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Old 09-02-2007, 08:58 PM   #41
Sauron the White
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Well Beav if the playing field is level and an actual account of how many tickets were sold the movie, Gone With the Wind spanks everything.
Without a doubt. And based on even earlier figures, some contend that a larger percentage of the population may have seen BIRTH OF A NATION that any other film before or since. At least in the States. But neither of those negate the box office success of all three LOTR films.


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And oh golly Beav, Star Wars A New Hope won a bunch of awards too, including some oscars and BANFA awards.
I did NOT see SW win the AA award for Best Picture or come anywhere the take of ROTK did with its 11 awards out of 11 nominations. SW won a few technical awards like many sci-fi/fantasy films often do. But its "excellence" stopped with special effects.


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Just because Gibson made money and won awards off of The Passion doesn't make him Jesus either.
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Maybe I missed something but who is claiming that Gibson is Jesus?

And Quempel, by using the example of three different films made by three different directors and three different sets of people you completely and totally miss the point that has been repeatedly made in these discussions. It is extremely rare in the history of film that any film or series of films have received all three of the measurements of success that a film is normally gauged on: those three being
1- box office revenues
2- professional critical acclaim
3- industry awards

All 3 for the same film or series of films. It just does not happen but did with the LOTR films.
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Old 09-02-2007, 10:22 PM   #42
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I did NOT see SW win the AA award for Best Picture or come anywhere the take of ROTK did with its 11 awards out of 11 nominations. SW won a few technical awards like many sci-fi/fantasy films often do. But its "excellence" stopped with special effects.
All the more reason to think SW is the better picture . . .
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Old 09-02-2007, 10:43 PM   #43
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Tolkien's work has depth and the movies do not. They were made to be blockbusters, and as such their potential value was limited from the start. I would love to see someone come at Tolkien (preferably Hurin) from a more mature angle, as has been discussed elsewhere on the forum, but as long as the Estate exercises no control over who the film rights are sold to, any future installments will be made with CGI monsters being priority number one.
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Old 09-03-2007, 07:14 AM   #44
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I did NOT see SW win the AA award for Best Picture or come anywhere the take of ROTK did with its 11 awards out of 11 nominations. SW won a few technical awards like many sci-fi/fantasy films often do. But its "excellence" stopped with special effects.

from Aiwendil

All the more reason to think SW is the better picture . . .
could you please offer a bit more in the way of explaining that drive-by comment?

And regarding the assertion from JRRT himself that the Scouring of the Shire was an essential and important part of the book and thus should have been in the film .... I would dearly hope that when any author writes a book, everything they put on the page is considered as essential or important. Otherwise, why waste the space? A good editor should see to that. So if that is true, then everything in the book is essential making any cuts of material to film impossible by that criteria.

Again, a book and a film are two very different things, each with their own components, advantages and disadvantages, limits and boundaries and internal demands. To compare them is like comparing apples and cinderblocks. After exhaustive study the expert proclaims proudly that yes indeed apples taste better. However, cinderblocks make for a better building material. Hardly news.

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Old 09-03-2007, 09:50 AM   #45
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So if that is true, then everything in the book is essential making any cuts of material to film impossible by that criteria.~Sauron
Tolkien did say he carefully considered every single on of his 600,000 words (in talking about The Lord of the Rings). However, I disagree with your remarks about the 'essential part of the plot.' Tolkien was no director (and in some ways I'm glad he didn't try to make movies out of his books). We do live in a different time, the majority of people want to see an action packed film, full of explosions and wild chases. So, Tolkien directing a movie for the audience of today, I don't think that would turn out too well. With that being said, he's no fool when it comes to moving making. He understood cuts need to be made as by around 3 hours people's bottoms get sore, and it would be impossible to film his entire book. We critics of the film aren't idiots either:

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Contraction of this kind is not the same thing as the necessary reduction or selection of the scenes and events that are to be visually represented.~Letter 210 (Tolkien to Ackerman, in response to the Zimmerman script)
Tolkien understands things need to be cut out, but why he never really warmed up to movies being made off his story is because of the very nature of Hollywood:
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But I would ask them to make an effort of imagination sufficient to understand the irritation (and on occasion the resentment) of an author, who finds, increasingly as he proceeds, his work treated as it would seem carelessly in general, in places recklessly, and with no evident signs of any appreciation of what it is all about.
It's not the necessity of 'contracting' scenes that annoyed Tolkien, it's Hollywood's nature to feel the need to change things around and create an action-packed thriller.

And about The Scouring, perhaps we can apply Tolkiens' response to how Zimmerman treated Helm's Deep and the Ents?
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If both the Ents and the Hornburg cannot be treated at sufficient length to make sense, then one should go. It should be the Hornburg, which is incidental to the main story...
For the record, I disagree with Tolkien here, as no one wants to see the Ents, they would rather watch some big brawl of 2 large armies crashing into eachother. I'm one of those who would rather see the fight at Helm's Deep. But my point here is, that The Lord of the Rings is about the growth of the hobbits (particularly 4 in general). Tolkien says this right in the Foreward, this story (LOTR) is about them. So, the whole story of Aragorn becoming King, Gondor's war with Sauron, Rohan's involvement...etc are all just subplots. The Lord of the Rings is about the hobbits and I didn't feel this from the movies. I felt in the movies Jackson got it switched around...I probably wouldn't have felt that way if the 'essential part of the plot' was added into the movie.

Before anyone starts talking about there wouldn't be time to add in the Scouring, how about we talk about time usage and Jackson mishandling time? Lets take this comment from Letter 210:
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The canons of narrative art in any medium cannot be wholly different; and the failure of poor films is often precisely in exaggeration, and in the intrusion of unwarranted matter owing to not perceiving where the core of the original lies.
So, the 'intrusion of unwarranted matter, could this be the warg fight? And having the storyling of Aragorn's 'fall of the cliff' that follows? What's the purpose of that? How about Faramir taking the Hobbits to Osgiliath and having that scene where The Witch-King finds Frodo? Why did Frodo need to be taken to Osgiliath in the first place? Had Jackson not put in his own scenes that have really no purpose in the movie, then perhaps there would be more time for the essential part of the plot?

