🧙 The Tolkien Forum 🧝

Welcome to our forum! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox! Plus you won't see ads ;)

Characterization in the movie was absolutely PERFECT!!!

aragil

Just another loremaster
Joined
Aug 27, 2001
Messages
1,852
Reaction score
4
Location
Secondarily Beautiful State of Washington
Well, now that I have your attention I would like to issue my own challenge. There has been much debate on these boards regarding whether or not Peter Jackson's addaptation has accurately portrayed the characters of Middle Earth as they were penned by Tolkien. The quote which Greymantle has placed in his signature has frequently been used to illustrate the single largest objection that many who populate these boards have to the Film. What bothers me about this is that it is often (not always) used as a blanket statement referring to all the characters in the movie, with very few specifics given. I (and especially others) have gone through some pains to quote extensively from the book in defense of Peter Jackson's interpretations of the major characters. In some cases our work has been acknowledged- i.e., 'Peter did some funky stuff that isn't how I saw it, but having looked at what Tolkien wrote, maybe it could have been interpreted that way.' In some cases our defenses have been debated, sometimes with a resolution, often-times without. But what is distressing is that in many cases our arguments have been completely ignored, and I find that after spending several hours looking through the books and then typing the relevant material in a post, someone else two posts later makes the same offending remark about characterization without even addressing the counter-argument.
I propose that we (the collective members of the forum) use this thread to discuss when characters in the movie have been (perhaps loosely) interpreted from the book, and when PJ has horribly misrepresented the characters of Tolkien. The point of debate is whether the characters are the result of plausible interpretations from what Tolkien has penned, not whether PJ portrays the characters exactly as we interpreted them, or even whether he portrayed them as Tolkien intended them to be. To hammer in the point, here is what Tolkien himself stated (in the context of addressing another screen adaptation in no way related to that of Mr. Jackson's):

"I do earnestly hope that in the assignment of actual speeches to the characters they will be represented as I have presented them: in style and sentiment." (Borrowed from Greymantle's sig)

Some rules that I would ask posters to follow, though I have no power to enforce them:
1) Address specifics of the characters as portrayed in the movie, i.e., 'Arwen should not be waving a sword', or 'Arwen's lips should not appear to be borrowed from Julia Roberts' rather than 'Arwen was wrong in the movie.'
2) Please, no offensive remarks regarding fellow posters. I'm pretty sure that this is a rule of the forum, but I'd like to make special mention just so that it is fresh in our minds. In fact, I'd like people to refrain from addressing each-other at all, except for clarification purposes when responding to a previous post. I would also like posters to abstain from using the terms NPW, FAD, newbie, and purist, when possible.

Some notes on how I plan to defend the movie:
1) Tolkien's works are ones of the imagination. I hardly think it is fair for us to enjoy such an imaginitive piece of literature, and then insist on the most narrow possible interpretations of the movie. To illustrate this, I will point out that many members of these boards seem to think that movie-Aragorn spent the time from Bree to Weathertop toting around four hobbit-sized swords, when he just as easily could have discovered them at Weathertop. All of us here have the imaginitive power to realize that events could have happened beyond what was given screen time. Because of this, I may ask us all to give PJ a little faith and imagine a little. Of course any of you can refuse to do this, and then I will violate my own rule #2 above and claim that you are unimiganitive.;)
2) I (and especially others) have spent a lot of time addressing these issues in previous posts. If I feel that any issue has been properly addressed elsewhere, I will respond with a link to that post. Others are invited to do this as well.
3) All debate on the degree to which Saruman is being controlled by Sauron will be met with 'Wait until the next movie'. Of course, that is my mantra, others may reply as they see fit.
 
R

ReadWryt

Guest
Then I certainly hope that you will not mind me quoting some more from the same letter (#210 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)that your Tolkien quote is from....


