How Secularism gets Tolkien Wrong

 

I have had to check out of Ricochet for a while because I was assigned to write a book, which is cool but to get anything done on that project I needed to take a break. I came back to the site and started reading posts and sure enough that made it impossible for me not to write up a post myself. A post by @LoisLane really inspired me to write I post I have been thinking about for a very long time you can find her excellent post and fascinating comment thread here

The Lord of the Rings movies differed from the books in many ways, which is to be expected since a movie and a book are very different mediums. For instance at the “Breaking of the Fellowship” I think it was vital to the movie to show Boromir fighting for Merry and Pippin and Aragorn “avenging” Boromir. I saw the Fellowship of the Ring three times in the theater and each time the audience was on the edge of their seats as Boromir redeemed himself and they erupted in applause when Aragorn dispatched the Uruk-hai that killed Boromir.

Tolkien handled that situation perfectly in the books too and he did not need to “show” us anything, but that was because is was a book and not a movie. Other decisions that Jackson and Co. made are debatable but understandable I think due to the medium that Jackson was working in. Did Gimli, Merry and Pippin need to become so strongly comical in the movie? Did Jackson merge Gimli, Merry and Pippin’s heroism well with their comic turns? For me in the movies Gimli was basically two characters, Merry had a well-done hero’s journey and Pippin was ill-used by Mr. Jackson. Despite my quibbles with how those characters were used I understand the choices made by Jackson because of the needs of a movie. Even Arwen and Legolas are understandable in that to have the payoff of Arwen and Aragorn uniting in marriage at the end of the movie you need to see her in the movies. While I find Legolas super hero turn to be personally baffling I get the idea that Jackson really wanted some stunning visuals in the battle scenes and thought that an Elf could do things men could not do. So we see Legolas as a super hero, who inexplicitly lost a killing contest with Gimli who was not a super hero, but most people loved Legolas in the movies so what do I know?

What constantly bothers me about the movies is Jackson and co.’s inability to understand the clear Christian themes in the books or even the ability to recognize those themes causing them to butcher some of the most important characters in the books. In what follows I will focus on Frodo and Sam, Faramir and Gollum. I could bring in other characters too like Aragorn, Gandalf, Theoden and Eowyn to name a few but I think the ones I name make the clearest examples for the case I am making.

Frodo and Sam

When I first read the books at 13 I was blown away by how amazing the books were and I was totally lost in the world that Tolkien had made. At the time I was working on being confirmed in my church because my parents had told me that if I got confirmed I was free to choose to go to church or not. I wanted to be confirmed so I could choose not to go to church. So when I first came to books I was not Christian myself but I was not ignorant of Christianity either. When I first read the Two Towers my heart thrilled at the confrontation in Shelob’s lair as Frodo faced down his greatest challenge to date, from the book,

*************

Slowly the eyes crept nearer.

“Galadriel!” He called, and gathering his courage he lifted up the Phial once more. The eyes halted. For a moment their regard relaxed as if some hint of doubt troubled them. Then Frodo’s heart flamed within him, and without thinking what he did, whether it was folly or despair or courage, he took the Phial in his left hand, and with his right hand drew his sword. Sting flashed out, and the sharp elven-blade sparked in the silver light, but at its edges, a blue fire flickered. Then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet those eyes.

They wavered…

***************

My reaction to this heroic moment tracked exactly with Sam when he exclaimed,

“Master, Master!” cried Sam. He was close behind, his own sword drawn and ready. “Stars and glory! But the Elves would make a song of that if ever they heard of it!”

That moment showed Frodo to be who I thought he was in the books a true and magnificent hero with a loyal and faithful friend. I had hope at that moment that these two little hobbits could indeed succeed despite the treachery of Gollum. When Frodo fell and Sam took the ring my heart fell. I knew the quest was doomed there was no way that Samwise Gamgee was going to get the Ring to Mount Doom. Frodo was our only hope and now he was dead. When Sam realized that Frodo was alive hope burst within in me but at the end of the book when the door slammed closed on Sam, it also slammed closed on my hope for the entire quest. If Sam could not save Frodo there was no hope of winning, the West was doomed to fall to Sauron, maybe forever.

In the movies after that scene played out I only wondered why Sam was doing something so stupid as to try and rescue Frodo. Frodo was a fool, who nearly destroyed the whole quest with his weakness and stupidity. It seemed to me that Sam could easily trot to Mount Doom and throw the Ring into its destruction. I might understand why Sam would want to rescue Frodo from charity but if he had been smart he would send Frodo away and finished the Quest without him. When Frodo says in the movie that Sam can’t handle the burden of the Ring it sounded false and self-serving. Sam was clearly not a hero but the hero of the story.

