"Movies That Were Better Than the Book"
#1
Okay, so who knows who this Z. J. Sums is, or his/her/ze's qualifications to make such judgements? Why even dignify the clutter of frankly annoying clickbait articles hyped on every web page nowadays, for which I retain a guilty tendency to peruse betimes?

Nonetheless, thought I'd share this entry from one such clickbait art for your consideration. This person has posted a claim that PJ's movies were better than the book(s).

Quote:The [book] series essentially invented the fantasy genre as we know it today, while at the same time providing some biting social commentary about the state of the world during the middle of the 20th century.
I think JRRT might have something to say about both claims made in this sentence, especially the 2nd!

Quote:Peter Jackson’s acclaimed film trilogy (...) streamlined the story and narrative into a more easily digestible… 12 hours, while still maintaining the themes that made Tolkien’s world so beloved.

We've had many a discussion on whether or not the themes were maintained, haven't we? Was it "streamlined", or butchered?

Now I've often opined that, yes, PJ had to do certain things to facilitate exposition in a movie, that necessarily differ from how it is done in written literature. At the same time, he made rather odd revisions and transpositions that IMO couldn't always be justified as necessary to make the movie comprehensible, or even short enough.
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#2
(September 20th, 2022, 10:33 AM)Alvin Eriol Wrote: We've had many a discussion on whether or not the themes were maintained, haven't we? Was it "streamlined", or butchered?

Now I've often opined that, yes, PJ had to do certain things to facilitate exposition in a movie, that necessarily differ from how it is done in written literature. At the same time, he made rather odd revisions and transpositions that IMO couldn't always be justified as necessary to make the movie comprehensible, or even short enough.

I agree.  Many choices (like the revision of the Council of Elrond) were necessarily and competently shortened (excising both Tom Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire fall under this category as well).  Controversial but understandable choices include having Arwen rescue Frodo (seriously?  Elrond won't let his daughter marry a mortal but he'll send her out against ALL 9 RINGWRAITHS?  Still, who else is there?  We can't have a cast of millions.)  Then there are the confounding choices.  These seem to be mostly in the latter 2 films.  Why is it a bad idea to go to a defensive fortification when you're outnumbered?  Why is Faramir suddenly a jerk?  Why don't the "Shepherds of the Trees" know their flocks are being slaughtered?  Where are Gondor's armies?  There are no reasons to make these changes other than to force conflict where it isn't necessary.  The story is already chocked full of conflict and story elements are already being cut for screentime.
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#3
OH, no no no no no. Removing Bombadil from the story was inexcusable. And the council scene introduced inexplicable story elements that took the trilogy in a wholly un-Tolkien direction (like the animosity between Dwarves and Elves, which wasn't evident in the books).

Peter did preserve many of the themes, but he also changed the story considerably. While the argument that SOMETHING had to be cut is perfectly rational, which somethings needed to be cut is a matter of personal choice - not undeniable logic.

Acrobatic Wiz Legolas is just ridiculous, whether he's sliding along the tusks of Mumaks or riding a barrel down the rapids in a river (and slaying Orcs either way). No matter how many positives one finds in the movies (and there are many, including great cinematography, fantasy musical scores, innovative direction, etc.) there are negatives that must be balanced against the positives.

At the end of the day, the movies are simply different from the books. They describe an alternative Middle-earth. There was never any hope they could be completely faithful to Tolkien not only because of the length of the story but also because so many of the details that Tolkien provided in his private notes and essays were legally unavailable to the film-makers.
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#4
Yep, and then there's the question of whether being faithful *to the books* means including things from notes, letters, interviews, etc. "The publisher's printed version" vs the author's greater vision as detailed later in life.

I've always sidestepped much of the argument by saying that Jackson did a great job at creating a fast-paced, big-budget, sfx-laden Hollywood action movie that earned billions and won Oscars - based on a work of literature, poetry, and fictive folklore and mythology.
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#5
(September 28th, 2022, 11:55 PM)Michael Wrote: OH, no no no no no. Removing Bombadil from the story was inexcusable

Agree to disagree.

Quote:And the council scene introduced inexplicable story elements that took the trilogy in a wholly un-Tolkien direction (like the animosity between Dwarves and Elves, which wasn't evident in the books).

HOW the Council of Elrond was revised was problematic, but I believe it needed revising in some way.  There were simply too many characters who were named and then disappear from the story altogether.  That's simply untenable in a film.
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#6
(September 29th, 2022, 11:19 AM)ZehnWaters Wrote:
Quote:And the council scene introduced inexplicable story elements that took the trilogy in a wholly un-Tolkien direction (like the animosity between Dwarves and Elves, which wasn't evident in the books).

