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Defendable changes.

DGoeij

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I'v seen a lot of threads lately that regarded a lot of bickering. Nothing came close to sensible argument about if any changes were really defendable. Mostly it came down to: A movie is not a book, I didn't/did like it, shut up, things like that.

So tell me, what changes to the original story, and there were many, were actually defendable, for the movie being a movie and not the original book?

Personally, the shots where Boromir is giving lessons to Merry and Pippin (not metioned in the book) was something I really appreciated. It gave Boromir the friendly touch he deserved. A change that I liked.
The other one was in Khazad-dum, Pippin, instead of dropping a rock, tipping over a dwarven skeleton. It made Pippins curiousity once again clear and it gave a more dramatic effect on screen.

To give a example of the opposite (in my view): Saruman interfering with the Caradras. Why did the movie-makers put that in? It didn't add anything and it wasn't true to the nature of the Caradras as Tolkien described it.

I'm looking forward to some views wich contain arguments instead of personal remarks. I'll be without a computer for a few days, but I hope to see some thoughts when I'm back
 
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Maria Atilano

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Very nice idea for a thread...

I have to say that even though it irritated me at first, the fact that Aragorn was aware of Frodo's plan to leave for Mordor by himself seems like a good choice. It saves a lot of time for guessing what happened to Frodo and Sam, which Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli can spend looking for Pippin and Merry instead. Not that much worrying on their parts, since they know that the ringbearer is safe and on his journey. It was a change that was neccesary, I think.
 

Rosie Cotton

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Re: Very nice idea for a thread...

Originally posted by Maria Atilano
I have to say that even though it irritated me at first, the fact that Aragorn was aware of Frodo's plan to leave for Mordor by himself seems like a good choice. It saves a lot of time for guessing what happened to Frodo and Sam, which Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli can spend looking for Pippin and Merry instead. Not that much worrying on their parts, since they know that the ringbearer is safe and on his journey. It was a change that was neccesary, I think.
Yes, and it also gives movie goers an idea of what to expect in the TT.
 

Greenwood

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I apologize if I am breaking any forum rules by lifting things from one of my own posts from another thread, but I just didn't feel like retyping the stuff below. It is from some posts I did on the "My precious ..." thread.

Anyway in defense of probably the most complained about change in the movie:

In the Silmarillion (p. 175 of the first American edition) we find the following passages: “Then Sauron yielded himself, and Luthien took the mastery of the isle and all that was there .....” One paragraph later: “Then Luthien stood upon the bridge, and declared her power: and the spell was loosed that bound stone to stone, and the gates were thrown down, and the walls opened, and the pits laid bare ......” A few pages later on p. 178: “With that leaf she staunched Beren’s wound, and by her arts and by her love she healed him ....” Luthien sounds pretty powerful and active to me. Is it really so untrue to Tolkien’s vision to think that Luthien’s direct descendent Arwen, might have some of the same abilities?

The movie will be seen by millions of people who have not read the books. As others have said, many of these people will be confused by this elf princess who suddenly appears to claim Aragorn in the last movie. Now they have an intro to her and she is someone that they can see as an equal to Aragorn.
 

aragil

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The introduction of Pippin and Merry. Having them shoot off the Dragon firework speaks volumes about their characters in a very short amount of time. I also very much like Pippin's wide-eyed wonder when he sees the pint of beer. I can't imagine a better way to portray innocence in its first exposure to a (literally) larger world.

Gandalf opposing Saruman. I don't think that Gandalf would have meekly walked upstairs in Orthanc if Saruman had asked him. At this point in both the book and the movie there was no threat from Saruman's orcs, so what would have made Gandalf go upstairs? This was an effective way of introducing the magical abilities of both Gandalf and Saruman. Remember, up until this point in the film all Gandalf has done in the way of magic was fireworks. Two disclaimers here: 1) This scene wasn't really a change to the book, because the book never addresses in what manner Gandalf was imprisoned by Saruman. 2) The way in which I evaluate whether a change was good or bad is whether I enjoyed it or not, and whether I thought it was in the spirit of Tolkien. I don't expect these opinions to hold for everybody. What a boring world that would be!

