- Tolkien’s Faramir is a classic hero, whereas Jackson’s Faramir is a post-modern wimp with complex relationship problems.
- Tolkien’s Gollum has an internal heart problem that obliges him to sin and which he can’t overcome. Jackson’s good Gollum says at one point to the bad Gollum, “Go away and never come back!” At which Smeagol’s bad side actually goes away until the cruel environment in which Gollum is forced to live and work brings back the bad guy.
- Tolkien’s ring could only be destroyed by the power of Providence: Gollum “slips” on his own. Jackson has Frodo push Gollum. I guess his providence needed a little help.
- Tolkien had no crystal chicks. Peter Jackson couldn’t make it without spicing up the few girl parts to appease the modern feminist palate a little.
- Tolkien was written for adults who could follow a story. Jackson had to please the 20 year old video gamers by having—to pick just one example—a super cool elf run on top of a CGI cave troll to fire arrows down his throat while standing on said troll’s shoulders. Of course, in the book the troll doesn’t even get into the room.
- Tolkien wrote Sam and Frodo to be honest, loyal friends though Frodo was the obvious social superior. Jackson wrote Sam and Frodo to be… big surprise, a couple of peers who also have messy interpersonal problems including one of Jackson’s lowest dips where he has Frodo actually follow Gollum over Sam.
- Aragorn is a high and lordly king whose gaze cannot be held by either his friends (Eomer) or his foes (Sauron’s lieutenant). His will alone is sufficient to strengthen the men to enter the paths of the dead. Cut, cut, cut went Jackson’s scissors. Such heroes are far too heavy for today. They might make us feel bad since we obviously aren’t as good as them.
- Tolkien has some battles that are crucial to the plot, but occupy less than 30 pages out of 1,000. Jackson has scene after scene of gruesome orcs complete with creative ways to make blood fly.
- Tolkien wrote Theoden to be one more among many heroes. Jackson had him doubting and doting even after his “conversion.”
- Tolkien’s son and executor said, “They [Jackson and co.] eviscerated it [his dad’s classic tale] by making it an action movie for young people aged 15-25.”
And I haven’t even endured all the films.
I cannot agree on Faramir more. I feel like he should be the subject of a big wimpy internet meme. He is actually one of my favorite characters in the book, and I so want to love him in the movie but I find myself just laughing at his misfortune.
The Sam and Frodo thing is weird to me too, and I can’t figure out why Jackson changed it except that perhaps that he thought it was necessary to be really heavy-handed with the audience on how persuasive the ring can be.
The Aragorn stuff was also painful (especially with what an “unwilling” leader he was, which is such a contrast to the authority he gives off in the book), although I think Viggo Mortensen makes a perfect Aragorn and I’ll never picture that character another way again.
You forgot the uncomfortable scenes between Arwen and Aragorn (and replacing Glorfindel with Arwen in one of the most critical scenes of the Fellowship), but I guess that’s been hashed to death elsewhere 😛
I’m a huge fan of the Tolkienverse, but I actually really love the movies, despite their faults. I think I can enjoy them because I know they are flawed interpretations but they are still a way to see on screen on the best stories ever told.
Yes, I could have made the list longer, but ten gets the point across.
And though my love for Tolkien and angst at the movies gets the better of me, there are elements of the movies that are brilliant. Most noticeably as you mentioned, the casting, but also the location and sets.
Are you trying to tell me that Tolkien didn’t have Legolas skateboarding on a shield down the stairs while shooting arrows??
It is called shield-surfing, O Philistine, and had a long and enduring history when Jackson’s writers mined it from the depths of classic and enduring literature.
Philistine thine own self. Twas but a bit of fluff set as a movie.
some of us just enjoyed it for the scenery and the action. A good tale as retold by a different bard. I liked the books, and I liked the films, but I didn’t try to see more than a good tale of an epic adventure.
Good points, all. Although–due to my personal tastes–I don’t regret the expansions of the battles. I have to confess to loving the films despite these shortcomings. I embraced them for precisely what they are, superb action films based rather loosely on a preeminent piece of literature. Of course, had they followed Tolkien more closely, they would have been monumental.
Although I enjoyed the films, the books are much more valuable. I wish the movies had included Tom Bombadil. The movies seem to place an undue emphasize on the things the world values. I guess it’s to be expected as they are a product of the world’s system.
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