HOW the Council of Elrond was revised was problematic, but I believe it needed revising in some way.  There were simply too many characters who were named and then disappear from the story altogether.  That's simply untenable in a film.

Yes, there were too many speaking parts in the book for a dramatic adaptation, but that doesn't excuse the change in tone for both story and world. The animosity between Dwarves and Elves played no role in the film plot and wasn't there in the book plot. It was a gratuitous element that served no dramatic purpose.
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#7
(October 6th, 2022, 08:42 PM)Michael Wrote: Yes, there were too many speaking parts in the book for a dramatic adaptation, but that doesn't excuse the change in tone for both story and world. The animosity between Dwarves and Elves played no role in the film plot and wasn't there in the book plot. It was a gratuitous element that served no dramatic purpose.

Often true of Peter Jackson adaptations.  lol
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#8
I should point out that Peter did bring the Elf-Dwarf hostility into main focus in the Hobbit films. It worked much better in those movies.
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#9
(October 6th, 2022, 09:29 PM)Michael Wrote: I should point out that Peter did bring the Elf-Dwarf hostility into main focus in the Hobbit films. It worked much better in those movies.

It was a bigger plot point in those.  As was stated in The Hobbit, the Elves of Mirkwood were "less wise".  Also the Sindar and Silvan had more grievances against the Dwarves than the Noldor.
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#10
I am quite disappointed with the movies, especially return of the king.
I don't like the way characters were changed from the book.
Aragorn, Elrond, Gimli, Faramir and Denethor.
Faramir was my childhood favorite and Denethor is my favorite character with the passage of time.
Both Faramir and Denethor were radically different in the movies from the books.

I dont mind that Bombadil was removed, because it would be difficult to include him
without turning him into a comic character.
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#11
(October 11th, 2022, 11:46 AM)gzhindra Wrote: I am quite disappointed with the movies, especially return of the king.
I don't like the way characters were changed from the book.
Aragorn, Elrond, Gimli, Faramir and Denethor.
Faramir was my childhood favorite and Denethor is my favorite character with the passage of time.
Both Faramir and Denethor were radically different in the movies from the books.

I dont mind that Bombadil was removed, because it would be difficult to include him
without turning him into a comic character.

The characterization in that movie was off, for sure.  I think The Two Towers had the biggest logic issues and thus was the worst from a casual movie-goer perspective.  Like, why is Théoden being trashed for going to a defensive fortification when wildly outnumbered?  How did the Ents just show up, instantly, when called?  How did the elves get to Helm's Deep faster than the Uruk-Hai?
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#12
Bravo! Not to mention, why did the Elves go to Helm's Deep to begin with? I could kinda see Galadriel and Celeborn making a strong conciliatory gesture to the Rohirrim who (in the book) were so suspicious of her and Elves in general, but it was needless revisionism IMO.

As I said, changes necessary to facilitate exposition and minimize confusion for audience members unfamiliar with the book (including cutting out side trips like the Barrow-Downs/Tom Bombadil), or to shorten the runtime to an acceptable length (cutting out the Old Forest and Bombadil, the Ent-moot and pretty much Merry & Pip's whole visit, Paths of the Dead, Scouring of the Shire, etc etc etc), or to cut back on speaking parts requiring at least moderately capable actors (and union scale! e.g. Glorfindel, Beregond, Háma, Fatty Bolger, etc) are mostly tolerable, but changing stuff just for the sake of changing up is not.

Why not have the Warg attack from the book in Eregion, with Gandalf showing his power, instead of in Rohan chasing Aragorn into the river?!? If that was supposed to somehow (near-death brush?) convince Aragorn to man up and realize victory was possible so he should put his heart into it and stop assuming it was a last glorious stand before utter defeat, it wasn't working.

A lot has been written about John Noble's Denethor, but I think the mark was completely missed with a critically central character who illustrated some of the central themes of the story as well as the essential plot. That was a part that should have been done with more dignity and reserve (and closer to the book) as befit the scion of an ancient high noble house and ruling regent of Gondor engaged in a lethal chess match against an overwhelmingly powerful demon-prince, whom JRRT depicted. I'm picturing, say, Max Von Sydow or Vincent Price in their heyday, maybe Anthony Hopkins? Noble and PJ made Denethor seem IMO more like the emotionally challenged manager of a convenience store!
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For I was talking aloud to myself...the old...choose the wisest person present to speak to...
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#13
The actor has to follow the script.