The discovery of the hobbits' swords at weathertop. In making a movie from a book, it is so hard to 'cleanly lift' four chapters. Out of the chapters spanning from The Old Forest to Fog on the Barrow Downs there come several things that later on turn out to be important. Probably the single most important event in this span is when the Hobbits get their swords. This is because they happen to get swords made by the ancient Dunadan of Arthedain, which had specific spells woven into them for the destruction of the Witch King of Angmar (the lord of Nazgul). Since the Barrow scene was lifted, it makes sense that the swords would be discovered at the fortress that was constantly being contested by the forces of Cardolan and Arthedain on one side, vs those of Angmar and Rhudaur on the other. This is not inventing action outside the world of Tolkien, it is displaying a very deep breadth of knowledge of Tolkien's history and appreciation of his works.

Arwen at the ford. Throughout The Lord of the Rings, Arwen is hardly mentioned without being compared to her illustrious ancestor, Luthien. I think that what PJ has done here can be interpreted as showing us that Arwen is similar to Luthien, much in the same way as how Tolkien always told us. The fact of the matter here is that Tolkien decided not to emphasize Arwen's character, and so he never said whether or not it would be in Arwen's character to resist the nine. He did say that she was like Luthien, and we know that this is the sort of thing that Luthien would have done. The sad truth for those of us who like Glorifindel, is that his character (not to be confused with his actions) is not as important to Lord of the Rings as Arwen's is. By having Arwen carry out Glorifindel's role here we are still getting the requisite deliverence of Frodo, and we are getting to see a comparison between Arwen and Luthien. Many thanks to Greenwood for pointing out the similarities of movie-Arwen's actions with those of Luthien.

The character of Lurtz. I'm not sure what movie critics are complaining about here. In the books there is a lot of verbiage describing how the Uruk-hai are different from normal orcs. The fact that he has created an entire race of orcs, and that these new orcs are superior to the older breeds shows much of the ambition and power of Saruman. Most of the description of the Uruk-hai in the books is turned into personification in the movie via the character of Lurtz. Lurtz also provides us with a very important dramatic element in the movie: the climax. By giving us a character which the disintigrating fellowship has to fight and overcome, PJ is giving movie watchers something to cheer about at the end of the movie. I don't think anybody in their right mind would ever try to make a movie as anti-climactic as Fellowship would have been without the death of Lurtz at the end. If anybody ever does, I hope I never see it.

Those are the changes that I agree with. As for the character of Saruman, and the portrayal of Lorien, I'm witholding my judgement. I don't think we can say what Saruman's true motivations are until we see The Two Towers, and I fervently hope that much of the filming of Lorien was later edited out (what else is going to be in those two hours of footage on the director's cut DVD?). If Saruman turns out to be totally in line with Sauron, then that is a very poor twisting of the story. If Lorien was never filmed in sunlight, then that is a loss of potentially beautiful scenery for the movie.
 
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Olorim

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Some rational thinking for once

I am very new to this forum, though not new to Tolkien. A lot of you seem to be very angry in your threads and this is one of the first thought out threads with cogent and thoughtful responses. It is a nice change.

I will add to the other responses in hopes of restoring some semblance of sanity. First, I agree with the previous posts about Arwen and the Uruk-Hai. Arwen was and is powerful. She has a bloodline the likes of which few beings in middle earth can claim. No it wasn't in the book, but yes I like it. As a matter of fact it was one of my favorite things about the movie...and one of my least favorite about the book. I wanted to know more about her in the book and the movie has satisfied that. The Uruk-Hai are also well represented in the movie and Lurtz makes for a good action scene at the end. It will be a hard enough sell to the non-Tolkien readers with the ending the way it is. Now imagine no dramatic confrontation at the end. Come on people...the movie needed this.

PJ did a wonderful job in my opinion. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But for him to make it perfect for me would make it imperfect for many others. Thats the danger of adapting a book to a movie. Particularlly one as long and detailed as this.

