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I'll defend every detail of Fellowship of the Ring, film

Sir Eowyn

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I think there will be few naysayers about Ian Mckellen. What FOTR (film and book) transmits is the importance of friendship i.e. fellowship. This is well set up in the scene where Gandalf wants "just tea" (bumps his head on the chandelier - a lovely touch) while Bilbo offers him so much choice then asks if Gandalf minds if he eats something (just like a true hobbit). Then later McKellen reveals something of his true power when there is the dispute over the Ring. Mckellen manages to convey majesty and yet glories in friendship with humble hobbits.
Yeah, the scenes in Bag End are all really splendid---so important to get across the homey, earthy values of the Shire, before they're plunged into adventure. When he reveals his true power, yes... an important moment.

That's always a point I enjoy, both in the book and film... that while someone like Saruman, grand as he is, might think he's above the likes of hobbits, Gandalf sees better.
 

Aramarien

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I agree that The Fellowship of the Ring is the best of the three films. I also agree that there is a difference in telling a story cinematically and through the page. A perfect example of this is in The Two Towers when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli have tracked the orcs that took Merry and Pippin to Fangorn forest. Here PJ does a great job of montage of going back and forth while explaining the evidence he sees of Merry and Pippin.

PJ was also very wise to hire Alan Lee and John Howe. I have been buying Tolkien calendars since the 1970's and many of the calendars used their artwork. Middle Earth LOOKED right because of them.

In one of Tolkien's letters, he is reacting to a screen play of LOTR. Tolkien himself agreed and understood about leaving out Tom Bombadil.

My MAJOR problem with the films is the change in CHARACTERS. I understand deleted scenes, and for some reason giving dialogue written for one character to another. But making Aragorn indecisive from the beginning and the wimpification of Frodo (never mind practically omitting Faramir and putting some kind of doppleganger in his place).

We love the books for the story, for the message, for so many things, but it's the CHARACTERS that make these books extremely important. One can change some dialogue, or even write some new, but it has to be within the way the character is.

I can't count how many times Frodo fell. At the Ford, Frodo tried to be defiant to the end, but that was taken away. Frodo went to attack the Witch King on Weathertop, but in the film he falls (again) and backs off. In the Chamber of Marzibal, in the book he comes to attack the Cave Troll (or orc) but in the film he calling out to Aragorn.

At the end of FOTR, Frodo would NOT have run while Merry and Pippin called out to the Orcs to distract them.

I'm not talking about events here, but changes in a character. In the Hobbit at least, they showed Bilbo to be timid at first, but still brave because he did try. That was how Frodo was. FOTR portrayed Frodo to be a scared rabbit. They could have shown him to be like Merry and Pippin who were scared, but still stood up for themselves.

They changed Gimli to be the butt of jokes. Sam and Gandalf was on the money. Sean Bean's portrayal of Boromir actually was outstanding. I never fully understood Boromir before and when I reread the books, I actually saw, really saw him and understood him better.
 

Sir Eowyn

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Well said stuff, Aramarien.

I do agree about Faramir, probably their most disastrous adaptation of a character (except for his father). But that comes later. So does Gimli the walking joke... in Fellowship he may get grabbed by the beard, but overall he's pretty impressive, one of Durin's Folk. Still has a nobility. And then, mysteriously, the moment Two Towers begins here he is, the butt of jokes, as you say.

Yes, Frodo does fall a fair bit, doesn't he? It never bothered me unduly... he's still performed in such a way that you feel his burden, the courage it takes to keep going. This one's a matter of taste, I suppose. But a couple things: in the book I believe it's an orc that spears him; being dragged off by a troll that big, you'd have to be made of pretty dang impenetrable stuff to not cry out. And for when Merry and Pippin run off as a decoy, well, they'd already done it. What's he to? Leap up and start slaying orcs with his sword? They made their choice, and the jig was up. If the Ring falls into Saruman's hands, it's checkmate for Middle-earth. He had to leave, or their courage would all be in vain. Let's not forget in Tolkien's book, he reaches Mount Doom and then throws Middle-earth in the dustbin by claiming the Ring for his own. You could say that ANYONE would have fared similar, but the point is, luck or fate played a huge role fulfilling the quest. It wasn't Frodo's iron-bound heroism.

This is crucial----yes, Middle-earth does look fantastic. One can imagine a hundred ways this could have gone badly, badly wrong. But the design was all done with the highest degree of respect and, in most cases, fidelity.
 

Rivendell_librarian

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Another scene in the FOTR that works for me is Bilbo and Gandalf smoking pipes and making smoke rings before Bilbo's birthday party: the "night to remember". Bilbo makes an impressive ring but Gandalf sort of cheats by making a ring in the shape of a sailing vessel that sails through Bilbo's ring: prefiguring the final scenes at the Grey Havens. I don't think that's in the book but I think it adds value to the film.

