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Old 10-30-2006, 02:40 PM   #1
Fordim Hedgethistle
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Good Changes

Hmmm...I did a search for a thread like the one I want to start here but I couldn't find anything precisely the same. There was one that is awfully close to what I would like to suggest, but not quite close enough...I think.

We've all read the threads and posts that slam the movies, or that take issue with particular changes made by PJ et al. This is going to be different. I would like to find out what changes you think were made from the book that intelligently and artistically transferred the tale to its new medium. I'm not asking for things that you preferred in the movie necessarily, but changes that were made in the film because PJ et al found a really good way to make a point in film that they simply could not have made any other way.

For example: I really appreciate the reasons for having the Elves show up at Helm's Deep. There have been howls of protest over this choice from book purists and I agree that it radically alters the story in ways that perhaps weaken the characterisation of the Elves, and obfuscate the depth of the mistrust that exists between the Free Peoples...

but

PJ et al made an intelligent choice in doing this, insofar as it gave them a way of showing how the struggle against Sauron was not just carried out by Rohan and Gondor. If the Elves had not shown up, the presumption would have been that they were hunkering down in Lorien safe and secure while the Men did all the dirty work. They could have done some kind of montage or plot explication later telling everyone "Oh, by the way, the Elves fought a bit too," but that would lack dramatic imperative and not really make the point that the Elves were fighting for their lives and sacficing themselves as well.

Another change I think entirely justified was in shifting Shelob's appearance to much later in the narrative -- it maintained the chronology of events and gave Frodo and Sam a lot more to do (in filmic terms) than they would otherwise have had if the third film had simply shown them slogging it out toward Mount Doom. If the action had intercut between them (walking/suffering) and the War (action/heroism) the hobbits would have looked really, really boring and we would have had no sense of the struggle -- I mean, really, would you have wanted to watch 45 mins of Frodo saying, "It's so heavy!" and Sam offering to carry it?

OK -- so what else did they do really well? And remember:

  1. No flaming the movies
  2. Don't just say what you liked or was cool
  3. Focus on changes that make filmic sense, i.e. that successfully translate a part of the book that could not have been "shown" otherwise
  4. No flaming
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Old 10-31-2006, 09:25 AM   #2
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Great idea for a thread.

I'll start off with a quick Change that worked well for me not only film wise but also (gasp!) from a book perspective plot wise.

Aragorn let Frodo go. He relaised the pull of the Ring, and Frodo obviously realised this too. That was one of Frodo's reasons for leaving the fellowship. For Aragorn to follow Pippin and Merry to save them from torment is noble and works (just) in the books for me (as did Gandalf's decision to save Faramir) - because there was no one else to help them so he must .

But for me this would not work for average movie goers who have not read the books. they'd be wondering - hang on, they're just two silly hobbits - he needs to help frodo and sam get rid of the Ring!

To give him another reason behind this worked REALLY well for me....

more to follow when I think of other good Changes 'filmically' wise. One that crops up in my head is the lighting of the Beacon by pippin - this lets us see the wonderful scene of the beacons being lit. we could not have just popped over to minas tirith and watch the beacons being lit without our main characters being there and explaining (again to mr average movie goer) where they were etc and why the beacons needed to be lit.
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Old 10-31-2006, 10:30 AM   #3
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It makes little sense to me that the Witch King, in the book, employs both a horse and a fell beast as steeds in the assault on Minas Tirith. Why ride out from Minas Morgul and into battle on a horse when you have a fell beast at your disposal? And how did his fell beast get to the Pelennor? Did it, riderless, accompany the other Nazgul present, or was a small detachment of Orcs and/or Trolls deputised to lead it there? And, when a horse has sufficed for the siege of Minas Tirith and the confrontation with Gandalf, why suddenly switch to the fell beast when the Riders of Rohan pitch up? Wouldn’t that waste time?

To my mind, it seems far more credible that he would choose one steed upon which to ride to war and stick to that.

