Lord Of The Revision

It’s been fifteen years or so since I last read The Lord Of The Rings. In that time, I’ve seen the Peter Jackson movies a half-dozen times. And, it turns out, my memories of the movies have replaced my memories of the book.

The movies dropped the Fatty Bolger character, cut out a scene where the hobbits spend a night with elves, dropped Frodo’s decoy house, dropped the conspiracy among Frodo’s friends to figure out what he’s up to, completely changed the nature of their interaction with Farmer Maggot, added a chase scene to get to the ferry, and apparently moved the town of Bree to just across the Brandywine river (which cuts out a tricksy forest and Tom Bombadil – which is as far as I’ve read so far).

Which is not to fault the movies! Because a lot of that stuff is fairly inconsequential, and skipping it in the interest of just getting on with things doesn’t hurt how the movies work. After all, it takes the book 100+ pages just to get across the river, and another couple of chapters after that to get to Bree. If the movies stuck to the book, it would take hours of screen time just to meet Aragorn. But, since I only remembered Jackson’s streamlined version, a couple of times I’ve found myself wondering if maybe I’m reading some kind of new expanded edition of LOTR!

3 thoughts on “Lord Of The Revision

  1. Jewish Steel

    That first third of Fellowship is just incredible. The atmosphere of psychological dread that Tolkien conjures is truly masterful. And the corrosive effect of The Ring is much clearer. That scene with Bilbo and Gandalf going back and forth is so much longer in the book and does a better job setting up what all the fuss is about. The film could have dwelt on that more (or half a dozen other things!) and cut out the ludicrous Aragorn/Arwen love story.

    The gulf of acting ability between Frodo/Sam and Andy Serkis becomes really distracting once you notice it. The Hobbits are played by perfectly serviceable young actors. Serkis is astonishing.

    I have imagined a fantasy LOTR film that is conducted entirely in Tolkien’s made-up languages and puts a greater emphasis, the correct emphasis, on the power of the natural world. Everybody knows the story, we don’t need the details spelled out for us. It would be the kind of film that a Japanese filmmaker would excel at creating, I think.

    1. HinTN

      As one who for many years re-read the trilogy every autumn, the Fellowship film was deeply satisfying. I knew the story would be changed to meet the needs of cinema but I found the nods to the tale numerous and nice. Think of the hobbits under the tree by the road early in the film. It’s a reference to Old Man Willow, send hence Tom Bombadil. The Two Towers really dispensed with that and went with what I’ll call shallow cinema motifs. The Return of the King got back to the books but, for me, never recovered the magic of the first film. Don’t get me wrong, I love the films.

Comments are closed.