I spent a lot of time wondering about this. How could Jackson and Co., who so obviously loved the books, get Frodo so wrong? Why did they deny him every heroic moment he had in the books and why did they make Frodo so consistently stupid? By knocking Frodo down they then had to distort Sam greatly making him into more and more of a hero giving to Sam the role that Frodo was supposed to play in the tale. If you think back to the movies the only heroic action that Frodo manages is the decision to take the Ring on the journey. Surely that night in the Shire Frodo was a hero. Beyond that, he is primarily a victim for most of the movie and he has to be repeatedly rescued. Even at the end of Fellowship when Frodo does decide to leave the decision is so mixed up with the attack of the Uruk-hai that he seems partially forced into his decision instead of it being one of heroic sacrifice as it seemed in the book.

So let’s back up for a minute what did they get wrong about Frodo? They missed his wisdom and how that wisdom led Fordo to have virtue and Frodo’s virtue allowed him the power that Sam saw in the passage quoted above. In the interviews that Jackson and Co. gave in the extended versions of the movie they explained that they allowed Gollum to trick Frodo because, “Gollum needed some kind of pay off for all his scheming.” The pay off should have been simply getting Frodo and Sam to confront Shelob not destroy their friendship. So Jackson seems to make a choice to take away Frodo’s heroic moment with the Barrow wrights. He gives Arwen the heroism of Frodo at the ford. Jackson makes Frodo looks desperate instead of wise when he breaks the Fellowship and then he completely unmans the character making him into a base fool at his most heroic moment in Shelob’s lair. By constantly cutting Frodo down he then has to in turn make Sam grow bigger making him a bigger hero and wiser hobbit than Frodo at every stage of the story. Which ruins the whole heroic art of Sam. Instead of Sam becoming better and better to live up to Frodo’s example and be the companion that Frodo needs, Sam instead grows into his role because his Master, Frodo, is unworthy of the quest and Sam basically has to do the quest for Frodo. Which makes a hash of a bunch of the dialogue in the movie because the dialogue holds true to the books but the actions that are seen on the screen tell a different story.

This I think is because Jackson and this secular age in general no longer understand pity and therefore never understood the “pity of Bilbo” that in the end led to the destruction of the One Ring and the victory of the Free people of Middle Earth. Jackson keeps Gandalf’s speech in Moria about the “pity of Bilbo” but can’t follow through with the concept. Frodo was a righteous hobbit with just the right mix of sensible Baggin’s common sense and wild Took side of adventure. He was schooled in the ancient ways and knew the old wisdom of the Elves and learned at the feet of Gandalf, in other words, Frodo had Faith. This gave him greater wisdom and insight about what needed to be done and what he must do. The hero journeys of Pippin, Merry and Sam were bound up in those three hobbits seeking to be more like Frodo, to live like him, to live up to him in a way.

You see the same relationship between Aragorn and Boromir as Boromir fully realizes that Aragorn is truly a better man than he was and Boromir tries to live up that higher ideal at the end of his life. This is the Christian concept of discipleship and Jackson doesn’t see it or doesn’t seem to be able to grasp it. In the Books, Tolkien gives us a good hobbit who starts off inexperienced and grows wiser and braver as the journey goes on until he burns himself out in the face of terrible evil and is only saved by Grace, the same kind of grace he showed Gollum. In the movies, Jackson and Co. give us Frodo the good hobbit that becomes progressively more foolish and base and desperately claws at the ring pushing Gollum into the volcano and being saved from suicide by the love of his best friend. In the movie, you can make the case that the ring was destroyed by Frodo and Gollum’s mutual greed and vicious ambition instead of the “pity of Bilbo”.’

Gollum

Which brings us to Gollum and Frodo a relationship that Jackson never seems able to grasp. Jackson’s take on the relationship seems to be that Frodo sees himself in Gollum and that if Frodo can reach some good part of Gollum that will give Frodo some hope that a good part of Frodo will survive too. The characters are nothing alike though, Smeagol was a thief and liar before he ever found the Ring and Frodo was a righteous, learned and virtuous hobbit long before rightfully gaining the One Ring. The difference between the two hobbits was immense. Frodo felt pity at how over matched Sméagol was and how completely craven and destroyed Sméagol had become by being in the presence of the Ring. Jackson obviously feels sympathy for Gollum and works hard to make the audience feel that same sympathy. He works hard to give Gollum a reason to betray Frodo and same as the “good” and happy Sméagol is brutally attacked and repeatedly beaten by the Thug Faramir. At the end of the Two Towers film Gollum is brutally beaten in front of Sam and Frodo again with out a protest from either of them and then, because of the brutally of the beating, forced to crawl after them. In that context Sam’s little speech about “no hard feelings” was like pouring salt on Gollum’s wounds. Who, watching that scene in the movie could not have a little part of them wishing for Gollum to get back at his tormentors.

