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Re: What's your problem with the movie?

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  • David J Finnamore
    ... Two reasons that I can think of. After viewing much of the extra material in the extended DVD of FotR, I no longer think it was lack of care so much as
    Message 1 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
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      JP Massar <massar@...> wrote:

      > If the producers could spend literally tens of millions of dollars making
      > realistic armor, inscribing Elvish on swords, creating an Edoras on a
      > mountaintop from nothing, etc, etc -- seeming to REALLY, REALLY care
      > about getting all the details just right -- why such an apparent lack of
      > such care in the script?

      Two reasons that I can think of.

      After viewing much of the extra material in the extended DVD of FotR, I no longer
      think it was lack of care so much as lack of understanding. They do seem to care
      quite a lot, and to have made every effort to be as true as they considered to be
      feasible. I think that PJ and the script writers look at life so differently than
      JRRT did -- so naturalistically and humanistically as opposed to theologically and
      mythically -- that they are practically incapable of understanding some of the most
      important things about the stories. That's both understandable and forgivable.

      Exacerbating the problem was the overwhelming task of managing the production of a
      9+ hour movie of an epic mythological tale, with a cast and crew costing tens of
      thousands of dollars per hour. A few actors said the script changes were coming so
      fast at times that they have many scripts they never even got a chance to look at.
      Jackson described the process as laying down the tracks just in front of a train as
      it's rushing headlong toward you. You can't stop the train, so you just have to
      keep laying down the tracks as fast as you can. Some quality is bound to get lost
      here and there.

      Tolkien had the luxury of spending many years rewriting and revising his story, and
      it still has a few loose seams here and there, for those willing to look. It
      doesn't surprise me at all that Jackson's 5 or 6 year film process produced a
      handful of odd side-effects to the story.

      I'm intrigued that the film mirrors the story in that it seems to be getting better
      as it goes along. It has always seemed odd to me, though not in a bad way, that
      both /The Hobbit/ and LotR change in style over the course of the story. They get
      nobler and more mature as they go along, which I think resulted partly from
      Tolkien's style maturing as he wrote over a period of years, and from his
      understanding of the scope of what he was doing growing rather dramatically during
      that time, too. The film team seems to have learned some things from the making of
      FotR, and to have produced a more mature film in TTT. I half expect RotK to be
      even better. One can always hope.

      --
      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
    • SusanPal@aol.com
      In a message dated 1/1/2003 12:27:38 PM Pacific Standard Time, ... I m interested to hear more about what you think they missed by viewing the story through a
      Message 2 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
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        In a message dated 1/1/2003 12:27:38 PM Pacific Standard Time,
        daeron@... writes:


        > I think that PJ and the script writers look at life so differently than
        > JRRT did -- so naturalistically and humanistically as opposed to
        > theologically and
        > mythically -- that they are practically incapable of understanding some of
        > the most
        > important things about the stories. That's both understandable and
        > forgivable.
        >

        I'm interested to hear more about what you think they missed by viewing the
        story through a humanistic lens.

        As for RotK being better -- Jackson likes it the best of the three, and so, I
        believe, does Elijah Wood. I agree that TTT is a better film than FR, but I
        consider it a less successful adaptation, which makes me concerned about RotK
        on that level.

        Susan


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      • Stolzi@aol.com
        In a message dated 1/1/2003 3:14:29 PM Central Standard Time, ... I don t know what Daeron thinks, but I would say that the scriptwriters believe in spreading
        Message 3 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
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          In a message dated 1/1/2003 3:14:29 PM Central Standard Time,
          SusanPal@... writes:


          > I'm interested to hear more about what you think they missed by viewing the
          > story through a humanistic lens.

          I don't know what Daeron thinks, but I would say that the scriptwriters
          believe in spreading a little kindness around, whereas Tolkien believed in
          forgiveness and repentance, both in their fullest theological sense. That
          makes a difference in THE TWO TOWERS (which I'm rereading just now).

          Diamond Proudbrook


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        • tghsaw
          ... From: SusanPal@aol.com To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 3:13 PM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: What s your problem with the movie?
          Message 4 of 15 , Jan 2, 2003
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: SusanPal@...
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 3:13 PM
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: What's your problem with the movie?


            In a message dated 1/1/2003 12:27:38 PM Pacific Standard Time,
            daeron@... writes:


            >As for RotK being better -- Jackson likes it the best of the three, and so, I
            believe, does Elijah Wood. I agree that TTT is a better film than FR, but I
            consider it a less successful adaptation, which makes me concerned about RotK
            on that level.

