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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Where did the Films IMPROVE ON the telling of the LOTR?
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TomthePilgrim
Rohan


Jan 9 2012, 8:15pm

Post #26 of 105 (2120 views)
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Words are funny critters . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

. . . and their infinite combinations are an important part of social interaction.

You might sometimes come across as gruff, but your opinion is important to you and you are clear in your words. I certainly don't take offense . . .

I just made my opinion known as well and, although I used different wording, I think our opinions were close to the same . . .

"I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means me!"

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,


telain
Rohan

Jan 9 2012, 8:35pm

Post #27 of 105 (2116 views)
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a second vote for PJ/SB's Boromir [In reply to] Can't Post

When I first read LOTR, I had no time for Boromir. I'm not sure why, I just despised that character.

After watching FOTR, however, and going back and reading LOTR again, I had a far better Boromir in my head and I actually enjoyed reading that character.

I don't actually attribute this so much to Tolkien's writing, just my initial understanding of Boromir. I suppose this is why I enjoy the TORn discussions so much -- more and better insights into Tolkien's stories help me read and understand them better.


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 9 2012, 9:31pm

Post #28 of 105 (2081 views)
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Yes, I agree. [In reply to] Can't Post

Boromir was one of the keys to a successful first film. Yes, it was obvious he was going to be in trouble with regards to the One Ring, but it's a fine example of how you can disagree with the method, but still agree with the overall goal: get rid of Sauron/save Gondor. The film Boromir had some great moments. I know why they didn't put in the Osgiliath segment except in Faramir's flashback in the EE, but I think that really halped his character overall.

He also helped expand the love stories a little. Tolkien wasn't a romantic writer. The lack of female characters is explainable in many ways, but having them play at least a supporting, interesting set of roles in his film versions certainly helped, whatever you think about the casting of Liv Tyler (Which I believe was people's main objection, not the inclusion of Arwen in more of the story).

As far as the Jackson not improving anything. No, he didn't improve the story, you couldn't. He improved the presentation of the story. He made a film of some very deep and sophisticated material which I revere as much as the next book fan.

Film is not subtle -- it can't be and be exciting for today's audiences, so save any charges of ham-handed for the many other directors out there that are equally guilty of this with many of my favorite stories. It's not just Jackson.


Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 9 2012, 11:03pm

Post #29 of 105 (2060 views)
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enhancing the story [In reply to] Can't Post

Malveth The Eternal wrote: If it ain't broke, don't fix it! It's better because I like it more & it's part of the original text.

Obviously the words came first from Tolkien. I am well aware that for many book purists, ANY deviation from the Professor's written words (from his final revised versions, I'm guessing) is blasphemy and not allowed (e.g. if it ain't broke, don't fix it.)

But I kicked off this discussion thread by describing the LOTR story as a modern-day mythology. As with the ancient mythologies of old, the characters changed and the stories grew with each retelling. While I recognize that Tolkien and Jackson had different issues to deal with given the medium they were presenting the story in, my focus is on the story that is being told.

Given that context, I would argue that the way that Tolkien described the destruction of the ring WAS broken. It was a huge letdown in the book. We've followed Frodo on his entire journey only to learn at the very end that the ring was destroyed---because Gollum accidentally slipped??? Middle Earth was saved by an "oops" moment??!??!?!?!?! I am well aware that Tolkien was very intentional about the way he described it. I recall he wrote somewhere that he wanted to emphasize the role that fate played in the tale. But while his intentions may have been admirable, the result, from a storytelling point of view, was to significantly diminish Frodo's role as the Ringbearer.

This issue wasn't so much increasing the melodrama but to heighten the sense that Frodo carried out his quest. Readers (or a film audience) needed the sense of closure that the Jackson version provided. Imagine the reaction to the ROTK, if Gollum has jumped up and down in glee and then slipped and fell to his death. Talk about a letdown! Think about how THAT would have changed the tone of the film. For all your talk of Jackson's 'ham handed' and 'childish' approaches to the scene, I would argue that the sight of Frodo reaching up and grabbing Sam's outstretched hand as the ring reluctantly sinks into the lava is one of the trilogy's iconic film moments for many LOTR book fans.