It seems to me that Jackson made this decision because he thought of Sméagol as Frodo’s future and that Frodo saw that too and so Jackson built up the similarities between the two characters. While in the books the two characters are in contrast. Sméagol was evil before the Ring and the Ring enhanced his evil. Frodo was good and therefore wise before the Ring and so he was in battle with the Ring. Frodo was never going to be Sméagol there is no version of Gollum in Frodo’s future. Frodo instead wanted to do what rescue work he could on Gollum and it was Frodo’s wisdom, patience and mercy that eventually made Gollum an instrument of good instead of evil. Even at the very end when Frodo was almost wholly given over to the Ring and cursed Gollum on Mt. Doom he was still struggling to show him mercy! He says to Gollum if you touch the Ring again he will die. A Frodo at his most evil was still giving Gollum another chance. Gollum was supposed to be a character in contrast to Frodo not in sympathy to him. Jackson and Co., could not quite grasp this form of mercy and grace and therefore can’t see Frodo’s wisdom in preserving Gollum’s life and so they had to make Frodo stupid and foolish and Gollum intensely clever and Sam a self-sacrificing martyr that served an unworthy master.

Faramir of the Books vs. Thug Faramir of the movies

Which brings me finally to Faramir. As a 13 year old, I wished I could have been a Sam helping Frodo succeed in his quest. I also saw myself in Faramir, Aragorn seemed too great for me, but to me, Faramir seemed relatable. His wisdom and learning were seen as a weakness, his courage underestimated, his formidable fighting power despised. I loved Faramir but in the movies I did not find Faramir I found instead a character invented by Jackson who I named Thug Faramir.

In the interviews after the Films on the extended DVDs Jackson and Co. seem to understand that they messed Faramir up and claim that they gave him a story arc, because he had no arc in the books, and they had to preserve the power of the Ring so they could not make Faramir resist the Ring even for a moment. First, let’s look at this story arc they supposedly gave Thug Faramir. In the movie, Two Towers Thug Faramir follows in the footsteps of Boromir but puts the Ring in even more danger of falling into Sauron’s hands than even Boromir did. He only repents of his evil after a Nazgul attack and Sam’s speech. This is supposed to free the Thug Faramir of his daddy issues and he becomes a man capable of being more than he was before. But even at this moment of maturity, he beats a helpless Gollum for no reason, antagonizing Gollum and making sure that Gollum has good reason to betray Frodo and Sam and then sends them on their way. So, as terrible as it was to see Thug Faramir in Two Towers I had hoped to see a better Faramir in Return of the King.

When reading the books as a teenager it was clear to me that the Nazgul in chasing Faramir’s men across the plains wanted to kill Faramir above all because he was then the only hope of Minas Tirith holding out against the armies of Minas Morgul, Faramir was a true threat to Mordor. In contrast in the movie Return of the King, the Thug Faramir is there again even more trapped in his daddy issues than he was before, a frightened victim of his daddy’s disapproval. Instead of resisting the evil of his father he resigns himself to commit suicide and Thug Faramir survives by happenstance. His lost appeared to me be at no great cost to Minas Tirith. What kind of story arc was that supposed to be? If anything it seemed to me, based on the movies alone, that of the two sons of Denathor Boromir was the better man. Tolkien it hardly need be said wanted us to have the opposite conclusion.

Now in the books Faramir’s story arc is clear, not nonexistent as Jackson claimed. Faramir is a wise, righteous man well-schooled in the ancient ways and the only man shown to lead any kind of prayer in the books. This wisdom helps him over and over again in the books giving him penetrating insight and the wisdom and strength of character to help Frodo and Sam on their quest and speed the Ring to its destruction. Well aware of his Father’s shortcomings he acts within the confines, that his duty and honor give him, to minimize the evil of his father. Helping the good at Gondor and Gandalf to resist the despair of Denethor. Not a victim he is a man of honor asked to make greater and greater sacrifices to maintain that honor until he is finally struck down saving his as many of men as possible.  That is a story arc with preserving and a perfectly valid hero’s journey.   Faramir of the books is supposed to be in contrast to Boromir and was a better man than Boromir but in the movies, this Thug Faramir is, if anything, less than his brother, who unsuccessfully tries to repeat the same story arc he had in Two Towers, in Return of the King.

