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Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Book Characters vs LOTR/Hobbit Movie Characters

News from Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Mar 25 2014, 9:18pm

Post #1 of 6 (740 views)
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Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Book Characters vs LOTR/Hobbit Movie Characters Can't Post

BooksVsMoviesOur latest Library feature is a question piece that's been rolling around my head for the last couple of months. As anyone who knows me well, I'm an extremely curious little cat and enjoy hearing other peoples opinions on a topic, both for and against, so with that in mind:

Book Characters versus Movie Characters

Have your perceptions of characters changed after seeing them on the big screen?

I've been thinking about this a lot, ever since I interviewed Peckish Owl and she replied to my question about her favourite characters in LOTR/The Hobbit with;


Here's a dark little secret - I absolutely loathed Thorin Oakenshield from the book. Same goes for Boromir.

Why? Firstly, because I hate conceitedness. Respect for one's authority should stem from one's actions and J. R. R. Tolkien failed in convincing me that these two very proud characters had more than their royal lineage to admire. Secondly, the original "Hobbit" story is told from Bilbo Baggins' point of view. He's the character we're supposed to relate to and befriend. Quoting my favourite YouTuber, Jeremy Jahns, "as much as I would love to say that I would probably be a wizard in "The Lord of the Rings" or a bad-ass warrior, I'd probably be a hobbit". It's the same with me - I sympathized with Bilbo very deeply and for me Thorin's leadership skills in the book were an utter disaster. Some years of teamwork, especially when you're forced to make life-changing decisions, have taught me that a good leader doesn't have to be very amiable but - unlike Thorin from the book - he brings out the best in other people. That's the leader I'd be willing to follow! And Bilbo Baggins from the original "Hobbit" becomes a courageous hero on his own, without any help of either Thorin or his Company, shaped by the events he has to face. Considering someone to be nothing more than a burden proves your opinion is narrow, subjective and biased - and these are the biggest sins a person who people are supposed to trust may commit. Thirdly, Thorin's quest was all about the gold. And - I bet you know that yourself, without me telling you - nobody likes a person who just wants his money back!

She went on to say:
And the funny thing is that these two characters - Thorin and Boromir - became my number one heroes in PJ's movies. This only proves how PJ's interpretation of Middle-Earth differs from the book - or at least from my vision of what the book was trying to portray. His Thorin remains equally proud but this time his purposes seem far more acceptable - he wishes to reclaim his kingdom (though it does look he cares more about this concept than his actual, exiled people) and its wealth is just a perk (though an important one, that's true). All of the dramatic events in his life, especially the noble deeds he performed for his kin, are underlined with heavy exclamation marks, mostly for cinematic reasons I guess, but the message they're trying to pass on has convinced me far more than the subtle suggestions of their existence from the book. Same goes for Boromir - I'm not ashamed to say that each time I watch the extended "The Two Towers" I shout along with the soldiers as he makes his inspiring speech in Osgiliath. For Gondor! In the books, Thorin's and Boromir's backgrounds are very limited and are supposed to be their assets. In the movies, their backgrounds are a heavy burden, making them damaged rather than privileged characters. When you see them struggle, when you see them fall! you can't help but offer them your sympathetic hand of redemption.

It led to a discussion on our Message boards between myself and Malickfan about peoples views on the characters in the book against their views of the same characters in the films. Malickfan prefers their book versions.
Thorin and Boromir's history and character was all there is the books, just not pushed to the forefront. I sometimes think people just empathised with them more in the films because such things were pushed to the forefront drastically altering the importance and role of them in the films in contrast to the books, and of course, it is easier to empathise with a face than a bunch of hidden sub-text. The films are really The Hobbit and Thorin trilogy we know what Thorin must be feeling in the book when reading it, but we never see it, unlike in the film, when his internal emotions are on full display.

I was personally quite intrigued by two such different opinions on both Thorin and Boromir. I have to admit I found both characters rather unpleasant in the books and I also wasn't all that fond of Aragorn's over-weening nobility. (For the record, I don't really like the "I'm unworthy, reluctant king" angst in the films either. But aside from that, I felt Viggo Mortensens portrayal of Aragorn was brilliant.)

My own opinion of these two characters (Boromir and Thorin) has changed since seeing them portrayed on film. I'm not sure if it is purely due to the actors abilities in bringing these characters to life or, because of raising three autistic children, I'm much more accustomed to dealing with visual over written impressions. It's probably a combination of both of these.

I also raised the possibility of it being due to the way men and women perceive things and people, as both Peckish Owl and I are female and have very similar views of the two characters, also several of my female friends share these views. This is also due to Malickfans description of why he likes Thorin better in the book, which is pretty much why we disliked him.
Malickfan replied: "It's probably just me and crazy opinions as usual, yes Thorin is an arrogant bad tempered (for the most part) old sod (though his status as a dwarven pensioner is open to debate) in the book-but that is precisely why I liked him! I liked that he did and thought whatever he wanted, bending to no-one else and showing his authority as much as he could, for me personally I found a greater empathy with him that the flawless Aragorn or Faramir - Thorin was a heavily flawed individual and the opposite of many of Tolkien's heroic archetypes yes, but to my mind was a much more imposing royal and forceful character, I also liked that he was a man of advanced years with the air of a politician and wounded lion, not a warrior in the prime of his years."