            >Susan


            From the start of the project, Jackson has said that TTT would be the movie that deviated the most from the book, so I don't expect RotK to go farther in that direction.

            And, since I dropped Jackson's name in there, I think I've put my finger on one of the differences I've been feeling between discussion of the LotR movies here and in lists I read that center on the movies. These movies aren't a one-man show. Maybe "Jackson" is used here as shorthand for anything having to do with the movies (and, in that case, I apologize for telling everyone what you already know), but it's not really accurate, as we're discovering more as time goes on. Jackson's LotR movies are the vision of one man *more than most big-budget movies* (i.e., not indies) in somewhat the same way that they're faithful to the book *more than most movies based on books*.

            I'm certainly not exonerating Jackson--the director's and scriptwriters' commentary on the FotR extended DVD confirms that a lot of the decisions to deviate from the book came from him. But it's interesting that almost all of the material restored in the extended version is character and story development, not fight scenes that would have bumped the movie to an R as a lot of people expected. And much of it is pretty close to the book, at least in spirit. For example, we don't have the encounter with Gildor, which *would* have taken quite a bit of time, but we do see a group of Elves passing through the Shire on their way to the Havens. Some of the added material comes off as choppy and with continuity problems, which I'd imagine is a common problem with things added later--we have Gandalf speaking the Ring Verse in the Black Speech at the Council of Elrond and Sam reciting his verse of the lament for Gandalf in Lothlorien, but IMHO neither of them quite "fit." And there are certainly a few groaners and cringe-producers in the added material. But, in general, that's the kind of stuff Jackson wanted to include but "there wasn't time" or "it hurt the pacing."

            We've known all along about the 3-hour time limit and the contract for PG-13 ratings (if, especially, TTT or RotK were held true to the book, they'd definitely be R rated because of the violence--I'm not sure what the ratings people would do with hobbits running naked on the grass in FotR [and, yes, that's meant to be a joke--I do realize it could have been filmed in a PG manner]). If Saruman doesn't die by getting his throat slit by Grima, it's because the scene would have necessitated an R; both versions seem to have been filmed and the outcome isn't known yet. Why the ratings gods consider it more violent to get your throat slit than to be impaled is a mystery to me, but I guess that's why they're gods.

            But as time goes on, we're learning that everything else hasn't been quite as lovey-dovey between Jackson and New Line as we've been led to believe. Sometimes Jackson has won the battles and sometimes New Line has. [Regarding New Line, with their recently released movie _About Schmidt_, they created their own edited version of the movie that was very different from the director's. Hopefully, Jackson has made enough money for them that they won't go that far with his.] Because Jackson's scriptwriters won one particular battle, we *don't* see Frodo having to fight off a herd of orcs in order to be able to get into the boat at the end of FotR!

            There are other examples of the types of decisions mentioned in the previous two paragraphs, but they get into the realm of rumors. (Of course, in the way of the movie industry, the ones I've listed might turn out to be false, but they're pretty well substantiated. Any corrections will be appreciated.)

            And there's a little power play going on now that's right out in the open--which would seem to be the point. Both Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood have said publicly that they're "hoping" for a 3.5-hour RotK. Going past the magical 3 hours decreases how many times per day a movie can be shown, so cuts down on the revenue. IMVHO, Jackson's and Wood's public statements are a way of going "over the head" of New Line straight to the fans (in somewhat the same way the President sometimes goes over the head of Congress by giving an address straight to the public). It will be an interesting little battle to watch in the coming months--and it will probably be fought quite politely at this point. But what will be even *more* interesting is what we learn after the final DVD has been released and the parties don't have to sustain a working relationship!

            So, again, I'm not trying to paint Jackson as innocent in the way the movies have been made. I'm just pointing out that his isn't the only input we're seeing on screen.

            --Trudy



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          • SusanPal@aol.com
            In a message dated 1/2/2003 10:09:29 AM Pacific Standard Time, Stolzi@aol.com ... Interesting -- seems to me that Tolkien s emphasis on Pity as a theological
            Message 5 of 15 , Jan 2, 2003
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              In a message dated 1/2/2003 10:09:29 AM Pacific Standard Time, Stolzi@...
              writes:


              > I would say that the scriptwriters
              > believe in spreading a little kindness around, whereas Tolkien believed in
              > forgiveness and repentance, both in their fullest theological sense.