Power of Faith is lost on a Secular Age

There is a theme here with Frodo and Faramir where Jackson seems unable to handle wise characters, who handle themselves with honor and dedication to their duty. In Tolkien, it is almost always true that wise characters are faithful characters that have Faith in God. I have always wondered if Jackson and Co. simply had a hard time grasping that wisdom, Faith, can actually help you make the right choices in life, that evil has a harder time corrupting you and that you can be harder to fool. I think these themes were just not in Jackson’s secular wheel house and he had a hard time figuring out how to handle these characters. With Faramir, I think Jackson made a conscious decision to replace him with Thug Faramir because he didn’t know what else to do. With Frodo I don’t think that Jackson tried to make him a foolish bumbler instead of a hero but I think that he views the story too strongly from Gollum’s eyes in the section of the story where Gollum and Frodo were together, and he needed to make other characters present in the movie that lessened Frodo’s role. In the end he just could not understand the “pity of Bilbo” even though Gandalf explained it to him.

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (ESV)

Published in Entertainment
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 91 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke
    @HankRhody

    Brian Wolf: Jackson seems unable to handle wise characters

    Wisdom. Hadn’t really thought about it that way, but now I’m trying to catalogue books in my mind. Plenty of clever characters, plenty of knowledgeable ones, but very few authors succeed in writing wise characters.

    • #1
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: Jackson seems unable to handle wise characters

    Wisdom. Hadn’t really thought about it that way, but now I’m trying to catalogue books in my mind. Plenty of clever characters, plenty of knowledgeable ones, but very few authors succeed in writing wise characters.

    And such a good post.

    • #2
  3. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    It has been a long time since I have read the books and I am sure that my recollection is mixed up with memories of the movie. This is a very fascinating observation of the differences. Along these lines, I recall having an intense curiosity about who Tom Bombadil represented. A strange yet totally fearless being with a great deal of power and authority yet a very unassuming character. I thought him very mysterious and interesting. Later I learned that his appearance was patterned on a small action figure owned by JRR’s son. Yet still I wonder. The little interlude in the woods with Bombadil was too great a departure from the story arc to make it to the movies and I am ok with that. Perhaps some consider him the Jar Jar Binks of the book – yet still I wonder…

    • #3
  4. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    In the books, if I recall, Frodo was not aware that the orcs were attacking his friends when he left them. In the movie, he knowingly deserts them while they are under attack…something that Tolkien would never have had Frodo do.

    That, and the way the movie made the destruction of the ring an act of something other than chance or grace, were the two most memorable screw ups for me. 

     

    • #4
  5. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    I remember reading an article, I forget where, in which the author, a Catholic, had an interview with Jackson and his writers (his wife and another woman, I believe). He brought up the Catholic elements of the books (Tolkien himself said that they were Catholic – unconsciously so at first, then consciously). If I’m remembering this correctly, Jackson’s response was that he had been told about Tolkien’s comments about the Catholicism in the stories, but it was not something he had put in his movies. I think the author said that Jackson and co. were polite, but not that interested. You’d think that since Jackson was such a fan of the books, that he would be at least a bit curious as to Tolkien’s motivations!

    • #5
  6. AchillesLastand Member
    AchillesLastand
    @

    Brian Wolf: Well aware of his Father’s shortcomings he acts within the confines, that his duty and honor give him, to minimize the evil of his father. Helping the good at Gondor and Gandalf to resist the despair of Denethor. Not a victim he is man of honor asked to make greater and greater sacrifices to maintain that honor until he is finally struck down saving his as many of men as possible. That is a story arc with preserving and a perfectly valid hero’s journey. Faramir of the books is supposed to be in contrast to Boromir and was a better man than Boromir but in the movies this Thug Faramir is, if anything, less than his brother, who unsuccessfully tries to repeat the same story arc he had in Two Towers, in Return of the King. 

    Yes! I heartily agree. I have been of that opinion for a long time, but with repeated viewings (without comparison reading), I was beginning to think my memory faulty. As it turns out, I am slowly working through the LotR, and just finished The Two Towers (This is my fourth or fifth reading, but the first in perhaps 15 years).

    If anyone doubt your words that I quoted above, then I suggest you view the Faramir scenes in the movie version of The Two Towers, followed by a close reading of Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Book 4 (The Window on the West, The Forbidden Pool, and Journey to the Cross-roads). These chapters will dispense with any notion that Boromir was the nobler brother. Yes, Boromir was a brave and valiant warrior, but Faramir would make a far nobler, and wiser, King.

    • #6
  7. AchillesLastand Member
    AchillesLastand
    @

    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: Jackson seems unable to handle wise characters

    Wisdom. Hadn’t really thought about it that way, but now I’m trying to catalogue books in my mind. Plenty of clever characters, plenty of knowledgeable ones, but very few authors succeed in writing wise characters.