And the chandelier: Bag End is a grand hobbit hole for a bachelor hobbit. McKellen's "he's left you Bag End" has just the right intonation to subtly make the point. I'm sure Sam's roses round the door hobbit cottage wouldn't have any chandeliers.
 

Sir Eowyn

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So you are strictly using the movie as a defense of the movie. Ok. As a "viewer" it does take a lot away from it in my opinion.
As far as "selling" it, it could have easily been done. But we'll just say that Aragorn is a 'side-issue' and be done with it. As you wish. Enjoy the movies.
So you are strictly using the movie as a defense of the movie. Ok. As a "viewer" it does take a lot away from it in my opinion.
As far as "selling" it, it could have easily been done. But we'll just say that Aragorn is a 'side-issue' and be done with it. As you wish. Enjoy the movies.
Well, there's no real way to prove it one way or the other... it bothers you, and not me. I think it's wonderful that Tolkien could depict a flawless human being... for better or worse, they went in a slightly different direction. For me, it's not enough to get hung on. Something can be its own defence, if it strikes one as powerful enough. So yes, I enjoy them. Well... especially this first one.
 

Aramarien

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Let's not forget in Tolkien's book, he reaches Mount Doom and then throws Middle-earth in the dustbin by claiming the Ring for his own. You could say that ANYONE would have fared similar, but the point is, luck or fate played a huge role fulfilling the quest. It wasn't Frodo's iron-bound heroism.
Yes, Frodo claims the ring for his own at the Crack of Doom. As Tolkien said, any mortal would not be able to resist at that point.

I'm not saying at all that Frodo's "iron-bound" heroism fulfilled the quest. I said I have a problem with the wimpification of Frodo in the films and tweaking certain beloved characters so much, like Faramir, that their characters suffered.

The discussion is about FOTR. If you talk about all the films, I don't have major problems with plot devices such as the Elves at Helm's Deep, Arwen instead of Glorfindel (although I would've like to have Frodo awake enough to at least whisper "No" at the Ford). Going to Osgiliath? Why?? When Sam says, "By rights we shoudn't be here!!" I almost shouted out , "you're damn right!!" ( I know Sam says that line later on the stairs of Cirith Ungol.

The part that I object to most vehemently is Frodo sending Sam home on the stairs of Cirith Ungol. I almost walked out of the movie theater. Frodo had at times been curt and sharp with Sam and immediately apologized. But to send Sam home?????? I understand that PJ probably wanted to heighten suspense by having Frodo in the tunnel alone, but that could have been achieved by Frodo and Sam just getting separated. Frodo would never send Sam home.

The only time I felt I really saw Frodo as a character was the last leg of the journey in Mordor when they are going to Mt Doom. Frodo desperately crawling up the mountain and Sam saying that he would carry Frodo. Sam our true hero. I was sobbing.

Despite all these objections, the films were beautiful, as I said in another post, because of Lee and Howe and the painstaking work of the Weta workshop. I actually started crying when Gandalf rode up on Shadowfax and Minas Tirith was revealed. There was so much attention to visual detail. It was the little things like the smoke rings as Rivendell Librarian said, or the dragon fireworks at Bilbo's party. Bag End was perfect. Taken right out of one of the calendars, which was based on Tolkien's original drawing of Bilbo in the entrance of Bag End. Just beautiful.
 

Aramarien

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Exactly!! Sam would NEVER have left!!! This is just how the characters were. We're not talking about changing plot like Elrond showing up at Dunharrow with Anduril or Aragorn being borne over a cliff by a warg in TTT. Plot devices for the movie.

I agree Squint-eyed Southerner, I loved the Gate of Argonath!!
 

Sir Eowyn

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The part that I object to most vehemently is Frodo sending Sam home on the stairs of Cirith Ungol. I almost walked out of the movie theater. Frodo had at times been curt and sharp with Sam and immediately apologized. But to send Sam home?????? I understand that PJ probably wanted to heighten suspense by having Frodo in the tunnel alone, but that could have been achieved by Frodo and Sam just getting separated. Frodo would never send Sam home.
Ah yes, I agree with that one, wholeheartedly. Really lame attempt to ratchet the tension, when actually it lessens it. You know, having seen enough movies, that Sam's going to ride to the rescue just in the nick of time, against Shelob. In the book it's terrifying, the whole Shelob's Lair interlude, when they go in that black tunnel side by side, all the other one's got.

For me two thirds of Return of the King (the film) just doesn't work at all. The other third is beautiful, but for those two thirds it's like every tone you can miss, they do. A cliche-heavy cheese souffle I can't believe was made side by side with Fellowship. And Fellowship might be my favourite film, ever. It certainly had the earliest profound effect.
 

