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Larger Than Life Heroes in ROP

Junesong
Lorien


Jun 16, 11:31am

Post #1 of 23 (652 views)
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Larger Than Life Heroes in ROP Can't Post

I was watching the latest episode of Other Minds and Hands last night on youtube and Corey Olson mentioned something that's always bothered me about Jackson's adaptation.

Peter Jackson didn't really let any of the (good) characters feel as great and heroic as Tolkien did. Aragorn, Faramir, Denethor, Theoden, Eowyn, and even Gandalf were all brought down to a more human level that we could "identify with."

In the commentaries, Jackson and co explicitly talked about this choice and how they felt it was necessary for the story they wanted to tell. They also seemed to indicate that it was what modern audiences expect and want. They claimed that nobody would buy an Aragorn that was king from scene one. They felt strongly that audiences needed to relate to his "journey" and to his "inner conflict" And in doing so they made Aragorn "just like us" and stripped him of a lot of the innate heroism baked into his character by Tolkien.

To me it's one of the greatest examples of how Jackson's films misunderstood Tolkien.

But from what they said about the showrunners for ROP - it sounds like we might see more of those "larger than life" heroes that Tolkien wrote in their adaptation.

If we get this - who should qualify in the 2nd age as being one of these heroic figures? How appropriate does it feel to you guys to give characters an arch that takes them up to that high hero level? Do you agree with Jackson and co that modern audiences need heroes they can relate to?

"So which story do you prefer?"
"The one with the tiger. That's the better story."
"Thank you. And so it goes with God."

(This post was edited by Junesong on Jun 16, 11:32am)


Narvi
Rivendell

Jun 16, 2:29pm

Post #2 of 23 (603 views)
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not sure [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know that audiences would accept such figures in their shows these days. They work within the framework of Tolkien's text because, by and large, the "larger than life" characters primarily serve as plot devices and only secondarily as protagonists, enabling exposition and the framing of subplots that the protagonists with whom we're meant to relate and through whose eyes we're meant to view the plot--the hobbits--navigate through. Aragorn's lack of character development in the book serves a narrative purpose and suits the generic conventions that Tolkien constrained himself to (heroic sagas etc). I agree with Jackson&co that this would have come off as rather pompous and entitled in present-day media, at least to audiences who do not share Tolkien's avowed support for monarchy. Unlike in the book, Aragorn steps into the role of a primary protagonist in the films. This was necessary, as Tolkien devoted whole chapters to Aragorn&Co separate from their travels with the hobbits, which in a film adaptation would have disoriented the viewers and caused them to wonder why we were suddenly spending so much time with Isildur's one-note heir. However, I do think the film-makers exaggerated the problem a bit in their description: we don't need to "relate" to Aragorn, we just need to sympathize with his mentality and his mission. I think they accomplished that in the films. However, I can totally see how others with different ethical and spiritual frames would see it otherwise.

To bring this back to the Second Age, I wonder who would step into those "larger-then-life" shoes. I'd expect that, if the showrunners went in this direction, they'd characterize some of the more ancient elves in this way--for instance those who had glimpsed the light of the Two Trees. There is a certain degree of precedent set in Jackson&Co.'s portrayal of Galadriel, Elrond, and Gandalf the White. However, because these two seem to be the main elven protagonists in the Eriador plotline, I doubt this will be the case.

I'd suggest that they even seem to be attempting to make Sauron more conceivable as a sentient being with a history and personal connections rather than the malevolent force of nature we glimpse in LotR. He'd have been another character I'd have picked for "larger-than-life" status.


InTheChair
Rohan


Jun 16, 6:01pm

Post #3 of 23 (582 views)
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I would have said [In reply to] Can't Post

that they might make Galadriel such a larger than life Hero, though I also remember a rumour about them having her be bullied in her youth, so maybe not.


DGHCaretaker
Rivendell

Jun 16, 6:27pm

Post #4 of 23 (580 views)
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Bullied [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...rumour about them having her be bullied in her youth...

I saw that. Bletch! Between that and the "man-spread" photo - not hopeful. They don't need to make her a man to make her powerful.

