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A Purist's Perspective

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Joined: Apr 02, 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 10:21 am   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

Looks like Cocles and CVB beat me to the punch---I was considering posting this after seeing all the Whoopla regarding the "The Two Towers", but chose not to because I didn't feel it was all that appropriate on a soundtrack site, even though the topic does concern movies. But, seeing as we now have more than a couple of precedents set before us, and an appropriate place to discuss these types of issues, here we go...

I have a beef similar to Cocles' current problem with action films (which I agree with whole heartedly), but somewhat different in its exact nature. How many of you have read the following books:

"Les Miserables"
"Gone with the Wind"
"Jurassic Park"
"The Power of One" (Jeric's Favorite)
"Anna and the King of Siam"
"The Three Musketeers"
"A Clockwork Orange"
"Robin Hood"
"Clear and Present Danger"
"The Time Machine"
"The Count of Monte Cristo"
"The Lord of the Rings"

...and a whole host of others...

versus how many of you have seen more than a few of the aforementioned books as movies, or a variant thereof? How many of you can name the important themes that were presented in a particular book, but were left out of the movie? How many of you even care?

And for those of you still with me, the most important question of all: How many of you, when you think of these books, actually ONLY think of the movie?

Herein, lies the downfall of great literature to the holy grail of commercialized modern film and the dumbing down of American culture. This is also the reason why I hate PJ's "adaptation" of "The Lord of the Rings", and why, in 20 years, the greatest tragedy of all will be that no one will even think of LOTR as a work from Tolkien. All they'll remember is the movie. The first thing that will come to everyone's mind is not Frodo desperately, yet valiantly, defying the Black Riders at the Fords of Bruin, but a cheeky Arwen talking smack, with a wussified Frodo, helpless before all.

For the few of you who even care, I've included (in two more posts) my own review, and a follow-up message, of PJ's first movie---which was originally posted on Tolkien Online roughly a year ago. Keep in mind that I had not yet seen "The Two Towers" (and nor will I) when reading the review. Also, I've edited out most of the tounge and cheek stuff, so that only the heart of what I believe is presented. The last time I checked, it had created such a ruckuss that it garnered roughly 750 replies to what I had written...most of it...less than amiable.

Legolas, if you don't hate me yet, I'm sure this will finally push you over the edge... [Big Grin]


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 10:22 am   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

A Purist's Perspective

Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring has been heralded by many as a sweeping epic that brings to life J. R. R. Tolkien's books with such flare and beauty that scarcely could hobbit children claim to be more awed and overjoyed when watching Gandalf's fireworks (G is for Grand, after all!) on a lazy summer evening in The Shire, than when compared to those who have thrown their full weight and support behind "The Movie". For others, specifically those who have been less mesmerized and those whose vision is somewhat clearer, I have noticed the tendency that they must make excuses in support of "The Movie" in order to justify liking it, saying such things as: "It is merely an 'Interpretation' of Tolkien's books", "There must be allowances for plot changes (this is Hollywood after all!)", and My Personal Favorite, "After the 30th time watching it I finally found that I liked it!", even though in their spirit it is painfully clear that they knew that something was dreadfully wrong, and they wanted desperately to fool themselves into pretending that everything was "O.K.".

