The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
A question of philosophy

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Aug 5 2021, 8:31am

Views: 1670
A question of philosophy

Now then if one is making a movie like Lotr and while is been true at least to the spirit of the book, you could argue anyway, if not true to the actual dialogue and events how far can you deviate from the story in the making of a film? Even if what the makers are doing is justified in making a good movie and good movie scenes, it is still not really in the book. Obviously one can do this a bit but the question is how far you can go and still keep even to the spirit of the tale.
I think that one example of this would be the Elves at Helm's Deep. Where a small band of Elves from Lorien go to the aid of the Rohirrim at Helms Deep. PJ justified this, at least in the extras by saying that it was a good movie moment and every time he saw it in the cinema, the audience loved it. All very well, but it is still not really in the book and it is a bit of a deviation. This could by justified by saying that the movies did make billions and you wouldn't want them to lose money would you but still what of the source material? I think another example might be the character of Faramir, totally different than in the book, but justified by saying it was better cinema,
I suppose this isn't just about PJ either. It does happen in other adaptions. In the great escape for example, I'm sure that people remember the iconic Steve McQueen character nearly jumping over the border fence whilst been shot at by the guards. A very iconic movie moment, Just one small problem. It never happened. It never even remotely happened. There where no Americans in that camp. There where some Canadians, I suppose, but no Steve McQueen style character.
I am putting this in the Lotr movie category as most people think that they where better movies than the Hobbit ones or at the least made more money, though I am not sure that I agree,


Aug 6 2021, 8:50pm

Views: 1618
Does it remain true to the spirit?

In my mind, there's a huge chasm between adding (or deleting/changing) small things that remain true to the spirit of the original work and making up complete fan-fic that doesn't -- or worse, outright violates the spirit of the original work.
Your example of the Elves at Helm's Deep is an example IMO of the former. Yes, they weren't there in the original book but their presence in the movie didn't detract from any of the written works (other than Super Legolas) and actually emphasized the partnership of the Elves and Men in the last war of the Ring. Arwen's enhanced role in the trilogy (including her ride with Frodo) is another example -- it simplified the character list, enhanced the role of Arwen in the tale, and really didn't diminish anything in the original text. One could argue the expansion of Dain's role in the Hobbit trilogy was similarly harmless to the spirit of the original text.

The Kili-Tauriel-Legolas triangle in the "Hobbit" trilogy was IMO an example of the latter. Not only was it a product solely of Wingnut with no literary support and nauseating in the way it was portrayed but it actually undermines the special nature of the friendship between Legolas and Gimli in LOTR. Alfrid is another example from the films that is widely disparaged.

The near-beardless dwarves in the Hobbit trilogy are an example in the middle of these extremes. Some of us were offended by the appearance and costuming of Thorin & Company. Others enjoyed it and saw no issues with the progeny of a Dwarven clan known as the "Longbeards" with descriptions in the text of how their beards fell into the water as they drank being depicted with scruffy short-cropped chin-hairs. Similarly, it wasn't the enhancement of Thranduil's role that offended some, it was the way it was expanded, particularly with his execution of the orc prisoner.

In your other example of "The Great Escape", the Steve McQueen character added some comedic moments and really didn't detract from Big X or the other characters (some of whom where montages). I believe some British audience members were offended by adding in the American characters but the producers did so because they felt they needed some Americans in the film to get the box office they needed. They may have been correct at the time and the result is (IMO) a film that stands the test of time and serves as a memorial to the 50. Without the inclusion of Henley (Garner) and Hilts (McQueen), the film might not have been made and a lot fewer people would have been aware of what happened. I doubt I'd have searched for and picked up the original book by Paul Brickhill if the movie hadn't grabbed my attention and I'm a WW2 buff.

I would contend that the Hobbit trilogy would have lost very few (if any) viewers and still been a box office success without the love triangle or resurrection of a long-dead orc. It would still have had the Good Morning scene and Riddles in the Dark and done well at the box office even if Thorin had actually looked and acted like Thorin.
Much of the discontent about contemporary productions of long-standing IP comes from a perception of trampling on and outright disrespecting the original works. Making Luke Skywalker -- formerly the most optimistic, hopeful person in the universe -- into a bitter old man was the #1 complaint I've seen about the Disney Star Wars trilogy.


Aug 7 2021, 12:05am

Views: 1611
On the contrary

"and really didn't diminish anything in the original text."

Arwen becoming the center of the Flight to the Ford does in fact diminish the main character of that sequence.

I otherwise agree that Arwen replacing Glorfindel makes sense for the film.