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And verily it rawketh!
From the trailer I think we can expect another exceptional piece of cinematography from Peter Jackson, even if we have to wait another year for it.
Okay, I didn’t like every single thing Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings, but dash my wig, I will be anticipating this with great anticipation.
Martin Freeman is the perfect casting choice for Bilbo, and I’m glad to see from this trailer that they take Thorin Oakenshield seriously.
Now all I have to do is wait impatiently to see what Smaug looks like (I know they’ve cast Benedict Cumberbatch to voice him, but I need to see that the dragon looks appropriately dragonish on screen) and, of course, what they do with Thranduil.
But so far, it looks great!
Looks great! Gandalf doesn’t look too much older than he did in LOTR, which is a good thing since the Hobbit came first.
… tell me I’m misinterpreting the scene at 1:31 and there’s not going to be a Gandalf-themed romance…
that caught my eye too … ugh
Well, let’s hope we’re a pair of weirdos, seeing things that aren’t there.
And furthermore, my comment wasn’t meant to detract from the GENERAL AWESOMENESS OF THE TRAILER!!
“And if you do, you will not be the same…” – that gives me shivers!
Since I’m home sick (stomach flu…yay!…or not…), I’ve seen this trailer about 6 times already. I never got any indication of a romance from that scene, if it makes you feel any better.
That being said, the film looks like it’s going to be INCREDIBLE and I cannot wait to see it…why, oh, why is it coming out *next* December?
Actually, you have to wait until December 2013 for all of it, since Jackson is splitting this up into two movies. (Which I think is a mistake.)
We might not even get to see Smaug for two years.
I expect that’s a scene from the White Council. I am hoping that it’s Galadriel offering Gandalf encouragement and comfort, but I agree that it could be interpreted in a romantically intimate manner. Still, it’s a tiny clip taken entirely out of context, so… here’s hoping!
I suppose I am alone in being frustrated by The Lord of the Rings. The books were subtle; the movies were not. Much that was vital was cut; much that was frivolous was created and put in. Characters were changed and shredded. It appears the same is going to happen here.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!
. . .
*cough* Sorry. I get emotional over that sometimes. Everybody in the known universe seems to love those movies. I find them an extremely off-putting and frustrating and tin-eared approach to LotR. Although nearly everyone I know owns the DVDs, I have sworn never to watch them again. I’m still working on getting the imagery out of my head.
That said, I’ll probably see the Hobbit. In the theater. Maybe even opening night.
HE IS NOT ALONE.
Casting a boyish looking actor as Aragorn was a mistake. Mocking the dwarf for being short, rather than praising him for being sturdy, was a mistake. Removing the scouring of the Shire at the end was a literary crime, which undid the main point and theme of the story.
Making Faramir lust after the ring was an abomination. Having Denethror plunge to his death screaming rather than die with stoic Roman dignity in his madness was unintentionally comical. Having Aragorn ALLOW Frodo to go into the Dark Land instead of (as in the book) having Frodo escape during an orc attack made no sense on any level, betrayed the character, and made nonsense of the plot. Ditto with the scene later where Gollum convinces Frodo to abandon Sam in the mountains of Mordor.
Theoden in the book was an old man too weary to take up his sword, but, having been given spiritual comfort by Gandalf, fights to the last. In the movie he is drooling ninny who, once released from a spell, transforms into a middle aged man who has to be arm-twisted into fighting the battle at Helm’s Deep. My favorite character ruined.
I could go on. Hard as the director tried, and true as he was to his source material, I cannot sit and watch those movies again, and will not let my children watch them, at least, not until they are old enough to read and savor the books.
On the good side, the casting for Sam, and Gandalf was perfect.
Many things were done right. It merely makes what was done wrong —- ARGH! the Istari duel each by flingning each other through the air?!?!! Old men flying on wires?!?! WTF?! —– all that much more painful.
Jackson is modern, and lacks any sense of the dignity and nobility of the characters.
Many of the points you raise are exactly what I was thinking of. The scene with Theoden was one of my favourites in the book, and it was utterly ruined in the movie. Turning Faramir into Boromir, part two, was absolutely wrong.
Having seen other of Jackson’s movies, I have to agree that he is a modern, and that beauty and truth are both foreign to him. He cannot allow courage, fortitude, or any other virtue to stand, but must cast in self doubt and self loathing.
Excellent criticisms, Messrs Bear and Wright. Faramir as Boromir II was my least favorite character change, but Gimli as comic relief ranks right up there.
