Jun 28 2011, 2:25am
Tolkien was deliberately separating the stories of the members of the fellowship who were physically separated from each other. He did it in order to heighten the suspense as the characters (and the readers) did not know what was happening to the other members of the fellowship while they lived out their part of the story. It would never have worked the way he did it, in a movie, so Jackson re-integrated the timelines.
some of the structure of the third book is very different
In addition, there are several sections of the books which are not shown in the movie. There is a section of a couple of chapters in Fellowship which are left out of the movie. The ending of the story is also told totally differently. Both the books and movie have the same climax on Mt. Doom, but there are a number of chapters of additional material after the characters return home that greatly add to the poignancy of the story in the book, and these are omitted in the film.
Besides these major alterations in the structure, there are a number of smaller discrepancies in events (lines given to other characters, some interactions simplified to move things along, some characterizations are different, a few bits of dramatic license in action sequences added in for fun, a few invented scenes that subtly alter the story emphasis but don't change the climax). If you try to compare them too closely, especially when you are new to the story, it could get confusing. (What happened to the shield surfing? I can't find it in the book! What happened to The Grey Company? I can't find them in the movie!)
My suggestion is to either read the books all the way through, or watch the movies all the way through. It might even be a better order to watch the movies first, since that will take less time, and then read the books to fill in all the backstory and richness, once the main action is clear in everyone's mind. Unless you think that running all the way through the story with your kids would kill their interest, since they would "know how it turns out." Watching the movies first will also destroy the suspense of two surprises Tolkien built into his structure, which are not surprises in the movies, but it isn't a fatal flaw (Jackson certainly didn't think so) and you can discuss them with the kids when you get to that spot. The alternative, of course, is reading the books first. However, that will take a lot longer and you would have to judge the attention span of your kids. One other option is available with current technology. The DVDs (and I assume Blue Ray discs as well) are divided into scenes/chapters. You could read a chapter in the book, and then pick out the corresponding scene/chapter in the movie to watch. It would be an odd way to watch, and I'm not sure how well the continuity of the movies would survive (not to mention pacing and flow), but I bet it could be done....just a thought.
"That is one thing that Men call 'hope.' Amdir we call it, 'looking up.' But there is another which is founded deeper. Estel we call it, that is 'trust.' It is not defeated by the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but from our nature and First Being. If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End. Of all His designs the issue must be for His children's joy."
Finrod, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, HoME X Morgoth's Ring