The things I didn't like was the lack of a real sense of time. But again, I understand why this was necessary and I am ok with it. I would have preferred a longer movie to fit in the feeling of time, but there are very few movies over 3 hours that mainstream people will watch. I think he did a decent job, when he could, of highlighting the time frames. Ex: Moria. Gandalf specifically says it is a 4 day journey. Though it only encompasses some 15 minutes and goes by rather fast due to the action i think it helps to give a sense of the size of Moria. Add that to the visuals of the sheer magnitude of the dwarven construction and it was done very well.

Just try to enjoy yourself. Think of it as an adpatation, which it is, not a word for word verbatim representation. It would have been impossible. Look at the new things as something positive. Arwen is a great plus for me and Liv Tyler is what I imagined her as in the books.
 

Greenwood

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Just to expand on my defense of Arwen's role at the Ford in the movie. In the book the lead Nazgul makes it almost all the way across the river at which point there is the confrontation with Frodo (more on this below). Most, but not all of the other Nazgul are behind him in the river. At this point as Frodo looses consciousness the river rises and sweeps the Nazgul away (complete with the plumes of water looking like white horses). It is not until later that we are told the river's rising was Elrond's doing (with an assist from Gandalf on the white horses imagery). I am afraid this would have been difficult to pull off in the movie; always remembering there are countless viewers who haven't read the books. These viewers might be left sitting there saying "Where did this flood come from?" It wouldn't really work cutting in a scene of Elrond doing an incantation (or however he does it; Tolkien doesn't specify). Viewers would be sitting there saying "Who is this guy?" Having Arwen there to do it prevents this confusion. I did find Arwen's next scene a bit over the top, but I suppose Jackson felt he needed a transition but it could have been handled better.

The flight to the ford has always been among my favorite episodes in the books and the confrontation between Frodo and the Nazgul is certainly very dramatic and I dearly love it. However, the question can be raised: If Frodo was not strong enough to resist the urge to put on the Ring at Weathertop, how does he have the strength to defy the Nazgul now after bearing his morgul wound for a fortnight and when he is, as we are told in the book, nearly a wraith himself on the border of the Ringwraiths world?
 
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ReadWryt

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...I think that a lot of what is being explained as being good for having reduced audience confusion is both insulting to movie audiences and implies that Peter Jackson could not, or was too lazy to, find ways to show the audience just what was in the story without having to invent, dumb down or otherwise twist the story around. That's just my opinion...but then I take Jackson at his word when he says...

It's been very very difficult. We've been writing it for two or three years and we still are writing it. It's such a complicated work and it's actually interesting because over the course of the time we've been writing, we've been revising. It's just the way we like to work, to consistently try and improve it right the way through the shoot. And we find ourselves going back closer and closer to the books.

Way back at the beginning we thought there is quite a bit of this we are going to have to alter or change, do things to turn the book into a film but the more we got into it and the more we really started to know the books in great detail, it would be fair to say we've gone further and further back to the books again.

So a lot of our so called clever ideas at the beginning we've long since abandoned and Tolkien hopefully has a fairly clear voice in the film.

New Zealand Herald:12/11/00

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?thesection=news&thesubsection=&storyID=159619
 

chrome_rocknave

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I hate to say it but...

I'm glad they done away with Tom Bombadil and Goldberry (although I miss Fatty Lumpkin and the Barrow Wights). I never loved Tom in the books to begin with and I'm glad I didn't have to see him on screen. However, I still think it would have been better to have him there (although I did not personally like him) for the story line, etc.

I also liked the part about the pint of beer in Bree--nice addition (didn't take anything away from the story).

I kind of liked Strider's little talk with Frodo at Amon Hen before Frodo left for Mordor. I liked it...but, I would have rather seen Strider trying to run after everyone saying "wait we must form groups..wait" and then having him lose Frodo and feel bad. But, this change wasn't too bad and it was ok.
 

Arwen

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I agree with a alot of you......i also agree that Arwen has been mixed with Luthien...wasnt such a bad idea.She did it well...
 