Sauce you bring up some good points about Jackson capturing some of Tolkien's themes. I think overall the 'friendship/bond' is there (excluding Frodo sending Sam away...I forget what Walsh and Boyens said about that scene I just remember I didn't like it). But, overall ya I definitely got that from the movies. As well as the smaller conquering 'bigger' odds (The Scouring would have shown this more!). But I do think that there are some things missing. What doesn't make sense to me is why does Aragorn stop Theoden from killing Grima in a fit a rage in TTT, but then in ROTK in a fit of rage himself Aragorn beheads the MoS? This creates continuity issues with Aragorn's character, plus misses the whole concept of the 'Rules of War' and the 'gentlemens war' which is in the books.

Also, I think some of these things start taking a back seat to Gimli's toilet humour, and the 'action fights' of the film. Not so much with FOTR (I thought that was well made movie that not only is fun to watch but captures the books the best...I honestly believe that was well done. Can't say I have that same feeling for TTT and ROTK though. Where the battles start replacing the story of the hobbits).

In some ways I can't blame Jackson because he's only making a movie that a lot of people want to see...we want to be entertained for the full length of the movie. That would be hard to do if there wasn't some slugfest that the audience was looking forward to. However, I will make the point that the books were already popular even before Jackson imagined making the movies. I think that as A Mr. Simon argued that the Lord of the Rings was so popular precisely because of the hobbits. The hobbits are most like your normal guy like you and me, and people want to feel a connection with themselves, they want to be able to identify with the characters. So, maybe making a film that focused more around the hobbits and their growth wouldn't have made such a bad unattractive movie at all? And maybe then will I feel that instead of watching an entertaining slugfest (speaking of TTT and ROTK...as I really thought FOTR was the best), I would also feel these movies were more accurate to the story.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:15 AM   #46
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could you please offer a bit more in the way of explaining that drive-by comment?
Personally speaking, I don't see much of a correlation between the quality of a film and the number of awards it receives. Sure, Lucas has been consistently (and pointedly) ignored by the Academy - which puts him in the good company of, to name a few, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Stanley Kubrick. In my opinion, that's a far more impressive list of names than the list of 'Best Director' recipients.

All that is, of course, highly subjective - the only real point I was trying to make is that one oughtn't consider the number of awards won a measure of how good a film is.

To address the original topic: as for me, I find myself less interested in Jackson's LotR as time goes on. I quite enjoyed them when they came out, though I was disappointed with them in many ways. But I think a large part of my enjoyment came simply from the novelty of seeing a new adaptation of my favourite book. Now that the novelty has worn off, the things I dislike (both in terms of departures from the book and aspects of Jackson's direction) come through more strongly.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:43 AM   #47
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Boromir ... you have a very well crafted response above. Very good and I do not disagree with all of it. A few points that I would comment on are as follows:

JRRT wrote a great book in LOTR and created a wonderful mythology in the entire Middle-earth writings. He also was not half bad when it came to putting pencil on paper to illustrate some of his world. But his talents as an artist paled to his talents as a writer. Having said that, I think it is important to fully seperate his talents in those areas from his views about filmmaking. Unless I have missed some of the Professors career, he never delved into this area as an active participant. He never made a film. His entire experience was as an outsider looking in - an observer if you will. As far as I know, he never studied film academically or even had the dogged interest of the film hobbyist.

So his comments about film, are those of a writer who fears that his work will be butchered - probably as he watched the work of other authors butchered by the film industry. When Tolkien talks about the world he created, he is the unchallenged expert and I defer to him completely. When he talks about the area of film, he merely another one of the great unwashed who thinks they know something. I do not mean that to be cruel or unfeeling - just the straight facts.

Until you make a film, or at least study it thoroughly from those who have, you really cannot know what it entails.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that the thoughts of JRRT (as expressed in his Letters) seem to be boiled down to this:

- "you may have to make some cuts or compressions, that is understandable- but please do not add anything that I did not write. "

Is that a correct summary of the flow of his ideas on film?

Because of it is, it assumes that Tolkien had every single ingredient withing LOTR that would make for a great film and he understood just what a great film needed. I am not sure that was the case. There are several things in the film, which were added and it contributed to the worth of the film.

For one, I was just rereading FOTR and noticed how the death of Boromir is far more dramatic and emotionally touching on film as opposed to how it is written in the book. Things were added making for a better film. I will NOT say that Tolkien should have wrote it that way and his book would have been better. NO. In the book it works just fine. But for a film the changes work to the betterment of a film.

The expansion of the role of Arwen - using material in and alluded to in the story in the Appendicies - greatly made the film more interesting to a female audience and gave the film a more egalitarian or modern feel as opposed to all these men (save Eowyn) acting as saviors like John Wayne riding to the worlds rescue. The expansion of the Arwen role did help the film with the audience reception of it.

I have always liked the film Aragorn and his touch of reluctance since it contrasts nicely with the military bravado of Boromir. It also adds a nice story and character arc that is resolved slowly throughout the films. I know many were put off by that, but I felt it added to both the character and the film.

YES, I will admit that the film was not perfect and some of these additions were not to the films benefit. I agree that the whole Osgiliath visit by Frodo and Same was completely unnecessary. It did not ruin the film - it did not help the film. I think Faramirs character could have done the same thing, perhaps more effectively, if it had kept to the book. His book lines about not willing to pick up the ring were it on the side of the road and Sams response are some of the most wonderful moments in the story. I too was sad to see this change.

We have to remember that any work by human beings is flawed. Yes, JRRT considered and reconsidered every one of his 600,000 words. But as much as any of us love the books they were not perfect. They may be the next closest thing to perfection but we all must admit that JRRT was not God and his work was not Divine.

Obviously the same thing must be said about the work of Jackson. Despite all the box office earnings, despite all the awards, despite all the glowing critics reviews, there are flaws in the movie which render it less than perfect. And that is to be expected.

I cringe every time I see the scrubbing bubbles of the Dead wash away the enemy on the Pelennor and in Minas Tirith. What makes it doubly worse for me is I really liked the portrayal of the Dead up to that sad event. Gandalf whacking Denethor with his staff does not put me off too much but the nonresponse of his armed soldiers standing impotently in the background is simply lazy filmmaking when scenes filmed on a stage in front of a screen were combined with background footage that just clashes. The farting and belching of Gimli certainly are not my favorite parts and I would have loved the character more without them. These are all flaws and others here have pointed out their own particular grievances.

