a different form of art. Tolkien had paragraphs or even chapters available to him to expound on characterization or plot details that were simply not available to Jackson. Even Jackson admitted that Tolkien's books, as written, were not filmable. This is absolutely true. Imagine "The Council of Elrond" filmed straight through. Fran and Peter origanally wrote it that way. The New Line producers said "no." It was nearly twenty minutes of talking with no action at all. TWENTY MINUTES! So, why would they put up with twenty minutes of prologue, when it was not present in Tolkien's book?

Because a good film exists visually. At it's best, a good film can have the sound turned off, completely silent, and still hold up. It doesn't need words. It shouldn't need words. It's about the pictures. Novels are all about words. That's more of a difference than most people seem to realize. One cannot worship in a painting of a cathedral, no matter how inspiring. You can worship before it, but you cannot enter in. You cannot touch the stone-work or smell the candles. Even if the picture can move and change as it does on film. It's still just a static picture until the next picture is edited in. It doesn't need dialogue. It's all about the visual images and how they are edited. And this editing plays on the psychology of the audience. Film-makers know this. It's their job to know how people will receive and interpret it, based on how they edit it and what specific images they are editing.

Getting to specifics, do most people realize that up until Elijah Wood's second to last day of filming, (and Andy Serkis's very last day!) the scene at Sammath Naur had Frodo pushing Gollum over the edge into the lava, after his finger was bitten off, just to get rid of the Ring? They (the film-makers) changed it at the last minute to be more like Tolkien's version of how it was portrayed. They decided it would simply not do to have a film about the internal struggle between Good and Evil end with a triumphant act of Murder. (and it probably would have elicited cheers from the audience, if they had left it with what they had already filmed.) Given another few years, they probably would have changed everything they altered to fit Tolkien, but that just wasn't practical.

One of the problems people seem to have with the film stems from the fact that Peter Jackson is also an artist, as was J. R. R. Tolkien. But they are artists working in two different media.

And as for "Moral Obligation," I think that when you are spending three hundred million dollars of someone else's money, you have a moral obligation to bring as much as your own artistry into the project as you can. P.J. went to the hospital out of sheer stress during the filming of this movie. He has been a fan of Tolkien since Junior High School (or New Zealand's equivilant) and wanted desperately to make these films. How much obligation would one expect him to morally expend?

There are many specific complaints addressed in this thread, most of which I frankly agree with. I wanted a braver, older Frodo. I wanted a nobler Aragorn and Faramir, especially Aragorn. I wanted a less gratuitous, more moral tale with more talking and less action. I got some of the talking back in the Extended Edition (the real version of the films), but not as much as I craved.

All in all, though, they are good movies. When Bakshi's version came out, they were the best filming of this story yet attempted. Granted, they were, at that time, the ONLY version of this story yet attempted on film, but it was nice to know that someone would even attempt it at all. Twenty-odd years later, P.J.'s effort is a vast improvement, with some flaws. The next attempt, probably twenty-some odd years from now, will succeed even more.

It is, I think, possible to film this story with considerably more loyalty to the way Tolkien portrayed it, and make a better film in the process. I can't prove that. I have only my faith in Tolkien's genius to say that. But so far, it's the best we have, and it's a lot. It's visually stunning (Thank you New Zealand, John Howe and Alan Lee!) and it's (mostly) loyal to Tolkien's themes. It's possible that some of the subtler themes that Tolkien conveyed escaped P. J.'s mind (Frodo's and Sam's relationship comes immediatly to mind, though there are others), or that he was aware of them (far more likely, considering how much time he spent on this project, and his world-wide search for experts) and chose to ignore them in order to make a good film in the space he had, but that is something we will never know.

What I want to know is, what's wrong with starting the story with Bilbo's birthday party? Is the exposition of the Ring that difficult to fit into the text on film as opposed to in a book?

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Old 02-13-2005, 11:01 AM   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophia the Thunder Mistress
However, I don't think any of us are calling for a word for word dramatic readthrough. Just a slightly less skewed major film.
You'd be surprised, Sophia. You think that the majority of ranters on these threads want just a 'slightly less skewed major film?' That's putting it very lightly!

