On one hand, the estate is clearly a victim of "Hollywood accounting" (as was Peter Jackson, I believe, which is why he refused to direct the Hobbit movie for such a long time). That's a downright criminal practice and "victims" perfectly describes those unfortunate enough to be targeted.
On the other hand, JRR the man passed away years ago, and his son is almost 90. Copyright law says one thing, but at what point do we as humans say that the creator has died long ago, and his work should now pass to the public to retell as it sees fit? How long should his children, and their children, and their children, expect to control and profit off of the work of a long-dead man? (Yes C. Tolkien did some original stuff with Silmarillion and Hurin but we're talking Hobbit and LotR here.)
That's a loaded question and obviously C. Tolkien and companies like Disney think copyright should be eternal. (And no doubt New Line now wishes its own copyright on its little gold mine would remain eternal too.) But personally I think stuff should enter the public domain much more aggressively for the good of culture and society.
In such a world C. Tolkien might have made a little cash for a while, perhaps been happy that his family created a cultural touchstone, and maybe went on to do something original and no doubt productive with his own talent. But we'll never know, and now he's spending his last days growing increasingly embittered because he feels that he's lost control of something he didn't even create in the first place.
If the big businesses get to fuck over every new idea under the sun that borrows from creative works of the last century without a license, the descendent's of the creators of those works that still, by the hands of the same enterprise, inherit the licenses deserve their compensation. It is the house of cards built by Hollywood and they want to live in it.
Popularization of JRR works sometimes disgusting.
The most disgusting thing(for me, and I think I'm not lonely): LONG ELVEN EARS.
JRR almost reinvented elves. He transcend them from butterfly-like insects into unearthly beautiful beings almost like humans, but in every aspect better.
This effort is ruined: now everybody knows that elves are "guys/gals with long ears". Of cause: it's a lot easier to make long ears, than to make ... unearthly beauty.
(Excuse me my Runglish )
Elrond is not pleased.
As in, Genesis, chapter 6, in the Tanakh? I've never heard of that one before. Ancient Hebrew culture had no notion of elves whatsoever, to my knowledge.
Is this a joke, or can you cite chapter+verse?
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
So the dwarves were kind of a first draft done by an angel instead of the actual creato/god.
I agree with you that this is an amoral practice, but the thing I can never understand: since virtually everyone is aware of this con, how is anyone still taken in by it?
I mean, by all accounts the negotiations for the LOTR rights were tense--but neither Jackson's nor Tolkien's lawyer figured out to put a "percent of box office" clause in there?
That's why actors like "Omar Sy" ("Les intouchables") are now very rich.
But for other films, think of it like with VC terms and startups. The best ideas can dictate their terms and get points on the gross, while the ideas in the middle have to accept a deal where they get points of profit in order to get the film made.
Somebody like Eddie Murphy can demand gross points, while a first time indie filmmaker cannot.
The way he chooses to pursue this is denying/restricting crappy productions as far as possible.
I happen to agree that Tolkeins books were quite special and the films pretty run-of-the-mill. I'm not so sure thats a big problem, or one that can be solved using copyright to block other interpretations, however I am sure the primary intent is not monetary.
C. Tolkien seems to disagree, and his desire for complete control over books he didn't even write seems to be both stifling genuine re-imaginings of modern classics by a long-dead author, and making him fairly unhappy.
I'm picking on Tolkien but obviously this applies to a huge amount of IP out there that's in a similar situation.
He is wrong but it certainly looks like that.
You don't have to care for the commercialization of the stuff and Happy Meals with Hobbit toys. The aesthetics and philosophy are still there.
Why does the movie even have to be "The Lord of the Rings" anyway? Most of the races and themes are fairly well public domain - there were lawsuits around D&D that saw to that. Peter Jackson doing a fantasy action movie would still do well.
Especially in this case.
Do you know why Dungeons and Dragons was able to be so Tolkien-esque without being sued? Because there actually was a court case, decades ago, and the only thing the court ruled that the Tolkien people (I don't know if J.R.R. was still alive at the time) actually owned was the word 'hobbit'. Everything else was taken from the public domain. Hence 'halflings' in all subsequent D&D works.
Not that Dune, to pick an example, was that much more original, but with Tolkien's work it's especially easy to pick out the borrowings.
Orc I think was original to Tolkien, but derived from Old English for giants and ogres.
Many others, like uruk-hai and hobbit, were original.