Olorgando

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... The real "core basis" is Frodo carrying the Ring. And I see no issues there, either arguable or otherwise. Yes, he's a little bit young---but 33 for a hobbit is like 18 for a Man, and carrying the Ring you don't age. ...
Oh dear, you've aroused my nitpick "instincts" (or whatever) with that ...
18 as the age of being allowed to vote is a late 1960s / early 1970s development (in the US due to the Vietnam War - I was in the US from 1966 to 1975, so I know what I'm talking about to a degree).
The difference between the ages of 18 and 21 is, however, anything but trivial with us humans (and neurology seriously suggests that in the sense of the most "adult" part of our brain reaching maturity we're talking about the age of 25 ...).
And while Frodo my have not aged (much) between the Long-expected Party of TA 3001, when he was 33, and when he left the Shire in TA 3018, when he had just turned 50 (same age as Bilbo when he went on his adventure), one should have been able to see in some way that despite his outward youth due to the One Ring, Frodo was far more mature than he looked outwardly. PJ's direction of Elijah Wood totally messed that up, and I would also postulate that Wood was simply not the right actor, being too young, no matter what his capabilities may have been, to portray such a contradictory character. Making someone look younger in a film than they are in real is far less difficult than making them look (believably) older.
 

Sir Eowyn

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Yes, that was remiss of me... for an Englishman writing when he did, he no doubt had 21 in mind.

I happen to think Elijah Wood gave a great (and underrated) performance, but there you go. Yes, he comes off as young, but there's also a gravity to him.
 

Olorgando

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While mulling over the age(s) of majority, or coming of age, or "being allowed" to do various things, a couple of thoughts popped into my mind. Anyone who has read more than a handful of my posts here knows the danger signs this implies: while much of what I learned in geometry class back in 1970/71 has gone into the mulch of the mind, at least the terms sine and cosine are still present (not necessarily all of their implications); but the one term that has stayed with a vengeance (if with faulty application) is:

tangents

AKA OT.

From personal experience, when I entered college in New Hampshire back in the fall of 1973, the drinking age (itself a somewhat more complex issue than I'm gong to present it here) was 18. It had been lowered parallel to the voting age. Voting age, though, is a federal matter. Drinking age is regulated by the states (and prohibition may be something that local governments are allowed to impose for their jurisdiction). Point is, after the drinking age had been lowered, there was a sharp spike upwards in automobile accidents with both deaths and injuries, and it was basically firmly linked to people being allowed to drink at 18 instead of 21. I remember, probably from articles in Time Magazine, the subscription to which my parents continued even after they had returned to Germany in early 1975, that there was a national organization, acronym MADD or Mothers Against Drunk Driving who were lobbying to have the drinking age raised again. The end of the matter was the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act, a federal law. Now as I said above, drinking age falls in the jurisdiction of the states. So the US Congress, who passed the act, had to rely on "persuasion". Yeah, like that world-famous phrase by Marlon Brando AKA Vito Corleone in the first "Godfather" film "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse." To quote Wiki: "The act would punish any state that allowed persons under 21 years to purchase and publicly possess alcoholic beverages by reducing its annual federal highway apportionment by 10 percent." Hit 'em where it always hurts: in the wallet … I wonder what confirmed Libertarians have to say about that … oops, that's a different thread!

For any interested in the Wiki article, here's the link. For the US, scroll down to "Americas" or click on the content link of that name.


To return to legal drinking age vs. coming of age in Middle-earth: as we all know (or should), Hobbits come of age at 33. They seem to be rather more relaxed about drinking alcoholic beverages, especially beer. I mean, Pippin, five years shy of Hobbit majority in 3018 TA, has no problem getting a pint (or is the pint a PJ invention?) at the Prancing Pony. With one of the major enjoyments of Hobbit life being eating and drinking, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. Pippin also lamented the detour in chapter IV "A short cut to mushrooms" in Book One of "Fellowship", as it would bypass the village of Stock and its inn "The Golden Perch": "The best beer in the Eastfarthing, or it used to be: it is a long time since I tasted it." (!!!) Of course, traffic accidents were of an entirely different quality back in the end of the Third Age, especially in the Shire. Any ponies that could be comfortably ridden by Hobbits would have been seriously shorter than those Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took (or at the end of LoTR Merry and Pippin) would have been able to ride, leading to a very low fall height. Coupled with the innate toughness of Hobbits, this would probably have meant bruises at the most (those ponies would also probably have had normal traveling speeds seriously below those of the Kentucky Derby etc.). And I certainly can't imagine any pony running head-on into a tree or other immovable impediments (I wouldn't want to bet on low branches if a rider annoyed them …)
Or wagons used for agriculture. But we're definitely not talking about vehicles like the chariots in the film "Ben Hur" or others, or even the multi-horse stage coaches so beloved of Western films. The draft horses used for such transport tended to have a very tranquil temperament, and by their stature alone were not natural gallopers. If the beasts of burden were oxen, things slow down even more (and by the way, male horses used for heavy transport tended to be geldings, if memory serves …)
 
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Sir Eowyn

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The Shire strikes us all as a pretty relaxed place, in general. It would be for Sharkey's boys alone to get upset if the young Thain-to-be has a mug.
 

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