I have been thinking alot of this lately since the news of the green lighting of A Game of Thrones was official. Below are spoilers if you haven“t read the books or seen the movies.
I“m a huge Tolkien fan, The Lord of the Rings was among the first fantasy I read and I was blown away. It took me to a world I had never seen before and I re-read it as soon as I finished it. So I was naturally very keen on the movies, got a night-premiere ticket and dressed up in my live gear and all that.
But a few years later, when the trilogy was finished, I was left with a very unsatisfied feeling. Especially from the second movie. The extended editions made things a little bit better but no matter, they were still just pretty images. The magic was gone, the characters flat and boring. Frodo was a whining baby, Legolas and Gimli just silly, Faramir no better than his brother, the ents not at all wise, the Nazgūl stiff and and so on. With few exceptions, the movies were just a show of new special effects and sweeping landscapes.
The first movie was good, I liked the way they had rewritten it to fit the movie format and all the surroundings looked exactly as I had pictured it. The lovely imagery continued throughout. The movies' imagery was eerily similar to that in my head - and I loved it. But that was it.
The rewriting of almost everything that happened in The Two Towers gave me (more) pimples and I almost left the cinema when the Council of the Ents made their decision. And when Faramir took the ring, I actually cursed at the screen. My favourite character, for the only reason of him being mentally stronger than his brother, was shoved into the mud.
I was a bit sad when my number one line of all the series, "Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall", was rewritten into "... a red dawn" and placed at Helm's Deep instead of Minas Tirith, and the green host of ghosts in that battle was just hilarious.
Am I the only one who feels like this? I really, really want to like the movies as much as I love the books but I just cannot find it within me. Would you consider the movies good or are they just 'good' because it has never been seen on this scale before?
March 19th, 2010, 09:34 AM
I think that if you see the films as a "version" of the books - a lovingly done, superb version - then it is OK. In fact, great!
I know what you mean about the second film though... the scene in Osgiliath with Frodo, Sam and the black rider always makes me cringe...
PS. The best bit about the second film is the exquisitely done Aragorn/Arwen sub-plot.
March 19th, 2010, 09:58 AM
I think Faramir is a more real character in the films than in the book. Here's this ring that's been touted as the ultimate corrupting evil, and on the page Faramir simply looks at it and says, "Nah, no thanks." His arc in the film, where he goes from wanting it to save his people to willingly letting Frodo go, plays much stronger to me and offers a better contrast to Boromir in my mind; he's just as tempted as his brother, but he makes the opposite choice and resists. That's more interesting than a guy who is steadfastly opposed from the get-go.
March 19th, 2010, 10:07 AM
I've not seen the films nor read the books in a short while at least, but I have to say I feel the films are better. Tolkien isn't the easiest thing to read (nor is it the hardest), and for a lot of people like myself the books are quite daunting. From a general perspective, the LotR film trilogy is great for bringing the books to people who can't/don't/won't read.
I can't remember how (un)faithful they were, but it was a real shame they cut Tom Bombardil, that could have been quite interesting.
March 19th, 2010, 10:41 AM
I know rabid fans of the book who find the Bombadil section rough going. It really is unlike anything else in the story.
March 19th, 2010, 02:08 PM
I am a huge fan of the books (I've read them 7 times so far), but I'm not a Tolkien purist. I think the films are amazing, and they are by far my favourite movies of all time.
Nothing will ever be able to match the excitement and wonder I felt when viewing them in the theatre for the first time. I've since watched them about 50 times each (maybe more!).
That being said, I do think the films have flaws. Particularly, whenever Jackson and Co. strayed from the books and changed things. Cuts are one thing, but changes are another matter. In the director's commentary track you can hear the writers (especially Phillipa Boyens) trying to defend and justify and explain their reasons for making the changes... but I still feel that most of their changes were mistakes. They lost sight of the fact that J.R.R. Tolkien knew what he was doing, and they would have done best to just stick to his version as closely as possible.
However, I still think that the films are amazing, and that Jackson did a better job than anyone else would have done. The films are not 100% faithful, but they're probably at least 90% faithful which is still very good. Any other director would have BUTCHERED the films (e.g. gone along with studio requests to make it only one or two films, added even more Arwen, and changed a million other things). We are so, so, so, so, SO lucky that the films turned out as good as they did. When people criticize these films, I think they have lost sight of that fact. We are SO lucky that the films did not completely butcher the source material, which would have been SO easy to do.
In a perfect world I would definitely love to make some changes of my own (cut the running time of The Two Towers by about 30 minutes, cut out most of the Arwen scenes, redo the horrible Warg battle, cut out some of the excessive argument scenes between Frodo and Sam, etc., etc.)... but at the end of the day they're still my favourite movies of all time... BY FAR.
March 19th, 2010, 02:27 PM
I think it comes down to understanding that there are things that work on the printed page that don't work on-screen. Take the Scouring of the Shire, for instance. Thematically, it works in the book. But you can't expect a movie audience to sit through the Pelennor and Mount Doom, and then through another 30 to 45 minutes of a smaller-scaled battle. People were already complaining about the multiple endings in ROTK as it was.
Or look at Glorfindel. Yeah, if you've read the appendices, Glorfindel is a bad-ass who faced down the Witch-King. But to a movie audience, he's just another elf who would have vanished half-way through the first film.
I think all the changes Jackson and company made were true to the spirit of the books if not to the letter.
March 19th, 2010, 04:23 PM
IMO the LOTR trilogy was brilliant and I am so thankful for how it turned out. They supplanted the original Star Wars trilogy on my favourite movies list. You can tell P J loved the books and tried to be as faithful as possible. The first time I watched each part I had a reaction or two to certain parts but have since accepted them as the adaptation which stands nicely beside the books.
Cant wait for the Hobbit - I have a lot of faith in how it will turn out and even if PJ is not directing he is still there. Beside Guillermo del Toro is amazing. Pan's Labrynth anyone?
Wow I got off on a tangent there - sorry folks.
March 19th, 2010, 05:16 PM
Cant wait for the Hobbit - I have a lot of faith in how it will turn out and even if PJ is not directing he is still there. Beside Guillermo del Toro is amazing.
See, I'm worried about the whole splitting it into two films and adding in all the White Council stuff. It shows the tendency to bloat Jackson showed in King Kong and the lack of understanding of story that he showed in Lovely Bones. I know he's earned a ton of benefit of doubt with LOTR, but The Hobbit simply doesn't need to be on that scale to be successful. In fact, blowing it up to that scale will ruin it, if you ask me. It's called The Hobbit, not The Hobbit and a Bunch of Cool Characters from Lord of the Rings.
March 19th, 2010, 05:22 PM
Was thinking more Hellboy 1 + 2, DaddyD! :D
EDIT: That's sort of my worry too, DailyR. The Hobbit might make a good 2-3hr long film at most, but there isn't enough in the book to make two films. And then to add non-related stuff? I'm skeptical.