Also, even though some of the races come from Norse mythology, Tolkien's description of them and their habits are unique (and many times quite different from the "sources").
These two facts converge to make claims of originality very strange and difficult, because the derivations themselves are examples of original work.
Tolkien came up with new stories and characters, but the style is similar (and of course with sources from Norse Mythology and others, that mixed and grew apart, etc)
I haven't yet read Shippey's "Author of the Century", which is about a second set of influences (like the World Wars).
For more background, Tolkien was heavily inspired by - among other material - a compilation of Finnish oral tradition called "Kalevala". I've read that he used to complain that the English culture lacked such a tradition which most certainly lead to what the Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the rings and everything else.
I forgot the exact term, googled the one I used, saw it was a thing, and assumed I had remembered it correctly. :( My bad.
OED has not, even after all this time, granted him "invention" of the term, despite long inquiries into its origins.
EDIT: Ah, Saul Zaentz's company, Middle-earth Enterprises, licensed the film rights to New Line. TIL. What a complicated situation.
Cathleen Blackburn, lawyer for the Tolkien Estate in
Oxford, recounts ironically, "These hugely popular films
apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving
statements saying that the producers did not owe the
Tolkien Estate a dime."
Use their own tax cheating against themselves.
As far as a pop-culture and on-screen rendition of the books go, Jackson's work has been superbly loyal to the source literature and to the audience who pays to see them.
This is just straight-out snobbery, and I don't care for it.
For a Tolkien fanatic like myself, they are almost unwatchable. I can understand changing details and dialogue because it is a different medium. But Jackson changes the motivations and major actions of many of the main characters in LoTR.
I don't actually know if them myriad of changes, small and large, made the films more accessible to someone who had never read the books, but calling the work "superbly loyal" is laughable - especially the Lord of the Rings "Extended Editions" which contain almost no material from the books whatsoever.
Perhaps nothing should be allowed to remain private. Perhaps privacy is an affront to the rights of the people. But I don't think so. I think everyone has special, private things from their lives - special things they would be upset to see appropriated and distorted at will by other people with little to no understanding or reverence for the meaning those things hold to you. Christopher is only different because the things that made his childhood special and to which he feels protective have become an unstoppable blockbuster film series.
Hell, I can sympathise. Maybe it's just snobbery, but damned if I don't feel disgusted by the shameless, opportunistic faux-Tolkienism whipped up by by New Zealanders in the wake of the films. Nobody in New Zealand gave a shit about Tolkien before the movies. It was only when people realised that it was going to be huge that suddenly everyone became a lifelong Tolkien fan and every farmer next to a film site was running a Hobbit tour... You know, my grandpa read The Hobbit to me when I was young, and he even has a photo from when he met Tolkien (before the books took off.)
Edit: On another note, I think it's a bit rich for Hackernews readers to criticise Christopher for snobbery/possessiveness - after all, the whole bloody point of Hackernews is to discourage average internet users, prevent that 'Eternal September' thing - and maintain a conversation to an elite-defined standard. Everyone has their own snobbish preferences I think.
What are you talking about? This has nothing to do with privacy. Tolkien sold his books publicly and then sold the rights for the movies.
We can certainly argue about the quality, and correctness of the films, as well as the due compensation to the Tolkien estate. But privacy, really?? It's not like hollywood execs snuck in and recorded these bedtime stories in the dark. They were sold by their owner.
Like I said, maybe he is wrong to feel possessive, maybe not. But I still think just writing him off as a hyper-sensitive, overly-possessive snob, as a few HN readers have done, is very mean-spirited.
no, hobbit is worse. the first episode of hobbit was a 3 hour long trailer with zero substance.
It takes a lot of effort and hard work to take a great story that would have easily made the best 3 hour movie of the decade and turn it into a 10 hour, 3-part ridiculous something. "No substance," he says!
Yes. But the giants were in the book for all of one paragraph.
The Hobbit is a much lighter work than LotR, and it was aimed at a younger audience, and so can sustain a lot more whimsy and silliness.
IMHO the Radagast stuff worked well enought, and the giants a lot less so, mainly since the movie was too long and there's no good reason why they were there at all. They didn't add to any plotline, or tie up with anything else.
Do you mean the mountain transformers? Sorry, they weren't.