              Interesting -- seems to me that Tolkien's emphasis on Pity as a theological
              virtue *does* come across in the films, although perhaps more strongly in the
              first one. Gandalf's "pity and mercy" speech (moved from Bad End to Moria)
              is really played up, and in the second film, Frodo keeps the line from the
              book, "Now that I see [Gollum], I do pity him."

              Susan


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            • SusanPal@aol.com
              In a message dated 1/2/2003 10:22:34 AM Pacific Standard Time, ... Yes, he has said that; the problem is that the changes he s made in TTT (especially to
              Message 6 of 15 , Jan 2, 2003
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                In a message dated 1/2/2003 10:22:34 AM Pacific Standard Time,
                tgshaw@... writes:


                > From the start of the project, Jackson has said that TTT would be the movie
                > that deviated the most from the book, so I don't expect RotK to go farther
                > in that direction.
                >

                Yes, he has said that; the problem is that the changes he's made in TTT
                (especially to Faramir) will *necessitate* further changes in RotK.

                But of course you're right, Trudy, that the films are nothing if not a group
                effort (and, I believe, an extraordinary one simply from the point of view of
                film-making).

                Susan


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              • Stolzi@aol.com
                Well, I can imagine PJ shortening things by omitting that whole digression of Aragorn going to the Sea and coming up with ships to save the day. But then, as a
                Message 7 of 15 , Jan 2, 2003
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                  Well, I can imagine PJ shortening things by omitting that whole digression of
                  Aragorn going to the Sea and coming up with ships to save the day.

                  But then, as a friend pointed out, we miss the Paths of the Dead, which it
                  would be a shame to leave out. (Unless the story were changed so that the
                  Paths of the Dead bring unexpected reinforcements directly to Minas Tirith??)

                  Or, the Ring could get tossed in to the flame just in time to end the battle
                  of the Fields of Pelennor successfully - omitting the journey of the Armies
                  to the gates of Mordor.

                  If Faramir and Eowyn don't get together in the manner depicted in the
                  original, I'll feel as if everything, just about, has gone for naught. And
                  yes, she certainly needs to have her deed of valor, otherwise why introduce
                  the character?

                  Diamond Proudbrook
                • tghsaw
                  ... From: disneylogic To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 5:40 PM Subject: [mythsoc] Re: What s your problem
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jan 3, 2003
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                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: disneylogic <disneylogic@...>
                    To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 5:40 PM
                    Subject: [mythsoc] Re: What's your problem with the movie?


                    On Thu, 2 Jan 2003 05:57:59 -0600 "tghsaw" <tgshaw@...>
                    wrote in part:

                    [snip]

                    >>But it's interesting that almost all of the material restored in
                    >>the extended version is character and story development, not fight
                    >>scenes that would have bumped the movie to an R as a lot of people
                    >>expected.

                    >That it was PG-13 is not accidental. Peter Jackson's contract says
                    >the movies as delivered to theaters can be no more "adult" than
                    >PG-13. He is not, however, so constrained with the extended DVDs,
                    >and I expect we may see some of his former skill as horror movie
                    >director displayed on TTT's DVD.

                    [snip]

                    --jtg




                    I'm not sure I understand--I was talking about the DVD (extended edition FotR). And, yes, that contract is exactly why the violence had been expected on it. Sorry if I wasn't clear on those points.
                    --Trudy



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                  • Matthew Winslow
                    ... I m thinking that a horror director like PJ would not want to leave out the Paths of the Dead. Perhaps PJ ll take a route you suggest, Mary -- having the
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jan 3, 2003
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                      Stolzi@... [Stolzi@...] wrote:
                      > But then, as a friend pointed out, we miss the Paths of the Dead, which it
                      > would be a shame to leave out. (Unless the story were changed so that the
                      > Paths of the Dead bring unexpected reinforcements directly to Minas Tirith??)

                      I'm thinking that a horror director like PJ would not want to leave out the
                      Paths of the Dead. Perhaps PJ'll take a route you suggest, Mary -- having the
                      Dead march directly to Minis Tirith with Aragorn?

                      --
                      Matthew Winslow mwinslow@... http://x-real.firinn.org/
                      "People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading."
                      --Logan Pearsall Smith
                      Currently reading: J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
                    • David J Finnamore
                      ... I was afraid I d be asked to be more specific about that. I d better put some thought into it. At the moment it s little more than a hunch. ... I ve
                      Message 10 of 15 , Jan 4, 2003
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                        Susan <SusanPal@...> wrote:

                        > I'm interested to hear more about what you think they missed by viewing the
                        > story through a humanistic lens.