Jackson’s choice of the fell beast, to my mind, makes sense in the context of the film. While the confrontation between the Witch King on his horse and Gandalf atop Shadowfax at the Gate of Minas Tirith is dramatically compelling in literary terms and has a nice symmetry about it, the Witch King’s appearance on the ramparts to confront Gandalf in the film is visually spectacular (whatever views one might have on the ensuing scene). Similarly, with regard to his encounter with Theoden on the Pelennor Fields. And, of course, it would not have done at all for Eowyn to sever the head of a horse, Mordor steed or not.
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Old 10-31-2006, 10:43 AM   #4
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Dark-Eye Hopefully I follow the 4 rules above...

OK! Where to start... Aha!
1. Where Aragorn says "for Frodo" with tears in his eyes as he charges off was spectacular ! Also, of course the fight scene was fantastic.

2. Aragorn's speech (i do not know how it went in the book) was also terrific. It got me pumped up.

3. And the scene with the Mouth of Sauron, although not fulfilling in the end, was also great. It turned a boring encounter with one of Sauron's servants into a meeting with one of the Eye's most feared lieutenants. They made the Mouth of Sauron look great!

4. I also really liked the coming of the Host of the Eldar to Helm's Deep to aid the men of Rohan who were scared and to the point of hopelessness. The march into there, with the music and everything, was very impressive.

5. No Tom Bombadil? Whatever. The scene where Saruman sees his army off to Helm's Deep was worth it. Just watch it again, and you will see what I mean.

6. An alright change to Saruman's death. The scene was tops when Theoden did his "we will have peace" speech. But I doubt that Legolas could shoot Saruman, who is standing a mile above him, a speck on a black tower.

Thats what I got for now...
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Old 10-31-2006, 12:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
To my mind, it seems far more credible that he would choose one steed upon which to ride to war and stick to that.
I agree. I think the reason why he does this in the book is that he will be the first foe ever to ride through the gates of Minas Tirith. So it was a symbolic gesture from the WK in going through the gates on his horse. And probably a symbolic gesture to his troops to ride out at the head of the army with them from minas morgul rather than on his fell beast.

therefore getting off his fell beast and riding through the gate on a horse would not have worked film wise without narration to explain him being the first foe through the gates.
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:38 PM   #6
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SpM, well back in the day knights would bring several horses with them onto battle (2-3 usually). One would be carrying all the armor, one would be the 'battle-horse' and there would be another one...sort of like a spare horse. But, I don't know about knights bringing to battle a horse and an eagle.

To tag on to ninja here:
Quote:
1. Where Aragorn says "for Frodo" with tears in his eyes as he charges off was spectacular ! Also, of course the fight scene was fantastic.
I also enjoyed having both Merry and Pippin at the battle at the Black Gate. I heard some people grumbling about how Merry's injured and he's not supposed to be out there. But I like the visual symbolism, plus I felt Aragorn's speech and the entire scene was done well. I absolutely loved how when Aragorn said 'For Frodo' Merry and Pippin were the first one's to charge out there. With only Pippin there (as it was done in the books) I don't think the scene would have been as effective.
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:53 PM   #7
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Now that Sauce has joined the thread I can post this one:

I think that PJ et al showed some real perspicacity when they decided to put in the fight with the wargs and Aragorn's subsequent and supposed "death". This accomplished a lot in the film that otherwise would have remained only in the book:

1) Aragorn is not invincible: in book and movie, Aragorn is a one man killing machine, born leader and generally instantly beloved by all. But in the book he is a man who doubts himself and who lives constantly with fear and doubt. This is accomplished in the book through narrative and dialogue. To have Aragorn pausing every 20 mins in the film to say "we might fail! Our hope is slender! I am not sure of my own judgement!" would have rendered him pretty whiny. It also would not be credible -- "uhhhhh, we just say you take on 100 Uruks and win...and now you don't think you can pull this off???" By having him disappear in the film it reinforces that he is very human and can easily die; it also reinforces the terrible blow that such a loss would represent by allowing characters to react to his death. Remember when Gimli tells Eowyn "He fell." -- wow. Now that's great movie making.

