Archæology

The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

I have to laugh

Some people, after posting in endless threads about the Lord of the Rings movies, virtually singing paeans to their greatness, are upset about another’s viewpoint that the films are a poor adaptation of the books.

And despite what it says on the criticism site, someone in the thread still posted this:

The point is - no movie will ever be the same as a book. You just have to accept that, and then weigh the movie on it's own merits - and faithfulness to the book isn't one of them.

It would be wrong of me to comment on the misuse of the apostrophe, wouldn’t it? Okay, in which case I ask how many people were excited about the films precisely because they were The Lord of the Rings. So what exactly is important to these people in the books, which they find also in the movies? That is an honest question, because I really don’t know. Where would they draw the line in terms of faithfulness, since it must in fact be an issue for them?

Posted by jamie on January 15, 2004 12:04+13:00

Comments

I think they're more faithful to the books than many movies-of-the-book. But I think the books are brilliant because they're books. All those amazing landscapes are conjured up through the power of language alone. Amazing. When it's presented on a screen, well, what’s the point? Still, having said that, I enjoyed the last movie. It was fun spotting people and places I knew. I went to it with very low expectations, so I wasn’t disappointed.

Posted by: Fi on January 15, 2004 14:17+13:00

Interesting.

With plays, they need to keep most of the original dialogue for it to be the same play. Eg, West Side Story is not Romeo and Juliet. But if it's a book, what does the film need to retain to be the same story? Or the same story *enough*.

I think setting, major characters, plot outline (more or less; I think the longer the plot, the more I expect it to be changed), and goals. And I want to feel that it has a sense of, hmm, sympathy? respect? for the original story.

I definitely don't think of a film of a book as a translation, and I don't expect it to be moment-for-moment scene-for-scene.

Posted by: iona on January 16, 2004 17:17+13:00

If I may reference that site again, I think the author has it right when she says:

A good adaptation, however, carries enough of the flavour of the original to lure the viewer to want more, and to ensure that they will find it when they do go to the source; and enough of the concrete details of the original, along with its spirit, not to repel a reader who comes to it with continual jolts of incongruity.

I think that bits missing from the books is less painful than bits changed into wicked parody: that Denethor is simply insane rather than a proud ruler finally overcome by despair; that there is little honour to be found; that violence is the solution to all problems (Aragorn fights the King of the Dead in order for them to follow him?!).

As you say, respect for the original.

Posted by: Jamie on January 16, 2004 17:26+13:00

Jamie,

You will always be my favourite grumpy bear when it comes to J.R.R. Tolkien and the movies. You seem to have spent more time reading reviews than it would take to see the film. Either see the films or don't, but don't base your views on someone elses.

Posted by: sue on January 17, 2004 17:48+13:00

But, Sue, it’s so funny! The site I linked to has some very funny bits, though admittedly some are funny in a scathing, sarcastic, critical way.

As for the time spent, this is nothing compared to the other timewasting I do!

Posted by: Jamie on January 17, 2004 18:27+13:00

there in lies the problem, both days i've tried to vist this site, it's exceeded it's bandwith. but now i shall try again.

Posted by: sue on January 18, 2004 12:06+13:00

I finally got onto to the site

It made me quiet sad because I'm thinking seeing the film ruined the books for this person. Which I understand if it's something that lives so strongly in their mind. But i just don't get why they sat through all 3 and watched the first 2 on video as well?

Posted by: sue on January 20, 2004 19:26+13:00

Thanks for the link Jamie - hours of amusement. And yes, Sue, kinda sad too.

Posted by: Fi on January 25, 2004 22:37+13:00