    I always (from childhood) thought that Gandalf, Aragorn, and Faramir were the noblest and wisest characters, that Frodo was “the pure in heart” (Matt 5:8), and that Sam was the best friend/servant any Hobbit ever had. 

    With my latest reading, I’ve been reminded that Sam had a lot more going on in his “simple” head than I had remembered, and deserves much more credit that the movie gave  him.

    • #7
  8. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Tolkien put Christ-like attributes into his characters – Aragorn, the Returning King; Frodo, the Suffering Servant; Gandalf, the wise Prophet and High Priest; – Jackson just didn’t see any of that.

    And yes, turning Faramir into a man capable of thuggish and cruel behavior was a crime!

    • #8
  9. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: Jackson seems unable to handle wise characters

    Wisdom. Hadn’t really thought about it that way, but now I’m trying to catalogue books in my mind. Plenty of clever characters, plenty of knowledgeable ones, but very few authors succeed in writing wise characters.

    Wisdom is harder to write.  Tolkien uses a very Christian form of wisdom based in faith.  Like in Denethor’s despair was perfectly rational and Sauraman seemed wise but wasn’t.  It was the characters that had faith despite the evidence before them that were truly wise and held on to the end.  Many authors don’t bother to write about wisdom and faith in the same way that Tolkien did.  The fact that Jackson loved the books so much but didn’t want the wisdom in the characters always struck me as odd.

    • #9
  10. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    JoelB (View Comment):

    It has been a long time since I have read the books and I am sure that my recollection is mixed up with memories of the movie. This is a very fascinating observation of the differences. Along these lines, I recall having an intense curiosity about who Tom Bombadil represented. A strange yet totally fearless being with a great deal of power and authority yet a very unassuming character. I thought him very mysterious and interesting. Later I learned that his appearance was patterned on a small action figure owned by JRR’s son. Yet still I wonder. The little interlude in the woods with Bombadil was too great a departure from the story arc to make it to the movies and I am ok with that. Perhaps some consider him the Jar Jar Binks of the book – yet still I wonder…

     I don’t have any special insight but it always seemed to be that Tom and his bride were symbolic of uncorrupted nature.  Almost like they were an Adam and Eve from before the fall.  A remnant of  Middle-Earth with out the corrupting influence of Morogorth and Sauron.   Anyway that was my impression of them when I read them as an adult and more mature in my faith.  As a kid I thought they were a boring detour from the action!

    • #10
  11. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Bob W (View Comment):
    In the books, if I recall, Frodo was not aware that the orcs were attacking his friends when he left them. In the movie, he knowingly deserts them while they are under attack…something that Tolkien would never have had Frodo do

    Yes.  Showing the fight in the woods and Boromir’s last stand were good choices for a film maker, I think.  However the way he staged Frodo’s move muddied the waters for Frodo’s motivations.  I think Jackson was going for the sense that Frodo had to go right then, that he had no choice.  But that takes away the sacrificial nature of Frodo’s decision to leave.  I think Jackson would have done better to have the Fellowship scatter, because of Boromir’s treachery and after Frodo is gone be attacked by the Orcs.  That would left Frodo’s decision clean and taken nothing from the visuals. 

    I will give it to Jackson though that at least he managed to make Merry and Pippin heroic sacrificing themselves for Frodo.  That at least gave them some of their rightful due back to them.  Still I agree with your over all point here.

    Bob W (View Comment):

    That, and the way the movie made the destruction of the ring an act of something other than chance or grace, were the two most memorable screw ups for me. 

     

    Right on.

    • #11
  12. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    . If I’m remembering this correctly, Jackson’s response was that he had been told about Tolkien’s comments about the Catholicism in the stories, but it was not something he had put in his movies. I think the author said that Jackson and co. were polite, but not that interested. You’d think that since Jackson was such a fan of the books, that he would be at least a bit curious as to Tolkien’s motivations!

    But he did really.  Jackson just could not comprehend what he was looking at.  He loved Gandalf’s speech about Bilbo’s pity but could not understand how it played out.  He had Gandalf give a speech to Pippen about the after life during the siege of Minas Tirith and both these things were incredibly Christian and Jackson left there.  Faramir kept several lines of dialog that made him wise but Jackson didn’t understand why Faramir was wise or how that explained Faramir’s strong character.  So he didn’t strip the Catholicism and Christianity out of that tale he just had  a thumbless grasp of those themes and made him clumsy using them.

    • #12
  13. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    AchillesLastand (View Comment):
    If anyone doubt your words that I quoted above, then I suggest you view the Faramir scenes in the movie version of The Two Towers, followed by a close reading of Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Book 4 (The Window on the West, The Forbidden Pool, and Journey to the Cross-roads). These chapters will dispense with any notion that Boromir was the nobler brother. Yes, Boromir was a brave and valiant warrior, but Faramir would make a far nobler, and wiser, King.

