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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Why film adaptations don't do justice to books


May 30 2008, 1:49pm

Post #1 of 6 (470 views)
Why film adaptations don't do justice to books Can't Post

This article is about sci-fi books & movies, but looks to me like it applies as well to fantasy and probably most genres.

[Love] may be merely a device to put us in contact with the mystery, and we long for love to last so that the ecstasy of being near the mystery will last. It is contrary to the nature of mystery to stand still. Yet it's always there, somewhere, a world on the other side of the mirror, a promise in the next pair of eyes that smile at us. We glimpse it when we stand still. . . . When it comes to perpetuating it, however, I got no advice. But I can and will remind you of two of the most important facts I know:
- Everything is part of it.
-It's never too later to have a happy childhood.
- Tom Robbins
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


May 30 2008, 2:11pm

Post #2 of 6 (319 views)
Interesting read! [In reply to] Can't Post

There's a link on that page to another interesting article too: Is Guillermo del Toro the Right Man for The Hobbit?

The writer definitely thinks he is, and makes some interesting points to back up his position.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


May 30 2008, 2:39pm

Post #3 of 6 (327 views)
different agendas... [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a colleague at work, who told me, 'You know what your trouble is? You keep expecting this to make sense!"

He was absolutely right, in that in the particular situation I was dealing with, I was dealing with a project that had shifted from a planning mode to a political mode. I was thinking in terms that didn't apply any longer, and totally frustrated by how the project was getting shifted. But as soon as the agenda is driven by politics, the rules, and the goal, became totally different.

One of the things I admire most about Jackson is his understanding of the politics and business side of film-making, and his ability to use those things to support the creative process, rather than the other way around.

I remember going to see ROTK with my son, and one of his friends and his father, who had figured it was just another action flick. The talked through half the film, left to get popcorn during the whole Faramir death ride, yelled "go Frodo go!' at Mt. Doom, and cheered on Legolas taking down the Mumak. They also sat their with their mouths wide open at some points and were visibly moved by the end of the film.

Even with all of the self-interruptions, the movie engaged them, and made them think, and they probably would never have ever even heard of Tolkien without seeing it. Jackson had to appeal to this father and son, and to me, the long-time fan and my son, who knows more about Gandalf than he does about his own grandfather. The fact that we got so much of the LOTR context, within the framework of a Hollywood blockbuster, and without alienating 100% of the books fans, and drawing in the non-fans, is a pretty amazing feat.

Thanks for the link!


Tol Eressea

May 30 2008, 7:35pm

Post #4 of 6 (317 views)
I have to agree... [In reply to] Can't Post

while I will always prefer the books to the movies, I think the movies were amazing, they far exceeded any expectations I had when I first heard it was happening. They were never going to the "the same" as the books, as you cannot translate things identically when telling a story in a different medium. The thing I love most about the movies is that they spurred a whole new generation of readers to go read the books. I have friends who aren't into books of that genre at all, yet felt compelled to read them all after seeing FoTR. The wonderful world and characters within that Tolkien created have now been introduced to a whole new group of people. And for that reason, I thank the movies. Smile

*Jazminatar the Brown*

Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens

May 31 2008, 9:16am

Post #5 of 6 (320 views)
I's like to add [In reply to] Can't Post

another thought thatt crossed my mind recently.


You can and often need to "explain" things in a book and in a book you can get away with it. In a movie, the traditioanl rule of thumb, so to speak, is to show it with pictures. In fact, if a film maker resorts to having a character eplain things, that is considered lazy, or sub par, or just simply a 'no-no'. And movies are capable of showing a lot in pictures... as we learned well from LotR.

All the same, a lot gets thrown out, moved around and spread out to other characters. .. that's so it's not Exposition-heavy on one place or with one character. Books can languish, movies can not.

**Tribute: Lt. J.G. Robert Sterling, WWII Pilot MIA, by Gramma & DoN**
Art Gallery Revised, Aloha & Mahalo, Websites Directory

Nienna: those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope . . . All those who wait in Mandos cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom." Valaquenta


Jun 5 2008, 5:58am

Post #6 of 6 (221 views)
well [In reply to] Can't Post

A good article, with some reasonable and well-argued main points. Still I've seen several science fiction films that have stayed very much with the spirit as well as the plot of the book and still succeeded as a film, like Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, and the recent Stardust, despite its arguably ramped up climax, which was very moviefied, (without making the film any better as a film).

I wouldn't disagree one minute that a film is a different form of art than a book, but I still feel that in many articles the differences are exaggerated. Both films and books often focus on a main story. The problem with many films - adaptations or not - is often their over-reliance on story and plot to the detriment of specifically visual measures.

As for science fiction films (based on books) which were both artistic as well as fairly successful on a financial basis, I'm certain there are several. The first I would suggest is Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451. Another is Wong Kar Wai's 2046, released some four years ago. Perhaps also Tarkovskij's Solaris, although I don't know how successful it was financially.


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