Malveth The Eternal
Lorien

Jan 9 2012, 11:20pm

Post #30 of 105 (2068 views)
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No... [In reply to] Can't Post

>>Obviously the words came first from Tolkien. I am well aware that for many book purists, ANY deviation from the Professor's written words (from his final revised versions, I'm guessing) is blasphemy and not allowed (e.g. if it ain't broke, don't fix it.)<<

I didn't say that, I said it wasn't "broken." It works fine and contains depths that elude Jackson as a filmmaker. Stanley Kubrick or Akira Kurosawa would have had no problem filming it as written (compare the end of Kagemusha or Ran). Jackson unnecessarily sentimentalizes the moment, robbing it of its power, the element that makes it memorable. If you read Tolkien criticism from the 1960's and 1970's, the ending was a major sore point for many literary critics, and even confused fans: but I understand & appreciate what Tolkien is doing. Why I like LotRs is why I don't like Harry Potter -- Tolkien leaves the barbs in, and they do sting, as only real literature can.

I'm not "purist." I am an intelligent, literate adult who does not think Peter Jackson improved on Jrr Tolkien's original novel. Hey, man, we're out there! Believe it or not...

I appreciate that he put as much of the original material into his films as he did, but that's not what I was looking for. I find the Bakshi film very exciting for different reasons, regardless of the fact that I don't particularly like his visual interpretations of the characters or the way his film jerks around without establishing the premise properly. I love the Guy Rithcie "Sherlock Holmes" series and I am a devout Conan Doyle fanatic. I love David Lean's "Doctor Zhivago" even though it changes aspects of what is almost my favorite novel, a work I truly revere. I love Peter Brook's "Mahabharata" even though it is a drastic abridgement of one of the world's most profound works of literature.

100% carbon copying is not what I'm interested in.

The equation is simple: I prefer Tolkien to Jackson, all the way down the line.
I repeat: there are a few of us out there!


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RosieLass
Valinor


Jan 9 2012, 11:46pm

Post #31 of 105 (2087 views)
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By eliminating Tom Bombadil. [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, but I am tempted to skip those chapters every time I read the book.

Apart from that, I agree with Ataahua a more well-rounded Boromir and a more fleshed-out Arwen story are enhancements to the films that I enjoyed.



It is always those with the fewest sensible things to say who make the loudest noise in saying them. --Precious Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith)


RosieLass
Valinor


Jan 9 2012, 11:53pm

Post #32 of 105 (2048 views)
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I don't see why it would have been a letdown. [In reply to] Can't Post

To me it emphasized the utter danger of claiming the Ring. Frodo warned Gollum, if you try to take the Ring, it will command you to throw yourself in the fire. And so it did.

It seems to me that having Gollum fall over the edge because of a struggle with Frodo is a much more "oops" moment than that.



It is always those with the fewest sensible things to say who make the loudest noise in saying them. --Precious Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith)


Malveth The Eternal
Lorien

Jan 9 2012, 11:58pm

Post #33 of 105 (2054 views)
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Ha ha! [In reply to] Can't Post

I love Tom! C'mon, he was a merry fellow, bright blue his jacket was and his boots were yellow, what's not to like...?

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RosieLass
Valinor


Jan 9 2012, 11:59pm

Post #34 of 105 (2055 views)
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Tra-la-la-lally! [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, wait! Wrong book...

Laugh



It is always those with the fewest sensible things to say who make the loudest noise in saying them. --Precious Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith)


Malveth The Eternal
Lorien

Jan 10 2012, 12:37am

Post #35 of 105 (2046 views)
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Down... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in the valley!

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Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 10 2012, 12:53am

Post #36 of 105 (2069 views)
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the end of the ring [In reply to] Can't Post

Rosielass wrote: I don't see why it would have been a letdown. To me it emphasized the utter danger of claiming the Ring. Frodo warned Gollum, if you try to take the Ring, it will command you to throw yourself in the fire. And so it did.

When Gollum fell into the lava pool with the ring I never once thought the ring commanded Gollum to throw himself in the fire. In fact, you'd think the ring would have "commanded" Gollum to do just the opposite, to get the hell out of there! It was described as an accident, a tremor that happened to occur just as Gollum was dancing with glee.
I liken it to rooting for the underdog in a championship game and watching them come from behind to win.....thanks to a last second phantom pass interference call. It gets the job done but it just doesn't contain the same emotional juice or sense of human drama as a long, fourth quarter drive with a few fourth down conversions thrown in would have.

An author can do anything he or she wants, but that doesn't mean it's the right decision or whether the readers will agree with it, right or wrong. For an example, think Thomas Harris and his follow-up book to Silence of the Lambs. Same thing can be found in films (cough, cough, George Lucas' Prequel, cough, cough) In the case of the LOTR, the letdown of that particular moment was far outweighed by so many other things about the books.

The beauty of the film version is that fate still played a role. The two Ringbearers wrestling for sole possession of the "Precious" was a prophetic way for the ring's end to come.




Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 10 2012, 3:05am

Post #37 of 105 (2026 views)
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Yes! [In reply to] Can't Post

Forgot entirely about Bombadil and that long diversion through the Old Forest. The film would have lagged with that section included.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Malveth The Eternal
Lorien

Jan 10 2012, 3:15am

Post #38 of 105 (2030 views)
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Actually... [In reply to] Can't Post

The Finnish Bombadil is pretty awesome!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8omTC4F1WKs&feature=related

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Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 10 2012, 4:11am

Post #39 of 105 (2017 views)
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Yikes! [In reply to] Can't Post

On the other hand, the Finnish hobbits are NOT!

ShockedShockedShockedShockedShockedShockedShockedShocked


Malveth The Eternal
Lorien

Jan 10 2012, 4:22am

Post #40 of 105 (2030 views)
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Yikes indeed [In reply to] Can't Post

The prospect of a Finnish production of LotRs is too good to be true, until you see this film!
It was a low budget tv production based on a stage play, recycling sets, costumes & make up from the play.

Look at this beautiful footage from the 1959 Finnish film based on Kalevala:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVp4M12rmuE

And this from a Finnish Kalevala tv minieries -- a beautiful water burial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyWuIZ905do&list=UUy96EA-dQisdKCCKS9Ig6Rg&index=68&feature=plcp

Might've been great...

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Arwen Skywalker
Lorien


Jan 12 2012, 4:45am

Post #41 of 105 (2052 views)
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a long diversion [In reply to] Can't Post

Tom's eccentric (bordering on Yoda-esqe sometimes) nature made him an interesting character but the subplot with him and Goldberry just felt out of place. He would have worked better in a stand-alone story though. But while the trek through the Old Forest lagged for me, I have to give props to Tolkien for having the balls to go with a risky element.


Quote
3. reducing the ridiculous amount of time between Bilbo's party and Gandalf's return


It never made any sense why Gandalf took 17 years to research the Ring. The Ring ended up being a less credible threat to me because of that. Where is the urgency to do something about it?

A lot of people already mentioned it but the expansion of Boromir's character was a big one for me too.


(This post was edited by Arwen Skywalker on Jan 12 2012, 4:48am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal

Jan 12 2012, 11:16am

Post #42 of 105 (2026 views)
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A lot happened in those seventeen years [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
It never made any sense why Gandalf took 17 years to research the Ring. The Ring ended up being a less credible threat to me because of that. Where is the urgency to do something about it?



There are many events that take place over those seventeen years, some of which have a direct impact on the events of the narrative. From the Appendices:

3001 - Bilbo's farewell feast. Gandalf suspects his ring to be the One Ring. The guard on the Shire is doubled. Gandalf seeks for news of Gollum and calls on the help of Aragorn.

3002 - Bilbo becomes a guest of Elrond and settles in Rivendell.

3004 - Gandalf visits Frodo in the Shire, and does so at intervals during the next four years.

3007 - Brand son of Bain becomes King in Dale. Death of Gilraen (Aragorn's mother).

3008 - In the Autumn Gandalf pays his last visit to Frodo.

3009 - Gandalf and Aragorn renew their hunt for Gollum at intervals during the next eight years, searching in the vales of Anduin, Mirkwood, and Rhovanion to the confines of Mordor. At some time during those years Gollum himself ventured into Mordor, and was captured by Sauron. Elrond sends for Arwen, and she returns to Imladris; the Mountains and all lands eastward are becoming dangerous.

3017 - Gollum is released from Mordor. He is taken by Aragorn in the Dead Marshes, and brought to Thranduil in Mirkwood. Gandalf visits Minas Tirith and reads the scroll of Isildur.

3018



April 12 - Gandalf reaches Hobbiton.

June 20 - Souron attacks Osgiliath. About that same time Thranduil is attacked, and Gollum escapes.

July 4 - Boromir sets out from Minas Tirith.

July 10 - Gandalf imprisoned in Orthanc.

August - All trace of Gollum is lost. It is thought that at about that time, being hunted both by the Elves and by Sauron's servants, he took refuge in Moria; but when he had at last discovered the way to the West-gate he could not get out.

Even leaving out the events of September 3018 that preceded Frodo leaving the Shire, that is a lot to condense into one year (or even two).

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.


(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jan 12 2012, 11:20am)


Tolkien Forever
Gondor

Jan 12 2012, 9:52pm

Post #43 of 105 (1964 views)
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Where? [In reply to] Can't Post

Nowhere.

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Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Jan 13 2012, 9:41am

Post #44 of 105 (1971 views)
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Not I... [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo FAILED in his duty to destroy the Ring. It is absolutely fundamental to the story, and one of its core themes (that power corrupts all, even the most humble), that Frodo fail, and NOT have anything to do with the final destruction of the Ring himself.