    I love to meet a fellow fan of Faramir!  Interesting and revealing that Jackson and Co. were drawn in sympathy to Boromir and Smeagol at the expense of Frodo and Faramir.

    • #13
  14. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    AchillesLastand (View Comment):
    With my latest reading, I’ve been reminded that Sam had a lot more going on in his “simple” head than I had remembered, and deserves much more credit that the movie gave him.

    And over and over again it was bits of wisdom and strength that he had picked up from Bilbo or Frodo or because he was wise enough to be fascinated with the Elves.  And in return of the king what do the Orcs think Sam is, a mighty elven warrior.   Exactly what he had been aspiring to be!

    • #14
  15. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    Tolkien put Christ-like attributes into his characters – Aragorn, the Returning King; Frodo, the Suffering Servant; Gandalf, the wise Prophet and High Priest; – Jackson just didn’t see any of that.

    And yes, turning Faramir into a man capable of thuggish and cruel behavior was a crime!

    Perfect.

    • #15
  16. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    It has been a long time since I have read the books and I am sure that my recollection is mixed up with memories of the movie. This is a very fascinating observation of the differences. Along these lines, I recall having an intense curiosity about who Tom Bombadil represented. A strange yet totally fearless being with a great deal of power and authority yet a very unassuming character. I thought him very mysterious and interesting. Later I learned that his appearance was patterned on a small action figure owned by JRR’s son. Yet still I wonder. The little interlude in the woods with Bombadil was too great a departure from the story arc to make it to the movies and I am ok with that. Perhaps some consider him the Jar Jar Binks of the book – yet still I wonder…

    I don’t have any special insight but it always seemed to be that Tom and his bride were symbolic of uncorrupted nature. Almost like they were an Adam and Eve from before the fall. A remnant of Middle-Earth with out the corrupting influence of Morogorth and Sauron. Anyway that was my impression of them when I read them as an adult and more mature in my faith. As a kid I thought they were a boring detour from the action!

    I think I read that in a chapter of a book of Tolkien essays called A Tolkien Compass.

    • #16
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Perfect.

    Like nearly everything about this whole thread.

    • #17
  18. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Bob W (View Comment):
    In the books, if I recall, Frodo was not aware that the orcs were attacking his friends when he left them. In the movie, he knowingly deserts them while they are under attack…something that Tolkien would never have had Frodo do

    Yes. Showing the fight in the woods and Boromir’s last stand were good choices for a film maker, I think. However the way he staged Frodo’s move muddied the waters for Frodo’s motivations. I think Jackson was going for the sense that Frodo had to go right then, that he had no choice. But that takes away the sacrificial nature of Frodo’s decision to leave. I think Jackson would have done better to have the Fellowship scatter, because of Boromir’s treachery and after Frodo is gone be attacked by the Orcs. That would left Frodo’s decision clean and taken nothing from the visuals.

    I will give it to Jackson though that at least he managed to make Merry and Pippin heroic sacrificing themselves for Frodo. That at least gave them some of their rightful due back to them. Still I agree with your over all point here.

    Bob W (View Comment):

    That, and the way the movie made the destruction of the ring an act of something other than chance or grace, were the two most memorable screw ups for me.

     

    Right on.

    Although I guess the way it was filmed, it could still be seen as an accident when the ring was destroyed. And it is still true in the movie, as in the book, that it wouldn’t  have been destroyed if Bilbo had killed Gollum. 

    • #18
  19. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Perfect.

    Like nearly everything about this whole thread.

    I love hitting your sweet spot here saint Augustine. Makes my day.

    • #19
  20. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    It has been a long time since I have read the books and I am sure that my recollection is mixed up with memories of the movie. This is a very fascinating observation of the differences. Along these lines, I recall having an intense curiosity about who Tom Bombadil represented. A strange yet totally fearless being with a great deal of power and authority yet a very unassuming character. I thought him very mysterious and interesting. Later I learned that his appearance was patterned on a small action figure owned by JRR’s son. Yet still I wonder. The little interlude in the woods with Bombadil was too great a departure from the story arc to make it to the movies and I am ok with that. Perhaps some consider him the Jar Jar Binks of the book – yet still I wonder…

    I don’t have any special insight but it always seemed to be that Tom and his bride were symbolic of uncorrupted nature. Almost like they were an Adam and Eve from before the fall. A remnant of Middle-Earth with out the corrupting influence of Morogorth and Sauron. Anyway that was my impression of them when I read them as an adult and more mature in my faith. As a kid I thought they were a boring detour from the action!

