The Destruction of The Lord of the Rings – Jackson’s Undoing of Tolkien

by Dec 23, 2002Reviews

First of all, to those who loved the movie: I agree that the movie was entertaining and aspects of it were good, such as Smeagol and the depiction of Middle Earth. I also realize that in order to condense the book to fit the screen some parts needed to be cut out. However, I think PJ did more than cut out unnecessary parts of the book – he completely changed the nature of some characters and altered the direction of the plot.

I am not reacting to the popularity of the film. On the contrary, if the films had done the books justice I would have no problem with them (I was disappointed by The Fellowship as well).

I have a problem with Arwen’s role in the film. I know that PJ is trying to make the story more politically correct by including more women, but the scenes Arwen has in the film are ruining the nature of other characters. In The Fellowship, Frodo’s valor at the ford was lost by having Arwen save him. Frodo’s greatest scene – as he turns to face the Nazgul wounded and close to death – was omitted for no justifiable reason that I can see. And Aragorn’s strength of character is lost in the Hollywoodish love scenes as he whines to her that he doesn’t know what to do. He appears lovesick, afraid and lost in his scenes with Arwen instead of wise, determined and true as Tolkien wrote him. The focus on romance is unnecessary and only detracts from the true message of the story.

I was very disappointed by Faramir’s representation in the film as well. Faramir is the antithesis of Boromir and Denethor. He is never seduced by the ring as Boromir was because he was not concerned with his own power. By making him distrust Frodo and crave the power of the ring PJ shattered the true nature of Faramir and made him a simple extension of Boromir.

The Ents were not dipicted correctly either, although they looked wonderful. Treebeard and company came to the decision to fight Saruman in their own time, without Merry lecturing them. Ents aren’t hasty, they come to decisions slowly in order to be sure that they make the right one (perhaps we could use a little of this philosophy today) and it would have been against their nature to decide to attack Orthanc in an emotional moment. Although I know things needed to be condensed, I think that some time could have been given to the development of the Ents and the changes in Merry and Pippin during their time in Fangorn (perhaps this could have been done by cutting out the battle that never happened on the way to Helm’s Deep, or the love scenario between Aragorn and Arwen, or Frodo’s encounter with the Nazgul at Gondor, or any other unnecessary addition).

That brings me to Frodo’s arrival at Gondor. Not only does his going to Gondor ruin the character of Faramir, but it also puts a wrench in the plot. If Sauron knows that Frodo is in Gondor – or anywhere that close to Mordor for that matter – it is highly unlikely that Frodo will slip into Mordor unnoticed, even with Smeagol as his guide. Sauron would not delay in sending out his armies and would keep a close watch on his borders.

Frodo does not attack Sam and does not begin to be seduced a bit by the ring until much later. The power of the “fight” scene with Sam later on will lose much of it’s power, I think. Also, I think Frodo is depicted as a bit of a blank slate – being pulled by Sam in the good path or by the ring in the bad path. Frodo does have his own character and strength and I don’t think this comes through strongly in the movie.

There are many other problems I would like to elaborate on, but for the sake of time I will merely point them out:
-Elrond is shown as overbearing and self-concerned, when he is actually wise and levelheaded
-Galadriel is not depicted as awe-inspiring and wise, but rather as a bit frightening
-Theoden’s possesion and subsequent age reduction (from looking about 100 to looking 45) – I think this was unnecessary and takes away from him appearing younger and noble when he mounts his horse to go to battle – I think this was a Hollywoodish addition, but I could have dealt with it if it didn’t just add to the list of things wrong with this movie
-Elves at Helm’s Deep – as if that would have EVER happened and it detracts from the valor of the men fighting there

I think people are getting a bit carried away with the special effects. I agree that they are wonderful, but special effects don’t make a movie. Tolkien’s message should be the most important aspect of the film and I think that the changes made to emphasize love interests and personal struggles detract from this message. It is about taking action and doing the right thing even if you feel it is hopeless, it is about thinking carefully and making the right decisions, it is about the growth of characters and the fact that the smallest person can make a difference in the world. A book will always be better than a movie but I think Jackson could have done a better job creating this film if he had focused on the message and not on the Hollywoodization of it. At the very least I hope these films inspire audiences to pick up the trilogy and read the true meaning behind Tolien’s work.


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