A "Tolkienite"'s Reaction: Oh Really...?

To make everything absolutely clear, I most definitely am a self-professed Tolkienite. It says so in my profile. I have read the trilogy five times, The Hobbit three times, the Silmarillion twice, and the Unfinished Tales. I can't call myself a total geek because there are some collections I haven't read and I never figured out how to write in Elvish...And, in case you haven't seen the photos, I spent an outsize amount of money on 3-foot trilogy film  posters. So I am definitely a fan... of the books.

So you're wondering what I'm getting at. I'm home alone right now, per my last post, and I took advantage of the opportunity to see all nine hours of the trilogy on film in two days. That, for me, is a marathon. This recent showing was the first time I had seen any of the films in several years. That was then. This, unfortunately, is now, when I am nearly grown up and remember differences much more clearly. Being a book addict, my pros and cons will have to be taken with salt, unless of course, you agree. Note that I do not own and have never sat through the EEs, so this rant is directed entirely at the theatrical cut.

The Fellowship of the Ring
Pros:  It was mostly just abbreviated cuts of what went on in the book. I'll admit  that I'm mostly fine with Pippin's conversion into the comic relief.

Cons: The battle with the giant mutant squid thing in the lake of Moria was stretched for it's own sake. Ditto for the cave troll. Why did they have to wait so long to run from the Balrog. Why did Arwen have to be allowed to steal some spotlight. I guess because the writers couldn't figure out any other way to get the "all-important" time-bridging romance across. Aragorn seems rather flat and disengaged. He's seen as just some random guy who jumps out at them and commandeers their mission. Non-readers are given no explanation of the convenient arrivals of Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli; it looks like a plot device.

The Two Towers
Pros: Very consistent with source. This is probably the actual most consistent one if you regard the fact that five chapters (almost 100 pages) of materiel was disregarded in Fellowship.Some dialogue fits better in the mouths of the characters who said it in the film.    Helm's Deep was great; It did not seem overdone like most of the combats did. At the cost of depth of backstory, the arrival of Eomer's makeshift eored fits well.  Grima and Theoden.

Cons: The cringe-inducing destruction of Faramir.The warg-rider battle, which had slight source basis, became a vehicle for more romance sequences. the romance triangle in general was overdone. Gimli's filler line at the beginning that could have been made clear with a subtitle and a bit of dialogue. That awkward line "what do your elf-eyes see?" What, like Legolas has a different set of eyes? Treebeard was messed up because of "time constraints"

The Return of the King**
Pros: Rohan in general, especially the ride of the rohirrim. What individual-level action there was was done right, mostly.

Cons:  Too impersonal. For instance, one never actually sees the history-defying friendship between Legolas and Gimli develop (throughout the books): you only see them counting kills, and then, out of the blue, they're BFF. And there are times in the text when absolutely nothing is happening to the POV characters, or they're just sitting and talking. Those parts were taken out in favor of overdoing the battles: voila! a shallower-than-it-deserves story that serves as vehicle for spectacular effects. The film would be possible without such visual emphasis on gore. Denethor's fiery plunge. The idea that Arwen  abruptly begins to die slowly as soon as she chooses mortality. No explanation of why she's allowed to do so. The Black Gate speech. The proposition of the idea that Anduril has got some kind of self-induced power that is the real control over the dead men. The mostly reversed roles of Aragorn and Gandalf near the end. Aragorn's crown*. No closure on the Rohan side. Theoden was just left on the battlefield? Show us the funeral! Major rejection of the closing that occured after the coronation. No explanation of why Frodo was allowed to pass into the West. And I can't leave without mentioning the wrecking of Frodo w/ring.

* I have come to the conclusion that crowns shouldn't point upward. Plain circle are better. But in any case, the text version is more impressive. It is basically a battle helmet with outsize wings projecting from the sides.

** Can you say Bring on the four-hour remake? Without Peter Jackson? Note that the only element that needs remaking is the script. the visuals are awesome, but the story could have been vastly improved by lifting the text. I no longer like the theatrical cut and will not see this film again until I own the EE. The film's name is what's keeping it in my top five, because the book is awesome.


  1. I have yet to have a true marathon of the LOTR but I did watch the EE in consecutive days.

    Good comparison between the books and movies. I will be looking for the differences when I read the whole trilogy.

    Just a random thought, maybe there could be a word for word mimi series remake some time in the future when special effects are cheap enough since a movie might have too short of a run time.


    1. I didn't think of that, but it's an excellent idea. the LOTR should be remade for TV, where they have 30-60 minutes every episode and several months to play it out. But the fact remains that they might try to maintain Peter Jackson's standard of "Make sure they see at least five deaths close-up in each battle. And make sure they're gross."

  2. I like the fellowship the most out of the movies. My favourite scene is right at the end with Sam declaring that he's going with Frodo that is one scene that rates higher on my list than any other.

    I agree that the whole 'romance' thing was the equivalent to pretty much throwing up. They didn't have to spend soooo much time on it.
    ROTK is stocked chock full of battles but I do find the end part pretty sad.
    Now that I think about it, why did they bother to give Theodred (I think that's how you spell it) and not Theoden? Kind of weird and a waste of time if you don't do both. If they had cut out some of the battle scenes they could of put in more of what you said of the above.
    I found Treebeard very boring really as I've grown and before I could watch the movie I'd listen to the dramatised edition of the Lord of the Rings and I really liked it. Treebeard sang in that as well though on the whole I don't think he's that great.

    The TT is my least favourite I think except for Sam's speech and it takes ages to build up whereas with the Fellowship it doesn't take too long at all.

    1. First, my favorite scene, as you might have guessed, is the Ride of the Rohirrim. It's great that in the book the whole ride is described in an epic poem format. Also because it was true enough to the book.

      Honestly, the funeral of Theodred was hardly even mentioned in the book. (I'm not even sure if they brought back the body... whereas several pages are devoted to how Theoden lies in state and how everyone of any importance will ride to Rohan with him, etc. I think that's what I meant. treebeard had a really deep background in the book, which is ignored, plus he changes his mind on a technicality in the film, which a true ent would never do. So I appreciate his depth. At least he makes more sense than Tom Bombadil.

      ROTK is still my favorite book, but TTT is now my favorite movie because on the whole it is truest to the source.