    I think I read that in a chapter of a book of Tolkien essays called A Tolkien Compass.

    Wow I never read that. Cool. Maybe I did have insight then…

    • #20
  21. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    I think Jackson’s main failing was insisting that Lord of the Rings is about war. And it is not. The Battle of Helm’s Deep takes way too long in The Two Towers.

    He should have asked somebody to help him focus on the characters and their journey.

    • #21
  22. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    It has been a long time since I have read the books and I am sure that my recollection is mixed up with memories of the movie. This is a very fascinating observation of the differences. Along these lines, I recall having an intense curiosity about who Tom Bombadil represented. A strange yet totally fearless being with a great deal of power and authority yet a very unassuming character. I thought him very mysterious and interesting. Later I learned that his appearance was patterned on a small action figure owned by JRR’s son. Yet still I wonder. The little interlude in the woods with Bombadil was too great a departure from the story arc to make it to the movies and I am ok with that. Perhaps some consider him the Jar Jar Binks of the book – yet still I wonder…

    I don’t have any special insight but it always seemed to be that Tom and his bride were symbolic of uncorrupted nature. Almost like they were an Adam and Eve from before the fall. A remnant of Middle-Earth with out the corrupting influence of Morogorth and Sauron. Anyway that was my impression of them when I read them as an adult and more mature in my faith. As a kid I thought they were a boring detour from the action!

    That was my impression too, especially as the ring has no affect whatsoever on Tom – a nature not yet fallen.

    • #22
  23. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    I think Jackson’s main failing was insisting that Lord of the Rings is about war. And it is not. The Battle of Helm’s Deep takes way too long in The Two Towers.

    He should have asked somebody to help him focus on the characters and their journey.

    Amen to that! So much of Jackson’s long battle sequence make me think that he was indulging his inner 12-year old boy: “And then, like, Aragorn could like swing his sword in a circle and get these orcs in the neck, and then, like, he could run his spear into like 3 orcs at one time, and then Legolas could ride his shield like it was like some kind of awesome skateboard….” So much of that could have – should have – been left on the cutting room floor.

    • #23
  24. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    I think Jackson’s main failing was insisting that Lord of the Rings is about war. And it is not. The Battle of Helm’s Deep takes way too long in The Two Towers.

    He should have asked somebody to help him focus on the characters and their journey.

    Amen to that! So much of Jackson’s long battle sequence make me think that he was indulging his inner 12-year old boy: “And then, like, Aragorn could like swing his sword in a circle and get these orcs in the neck, and then, like, he could run his spear into like 3 orcs at one time, and then Legolas could ride his shield like it was like some kind of awesome skateboard….” So much of that could have – should have – been left on the cutting room floor.

    Yep. I turned it off, it was so off-key to the real story.

    • #24
  25. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    I think Jackson’s main failing was insisting that Lord of the Rings is about war. And it is not. The Battle of Helm’s Deep takes way too long in The Two Towers.

    He should have asked somebody to help him focus on the characters and their journey.

    Amen to that! So much of Jackson’s long battle sequence make me think that he was indulging his inner 12-year old boy: “And then, like, Aragorn could like swing his sword in a circle and get these orcs in the neck, and then, like, he could run his spear into like 3 orcs at one time, and then Legolas could ride his shield like it was like some kind of awesome skateboard….” So much of that could have – should have – been left on the cutting room floor.

    Yep. I turned it off, it was so off-key to the real story.

    But the Elves showing up totally made sense, right?

    You know, just invent telepathy-power for certain Elves, pretend they can cover a multi-week journey in a couple of hours, ignore the Orcs threatening Lorien, and imagine that Elrond is in charge of Lorien archers.  It all makes perfect sense for the Elves to show up at Helm’s Deep.

    • #25
  26. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    I think Jackson’s main failing was insisting that Lord of the Rings is about war. And it is not. The Battle of Helm’s Deep takes way too long in The Two Towers.

    He should have asked somebody to help him focus on the characters and their journey.

    Amen to that! So much of Jackson’s long battle sequence make me think that he was indulging his inner 12-year old boy: “And then, like, Aragorn could like swing his sword in a circle and get these orcs in the neck, and then, like, he could run his spear into like 3 orcs at one time, and then Legolas could ride his shield like it was like some kind of awesome skateboard….” So much of that could have – should have – been left on the cutting room floor.

    Yep. I turned it off, it was so off-key to the real story.

    But the Elves showing up totally made sense, right?

    You know, just invent telepathy-power for certain Elves, pretend they can cover a multi-week journey in a couple of hours, ignore the Orcs threatening Lorien, and imagine that Elrond is in charge of Lorien archers. It all makes perfect sense for the Elves to show up at Helm’s Deep.

