February 29, 2004

The Nitpicker's Guide to Lord of the Rings. Obsessive, much? Got time to waste and want to know exactly how many deviations Peter Jackson's movie triad made from the books? Then this link's for you.
  • Yowch. Has anyone else read the books and found them to be, well, not particularly good? A friend of mine described the Lord of the Rings trilogy as "Everyone's favourite book for everyone who's never read anything" and it seems to ring true.
  • I had some issues between the book and the film (Arwen and the warg battle being the biggest) but this is really pedantic. I really like the book and read it on average once a year. The first time I read it, though, I was bored silly with all the description and got lost as soon as a battle began. It was on the second or third try that I really got into it. Now it probably is one of my favourite books.
  • Some changes were great - how can you complain about Arwen getting a character? The only change I noticed and minded were those to Faramir, because they were a) unnessary* and b) undermined one of the important streams of the story. I would have also been happier with older looking hobbits (Frodo was 50 wen he set out, which would make him 30ish in human terms), but that wasn't a big deal. I just think having older, not so pretty heroes is good for the movie industry. Anything with out these kind of justifications is just nitpicking. That said, there are books which I would do anything short of murder to prevent being filmed by certain people ( Kevin Sullivan filming anymore LM Montgomery - the first was a good adaptation, but the rest were abomnimations), so I understand people being really committed. As for the quality issue - well, Tolkien is more important than he is fun to read. In that he changed the way many people write and think by reintroducing the epic fantasy, he is one of the most important writers ever. Would I rather read Guy Gavriel Kay? Yes, and not just because it starts off in Toronto :) (Actually, Tigana is the best of Kay's work) * I know Jackson had reasons, but I didn't agree with them, as I thought the Two Towers didn't need more action, but then I'm a Merchant-Ivory fan and love long movies in which little excitig happens.
  • jb, I think the guy on this site had it right in his description of the added Arwen scenes. She would never have given up and gone to the Grey Havens, she and Aragorn had been betrothed for many years. Elrond never disapproved of their union. It annoyed me that the warg scene appeared to have been added just so Aragorn could be revived by an imaginary Arwen. Eowyn is a strong enough female character to have filled her place. I just think that if he was going to have more Arwen, she could have been a little more true. It seemed like Jackson made her somewhat flaky so that Aragorn could cast his eye at Eowyn. I can also understand why Jackson made the changes he did (time being his biggest constraint). And I agree about Faramir, and the thing about Theoden being possessed by Saruman? Oh no, I do sound like the Nitpicker guy! He links to the Encyclopaedia of Arda at the bottom -- it was posted on Metafilter some time ago and is a brilliant LotR resource.
  • Oh, and what other LM Montgomery is available these days? I adored the Anne of Green Gables series as a kid.
  • Well, ignoring the guy's grumbling, I found the page actually helpful in clearing up some of my confusion from the movies. I haven't read the books in quite a while, so I spent a lot of the movies thinking, ``I don't remember that bit. Is that Jackson making stuff up or am I just forgetting the book?'' (Purist though I am, I rather like some of the changes in Fellowship. I don't miss Bombadil or Glorfindel all that much, Arwen getting some action scenes was nice, and cranky bitter Elrond is more interesting than vaguely benevolent Elrond.) OT: The last half (long story) of Tigana was the first Guy Gavriel Kay I'd ever read, and I fell in love with his work. I went back and read the whole thing a couple of times, and it feels kind of disjointed between chapters and there were some ideas that he didn't explore enough for my tastes. I still like it, but I'm finding that I actually like the Fionavar Tapestry more. Bad segue: Look for Kay's name in the forward to the Silmarillion.
  • Full points for that politics link, homunculus. It was worth the read, even with the insane advertisement I had to watch in the middle. I, for one, am a big fan of the books, though mainly for the elaborate layers of history and mythology Tolkien created. They fascinate me. Jackon's changes don't really bother me, because they tend to usually suit the purposes of the film version. The only thing I disliked was Faramir bringing the Hobbits out of the wilds and to the cities of Gondor. For some reason that just seemed REALLY unnecessary.
  • tracicle - I was thinking primarly about Arwen's action scenes in Fellowship - as that is the only one I have read partly recently, and the only movie I have seen more than once. I remember being a bit annoyed but mostly confused by her scenes in the later two. As for Montgomery - Kevin Sullivan studios made 2 tv-movie sequels, both of which went farther and farther from the original stories. I couldn't even bring myself to watch the third, set during WW1 with a young Anne and Gilbert - both of whom were suposed to have grown children by then. It meant that the studio threw away the amazing and honest homefront story of Rilla of Ingleside for some feel-good tv crap. They similarly trashed Jane of Lantern Hill and The Story Girl. The book I fear them doing is one of her few adult novels, The Blue Castle, though I think Merchant Ivory could do a good job on that. PS: Hi Geoff!
  • homonculus: Glad that wasn't Brin's crapulent Salon piece, which featured glaring, basic misreadings of Tolkien (although fairly common ones). Although it gave me an opportunity to wax lyrical on misunderstandings of Aragorn, so it's not a total loss. I really liked FotR, because the changes made didn't disturb the story or Tolkien's ideas as set forth in the book, and some of the minor touches (like Boromir teaching the hobbits to fight, bringing out why Elrond distrusts humans) did a better job than the book - it's a nice way of humanising Boromir. And the notion that Elrond wasn't pleased by the match of Aragorn and Arwen is quite well founded - he sets a very high bar for Aragorn before he's going to be allowed to wed Arwen (restore the greatness of the Numenoreans, essentially). Bringing Arwen more into the front story didn't bother me too much - the romance is actualy a major part of the Appendicies anyway, and it's just being in-lined with some modifications for the PC crowd who think there aren't enough girls in Tolkien. TTT was, well, crap would be too harsh a word. But I was very, very dissapointed. The changes to Faramir were rubbish, complete rubbish. Faramir is supposed to have been all-but-exiled in large part because the's the smart, strong willed son who will do what's right, not what his father's bidding is. He's supposed to be a complete contrast to Boromir; an Aragorn-lite, if you like. The change to Theoden is horrible, too. Waving the wand and he's free? Steaming mound. Big, steaming mound. Most importantly a major theme with Gandalf and Saruman in the books is that the Istari aren't supposed to get in the position of becoming leaders or controllers - they are supposed to aid and advise, with the peoples of Middle Earth choosing their own fate as an act of free will (Tolkien is, after all, a devout Catholic). Saruman's fall is because he decides to take charge, and is seduced into evil because of it. Gandalf's ability to step back from trying to control things is what makes him a success. It also undermines what, to me anyway, was a powerful moment in the book, which is Theoden breaking himself free of the shackles. And the changes made (as well as other time-saving removals) were for what? A bunch of crappy extra action sequences in a movie that would have already been action packed? That bullshit Aragorn-floats-down-the-river-sequence? I haven't seen RotK yet, but I'm expecting, from what I've heard, to be similarly dissapointed there, too.
  • However, I am intrigued by Tolkien's use of the word 'spawn'... Certainly, it is food for thought. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.