Maybe Junesong would prefer superheros without the actual "super" to keep it real but still larger than life. I like that. If they personify the gods, for example, don't humanize them. Don't deconstruct them, as is the unfortunate trend in recent decades. Don't make the metaphoric superman an abusive drunk. I want my heroes. We need our heroes. There is so much cultural destruction (not a typo of deconstruction) going on, it's saddens me that contemporary writers feel justified and rejoice in it. A bullied Galadriel is not what Tolkien wrote, unless you count her treatment by the "gods." My impression is that Tolkien did actually write them, as I can be quoted, "The Middle-earth gods were a bunch of egotistical, unforgiving control freaks, that Eru created, bent on destruction." If the show wants to write them as jerks, I don't mind. ;) But not at the expense of Galadriel.


(This post was edited by DGHCaretaker on Jun 16, 6:32pm)


Junesong
Lorien


Jun 16, 7:19pm

Post #5 of 23 (562 views)
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Yes and No [In reply to] Can't Post

I like my superheroes super.

I also lament the current popular trend of "humanizing" and "deconstructing" every hero. Not to get sidetracked - but this is a big reason why Marvel is currently winning the cultural superhero war at the box office. Marvel heroes are super and larger than life and even the deconstructed or humanized ones reach higher than the gloomy DC heroes.

As far as the photo and the bullying report I don't see how either of those make her more or less a woman. As far as I know, gender doesn't preclude bullying or posture.

"So which story do you prefer?"
"The one with the tiger. That's the better story."
"Thank you. And so it goes with God."


Silvered-glass
Rivendell

Jun 16, 10:38pm

Post #6 of 23 (537 views)
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Character Flaws [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think Aragorn really lacks character development in the book. It's more like his characterization is just subtle because he isn't in the focus for most of the book and even in the chapters more about him his deeper thoughts aren't really shown. I think he is a highly flawed character actually. I wouldn't call him larger than life. Multiple other characters are in a similar situation. On my latest reread I was actually surprised to see how deeply Tolkien averted/subverted the heroic arc, which I am conflicted about, because I actually like some more heroism in my books and don't think truly heroic characters are by definition unrealistic like some do. There is already more than enough cynicism in the modern fantasy.

So put me in the category that doesn't mind realistic character flaws in Tolkien adaptations.

(By the way, my thread about Aragorn on the other board is not a reaction to this thread. I had started it independently, and it took a while to write.)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 17, 4:10am

Post #7 of 23 (509 views)
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Bullied? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd feel sorry for the Elven youth who tries to bully Galadriel.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 17, 4:13am

Post #8 of 23 (508 views)
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Aragorn's Character Growth [In reply to] Can't Post

Most of Aragorn's character arc is not in The Lord of the Rings proper, but takes place in Appendix A (specifically in 'The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen"). By the time of the War of the Ring his character is essentially fully formed. That, of course, does not work by Hollywood standards.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 17, 4:13am

Post #9 of 23 (508 views)
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Aragorn's arc [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Aragorn certainly does develop. It isn't a pole-to-pole transition, he doesn't start out as a clueless greenhorn or whatever; that arc is for the hobbits. But he is undertaking a great transition, the bold stroke he's been seeing in his future all his adult life, and it isn't smooth. Starting in Moria he has a rough go of taking the lead in the fellowship, he makes a string of bad decisions and gets left in a very low point, practically fallen out of the story, or so it may seem to him. But right at that low point he makes the all-important decision to accept providence, and to pursue to role that is clearly marked for him, instead of trying to coach Frodo through whatever Gandalf may have planned for him. And as he turns toward Minas Tirith, not only does his resolve and his boldness grow, but his faculty of inspiring the people around him--a critical marker of royal worth in Tolkien--escalates rapidly as well.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jun 17, 4:19am

Post #10 of 23 (507 views)
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Second Age [In reply to] Can't Post

As for titanic heroes in the Second Age, I'd think of Gil-Galad and Elendil, maybe Aldarion depending what bits of timeline we end up seeing; Galadriel of course and maybe Elrond as well though I think his arc is so much more tragic and personal that it overwhelms his significance on the world stage. Celebrimbor is certainly pivotal and should be a compelling figure, but not exactly heroic in the usual way.

And of course there really is plenty of room for invention.


Narvi
Rivendell

Jun 17, 12:11pm

Post #11 of 23 (480 views)
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This is a good point [In reply to] Can't Post

I hadn't considered his mode of leadership and prioritization of responsibilities--these definitely change, as you point out. Not the most remarkable of changes, but certainly meaningful. I hold to my point, though, that this is not a story present-day audiences would have found particularly engaging unless contextualized in a different genre and allowed to unfold at a different pace.