    Yes, that and all the other changes to the story really turned me off.

    • #26
  27. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    AchillesLastand (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: Well aware of his Father’s shortcomings he acts within the confines, that his duty and honor give him, to minimize the evil of his father. Helping the good at Gondor and Gandalf to resist the despair of Denethor. Not a victim he is man of honor asked to make greater and greater sacrifices to maintain that honor until he is finally struck down saving his as many of men as possible. That is a story arc with preserving and a perfectly valid hero’s journey. Faramir of the books is supposed to be in contrast to Boromir and was a better man than Boromir but in the movies this Thug Faramir is, if anything, less than his brother, who unsuccessfully tries to repeat the same story arc he had in Two Towers, in Return of the King.

    Yes! I heartily agree. I have been of that opinion for a long time, but with repeated viewings (without comparison reading), I was beginning to think my memory faulty. As it turns out, I am slowly working through the LotR, and just finished The Two Towers (This is my fourth or fifth reading, but the first in perhaps 15 years).

    If anyone doubt your words that I quoted above, then I suggest you view the Faramir scenes in the movie version of The Two Towers, followed by a close reading of Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Book 4 (The Window on the West, The Forbidden Pool, and Journey to the Cross-roads). These chapters will dispense with any notion that Boromir was the nobler brother. Yes, Boromir was a brave and valiant warrior, but Faramir would make a far nobler, and wiser, King.

    For me, the destruction of Faramir in the movies is the very worst, and most unforgivable sins.  I watched Fellowship and when I got to the end, I thought “They did it!  It’s a little off…but they did it!” Then the Two Towers came and I thought…”Oh no…”

    • #27
  28. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    I think Jackson’s main failing was insisting that Lord of the Rings is about war. And it is not. The Battle of Helm’s Deep takes way too long in The Two Towers.

    He should have asked somebody to help him focus on the characters and their journey.

    Amen to that! So much of Jackson’s long battle sequence make me think that he was indulging his inner 12-year old boy: “And then, like, Aragorn could like swing his sword in a circle and get these orcs in the neck, and then, like, he could run his spear into like 3 orcs at one time, and then Legolas could ride his shield like it was like some kind of awesome skateboard….” So much of that could have – should have – been left on the cutting room floor.

    Yep. I turned it off, it was so off-key to the real story.

    But the Elves showing up totally made sense, right?

    You know, just invent telepathy-power for certain Elves, pretend they can cover a multi-week journey in a couple of hours, ignore the Orcs threatening Lorien, and imagine that Elrond is in charge of Lorien archers. It all makes perfect sense for the Elves to show up at Helm’s Deep.

    Yes, that and all the other changes to the story really turned me off.

    But…but…”Nobody tosses a Dwarf!”…and…and…we gotta show this former skateboarder going down some stairs on a shield.  Why not an ollie followed by and indie nose bone as well?  Hmm?  

    • #28
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Spin (View Comment):

    AchillesLastand (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf: Well aware of his Father’s shortcomings he acts within the confines, that his duty and honor give him, to minimize the evil of his father. Helping the good at Gondor and Gandalf to resist the despair of Denethor. Not a victim he is man of honor asked to make greater and greater sacrifices to maintain that honor until he is finally struck down saving his as many of men as possible. That is a story arc with preserving and a perfectly valid hero’s journey. Faramir of the books is supposed to be in contrast to Boromir and was a better man than Boromir but in the movies this Thug Faramir is, if anything, less than his brother, who unsuccessfully tries to repeat the same story arc he had in Two Towers, in Return of the King.

    Yes! I heartily agree. I have been of that opinion for a long time, but with repeated viewings (without comparison reading), I was beginning to think my memory faulty. As it turns out, I am slowly working through the LotR, and just finished The Two Towers (This is my fourth or fifth reading, but the first in perhaps 15 years).

    If anyone doubt your words that I quoted above, then I suggest you view the Faramir scenes in the movie version of The Two Towers, followed by a close reading of Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Book 4 (The Window on the West, The Forbidden Pool, and Journey to the Cross-roads). These chapters will dispense with any notion that Boromir was the nobler brother. Yes, Boromir was a brave and valiant warrior, but Faramir would make a far nobler, and wiser, King.

    Forme, the destruction of Faramir in the movies is the very worst, and most unforgivable sins. I watched Fellowship and when I got to the end, I thought “They did it! It’s a little off…but they did it!” Then the Two Towers came and I thought…”Oh no…”

    That was when I ripped the hair off my feet and left it on the theater floor; later I joined my friends for an hour or so of complaining in the parking lot.

    • #29
  30. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    What a bunch of nerds we are….   ;-)

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.