Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

On "LOTR: The Two Towers"; "improvement"?

Expand Messages
  • Jan Theodore Galkowski <disneylogic@yaho
    I just saw the film a second time yesterday. I was unhappy about a couple of parts after I saw it the first time. But my experience of it improved, so
    Message 1 of 8 , Dec 31, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      I just saw the film a second time yesterday. I was unhappy about a couple of parts after I saw it the first time. But my experience of it improved, so perhaps it is helped to have more awareness of what's going on in it -- a LOT of detail -- or perhaps it simply grows on you.

      The first time 'round I thought Mithrandir's confrontation with the Balrog was too long but, then, on second viewing I realized it might be needed to hit home that Mithrandir isn't any ordinary person. Also, I don't know how strong the tale and reverb from the tale of St George and the dragon is in some audiences, but it sure resonates with that.

      I was entranced by Smeagol/Gollum's internal conflicts both times, and wonder how many Psych 201 classes will recommend or take 'field trips' to see the film and watch this depicted. It's quite explicit, and the need for a ferocious personality like that of Gollum to allow the creature to survive is well drawn. It very much backs up, I think, the whole compassion theme running strongly in the book and why, among other reasons, the idea of categorizing anyone as simply "evil" is oversimplifying.

      Along with almost everyone else who knows something about the book, I dislike the changes to Faramir's character and to the plot section regarding Osgiliath. Indeed, there are unhealed seams from cutting in that area, ones others have alluded to.

      Despite the big deal made of the absence of Shelob in TTT and Jackson's apologies about it in, for instance, his discussion on TTT in LOTR Fan Club magazine, she is there, but at the very end, and only by reference. Whether that will be a dangling reference, not to be picked up in "Return of the King", will remain to be seen. Even if it is, it occurs at the right place to tag a Shelob scene in there on an extended DVD. What Jackson said originally was that they filmed a Shelob sequence and were planning to move it earlier in the TTT storyline, but too much had to be changed to support it, and so they dropped that part of the story. This, of course, sent shivers through fans of the book, making them wonder if the move to the film medium necessarily meant major characters like Bombadil and Shelob had to be cut or whether this was purely a side effect of commercial constraints.

      Right now, then, I'm happy with the film except for the Faramir thing, which I have already explained, and two visual things I find to be inappropriate conceits. These are the rendering of Sauron's eye in TTT and the rendering of the ringwraith flying mounts. Both appear to be lateral references to similar visual creations in sci-fi or Batman-genre cinema, the former being a kind of extended electrical arc effect drawn in between the evil-looking upper spires of Barad-Dur (*), and the mounts looking very like the monsters of the 1950-1960s Japanese sci-fi genre.

      The rendering of Sauron's eye is the more serious gaff, because it both breaks with a strong impression given in the "Fellowship" movie and because it trivializes Sauron's power. In "Fellowship" the all-seeing eye was very much a spiritual or psychological artifact, something you couldn't really run away from because those who were sensitive to it knew it followed them wherever they were. How do you run away from yourself? By putting the eye atop Barad-Dur or wherever it is, it seems Jackson has localized it and redefined whatever power of projection or penetration it has to be simply a physical manifestation of great electrical power. I mean, it looks to be like all you need to do is walk up to Barad Dur, pull the plug, and Sauron's done. (Or fail to pay the electric bill....) I don't see all that much gained by limiting him to the top of the tower. Heck, the Balrog is a lot scarier.

      The dragonesque ringwraith mounts are disappointing more than a gaff. I don't know what Jackson will do in "Return of the King", but from the book it seems their primary 'weapon' and effect is terrorizing their enemies by fear and loss of will to fight. It just doesn't seem an oversized flying wizard does that. All you need are bigger arrows, and Faramir's driving the mount off with a simple shot of his bow is making it look quite weak. Remember, the forces here are powerful enough so that if Mithrandir simply speaks the Ring Inscription in the Black Speech at Rivendell, the sky darkens. "Return of the King" describes the arrival of the ringwraiths on their mounts similarly. Obviously, it's an individual envisioning, but I thought the mounts were far more like a creature which inhabited both the physical and spiritual worlds, being both black, as in absence of light, and translucent. They just don't seem that terrible.

      Finally I cannot see how any serious student of media can consider a rendition of a story in one to be "an improvement" over a rendition in another. Different media demand different approaches. Nothing could ever 'replace' the book version of LOTR, but that's not because the book is best--whatever that really means--but because it's not the same tale if it is told using film or for that matter audio.

