In Defense of Peter Jackson -Part 3 - How his version of Faramir improves the story for film
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From the book, we know Faramir was friends with Gandalf. The movie leaves out this connection; but Gandalf was well-known in Gondor. Had Faramir known Gandalf was the fellowships guide, his decision regarding Frodo might have been different. As it is he only knows Frodo traveled with a fellowship which included his brother Boromir. He knows Boromir is dead and Frodo and Sam left the fellowship. How and why did Boromir die? What was the errand of the fellowship? Is Frodo being forthright? He lied about Gollum. Even though Sam says they are journeying to destroy the Ring can Faramir believe them? In the midst of this Osgiliath falls under attack. Can he trust that these hobbit will not take the Ring to Sauron if he lets them go? Would it not be wiser to take the Ring to Gondor?
The films delay in Faramirs decision to release Frodo and Sam is really not much different than the delay in the book. The locations are the main difference so the stakes can be raised higher. In the book, Faramir initially questions Frodo out on the plains. Then upon learning that his mission concerns Isildurs Bane he holds off further questioning and his ultimate decision until he takes the hobbits to Henneth Annun. In the movie, the initial query takes place in Henneth Annun and the final decision in Osgiliath. By taking them to Osgiliath Faramir learn two important things. First, that the Ring gives no military advantage, but rather draws all evil to it. Second, by seeing Sam prevent Frodo from giving the Ring to the Nazgul, Faramir understands that they are indeed journeying to destroy the Ring and not to give it to Sauron. Hence his line,
<< I think at last we understand one another Frodo Baggins. >>
That is why he releases Frodo there.
Furthermore, by having Faramir release Frodo in Osgiliath, Peter Jackson makes him more courageous. Faramirs meeting with Frodo in the book is quiet, known to only a few. The decision to let the hobbits go could easily be kept quiet, sparing Faramir the danger of execution, the punishment for letting strangers trespass. In the film, he declares before all his men in Osgiliath that his life is forfeit as he releases Frodo and Sam. And so Peter Jackson again raises the stakes, this time for Faramir, setting the stage for a showdown between him and his father, Denethor, in the Return of the King.
Were the changes to Faramirs character necessary? In order to successfully adapt the Two Towers from book to film... absolutely. By tweaking the story line of Mordor, Peter Jackson increases the drama to equal Helms Deep. In the process he strengthens, not weakens, Faramirs character, makes Frodos inner struggle visible to the audience and brings closure to the film by tying the three separate story lines together. The result... another blockbuster epic deserving of the Best Picture Oscar. And Peter Jackson deserves for this one to take home the award for Best Director. Let us hope the Academy has the wits to see it this time.