Some very much un-favorite plot changes: (1) Gandalf and Elrond fix the decision of the council the night before with the council subsequently breaking down into anarchy instead of solemn decision. (2) Treebeard and the ents need to be tricked into attacking Isengard, instead of coming to the conclusion after the Entmoot. It’s as if Jackson disbelieved in the ability of free people to meet, argue, and discuss and come to any kind of rational decision. Every decision is fixed by the powerful or consequent to a gut reaction.
And I could deal with Arwen replacing Glorfindel on the road to Rivendell since Glorfindel isn’t much of a character, anyway, but, as one of my female students once pointed out, the best way to please the girls in the audience would not be to shoehorn more girls into the plot where they don’t belong, but to show virtuous men acting honorably. Giving Elizabeth Bennett a brother who’s also looking to get married isn’t going to pull in the guys who just find Pride & Prejudice boring.
@ John C Wright
Wow! I had no idea you felt so strongly about the films!
Heresy! Glorfindel is to a character! While minor yes, that is one awesome elf lord. Not only was he alive during the first age (Silmarillion), but he (thanks to Tolkien’s revisions) actually died in battle with a Balrog, then was later resurrected! Plus he one of the most powerful elves left in middle-earth at the time of the war in the ring. So yes, while he is a MINOR character, he is still a pretty cool one.
Forgive me, my elf love got the better of me 😀
whoops, should read “is TOO a character”
Oh, I’m totally with you, considering the whole corpus. I just don’t think that cutting him out irreparably damages the story in any significant way. He is way, way cool, though, I agree. Speaking of which, I think I actually prefer the version of the Gondolin battle in Lost Tales 2 to the version in the Silmarillion. Doesn’t he kill, like, 10 balrogs in that version?
“I just don’t think that cutting him out irreparably damages the story in any significant way.”
Agreed. Still though, It would have been nice to see him in the film (he was even booted in the animated version!).
Did Glorfindel kill a bunch of Balrogs in Lost tales? I actually don’t remember. It’s funny though how many times Tolkien changed his own stories. If he had lived longer, we might have a different version of “The Silmarillion” today.
I think you’re dead on, John.
Like most of us, I had mixed feelings about Jackson’s LOTR adaptations. They got a lot right, chiefly a lot of the visuals (some of which were *better* than my imagining had ever been), the linguistics, much of the casting, and even the soundtrack – indeed, I would say, more than we probably had any right to expect from a Hollywood funded production and a horror director. What it got wrong (occasionally, very badly wrong) were, as you note, some of the characterizations, and that distorted the story as a result. Seeing those alterations, and listening to the commentary tracks, I don’t quite think that Jackson, Fran and Philippa really quite “got” THE LORD OF THE RINGS. At heart, they’re post modernists. And it shows.
But there’s less in THE HOBBIT to screw up, however. Aside from Bilbo and Gandalf and Thorin, there’s not really any three dimensional characters, and none of those three have the depth they and others develop in LOTR…though perhaps there are hints in Bard and Beorn. It’s a children’s novel. So perhaps I have some hope that he’ll get more of THE HOBBIT right.
But perhaps I’m tempting fate by saying that. I’m already nervous about the decision to split up it up into TWO movies.
P.S. “Casting a boyish looking actor as Aragorn was a mistake.”
Wow – if you thought that about Viggo Mortensen, I shudder to think how you would have reacted had they stuck with their original choice, Stuart Townsend. (Who they finally replaced out of fear that he was “too boyish.”)
Indeed! Stuart Townsend was a very wrong choice for the part, it is one of those ‘what was Jackson thinking’ moments.
FWIW, I actually like Viggo, I thought he made a good Aragorn, and I didn’t think he was *that* young looking.
I think Mortensen was well-cast in the role. And since I started reading the Stirling “Dies the Fire” series shortly after seeing the first LOTR movie, I now have Mortensen irretrievably cast as Lord Bear Mike Havel as well…
You’re not alone. Jackson’s films are beautiful, exciting, yet ultimately shallow action/adventure films that bear some vague resemblance to The Lord of the Rings. I expect the same from his “The Hobbit.”
Such is life in a fallen world. It gives me hope for a better visual adaptation in about fifteen or twenty years.
Peter Jackson did a great job with the Lord of the Rings considering the following (A) he had to put 1500 pages into 9 hours (extended edition), in comparistonthe IVT adaptation of Brideshead (1981) which was completely faithful to the book (300/400 pages) takes 12 hours to watch. (b) When it came to re-ordering events (we don’t see shelob in the two towers film) the script team were actually incredibly faithfull to the storyline of the book (c) You can’t realistically expect to put in EVERYTHING, I was gratified that they put it in the romance between aragorn and arwen from the book’s appendix (albiet in a fashion which didn’t involve an extention to the end of the film) and that they made elrond more grumpy, because lets face it he’s not the most optismitic of charicters, The Elves at Helm’s deep were also pretty cool as they remind us of Galadrial’s faith in the quest.