Here's a quote from the "thunder-battle" scene:
> He knew that something unexpected might happen, and he hardly dared to hope that they would pass without fearful adventure over those great tall mountains with lonely peaks and valleys where no king ruled. They did not. All was well, until one day they met a thunderstorm, more than a thunderstorm, a thunder-battle. You know how terrific a really big thunderstorm can be down in the land and in a river valley; especially at times when two great thunderstorms meet and clash. More terrible still are thunder and lightning in the mountains at night, when storms come up from East and West and make war. The lightning splinters on the peaks, and rocks shiver, and great crashes split the air and go rolling and tumbling into every cave and hollow; and the darkness is filled with overwhelming noise and sudden light.
To me, that quite clearly is a symbolic "battle." Not mountains turning to golems or giants or transformers or what-not.
When [Bilbo] peeped out in the lightning flashes, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out, and were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching then, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang...They could hear the giants guffawing and shouting all over the mountansides.
"This won't do at all!" said Thorin, "If we don't get blown off or drowned, or struck by lightning, we shall be picked up by some giant and kicked sky-high for a football."
After the party escapes the goblins and gets through the mountains, Gandalf suggests blocking up the entrance in the pass through which they had been ambushed:
"I must see if I can't find a more or less decent giant to block it up again," said Gandalf, "or soon there will be no getting over the mountains at all."
But I don't think we can definitively settle the question of the giants' form, as we simply don't have enough data. So I suggest we branch out to another unanswerable question: would Gandalf have used Emacs or Vim? How about Sauron?
I can forgive the moviemakers some poetic license, but these sequences typically feel very out of place, like very expensive padding, and detract from the general atmosphere rather than adding to it.
The worst, in my mind was the whole undergound goblin battle sequence ... realllllllllly long and repetitive, resembling a roller-coaster ride more than anything else. That sort of thing is great for Transformers Part VI, but it's utterly out of place in the Hobbit.
The book was not an action adventure, it was much more about exploration, leaving the familiar for the wider world, a sense of wonder, whimsy, etc, and the movie often just completely flubs this.
I really, realllly, wish stupid movie politics hadn't resulted in Guillermo del Toro quitting, because I think he could have done a much better job at capturing the atmosphere of the book. Pan's Labyrinth is a much, much, better movie, and shows a deft touch with this sort of material that Jackson (though I respect him greatly) just doesn't seem to have. Nature, for instance, in Jackson's movies is basically a very pretty backdrop; in Pan's Labyrinth, on the other hand, it's a presence, fantastic, a little threatening, full of portent and vast depths. That's the sort of sense The Hobbit should have had.
> When he peeped out in the lightning-flashes, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out and were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang.
> They could hear the giants guffawing and shouting all over the mountainsides.
> "If we don't get blown off or drowned, or struck by lightning, we shall be picked up by some giant and kicked sky-high for a football."
> "I must see if I can't find a more or less decent giant to block it up again," said Gandalf
Or maybe Christopher Tolkien needs to STFU, sign his royalty checks, and let culture take its course. Or - gasp - get a word processor and earn his own keep.
I haven't seen the Hobbit, but as far as I'm concerned, Jackson owns LotR now. The best-rendered edition of the story is his.
He has, by organizing, editing, and publishing all of his father's posthumous work, from The Silmarillion on. He is his father's literary executor, so he was doing his job, and publishing books that people will pay for counts as earning his keep.
- Hobbit Hater
As to literary qualities of Hobbit, well. I like it quite a lot less now than when I was 15.
I suppose I can understand how he feels though, as he is probably closer to the original material than anyone else alive today.
However, I do not think what has happened with the films is wrong at all. I think it is a fine and lasting tribute to Tolkien. It has done more than any single thing to introduce a vast audience to this fabulous world and to Tolkien's original work, millions of people that would never have picked up the books otherwise.
The movies are fairly loyal to the books from a pure "action" perspective, in that they're about some midgets that find a ring and try to drop it in a volcano, there's a wizard, a ranger who's supposed to be a king, some elves and dwarves and stuff, and some battles, etc ...
The movies are NOT loyal at all to the broader mythology and spiritual aspects of Tolkien's world. The movies are full of scenes where these aspects are sacrificed in order to add very tiny bits of drama and action.