      --jtg

      (*) Or was that supposed to be Minas Morgol? In which case the plot deviated from its source, this time unncessarily, IMO.
    • David S Bratman
      ... That s very well put; I had a hard time explaining clearly what bothered me about that, but you ve done so. Bringing Sauron onstage in the prologue,
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 1, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        At 08:49 PM 12/31/2002 +0000, Jan Theodore Galkowski wrote:

        >The rendering of Sauron's eye is the more serious gaff, because it both
        >breaks with a strong impression given in the "Fellowship" movie and
        >because it trivializes Sauron's power. In "Fellowship" the all-seeing eye
        >was very much a spiritual or psychological artifact, something you
        >couldn't really run away from because those who were sensitive to it knew
        >it followed them wherever they were. How do you run away from
        >yourself? By putting the eye atop Barad-Dur or wherever it is, it seems
        >Jackson has localized it and redefined whatever power of projection or
        >penetration it has to be simply a physical manifestation of great
        >electrical power. I mean, it looks to be like all you need to do is walk
        >up to Barad Dur, pull the plug, and Sauron's done. (Or fail to pay the
        >electric bill....) I don't see all that much gained by limiting him to
        >the top of the tower.

        That's very well put; I had a hard time explaining clearly what bothered me
        about that, but you've done so. Bringing Sauron onstage in the prologue,
        however massive and powerful, also limits him. So does making the Balrog
        clearly visible (in the book he's mostly a vague menacing shape). Tolkien
        has often been criticized for leaving his chief villain offstage, but he
        knew that in a book of this kind, to bring the villain onstage only
        trivializes him. (Read _The Book of Lost Tales_ to see how trivialized
        Melko is.) He showed restraint and wisdom.

        - David Bratman
      • Ernest S. Tomlinson
        On Wed, 01 Jan 2003 10:37:44 -0800, David S Bratman ... I disliked Jackson s decision to retell (and not very well) the story of the Rings of Power, the Last
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 1, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          On Wed, 01 Jan 2003 10:37:44 -0800, "David S Bratman"
          <dbratman@...> said:

          > That's very well put; I had a hard time explaining clearly what bothered
          > me
          > about that, but you've done so. Bringing Sauron onstage in the prologue,
          > however massive and powerful, also limits him.

          I disliked Jackson's decision to retell (and not very well) the story of
          the Rings of Power, the Last Alliance, and the loss of the Ring at the
          beginning of his movie for a different reason. Tolkien's genius in _The
          Lord of the Rings_ was to tell the story from the hobbits' perspective.
          When the story begins, we know as much about the Ring, and about the
          wider political situation of Middle-Earth, as Frodo does. Sauron is a
          distant menace; the Old Forest, the Barrow-Downs, and Bree are at the
          furthest fringes of the hobbits' knowledge of the world. But through
          Gandalf, Tom Bombadil, and Strider successively the hobbits and we slowly
          begin to grasp just how big is the world and how deep is the history
          beyond the Shire.

          Jackson's method is to attempt to give us that broad picture right from
          the start. Because of time constraints, he doesn't do too good a job,
          but more importantly, he straightaway reduces the hobbits to secondary
          players in their own story, and dissipates much of the suspense--we know
          exactly why Gandalf is missing, for example, and we know exactly who the
          Black Riders are.

          I agree that Jackson erred in trying to depict Sauron. I watched the
          first half of the extended cut of _The Fellowship of the Ring_ last
          night, and I giggled (silently, for I had company) when Sauron appears on
          Battle Plain and sends his obviously computer-generated foes flying with
          every swing of his weapon.

          Cheers,

          Ernest.
          --
          Ernest S. Tomlinson
          thiophene@...
        • Carl F. Hostetter
          ... Exactly. Jackson has no trust in the audience s intelligence, patience, and love of wonder. As Tolkien himself foresaw (in commenting on the Zimmerman
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 1, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            On Wednesday, January 1, 2003, at 03:00 PM, Ernest S. Tomlinson wrote:

            > I disliked Jackson's decision to retell (and not very well) the story
            > of
            > the Rings of Power, the Last Alliance, and the loss of the Ring at the
            > beginning of his movie for a different reason. Tolkien's genius in
            > _The
            > Lord of the Rings_ was to tell the story from the hobbits' perspective.
            > When the story begins, we know as much about the Ring, and about the
            > wider political situation of Middle-Earth, as Frodo does.

            Exactly. Jackson has no trust in the audience's intelligence, patience,
            and love of wonder. As Tolkien himself foresaw (in commenting on the
            Zimmerman treatment), Jackson telegraphs everything: the Ring, the
            Palantir, Aragorn's Kingship, etc., etc.
          • JP Massar
            ... Fascinating. I thought the prologue to FoTR was an amazing achievement, one of the really brilliant parts of the movie.
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 1, 2003
            • 0 Attachment
              >
              > > That's very well put; I had a hard time explaining clearly what bothered
              > > me
              > > about that, but you've done so. Bringing Sauron onstage in the prologue,
              > > however massive and powerful, also limits him.
              >
              >I disliked Jackson's decision to retell (and not very well) the story of
              >the Rings of Power, the Last Alliance, and the loss of the Ring at the
              >beginning of his movie for a different reason.