Fine - that is the nature of the beast.

But we end up with so much wonder and so much beauty and so many amazing cinematic moments that it makes me very happy to have lived to see these films. I do not need my cup 100% filled with the perfect wine of the gods. That could be the standard, but I do not need it to make me happy.

I happen to feel that the character of Tom Bombadil is totally unnecessary to the book and just gets in the way. But I still love the books despite the old hippy and the contradiction of his powers and the ring. It has never made logical sense to me that Sauron once had the Ring firmly on his finger with a large army at his disposal and failed to control Middle-earth , but now if it obtains it the entire population of ME can mail in their backsides to the Dark Lord and its all over. But I still love the books despite those problems.

The films are no different. They are flawed with mistakes and have their own weaknesses and defects. But in the end we still end up with a movie that worked rather well as evidenced by its worldwide reception of several levels in which the industry and film students measure success.

And for that I am happy.
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Old 09-03-2007, 11:56 AM   #48
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Sure, Lucas has been consistently (and pointedly) ignored by the Academy - which puts him in the good company of, to name a few, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Stanley Kubrick. In my opinion, that's a far more impressive list of names than the list of 'Best Director' recipients.
I would consider Lucas to be a good borrower from others and a good world builder and creator. Directing has never been his strong suit. He know virtually nothing about directing real people with real feelings and actual human emotion. Zilch - nada - zip - nothing. He directs comic book characters.

As the team of Lucas, Hitchcock, Welles and Kubrick - I will take the team of actual Oscar winners as follows (just to name a few)
Woody Allen
Frank Capra
Francis Ford Coppola
George Cukor
Clint Eastwood
Victor Felming
John Ford
John Huston
David Lean
Sydney Pollack
Martin Scorsese
Steven Spielberg
George Stevens
Billy Wilder
William Wyler

Peter Jackson is in very good company indeed. In fact, if I had to come up just four to go up against the four you named I would take Capra, Ford, Lean and Wyler and feel very confindent that I have the four greatest directors of all time. George Lucas could not have manned the cue cards for them.
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Old 09-03-2007, 02:01 PM   #49
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Sauron: As I said, any evaluation of "best directors" is going to be highly subjective. Personally, while I do think that Capra, Coppola, and some of the others you mentioned are very capable directors, I would take Hitchcock and Kubrick over the lot of them any day. I also consider Lucas to be on par with them - though I know I'm very much in the minority in that regard. Of course, this isn't the place to debate this sort of thing - which is why I limited myself to a "drive-by" comment before.

Again, the pertinent part of my comment is merely that one can't argue "awards, therefore excellence".
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Old 09-03-2007, 04:47 PM   #50
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Of course you will not obloquy. You simply have the nerve to call someone IGNORANT without a word of explaination and then make a drive-by comment without bothering to offer any proof or evidence.
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Old 09-03-2007, 04:56 PM   #51
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Obloquy - though it would seem we have similar cinematic opinions, I certainly would not call someone "ignorant" because he or she has a different opinion. This is obvioiusly a matter where personal preferences vary considerably, and if you can't keep your contributions civil, you should refrain from posting.

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Old 09-03-2007, 09:33 PM   #52
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What frustrates me no end are those occasions where PJ took a scene from the book, and somehow decided he needed (and was qualified) to "improve" it. Case in point: the Mouth of Sauron. Tolkien's scene is tense and dramatic, and above all carries the superior character and moral strength of the Captains of the West. So tell me, please, what cinematic imperative required turning Aragorn into a war criminal? Does film-as-a-different-medium require that on this page of the script another decapitation is mandatory?

Again, the Voice of Saruman: Why does Gandalf prevent Legolas' "sticking an arrow in his gob?" Why, because "we need information." Whatever happened to "he was great once, of a kind we should not dare to raise our hand against?" Or for that matter, "do not be so quick to deal out death in judgment?" PJ again has ignored, indeed inverted, Tolkien's moral and spiritual compass.
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Old 09-04-2007, 01:43 AM   #53
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Silmaril Moderator's note

One of the wonderful aspects of opinion discussion threads is that everyone can express feelings and ideas, whether or not they have a foundation in other sources.

One of the worst things about opinion threads is that there are always several participants who dominate the discussion because they feel that, instead of merely expressing their ideas, they have to push their point by repeating it so long that others agree.

Fortunately, the Downs is so variegated that this will never happen. What does happen is that others are intimidated by the latent aggressiveness and stay away, thereby depriving the forum of the richness of many opinions.

Therefore I ask those who have posted repeatedly to refrain from posting again until others have had a chance to participate.

And please keep to the Tolkien topic - lists of other movies and their directors are at best a sidetrack and may be deleted as off-topic if they continue.

Thank you!
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Old 09-04-2007, 02:09 AM   #54
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This is why I won't take sides on the topic of the films. They are in one box and the books are in another. The films are something totally different, and I never watch a film based on a book expecting it to be even slightly faithful as it just doesn't happen - whether that's due to the translation of book to the medium of film or due to the ego of the director and his/her 'artistic vision' I cannot say, but it is likely both. In 95% of cases (including Lord of the Rings) the film is Less Good Than The Book or even An Outrage if you're really unlucky. In rare cases, the film is superior, despite not following the text too faithfully - in that category I'd count Children Of Men (a truly awesome film) or the BBC version of Middlemarch made a few years back (the most tedious book turned into dazzling TV) and controversially, Narnia.

The films of Lord of the Rings are like a nice Steak Canadian sarnie, whereas the books are the full roast dinner. Both good, but only the latter can be expected to really fill your belly.

Now I have to say comparing Jackson's Rings with other fantasy films is unfair. Firstly, Jackson had the most superior fantasy material to begin with anyway, so how could he really fail? Eragon is like the Argos Catalogue compared with Tolkien's work! Secondly, which fantasy films are we looking at? Has anyone actually seen Pan's Labyrinth? However going by the Hollywood-centric turn of discussion perhaps not.

