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thoughtful review

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  • odzer@aol.com
    Taking liberties in Two Towers Despite changes, Tolkien fan can t resist watching By Deborah P. Jacobs, Globe Staff, 1/26/2003 Recently a friend forwarded to
    Message 1 of 36 , Jan 26, 2003
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      Taking liberties in 'Two Towers'
      Despite changes, Tolkien fan can't resist watching
      By Deborah P. Jacobs, Globe Staff, 1/26/2003
      Recently a friend forwarded to me an online ad for ''Frodo's Ring'' - the One
      Ring, the Ring of Power, available in sterling silver or gold, complete with
      Elvish inscription. It was a shameless, cynical bit of marketing, but the
      sick thing was, I wanted one.
      For the same reason, we passionate fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's ''Lord of the
      Rings'' can't stay away from the movie adaptations, even at the risk of
      disappointment: It's another way to try to inhabit Middle-Earth, the place to
      see the images in our minds made real.
      But ''The Two Towers,'' the second installment, has me, and my geeky
      brethren, nervous. The changes made by director Peter Jackson seem so
      wrong-headed that one fears that in the final chapter other favorite elements
      of the story will be discarded, uprooted like so many trees standing in the
      way of a rampaging Orc. Will we hear Saruman 's honeyed voice at Orthanc, or
      will he simply whip Gandalf around again like a peanut in a blender? Will
      Frodo put on the Ring at Mount Doom, or will a tut-tutting Sam grab it away
      and slap his hand? Will Aragorn take the Paths of the Dead, or go bowling
      with the palantir?
      That said, Jackson and his crew got many things right in ''The Two Towers.''
      The rendering of Gollum is astonishing, capturing both his slippery
      loathsomeness and pathos. Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn, though far more
      photogenic than Tolkien's weathered hero, has grown into a commanding
      presence. And the re-creation of the Mark is as well imagined as the scenes
      in Rivendell, Moria, and Lothlorien in ''The Fellowship of the Ring.''
      But much else that thrilled readers of the second book - much that is
      complicated, stirring, compelling - didn't make it into the movie. It was,
      inexplicably, sacrificed for the excruciatingly boring battle at Helm's Deep,
      an event to which Tolkien devotes one compact chapter. Between the
      undisguised sentimentality (repeated close-ups of a mother nervously
      clutching her toddler, Aragorn's exhortations to the troops), the elaborate,
      sterile computer effects (endless infestations of Orcs creeping over the
      fortress walls), and the swelling strains of the James Horner-like score, it
      was like watching ''Titanic'' all over again, praying for the damn ship to
      sink and get it over with. And were there really boxes in Middle-Earth?
      Using Gimli and other characters for comic relief isn't necessarily a bad
      thing, but Jackson tries to have it both ways. Merry and Pippin, whom he's
      encouraged us to accept as dunderheads chiefly concerned with a timely
      ''second breakfast,'' end up instructing the Ents - including Treebeard, one
      of the wisest, most ancient beings in Middle-Earth - in their environmental
      duty. In a similar co-opting, Theoden, king of the Mark, can't have the
      heroic impulse to ride out of Helm's Deep himself; it has to be Aragorn's
      Equally galling is the total recasting of Faramir, brother to Boromir. In the
      book he is a finer, more fitting heir to the stewardship of Gondor than his
      sibling ever could have been, and his dramatic encounter with the Ring-bearer
      reveals his nobility and keen judgment. The movie has made him into a
      small-minded highwayman intent on throwing his weight around.
      The more admirable aspects of Frodo's character have also been erased in
      ''The Two Towers.'' Bowed down though he is by the Ring, it is always his
      will that keeps him from putting it on and revealing himself to the Eye of
      Sauron, not a nudge in the ribs from the ever-vigilant Sam. The trumped-up
      conflict over the Ring between the two hobbits toward the movie's finish, a
      conflict that ends with Frodo acknowledging Sam's superior wisdom, reduces
      the enormity of Frodo's burden and the courage he musters to deal with it.
      Yet, despite all this, despite the fact that Saruman in his flowing white
      locks and robes puts me uneasily in mind of Cher, that the Nazguls ' flying
      steeds are so-10-blockbusters-ago dinosaurian, that the venerable Elrond has
      morphed into the sour star of ''Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Elf
      Daughter,'' I'll be at the premiere of ''The Return of the King'' in December
      - possibly wearing my own Ring.
      Deborah Jacobs can be reached at d-jacobs@....
      This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 1/26/2003.

      I think this is one of the better reviews I have come across so far.

      Only thing I can't understand is this interest in acquiring a copy of the
      In one of the letters from Tolkien, as many of us know, the Professor
      expresses his dismay that someone sent him a pewter goblet with the ring
      verse inscribed on it-thinking- people just don't have a clue ( sorry, that
      is not expressed in his idiom, I know ) but resolved the problem by using it
      as an ashtray.

      John Potts
    • Ernest Tomlinson
      ... From: Berni Phillips To: Sent: Friday, January 31, 2003 6:03 PM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] thoughtful review
      Message 36 of 36 , Jan 31, 2003
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Berni Phillips" <bernip@...>
        To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, January 31, 2003 6:03 PM
        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] thoughtful review

        [_Wyrd Sisters_]
        > When I was pretty sick, I thought it was
        > pretty funny. As I got better, I found it less and less funny.

        <laughing aloud> _That's_ funny! It reminds me much of the winter of 1993;
        I was living at Caltech then, and just as winter break started I contracted
        a very bad grippe. While I was convalescing, I discovered the game _Myst_
        and thought it fascinating for the first couple of days. I played it all
        the way through until I was done, and by the end I was kind of wondering
        what the big deal was. (I'll tell you the big deal--it was one of the first
        respectable games to come out on CD-ROM for the new "AV" Macintoshes that
        _actually had CD-ROM drives built in_! Wow! Multimedia! I was almost as
        excited as when I got a floppy drive for my Commodore 64!)


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