Interestingly, I could see Galadriel might well fit this mold. Although her disposition will allegedly be quite different from that of the films, perhaps the primary developmental arc will parallel that of book Aragorn, from 1.) monster-hunter wandering the wild to 2.) mission-focused operator cooperating in an important venture to 3.) politician tasked with broader concerns.


Narvi
Rivendell

Jun 17, 12:16pm

Post #12 of 23 (477 views)
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I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

regarding Gil-Galad and Elendil. I wonder how close they'll push Elendil toward a Starkian "principles over pragmatics" characterization during Pharazon's reign. Perhaps this will inform how we are to view Isildur's vulnerability to the Ring. He witnessed his father losing not-quite-everything but certainly respect and power. He's determined to avoid that fate himself.


Narvi
Rivendell

Jun 17, 12:27pm

Post #13 of 23 (477 views)
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I need to slip over and take a look! [In reply to] Can't Post

I really don't make it into the reading room as often as I should. I think I'm worried it'll pull me into deep-dives of my own, which I enjoy but which would occupy far more of my time than I can afford at present.

I take your point, and I agree that he's not quite larger-than-life (although I don't think most of the characters that Junesong originally listed are really larger-than-life).

I do think Merry and Pippin's observations about Gandalf the White are pertinent here. There are some characters whose perspectives Tolkien veiled because he wanted us to observe their choices and judge their behavior from a hobbit's perspective. Hence Aragorn's full story is only articulated in an appendix, as O-S points out.

As for Aragorn's flaws, I'll have to go read your post and think on it. I had not considered him a flawed hero until now.


Junesong
Lorien


Jun 17, 2:15pm

Post #14 of 23 (467 views)
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Galadriel in the Jackson films [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you guys really love that characterization? I thought it was a bit stiff and overboard.

One of the things I'm most anticipating in the ROP is a new take on the characters and characterizations. The Elves don't need to be slow motion, slow talking ethereal glowsticks. They also don't have to be cartoon ninja turtle style action heroes like Jackson presents them in The Hobbit trilogy.

I'm curious to see how ROP handles the races and cultures. Can't get any worse, that's for sure.

"So which story do you prefer?"
"The one with the tiger. That's the better story."
"Thank you. And so it goes with God."


Narvi
Rivendell

Jun 17, 3:08pm

Post #15 of 23 (460 views)
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Toed the line [In reply to] Can't Post

I felt Galadriel's characterization in Jackson's LotR comported with her ethereal characterization in the book, although he went wild with the telepathy. I also appreciated that she seemed to glow with the light of Valinor where other elves did not. On the other hand, I did not appreciate that the rest of the elves shared her ethereal disposition. They did come across as overly stiff and formal. Indeed, in the Hobbit films they expanded this to an absurd degree with Thranduil. I loved the costume design and I love Lee Pace as an actor but wow that was a strange direction to take that character.

Likewise with the dwarves. There was no reason to reduce a band of noble refugees and their companions to a comedy troop for the sake of juvenile humor. It also undercut the more somber performances by Richard Armitage and Ken Stott, which might have been better contextualized in a social setting that was not zigzagging between fart-jokes and painful memories. I trust the showrunners will recognize that dynamic and avoid it.

EDIT I just wanted to note regarding Galadriel's telepathy that it facilitated one of my favorite scenes in the Two Towers, where she lays out the likely scenario and persuades Elrond to send the elven contingent to Helm's Deep. (sidenote: why did Haldor, whom we last saw in Lorien, lead Rivendell's forces? would have been a perfect opportunity to drop Elladan or Elrohir back in...I guess it was the only other notable elf they could use after they pulled Arwen out?)


(This post was edited by Narvi on Jun 17, 3:12pm)


Eldy
Grey Havens


Jun 17, 6:07pm

Post #16 of 23 (445 views)
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Haldir tangent [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
sidenote: why did Haldor, whom we last saw in Lorien, lead Rivendell's forces? would have been a perfect opportunity to drop Elladan or Elrohir back in...I guess it was the only other notable elf they could use after they pulled Arwen out?


Based on a very quick skim of an online transcript of The Two Towers, I'm not sure if this was stated in the film itself, but according to ancillary material the Elves at Helm's Deep were supposed to be Galadhrim, though it makes very little sense for Lórien to be fielding heavy infantry. The decision to cut Arwen from Helm's Deep was made very late in the game, after they had filmed the battle (there are photos of Liv Tyler in costume on the Helm's Deep set), so I assume it was too late to add in characters they'd never even cast, much less had footage of.