Why do I have to continually ponder on whether Jackson's films were any good? Because let's be honest, a whole lot of people, maybe even most people, cannot be bothered reading books these days, certainly not books as long as Lord of the Rings. We are a small minority. The majority of people will have taken their knowledge of Tolkien's work as seen and interpreted by one Peter Jackson. They judge that story, those characters, and ultimately Tolkien himself according to one man's flawed vision. And that is at the root of why I carp at the flaws in the films.

Anyway. Film directors. I don't take a Hollywood-centric view of who is good, it's limiting. The Oscars are after all not really a judge of quality but of politics and sales. Some others who need to be considered under the rank of genius: Alfonso Cuaron - who owns the screen in the thoroughly awesome Children Of Men; Mike Leigh - I would watch soap powder adverts directed by this man; Ken Loach - maker of bleak, bitter yet strangely amusing films; Quentin Tarantino - just watch Kill Bill; Danny Boyle - Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine etc...You can keep your Oscar Winning LA glitterati
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Old 09-04-2007, 04:59 AM   #55
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obloquy .... by using the term IGNORANT and then offering a definition, you seem to presume that I am not aware or have not seen the films you later cite as great films by great directors. How could you make that judgment about me if you failed to ask me first if I had seen them or other works by those directors? Only then could you determine if I was ignorant of their existence.

I do not judge any director as GREAT by a single film or even a few films. I feel you must take their body of work over a career. All four of the men I selected have a extensive body of work over several decades than can be examined and studied. They also met the test of time.

I fully agree with Lalwende that Alfonso Cuaron has made some excellent films and is a outstanding talent. I look forward to at least ten to twenty more years of his work. After we have an extensive body of his work, then we can see if he stands up there with the David Leans of this world.

Regarding Stanley Kubrick - PATHS OF GLORY is one of my 25 favorite films of all time. A truly great film. I think the only time he equaled that effort was with STRANGELOVE. But the man was a true talent in a spotty career.

Orson Welles - reinvented the cinema that D.W. Griffith gave the world with new camera angles, different ways to tell a story, and made film more of an art form. And he did this all with a single film - CITIZEN KANE. Welles never equaled that effort - of course, if KANE is the greatest film of all time then that would be nearly impossible. Welles himself said that he felt his follow-up film THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS was even better in some ways but it was so edited and chopped up that we may never know.

WCH - I cannot speak for Jackson, but my feeling about the Mouth of Sauron scene is that it shows that Aragorn no longer is willing to go through the motions of phony diplomacy - something which Sauron attempts to use only for his own purposes and is not any kind of real negotiation anyways. Aragorn recognizes this and knows that in minutes all hell will break loose so decides to rid Middle-earth of a rather large piece of garbage right there on the spot. Does that make him (in your words) a war criminal? Then we are back to the old internet discussion trap of a definition of terms.
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Old 09-04-2007, 07:41 AM   #56
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Tolkien Is it as good as the first time?

Here's looking at you, Esty.

Well, I had expected this thread to be about how repeated viewings and time bring a different perspective, rather than a rehash of the same old, same old.

Why do we watch films a second, third, repeated times? With a book, usualy it isthat we wish to contemplate deeper and richer meanings, pull things together with reflection in a way that is not possible on that first read? I don't think we try to recreate that first reading experience. With a movie, isn't that part of the inspiration to rewatch--in hopes of capturing again that visual delight?

So, what happens with Pajama Man's flicks when we rewatch them? Do subsequent viewings keep up our initial experience (whether it was delight or disappointment) or is it true that we can never go back again? Do we "get" things now that we didn't on a first watch--important things and not simply, "Oh yah, I caught that error that the Consistency Girl missed." Do the seams fall apart, with worn threads on hand me down viewings?

After all, if it is true that we live in Tolkien's long defeat, does that mean that it will never be as good (er, or bad) as it was the first time?
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Old 09-04-2007, 09:03 AM   #57
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WCH - I cannot speak for Jackson, but my feeling about the Mouth of Sauron scene is that it shows that Aragorn no longer is willing to go through the motions of phony diplomacy - something which Sauron attempts to use only for his own purposes and is not any kind of real negotiation anyways. Aragorn recognizes this and knows that in minutes all hell will break loose so decides to rid Middle-earth of a rather large piece of garbage right there on the spot. Does that make him (in your words) a war criminal? Then we are back to the old internet discussion trap of a definition of terms.
Even assuming that this were an entirely valid viewpoint, what entitled Jackson to completely reverse the way the author wrote the scene? This is not a cut-out-Bombadil or shorten-the-Council alteration, which constraints of time and medium necessitate. This scene uses the same sets, costumes, characters and screentime as the authentic scene- so wherein lay the necessity of changing it?

Setting aside definition-squabbles, it is an inherent part of Tolkien's message that one may not kill unlawfully or without need. Doesn't he emphasize this over and over? By all laws and traditions of war, ancient, modern, and in Middle-earth (as book-Mouth himself insists), heralds and ambassadors are sacrosanct.
But the PJ version is simple Might makes Right: I've got a big sword so I get to play Dirty Harry. How does this not differ from Orc-work? (cf. The New Shadow in HME XII). The authentic scene *emphasizes*, not undermines, the reasons why the Captains are, in fact, the Good Guys, and why Sauron is the Enemy not just politically but morally. It would have been splendid, especially with the acting firepower assembled, to watch the arrogant Mouth wilt beneath Aragorn's contempt: an expression of spiritual rather than physical superiority. This sort of reworking, indeed inversion, *with no cinematic imperative* reinforces the suspicion that PJ Just Doesn't Get It.

Another telling point is where Gandalf describes the 'possession' of Theoden as "an old trick of Saruman's. He's used it before." Oh, really? It seems PJ finds nothing incongruous that the leader of the White Council and the Heren Istarion, who had successfully pretended to be on the side of the angels until a few months previously, openly engaged in forcible possession of Eruhini? This act Tolkien unequivocally categorised as one of the very worst of all crimes, calling it "of Morgoth" and the practice of "Sauron and the necromancers;" yet apparently Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel etc were aware of this 'old trick' and condoned it. Again: Might Makes Right.
What on earth was wrong with Theoden's healing the way it was written? PJ could still have used the nifty age-morph effect, without Gandalf's deep-sea fishing, and the absurd Jackie Chan brawl that precedes it. If the scene needed visual punch, surely the lightning flash that flattens Wormtongue, and concomitant lighting effects (darkness and the ray of sunlight, and Theoden hobbling out into the open air) fills the bill?