Gandalf, please, should not ‘splutter’. Though he may seem testy at times, has a sense of humour, and adopts a somewhat avuncular attitude to hobbits, he is a person of high and noble authority, and great dignity. The description on I p. 239 should never be forgotten.
I know that I have used this in other threads, but I feel it has great bearing. Alas, the only copy of The Lord of the Rings I possess is the "All in one volume" edition, and so none of the references in Tolkien's letters, nor in Foster's "The Complete Guide to Middle-earth" apply. (The math for the conversions are something that awaits another day....week....year!) Otherwise I would post the description that Tolkien sites here. None the less, I personally feel that the above quote flies in the face of the characterization of Gandalf in several scenes, making him seem more like a mere man...akin to one of the Shamen of Finnish mythology.

His actions after discovering to his own satisfaction that the Ring his dear friend Bilbo had passed on to Frodo was indeed the One Ring, cleaved from the hand of Sauron himself, is less than those of one of "noble authority", and indeed would have been chastised comming from any of several other characters for the fact that they would have called undue attention to that part of "The Hill". After all, what in the world could cause such distress in a Wizard (Istari) of Gandlaf's renown?

As for if it portrayed the character according to the description in the book, aside from the reference that Prof. Tolkien makes in his quote, I feel that should someone read the acount of the meeting between Gandalf and Frodo though, I would say that the fact that in the book Gandalf appears, chats with Frodo, spends the night and has breakfast with the Halfling and THEN tells him of the Ring are a good example of the dignity with which he carries himself. "...you told me such things were best left until daylight..." Frodo quotes the Wizard, showing that Gandalf was INDEED concerned gravely about the Ring, and understood that the Nazgul might well be about. "It is far more powerfull then I ever dared to think at first, so powerfull that in the end it would utterly overcome anyone of mortal race who possessed it."

Unless doom is impending there is indeed noplace in all of The Lord of the Rings in which Gandalf is portrayed as Frantic or Manic. It may work as a cheap device to create a sense of danger, but the damage that it does to the character is imense. How is it that the rest of the Fellowship should trust that someone who can be provoked to such a crazed and aggravated state? Would he hop upon Shadofax and ride for the hills, or perhaps he is not returning to aid them at all, off ranting on a ship far to the west...?

Here you have someone who is the authorative equivelent of Elrond and Galadriel, who later stares down Kings and wins battles of wit with them. Here is someone who had the presence of mind to send the party off while he stayed to fight the Balrog, who balked not at the journey through the mountains and through the storm. Intead of running, or frantically worrying, he comments by writing in flame in the sky for all in Rivendel who might observe it to see that Gandalf is here.

There is a fine line between making something easier for an audience to understand, and removing dimentionality, or worse adding dimentions that never existed as was done here. Instead of trusting that a character who acts with dignity and expresses their urgency and fear in terms other then "over the top" melodrama or frenetic spluttering would be believable to the public, we see hackneyed and cliche actions from a character with little or no regard for the ability of the viewer to sit back and realize that this is a person of great nobility and presence who need not actually concern himself with the well being of Hobbits and Trees, but who has made it his business to place himself in harm's way and who makes personal his quest to see the One Ring never fall into the hands of the Necromancer.
 

Greenwood

The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil
Joined
Dec 26, 2001
Messages
1,596
Reaction score
3
Location
New York
Aragil

The change that I disagree with the most is that as the Fellowship trys to go over the mountains Gandalf is portrayed as reluctant to take the "short-cut" through Moria while Aragorn and others are willing to. In the book Moria is Gandalf's suggestion and Aragorn argues against it. Indeed in the book after the retreat from the pass Aragorn says: "You followed my lead almost to disaster in the snow, and have said no word of blame. I will follow your lead now -- if this last warnig does not move you. It is not of the Ring, nor of us others that I am thinking now, but of you Gandalf. And I say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!" I can see no easily justifiable reason for reversing the positions of Gandalf and Aragorn in the movie.
 

