Much has been said in reviews posted in The Reading Room about outstanding visual effects, characetrs and particular scenes in TTT and I don’t feel like adding anything more to this subject.
Much has also been said about the changes made in the original plot and here I’d like to add my two cents as well.
I’ve noticed general attempt to find some explanation and justification for the differences between the original book and the film, as if people tried hard to believe that if others call TTT “The best movie of all time” it’s their impression that is wrong and it’s them who have to convince themselves that all the changes were necessary and, what’s more, done for the benefit of the movie. I believe it’s the other way round!
I don’t feel ashamed or guilty about not being satisfied with what I can see in TTT. Most of the differences were done, I guess, to make the movie more dramatic. That should account for the “Aragorn falls off a cliff” scene or the scene where Ents decide that the War of the Ring is not their war or even for what PJ did to Faramir… but does it really increase the dramatic tension of the film? I wouldn’t say so… too much of drama, too many of symbols make film unreliable, simple and too obvious.
When Aragorn fell off the cliff and later when his horse came to “bring him back to life” all I thought was “cliche, cliche, cliche”. Too sweet not to have a toothache.
When I heard conversation between Merry who seemed to be very wise and much more concerned about the war than Treebeard who spoke not as if he belonged to the one of the oldest races in Middle- Earth but as if he was even more careless than Pippin, I felt distaste. Why? What was wrong with the orginal? I understand that PJ wanted to stress that “even the smallest person can change the course of the future” but Merry and Pippin DO have their way to go and their role to play. Did PJ think it wasn’t dramatic enough? Not pathetic enough? All right, now it’s pompous and artificial enough. Nothing more.
Faramir…I will never forgive Faramir. In Tolkien’s book he was so different from his brother Boromir, in the film they’re so similar in their weakness, Faramir’s so Boromirish as someone said in one of the reviews. Again I reckon that PJ wanted to show the change in Faramir’s attitude towards the ring and emphasise the fact that finally he lets the Ringbearer go but I don’t need easy changes good-bad, bad-good, weak-strong, strong-weak. I’m not stupid, easy answers in films are not for me.
When I was watching TTT I suddenly realised that modern films don’t leave space for independent thinking, for imagination. They give you everything you need and more. It’s like explaining jokes because someone might not understand it. No place for subtlety, for speculations, for your own understanding . I had the same terrible feeling of distaste when I saw PJ’s vision of Galadriel tempted by the power of the ring in FOTR. I thought “Oh God! PJ thinks we’re so stupid that we’re unable to comprehend things without being given everything on a plate”. From my point of view, sometimes even the slight alteration in the face expreses more than loud bangs and explosion of colours.
I remember from my childhood a scene from some Japanese film in which one person was going to be killed by another. We saw the murderer approaching his sleeping victim but we weren’t shown litres of blood or didn’t hear piercing screaming. All we saw was a leaf falling down the tree and when the leaf landed in the spider’s web everybody knew what happened. This sort of subtlety we definitely don’t find in TTT. All is too literal and too obvious.
Conversation between Elrond and Arwen is a one great mistake. Even if I wanted to believe hard that they’re the Elves this scene convinced me that they’re “only human”. Tolkien’s Elrond would never behave so dignityless forcing his daughter to imagine her life after Aragorn’s death. They both lived LONG ENOUGH to know how it may look like. Especially that Arwen knew well enough what happened to Luthien Tinuviel and even said during her first meeting with Aragorn (in the book) “Yet her name is not mine. Though maybe my doom will be not unlike her“. Also from Elrond’s words in the movie “But you, my daughter, you will linger on in darkness and in doubt. As nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Here you will dwell, bound to your grief, under the fading trees, until all the world has changed and the long years of your life are utterly spent” one could think that Arwen will remain immortal which isn’t of course true.. The scene where she gives in… she wouldn’t, that’s all. Elrond in TTT is out of character, he doesn’t behave in the way that one of the greatest Elves in the history of Middle- Earth and a leading member of the White Council should … he behaves like a human. The scene with Arwen leaving for the Grey Havens… again I suppose PJ was trying to increase the dramatic tension of the film and again he failed. Another empty symbol, another easy scheme.
All in all, my conclusion is short and sad. TTT is a film where you say “wow!”, “Oh!”, “God!” but it leaves you no space for imagination and thinking.