Radagastly, excellent post. (I suppose I'd better learn how to do this reputation type thing and send you one )
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Old 02-13-2005, 12:00 PM   #97
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Of course she was surprised. She wasn’t expecting it. If she had been, it would have made her look weaker.
That isn't the way that it came across to me. From Arwen's chanting I got the impression that it was Arwen who 'called up' the flood (in the movie of course). And now that davem has posted the translation of what she was saying I am further convinced of it.

Quote:
It doesn’t take much wit to work out (with a little patience) that the flood was invoked by either Elrond or Gandalf, who we subsequently learn is there, or both (as in the book). I can’t recall, but it may even have been explained in the following scene with Gandalf and Frodo
I don't think that someone who has never read the books would draw that connection. Because Gandalf did not explain it to Frodo later (as he did in the books), we are never specifically told who called up the flood and therefore assume it was Arwen (because of her chanting). We are introduced shortly to Master Elrond, apparently an Elf who has healing powers, despite his scary eyebrows. But we don't quickly decide that he must've called up the flood. By using our basic powers of deduction we discover that he is apparently the Master of Rivendell, and that he can't chair a committee meeting very well. And that is about all that we learn about him, other than through our friend the phantom, who tells us he's really as 'kind as summer' (we could swear he meant as 'kind as sunburn'). And TTT and RotK don't reveal anything either, other than he's not a very positive guy. Though no doubt the question of who called up that flood in FotR isn't on our minds while we watch the next two movies in the trilogy.

Quote:
What I want to know is, what's wrong with starting the story with Bilbo's birthday party?
Because Jackson doesn't have a lot of time later to explain about the Ring. Tolkien could afford to gradually expound on the Ring by explaining little bits here and little bits there; but for PJ the best way to go was with the introduction he chose. I think that if you have the opportunity to simplify the history of the Ring, the Last Alliance, Isildur's Betrayal, Gollum's finding of the Ring, and subsequently Bilbo's finding of the Ring, leaving basically no real questions about the story that you are about to present--and doing this all in only twenty minutes (or one twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth of your films)--you go for it every time.

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Old 02-13-2005, 12:10 PM   #98
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Hmm. Maybe, just maybe, a word-for-word Council of Elrond would not have worked on screen. And maybe the omission of Fatty Bolger was a pretty good idea too...

But the Frodo/Faramir interaction, let's have some intelligence for that part. They added in a bunch of action that was pretty boring compared with the Battle at Helm's Deep. That's where you put in the good acting and the dialogue, as a sensible contrast to the major battle.

Instead, when they wanted to take a break from the battle, they cut to the comedy Ents and Hobbits. These were the least admired scenes from critics, which I find understandable if harsh.

But I think I lost my point. Sorry. It's a bemusing thread, verily.
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Old 02-13-2005, 03:44 PM   #99
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White Tree prologue

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So, why would they put up with twenty minutes of prologue, when it was not present in Tolkien's book?
I always saw the prologue of FOTR as an attempt to portray some of the history given in the chapter "The Shadow of the Past" without resorting to the lengthy conversation occuring between Frodo and Gandalf that's been known to turn some readers off as well, by its length and depth. A little more of that history comes in during the prologue of ROTK, showing the history of Gollum.

Now perhaps I'm not as much of a purist as I always thought, but I see no problems in taking a conversationally described history and showing it from a different viewpoint. It's when the history is changed substantially that I begin to get irked. For instance, I would have preferred to see Gil-galad and Elendil slay Sauron and Isildur come in later. It negates the heroism of Elendil and Gil-galad to have Sauron kill them first and then have Isildur come in later and clean up. However, it's a minor point as far as plotline of the larger films is concerned, and that's probably why you haven't heard much complaining about it.

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Old 02-13-2005, 04:05 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by The Only Real Estel
That isn't the way that it came across to me. From Arwen's chanting I got the impression that it was Arwen who 'called up' the flood (in the movie of course). And now that davem has posted the translation of what she was saying I am further convinced of it.
Well the audience can't be expected to translate Arwen's words without subtitles. It is clear, however, from what has been said that the intention was that Arwen was calling up the flood. The question, therefore, is does that come across on screen. It is quite a while since I last watched FotR (I seem to watch these films a lot less than those who seem to like them less than me ), so I cannot really recall. My earlier comments were made from an imperfect recollection. But it seems from what has been said that it does come across that she is responsible for the flood, but that a look of surprise crossing her face may introduce an element of confusion. I'll have to watch it again, but might that be interpreted as a slight catch of breath at the power she has brought forth?