Greenleaf

Of the Sacried wood
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
87
Reaction score
0
Location
The Sacred Wood
My biggest complaint is with Arwen. Her character is much to elaborated one. The whole scene @ the ford was not right. And her line 'If you wont him come and get him" was really corny, almost laughable
 

Pops

Registered User
Joined
Dec 31, 2001
Messages
16
Reaction score
0
Location
Dallas
Greenleaf, that line was actually Frodo's line. He, however, was referring to the ring with that line. So, was it laughable in the book as well? If not, then what makes it different?

I have both positive and negative reaction to that scene. While I believe it worked beautifully in the movie and was great character progression for Arwen [subliminal]I love Liv!![/subliminal], I also think it did so at the expense of Frodo's character progression. So, it's pretty much a loved it/hated it feeling for me.
 

Foe-Hammer

Registered User
Joined
Dec 20, 2001
Messages
985
Reaction score
0
rw,

Gandalf, please, should not ‘splutter’. Though he may seem testy at times, has a sense of humour, and adopts a somewhat avuncular attitude to hobbits, he is a person of high and noble authority, and great dignity. The description on I p. 239 should never be forgotten
Yet gandalf looks like an incompetent boob at the gates to moria. And to make matters worse, he can't remember the way when he is the one who wanted to go there? I'd thrown him down the well with pippen if I were to hold to Tolkiens very rigid discription that you have quoted. It is entirely more likely that you have this quote out of context or Tolkien had gone senial and forgot who stupid he made gandalf appear.
 

Tar-Steve

Registered User
Joined
Oct 26, 2001
Messages
102
Reaction score
0
Location
Connecticut, USA
Ignoring that,


I didn't like the portayal of Galadriel. I realize that Galadriel has an air about her that places her a bit above it all but I thought the film version of her was all cold, superior, and practically heartless. Completely gone was the side of Galadriel that addresses each member of the company individually with respect and an air of fellowship. The side of her that's marks her as the LADY of the GOLDEN wood. What's left without that side is just a callous, scary, bitch.

Is this movie portrayal really the same woman who warmly captures Gimli's heart? No ... it isn't.

(I didn't appreciate the special effects after she was offered the ring. I would've much rather seen Cate given a chance to act there. One of my favorite moments in the entire story swept aside for an oppurtunity to abuse CG's).


I enjoyed some of the embellishments of Boromir's character. It was nice to see both his noble and gentler sides. I think the literary Boromir is often sadly misunderstood.

I would've liked to have seen Merry's common-sense and on-the-ball characteristic not tossed away as they were in this first film. I hope the upcoming films reclaim the better qualities of this fine and worthy Hobbit. The use of Merry and Pippin as comic relief in this film reminded me of how the brownies were used in "Willow". I found it cheaply contrived, annoying, and distracting in that film and also (thankfully to a lesser degree) in this one. However, "it comes in pints?!" was one of my favorites things in the movie.

I'm re-reading my post and it sounds kind of pompus. I don't mean it to be. I had a really great time with the movie. I will at least buy the dvd even if I don't make it make to the theater to see it again. I like a lot of things about the film and am looking forward to the next segments.

In spite of his "sputter"ing (which I agree with rw about), I thought Ian M. was a great Gandalf.
 
Last edited:

Foe-Hammer

Registered User
Joined
Dec 20, 2001
Messages
985
Reaction score
0
Naw, you didn't sound pompus.
Nit-picky for sure, but not pompus.
 

Greenwood

The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil
Joined
Dec 26, 2001
Messages
1,596
Reaction score
3
Location
New York
My biggest complaint is with Arwen. Her character is much to elaborated one. The whole scene @ the ford was not right. And her line 'If you wont him come and get him" was really corny, almost laughable
Greenlef

The exact wording of the line was: "If you want him, come and claim him!" I realize it is only a one word difference, but I think it does make a significant difference in how the line comes across. I also think the line works well on several levels. It shows defiance of the Ringwraiths. It also shows that this descendent of Luthien Tinuviel is not afraid of the Ringwraiths. I also took it to be a challenge to the Ringwraiths, in response to which they attempt to cross the river and are swept away by the flood. I did not get a feeling of "Oh my God! They took me seriously and are coming over!" after Arwen issues this challenge, but rather that she calmly and immediately calls for the flood that is the Ringwraiths (temporary) undoing. I did think the next part of the scene was overdone.
 

chrome_rocknave

Frodo Lives!
Joined
Dec 19, 2001
Messages
160
Reaction score
0
Location
Mirkwood
Originally posted by Pops
Greenleaf, that line was actually Frodo's line. He, however, was referring to the ring with that line. So, was it laughable in the book as well? If not, then what makes it different?