Case in point: Elrond's racist rant in "The Two Towers" movie to his Elf daughter Arwen, trying to convince her not to marry the mortal Man Aragorn. Look, I get it from a screenwriter's perspective: it adds some drama to the Aragorn/Arwen love story (which doesn't get much play in the books), it modernizes the story a bit to add the racism angle, and Elrond is a minor character in the movies anyway, so why not make him a Heel?
The problem from a broader perspective in the Tolkien universe is that Elrond (the Half-elven) is himself a descendant of Elves, Men, and Maiar (angels). His ancestors are among the great heroes of the First Age of the world. And in fact the reason why Sauron's boss isn't ruling the world at the time of LOTR is because Elrond's half-elf dad went himself to the Gods to request their help, on behalf of both Elves and Men. He was returning to the Gods a jewel containing the original Light of the world, that Elrond's human great-great-grandfather rescued from the Devil so he could marry Elrond's elf/angel great-great-grandmother. Oh, and Aragorn is a direct descendant of Elrond's brother Elros. And Elrond himself had lived 6000+ years by the time of LOTR and had fought alongside Men at the end of the Second Age.
From that perspective, the scene in the TTT movie, and the characterization of Elrond in general, is ridiculous. And the movies are full of these sorts of changes, where a little bit of drama/action is added at the expense of RUINING the story from the broader perspective of Tolkien's mythology.
Firstly, think of the plight of the screenwriter who has to a) adapt a story that will take most people about a week to read into a three hour film; and b) has to create something that will make lots of money. I can completely understand the resentment felt at a beloved book being turned into a very different film - I have seen a number of well liked stories turned into something completely different (see my next point). I think you just have to view film adaptations as a completely different product.
Secondly, there is a long history of books being turned into films that do not bear much relation to the original work. A few examples from my own life. The Stephen King novella "The Running Man" was turned into a film that contained the same themes, but was a very different story. The film "The Lawnmower Man" was also taken from a Stephen King short story of the same name. The story of the film bore absolutely no relation to the film, and to this day I can't work out how they could possibly draw any relation between the two. A long time ago I hired a video of a Dean R Koontz story called "Watchers". I had enjoyed the book and jumped at the chance to see a film adaptation. I was to be disappointed. What I watched, whilst having the name of the book was not an adaptation of that book - the story was completely different. I can only think that they wanted the name of a popular author to help sell their shoddy film.
I've thought a lot about how I would do the LOTR movies or the Silmarillion as a TV series if I had the chance! And I really think the choices Peter Jackson made suggest (1) a weak understanding of the source material, and (2) not an especially strong film-making ability, and nothing PJ's done since LOTR has convinced me otherwise.
I never liked the LOTR movies for the reasons described. Certain scenes are spectacular, and Gollum is cool, but that's about it for me.
For a great Peter Jackson movie that suits his epic action style, try King Kong.
edit: Wikipedia says "given an opportunity to see some of the special effects sequences", but i'm certain that Scott says in the documentary that he showed him a complete early cut of the film
However not all changes are the same. When characters are changed in some weird manner, which makes them very different from the books - it already becomes bothering and there is simply no justifying reason for it, except for director's ego. In the Lord Of The Rings there were several such examples. For example Aragorn, Boromir and Frodo were changed in a big way. Their actions in the film didn't match their characters from the book (i.e. for their book versions it'd be unnatural to do certain things which they did in the film). So I partially agree with criticism, but only partially. Making a carbon copy of the book probably wouldn't make a good film.
Mythologies are almost by definition uncontrollable, so the fact that it's taken on a life of its own in a way proves that Tolkien actually succeeded with his initial goal.
You should be able to then judge whether or not the movies have done justice to the spirit in which his books were written. Judge for yourself as C. Tolkein may or may not be right.
After reading it, I think the movies get a lot right and a little wrong. It helps to know the mind of the one you are reading.
I read this essay years ago (in The Tolkien Reader), and I couldn't disagree more. If the standard is being faithful to the spirit in which Tolkien wrote, I think the movies got a lot wrong and very little right. There's plenty of discussion of this elsewhere in the thread so I won't belabor it, but I'm surprised that anyone could read "On Fairy-Stories" and think that that spirit is what the films portray. The films are Hollywood action movies with a "fantasy" veneer; Tolkien's essay was talking about something very different.
I much prefer the Legend of the Seeker author's attitude toward the television adaptation: The story in the two different mediums are each their own separate things, to be enjoyed in their own separate ways.
Let's face it, there are certain people who will read the books and enjoy them for what they are. Then there are other people who won't read the books but will see the movies. What difference does it make?