2) Aragorn's descent into the underworld. In the book this is accomplished through the Paths of the Dead. Narratively, he disappears from view to the readers and passes through death to emerge into life. In the film they showed that sequence in much greater detai (to make is meaningful, and to keep audience's abreast of the plot). The result is that they lose their hero's journey through death -- so brilliantly, they put in an earlier sequence in which he goes through death and rebirth to give that "back" to Aragorn. And then jaw-droppingly smart -- they made sure to use that moment to indicate what Arwen means to him and to the story, and to create more of an arc to his tale by having that return from death occur earlier in the narrative. Such a moment would have only stalled the forward rush of narrative in the third film, but fits perfectly in the mid-point of the second film -- a genuine turning point.

3) There's more monsters than just orcs out there. In the book we are given long descriptions and commentary on the vast array of forces, creatures and beings that have been made or drawn to Sauron's service. The films do a good job of demonstrating some of this variety, but its somewhat harder to do visually. The third film does the best job of this with the introduction of the army invading Gondor, but in the second film all we've seen are orcs, orcs and more orcs. Having the wargs show up is a nice reminder that Mordor and Saruman have a lot more weapons in their arsenals than just these orcs -- who by this point in the second film aren't really that terrible anymore. Remember how Aragorn took out 100 of them in single combat at Amon Hen (and by the way, the moment when Aragorn strides toward that mob of Uruks, grimly smiling and then SALUTES them...I actually said aloud in the theatre, "This is not just a lone Man you're facing, he is Aragorn, son of Arathorn." I got hushed. I didn't care.)

4) The wargs look great. (Remember Sauce -- no flaming.)
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
SpM, well back in the day knights would bring several horses with them onto battle (2-3 usually).
... as every film-goer knows ...

I think that having the Witch-King switch from horse to fell beast during the battle would have risked causing confusion. And a fell beast is both more spectacular (visually) and more terrifying than a horse, even a black steed.

Perhaps the Mouth of Sauron should have ridden out on a fell beast too - the Aragorn could have lopped its head off, rather than the Mouth's.
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
The wargs look great
Grrr ...

I love the concept of a battle with Warg-riders, it's just that ... [censored].
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Old 10-31-2006, 02:01 PM   #10
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The one thing that sticks in my mind , and I feel I have to mention it because I have had enough negative things to say about Frodo and Sam in particular, but I did like the way they made the paralel to Elrond and Isildur, with Sam and Frodo at the cracks of doom. And not just becasue it gave another glimpse of Hugo Weaving in armour...
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Old 10-31-2006, 02:04 PM   #11
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Hmmm. I'm going to find this mildly difficult, but not insuperable.

Grima Wormtongue in general, and in particular his gaining of the bower speech. I enjoyed Grima's hyperbolic, almost comic, power over Theoden, and so had no objection to the infamous Beard of Theoden either.

Also...controversial...I don't in retrospect mind the changes to Faramir's plotline in the least, as they are consistent with the book character.
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Old 11-01-2006, 09:20 AM   #12
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what about the Pumpkin scene at the end of ROTK?

lovely scene, the hobbits have saved the world and are now back to normal sitting in the pub. all the other hobbits are far more interested in a big pumpkin rather than what our hobbits have done, even though as Gandalf says they are "Grown indeed very high; among the great you are"

Very clever piece of filming from PJ and co

and of course the 'you bow to no one' scene building up on Aragorn bending down on one knee to them at the field of Cormallen and transposing this to Minas Tirith and having the whole of the city bow down to them. I cried like a baby the first time I saw it in the Cinema. My FAVOURITE part of the whole film Trilogy
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:11 PM   #13
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If the "no flaming" rule wasn't in place, I wouldn't dare post this...

I honestly think that Arwen's expanded role in the movies works fairly well. There are some glitches, and she does sometimes seem to appear a little too frequently, but overall, it makes filmmaking sense.

I like that she was the one to take Frodo to the Ford (It would have been preferable for Frodo to ride alone, but if someone was going to take him, I'm glad it was Arwen. Honestly to have Glorfindel appear out of nowhere wouldn't make storytelling sense, since he pretty much vanishes afterward.

Arwen needs screen time. Aragorn's love can't be some mysterious figure off to the side. It just doesn't work for some girl to show up at the end of ROTK and marry him. She needs to be a presence all along, so I think that works quite well in the movie.