Wide Boy

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Well this is a pleasure. Reasoned discussion without people being pompous, pedantic, petulant or all three!

I also agree with the Arwen/Glorfindel thing. In the context of a movie it works better than the scene as written would have. I don't think that modifications to reduce the confusion of the non-fanatic is a bad thing. It makes the movie much more accessible and will probably lead people on to reading it anyway. It's a matter of keeping enough true to the book to satisfy the the purist (no snide reference to other forum members intended).

Having read LOTR more times than I've had birthdays, I have some claim to fanaticism but even I thought it passed muster. To avoid EES (Elevated Expectation Syndrome) I set the desired accuracy mark at 75% and got about 85% so PJ did a good job in my opinion.

Dropping most of the Conspiracy, Old Forest, Barrow Downs stuff was a bit disappointing but I thought it was justified from a movie perspective. There isn't really much there that is vital for the future except the sword Merry needs to unhinge the Lord of the Nazgul at the Pelennor Fields but it would take very sharp eyes on the part of your average 1 time reader to spot that.

I thought that reshaping the Council of Elrond was necessary because the background to make it understandable would have required either long narration or lots more dialogue. However, I think that the script for that scene could have used some work.

I loved the interpretation of the Argonath. Nothing like the picture in my head, and not entirely true to the description in the book but it worked very well.

Merry and Pippin as two Scottish apprentice lager louts was a bit of a shock at first but I warmed to them very quickly, especially after the pint of beer snippet at the Prancing Pony. I think that trying to get across their characters as portrayed in the book (which weren't ALL that different after all) would have required narrative that wouldn't have worked as well.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what to do about the Narsil/Anduril thing? Pretend that the re-forging got done but wasn't mentioned and explain it all in a quiet moment during the TT? Ignore it altogether - does Aragorn really have to own a famous sword? Get it delivered by Elladan and Elrohir in Rohan along with the standard? Or even have Arwen deliver it to Aragorn in the heat of battle, descending from the skies in a halo of blinding light, borne by a giant eagle wearing mithril armour and accompanied by a choir of Elves singing Men of Harlech in Quenya (choke, splutter!).

Better yet, does anyone have any certain knowledge on what PJ is doing about it?
 

proudfoot

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Very good points, Greenwood.

Arwen HAS to be introduced, and it was best done in this way. As I've written elsewhere, as Elrond's daughter, and being 3,000 years old, she should have learnt a few things about the ford, and how to use a sword in that time. Also her two brothers are mentioned in the book as being Rangers, and anxious to avenge their mother who was slain by orcs. Surely Arwen should feel similarly?

Introducing Glorfindel/and/or Elrond at that point in the film would just confuse everybody.

And yes, ReadWryte, audience confusion is best avoided. Did you ever watch the DUNE movie? It flopped because it was totally incomprehensible to anyone who hadn't read the book beforehand and so knew the background and motivation of the characters. A lot of the "purists" have picked up knowledge of character background over years from numbers of books and appendices - even Tolkien's letters! Trying to introduce someone like Glorfindel in a couple of minutes is a surefire audience confuser.

PS I liked Saruman creating the snowstorm. Tolkien left its origins doubtful, either Sauron, whose "arm has grown long if..." or Caradhras himself. Saruman doing it is far neater.;)
 

chrome_rocknave

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Well, I watched Dune and loved it (and I'm pretty sure I understood it :rolleyes: ) although I've never read the books...
 
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ReadWryt

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Proudfoot,

I saw Lynch's Dune, it suffered not from being made out of Frank Herbert's book as much as from having been done badly. Right now there is a far more confusing film in the theatres, "Vanilla Sky", which is getting rave reviews, and if you had ever seen "Memento" or "Fight Club" you would see that very confusing concepts can be shown without dumbing down the story for the fictitious "Ignorant Audience Member".