And in any event do people who have not read the book really analyse these things that closely and get bothered by such minor issues?
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Old 02-13-2005, 04:33 PM   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
But it seems from what has been said that it does come across that she is responsible for the flood, but that a look of surprise crossing her face may introduce an element of confusion. I'll have to watch it again, but might that be interpreted as a slight catch of breath at the power she has brought forth?
I've just finished an Extended Editions 'Rings marathon' so the Arwen/flood episode is fresh in the mind. Well, she definitely does call up the flood, but I take back my comments on her acting as what it actually appears that she is doing is looking over her shoulder as the torrent comes thundering round the bend and thinking "oops, I'd better move up this river bank a bit".

It was watching Two Towers that the script alterations came through most intrusively and I got the impression that the script writing had got a little out of hand and the team were unable to pinpoint where they wanted to go with it. There was an immense section of action in the middle of the film that did not seem to have a concrete purpose, going from the Warg attack right through to Aragorn getting to Helm's Deep. I feel this could have been tightened up considerably, but mainly as it seemes to take up a lot of time when other scenes were being 'cut', so that's my opinion.

Watching the Faramir sections again, I still cannot see how the changes fit to the storyline. And the time it took up was lengthy, so keeping to the books would not have taken any longer, not would it have been dull. I thought that a more suitable change, if there had to have been one, might have been to have Faramir realise that his brother's death was due to the ring and have this as his moment of realisation.

The other thing which came across was with the changes to Aragorn. I got the distinct impression that he was being drawn as a leader for a world which values the idea of a 'meritocracy', that a leader would have to 'earn his stripes' rather than have the divine right of a king. Thus the changes to Aragorn had some political implications to my mind. These could have been due to Jackson's own particular views on leadership or due to him thinking a modern audience would not 'like' the idea of divine right, but if it is the latter then that sits peculiarly as there is at the same time the contrasting image of Theoden, who does display 'divine right' at the same time as being an active military leader, so he shows that this can be done.

And yes, I did enjoy it thoroughly.
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Old 02-13-2005, 04:53 PM   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
The other thing which came across was with the changes to Aragorn. I got the distinct impression that he was being drawn as a leader for a world which values the idea of a 'meritocracy', that a leader would have to 'earn his stripes' rather than have the divine right of a king.
Although, reading LotR along with the Chapter-by-Chapter discussion, it does seem to me that book Aragorn has a number of trials and tribulations to face before he becomes one who is truly worthy to be king. He is by no means the flawless character that I had previously thought. I have in mind such things as his mistake in letting the Fellowship be carried along by the flow, into real danger, on the Anduin, his despair at Boromir's death and subsequent need to build up his confidence in his own abilities, and his over-confidence before the doors of the Golden Hall. The last lesson, in particular, is important for, had he not shown humility in his reluctance to enter Minas Tirith, it is possible that his claim might have been rejected, Divine Right or no.

So, although these flaws in Aragorn's character are portrayed differently, and played up, in the film, they are nevertheless there to a degree in book Aragorn.


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And yes, I did enjoy it thoroughly.
Glad to hear it!
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Old 02-13-2005, 05:10 PM   #103
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1420!

I don't see a problem with Faramir in TTT. Whether he gives it up in Hennuth Annun or Osgiliath, I don't think makes a difference. He still WILLINGLY gave up the ring did he not? TTT EE even goes to show why Faramir chose those actions. I don't see how it weakens Faramir at all, he still willingly gave up the ring (which is a hard thing to do if you're a man, especially the son of a crazy father, and the brother of the person who tried to take the ring). I think the whole Ringwraith spotting Frodo with the Ring should be thrown out, but I don't see a big problem with Faramir taking the ring to Osgiliath, if anything it adds suspense.