I also think that the Scouring of the Shire is better left untouched. From a filmmaking perspective, it's best to let the action fall again after the climax, to let the resolution follow through to the end of the movie instead of having another peak as soon as the Hobbits return. It would leave the audience bemused and wondering what, exactly, that part was there for. It does nothing to further the plot, and in fact works to backtrack the plot. Just when you think it's over, you have to build up to another conflict, another battle, and then you can carry on to the end. In the book, it's not so bad. It's not nearly as jarring as it would be at the end of the movie. Just one of those differences between page and screen.

And besides, I think it's nice to have a little corner of LOTR completely untouched by PJ's image of it through the movies. It's not that the movies have taken over my imagination, but fundamental things are changed from my first perceptions. So it's nice in a way to have some things left out entirely from that perspective.

I also understand Faramir's character changes. I was angry in the beginning but by the time I'd finished my second viewing of TTT, I had realized that what happened made movie sense: it kept the pacing and tension up, as opposed to letting that fall and risk loss of momentum towards the end. It also makes character sense by the end (helped by the TTT EE.) Book Faramir and Movie Faramir are two different people, but both are valid for different reasons. When on a reading marathon, it can be nice to take a break from fear and tension in a storyline, because you've still got hundreds and hundreds of pages to go before you reach the real end...but in the TTT movie, there isn't so much time between the capture of the Hobbits and the end of the movie, and they needed a way to keep the picture from losing steam at a crucial moment.

I'm not sure as this is a change, as chronologically it's in the proper place, but the move of Shelob from TTT to ROTK made a lot of sense, too. Chronologically, where they put the spider in the movie is about where she was in the books. So perhaps it's more of a correction than anything else. The split at the end of TTT is in an awkward place, because all three were meant to be read as one long book. At least in the movies, there is some slight resolution: Frodo sees the light, as does Faramir, and the Hobbits are released. Isengard is destroyed, and the good guys win out at Helm's Deep. Then there's the bait, in order to get moviegoers to come back the next year: a dark hint at Shelob.
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Old 11-08-2006, 06:36 PM   #14
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It is not exactly a change, but I thought it should be mentioned... I really like the way the characters fight, specially Aragorn. He is the King of Gondor, the Ranger... and yet he punches, head-butts and hacks his way through the enemy lines. No dancing like a ballerina while seemingly effortlessly cutting through orc after orc after Mouth Of Sauron.

I think it's very realistic.
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Old 11-12-2006, 07:26 PM   #15
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I really hope I'm not venturing into "flaming" territory, but I want to be very blunt here. You can’t really, IMHO Say that something done to LOTR is a good change. There are only three kinds of changes, interesting ones, necessary ones, and ones that just make you go; what the…..huh?!?!? For example Tom Bombadil is a cut that only makes sense, as good a part as it is, it can be removed with out really damaging the story in any way, and saves time as do many others and i respect those. If I had to do the same I only hope I could do as good ajob that way. The rest just seem unnecessary, like stings scabbard done in brown instead of black or anything else like that. Why do it?? I just don't get it.



Sorry if I offend, Just MHO.


-EDIT

I do like this one though, for the same reasons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doug*platypus
Boromir was a thoroughly more likeable character in the movies than the book. This makes "filmic" sense to me in that it makes his descent to ring-hungry bully at the end of FOTR is all the more tragic.


EDTI Again!

I was just thinking about other peoples comments about Boromir and remembered just how much I really did like him in the film. I did like the way he was done in the film, and that makes my previous statements rather awkward....
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Old 11-12-2006, 09:09 PM   #16
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Pipe

As posted on the "other" thread (link provided by Fordim in first post), there are two changes to the books which I actually approve of (what's that, like 0.000001%?).

Boromir was a thoroughly more likeable character in the movies than the book. This makes "filmic" sense to me in that it makes his descent to ring-hungry bully at the end of FOTR is all the more tragic.

Secondly, PJ changing (or making obscure) the exact nature of pipeweed. It's "the finest weed in the South Farthing" and Gandalf's "love of the halfling's leaf" slows his mind in Saruman's estimation. It's a very humorous change, in my opinion, and a welcome one, although it begs to ask the question "would the Professor have approved"? No, quite probably!