              Fascinating.

              I thought the prologue to FoTR was an amazing achievement, one of the
              really brilliant parts of the movie.
            • disneylogic <disneylogic@yahoo.com>
              On Wed, 01 Jan 2003 23:50:42 -0800 David S Bratman wrote in part: [snip] ... go ... purposes ... may ... [snip] Well, the balrogs have
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 2, 2003
              • 0 Attachment
                On Wed, 01 Jan 2003 23:50:42 -0800 David S Bratman
                <dbratman@...> wrote in part:

                [snip]

                >Shelob is an obvious example. Aragorn mentions this
                >principle in the discussion of Caradhras: "There are many evil and
                >unfriendly things in the world that have little love for those that
                go
                >on two legs, and yet are not in league with Sauron, but have
                purposes
                >of their own. Some have been in this world longer than he." They
                may
                >be roused by Sauron or his activities, though: apparently the Balrog
                >was, for instance.

                [snip]

                Well, the balrogs have a history with Sauron, or at least his
                spiritual predecessors. Gandalf among others took on a large group
                of them dispatched from Angband during a major battle in the Second
                Age (*). And Ungoliant, the spider Maiar, helped destroy the Two
                Trees.

                Frankly, I'm not sure I agree with Aragorn that they are properly
                judged as evil. They could simply be independent actors whose
                interests may conflict with "those that go on two legs". There are
                many powers in Middle-earth, in fact the place seems to be teeming
                with them. I doubt they can be classified so simply as evil or good.

                On (*), I thought this was odd. I mean, the balrogs don't exactly
                impress me as team players. In that respect, in Jackson's
                "Fellowship", I think he drew them better than Tolkien did. If I
                recall (don't have the text handy), the Moria balrog first appears
                with orcs nearby, if not actually at his side. Jackson's painting of
                them as running in fear of the balrog seems to me more like their
                nature.

                Indeed, if anything distinguishes "good folk" from "bad folk" in LORD
                OF THE RINGS (the book, not the movie, necessarily) apart from
                expression of compassion, it is the practical feature that "good
                folk" seem to be able to work together whereas "bad folk" seek their
                personal self-interest first. The latter induces chaos and leads to
                their disruption. Of course, "good folk" have faults, too. I think
                Il├║vatar is a tad intolerant of disharmony, at least as related in
                Ainulindale, and that intolerance encourages it.

                --jtg
              • disneylogic <disneylogic@yahoo.com>
                On Wed, 01 Jan 2003 23:50:42 -0800 David S Bratman wrote in part: [snip] ... Oh, I m not trying to be consistent. I am, like I think
                Message 7 of 8 , Jan 2, 2003
                • 0 Attachment
                  On Wed, 01 Jan 2003 23:50:42 -0800 David S Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote in part:

                  [snip]


                  >True, but that was what I was saying, so I can't square this with
                  >your earlier statement that you thought the LOTR text did not support
                  >some of my points.

                  >- DB

                  Oh, I'm not trying to be consistent. I am, like I think many here, just exploring the possibilities. LOTR is just _so_ evocative.

                  --jtg

                  [snip]
                • David J Finnamore
                  ... [snip] ... Thank you for putting your finger right on something that had been bothering me just beyond the reach of my tongue for months. ... It makes me
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jan 4, 2003
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Ernest S. Tomlinson wrote:

                    > Tolkien's genius in _The
                    > Lord of the Rings_ was to tell the story from the hobbits' perspective.

                    [snip]

                    > Jackson's method is to attempt to give us that broad picture right from
                    > the start. Because of time constraints, he doesn't do too good a job,
                    > but more importantly, he straightaway reduces the hobbits to secondary
                    > players in their own story, and dissipates much of the suspense--we know
                    > exactly why Gandalf is missing, for example, and we know exactly who the
                    > Black Riders are.

                    Thank you for putting your finger right on something that had been bothering me just
                    beyond the reach of my tongue for months.


                    > I watched the
                    > first half of the extended cut of _The Fellowship of the Ring_ last
                    > night, and I giggled (silently, for I had company) when Sauron appears on
                    > Battle Plain and sends his obviously computer-generated foes flying with
                    > every swing of his weapon.

                    It makes me want to cry out, "It's the finger! Go for the finger!" Yeah,
                    trivialized. That's the word. Thank you Earnest and David B.

                    --
                    David J. Finnamore
                    Nashville, TN, USA
                    http://www.elvenminstrel.com
                    --
                    "A story must be told or there'll be no story, yet it is the untold stories that are
                    most moving: mountains seen far away, never to be climbed, distant trees (like
                    Niggle's) never to be approached." - J.R.R. Tolkien, letters
                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.