As for the "Hollywood accounting," that's unfortunate. All parties in a deal should feel they benefit, and none should feel hey have short shrift.
It's not diminished one iota by any attempt at a performance in another medium. Some who've not read the originals may be misled about them for a time, just as a great piece of music may be misrepresented by a crappy performance - say, what Karajan did for Beethoven (not saying Jackson did that or not) - but never diminished by it. One is momentary, one is lasting.
Consider what the hacker community was like forty years ago, and the meaning that LOTR had to this community forty years ago compared to now.
I could be wrong, but maybe that could be what Chris Tolkien means by "eviscerated."
Given some of his actions, calling the film franchise an "evisceration" is the pot calling the kettle black. Yes, let's film a 16-hour word-for-word rendition of each book, because that will work on film. I've liked everything Jackson has done, and I think his work can coexist with the source material without issue.
I'm in the minority; I enjoyed The Hobbit even fully aware it suffered from First Film Syndrome. (Just had a thought: Peter Jackson should film Dune next, so he can annoy two posthumous estates.)
But the Brian Herbert comparison just means you've never read anything Christopher Tolkien actually published (or you never attempted to read Brian Herbert's terrible terrible work). The only publication where Christopher Tolkien embellished or added to his father's writings was The Silmarillion, published under pressure from their publisher to get it out the door as soon as possible after his father's death and when he was younger (relatively) and less sure about his bargaining position to leave his father's work untouched. The added narrative was mostly connecting prose, meant to keep the story more coherent, and one full chapter replacing a version that was hopelessly out of date compared to the rest of the updates his father had added over decades. He's repeatedly expressed regret about changing The Silmarillion (including again in this article), and has even laid out exactly what he added to the story so you can mentally edit it out.
Every single other book (that would be 13 of them, I believe) that he's published has been literally a written guide to trying to piece together a chronological view of all the undated scraps of rough drafts and notes his father left behind. The only thing he adds are clearly delimited notes about why he thinks some scrap came next and summaries about how some minor change made elsewhere suddenly made ripples of changes through future drafts of other sections, which he then proceeds to include verbatim.
In other words, there's no way to get less respectful of his father's work, short of leaving it unpublished. Again, he can be called many things (he really does seem to be like a total jerk, and there's no way any adaptation would have pleased him, even a word-for-word dramatic reading), but comparing him to Brian Herbert and what he did with Dune is beyond the pale.
Yes, Brian Herbert's work is just that bad :)
Odd, from what you just said, it seems he was respectful of his father's work. I just found that sentence hard to parse.
Not exactly prime rib eh?
In both cases, I wonder if we'd be better off had forward progress in the canon died with the author.
While it does sometimes seem slightly strange that Christopher Tolkien spent basically his entire adult life helping with and then documenting his father's work, it's really not that different from what most people choose as their life's work.
And while it might reduce some of the artistic aura around his works, I love seeing his thought process and how he evolved his world and characters. I really don't see much difference between reading the assembled published drafts and visiting Oxford and getting special permission to view the drafts, short of the fact that they've now been curated by the person most likely to be able to put them in close to the order they were actually written in. If it helps, think of them as an academic work, purely for the Tolkien scholars that came later, and not intended to be read cover to cover by most people. It's only an accident that there was enough commercial interest in Lord of the Rings to put these books in regular bookstores.
Brian Herbert sinned unforgivably when he claimed that his books were based on his father's notes and unfinished drafts, so were basically the stories he was going to tell, while constructing the plots around characters that had only appeared in Brian's other made up Dune stories. He and his cowriter should also just not be allowed to write. They have a terrible, terrible way with words.
In other words, people's tastes are their own. Don't let this person put you off.
I've found that now that I have some context, I find the first section much more interesting. It's still not a barn burner, but it was important to Tolkien for a reason. It of course mirrors the rest of the tales in the book, the counterpoint of the music also functioning as a counterpoint to the events to come later, but it also lays out Tolkien's notion of the nature of evil, and how it operates in a world created by a loving but subtle god (or at least the one that Tolkien created).
I think it's rather beautiful, but, again, only after skipping it and reading the rest first :)
I actually read it while I was young and hadn't the money to buy my own books: I got it as a single, enormous Word document from a friend and read it by CRT display.