As for Galadiral appearing in this Film I’m fine with it so long as it advances the plot, maybe it will reveal more of Gandalf’s origins (an incarnate angel) and that the fact that his decision to aid the dwarfs is part of a wider strategic move on the part of white council.
Sorry for TMI, but like Br. Andre Marie M.I.C.M I am am slightly obsessed with Tolkien and I re-read the books/ watch the films again every 6-12 months.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe he did. There are some awesome achievements in the films, but on the whole it left me feeling empty. The films are filled with spectacular, awesome shots that left me thinking: “That’s amazing! That’s incredible! But why is it there?” I have a feeling Jackson got lost in the technology at some point, and started laying in shots for no other purpose than to say: “Look at what we can do!”
I, too, am a Tolkien fan, and I re-read the books every year or so. I realize there would be cuts and changes. I knew the over tone of the book probably would not be captured on film, but even so, I felt he ultimately left the books and characters behind. I may have liked the movies more had he called them something else.
I guess Bear that we’re going to have to agree to disagree, fortunately the quality of Peter Jackson’s cinematography is not a teaching of Holy Mother Church.
I will grant you that.
You are not alone. As I said when I read this post “Let the Avoidening begin.” (So dubbed because I’m avoiding watching or reading about what is happening in the filming in the movie, as well as the movie itself.)
I have read the books more times than years in my life. I met my wife on a Tolkien forum. Our first date, as it were, was the Fellowship of the Ring. Two of my children possess names from Tolkien. I own all the movies, in extended edition, because everyone kept saying how the deleted scenes made the movie better and less offensive. (They did the opposite.) They gather dust on my shelf, except when my wife watches them, as she has a stronger stomach. She only does so when I am not in the house.
While the acting was generally fantastic, and the scenes, score, and SFX were incredible, and the casting inspired (except, for some odd reason, for the main character) these were bad adaptations to me. They told, fundamentally, a different story. They featured different characters with the same names. The plot diverged in important ways from the original, and the themes were deliberately removed wherever they could be.
Though purists such as myself are often portrayed as having a problem with material being left out, that is a strawman. I have a problem with changes, changes that were unnecessary, that made little sense of the story, and that made it a worse film. This isn’t about the absence of Bombadil, so much as it is about…Gandalf and Saruman. Faramir and the hobbits. Theoden and Grima. Arwen and the Ring. And above all…Frodo and Sam.
The one time I was able to sit through the commentary with P J, Fran Walsh, and Phillipa Boyens, it was clear to me that Peter and Fran just didn’t get LotR. They would go into why they made changes, but it made no sense. They continually weakened and corrupted their characters for no other reason than because they didn’t understand heroism, virtue, and courage. (And yet at the same time, they had to show the true human weakness of Theoden as magical possession. Why? Just to hurt me, I’ve concluded.) Not content to merely have the romance of Aragorn and Arwen stand on its own, they had to shoehorn Arwen into the plot somehow. As if having all his ancestral lands ruled by orcs and covered by darkness wasn’t motivation enough for Staragorn.
Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough, and as long as I can manage without either weeping or frothing at the mouth. You’re not alone! NEVER ALONE!
As I said in another comment above, Jackson is a modernist, and therefore cannot understand courage and fortitude, and cannot bear to portray it in its true form, but must weaken it with self doubt and self loathing in the characters. That is because, as a modernist, Jackson is of Sauron’s party, though he knew it not.
Looks good. Bit worried that they let Gollum have the last word, though, just as a matter of emphasis. The Hobbit was a far more light-hearted tale,,LoTR wasn’t even an idea in Tolkien’s head yet…let it stay what it was.
The Hobbit was a far more light-hearted tale,
This, especially. They’re probably trying to tap into the interest from the LotR films, so the trailers come off as quite dark and intense. I hope the movie is truer to the lightness of the actual story. I hope they capture the dialogue and fantastic silliness of the hobbits and dwarves.
Excuse me; I believe Tolkien preferred “dwarfs.”
Andy BP: You’ve got it backwards. “Dwarfs” is the normal English spelling; Tolkien’s preferred “Dwarves” (because it went better with “Elves”).
You were right the first time. From the preface to The Hobbit or There and Back Again:
“In English the only correct plural of dwarf is dwarfs, and the adjective is dwarfish. In this story dwarves and dwarvish are used, but only when speaking of the ancient people to whom Thorin Oakenshield and his companions belonged.”
