Dear Peter Jackson,
I know that you are probably very tired of getting responses from both raving and ravening fans of the LOTR books and movie, so let me tell you right away that I am going to do both so that you’ll be forewarned. Another thing that you need to know up front is that I am a dedicated Christian; if you don’t want to hear about that you need to put this letter in the trash right now. I hope however, that you will keep reading.
You see, having watched the movies I have to commend you for the incredible casting, special effects, and use of modern technology to bring this very un-technological world to life! But (and I know you saw this coming) there was something that marred it. This was your use of violence and suffering in the movie. You will agree with me that Tolkien’s aim in writing all the battles into his story was not to promote killing or warfare, but to enhance the nobility, heroism, and humanity of his characters. Of course, this does nothing for my point, but think about this: God has gifted you with a genius when it comes to movie making, and you had a whole host of geniuses at your command during the making of the Lord of the Rings. You had an unprecedented opportunity to not only give faces to some of the most wonderful characters ever conceived by the human mind, but to show the world things of hope and beauty like they have never seen before. These, the Shire, the Elves and their works, Lothlorien, have up until now been seen only vaguely in the minds of those who love Tolkien’s books. You were the one chosen to bring these to life and give them to the world as a gift.
Instead, you gave us the horror. People came expecting to escape for a while from the world around them, and they got more of what they had been seeing all around them, orcs, demons, death, suffering. I realize that these are essential to the story, but are you sure that drawing them out, slowing them down, were the most effective ways to use them? I am an American, and these past few months (as you probably well know) have been Mordor days for us. We have watched as our world went up in flames, violence in slow motion took us over on Sept. 11. We watched as people, good and bad, died by the thousands in horrific ways, and we watched it over and over and over. There are articles in the papers everyday about death and suffering, there is little good on CNN, and even the everyday meetings with people are often sad. I am tired of all of that! The only difference between our drama and your movie is that God has made me to love America, and you did not make me love Middle Earth. Tolkien did, he made me believe that I, in all my wimpy glory, would take the ring to Mt. Doom if it would save Middle Earth. But Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth only frightened me. At first the glimpses of the Shire won my heart, but after that, what else was there to fight for but a few strange elves that would soon be gone anyway, an abandoned mine filled with demons, (even Gimli found that Moria wasn’t worth fighting for), and a fading forest with a fading queen? I couldn’t die for that.
Do I think you need to take out all of the Moria and Weather-top, kind of scenes? No. The acting was breathtaking, the hobbits had the perfect combination of fear and the courage of small folk, Legolas and Aragorn were wonderful in the battle scenes, Gandalf was amazing, and Boromir broke my heart all over again. Let Legolas shoot, but don’t show us the arrow drilling into the forehead of an orc. Let them kill the cave-troll, but don’t waste valuable screen time with it’s long, hard death. Let them stab Frodo, it happened in the book, but don’t make us sit and watch him suffer. Get it over with so we can witness his healing! Give us some hope, Mr. Jackson, something lovely to redeem the terror. That was what Tolkien wanted to do, that is what God is doing, that is what the world needs right now. You have often reiterated the fact that you are not trying to cater to all of the fan’s desires, but this isn’t about something we want, it’s about a very desperate need. People need an experience that is going to send them home believing that there is something (or in many cases, Someone) to fight for, not another nightmarish enemy to fight against. Thank you for all you’ve done so far, though, and may the Lord of the Harvest bless you always.
A daughter of the Returning King