January 03, 2005

Happy Birthday


Today is the anniversary of the birth of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in 1892. You can nip over to the Tolkien Society homepage to post a toast suitable to the occassion.

Despite a Ring-like temptation to do so, I will refrain from using this milestone as a launching pad for another one of my tirades against the LOTR movies. All I ask of anyone who loves these films is that they read the books if they have not already done so. If, after that, they can reconcile a love of both the movies and the books, then so be it. I simply cannot.

Posted by Robert at January 3, 2005 01:56 PM

I'm one of those folks you mentioned. I've read the entire trilogy well over a couple of dozen times and it remains one of my favorite works of literature. But I very much enjoyed the movies as well. I think they were wonderful cinema - the type that you just don't get much of these days.

Posted by: Jimmie at January 3, 2005 02:18 PM

Yeah, me too. I love the books, but I love the movies equally. That's not to say there weren't some disappointments with the movies (the missing Scouring of the Shire being my main sticking point), but I think the films are excellent and faithful to the overall story and themes in the books.

Also, having watched some of the extras on the ROTK EE DVD, I have a better appreciation for the struggles Jackson and co. had with adapting the novels that they adore while trying to make a good movie.

Posted by: jen at January 3, 2005 02:38 PM

Many of my own quibbles went away once I applied the "Yeah, but how can you possibly fit all three movies into under eleven hours total?" rule to things.

Though I also thought that not including The Scouring of The Shire was the biggest flaw the movie had also. Maybe had they cut some of the witty banter and the Arwen stuff, we would have been okay.

Posted by: Jimmie at January 3, 2005 03:15 PM

I'm just saying,,,,

Posted by: TC@LeatherPenguin at January 3, 2005 03:39 PM

I felt the first film was excellent -- just about perfect -- but that Jackson took a lot of liberties with The Two Towers -- some of which were necessary and some of which were completely gratuitous. I do not object to him cutting extraneous story lines, but some of his changes did violence to the book's plot, and there are a few unspeakable additions (the Warg battle/stunned Aragorn sequence especially). There were cases also where I felt he made some of the characters unnecessarily bleak or more morally bankrupt in their conduct than Tolkein did -- Elrond, Theoden, Denethor, Faramir, the Ents, etc. -- all had their motivations or outlooks changed or darkened unfairly. This really harmed the work.

The ROTK also suffered from some of this -- I will say the extended version does remedy some of this, especially the Sam/Frodo in Mordor plotline.

Jackson gets an A for the Fellowship, a C or D for the TT, and maybe a B- or C for the ROTK.

Just my $.02.

Posted by: The Colossus at January 3, 2005 04:18 PM

I'm with The Collossus on this one. Unlike the Abomination That Shall Not Be Named, Peter Jackson's attempt at LOTR was nowhere near as bad as it could have been, especially in light of the Travesty and Heresy done to Heinlien's Starship Troopers. Heinous Blasphemy. Ahem. I'm ok now.

(Robbo - take a look at the ROTK:Extended Edition, there's a scene in there that you may find enjoyable watching over and over again. I won't spoil it for others who haven't seen it - hell, I haven't seen it, just heard about it. Given your view of the movies and what the director did, this particular scene may be just up your ally.)

Though, I wouldn't give as low grades as The Collossus, who didn't think of BASE Jumping when they saw the Helicoptor Landing Pad of Minas Tirith? (Sp??)

Posted by: Lysander at January 3, 2005 04:36 PM

I fully agree with the Llamas on this one -- I loved the books when I read them as a teenager, yet found the films to be insufferably dull. All the psychological fascination and emotional tension that Tolkien created within his story lines (and which made his characters so interesting and, therefore, captivating over three books worth) were swallowed whole by the look-at-me-now special effects and dishwater bland acting performances. Not to say that the films weren't beautiful to look at -- stunning is more like it. But if I want to sit and look at something pretty for three hours, I'll hit the MOMA for a day, thank you. My only compliment about the film trilogy is that it could have been worse . . .

Posted by: anson at January 3, 2005 08:51 PM

I am a huge fan of the Hobbit and the LOTR. The movies were disappointing, but still worth watching. I did not expect that the scouring of the Shire would make the movies. I do really like that part of the books which I do read every few years. The movies did not really allow for such growth of the hobbits, since they were portrayed too often in the movies for comic relief. I completely understood leaving out Tom Bombadil, but, of course, I missed it. If you are going to make things up, I would have done so with him. He is easily the most enigmatic character in the book, and mostly unexplored. I was offended by the blatant PC nonsense of making up Arwen’s role. She intended to, and did, give up her freaking immortality; what more heroic thing could you want? It also diminished the role of the true warrior princess in the books. One of the elven women had one of the three elven rings, and no elven woman was portrayed as any kind of weak person, but they were not portrayed as warriors in the books. The LOTR had very strong female characters, and needed no PC adjustment. Once you make things up at the beginning, then further distortions are perhaps inevitable. All in all, I must agree that it could have been worse (much worse!). Still a more faithful version would have made me happier. Lots of time was wasted making it up rather than following the author.

Posted by: Mike at January 3, 2005 10:36 PM

I like the books. I like the movies.

The extended release versions of the movies change the movies significantly; if you liked the books, hated the movies, but only saw the version that played in the theatres rent at least the first one.

Posted by: owlish at January 4, 2005 01:16 AM

Mike, I didn't see Arwen's role as being PC at all - her inclusion to that extent was to flesh out the love story with Aragorn. The true warrior princess was Eowyn, who I thought was one of the best adapted characters from book to film. She was true to how Tolkien wrote her.

Posted by: jen at January 4, 2005 10:23 AM
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