This thread may be of some interest.
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Old 02-13-2005, 05:11 PM   #104
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So, although these flaws in Aragorn's character are portrayed differently, and played up, in the film, they are nevertheless there to a degree in book Aragorn.
I think maybe this sums up my problem with the movies (& I also, & co-incidentally , have just finished watching all three EE's through) - Jackson & the writers' tendency to take things from the book which Tolkien mentions in passing, or of which he makes a very subtle use & repeatedly belt the audience over the head them with till we're pleasing with him to 'STOP!, because we get it already!'

Its the way every little thing has to be hammered home, just in case some 13 year old in the audience may have missed it that makes the movies such a wearying experience at times.

Having said that, I have to be honest & say that I don't feel as negative about the movies as I did, now that I've had the chance to see them right through as Jackson intended.

I still wish his target audience had been literate adults rather than illiterate teens.
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Old 02-13-2005, 05:20 PM   #105
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1420!

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Jackson & the writers' tendency to take things from the book which Tolkien mentions in passing, or of which he makes a very subtle use & repeatedly belt the audience over the head them with till we're pleasing with him to 'STOP!, because we get it already!'
Very true, somethings he beats into our head, and others, I don't think he gives a lot of explaining which leaves a lot of non-book readers puzzling what the heck is going on? Like the famous questions...

"Why didn't Gandalf summon the eagles sooner?" (From ROTK it definitely appears as if Gandalf summons them).

or...

"Why did Frodo leave?"
"Why didn't Sauron guard Mount Doom better?"

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I still wish his target audience had been literate adults rather than illiterate teens.
My favorite experience would be...someone (who will remain unnamed) totally oblivious to the basic plotlines. For example, this particular person though Sauron sent the 10,000 army to Helm's Deep, and was totally oblivious to who Saruman was. Then had the nerve of saying "I don't think I'm more clever then the screenwriters, just more clever then the book."
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Old 02-13-2005, 05:34 PM   #106
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So, although these flaws in Aragorn's character are portrayed differently, and played up, in the film, they are nevertheless there to a degree in book Aragorn.
I totally agree about Aragorn's flaws in the books. And I think they have captured these on film, but what I did not like was his doubt over his destiny. Book Aragorn is sure of himself in his 'destination' even if he is not sure which path will take him there; he knows and accepts his role. Film Aragorn cannot accept this until RotK. The two Aragorns are very different men in that respect. Book Aragorn has the divine right while film Aragorn feels he must prove his right. Both have to show by deeds that they deserve the right.

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And in any event do people who have not read the book really analyse these things that closely and get bothered by such minor issues?
Oh they do! I used to work with someone who did exactly that. Every tiny point from the films was turned over and inside out, yet no reference was made to the books!
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Old 02-13-2005, 05:49 PM   #107
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Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Book Aragorn is sure of himself in his 'destination' even if he is not sure which path will take him there; he knows and accepts his role. Film Aragorn cannot accept this until RotK. The two Aragorns are very different men in that respect.
Agreed. I suppose it comes down to whether people like their film heroes to have that element of doubt in themselves and their destiny. Rightly or wrongly, the film-makers thought that audiences would react better to an Aragorn who was unsure of his destiny. I can sympathise with that, given their understandable reluctance to address his "Divine Right" as a man of pure Numenorean blood (as opposed to simply the heir of a Man who was once king of Gondor). There was scant time to deal with the whole Numenorean heritage thing, and it might have put off some people. Far better (they presumably thought) to have someone who is both the heir to the throne and who, during the events of the film, proves himself worthy of it (to himself and others).


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Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Oh they do! I used to work with someone who did exactly that. Every tiny point from the films was turned over and inside out, yet no reference was made to the books!
Well then, the films must have produced quite strong feelings in them for them to have bothered spending the time to do that.
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Old 02-13-2005, 06:01 PM   #108
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In refernce to Radaghastly's post, I just want to say that a good example of how I dislike some of the divergences from Tolkien's original story is in the portrayal of Isildur.

In Unfinished Tales, it's quite obvious that the Ring has (as of yet) exerted no corrupting influence over Isildur, besides simply motivating him to keep it, and, in fact, when he dies he is marching back to take up the rule of Arnor after spending several years instructing his nephew Meneldur in the ways of ruling wisely. Not the behaviour characteristic of a power-hungry tyrant, IMO.