It entirely escapes me how the requirements of a different medium mandate that a scene *in which the author made particular use of light and shadow- the essence of film* should be made over in such a radical fashion. Instead the suspicion arises that here as in the Denethor beatdown Hollywoodthink is ascendant: when in doubt, just clobber someone. If you're a Good Guy it's OK.
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Old 09-04-2007, 09:45 AM   #58
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WCH - you bring up a very good point regarding the Mouth of Sauron death. Had it been filmed the way that Tolkien wrote it in the book, perhaps it would have been great. We will never know (barring another effort someday). Again, I am not Peter Jackson or the writers so I cannot tell you with certainty why they decided to do it this way. I will offer this.

Tolkien wrote LOTR during the decade of the Forties. In that, he is much a product of his era. We all, to an extent, are. Even more than that, JRRT was also bound by even older traditions and values that were beginning to fade during his lifetime.
So to some extent, his writings are "out of time" or "out of sync" with post WWII developments in the arts. The rise of the anti-hero comes to mind as both a literary and cinematic trend which is not found in LOTR but which is found in spades in both mediums over the last fifty or more years.

It could be - and this is speculation on my part - that Jackson and company are also products of their times. It could be that the rigid code of the good guys simply appears dated and out of fashion with the code of the 21st century. I imagine an audience raised on Dirty Harry films and Charles Bronson revenge flicks hardly blinked an eye when Aragorn beheaded MoS. And it made Aragorn look like the righteous avenging angel of death who would not take any BS from an 100% evil baddie.

I can see the response coming - and I do not take issue with it. However, it seemed to be a crowd pleasing scene and certainly added to the finality of the Battle Before the Black Gate. After all, you just killed the emassary of Sauron and basically gave the finger to the entire land of Mordor just inches away from their borders. Its pretty much an "in your face" invitation to fight to the last man. That seemed to fit in with the entire sacrificial nature of the military strategy of marching to the Black Gates and is further emphasized as Aragorn leads the charge to certain death with the words "for Frodo".

All the great tales are told and retold through the prism of the generation that tells them and with the confines and realities of the time in history in which they are retold. LOTR is no different.

Regarding the words about Saruman and possession - you have a very good ear for detail. I have seen the films dozens of times and never picked that up as important. The way you explain it, you have a valid point of criticism. I just believe that 99% of the audience thinks nothing about it. Consider yourself ahead of the curve on that one.
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Old 09-04-2007, 12:54 PM   #59
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Well, I started this thread, and it just occurred to me that this was the first year since 1974 that I did not read the books starting in February. However, I did watch the movies in February. Which may mean that at least at a subconscious level I felt that the films were true enough to the books.

I did not mean for this to be a "bash Jackson and the films" thread. Maybe I did not make my own opinion clear enough in the beginning. I do enjoy the films, but I believe my preference is for the books. I believe that Jackson did tinker more with the characters the further on into the three films he went. And I believe that removing myself from the emotion as I saw the Shire and Bag End unveiled in the beginning of FOTR helps me to see the film in a more objective light, although it is practically impossible for me to watch LOTR and NOT get emotional again.

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Old 09-04-2007, 02:31 PM   #60
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Why do we watch films a second, third, repeated times? With a book, usualy it isthat we wish to contemplate deeper and richer meanings, pull things together with reflection in a way that is not possible on that first read?
Do we really re-watch films for a fundamentally different reason than that for which for re-read books? Speaking for myself, the motivation is the same in both cases - moreover, the motivation is quite simple: if I enjoy reading a book or watching a movie once, I'll probably enjoy it again. It's true that when I re-read my favorite books, I sometimes discover new layers of meaning, and this in turn motivates further re-readings - but this is also true of my favorite movies. Every re-reading of LotR yields new delights, but so does every re-viewing of 2001, for instance.

As for an attempt to "recapture the original viewing experience" - I'm not sure what this means beyond simply experiencing again the pleasure induced by the movie (which of course is the whole reason to watch it at all). The same surely applies to books.
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:23 AM   #61
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You could be right that there isn't a substantial difference between re-reading books and re-viewing movies. Yet the habit of revisiting movies is a fairly new ability, short of paying again at theatres. I seem to recall that it was Star Wars which really created this trend as much of its profits arose initially from patrons who returned to the theatre to see it again and again and again. And then of course the new video technology made it possible to treat movies as easily as books. Perhaps for those born post-SW there is no difference.

I also know people who rewatch movies in order to laugh at them the harder. After the first viewing, it seems the "semes" show up more for such viewers. I don't know any readers who reread books in order to make fun of them or find their faults--unless it is critics and academics who rake them over professionally.

Then again, rereading or re-viewing from the perspective of knowing how it all ends provides a different experience from that of sussing out all the clues together before one knows the 'answer.' All depends I suppose on what one does when one reads/watches.
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:37 AM   #62
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StW:

What you say about the antihero and the modern audience is an interesting point- but it seems to me that Jackson (& Walsh & Boyens) were rather schizophrenic in this case. After all, they spent a very great deal of effort (and screentime) reworking Aragorn as the reluctant nolo regi sort, I would assume because they reckoned modern filmgoing audience would dislike Tolkien's Man of Destiny. But then this approach to the revised character doesn't really square with the badass- it's as if Eastwood's reluctant gunfighter of Unforgiven suddenly morphed into Harry Callaghan.

This I think (in my personal opinion) to have been mistaken. Tolkien's original surge of popularity hit during the late 60's precisely among the same folks who were protesting American 'imperialism' in Vietnam and the like: yet the hippies didn't seem to mind the Returning King as written. And this was a generation raised on Hemingway and Salinger and Faulkner. As Tolkien was at pains to point out, there's nothing wrong with fairy-tales, even for adults; and that includes fairy-tale heroes like Aragorn. We're not expected to identify with him: that's what the hobbits are there for.

******

Another perplexing moral inversion occurred to me- especially perplexing in that the scene and the very dialogue are reprised from the book, but turned on their heads. In the movie, as the Three Hunters in Fangorn become aware of the mysterious old man,
Quote:
Aragorn: 'We must act quickly, before he can put a spell on us'
whereuopn the three attempt an ambush (naturally unsuccessful).