All that said, I think the original movies are artistic masterpieces (haven't seen the Hobbit yet, so I can't comment)...just masterpieces of a different sort, in a different medium.
I'll be pedantic and take issue with that.
Pop culture is unable to stand on its own, but once you get past the surface, it's really more of a guidebook to the nature of culture which can rapidly become a very deep exploration if you have the stomach for it.
Art tends to be able to stand on its own outside of the culture it came from.
Learning that I could return to middle earth, I was excited, and devoured the lord of the rings trilogy soon after the hobbit.
Then I learned that I could spend some more time in middle earth with the Silmarilion, so I dove into that next. Total buzzkill. I quit a little way in, my enthusiasm for middle earth mostly drained.
The Silmarillion is different. I'd argue it's the main work, and I appreciate it largely because it's not a novel, it's a Biblical compilation covering thousands of years that required decades of world-building and re-writing to bring it to the incomplete state it's in now.
I didn't know there were 3 films, so I was so annoyed at the ending that I went back and read The Hobbit. And you know what? The movie is actually a pretty good adaptation.
somewhat <SPOILER ALERT>:
The battle of five armies, which will show up in the last movie is likely to be much more epic than the book, based on Jackson's renditions of other battles of Middle Earth.
I would go one step further: Peter Jackson's adaptation has been nothing short of fantastic. He's been pretty faithful to the LoTR story, but his movies have sparked interest in Tolkein's universe among those who would have never known about it otherwise. None of my friends would even consider reading the Hobbit or LoTR, but they've all seen and enjoyed the movies. (A tiny minority even tried reading the book). Now, its something that we enjoy talking about over many afternoons
Just a few points:
(1) The elves in the movies are way too immature. For example, Elrond, who is something like 6500 years old at the time of the War of the Ring, acts in the movies like an angst-ridden middle-aged father in a second-rate TV drama about Arwen wanting to marry Aragorn.
(2) Way too much screen time is spent on stuff that isn't even depicted in the books and adds nothing to the story, such as Saruman breeding the orcs.
(3) There are some major plot changes that make no sense: for example, the part in The Two Towers movie where Aragorn apparently falls off a cliff and is lost. (When I watched the movie in the theater with a friend, who had already seen it and who has been reading Tolkien as long as I have, he told me when it got to this point, "Here's the part you're going to hate.")
(4) The Scouring of the Shire is completely missing; that's an integral part of the plot in the books and omitting it takes away a lot.
Again, if someone is just taking the movies as their own story, without knowing anything about the books, I can see how they would like it; but they're not seeing the same world that Tolkien wrote about.
If Jackson hadn't done those things, there was no way he could have culled the story down to 3 3-hour segments.
That said, I do agree. I was disappointed that Bombadil and his immunity to the Ring didn't show, for instance. But while the Scouring of the Shire was immensely critical to the books, it was also profoundly anticlimactic: it would have broken the simpler narrative of the movies to pull in those more complex themes to have a second climax.
As it was, Jackson only barely managed to hang the two main plotlines together. They didn't need a connection in the books, but it's much more challenging in a movie format. It might have been worth it to split The Two Towers into two films in order to give each its room. (Frodo and Sam from the Breaking to the escape from Cirith Ungol in Film 2; Aragorn and Gandalf's contests with Theoden, Saruman, and Denethor as a very long Film 3; and twisting the two back together in 4 with room for the Scouring.) Nolan managed it in The Dark Knight, where after the Joker was beaten, there was one final emotional explosion. So it can be done. I don't know if Jackson could have done it.
Done what things? Except for omitting the Scouring of the Shire (for a further comment on that, see below), the things I was criticizing could have been changed without lengthening the film at all. Indeed, leaving out all the "Hollywood" stuff like Saruman breeding the orcs would have left more time for things that would have added more value.
while the Scouring of the Shire was immensely critical to the books, it was also profoundly anticlimactic
Again, if Jackson hadn't wasted screen time on "Hollywood" stuff, he would have been able to add the extra themes that would have helped the Scouring of the Shire to make sense to the movie viewer.
I don't agree that the Saruman breeding the orcs should have been left out, but I'd have to re-watch the entire thing to be certain my argument holds water and well... I'm not going to do that anytime soon.
Perhaps not entirely left out, but a lot of screen time was spent on it that, IMO, added no value whatsoever to the movie. A quick cut or two would have been enough.
Instead we get Treebeard being basically a dummy sidekick for the hobbits, who realises late that Saruman is destroying the trees and then goes on a rampage.