                        I was afraid I'd be asked to be more specific about that. I'd better put some thought
                        into it. At the moment it's little more than a hunch.


                        > I agree that TTT is a better film than FR, but I
                        > consider it a less successful adaptation, which makes me concerned about RotK
                        > on that level.

                        I've gravitated toward the view that the movies are an alternate form of the story, so
                        that success as adaptation is no longer very important to me. Too much was changed,
                        even in FR, for me to regard it strictly as an adaptation. The first time I saw FR, I
                        was simultaneously delighted and disturbed. Delighted to see things I had imagined for
                        years coming to life before my eyes, often so much like I had imagined that it took my
                        breath away. So I regard it as a visual triumph, with only a few exceptions. But also
                        disturbed by how much of the story was sacrificed for the sake of eye candy. I must
                        admit, I'm a sucker for eye candy, but I prefer it to be balanced better with, what
                        shall we say, eye broccoli?

                        Someone on this list mentioned, about a year ago, the idea that the movie(s) could be
                        enjoyed in their own right as an alternate form of the story. (I wish I could remember
                        who, but thank you, if you know who you are :-) After that, I was able to let go and
                        appreciate the movie for what it was. Surprisingly, I then found some deeper
                        book-story elements in the film that I had missed before, things on the level of theme
                        as distinguished from plot. It's quite possible to compartmentalize the movie story
                        from the book story once you get used to it. I find that it's like to learning to play
                        both acoustic and electric guitar, which are very similar to, and very different from,
                        each other. Same with learning to play both the 6-hole Irish whistle, and the
                        recorder, which has 7 finger holes and a thumb hole. You just have to build separate
                        pockets for them in your mind.

                        So, on my first viewing of TTT, I quickly accepted most of the changes, and thoroughly
                        enjoyed the almost whole thing. I found it deeply moving. The only part that I had to
                        wrestle to come to grips with, oddly, was a distinctly different interpretation of
                        Gollum/Smeagol's attitudes as reflected in his vocal inflections. I had heard his
                        voice in my mind so distinctly so many times that almost everything he said in the
                        movie sounded wrong. But I started to get used to it on second viewing. I'll always
                        be disappointed by the dumbing down of the dialogue, of course, but that's life in the
                        post-modern West, I guess.

                        --
                        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
                      • David J Finnamore
                        ... Well, Susan, I still haven t had a chance to go back through the interviews and find what they said that made me shake my head and say, They don t get it,
                        Message 11 of 15 , Jan 7, 2003
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                          SusanPal@... wrote:

                          > In a message dated 1/1/2003 12:27:38 PM Pacific Standard Time,
                          > daeron@... writes:
                          >
                          > > I think that PJ and the script writers look at life so differently than
                          > > JRRT did -- so naturalistically and humanistically as opposed to
                          > > theologically and
                          > > mythically -- that they are practically incapable of understanding some of
                          > > the most
                          > > important things about the stories. That's both understandable and
                          > > forgivable.
                          > >
                          >
                          > I'm interested to hear more about what you think they missed by viewing the
                          > story through a humanistic lens.

                          Well, Susan, I still haven't had a chance to go back through the interviews and find
                          what they said that made me shake my head and say, "They don't get it, they really just
                          don't get it." But in his review of TTT
                          http://www.sfsite.com/01a/2t143.htm
                          Sean Russell said it about as well as it might be said:

                          "I don't think Jackson has much faith in words."

                          Think John 1.

                          --
                          David J. Finnamore
                          Nashville, TN, USA
                          http://www.elvenminstrel.com
                          --
                          "We never remember what is important, only what matters to us." - Suzanne Finnamore,
                          /Otherwise Engaged/
                        • SusanPal@aol.com
                          In a message dated 1/7/2003 5:34:09 PM Pacific Standard Time, ... Ah. Okay. Thanks for the explanation! SP [Non-text portions of this message have been
                          Message 12 of 15 , Jan 7, 2003
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                            In a message dated 1/7/2003 5:34:09 PM Pacific Standard Time,
                            daeron@... writes:


                            > Sean Russell said it about as well as it might be said:
                            >
                            > "I don't think Jackson has much faith in words."
                            >
                            > Think John 1.
                            >
                            >

                            Ah. Okay. Thanks for the explanation!

                            SP


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