Compare this to Tolkien's version:
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Then suddenly, unable to contain himself longer, [Gimli] burst out: 'Your bow, Legolas! Bend it! Get ready! It is Saruman. Do not let him speak, or put a spell upon us! Shoot first!'

Legolas took his bow and bent it, slowly and as if some other will resisted him. He held an arrow loosely in his hand but did not fit it to the string. Aragorn stood silent; his face was watchful and intent.

'Why are you waiting? What is the matter with you?' said Gimli in a hissing whisper.

'Legolas is right,' said Aragorn quietly. 'We may not shoot an old man so, at unawares and unchallenged, whatever fear or doubt be on us. Watch and wait!'
If there is one single overriding theme of the Lord of the Rings it is that the end never justifies the means- that the moral course is the only course, no matter what self-interest or even the Greater Good might dictate. Anything else is a form, greater or lesser, of Boromirism. The *whole point* of the Ring is that Might never, ever makes Right.
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:59 AM   #63
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from WilliamCH

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Tolkien's original surge of popularity hit during the late 60's precisely among the same folks who were protesting American 'imperialism' in Vietnam and the like: yet the hippies didn't seem to mind the Returning King as written. And this was a generation raised on Hemingway and Salinger and Faulkner.
You are correct in that statement. However, we are discussing the change of things as they happened in the movies. For that it is important to remember two things: 1) the time the books were written by JRRT and the mores and values that he subsribed to as a man of his time, and 2) the films were released in the 21st century - a good two generations removed from the hippie era you refer to. The vast majority of the movie crowd came of age long after the Sixties were dead and gone.

I really do not want to get into a huge sidebar here, but being 58 years old and having lived through this period, the idea that everyone between ages 16 and 29 was running around for several years with shoulder length hair, beads, fringe jackets and smoking dope is a gross misreprentation of the period. It is no more accurate than saying all young male African-Americans today are rappers or gangsta's.

But that is a topic for some other forum.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:23 AM   #64
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StW:

If there is one single overriding theme of the Lord of the Rings it is that the end never justifies the means- that the moral course is the only course, no matter what self-interest or even the Greater Good might dictate. Anything else is a form, greater or lesser, of Boromirism. The *whole point* of the Ring is that Might never, ever makes Right.
This is an excellent point, and one in which I am in full agreement. The book form of Faramir, compared to that of the film version, is another example of Jackson and crew missing one of the, if not THE most important, messages of the book, by changing his character. They should not have changed the character of Faramir at all, and neither was it necessary to change the scene when Gandalf first appears to the Three Hunters.

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Old 09-08-2007, 12:59 AM   #65
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Well, it's good to see that some folks are sticking to their guns, both pro and con, down the long haul. There's nothing like consistency.

Since filmmaker types always like to talk about their journey on a particular film, I'll talk about my journey with the LotR films.

If you check back through the dusty catacombs of the archives and look at posts from a Time Before the Films, you'll find Mister Underhill in there advocating cautious optimism about them, vigorously sparring with the hard-liners who contended that they should never have been made -- without having seen a single frame, just on principle. I still to this day wonder if Inziladun kept his vow to never see them.

Having as I do a bit more than a layman's knowledge about the filmmaking process -- especially when it comes to adaptations -- I even expected and agreed that there ultimately would be significant alterations made in the transition from novel to film. I was one of the first ones out there carrying the banner of "Judge the films as films!"

So, the movies came out. Fans laughed. Fans cried. Fans made music videos and devised krazy kaptions.

I had a few nits to pick with FotR, but overall I thought it was a pretty fair adaptation. Sure, it tilted towards action-blockbuster, but was that really a surprise? Anyway, I like action as much as the next guy, and there is good action in Tolkien after all. When Sam bashed an orc with a saucepan in the Chamber of Mazarbul, I laughed; when Gandalf fell I cried. The EE DVD came out, and I thought it was even better.

I was less forgiving with TTT. Interestingly, by the time it premiered, I'd had more time with the FotR DVD, and its flaws had started to show. More on that in a moment. Gollum exceeded all expectations, and I enjoyed the spectacle of Helm's Deep (excepting certain unlikely Elvish combat maneuvers of course), but -- well, no need to rehash old arguments. In my view, there were flaws. Deep ones. TTT EE -- meh... better, but not in a way that fundamentally changed its flawed nature.

By the time RotK rolled around, I think I had reached the stage of Acceptance. I enjoyed the spectacle, and with wayward plot elements inevitably drawing back towards certain surefire sequences and emotional moments, it could only go uphill after the nadir of TTT... and jeez this post is getting long. Downs-withdrawal these past moths, I guess.

So I'll move this along. CUT TO: Now!

I am, if anything, more sympathetic than ever to the chaos that affects any movie production, let alone one of the size, scope, and ambition of LotR. There are literally thousands of possible reasons for why a decision might be made to change X, Y, or Z. Given that, the movies are, if nothing else, an amazing achievement of logistics and intrepidity, and I am inclined to be more forgiving now, in some ways, about some things, than I was when the films were released.

But.

The thing that bugs me most about PJ and LotR is that when it comes to a choice between logic and a gag, he'll go with the gag every time.

For this reason, it's my opinion that his films are designed in such a way that they become less satisfying with repeated viewings, rather than more. I might get a shock or a thrill or a laugh out of a fundamentally illogical gag the first time I see it, or it might help to smooth me past a questionable plot point, but when I watch it again and again, the gag only jars me. It makes me think of a line from a Raymond Chandler story: "From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away."

I think I'd probably have a more favorable view of the movies if I'd only watched them once, from that "distance" of a first viewing.

Nowadays, I sometimes flip them in to watch particular scenes, the ones where the spectacle is totally kewl, and the ones where they got the moment completely right. For all the controversy over whether Gandalf slipped or let go, I thought they really nailed his fall in Moria and its immediate aftermath. But there are parts -- long stretches in TTT, especially -- that I find completely unwatchable.
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Old 09-08-2007, 08:45 PM   #66
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.....in whose eyes?

Underhill, Bethberry Nice to see you around.