When the battle between his bodyguard and the orcs runs ill he does not simply run off, but is urged by his son to try and escape to Imladris, at which point, Isildur comments that he now understands why the elves wanted the Ring destroyed.

Jackson, Boyens and Walsh do not seem to understand the character at all. It might be argued that it was neccessary to reduce Isildur's filmic personna to such simplistic dimensions because of time constraints, but Jackson's seemingly-humorous comment that they got Harry Sinclair to play Isildur because he was the most corrupt actor they could think of would seem to speak against such a conclusion.

In the the conceptual Prologue in the EE appendices, Isildur's response to Elrond's demand that he destroy the Ring is a confused "Why?", much more in keeping with the character's personality and motivations in the book. In the film though, he simply sneers "No", and then is next seen riding through a forest, looking as though he's heading off to finish up where Ar-Pharazon left off.

All in all, a rather dismaying portrayal one of the noblest of the old Numenoreans.
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Old 02-13-2005, 08:23 PM   #109
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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:
Quote:
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:
Quote:
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:

Quote:
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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Old 02-14-2005, 06:07 AM   #110
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Quote:
Originally posted by SpM: 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.
That's what the teens like to see, and as davem said in a previous post...
Quote:
I still wish his target audience had been literate adults rather than illiterate teens.
I enjoyed the battle scenes in the movies, I think PJ goes to show the length of these battles very well. Tolkien writes very little on the actual battles, but Helm's Deep lasts the night, Minas Tirith and Pelennor are both one day long. Eventhough, Tolkien doesn't into pages and pages of "battle scenes" it has to be shown the screen differently. You have to show the true length of the battles, not meaning making it unbelievably long, but making viewers see the fact that this is a BIG battles.

I'm reminded by the movie of Troy, with the quote..."This is going to be the biggest battle the world has ever seen..." Very similar case to Minas Tirith and Pelennor. These are the biggest battles of the third age. As a director you have to show that, you can't just make a small 20 minute fight sequence, and then put up a corny subtitle "one day later."

Aiwendil:
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most of my favorite films are from the '50s, '60s, and '70s.
Same here, I love Hitchcock movies...North by Northwest, Vertigo, Strangers on a Train, not to mention all the great movies Scorsese and DeNiro did together. I do get irked when people call LOTR "the greatest movie ever," but have never seen some of the classic, groundbreaking movies of the time, also better directed. These movies were much different. Take North by Northwest, and many other Hitchcock (as well as earlier directors' films)...Now adays, it's like the director takes the audiences intellegence so low, he/she has to show someone getting stabbed and blood seeping out of everywhere (sorry for the picture). Hitchcock didn't show the physical murders, but people still understood, and it actually made the movie a lot better. You would hear a gunshot, or maybe a body fall, or maybe just the impression on someone's face...

Quote:
1. Even granting Hollywood-ization, a tighter, more focused, more faithful adaptation could have been made.
Number one I agree, but would it have brought in the crowds? I still think so, the hype for the movie was so big, people would still go see it. It may not have been quite as popular once people saw the movie, but the point is these movies were hyped, many Tolkienists like ourselves wanted to see Tolkien's work adapted on screen, so I say it still wouldh ave brought in the crowds.

Quote:
2. An even greater trilogy of films could have been made by a director who refused to adopt certain aspects of the modern style.
This goes back to my Metareferences and Intertextuality, the belief that everything that's written now adays, or produced is never COMPLETELY original. The idea that everything that has been created is a rip off of someone else's work. This isn't to say that "Tolkien stole ideas from so and so..." or "Jackson..daddadada..." It's just, when creating a movie (or book), we are influenced by previous things that we've read or seen. The author, or people making the movie, will intentionally (or unconsciously) rewrite what has already been done, just give it some different characters, or maybe instead of destroying a ring, some future author writes a story about destroying a superpowerful microchip.