I have both positive and negative reaction to that scene. While I believe it worked beautifully in the movie and was great character progression for Arwen [subliminal]I love Liv!![/subliminal], I also think it did so at the expense of Frodo's character progression. So, it's pretty much a loved it/hated it feeling for me.
Hmmm.....what makes it different? Could it possibly be that Frodo didn't say "his line" and instead Arwen said it? Or maybe its different because Arwen wasn't even supposed to be in that scene, let alone saying Frodo's lines! Then again, it could be different because instead of Frodo facing the Riders by himself, he had the help of a spell-chanting Elf with an Ent-battle scar (anyone notice that slash on her face came from a tree? lol)
 

Pops

Registered User
Joined
Dec 31, 2001
Messages
16
Reaction score
0
Location
Dallas
The scar came from a whip-wielding Black Rider.

:rolleyes:
 
Last edited:

aragil

Just another loremaster
Joined
Aug 27, 2001
Messages
1,852
Reaction score
4
Location
Secondarily Beautiful State of Washington
ReadWryt- I agree with you that without impending doom Gandalf should not be sputtering about. I just ask you to remember that in the movie 'The shadow of the past' takes place in a different context than in the books. In the movie the scene immediately follows on the heels of some poor hobbit getting his head lopped off by a furiously galloping black rider, so I would say that in the movie there should be a lot greater sense of urgency than in the book. The meeting in the book takes place in the spring, several months before the black riders reach the Shire (September, I think). And I'll remind you that movie-Gandalf does still portray all of the noble actions such as facing the Balrog alone, leading up Caradhras and later into Moria (though in the movie there is no explicit mention that he has been there before). Not to mention that I think Sir Ian did an excellent job expressing his warmth towards hobbits, in particular Bilbo and Frodo.

Greenwood- I agree that the movie got Gandalf wrong for wanting/fearing to go through Moria. They at least could have used his line about 'staying out of sight for a while', especially since they bothered to show the crebain. But I don't think that portrayal falls into the 'mangling of character' class.

Harad- To me Viggo didn't appear as young as he did to everybody else, apparently. I felt that in the books his grizzled appearance was mainly due to the fact that he did not wish to be recognized. Certainly there are excerpts from the books where Aragorn seems to have years drop away from him, with the bit at Cerin Amroth springing immediately to mind. Remember, in Aragorn the blood of the Dunadan was resurrected nearly back to the days of Numenor, when 80 years wandering the earth did not necessarily make a man look or feel so old. Regarding your second point, I'm not trying to prove that the characters were perfectly portrayed from the books, but that many of the things that people object to do not contradict the books.

Greanleaf- Elaborating on a character is not the same as twisting a character. I'm looking for specifics as to how the character in the movie was wrongly portrayed (ReadWryt might want to warn you about what's going to come here).

Pops- I agree that the ford scene detracted from Frodo's character progression. Hopefully Frodo's bravery came through at the end of the movie where Frodo decides to forsake the fellowship in order to go to Mordor alone. For that matter, I thought Frodo could have been a little braver on weathertop- all of the other hobbits actually tried to fight the Ringwraiths. But the question for this thread is: 'Was it out of the character of Arwen to ride on the horse with Frodo?', or 'Was it out of the character of Frodo to let Arwen ride with him?' Nothing in the book makes me think so.