As of summer 2007: My chief delight in the movies is that my sons can watch them and gain some (partial) understanding of Where Mom Comes From. They're too young yet for the books, so for me the movies are a godsend. Someday they'll be ready for the books, and then a whole new depth of nobility, virtue, and even holiness will open up to them; I'm looking forward to that.

But in the meantime, I'm glad they've got the movies-- even with flambuoyant Legolas, oscillating half-aged Frodo, belching Gimli, and some tomatoes thrown in. Maturity will come with time. They'll love the books when they are ready for them. Their english is almost good enough now that I could start reading them The Hobbit for a bedtime story. Hmmmmmm. They love the cartoon. There's another place where there's far more meat in the books than in the movie, or in this case the cartoon. But that doesn't make the cartoon a flop.

Meanwhile my nephew has instantiated himself as a hobbit-burglar in some vast online game, and has reread The Hobbit to refresh his skills. And all my nephews play Middle-Earth Risk together. Proud Auntie.
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Old 09-12-2007, 01:33 PM   #67
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Mister Underhill,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Something within its contents made me think of something my wife and I do occasionally, and that is we will find ourselves quoting lines from the movie, such as Pippin's incredulous, "But what about second breakfast?" in FotR. Although that is not a line lifted directly from the book, it is a line that I as a lover of the books am completely satisfied with in the movie for it does not change the character but actually reinforces Tolkien's view, which in this case is that hobbits love to eat, and they eat as many meals a day as they can.

I do really like the movies, and my only real complaint is the way so many of the major characters had their, well, character changed and for no really good reason at all.
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Old 09-12-2007, 03:08 PM   #68
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TT was on Channel 4 on Sunday and I had it on while doing other stuff - maybe that in itself says something, that the films are 'background noise' now rather than things to sit down in front of and seriously watch? But I digress...

It was with TT that I started to get the 'ump with Mr Jackson. It was here that he really altered the story - and I don't mean by leaving out this or that character or scene, but he altered it so much that it became 'his' not 'Tolkien's'. This in itself I would not feel quite so annoyed about but he was so inconsistent in his storytelling! I found myself tutting and asking myself what else I expected of someone who was known for making Zombie films.

An example? When Frodo holds up the Ring to one of the Nazgul at Osgiliath. It's not in the story of course, but what really did it for me was that had he done this, it would have made the rest of the story, even as presented/re-interpreted by Jackson, inconsistent. I don't like that to this day, I can't reconcile it, despite many discussions, including some here. I keep thinking that if they did something like this with an episode of Doctor Who the discussion boards would be going ape about rubbish writing, and I'd be right - many people who saw the films but had not read the books brought this exact problem up with me and I failed entirely to explain it. Because it is was inexplicable.

I am still annoyed about things like that now. The only way I can deal with it is by looking away or skipping scenes - it's like when a TV show has a scene of an operation on it...
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:30 AM   #69
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Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy was on TV again this past weekend. Strangely, I found that, for once, I *couldn't* watch it. Not sure why.

It's like I was actively trying to avoid it, almost as if to continue watching would be painful in some way. A reminder of how much time has past since it was released? The differences between the books and the movies?

Thoughts?
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:43 AM   #70
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I still to this day wonder if Inziladun kept his vow to never see them.
Well, he's back, so maybe he can tell us.
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:54 AM   #71
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I watched the extended editions all in a row on Saturday and I was left feeling quite empty...

I was bored ("oh, it's this scene, I'll go make some tea for us" or "how many minutes will this battle scene still last?").

And kind of sad someone like PJ made the films. It almost made me cry how he and his team have no eye for nuances at all, everything has to be big and blasting, either good or evil, and every single thing has to be explained to the viewer as if to a stupid kid. On the other hand it made me realise that however much Tolkien has been accused of writing black and white fantasy he has an amazing amount of nuances in his work (unlike some others!)

And then, I have to say I admired the film makers' eye for dramatic scenes. You can't really be cynical in the end of the Two Towers when the Rohirrim ride out in one last desperate attempt and Gandalf and Éomer appear.

But then again, Tolkien did that before them and even more impressively. When I last read LotR in July I cried my eyes out at the Pelennor fields.


PS. This thread is about the same topic: A Sad Experience. I quite agree what I said there 1,5 years ago.
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:56 PM   #72
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I was bored ("oh, it's this scene, I'll go make some tea for us" or "how many minutes will this battle scene still last?").
This is what usually happens when I watch them. All of those films get considerably shorter than they were to begin with because I only watch the bits that I really like and those that are more faithful to Tolkien than others. I completely skip over the big battle scenes because they just aren't as exciting as they used to be. Peter Jackson effectively turned some very deep books into action films. Thanks PJ.
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:11 PM   #73
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Tolkien

Though I liked the films when they were released, and had fun at line parties and Trilogy Tuesday, subsequent watching burned me out on them. I went to see Fellowship about 8 times, and Two Towers 5 times, but Return of the King twice. Likewise, I watched the extended DVDs only a few times, with me usually falling asleep during them. They now collect dust on the DVD shelf.

Sadly, the movies burned me out on reading the books for a long time. I did read the books once in 2004 to clear my head of PJ's imagery and re-establish my own that I created in my head from the time I first read Lord of the Rings in 1975. Fortunately, most of my visions remained unscathed, and were even enhanced in the case of Boromir and maybe Gollum. I struggled a bit to clear my head of Cate as Galadriel, but did thanks to a good friend of mine who dressed herself as Galadriel and sent me a photo. I read it again this year and all was back to the way it should be.

I have to say that the movies were what they were, and are what they are, and I really have no desire to watch them again, like so many other movies. If I'm going to watch an old movie, it will be Cross of Iron or Kelly's Heroes or Holy Grail or Casablanca.... not the Lord of the Rings. About the most I watch of them anymore is when they are on broadcast TV and I tune in for a bit while some other show is running a commercial.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:41 PM   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar View Post
Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy was on TV again this past weekend. Strangely, I found that, for once, I *couldn't* watch it. Not sure why.

It's like I was actively trying to avoid it, almost as if to continue watching would be painful in some way. A reminder of how much time has past since it was released? The differences between the books and the movies?

Thoughts?
My daughter was watching it for awhile on TV, but in between the thousands of commercials (damnable Orkish marketers!) I just watched while doing other things. And it was not the extended version, rather, it was the movie version, so there was no Mouth of Sauron when the Black Gates opened. I also watched the infamous 'green scrubbling bubbles' scene, and it was just as irritating as the last time I saw it. Great cinematography, great bigatures, but deplorable scripting.