Peter Jackson did not improve upon the books at all. The only thing he did, occasionally, was beautifully visualize certain passages, like the lighting of the beacons.

Otherwise, PJ's ham-handed, melodramatic, overwrought, nerve-wracking, uneven, saccharine, and cheaply emotionally manipulative style, is so far below Tolkien's story-craft, that it is difficult to even consider it, IMO.

Even if you compare each of them in terms of their own medium, Tolkien wins out by a landslide.

Tolkien was a wonderful storyteller. Peter Jackson is a mediocre filmmaker that produces dreck like King Kong and the Lovely Bones. He was only saved by LOTR because the source material was so wonderfully cinematic. IMO, the only original film of his that is of any worth is Heavenly Creatures.

It is a real shame that a much better director, such as Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men), P.T. Anderson (There Will Be Blood), or Akira Kurosawa (Ran, Seven Samurai) could not have given these films a shot.


(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Jan 13 2012, 9:46am)


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Jan 13 2012, 9:44am

Post #45 of 105 (1964 views)
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Film is often subtle [In reply to] Can't Post

There are hundreds of excellent directors, cinematographers and actors that have collectively produced subtle, compelling and beautiful films.

PJ just so happens to be one of the least subtle directors on the planet. Worse than Spielberg, if that can be believed.


Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 13 2012, 1:10pm

Post #46 of 105 (1946 views)
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the end ot the ring [In reply to] Can't Post

Shelob'sAppetite wrote: PJ's ham-handed, melodramatic, overwrought, nerve-wracking, uneven, saccharine, and cheaply emotionally manipulative style, is so far below Tolkien's story-craft, that it is difficult to even consider it, IMO.

This is a great example of what we see so often in politics today. Instead of providing specific examples to support one's case, just resort to name-calling.

Shelob'sAppetite wrote: Frodo FAILED in his duty to destroy the Ring. It is absolutely fundamental to the story, and one of its core themes (that power corrupts all, even the most humble)

I agree that one of the themes was that the ring corrupts all who wear it, including a humble hobbit like Frodo. So what supports that theme more? Gollum dancing around, slipping, and falling? Or Frodo fighting Gollum for 'ownership' of 'the precious'?


squire
Half-elven


Jan 13 2012, 1:22pm

Post #47 of 105 (1967 views)
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It was important to Tolkien that Frodo, in the end, fails to destroy the Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

Thus instead of throwing it into the Fire in a supreme act of will, he claims it. To this point, the film follows the book. To avoid the obvious consequence, which is that Sauron will now show up and take the Ring from Frodo, Gollum reappears and bites the Ring off Frodo's finger, utterly defeating the hobbit. Again, the film follows the book well. Next what? In the book, Gollum has one brief moment of utter fulfillment - the reader enjoys the shock of experiencing Gollum's transporting joy at finally regaining his Precious. And then, suddenly, accidentally, unintentionally, Gollum misses his step and teeters, almost recovers, and yes, falls into the Fire, destroying himself and his Ring with a final lost cry Preciousssss... The reader is left with the choice of deciding whether Frodo's (or the Ring's) earlier curse, or mere chance (or Fate), is the reason why Gollum (and the Ring) is destroyed.

Why would this be Tolkien's choice of ending rather than taking the film's choice of re-engaging Frodo as the vehicle for the Ring's destruction? Because it muddies the basic theme here: that Frodo fails to destroy the Ring and that the Ring is destroyed only because of Gollum's continued existence through Frodo's and Sam's mercies. Frodo takes the time to explain it to us afterwards: "but for him I could not have destroyed the Ring" and later shows continuing regret that he has lost his Ring, "it is gone, and all is empty."

In the book's end, Frodo turned evil; in the end, only his mercy to Gollum redeems him from that evil. In the film, in the end, Frodo is trying to kill Gollum (to get the Ring back); he is not showing mercy; he destroys the Ring and Gollum through a vicious act that is driven by his new ownership of the Ring. Yes, the film attempts to compensate for the change by showing that he is redeemed from evil by Sam's love for him. But that replaces the core moral value at the heart of Tolkien's work - the importance of doing what's right even when it is hard, the importance of faith and mercy when expedience argues for an easier course - with the core moral value at the heart of Jackson's understanding of the work - the importance of friendship and love for those who love you.