So I'm genuinely very curious, what are your views on these characters (and others) from the books? Do they differ to how you think of them as they are portrayed in the films? Have your opinions changed in any way since seeing them brought to life on the big screen?Which do you personally prefer?

You can share your more in-depth opinions with us all on the Message boards here.

(This post was edited by dernwyn on Mar 26 2014, 3:05am)


demnation
Rohan

Mar 26 2014, 11:08am

Post #2 of 6 (484 views)
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I have mixed feelings on this [In reply to] Can't Post

In the tug of war that exists between book and film, I think it pretty much evens out. I have to try hard to not let my overall opinion on book vs. film (I much prefer the books) to cloud my view on this particular aspect, but to my mind characters can be put in one of three or four categories:

1) Film characters that well complement or enhance their book counterparts. (Boromir and Theoden)

2) Characters that run pretty much even. I can agree that Aragorn's over-weening nobility is offputting, and I can also agree that the angsty film counterpart is not much better. The three most important characters (Frodo, Sam and Gollum) are excellent in both incarnations. ( though movie Frodo is a little less proactive and a lot more whiny than his book counterpart.)

3) Then there are "book-versions-are-so-superior-What-were-you-thinking?" characters (Sorry, is my bias showing?Wink) I'm saddened to see Denethor move from being a three dimensional, psychologically tormented individual in the book to a one dimensional loon in the film. And I will never, ever understand the film writers reasons for gutting Faramir's character. And I also won't understand why the film writers decided to focus on the least savory of aspect of Eowyn's character: her pining for Aragorn. Her wonderful conversation with Aragorn in the book about her "proper" place is gone. Her wonderfully heroic moment with the witch king is reduced to a one liner. And her wonderful and evolving relationship with Faramir is gets just one or two token scenes. (I could go on, especially about Gimli the philosophical dwarf turning into comic relief.)

4) And then there are characters who are boring in both . (*cough* Legolas *cough*)

I won't comment on TH, since I don't find it as interesting and the trilogy isn't complete and Thorin's most important character moments are still to come.

And I have to ask what you think gender has to do with this? Is it just some of the differences between men and women, or something else. Just curious.

And this is all beside the point that I dearly wish that book and film could peacefully coexist and we wouldn't even have to have these conversations. ( Though it's still and interesting topic anyway. Smile)

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."

(This post was edited by demnation on Mar 26 2014, 11:11am)


DaughterofLaketown
Gondor


Mar 26 2014, 12:39pm

Post #3 of 6 (467 views)
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I think the main difference between books and films is [In reply to] Can't Post

that books show subtlety very well. Movies can only show more obvious emotions because they have to be visual emotions everyone can see. Internal emotions and motivations that we, the reader, get in context are lost because movies are rarely narrated. We don't get the third person view looking in on things observing the action. Characters like Faramir whose actionse are mainly internal get lost from page to screen. The same can be said of Eowyn. Writers are capable of writing much more complex characters than films can make. So any movie based on a story will inevitably lose characterization. Also with female charters in particular romance usually plays a significant part of their character in films. This is because woman are more emotional than men and they show this through romantic feelings. Therefore any feelings a female character may have had in the book are revved up. However film makers fail in that they assume the only emotion women feel is that of romantic attachment.
In general filmmakers need to show a wider range of female emotions.

Just my two cents.


BlackFox
Half-elven


Mar 26 2014, 1:27pm

Post #4 of 6 (454 views)
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I understand where you're coming from, but... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Movies can only show more obvious emotions because they have to be visual emotions everyone can see. Internal emotions and motivations that we, the reader, get in context are lost because movies are rarely narrated. We don't get the third person view looking in on things observing the action. Characters like Faramir whose actionse are mainly internal get lost from page to screen.

... what about the viewer's participation? One might argue that characters as such are largely created/constructed in our heads (by "filling in the gaps" that are found in every work of fiction, both books and films included). A willing viewer should thus be able to "see beyond" what they're presented with, derive further "data" regarding the motives etc. of the characters from what they are shown. "The internal" is not lost, but hidden (as it is in real life) - it can, however, be "recovered" if one's willing to put some effort in it (which should be that much easier when you know the story and the characters beforehand).



demnation
Rohan

Mar 26 2014, 1:38pm

Post #5 of 6 (447 views)
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More or less agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the differences can just be mostly put down to differences in the medium. And this is why I usually don't like book vs. film discussions!

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 27 2014, 11:14pm

Post #6 of 6 (406 views)
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Thorin et al [In reply to] Can't Post

It goes without saying that movie Thorin is nothing like book Thorin, except briefly in DoS when he accuses Bilbo of having the Arkenstone. Of course even that scene is a radical departure from the book... truly a case of blink and you miss it. He just seems angry all the time rather than haughty; bitter and vengeful rather than sure of his destiny and birthright. Oddly, as much as I don't like book Thorin, movie Thorin made me look back at him with fondness.

As for Boromir, the movie version is far more likable than his book version, far more. Bean evokes pity, but also admiration. His Boromir is dignified, if not perhaps somewhat righteous in his actions. In short he and his motivations are easier to understand and respect.

Viggo nailed book Aragorn for me (wait that sounds weird); which is to say he played him exactly as I always imagined him, in spite of any changes to his arc.

Perhaps it was John Hurt's 70s-ified portrayal that coloured your perception of book Aragorn all those years ago? I actually like John Hurt quite a bit, though his Aragorn was wide of the mark I thought. (Or maybe it was the way he was drawn?)

 
 

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