Though he also would have accepted Dwarrows.
Ah, thanks! I knew I read something in the preface about it, but I got it backwards.
The plate scene made a cameo. So there is hope. 😀
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m hoping it is not adapted like a children’s story, but rather made through the lens of LOTR, I think it would fit better. And I think that is how it will be, why else put the whole White Council story line in it unless they are trying to make the film darker and more nuanced.
Tolkien seems alot more forgiving of adaptations than his fans. From a 1957 letter about a potential film adaptation that never saw daylight I presume:
“But this Mr. Ackerman brought some really astonishingly good pictures (Rackham rather than Disney) and some remarkable colour photographs. They have apparently toured America shooting mountain and desert scenes that seem to fit the story. The Story Line or Scenario was, however, on a lower level. In fact bad. But it looks as if business might be done. Stanley U. & I have agreed on our policy: Art or Cash. Either very profitable terms indeed; or absolute author’s veto on objectionable features or alterations.“
My little pointy fannish head just about exploded at that part when reading Humphrey Carpenter’s “Letters”; I went “Mr Ackerman?”
Forry Ackerman??? Turned up on Tolkien’s doorstep with a proposal to make a film version of LOTR????
How did the universe not implode from this concatenation of fandom awesomeness? 🙂
It’s sad that people get so excited from a trailer. It’s just a stupid movie.
(Btw, has anyone seen the new trailer for the next Batman?!!!? I peed a little when I saw it)
+1 to the above
Have to say I’m mightily disappointed in the dwarves. They’re coming across as more Lollipop Guild than grim northern warriors.
I was about to make the same complaint, but The Hobbit does have a lighter tone than LotR, so I was willing to give Jackson the benefit of the doubt. I can’t imagine any dwarf in LotR singing, “Carefully, carefully with the plates!”
That’s why Thorin’s character is so important. The Hobbit dwarves can (in some aspects) legitimately be treated humourously; poor old Bombur gets a lot of slapstick treatment. However, their introduction (in the book) is meant to be funny, from the way they turn up in ones and twos so that every time Bilbo thinks “Finally! They must all be here now!”, there’s another knock on the door. And of course, the cleaning-up after the dinner/tea/supper meal, when they’re throwing the plates around and singing nonsense verse.
But Thorin has to be done straight; there’s certainly room to portray his flaws (and he does have ’em), but you can’t make a comic figure out of him – and that, at least, doesn’t seem to be the case in the trailer so far as I can see.
And as I said, I’m exceedingly curious to see what Smaug turns out to be like. But so far – and yes, I too was burned by the tone of the second and third films in the trilogy – Peter Jackson has redeemed some credit with me by casting Martin as Bilbo. I know him from the new BBC “Sherlock” adaptation, and just when I thought “He can’t get anymore adorable”, they show me pictures of him as Bilbo Baggins.
There will be much fangirl squeeing on that account, let me assure you all.
Well, it *does* seem from how he looks and the brief lines of dialogue we hear from him, that he’s being taken seriously, at any rate.
Thorin is a somber note in a rollicking children’s tale. Of course, if you read the fragments in UNFINISHED TALES, it’s apparent that it was all a more deadly business than Bilbo conveys in his retelling (as Tolkien’s conceit of the book goes), and that Thorin and the dwarves thought even less of him than he realized. And I am beginning to wonder, given the darker tone that the trailer suggests, if Jackson isn’t going to moving the story closer to that “version” of what happened.
I am apparently in a shrinking minority of responders here in having found Jackson’s LOTR movies generally and surprisingly delightful–but then, I had a somewhat lowered bar of expectation to hurdle: I had watched Ralph Bakshi’s animated film of the first part of the Trilogy, and had found even parts of that film not altogether repulsive or offensive; and when I learned that Jackson was to release a live-action version of these much-beloved (by me) books, my main and repeated prayer was, “O Lord, please do not let these movies suck utterly! This is all I ask.” When I finally sat in a theater to watch “The Fellowship of the Ring,” I was somewhat nervous, apprehensive and hopeful.
