In Defense of Peter Jackson- Part 2 – Why Faramir needed to change

by Dec 28, 2002Reviews

In order to achieve the closure effect, though, Jackson had to change the encounter with Faramir. Sam’s speech would have no meaning if Jackson did not have Faramir take the hobbits to Osgiliath, but instead had him quietly let them go as he does in the book. This is mainly because of Jackson’s decision to hold the Shelob scene until the Return of the King (another change that has caused some to question Jackson’s wisdom as a director, though on a lesser scale than the Faramir changes). In the book, nothing visually exciting happens to Frodo and Sam until the tragedy of Shelob’s lair. Their meeting with Faramir is actually an oasis in the midst of the bleak narrative of Mordor. Frodo slowly loses strength and hope as the Ring grows heavier on his mind and body. Tolkien’s words convey this despair very effectively in the book. Yet it would not translate well to the screen. Especially when viewed alongside the tension and excitement of Helm’s Deep, the hobbits’ journey through Mordor would look dull and the audience would not grasp how physically and emotionally draining it really is. So Jackson had to contrive a way to show Frodo’s inward struggle through outward actions.

Jackson had the right idea when he decided to have this movie

<< raise the stakes >>

for all the characters. For Frodo and Sam, the key to raising the stakes is Faramir. By having Faramir take Frodo back to Osgiliath, away from the goal of Mount Doom, Jackson helps the audience see how frantically Frodo understands his mission (

<< The Ring will not save Gondor. . . . Please, you must let me go! >>

). Also he shows what a heavy burden the Ring is (

<< I can’t do this, Sam >>

) and how it drives Frodo to despair (

<< what have we got left? >>

) setting the scene for Sam’s insights on pushing forward. None of this would have carried any impact had not Faramir taken Frodo to Osgiliath.

By adjusting Faramir’s character to reveal Frodo’s growing struggle Jackson did not change Faramir as drastically as some decry. In fact, he actually strengthened the character for portrayal on screen. Tolkien’s Faramir is evidently a brave warrior. However, readers of the book see mainly his gentle poetic side. His courtesy towards Frodo is a heartwarming relief. However, translated directly to film, this portrayal of Faramir would appear effeminate and weak. Set alongside the masculine valor of Aragorn and Eomer as well as the steeled strength of Eowyn, the son of Gondor would possibly earn the contempt of the audience instead of their respect. Jackson’s alteration allows Faramir to appear every bit as strong and masculine as Aragorn, Eomer, Boromir and all his
other male counterparts.

Some have complained that by allowing the Ring to tempt Faramir, Jackson has lessened his virtue. However, it is not his virtue; but his understanding of the Ring that is somewhat diminished. In the book, Faramir knows how utterly evil the Ring is. In the movie, he only knows it is powerful and it will give Sauron complete dominion if he ever retrieves it. The other alterations actually depend upon Faramirs ability to trust Frodo.


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