Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Watching Top Chef, eating Top Ramen
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Okay... finally saw it last night and I am ready to join the rant-fest! Discussing it on the way home DH and I realised that an awful lot of the big changes, the objectionable ones, had to do with taking the wisdom and strength of secondary characters and giving it all to the members of the Fellowship. And actually only a few members of the Fellowship. There is sort of a pecking order of importance that seems to come down to
...and lots of others after that.
Aragorn is constantly in the lead during the hunt for the orcs despite the book saying that Legolas was ever in the fore. Aragorn must appear to be stronger, better, more heroic at every turn than anyone else.
In Fangorn rather than Merry and Pip's obvious goodness winning over Treebeard (and them paying enough attention to know they can trust him) Gandalf steps in and smooths the way, substituting his wisdom for all of theirs. After that of course, the Ents have no wisdom and must have their course all but forced upon them. I'm not sure which I found more shocking, that the very nature of Ents is tossed aside so they can make a snap, emotional decision or that Pip, who is really not calculating at all could be interpreted as having intentionally manipulated Treebeard.
Faramir, of course, lacks the wisdom to have seen his brother for who he really is and know what must have happened. Sam has to lecture him about the facts of life to open his eyes so he will let the Hobbits continue on their quest.
They even robbed Grima Wormtongue of his power. If Saruman was possessing Theoden then what purpose does Grima serve? Grima should have enough power, either in sorcery or simply of persona and persuation, that he has taken control of Theoden, not Saruman. If that isn't the case then Grima is reduced to a minor spy, a role that could have been played by a footman rather than the kings advisor.
There are lots of other examples but that is my basic thesis. The filmmakers didn't want to confuse the world by having lots of people who were good and wise and strong (or even strong in their wickedness) they want a few clear cut heroes , a couple of major villians and a crew of buddies to support them. This bothers me far more than other changes that are clearly the product of changing from word-based to picture based story telling.
That said, I really enjoyed the movie. I still like Eowyn far better than Arwen, but that has been true since I first read the books. The fact that Liv Tyler sucks every last bit of life out of any scene in which she appears just makes it more true. I have great respect for Peter Jackson in that he never lost the human aspect of the story even in the huge, long battles. I love that he is letting the actors really work, that he lets the camera rest on them for a nice long shot while emotions slowly play across their faces. The scene between Grima and Eowyn was so charged that I was on the edge of my seat just from the sheer strength of the performances. And Grima, with the stricken look and the single tear as he watches the hordes of Orthanc go.... just amazing.
I will quibble and debate but I will gladly purchase this on dvd and will eagerly await the third film. But if they skip the scouring of the Shire, Jackson may need a bodyguard.