By the end of the film, I was stunned–the GOOD kind of stunned: the movie was by no means all that I could have hoped for, but it was more than I could have reasonably expected. I did not expect the movie to reproduce my exact experience of reading the books–no movie can do that with any book. All a director can do is to make a movie of the book he or she has read, not the book that I read. Any deeply-enjoyed and beloved book necessarily has a lot of yourself invested in it–one of the things that makes a work of art great is that it has enough room in it for you and your life and perceptions; if it doesn’t, it’s just a one-man show of all the artistic chops that the writer can show off in front of his audience in a bravura performance of how cool he is–sort of like Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake,” which is sufficiently and linguistically clever enough to command critical respect, but to which (in my case, anyway) the heart has no response at all, except for a sharp disinclination to put oneself through that ever again. A book like “The Lord of the Rings” becomes a loyally-beloved international classic because it is generously large enough to attract people of various cultures and backgrounds–there is enough entry-level room for even the mildly curious, who will find their imaginations being stirred and enlarged to accommodate ideas and perceptions that one had not yet imagined or even dared dream of. Reading a book, no matter how wildly popular and widely-read it is, is always a singularly private and personal experience.
A movie, however, is a public performance of a private reading, or of several private readings, of the source, some (or most) of which may not be consonant with mine. Even if I am the film-maker, all I will ever be able to produce is a movie of the book that I have read–and there will be moviegoers who will (rightly) object that my movie is not of the book that they read. A movie-of-a-book is always, by necessity, going to have to be something of a compromise. With Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings,” all I can say is that it was a compromise that I was by and large very happy with, and have watched repeatedly, and will very likely watch all over again in this holy tide of Christmas, when I have the time to immerse myself in nine hours of DVDs.
And I am tickled plumb to death about the Hobbit film as well. So there!
I am apparently in a shrinking minority of responders here in having found Jackson’s LOTR movies generally and surprisingly delightful
Oh, I don’t know; I think if you hated the movies you just tend to complain louder. I love them, too, and I have every expectation that this new Hobbit movie will *both* be light-hearted *and* contain some dark foreshadowing of events to come.
“Oh, I don’t know; I think if you hated the movies you just tend to complain louder.”
That’s funny. In previous on line debates, when I stated that I thought the movies could have been better, I got the worst flamings I have ever had, including a few requests for my address, in order to better find me and deliver the whooping my hindquarters so obviously deserved. This is the first time I have ever had anyone agree with me.
I think (a) Anthony is spot-on when he says most fans’ reaction to the news was along the lines of “Oh Lord, please don’t let these be too terrible!” and (b) the first one, “The Fellowship of the Ring”, was done so much better than expected that when he did make changes, they just hit even worse than if he’d done a bad job from the start.
I do realise that a film adaptation has to, of necessity, be different to the source novel, and that he would leave out a lot of the books, and that favourite scenes wouldn’t make it. Again, objecting to Glorfindel being replaced by Arwen (which I did, like the rest of the purists; I did a whole rant on a fansite about the false necessity to show female characters being active participants in the events by emulating male characters in acts such as waving swords around, and comparing the weaving of the banner for Aragorn with the “Vexilla Regis” by Venantius Fortunatus regarding the notion of “The banners of the king come forth”) can be seen as nit-picking because Glorfindel doesn’t have a part to play that you can demonstrate in the movies and Arwen being a major character can use more screen time.
But stuff like having the Elves at Helm’s Deep is one thing (I hated it, but I see why it works for the purposes of the film, which is a different animal entirely); the mangling of Denethor’s character is another.
I suppose it’s a case of seeing something so very nearly done completely right; it makes the bad parts even more glaring. And I should be grateful that Jackson did put so much time and effort into making the films in the first place; nobody thought the books were filmable and the adaptation could have been much worse than it was (yes, it could! )
I actually enjoy parts of all the adaptations of Tolkien, including Jackson. There are parts I love. There are parts I don’t. Same with the Rankin/Bass, same with Ralph Bakshi’s. Each is OK. I think R/B’s ‘The Hobbit’ is the most faithful to the source material. I saw the cartoon when I was a kid and read the book years later. At no point did I have to say ‘I don’t get it’. Sure, there were things changed and left out. But the ‘heart and soul’ of the book was there. Other adaptations, including Jackson’s, have some great moments. But they also have elements that become a distraction. Often it’s what they add, not what they take away, that makes the difference.
These arguments break out everytime the Jackson films are mentioned. They get more and more tedious. But a few new points have been raised that rouse me to answer. How exactly are the Extended Versions even worse than the Theatrical? Give an example in FotR or TTT, please. The tasteless new moments (the drinking game and the longer Paths of the Dead and Corsair sequences) are in RotK, which also has some different editing choices that are inferior to the TV. Also, Theoden is 70 years old at the time of TTT. With his Gondorian mother and drop of elven blood, he would have aged more slowly than an ordinary man of Rohan. So Bernard Hill’s recovery of vigor isn’t implausible. Nobody minds Aragorn not looking like 89.