Number 2, you might be right, if you put the right guy on the job I wouldn't doubt it, but hey if it aint broke why fix it? There are times when I look at PJ as a director and say, wow that is great stuff, and he has shown that he can be a GREAT (yes I said it) director. Then times when he just has to show meaningless gore and death to make the teens go "yay!"
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Old 02-14-2005, 06:24 AM   #111
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I thought that a more suitable change, if there had to have been one, might have been to have Faramir realise that his brother's death was due to the ring and have this as his moment of realisation.
At least we have Sam say this in the film, and to me it does finally help lead to Faramir's Epiphany
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Old 02-14-2005, 06:41 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by Boromir88
the belief that everything that's written now adays, or produced is never COMPLETELY original
Sound idea, I daresay. Find support in the words of the Man himself (excerpt from Mythopoeia, poem addressed at C.S.Lewis)

The heart of man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship one he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact.
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with elves and goblins, though we dared to build
gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sow the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which were made.


emphasis mine
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Old 02-14-2005, 10:17 PM   #113
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Just a quick note on something I've observed all over the Movies forum -- the idea that LotR needs to be "made accessible" to find an audience. Don't 100 million-plus copies and fifty years of enduring popularity prove that LotR is accessible, even without Dwarf-tossing jokes and an ignoble Faramir? I like a mentality that buys a book because of its success and popularity, then decides that it won't be accessible unless lots of changes are made.

There is a certain patronizing attitude in the assumption that modern audiences won't get it or will grow bored without an action sequence every five pages and a few belches here and there to funny it up. Yet I don't get the sense that PJ is often intentionally patronizing; rather, I think some of the changes made by him and his partners reflect their limitations as filmmakers.
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Old 02-15-2005, 03:39 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by Mr Underhill
There is a certain patronizing attitude in the assumption that modern audiences won't get it or will grow bored without an action sequence every five pages and a few belches here and there to funny it up. Yet I don't get the sense that PJ is often intentionally patronizing; rather, I think some of the changes made by him and his partners reflect their limitations as filmmakers.
The other day I watched all three movies back-to-back, & some new thoughts occurred.

I brought this up in the CbC chapter but maybe its also relevant here. What I also find lacking in the movies is mercy. In the movie Gandalf seeks out Saruman for their final confrontation only because he believes Saruman has information which would assist in defeating Sauron. Frodo seeks to help Gollum only because he needs to believe Gollum can 'come back' ie his motivation is selfish - he's worried about himself, & wants to be sure he himself can 'come back'.

Perhaps the thing that really bothers me about these movies, now I think about it, is the much more 'hard-nosed' & cynical attitude the 'good' characters display towards their foes. No-one seems to act selflessly, out of simple compassion & a desire to show mercy - even if that puts them at risk.

Perhaps modern audiences are not 'dumbed down' but simply more selfish & uncaring. I wonder whether if Frodo & Gandalf had been shown as wishing to save Gollum & Saruman audiences would have seen them as being 'weak'.

I also wonder whether one reason the Scouring was left out was that audiences simply wouldn't have understood Frodo's behaviour. Certainly it seems that it was felt necessary to show Frodo struggling over the Ring with Gollum at the Sammath Naur - he has to fight at the end. Would Frodo's offer of mercy to Saruman at the end have been acceptible to a modern audience?

In modern movies it seems 'villains' must be shown as being undeserving of mercy, as 'deserving' all they get. When I read of Saruman's death in the book I get an overwhelming feeling that it is ugly, sordid & 'wrong' that a being once so 'high' should die like that, in those circumstances. Watching his death in the movie I get the feeling Jackson wants me to cheer over the fact that the 'bad guy' has got his comeuppance (sp?).

So, the absence of mercy, & of any sense of tragedy in the death of the 'enemies' - perhaps that is what really bothers me about the movies. I don't know if that constitutes a 'dumbing down' or a 'hardening up' of Tolkien's tale but either way it feels 'wrong'...

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Old 02-15-2005, 05:37 AM   #115
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I think some of the changes made by him and his partners reflect their limitations as filmmakers.
Yes, Mr. Underhill, that's why I have a problem with people thinking Jackson is some great director. LOTR is by far his best movie I think, then Heavenly Creatures is supposedly good but I haven't seen it, everything else is just junk. I'm waiting to see which Jackson shows up for King Kong. If I can see that Jackson has broken away from his old directing days, then we'll see what happens. Jackson I think has good potential, but that's just it, potential.