Foe-hammer- Thanks for the help in defense, I was beginning to think I was all alone here. But I don't think that Tolkien made Gandalf appear stupid, just rather human. Remember, Gandalf always entered Moria from the East-Gate, so he never knew the password. As to why it took him so long (and Merry's comment) to guess the password, he had forgotten that the gates were forged in a friendlier time. Since discussions of the nature of the Istari are likely to come up again, I would like to take this opportunity to quote from Unfinished Tales:
'For with the consent of Eru they (the Valar) sent members of their own high order, but clad in the bodies as of men, real and not feigned, but subject to the fears and pains and weariness of earth, able to hunger and thirst and be slain;'
...
'Who would go? For they must be mighty, peers of Sauron, but must forgo might, and clothe themselves in flesh so as to treat on equality and win the trust of Elves and men. But this would imperil them, dimming their wisdom and knowledge, and confusing them with fears, cares, and wearinesses coming from the flesh.'
In my opinion this description does much to explain the actions of the wizards- how Saruman could become so corrupted by power, and how Gandalf could show fear, pleasure in talking with hobbits, smoking Tobacco, etc.

Tar-Steve- I'll remind you that the point of this thread is not whether we liked the character's portrayal, but wether it was justifiable based on what is in the books. I think that we are agreed that Galadriel in the books certainly had the potential to be cold and scary- why else would such brave men as Eomer and Boromir openly display fear at the rumor of her? Does PJ get points for showing half of the character? I can't answer that, but my (admittedly weak) defense is that much of Lorien was edited out of the movie. As a consequence both Lorien and Galadriel seemed to lose their sense of warmth. In the books both land and lady were warm, perilous, and beautiful. In the movie as is, they both just come off rather perilous. I guess I can't defend with what wasn't placed in the final cut of the film, but I still have hope for the director's cut DVD.
I believe that ReadWryt shares your opinion on the portrayal of Merry and Pippin, and I'll admit that the Brownies were the first thing that came to mind when I saw them too. But the movie does portray Merry with a glimpse of his insightfulness. Others on these boards have said it was Merry who distracted the Ringraith in the Shire, but my eyes were not quick enough to see which hobbit did the tossing. If this were the case, then certainly that would be an instance of on-the-ball thinking, especially since in the movie they had just ran into eachother and Merry would have had no prior idea about the peril they were in. Then there's the fact that it is Merry who quickly realizes that their best way of escape is the Buckleberry Ferry, which sort of mirrors his organization of the four hobbits' exit from the Shire in the books. And let's not forget Merry's last bit in the film- reading Frodo's expression to understand that Frodo was leaving them, and then quickly realizing that if the quest is to stand a chance of success then he must try and draw the orcs away from Frodo. That's great stuff for Merry, and despite what others may have said on these boards, movie-Merry does get some licks in on the orcs- it happens while Boromir is fighting, and Merry appears to kill them rather than just lopping off their arms. Let us also remember that it was Merry who immediately recognized the potential for buying beer in pints in Bree! Finally, I'll remind us that much of Merry's insightfulness in the books was only hinted at in FotR, and that it wasn't until the other two books that we saw what a truly great hobbit he was. Let's hope it proves to be the same in the Films.
As a final note I'll just point out that I really liked the fact that Merry and Pippin had Celtic (Scotish? Irish?) accents in the movie (I've said this before). In the books the Took and Brandybuck clans were clearly different from the other more sedentary families- far more adventurous. In the movies all of the other families are voiced with the rather conservative English accent, while Merry and Pippin have that nice rogue-Celt Brogue. Nice touch, whether intentional or not!
 

Greenleaf

Of the Sacried wood
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
87
Reaction score
0
Location
The Sacred Wood
Sorry I'm lost. I can't find where in Flight to the ford Frodo say “If you want it come and take it" or something to that effect. Maybe I'm blind. :confused: :confused:
 

Greenleaf

Of the Sacried wood
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
87
Reaction score
0
Location
The Sacred Wood
Thanks for clearing that up but…. that is no the same line as what was in the movie! In the movie Arwen said “If you want him come and claim him". Frodo said "You shale have neither the ring nor me" different lines, different meanings. In the movie you got the impression that Arwen was challenging the riders were as in the book Frodo is stating a fact. I know this is nit pick stuff. I know I’m dicing words. :rolleyes:
 
S

Son_of_Grond

Guest
Originally posted by Harad
"By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair," said Frodo with a last effort, lifting up his sword, "you shall have neither the ring nor me."