Also, cinematography is the art of motion picture photography, not film creation. LOTR’s cinematographer was Andrew Lesnie, not Peter Jackson. Can we at the very least give Jackson & Co. credit for showing us the physical environment of Middle-earth as beautifully as possible in this world?
Let’s be profoundly glad that neither the Beatles nor John Boardman got to carry out their bizarre plans for filming LOTR!
*shivers* Beatles….LOTR….adapatation *shivers*
I believe that was one of John’s signs of the Apocalypse.
Did anybody else think the song begun by Thorin sounds a lot like Aragorn’s song at the coronation? Anybody else as excited as I am that Howard Shore is doing the music again?!?? 🙂
“Did anybody else think the song begun by Thorin sounds a lot like Aragorn’s song at the coronation?…”
Oh, oh, oh, I did! I did! *raises hand*
Oh my God. This forum is infested with nerds. Ahhhh!
Totally! It sounds exactly like Aragorn’s song. First thing I thought.
Yes, me! Me! Me!
If it wasn’t for the music, the movie’s sins would’ve been unforgivable.
Count me in! Howard Shore did a fantastic job with LOTR (one of my all time favorite film scores), and I had my fingers crossed that he would return for The Hobbit, if for nothing else but continuity’s sake (Example: Take the Narnia films, the first two were scored by Harry Gregson-Williams, and it was a fantastic score that captured the mood of Narnia. However Williams did not return for the third film, and instead we got a lackluster score from David Arnold (007 films), that ended up hurting the film IMHO, it also felt like a big break in the continuity of the series.
Re: The LotR films. I attended a forum hosted by Tom Shippey a few years ago where he discussed the whole Jackson movies vs. the books, and Shippey’s ultimate point was correct: No, the films are not faithful to the books. But in a post-STAR WARS era of summer blockbusters and CGI, they are the best we are going to get for a long, long time.
A faithful adaptation of the books into a theatrical release is quite frankly impossible. An audience isn’t going to sit through a 7-hour version of The Fellowship of the Ring.
I don’t expect it will happen within the next 10-15 years, but eventually someone will remake them. Novels in general seem more suited to a cable TV show rather than movies anyway. A book’s chapters much more easily translate to a TV show’s weekly episodes.
As for THE HOBBIT movie, I’m still mightily disappointed by what I see of the dwarves. But Bilbo looks awesome. Gandalf is perfect again. And I’m optimistic that Smaug will blow us away, but we probably won’t see him till the next movie.
I wonder if, in order to be faithful to the book, it would be better to do them as a serial. People may not sit through a 7 hour blockbuster in the theater, but they sure will tune in or buy/netflix the series on the television. It’s worked well for Jane Austen novels and okay for Pillars of the Earth.
Best review quote I’ve seen so far:
“I expect The Hobbit movies will be much like The Lord of the Rings movies — feasts for the eyes that are at their best when they hew closely to Tolkien than when they deviate from him.”
That’s me. I don’t hate the LoTR films, or even dislike them. There’s much to like. But there are also things that make sitting through any of them fail to be a straight pleasure. We’ll see about this. Already the blogworld is abuzz over the possible idea of ‘Gandalf – a love story.’ We’ll just have to see.
I can understand the disappointment of some fans of the book(s). I think it is almost inevitable that some who love a novel (any novel) are going to be disappointed in any screen adaptation that they themselves did not do. As Anthony N. pointed out, you are not getting your interpretation of the story, you are getting someone else’s interpretation.
Even more important, it is an interpretation that is being retold and re-imagined for the screen. I still remember when I read The Godfather, a decade or more after I first watched the movie all the way through. I was floored by how different they were; this despite the fact that Mario Puzzo was deeply involved in the development of the movie. In fact some of the worst adaptations of novels I have seen are ones in which the director tried to be too faithful to the book; it leaves one wondering why there was a need for the movie in the first place.
I think ultimately, a film adaptation, as indeed any film, must be taken on its own merits regardless of how close (or not) it is to the source material. In the case of LOTR, I for one don’t mind that Faramir lusted after the ring. Part of the point of the novel was how important grace is in resisting evil; this I think brought that point home. Likewise, I think adding a scene where Aragorn and Frodo parted was necessary to make it clear to those who have not read the novel why Aragorn choose to follow Merry and Pippen rather than Frodo even though the latter was the whole point of the mission. I also think that self doubt and self loathing can enhance courage (Is one who faces danger without feeling fear really courageous?).
“I for one don’t mind that Faramir lusted after the ring. Part of the point of the novel was how important grace is in resisting evil; this I think brought that point home.”