Quote:
Watching his death in the movie I get the feeling Jackson wants me to cheer over the fact that the 'bad guy' has got his comeuppance (sp?).
That irks me a little. When people praise Legolas for killing Grima, the awful baddie, that helped Saruman. The same case with Denethor, he wasn't shown to be very kind. People cracking up laughing, when Gandalf whacks him in the face a couple times. I can understand making the steward look bad, because in his own ways he was. However, the no-mannered, cherry spatting, punching bag is another example of PJ just taking things too far, and slamming an idea down our throat.
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Old 02-15-2005, 08:39 AM   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill
Yet I don't get the sense that PJ is often intentionally patronizing; rather, I think some of the changes made by him and his partners reflect their limitations as filmmakers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
So, the absence of mercy, & of any sense of tragedy in the death of the 'enemies' - perhaps that is what really bothers me about the movies. I don't know if that constitutes a 'dumbing down' or a 'hardening up' of Tolkien's tale but either way it feels 'wrong'...
Both of these statements might together, I think, explain why I am disssatisfied with the movies as movies. PJ's imagination is watered by two sources: Tolkien and Lucas. Yet rather than out of this creative ferment producing new vintage wine, he produces some vinegar.

Take, for example, the skateboarding scene in Helm's Deep. Or the dwarf tossing comment. In Star Wars that kind of bragadocchio reflects upon the characters. Han Solo's "That's great kid. Now, don't get cocky" works as a humorous interjection into the battle because it says something about both Han's and Luke's characters. The line reads like the effort of those fighting to lessen the impact and force of ... The Force, if you will. It is part of their battle strategy. At Helm's Deep, the skateboarding and dwarf tossing are mere additions for the sake of humour. And both the tragedy of the battle and the dignity of the characters are lost.

The same thing when Aragorn's horse nuzzles him awake from the dream of Arwen. Haha, sure, funny, but how does that develop Aragorn's character or depict this supposedly iconic love and romance? It doesn't. It is just a but of cheap humour thrown in.

Similarly, for me, is Gandalf's arrival atop Shadowtax and the great rearing shot of the horse. Roy Rogers to the rescue? The cowboy motif fits Han Solo because that is how he is presented throughout the ST trilogy: he is a gunslinger in space. But Gandalf is not. He has, from the beginning, been a wizard and interjecting a cowboy image late in the game takes artistic skill which the director does not have.

This discussion could turn into a version of the Canonicity argument: the Director, the film, the audience, but I don't think it is so much a question of 'dumbing down' for the audience. Rather, I think it is a question, as Mr. Underhill suggests, of PJ's nature as a filmmaker. This is his interpretation of how to bring Tolkien to the screen. Yet he fails to appreciate the mythic or moral stature of LotR and his fails to understand how Lucas uses humour in ST. Thus, we have diminished charactertisations and misplaced comedy and changes which don't ring true as a movie.


Knights in battle have a different tone than cowboys in space. PJ could not amalgamate the two into a unified, coherent filmic vision. Too many semes show. (And, yes, I do mean 'semes' )
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Old 02-15-2005, 09:00 AM   #117
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In examples such as Saruman's death you can see how the subtleties of the original text were lost during the adaptation, how intricately woven the tale in the books is compared to the merely surface level of the tale in the films. To have included the Scouring of the Shire might not have made sense in terms of film narrative and length, in adding another ending to confuse those poor audiences, but the events in the book are necessary to finishing the tale off satisfactorily. They not only show exactly what the Hobbits were getting themselves into bother for, but they show how 'the mighty are fallen'. Instead of Saruman being killed in a showdown of epic proportions, he is brought low and humble and this is not only more satisfying but more subtle and meaningful.