The reason why I write is that my heart yearned to watch a movie which faithfully brought to life the joy, poignant sorrow, and weight of The Lord of the Rings. Alas, I expected to much. For "The Movie", unlike The Lord of the Rings, chose to dwell in the Land of the Shadow, instead of the Light of the Fellowship. Tolkien's books, although somewhat dark, (which is to be expected when a desperate few are seeking to stave off the coming of a Second Darkness), are not saturated, nor are they permeated, by it. Jackson's "Movie" is. With Tolkien, the story is always told from the perspective of The Fellowship, and the darkness, although present, is at the same time remote and secondary to the development and growth of the characters. Peter Jackson does not choose to do this. Instead, he elevates the darkness to such a place of prominence that he overwhelms "The Movie" with it--to the extent that even those who are good are only seen through the dark reflection of their own temptations or callousness (see Bilbo, Elrond, and Galadriel). Futhermore, The Fellowship, instead of being the pimary focal point of the story, as with Tolkien, takes a back seat to Evil. In all reality, the characters are relegated to minor roles throughout "The Movie". How much character development is there of Aragorn? Sam? Merry? Pippin? The friendship of Gimli and Legolas? Instead, what do we get? Saruman, Sauron, Saruman, Dark Riders, Saruman, Dark Riders, and more Saruman. Yet one of the strengths of Tolkien's writings are the evolution and deep growth of the characters throughout their trials, tribulations, and adventures, while on their journey. Can any of you honestly believe that Merry or Pippin will rise to be among the great by the end of Jackson's faithful "Interpretation"? Or that Frodo and Sam's characters are transformed into beings of resolve and indomitable courage?

In The Lord of the Rings, never do we actually fully see Sauron until he is destroyed. Likewise, Saurman is only referred to indirectly by Gandalf until after he is overthrown. That is the FIRST time we even experience his character first hand. The Black Riders are ever a menace in The Lord of the Rings, but they are remote--even, yes, EVEN during the attack at Weathertop and at the Fords of Bruin. But by the end of "The Movie" I harbored a terrible stomachache and a headache, and felt nauseous, the reason being that I was overwhelmed with a sense of darkness and evil throughout the film. Yet, never do I feel this when I read The Lord of the Rings. I am only ever left with a sense of mirth, of poignant sorrow (even during moments of deep joy), and of magical wonder. Furthermore, Tolkien seasons the darkest moments during the characters' journeys with both light and goodness, of which there is much in The Lord of the Rings, but little to none in "The Movie". To me, this shows the degree to which Tolkien tries to resonate his characters, storyline, and themes with the human soul, while with Peter Jackson, it only reveals the brooding and dark nature of his own being. Indeed, the analogy of likening Jackson to the Dark Lord Sauron is not without merit. And the very fact that Tolkien uses lighthearted moments is lost by many---often times he seeks to share a profound truth while remaining subtle, as Gandalf's character and teachings are ever portrayed, since they serve Tolkien as an invaluable aide in bringing about the grand themes and resonant messages of his story. Jackson cares for none of this.

I have not the space, nor the time, to do justice to the myriad of problems portrayed by Jackson's "Interpretation", but will seek to provide the biggest example of just how deep these problems lie. Aragorn, son of Arathorn, heir of Isildur son of Elendil, Elessar Telcontar the Elfstone, is a King in exile, of the race of the Numenorians, who, although often remains veiled, provides glimpses of his power and majesty on more than one occasion in The Fellowship of the Ring before revealing himself fully to Sauron in The Two Towers. We have the sense that he is a man who is biding his time, patiently toiling in his role against Sauron from the shadows until the time for his majesty and heritage are to be revealed and secrecy will avail no longer. None of this is present in Jackson's "Movie". With Jackson, Aragorn doesn't believe in himself, or even know who he really is. Aragorn does doubt himself in The Lord of the Rings---this is true, but only after Gandalf falls, Boromir dies, and The Fellowship is broken and scattered---a bad month for anyone to have. Hidden power and confidence are ever present, and boundless references are made to Aragorn's true worth and kingly grace throughout each of Tolkien's three books. Yet, instead of portraying this, in PJ's "Film" Aragorn is reduced to the "stereotypical good guy who doubts his own self worth and so the good girl at his side must stoke his ego so that he recognizes who he is and can now go and save the day since the good girl believes in him even if no one else does." (Whew!)

NO! This should not be.