Right. While I was not crazy about the changes to Faramir, he differed from Boromir in that he was able to resist temptation; I think that gets across the main point about his character and how different he was from Boromir (who cannot withstand the temptation, but does repent).
“I also think that self doubt and self loathing can enhance courage (Is one who faces danger without feeling fear really courageous?).”
Right — you articulated what I was thinking about when reading Bear’s comments. I think it is a little unfair to Jackson to accuse him of being a “modernist” who does not “understand courage and fortitude, and cannot bear to portray it in its true form.” A character (especially human one) who never once stumbles, never once doubts or hesitates or has any flaw, can be boring (at least outside of the context of purely allegorical or archetypal works). As much as I loved the LoTR books and Aragorn himself, he nonetheless felt a little cold and distant, almost inhuman to me. I think there is much value in showing someone who does doubt but nonetheless goes forward and succeeds.
I’m embarrassed to admit I forced myself to sit through 3 separate viewings of “Fellowship of the Ring” before I got over the changes(!) Peter Jackson made and some of the interpretation(!!) he had of the story. I then enjoyed it so much I’m embarrassed to admit how many more times I sat through it.
(Random bit of Tolkien-heresy: a tiny little part of me wishes Disney had been directly involved producing the LoTR, ‘cuz then we would’ve had a Mines of Moria ride at Disneyland. Just sayin’.)
I am confidently optimistic about this movie even though I *know* there are things I’m going to disagree with. The actor doesn’t appear physically the way I imagine Bilbo to appear but that’s a tiny bit of nitpicking on my part.
What the Lord of the Rings is crying out for is the Opera treatment.
A shameful confession:
I have tried numerous times, over the course of some forty years, to actually read LotR.
Cannot do it.
Even though I forge forge slightly ahead more times than others, there comes a point where I realize that I simply don’t care what happens next.
Even though you feel envious of those who love the novels and whose lives have been strengthened and enhanced by reading them over and over again, you have to admit that you and Tolkien are a bad fit, and give it up.*
I finally got some glimmer of why they had such a fanatic following through the movies. So it is discouraging to hear that the movies took major liberties with the books and are anathema to deep-dyed Tolkienites.
*My theory is that many women lack the fantasy world-appreciation gene. This is why we can enjoy fairy tales, where strange things happen in ordinary settings, a real wood, eg. But not made-up fantasy worlds, like in LotR.
It took me several efforts to get started on the series. The first few times, the interaction with Tom Bombadil just ruined it for me…but once I got past it, it was worth the read…
Aren’t people interesting? I found Mr. Bombadil a welcome interlude, though the constant singing was a little annoying.
I will just have to take everyone else’s word for the wonderfulness. For me, I’m afraid it’s a case of “Not do”, to quote another fantasy. Perhaps it’ s like being unable to enjoy certain types of music.
For me, Tom Bombadil is one of the reasons that I read “The Fellowship of the Ring” again and again. I anticipate the approach of the interlude at the House of Tom Bombadil, and I hang around there as long as I can, re-reading passages and loitering. The passage about Frodo waking one morning and seeing the beanpoles in the mist was one of those concrete images that grabbed hold of me tight: when I was a boy, I used to spend a week or so in the summer with my paternal grandparents, who lived in rambling old house on the outskirts of a small country town, and when I woke early in the morning, I could look out the window beside my bed and see exactly the same scene: the beanpoles in the mist. When I first read “Fellowship” and encountered that scene in the book, I had the feeling of having been to Bombadil’s house myself long ago, and knowing in my bones just what it felt like to be there.
But I didn’t mind at all that Jackson skipped that sequence altogether in his movie. His explanation for the omission was that it was too long a break in the progression of the main plot, and I can agree with his point: if you are reading the book and get bored with the Bombadil interlude, you can just skip ahead; a movie patron simply doesn’t have that option–he’s just sort of stuck there in the theater for the entire unfolding of the Mystery of Bombadil.
Perhaps worse (from a film-maker’s point of view) is that Bombadil is a mystery to which there is no real resolution in the novel–or as far as I know, in any other canonical Tolkien work. We can see that the Ring has no power whatever over him, that he does not desire it (except as an object of his mild curiosity), and that the Elves call him “first and fatherless.” If you’ve been reading a lot since you were a child, you have long developed the agreeable habit of being mystified by passages in books and pondering them meditatively at your leisure. Regular moviegoers, I suspect, don’t have that patience (or the time): if a Big Whopping Mystery is introduced into the plot, they expect to be handed a Big Whopping Answer to it sometime before the end of the movie. And with Bombadil, there just isn’t an answer, nor is there intended to be–joyfully! I fear that if Bombadil had been in the movie, somebody in the production process would have insisted on trying to explain him, and that would have blown a big hole in the middle of it. I was satisfied, however, by the transfer of some of Bombadil’s poetry into the mouth of Treebeard in the extended version on the DVD–at least, Old Tom was being (in some real sense) acknowledged!