But having now watched the trilogy end to end, it is in Two Towers that the vision of Jackson most goes awry. Fellowship was carefully crafted, and the omissions/alterations are not so noticeable, and RotK benefitted from the movement towards the inevitable conclusion. But I got the distinct impression that the scriptwriting team found Two Towers to be dull in some way and therefore in need of 'rewriting'. Much new material was inserted which did not work very well, and the structure disintegrated somewhat. I was suspicious that the writers wanted a way to include Arwen in the film but could not think of a concrete storyline, and that the producers may have been telling Jackson that they wanted to see more use being made out of the effects. The changes may have ultimately been made less with the audience in mind and more with the banks in mind.
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Old 02-15-2005, 01:01 PM   #118
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Originally Posted by Boromir88
That irks me a little. When people praise Legolas for killing Grima, the awful baddie, that helped Saruman.
The thought came to me reading this that when I read the book, I feel sorry for Wormtongue. I couldn't stand to be around him, but I feel sorry for him when the company meets him on their way to Rivendell, and he has to continue following Saruman and receiving his abuse. Horrible as it was, I pitied Grima when Saruman tells us he killed Lotho. I can understand Gandalf's contempt for him, certainly, but I can also see how he might have wanted to throw the palantir at Saruman, and not Gandalf.

But in the movie, that was lost, I felt no pity for Grima. He became more one-dimensional. He became just an ugly traitor. He lost all elements of being a victim. We feel that he gets what he deserves at the end.
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Old 02-15-2005, 04:00 PM   #119
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On the subject of 'mercy' I wonder if that's why Faramir's character was changed. My own feeling is that Faramir's decision to release Frodo was based as much as anything on compassion, pity & mercy. Jackson & the writers seem to have missed this completely. The result is that they have had to 'rationalise' the character, & ended up tying themselves up in knots in the process. The movie Faramir simply doesn't work. He comes across as brutal & cowardly in the Henneth Annun scenes - holding a sword to the throat of an unarmed, frightened, confused & deeply distressed prisoner, & standing by (but refusing to look), while his men brutally torture Gollum. In later scenes he comes across as weak & despairing, throwing his life away for no other reason than he wants daddy to love him.

Faramir can only work at all as Tolkien wrote him, & with his primary motivations his idealism, compassion & high ideals. If these things are removed in a desire to make him more 'believable' he actually becomes unnecessary to the plot, & to an extent drags it down to a more mundane, even a more sordid place.

Still, it is, as I said, a movie for our times - more cynical & brutal times perhaps. Jackson wants to end his story with a 'happy ever after' but he seems to believe that that can be achieved simply by force of arms & a willingness on the part of individuals to sacrifice themselves. What he leaves out of the equation is the selfless compassion & mercy for the undeserving which are so central to the book & to Tolkien's overall message.

These movies don't teach us anything, they just confirm our predjudices about the 'enemy'. What they fail to convey is idea of the Long Defeat. This is one of Tolkien's most important ideas in LotR. Its actually a morally liberating idea - if one cannot achieve ultimate victory in this world by one's own actions, one is freed up to behave in a morally right way, through the knowledge that ultimate victory is not dependent on one's own actions but on something greater. Without that knowledge there can be no trust, & without trust there can be no mercy.

Hence, like Saruman, the writers ended up caught in a cleft stick of their own cutting, & cannot tell Tolkien's tale - they must tell their own. I just don't think its as good....
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Old 02-15-2005, 04:14 PM   #120
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Quote:
These movies don't teach us anything, they just confirm our predjudices about the 'enemy'. What they fail to convey is idea of the Long Defeat. This is one of Tolkien's most important ideas in LotR. Its actually a morally liberating idea - if one cannot achieve ultimate victory in this world by one's own actions, one is freed up to behave in a morally right way, through the knowledge that ultimate victory is not dependent on one's own actions but on something greater. Without that knowledge there can be no trust, & without trust there can be no mercy.
Thanks for that observation, davem, if for no other reason than that it made clear to me something that I had felt missing in the films but couldn't quite pin down. Jackson's version makes it seem as though evil has been eliminated from Middle-Earth entirely and that everyone is going to live happily ever after, and that feeling is something distictly missing from the book. The mythic feel of the story is diminished.

I'm sure this falls under the category of "eliminated for the sake of marketable movie," and probably rightly so, as any lingering feeling of incompleteness in a modern film usually indicates a forthcoming sequel (God forbid!).
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