Funny thing, I can watch Lawrence of Arabia, another movie with remarkable cinematography, once a year, but I can't even sit through Return of the King.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:38 AM   #75
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Though I liked the films when they were released, and had fun at line parties and Trilogy Tuesday, subsequent watching burned me out on them. I went to see Fellowship about 8 times, and Two Towers 5 times, but Return of the King twice. Likewise, I watched the extended DVDs only a few times, with me usually falling asleep during them. They now collect dust on the DVD shelf.
This sounds painfully familiar, though I eschewed Trilogy Tuesday and have thrown out some of the DVDs. What collects dust on my shelf is an unopened, still in the wrapper CD of the RotK soundtrack. My original reactions to the films were clearly trackable by the number of times I was willing to spend money to see them, which if I'm remembering right was about the same as Snowdog's. I was willing to overlook most of the flaws in Jackson's FotR at first because that was the film that stuck most closely to the spirit of the books — and I was holding to the hope that, since there was time, things might get better (like, maybe he would give us a good reason for why he felt Aragorn needed to be a spineless ne'er-do-well). They didn't, and with my hope went my respect for the whole thing. It looked good, sometimes it sounded good, but Jackson increasingly showed that the heart he had designed for it was one of cold cash. A lot of RotK plain didn't make sense from any other standpoint. He'd tossed out Tolkien's books by that point and was winging it to appeal to the commercial audiences that would ring up profits and awards. My interest in the films deteriorated so quickly after those initial viewings, I sat in a TORn chartroom on Oscar night actively rooting for RotK to lose. Didn't do any good, alas. This as well as my editorials on the subject indicate my feelings on the matter.

Now, when I see the films in the TV listings, I might look in to see where they are, but only if it's either FotR or in the early parts of TTT (or close to the very end. I like the looks of the "cavalry comes at dawn" scene). I ignore RotK completely. I never listen to the soundtracks anymore. But my love for the books has never waned. In fact, if it hadn't been for the films, I might never have plowed through a couple of the HoME books. Shows how desperate I was for the Real Thing to wash the gunk of Jackson out of my brain. I wistfully wish that someone would do a decent remake, but I fear it won't happen in my lifetime.

Ah, well.
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Old 09-16-2010, 02:22 PM   #76
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Don't believe I think any differently about the movies now than I did back then. When FotR came out I went to see it twice in the theatres and loved it. Just the other day I watched the first half of the EE again curled up with some hot tea and a blanket nursing a cold. The novelty's gone now but I enjoyed it (especially the first part in the Shire) although I didn't have the patience to sit it through this time. But I never really watch films repeatedly anyway, hardly even once these days. However, I still think PJ did an excellent job with the first film. It was much, much better than what I had expected beforehand.

I liked TTT also, but to a lesser degree. I don't really have anything principally against the plot changes that were made and for me they often made the experience of watching the films for the first time more enjoyable because with them there was a sense of not knowing what's next, something that would be missing if the films were completely faithful to the books. Some changes did make me cringe, others were rather enjoyable. Examples of things I didn't mind are the Elves at Helm's deep, Arwens extended role, Pip and Merry and even Gimli as comical side-kicks... (though some Gimi-jokes were horrible, granted...)

By the time RotK came out the novelty of Lord Of the Rings-films had worn out for me and I didn't even bother to go and watch it in the theatres. Didn't like the looks of it in trailers and to be honest, I don't think I've watched it in its entirety even once, although I have seen all of the the movie-version in different sittings. And I didn't care much for it. Too loud and stupid and obvious.

Another reason I liked the first film best and the last film worst could be that my preference with the books is the same. I have read FotR more then ten times surely and always enjoy it immensely. RotK maybe only three times and with less enjoyment (though I do like it). TTT maybe five or six times and I adore some chapters in this one but care less for others.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:21 AM   #77
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LotR is like that friend* of convenience that is no longer convenient. You know, that friendship that came about because you and the other person cohabited a particular time-space moment. You were in the same class at school, and when the semester ended, so did the relationship. You worked together in the same office, played on the same sports team, etc.

It was the circumstances that held you together; when it dissolved, so did the bond.

That's how I can best explain my feelings towards LotR.

*Note that I use the word 'friend' loosely here. My personal definition of the word friend is one who, upon receiving your Red Arrow, jumps on his/her horse and starts riding to your aid at that very moment.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:46 AM   #78
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Do you think it has anything to do with having gone over them with a fine-tooth comb for the SbS and beyond? You know, like maybe over-familiarity breeds contempt?

I haven't watched the films in a long time either. I used to be a big re-watcher of movies, but lately when I have precious movie time (i.e., no babbling little hobbit about), I find that I usually crave something that I haven't seen yet.
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:15 AM   #79
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Hmm. First time I watched them when I was 11, "Mommy, I'm scared!".
Second time when I was 16, "Hmm, it's pretty cool."
Third time when I was 16, "Hey, this is great!"
Fourth and fifth time, "Er...it deviates FAR too much from the book."

In the middle I became more obsessed with the movies than the books, but then after a while I just got over my movie obsession because they forgot too many facts, changed too many personalities, and turned the story into something almost completely different. They're cool movies, but they're not 'Lord of the Rings' per se.
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:24 AM   #80
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Do you think it has anything to do with having gone over them with a fine-tooth comb for the SbS and beyond? You know, like maybe over-familiarity breeds contempt?
If you know me, you know that I have contempt for everything...

But it's funny, when now and then I've gone back to read some of the SbS posts, it takes a moment to realize that that was *me* writing those! I have almost no recollection of working on that project (that was a blurry time with new and little children, living in a zombie stupor from one moment to the next).

So I don't think that that's it. It's the only movie (trilogy) for which I've done anything like the SbS, and there's other movies that are friends of convenience, so...

Quote:
I haven't watched the films in a long time either. I used to be a big re-watcher of movies, but lately when I have precious movie time (i.e., no babbling little hobbit about), I find that I usually crave something that I haven't seen yet.
With so many little hobbits about, practically *everything* is something we haven't seen yet (or remember seeing).
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