BTW, let me know if I'm coming completely out of left field with the weed comment. IMHO the movie certainly seemed to allude to illicit substances. Lawks, I hope this kind of talk doesn't get me banned!! Well, it was nice knowing you all...
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Old 11-12-2006, 09:28 PM   #17
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Okay, I have thought of another change that was well done. At the Prancing Pony, in the movie we are not aware that the hobbits have pulled the old room switcheroo. The shot of the Nazgûl creeping in and stabbing at the beds is quite a shock, then! Well done. I also particularly like the shot of the five Nazgûl at Weathertop surround the hobbits and, as one, levelling their swords at them. Chilling. Although the rest of that scene leaves something to be desired (was that a flame?)...
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Old 11-13-2006, 03:27 AM   #18
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Actually, that Nazgûl attack scene at the Prancing Pony was lifted almost verbatim from the Bakshi movie - I remember reacting very strongly to its suspense and tension the first time I saw that movie way back when, even though I had already read the book long before. Definitely cinematically well done!
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Old 11-19-2006, 09:54 PM   #19
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Tolkien

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
I heard some people grumbling about how Merry's injured and he's not supposed to be out there. But I like the visual symbolism, plus I felt Aragorn's speech and the entire scene was done well. I absolutely loved how when Aragorn said 'For Frodo' Merry and Pippin were the first one's to charge out there. With only Pippin there (as it was done in the books) I don't think the scene would have been as effective.
If I may quickly state, I'm one of those people who argue he shouldn't have been out there, and I still hold to that because it diminishes Pippin's accomplishment(s) of "growing up" and being able to do things for himself and without Merry. Maybe that's why PJ threw the beacon scene in there? Who knows. But as for my two cents:

1) Perhaps not cinematically necessery, but I think PJ's change of Gandalf being knowingly aware of the danger that resides in Moria instead of Aragorn as in the book is more reasonable. Although in the book it shows that even Gandalf makes mistakes, in the movie it just wouldn't really make sense, as Aragorn nor Gandalf had been completely established in character at that point. But still, I think Gandalf should have been aware all along. I suppose in the book Aragorn knowing or "warning" Gandalf of the danger in Moria is to show some kingly power of his, but it just seems more fitting to me that Gandalf should know it before Aragorn.

2) The Council of Elrond. I just love the way the film portrays it, and I'm talking mainly about when each member rises up to become part of The Fellowship, because I like everything else better in the book---the long discussions of what has been, the stories and opinions of all present. You get chills when each of the characters gets up to claim his spot in The Fellowship. More exciting than Elrond deciding who will go some time after, and knowing that the only reason Boromir and Aragorn went was to go back to Minas Tirith, not really for the spirit of carrying "the fate of us all", although they did that as well.

There are some more, and if I think of them I'll get back to you.
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Old 11-20-2006, 04:12 PM   #20
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I also thought that the sequence in which Merry sings during the suicidal charge on Osgiliath is overpowering. I do not recall if this happens in the book, but either way, to see it on the screen with the song itself playing has to be a little bit more "in your face" than reading it in the book. Really good job on that scene, PJ.
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The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it...
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Old 11-25-2006, 12:00 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by ninja91
I also thought that the sequence in which Merry sings during the suicidal charge on Osgiliath is overpowering. I do not recall if this happens in the book, but either way, to see it on the screen with the song itself playing has to be a little bit more "in your face" than reading it in the book. Really good job on that scene, PJ.
You mean Pippin! Not Merry...but yes I agree as well, this was a great change that PJ made, and it added A LOT to the emotion of that film and scene.
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Old 11-29-2006, 03:54 PM   #22
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Aragorn bowing to the Hobbits. Not so much for the sentimental value but the look of Frodo's face makes you understadn that there is something seriously wrong with him emotionally at the end of all his troubles.
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Old 11-30-2006, 08:00 PM   #23
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I believe the movie translation I was most afraid of, and which I think was shockingly well pulled off was that of the Ents.