Narvi
Rivendell

Jun 17, 6:39pm

Post #17 of 23 (437 views)
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I had forgotten! [In reply to] Can't Post

It's been a while since I've delved into the companion material to the Jackson films other than the "Art of ___" series. Their bows do match those wielded by the Galadhrim in Lorien. I suppose the armor was intended to invoke that of the elves of the Second Age shown in the prologue. The glaives they collectively draw and wield to cinematic effect certainly match (I remember sitting in the theater as a preteen thinking "this is so cool"). I guess Haldir's greeting can be chalked up to Galadriel's telepathy, and was written to be delivered by Liv Tyler, whom we were to imagine crossed the Misty Mountains at s pace to be matched only by that which the elves apparently achieved (on foot!) from Lorien to Helm's Deep. Or perhaps she met them along the way.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 17, 7:34pm

Post #18 of 23 (422 views)
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The Fellowship first meets Haldir in Lorien [In reply to] Can't Post

It's been more than 15 years since I've watched any of the LOTR films, but I remember them enough to recall that just as in the books they meet Haldir when they first approach Lorien (and he says "the dwarf breathes so loud we could have shot him in the dark). So he at least is clearly from Lorien, and presumably those that he leads are also from Lorien.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Eldy
Grey Havens


Jun 17, 7:49pm

Post #19 of 23 (415 views)
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I agree that's the most straightforward interpretation... [In reply to] Can't Post

...though I'd thought there might be an explicit statement to that effect in the film itself. It's been six years since I last watched them, though, and I spent so much time poring over companion books like Weapons and Warfare as a kid that the films and the ancillary material sometimes blend together in my mind. I think Narvi is right that the arms and armor of the Elves at Helm's Deep was deliberately made the same as (or at least very similar to) that of the Elves in the Fellowship prologue, though from an in-universe perspective it would make much more sense for such a force to come from Rivendell than from Lorien. Then again, thinking about the Helm's Deep sequence from that perspective quickly leads one to question the Elvish presence at all, so maybe it's best not to pursue that line of thought. Laugh


Narvi
Rivendell

Jun 17, 9:16pm

Post #20 of 23 (406 views)
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It's just the line he delivers that is puzzling [In reply to] Can't Post

He says "I bring word from Elrond of Rivendell" when he arrives, which is odd, as we would expect him to bring greetings from (at least) Galadriel if he were coming from Lorien. Since he was inserted late in the game, I assume they kept a line that otherwise Arwen would have delivered, which coupled with her presence would suggest the elves came from Rivendell, despite the similarity of their bows to those wielded by the Galadhrim.

There's also the issue that Galadriel telepathically asks Elrond "do we let them stand alone?" which I understand to be her way of nudging him to act.


(This post was edited by Narvi on Jun 17, 9:21pm)


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jun 17, 9:24pm

Post #21 of 23 (401 views)
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Yes, I have always thought that line was nonsense [In reply to] Can't Post

It makes no sense, but I still never seriously considered the possibility that the Elves were from Rivendell, not Lorien.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


dormouse
Half-elven


Jul 4, 6:14pm

Post #22 of 23 (130 views)
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It is puzzling.... [In reply to] Can't Post

.... though I suppose it might be possible to stretch the telepathy far enough to suggest that Elrond answered Galadriel's question...
Seriously, though, I think the line probably is a hangover from the plan to have Arwen fighting at Helm's Deep. (I'm so glad they decided against that!)

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Jul 8, 12:44pm

Post #23 of 23 (70 views)
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She did indeed meet them [In reply to] Can't Post

TTT allegedly originally included many Arwen scenes— she was to have already made the decision to return from the West (her vision of her child), then she and Elrond were to travel for Lorien for some reason. She and Galadriel originally shared a scene at the Mirror.

Presumably after Helm’s Deep, she would have returned to Rivendell, where (in the ROTK teaser), Elrond says he can’t protect her anymore, the scene with her dropping the book and declaring “There is no ship” occurs, etc.

How Elrond originally got to Dunharrow is completely beyond me. The final version is built out of scraps since any line of Arwen’s referencing Anduril is delivered offscreen, and Elrond’s shot of him watching Anduril being reforged is clearly reassembled from both his and Aragorn’s scene at Gilraen’s grave and the shots of him looking at Alan Lee’s Isildur vs Sauron painting.

I wonder if it was originally Arwen who delivered the sword at Helm’s Deep— seems very unlikely, given all that they’d have to reshoot (or ignore) when moving it to Dunharrow.

 
 

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