The film's ending is, obviously, completely consistent with most of the rest of the film in this thematic sense. But it is not really a top-notch adaptation of Tolkien's book for that reason, just as the new ending is not as powerful as a moral statement about the human condition. I don't believe the change has anything to do with the cinematic necessities of an adaptation; Tolkien's ending could well have been staged in a way that would have gripped and satisfied the audience. But the audience would have had to be prepared for it by all the previous scenes between Frodo and Gollum being staged in accordance with Tolkien's vision as well. Tolkien's ending is logical and necessary to all of his writing up to that point; Jackson's ending is equally appropriate to all the changes he made in the story up to that point - which is probably why it is so hard to visualize just the ending suddenly being "faithful" to the book.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
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Darkstone
Immortal


Jan 13 2012, 3:18pm

Post #48 of 105 (1996 views)
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Besides the hot babes? [In reply to] Can't Post

Jackson's decision to treat the story as historical.

From Letter 247:

"Part of the attraction of the L.R. [The Lord of the Rings] is, I think, due to the glimpses of a large history in the background: an attraction like that of viewing far off an unvisited island, or seeing the towers of a distant city gleaming in a sunlit mist."

It's like a novel about Egypt. One can begin a chapter by describing the pyramids, then go on to narrate the actions of the characters running around Cairo, hoping the image of the pyramids remain in the reader's mind. But in a film one can simply have the pyramids always in the background, continually reminding the viewer of the larger history behind the setting.

In the dressing of virtually every set in the films one can't help but feel that "history in the background" of which Tolkien spoke. Indeed, one often gets the impression that the movies were "Filmed on location in Middle-earth".

Jackson and Co. did good.

******************************************
"Oh, Gandalf, Gandalf, you fool! Canít you see how I feel?"
"Yeah, I see. I see our troubles donít amount to a hill of beans. You belong with Celeborn. And I need to go find the only one who can save us."



Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 13 2012, 5:20pm

Post #49 of 105 (1938 views)
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End of the ring [In reply to] Can't Post

squire wrote: Why would this be Tolkien's choice of ending rather than taking the film's choice of re-engaging Frodo as the vehicle for the Ring's destruction? Because it muddies the basic theme here: that Frodo fails to destroy the Ring and that the Ring is destroyed only because of Gollum's continued existence through Frodo's and Sam's mercies. Frodo takes the time to explain it to us afterwards: "but for him I could not have destroyed the Ring" and later shows continuing regret that he has lost his Ring, "it is gone, and all is empty."

I completely disagree. The wrestling match between Frodo and Gollum didn't muddy anything and certainly didn't change the basic themes surrounding the end of the the ring. The basic themes you outlined from Tolkien's description of the end of the ring are the exact same ones Jackson illustrates in the film:
1) Frodo failed to destroy the ring;
2) The ring is destroyed because of Gollum's continued existence through the mercies of Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam; and
3) Even those with pure hearts are eventually corrupted by the power of the ring.

However, rather than say the ring was ultimately destroyed by chance, fate, or pure dumb luck, Jackson showed how the corrupting power of the ring ironically led to its own downfall because Frodo and Gollum both desperately wanted their 'precious' again. Gollum falling as a result of that struggle made much more sense---and was more dramatically powerful and more emotionally satisfying---than an accidental slip was.

As I've stated before, as a 14 year old, I was disappointed when I read how the ring was destroyed. It was, for whatever reason, anti-climatic and a letdown. As I've reread the books many times over asan adult, my appreciation for many of Tolkien's descriptions in the story has grown tremendously---EXCEPT for his description of the destruction of the ring.
What the film version accomplished was to give the viewer a sense of closure that readers of the book were denied.

Viewers of the film--and readers of the book--needed an emotionally satisfying payoff. And Jackson's version gave it to us while illustrating the same themes....

....except, I guess, "accidents happen." Wink


Black Breathalizer
Rohan


Jan 13 2012, 5:31pm

Post #50 of 105 (1923 views)
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end of the ring [In reply to] Can't Post

squire wrote: In the book's end, Frodo turned evil; in the end, only his mercy to Gollum redeems him from that evil. In the film, in the end, Frodo is trying to kill Gollum (to get the Ring back); he is not showing mercy; he destroys the Ring and Gollum through a vicious act that is driven by his new ownership of the Ring.

Again, I disagree. In the film, you don't see Frodo and Gollum trying to strangle each other. The film shows Frodo and Gollum engaged in a struggle to possess the ring for himself. Frodo didn't push Gollum off the cliff, Gollum's fall was an accident---one that almost resulted in Frodo's death too.

In the EE "making of the ROTK,' Jackson was very clear that he DID NOT WANT to show Frodo pushing Gollum off the cliff. The final film version was a summer pick-up shot to make sure the viewers would see it was an accident.


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