Dare I say it? I read the books first, and… I still like the movies. I ADORE the books–even did them for my big research paper project in high school (yes, all three)–yet I still appreciate the movies. They are pretty and interesting and tackle a different dimension of the story–the reader’s perspective.
Also, I can completely understand Gimli as the comic relief. During the Battle of Minas Tirith, Gimli and Legolas really were keeping tally! Their rivalry is an amusing one: beginning as a hatred between races, it eventually grows to a joke between friends as they traverse together. Also, Gimli takes himself too seriously. I can see him being the butt of jokes. Legolas too, but he’s a little too twitchy to appreciate them.
I have loved the Hobbit & LoTR since I first laid eyes on the first page of a paperback set loaned to me when I was 14. I don’t think I slept for about a week as I died to the world around me and lived in those pages! I worked all summer at a Dairy Queen at age 16 so I could buy the hardback set with the maps (that are now worth thousands of dollars if in mint condition with dust jackets. In current condition, mine are worth about $1.98 each. Maybe.)
I did like the movies, but not love them. I was miffed at some of the changes PJ made to them, but also know from having a friend who was a movie editor that visual story telling is very different to painting pictures in someone’s mind with words alone. Some changes I can excuse. Some were just over the top wrong and I agree with the observations by bear and John Wright. Still – I enjoyed the movies for what they were, but cannot love them as I do my tear-stained & tattered hardbacks.
I’ve looked at the trailer for the Hobbit, feel excited and a bit anxious. I hope this is a movie I can love, but I am not convinced yet that it will be, given the treatment of the trilogy. I suppose I can be content to just like it, too.
(Say – is that Arthur Dent as a young Bilbo?)
That is indeed Arthur. Also John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army Medical Department 🙂
Also Tim from the British Office.
I always question the fact that the movies are made at all. Do Novels really need to be made into movies? Obviously the books will always be better anyways. So why bother? Outside the obviously cash cow for fanboys everywhere to argue endlessly on whether this hatchet job (and don’t kid yourself it IS) of a film series is worthy enough. I guess I turned into one of “those” fans, but I’ll take it even one step further. I wish they never made the movies at all. I actually watched them first and really didn’t even know what I was missing. Quite a bit as it turns out. Bear, whoever you are, excellent incite.
Be still my beating heart!
I have been waiting years for this movie (s)! And considering how many things stalled production of the film (like all those PJ vs New Line lawsuits from years ago), I’m just thankful they finally made it! Only 1 year left untill I’m back in Middle-earth baby!!!
And now to start waiting for the Silmarillion adaptation 😉
Oh gosh. If you want a movie to dumb-down a book, THAT is the one. I got through The Silmarillion, cover-to-cover, a grand total of… once. In my peak insomnia years. Once was enough. I’d rather have charts describing all the genealogies and the mythology being its own standalone story. I understand that the embedded history is part of the story. It just made it VERY different from the storytelling style of The Lord of the Rings.
Different yes, but I loved every page of The Silmarillion! Personally I have never understood why some LOTR fans did not get into the Silmaril. You should give it another go Ink.
After the Space Trilogy. I’m under Strict Orders to finish those as soon as possible. I’ll try though. No promises. It was just… dense. And I came to the book looking for a story.
I would love to see a version of the Music of the Ainur that would be appropriately grand, but I think Pancho is correct – the only way that it would work would be opera.
Or animation (if done right, and not bad CGI).
This conversation is making me want to read LotR again. I’ve read them I don’t know how many times since my father first read them to me when I was 6, and just the thought of Crickhollow, the hike through the Old Forest, Tom Bombadil, and the Barrow Wights, gives me that CS Lewis sehnsucht feeling. Suddenly the world is mysterious and beautiful again.
Only for me, the Charm extends throughout most of the book. And it oozes out of the pages of the Silmarillion, even when the book is closed.
One thing I hope PJJ actually does improve, is the Elves. The Rivendell Elves in The Hobbit are insufferable. You couldn’t imagine them retaining the memory of a grape!
I find the dwarves’ hair more than a little inexplicable.
I can’t wait to see the Hobbit on big screen…
Peter Jackson is a genius movie director I admire a lot and I’m pretty sure that the movie will turn out great!