Anyone who walked out of Dune scratching their heads had a few good reasons, it was a confusing screenplay and much of Lynch's original footage ended up on the floor, but anyone who walked out of, say, "Highlander" put off by the fact that it jumped about through time or "American Psycho" because they didn't beat you over the head with the obvious would, from the reviews, have been in the minority and are probably sitting at home right now thouroughly perplexed as to how Ross could be the father of the impending child on "Friends".

If by making changes to make it easier to understand one means showing the meeting of Gandalf and Saruman in real time because it makes for good cinema, I agree completely as the Council of Elrond would have been as exciting as "My Dinner with Andre" were it just shot as written, but if you mean that Peter Jackson should take a great story and make gross alterations to the characters and story to appeal to the lowest common denominator so that it can appeal to the broadest audience then I think you have a future working in the Movie Industry as a Script Editor, they love concepts that ignore artistic integrity in favor of potential ticket sales...
 

markrob

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Everyone hold their breath, I agree with every post and point in this thread. Except Readwryt's of coarse. ;)
 

graen

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Narsil reforged

I don't have any information about how it is done, but in the Sci-Fi channel's "Making of..." special, the swordsmith describes one of the blades as the sword Aragon weilds before he receives Narsil. The implication here would be that there will be a re-forged Narsil in the movie.
 

Thrakerzog

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chrome_rocknave,

Did you watch the version of Dune with the prolog of, I believe hand drawn pictures and a voice over, giving you a great deal of background?
All of that was a fix up from the original total flop.

Beyond that, many people that loved the book also loved the -original- movie because they understood all of the background and no additional information was need.
For everyone else that saw the -original-, it was very painful and confusing.

This is exactly the type of situation Peter Jackson wanted to avoid when he changed the story.

Here are some quotes from another thread where several changes to the book where pointed out. I think most all of these a things that have been picked on, yet to me they all serve a purpose:

How does portraying Arwen as an Elven Witch simplify anything?
She was not portrayed as a witch, but simply a user of magic, which the elves are known to be. This is how they make blades like Sting, which glows when orcs are about. One a subtle form, the other more overt.

Pod Derived Orcs
This simplifies things a great deal. It removes awkwardly dealing with a birth scene in a PG-13 movie while also making the creation of orcs a means to show they are hideous mutations.

words whispered to insects
This made it WORLDS easier to understand why the Great Eagle came to get Gandalf for people that haven't seen the film. Things like this give reason behind action that can not so easily be translated from book to screen. I asked my girlfriend after the movie if she understood why the Eagle got Gandalf, and she was quite positive it was because he had sent for help.

adding the ten minutes of Wizard Duel
Again, this must be done for the sake of the new viewers.
It explains why, so suddenly, Sarumon, whom Gandalf has gone to see for console, has turned on his friend. To have Gandalf walk up to Isenguard and suddenly end up in prison, with no explanation, no fight, would have been very confusing.

inventing acts of futile dwarvish ring bashing
Same thing.
So it's a ring, just bash it, right? This was a pointed way of showing that the ring truly is indestructible except in the fires of Mount Doom. Only saying so would have left a lot of people saying "but they didn't even try"...

frantic and manic displays of mad fear about the condition of the Ring from Gandalf
This is the same as the bashing. The ring, in and of itself, is nothing to the average viewer. You must go through the motions of gently revealing it's true and totally evil power. If Gandalf where passé and just eh, I don't want to hold it, you should. It wouldn't show how corrupting he felt the ring would be in his possession.

not simply having Aragorn possess Narsil all along as he did in the book
I don't know. I'm sure there are other plans here, I hope it was changed simply to help explain things as the other changes above have. But we won't know until next movie I guess.

Just take a step back and look at the changes Peter Jackson made to the movie and try to understand it from the eye's of someone that hasn't read every word Tolkien has penned.
 

Greymantle

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I believe the only truly justified change was not truly a change at all: I thought that their choice to extend FotR to include the death of Boromir was definately wise. Other than that....!
Note that I'm not talking about necessary adaptations, i.e. using human actors for Elves. ;) These are justifiable.
 