Talking, walking trees are a difficult thing to pull of, particularly if you want the audience to take them seriously...

I can still see all my fears... The Lord of the Rings meets Babes in Toyland...

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Old 12-15-2006, 04:07 PM   #24
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It's a different medium, and the most effective change to my mind was the rearrangement of certain scenes and critical items of dialog to suit the flow of a movie better. The "many that live deserve death" lines, for example: perfectly placed in the book, but also perfectly placed in the movie.

Removing all of the unnecessary Hobbit-like unconnected "adventures" at the start was the Right Thing, otherwise movie goers would have ended up being fairly bemused at what the thing was supposed to be about, anyway.

Having Merry and Pippin incite the Ents to go to war was a fantastic idea too. As a purely personal opinion, I found the build-up weak, but the actual delivery of the coup-de-grace was wonderful, and more than made up.

Replacing Glorfindel with Arwen... when you think about it, it makes sense, otherwise you have a situation where a Major Dude comes on and does Big Stuff, then totally vanishes. Bashki probably felt the same when he put in Legolas instead.

Also, the scene with Elrond in the tent at Dunharrow - WOW!
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Old 12-16-2006, 09:59 AM   #25
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Frodo is stabbed on Weathertop, in the movie there is a more frantic air. We see the rapid decline of Frodo and the arrival of Arwen and the fast paced action of the chase.

I think this was a better choice movie-wise and even prefer it to the book *ducks head* because in the book they were a couple of weeks still from Rivendell and with all the traveling and singing (I was disappointed not to see Sam do his oliphaunt poem, though) Frodo's injury didn't seem as life-threatening as it was. In the book, Gandalf says that they were mere hours from Frodo being beyond aid and turning to a wraith himself. It didn't seem so and was hard to really get the gravity of the situation because of the singing and lightheartedness of Frodo in the book.

The movie version really hit home how bad the situation was for Frodo. It left no doubt of the severity. And I believed that it was a close call to saving him.
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Old 12-16-2006, 08:20 PM   #26
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Honestly, off the top of my head, I can't think of any good changes, but I think Beleg summed it up quite well in saying that changes are more neccesary than good, and I would here make a distinction between actual changes to the story (Denethor being stripped of any sympathetic appeal or nobility) and additions to the plot that expanded on things not necessarily touched on in the books, such as, say, Merry and Pippin's clowning at Bilbo's birthday party, things that could have happened that the books don't specifically tell us didn't happen.
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Old 12-24-2006, 11:30 AM   #27
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Some of my favorite changes are the following:

1. Pippin singing to Denethor, that absolutely sent chills down my spine.

2. I remember reading a long time ago that someone was complaining about the use of plate armor in the movie wasn't accurate because Tolkien had never intended for Middle Earth to be a medieval world. Oh well I don't remember the specifics, but I absolutely loved the way PJ and Weta and whoever else did the armor because it was AMAZING!

3. I enjoyed Aragorn' style of fighting. I know he was the heir to the throne of Gondor but I didn't like reading about how noble he was. The gritty fighting style in the movie made him so much more appealing and way cooler.

That's all I can think of for now, if I think of more, I'll post them.
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Old 12-28-2006, 03:48 PM   #28
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This was just something they threw in for the fans, I think, but I appreciated the change whereby Frodo leaves Middle-earth four years after the events of the story, rather than two. This way, when Sam comes back home, he has not one but two kids, Elanor and Frodo. And little Frodo-lad (to my eyes) resembles the Ringbearer. There wasn't really any need to make this change, but as a fan and knowing that little guy's name, I appreciated it.
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Old 12-29-2006, 05:24 AM   #29
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I always thought that the Witch-king looks much more frightening in the movie then he is described in the book. I saw the ROTK cartoons where the WK is portrayed just like in the book, with a crown on his head and nothing to see between his neck and the crown except two red eyes. The helmet he received in the movies looks much better to me.

And of course, Pippin lighting the beacons is fantastic. And there's something else about this scene I liked. Now in the movie there are pretty clearly more then 7 beacons in total, and their position is not like in the book. But I liked that...it as nicer to see them on the top of of snowy mountains then on some smaller hills covered in forests.
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