Yet mark my words--you will see more of this, much more of this, in the coming two "Movies" (for those of you who choose to watch them). Why else do you think Arwen will make an appearance in the second film? Aragorn has been robbed blind of his stature and majesty, his veiled power and heraldry, all in the name of making him more "human and believable for the audience". Even Elrond, who views him as his own son in The Lord of the Rings, scorns him in Jackson's faithful "Interpretation". Elrond is supposed to be wise, caring, loving, and a man (sort of [Smile] ) who provides a place of refuge, comfort, and healing to all those who have been hurt; but we see Jackson portray Elrond as arrogant, insolent, uncaring, unloving, and angry. Yes, Elrond saw Isildur fail to throw the Ring of Power into Mount Doom---but this is true in Tolkien's world as well (see Unfinished Tales). But that did not fundamentally change his character. It made him sorrowful. Indeed. But angry? Never.

Peter Jackson's "Movie" is not faithful to Tolkien's world, nor even a faithful interpretation of it, let alone an interpretation. Peter Jackson's "Interpretation" is rape. He has raped Tolkien's Lord of the Rings of its inherent Majesty, Light, Joy, and Goodness, and replaced it with a False Image Glorifying Evil by Worshiping the Dark. Indeed, many are no longer allowed to speak of its shortcomings, without being shunned or told to shut up. Behold! Indeed, this very thing happened in Elendil's time in Numenor. How fitting it is that Tolkien's own writings should prophesy, some 50 years later, after the publishing of The Greatest Epic of All Time, The Lord of the Rings, that this would happen.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 10:22 am   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

Although Tolkien does not go into much depth regarding some of the seemingly minor aspects of his story, many of them contain significant underlying meanings. Anduril and The Elfstone are two of these. Consider first, the importance of the sword, its hidden significance, and symbolic nature with regard to the person of Aragorn. When Aragorn leaves Rivendell at the the beginning of the Quest of Mount Doom with The Fellowship of the Ring, it is essential that he takes it with him. Why? The appointed time has come. For years, the heirs of Elendil have been shattered, given over to petty squabbling (not unlike some of the "discussion" presented here), the Kinstrife, and a loss of heritage. The fact that the sword is reforged, and taken from Rivendell is of the utmost importance. Consider its meaning. "The Flame of the West." Why does Aragorn rename it? Why not let it remain "Narsil"? Because the sword, in a very real sense, is part of who Aragorn is.

Think, for a moment, about fire, and its purpose. Fire, without proper control, is an element of destruction. However, when used wisely, it brings about purification. As an example of this, consider gold and silver. To remove the dross, they are heated to such a degree that the impurities rise to the surface, and so are skimmed away. What is left is something of tremendous worth and great purity. This is part of Aragorn's purpose. Part of his role in this entire conflict and War against Sauron. He, like Gandalf, is capable of moving people to great deeds, greater than they would be capable of by themselves, as a result of the kingly leadership and humble presence he provides. But unlike Gandalf, his purpose is less hidden. And this can be seen when considering the symbolic nature of the sword. Its purpose is to divide, cleave, and cut away. It provides us with an insight to Aragorn's character, and an understanding of his being. A foreshadowing, if you will, of what is to come. All stripped away...because PJ felt it would be better to let Arwen take it too him during the next movie. (Every one of you knows that that is what is going to happen.) Yet it is essential that he carry it with him during the entire Quest. Because when the Fellowship leaves, it is a crucial turning point in Aragorn's life. And if Aragorn must receive it in Helm's Deep, then it is already too late. Its significance is diminished, and Aragorn's stature severely lessened.

Consider, too, a second aspect of Aragorn's nature. Elessar the Elfstone, The Renewer. Why does Tolkien call him this? Think about The Elfstone, and its color. Its Green. It is the color of life, of the bursting forth of newness during spring after a cold winter (why else do you think The Two Towers and The Return of the King take place with the coming of Spring...), of growth, of health, and of Renewal. Tolkien specifically loves, and gives credence to this type of symbolism. Ever think about why Gandalf's Ring is Red? Galadriel's is White? Elrond's is Blue? This is WHO Aragorn is. His name, Estel, means Hope. His name Elessar, The Renewer. It is imperative that he have the stone, and have it now, for it describes who he will become to the people of Gondor. After all, "The hands of a healer are the hands of the King."