Hey I thought his sword was evaporated by the Head Nazgul.
yup...that's it. A little more different than the movie than I originally thought.
 

Greenwood

The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil
Joined
Dec 26, 2001
Messages
1,596
Reaction score
3
Location
New York
Greenwood- I agree that the movie got Gandalf wrong for wanting/fearing to go through Moria. They at least could have used his line about 'staying out of sight for a while', especially since they bothered to show the crebain. But I don't think that portrayal falls into the 'mangling of character' class.
Aragil

I never said it rose to "mangling of character", just that of all the changes in the movie it is the only one for which I cannot think of a possible justification either from the standpoint of shortening things or making them plainer in a cinematic sense. It certainly didn't destroy the movie for me. I thought the movie was great.


In the movie you got the impression that Arwen was challenging the riders
Greenleaf

I agree. Arwen was challenging the riders. See my earlier post on this thread.
 

aragil

Just another loremaster
Joined
Aug 27, 2001
Messages
1,852
Reaction score
4
Location
Secondarily Beautiful State of Washington
Greenwood- I know that you didn't think that this change was a mangling of characters. There are many different changes to the movies which are objectionable to people. One of the changes which has been most abhorrent to members of these boards, and one which Tolkien himself apparently decried (granted that this was in a quote relating to a different film adaptation) is the 'mis-portrayal of characters'. I have stated that this thread is for addressing whether many of the 'changes' to characters in the movie are actually in contradiction to the books. Complaints about other aspects of the adaptation can go in other threads.
Frankly, I'm surprised that there hasn't been more posts to this thread. I know that many people on these boards have objections to how the characters were portrayed, and here is a chance to air them out. In order to help get the ball rolling, I'll list my single biggest characterization complaint:
In the movie, Elrond says a line to the effect that 'He (Aragorn) chose exile!'. In the books, Aragorn is the 16th chief of the Dunedain of the north. This makes him 17 generations removed from any kingship, so it is hardly as if he has 'chosen' anything about his status as king. Also in the books, Aragorn is protecting the lands of Arnor. Since Arnor is the kingdom of his forefathers, it is hardly as if Aragorn is in exile from his land, or in any way dodging his duty towards his people. In a similar manner, Aragorn is descended from Anarion through Firiel, who lived 17 generations prior to Aragorn. Firiel was not a ruling descendant of Anarion, her father Ondoher was. So on the 'Anarion' side of the family, Aragorn is 18 generations removed from kingship, and 17 generations removed from actually living in Gondor. In other words, Aragorn did not 'choose exile' from Gondor, either. Of course, this then leads to a mis-portrayal of his character. Many people who see the movie will have the impression that Aragorn was crowned as a king, and then abdicated and ran off to skulk in the north for however many years, presumably because he was so horrified by the fact that his ancestor (Isildur) did not toss the ring into the fires of Orodruin. In fact, somebody posted something to this effect in the 'Lord of the Rings' section of the forum, and I told them to ignore what it said in the movie.
That is my complaint about characterizations in the movie, I hope that other members of this forum will post regarding which character they felt was mis-portrayed in the movie. If nothing else, this thread should at least be fun for deepening our understanding of how our favorite characters were written into the world of Middle-Earth!
 
R

ReadWryt

Guest
Tar-Steve,

Although it is mostly a suspicion on my part, I think that a good sized chunk of the extra 45 minutes of footage that New Line says will probably end up on the DVD will include a good deal of footage with Galadriel. This may not "Warm her up" in your eyes, but it would go a long way toward portraying her concern for the success of the party, and re-insert the scenes where she bestows her gifts upon the Fellowship, still images of which I have seen about.
 

Thread suggestions

Top