Dear Peter Jackson (2) - A reply to the Returning King's daughter
What can I add to the plaudits already generously lobbed your way? Both the FoTR and TTT are so truly brilliant that they defy all the words of praise I could cast at your feet. My teenage fantasies live!
Watching both films forced me to read the books again. I have not read them for a long time. Whilst I loved the adventure and the action and longed to be part of the quest, my opinions of the women in the story were not very high. What doormats! I thought (with the exception of Eowyn: but even she, I thought, was noble and loyal to the point of boredom) Why didn't the women have some part of the quest? Why couldn't they be part of the fellowship? Of course, they are, but with my limited teenage experience of life, I didn't understand that.
Now, having read the books, watched the films, and undergone life changing experiences, I understand that Tolkien was writing much more than an adventure story. I was surprised at how much love and loss is a major part of the theme, together with bearing the load of responsibility and duty. It's about being an adult and making decisions, some of which may cause you such intense suffering that you can never be totally whole again. I had never understood that before. But it isn't all doom and gloom. Friendship and love are the two stalwart companions we have to help us on our way through life. We often possess a courage and strength (together with a sense of humour) to carry on and endure which we didn't know we had. I know Tolkien denied that the Lord of the Rings was anything to do with the First or Second World Wars but behind the lines you sense his distress at the waste of war and the lives of young men doomed to be scarred and stunted by their experiences.
That is why the story needs fighting, battles, wars etc. It's to demonstrate the strength and courage of the 'good' characters. They are a reflection of the mental anguish and fear the combatants have to go through. Frodo's physical wound is a metaphor for his mental torment and scarring, from which he is never really able to recover. They have to face physical danger so that they can realise their own courage and selflessness.
I thought the TTT was an admirable sequel to the FoTR. I appreciated what Peter Jackson did with Faramir. The episode where Frodo and Sam are taken prisoner by him would have had no dramatic tension had it been portrayed as in the book. You also have to understand the relationship between Boromir, Faramir and Denethor as written in TROTK, to understand that Faramir is second best to Boromir in Denethor's affections and Faramir knows it. What better chance to earn his father's respect? Faramir, after the incident with the Nazgul, realises that the ring would be a curse not a blessing, and does the decent thing. This episode also serves to remind us of the ring's increasing power over Frodo, portrayed through his Gollum-like behaviour, (and the growing tension between him and Sam) and its lure to others.
One thing, though, puzzles me too. If Sauron is so powerful how is he not able to identify Frodo as the Ringbearer especially when he offers it to the Ringwraith? The whole idea was that Frodo should remain unidentified while Gandalf and crew distract Sauron so that Frodo can sneak into Mordor and dispose of the Ring? By offering the ring he reveals himself.
One aspect of the films that I haven't seen any comments on
(although I may be wrong - forgive me) is the absolutely sublime music which accompanies them. I cannot stop listening to it, and when I'm not listening to it, it's running through my head. It perfectly complements the films, and the range of emotions it is able to conjure up is amazing. Without the music the film would lack heart and soul. It brings everyting together - the wonderful acting, the superb special effects, the stunning scenery, and the superb story.