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ReadWryt

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"She was not portrayed as a witch, but simply a user of magic, which the elves are known to be. This is how they make blades like Sting, which glows when orcs are about. One a subtle form, the other more overt. "

Elves are never portrayed as casting spells and Tolkien states in his writings that the "magic" in Middle-earth is not derived by "Lore or Spells". Witches cast spells and use incantations and so did Arwen, ergo Arwen Elven Witch.


"This simplifies things a great deal. It removes awkwardly dealing with a birth scene in a PG-13 movie while also making the creation of orcs a means to show they are hideous mutations."

Funny, but I don't recall them showing the Bachanalia and rampant fornication of Elves, Men, Hobbits, Dwarves or Trolls, and yet the audience does not seem confused as to where THEY come from! How is the origin of the Uruk-Hai explained in the books? Word of Mouth. How could it have been explained in the movie? The same way...

"This made it WORLDS easier to understand why the Great Eagle came to get Gandalf for people that haven't seen the film. Things like this give reason behind action that can not so easily be translated from book to screen. I asked my girlfriend after the movie if she understood why the Eagle got Gandalf, and she was quite positive it was because he had sent for help."

Oh yes, worlds easier then the brief conversation between Gandalf and Radagast that explained it in the book. Besides, you don't have to cast or actually pay a computer generated Moth, you simply need to invent some rediculous act that is outside the character of Gandalf and more in the realm of Radagast.

"Again, this must be done for the sake of the new viewers.
It explains why, so suddenly, Sarumon, whom Gandalf has gone to see for console, has turned on his friend. To have Gandalf walk up to Isenguard and suddenly end up in prison, with no explanation, no fight, would have been very confusing."

Once again, the ACTIONS of Saruman and his WORDS explain well enough that he has turned on the White Council. The truth is that the duel was created to make up for the fact that Jackson turned Saruman into Sauron's lacky instead of having the aspirations for the Ring himself. There was NO reason for the pitifull Crouching Gandalf, Hidden Palantir duel. All that need to be done was portray Isengard to be full of the Orcs and Uruks that Saruman had mustered and it would be obvious to the audience that Gandalf would be hard pressed to leave Orthanc alive, or at least without a struggle. I suppose that you think that in the book Gandalf was too whimpy to do anything BUT get captured and that is why he ended up on the roof of Orthanc, never thinking about the fact that when Gandalf returns to Isengard and finds the Hobbits lazing about the rubble of Treebeard's rampage that there was the evidence of a huge army of Orcs all about, and that there is only one way in/out of Isengard to begin with.


"Same thing.
So it's a ring, just bash it, right? This was a pointed way of showing that the ring truly is indestructible except in the fires of Mount Doom. Only saying so would have left a lot of people saying "but they didn't even try"... "


I suppose that you would have a point except for the myriad things that the audience is expected to believe on heresay anyways, but you certainly don't hear the audence walking out of the theater saying, "Why didn't he just put the ring on, turn invisible and go to that Mount Doom thing while nobody could see him?" Once more, another case of assuming that the audience is so stupid that they need to have complex concepts spoon fed to them.

"This is the same as the bashing. The ring, in and of itself, is nothing to the average viewer. You must go through the motions of gently revealing it's true and totally evil power. If Gandalf where passé and just eh, I don't want to hold it, you should. It wouldn't show how corrupting he felt the ring would be in his possession."

I never suggested that Gandalf was "Behind the times" and I have no idea why you suggest that I might suggest he act thussly. Nor do I suggest that he act in a manner that does not convey the gravity of the situation. I don't recall him manically freaking out at the Council, are things any less grave there? He could have spoken in a manner befitting his dignity and presence of mind. Bear in mind that Gandalf had been around since TA 1000, nearly 3000 years, and that he had seen many events in his time that had been, although not as grave as this, quite dire indeed...

"I don't know. I'm sure there are other plans here, I hope it was changed simply to help explain things as the other changes above have. But we won't know until next movie I guess."

It was another vehicle by which Jackson could inject Arwen into the story more. She will be delivering Narsil to Aragorn in the next film. This simplifies nothing.
 

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