With a better script i think the actor could do a much better job.
I dislike the fact that Denethor is portrayed as nuts.
In the book i think Denethor saved Minas Tirith when he decided to defend the Rammas and appoint  Faramir as commander against the opposition of the other lords.
Denethor knew that they needed more time in order for Rohirim to arrive before it is too late.
So he sacrificed those troops in order to gain time.
Not so different when Aragorn and Gandalf decide to challenge Mordor in front of the black gate.
They knew that they would be killed most likely.
Tolkien decides that Aragorn and the host is saved by the bell.
Otherwise they would have been wiped out.
Denethor fell into despair when he was convinced that everything was lost.

Denethor was opposed to Gandalf and Aragorn.
But i dont see that as evil. 
The stewards had ruled Gondor for over a 1000 years and Aragorns ancestors claim to the throne had already been denied.
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#14
(October 12th, 2022, 08:06 PM)Alvin Eriol Wrote: Bravo! Not to mention, why did the Elves go to Helm's Deep to begin with? I could kinda see Galadriel and Celeborn making a strong conciliatory gesture to the Rohirrim who (in the book) were so suspicious of her and Elves in general, but it was needless revisionism IMO.

As I said, changes necessary to facilitate exposition and minimize confusion for audience members unfamiliar with the book (including cutting out side trips like the Barrow-Downs/Tom Bombadil), or to shorten the runtime to an acceptable length (cutting out the Old Forest and Bombadil, the Ent-moot and pretty much Merry & Pip's whole visit, Paths of the Dead, Scouring of the Shire, etc etc etc), or to cut back on speaking parts requiring at least moderately capable actors (and union scale! e.g. Glorfindel, Beregond, Háma, Fatty Bolger, etc) are mostly tolerable, but changing stuff just for the sake of changing up is not.

I actively agree with all of this.  Changes should also still make sense.  Decrying Théoden for making the intelligent decision to go to a defensive position when out-numbered is baffling.

Quote:A lot has been written about John Noble's Denethor, but I think the mark was completely missed with a critically central character who illustrated some of the central themes of the story as well as the essential plot. That was a part that should have been done with more dignity and reserve (and closer to the book) as befit the scion of an ancient high noble house and ruling regent of Gondor engaged in a lethal chess match against an overwhelmingly powerful demon-prince, whom JRRT depicted. I'm picturing, say, Max Von Sydow or Vincent Price in their heyday, maybe Anthony Hopkins? Noble and PJ made Denethor seem IMO more like the emotionally challenged manager of a convenience store!

Yeah, in the books Denethor is portrayed as aggressive and dark, but not stupid.

(October 14th, 2022, 12:28 PM)gzhindra Wrote: Denethor was opposed to Gandalf and Aragorn.
But i dont see that as evil. 
The stewards had ruled Gondor for over a 1000 years and Aragorns ancestors claim to the throne had already been denied.

Also valid.
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#15
One of the major problems with cutting Bombadil from the story is that it lessens Sauron's reach in Middle-earth. In the book, the Barrow-downs illustrate just how far north Sauron's own servants have gone.

The whole Bombadil story also foreshadows many important plot points that occur later in the book. They aren't quite so jarring when the reader encounters them, because the Bombadil episode has already normalized them (like walking trees, darkness falling on the trees, and even Aragorn's heritage).

The movies were weakened by omitting Bombadil and pretty much counted on people knowing the major plot elements of the story to understand how and why some things were happening.

Even so, many people complained about things that were very faithful to Tolkien, including the Elves marching to Helm's Deep. Obviously that didn't happen in the book, but it was a clever way to show that the Elves of Lorien were engaged in the war and suffered loss - something readers only learn much later on, first through a vague comment from Fangorn when everyone is on their way home and then in the appendices.

People complain about the scene where Arwen "appears" magically to help Aragorn after he's fallen over the cliff and gone into the river. Again, these things didn't happen in the books - but in "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" Tolkien wrote that she watched over him from afar. So I thought that was a clever way to honor Tolkien's intention and bring Arwen more directly into the dramatic adaptation. Sure, they could have staged the "watching over him from afar" bit in a different way that was more faithful to the original plot - but we can't change the films now. We can only wait for the next adaptation.

I, too, was deeply disappointed by the way Denethor was portrayed in the movie. John Noble is a great actor and I felt the part he was given was a waste of both his talent and the character. But then, how much longer would the movie have needed to be, to faithfully show Denethor's sub-plot? That played out across several chapters in the book.

Legolas was overused, in my opinion. He's a great character and Orlando Bloom did an incredible job with his role, but they took the character way over the top in an attempt to demonstrate how elves differ from mortal men in oh-so-many ways.

I could go on, but I won't.
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