This is why the spirit of Tolkien has been stripped from PJ's interpretation. This is part of the reason why the movies are too dark. Peter Jackson does not see them significant enough to bring them forth in their proper place, giving credence to the "Feel" and deeper meaning of the nature of Middle Earth. Instead, they are relegated as less important sub-details---when in all actuality, they are what make Tolkien Tolkien! Instead, what are we left with? Saurman's Orc Pods.

Rape. No, it is not too strong of a word. Not by a long shot.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2003 5:58 pm   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

My turn~ [Smile] First of all I want to state a fact. I am known as a whiner around this place. But COME ON, Yvond has me beat like a 13 year old kid who just found daddy's collection of old Playboys. [Big Grin] I have never heard so much bitching in all my life...

Okay so you did make some valid points. I can give you that much. I was going to correct you on adaptation but looks like grandmaster C got there before me. This was a film, so what did you expect? Why did you have such high expectations for it when obviously you know what happens when a book turns to film? What was going to be the exception on this one? You liked it more so therefore it would magically be truthful to the book? What? No! You had too high of hopes and you should have known better "so stop ur bitchin!" as Eric Cartman would say. (From South Park, a show rated "TVM" for mature)
Which brings me to my next point... In the chat room you asked me if I was going to either give you constructive criticsm, or attack your character. If you remeber i said i'll attack your character. Here is why... This whole view that you have on the movie is highly influenced by your character. The fact that you see this movie as so dark is because you are very spiritual and you are touchy about these things... I have read the books. I don't think the film is that much "darker". Not as much as you explain in your writing. anywho... I think you make it sound worse then it is...

PJ changed a lot of things because he had to allow for people who haven't read the book to understand it better. He catered to the dumb. But because he did, book sales have gone up like cocles said. There will always be people who when they hear "Lord of the Rings," will think of the book before the movie. just more people (namely, the masses) will think of the movie. However, because it is SOOOO good that's okay in my book. ttyl "pal"!, [Wink]


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2003 3:10 am   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

Wow Yvond... well written review and you make some good points, but you also come across as sounding nuttier than squirrel shit in a few parts.

You use the wrong word several times and I'd like to address that. Your word is "interpretation".

Books made into films are not "interpreted" they are "adapted". Before you jump the gun, pause for a moment and see that this word entails. Too adapt is to change for a different environment, a different medium. This is why the academy award is given every year for "Best Screenplay Adaptation." A book is a book and a film is a film. They are both mediums of story telling but as different as land and water.

Screenplays (and the films based on them) are built on a very strict and predesignated structure. Books, however, are free to do whatever they want, as their structures can be customized to the story's needs. This is where the problem emerges and the "adaptation" must take place, as the book must adapt itself to entirely different structure from which it was originally built.

This is often why movies aren't as good as the books they were based on. This is also why writers who are capable of pulling such feats are highly respected within the entertainment community (such as William Goldman with Steven King novels and Curtis Hanson/Brian Helgeland with LA Confidential).

Now Yvond, in one sense you are right and another you are wrong. The Lord of Rings series of films IS darker than the series of books it is based on. But keep in mind that Peter Jackson's job is not to do a perfect retelling of the original story. His job is to make a successful film and put butts in seats.

The Lord of the Rings series of films so far has grossed over 1.5 billion internationally in the Box Office. Keep in mind that this is not including merchandising reveunue nor the money brought in from quiet behemoth known as video sales.

It's hard to say the movie was THAT bad when it has been THIS successful.

As for your concerns of the film franchise hurting the books, all I can say is, "Look at the numbers." Book sales for Lord of the Rings have gone up by a factor of 3 to 10 since New Line announced they would be making the films.

It's too bad you hated the films (although kind of silly for you to rant this much without seeing the second film). The fact is though Yvond, that the numbers are against you and the vast majority of the people who saw the film like it and will quite possibly buy the book to learn more of Tolkien's wonderful world.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2003 11:36 am   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

Originally posted by Legolas:

Which brings me to my next point... In the chat room you asked me if I was going to either give you constructive criticsm, or attack your character. If you remeber i said i'll attack your character.

Who's the 13 year old?

The review wasn't about whining. It was about passionately stating something that I believe to be true. Was the language strong? Excessive in places? Sure. But that was the entire point, because in one form or another, I did get my point across. Does PJ = Sauron? TRULY??? No, of course not. But, at the same time, I believe he "is" Sauron since PJ's taken on his role by destroying the fabric of Middle Earth in order to set up his own little kingdom. Was the text truly "raped"? No. But what are some of the secondary meanings of the word?

rape, n.
1. The crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse.
2. The act of seizing and carrying off by force; abduction.
3. Abusive or improper treatment; violation: a rape of justice.

Did PJ rape the text by the third meaning of the word? Or even by the second? You betcha. And since I used this word intentionally, it lets you know that I feel very strongly about what he has done, since the word itself, is violent in nature. The two examples I've just pointed out to you are called symbolism and imagary, Leggy. Last time I took a literature course, it wasn't yet known as bitching...

Maybe if you thought about what was written and didn't always react with gut emotion, you'd be able to see this, as Cocles did. But...maybe that's asking too much, since you've quite plainly stated that you'd rather attack my character.


Anyway, the point of sales being higher is a temporary side effect from the movies. When the dust settles, sales will go back down to normal, or below normal, and in 50 years, most people won't even bother to read the book---they've seen the movie. The precedents backing up this are many. Half the books mentioned in my first post were delibrately placed there because they support this very point.

Oh, and in terms of using the word "interpretation" instead of "adaptation". I was quoting PJ...

An adaptation doesn't mean that character assasinations are required. However, I think that PJ, believing himself to be above what was written, deliberately did this in order to improve upon the story in his own eyes, and because pop culture doesn't like authentic or deep things anymore. Again, this type of selling out only contributes further to the dumbing down of American culture. PJ could have been faithful to the book, while adapting it, and it would have still been popular, since Tolkien's work stands on its own as historically great literature. But taking Aragorn's character, from King in Exile, to Maid in Waiting, does not constitute an improvement. And it most decidedly is NOT something that a screenplay is "constrained" to do.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2003 4:08 pm   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

I just *had* to post something, about this subject. I agree with Cocles that you are a bit 'out there' Yvond. But on the other hand, I've already made clear in another thread, that I disagree with the manipulations PJ made in his movies.

One thing that might be stated is that nobody who really loves the work of Tolkien will appreciate any changes to the plot, for the sake of getting a better profit. Now with that comes the consideration that without anybody wanting to make a profit, there wouldn't be a series of movies, right?

I also agree that Arwen is way overrated in the movies. I *need* to say that Gimli is unjustly ridiculed, and coming to think of it, Yvond has a point that the bad guys get a lot more (read: too much) attention in the movies.

All I can say is that I am very glad that I had the fortune to have read everything Tolkien wrote (well, everything that got published), BEFORE I saw the movie, or I would probably never have been able to enjoy his work, without seeing it PJ's way. I feel sorry for people who watched the movie first, before reading the books.

Well, these are my 2 cents.
"By the time they had diminished from 50 to 8, the other dwarves began to suspect 'Hungry.'" -- Gary Larson
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2003 10:11 am   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

I have probably read "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy fifty or more times in the last 20 years and although there is a lot to be desired about the movies I still believe that Peter Jackson did the best he could, with the time requirements(how long a movie can be) and details the books contained. In reality, three movies could have been made from each book. Who in the movie making world is going to do that? I am a purist but to think that the movies should have had everything that was in the books is not being realistic. ......"Nuts"
Sure, I still like the books better but the movies have been entertaining and the bastards(Film Producers) have made some money too.
"Now, listen up you primitive screwheads!" "This is my BOOM STICK, you got THAT!"
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2003 10:26 am   Post subject: A Purist's Perspective Reply with quote

Don't worry Yvond. When I get some time i am going to comment on some of the things u wrote in you post that was after mine.

Oh lordy it will be funny and good. [Wink] later pal! [Big Grin]
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