I think a PJ-style movie adaptation of The Hobbit would have fared well as a 3-hour theatrical cut, plus some extras for the Super Deluxe Director's Extended Blu-Ray Edition.
And why the hell didn't Bilbo's actual finding of the Ring from The Hobbit match the scene from the first LoTR film? Can't Jackson follow his own freakin' canon?
Just kidding, I don't think PJ could fall that far.
Don't forget that The Hobbit is an adaptation of a childrens book. I think a bit of slapstick fits right in.
This schtick has appeared (in various forms) in endless movies. It's so cliche I knew the goblin king was going to fall on the dwarves the moment one of them said "that wasn't so bad".
Then there's the good guy slicing the bad guy with a sword. You think he missed, then the bad guy looks surprised as his head slides off. I've seen that in probably at least 6 movies.
Falling into the abyss, and yet being grabbed and saved at the last second. Where have we seen that before? The literal "cliff hanger". And we get to see it several times over in The Hobbit.
I still liked The Hobbit. But in spite of those scenes.
Consider the trolls they find early on. Do any of Tolkien's other works ever mention them being more than mute beasts? Yet in the Hobbit, they're dumb but capable of making tools, etc., and they turn to stone in sunlight, a weakness never mentioned elsewhere. This is much more in line with traditional fairy stories, down to Gandalf tricking the trolls until they're caught in sunlight and turn to stone.
I have absolutely no idea what you mean by "pretty good". Enjoyable action movie? Sure. Has all of the right characters? Check. Actually follows the plot? Complete fail.
Off of the top of my head, Bilbo should sign the contract the night before, wake up, and only actually go out because Gandalf comes and tells him that he's late. When Bilbo goes to investigate the trolls, the dwarves have no fire and no idea what is there. It should be Gandalf who gets the trolls to argue with each other, not Bilbo. Azog should not appear in The Hobbit. There should be no encounters with orcs until, possibly, the battle of the 5 armies. There should be no encounter of goblins, or wargs until after visiting Elrond. The dwarves should be made far more welcome - I personally had been looking forward to the Elvish songs they were supposed to be greeted with, and did NOT like seeing a bad repeat of the meeting between Aragorn and Èomer in The Two Towers. Gandalf should leave Rivendell with the party. The white council should not meet while the dwarves are there, nor in the book is there any hint of romance between Gandalf and Galadriel. (Useless trivia, Galadriel is actually Elrond's mother-in-law.) The dwarves should hear the stone giants - but not be caught riding them. In the cave where they were captured, Bilbo wakes, sees goblins in the back, then shouts (which is how Gandalf escapes). He doesn't wake, have an eloquent conversation, then have the floor cave in. The goblin fight sequence is very long, entirely made up, and the goblin cave we see (complete with rickety structures, the messenger, and so on) owes no debt to Tolkien. (Goblins chasing behind, yes. Rivers of goblins coming from all directions being comically killed by every dwarf in sight, not so much.) Bilbo should be lost by the party because he falls off of a dwarf's back while they are running, and not because he managed to avoid initial capture. Bilbo should not meet the goblin that Gollum was killing when he lost the ring. Bilbo should lose his buttons leaving the goblin cave, not squeezing through some random rocks. The whole tree sequence complete with heroic fight, trees being pushed over, and dangling over cliffs...? All made up. As a reminder, in the book the wolves discover them, they hide in trees, Gandalf throws burning pine-cones, the wolves are driven crazy, goblins come, turn the fire on the trees, Gandalf gets ready to pay dearly with his life and then the eagles come and save him.
That's just off of the top of my head. If I was to actually put effort in it, I'm sure I'd come up with a much longer list of differences.
Of all of the changes, the only one that I consider completely justified was making it light enough in the goblin cave fights for people to see. A bunch of running in the dark would not translate to the screen very well.
Random disclaimer. I have no idea how many times I've read the books. But my last two times reading the Hobbit were painfully slow - I read it to my son.
There should be no encounters with orcs until, possibly, the battle of the 5 armies.
"Orc" and "goblin" are just different names for the same creature. In the book the word "goblin" is the only one used, except for one passage in "Riddles in the Dark", where "orcs of the mountains" are equated with "big" goblins.
In which case the clear distinction in the movie between orcs and goblins is yet another sin against Tolkien's intent.
He reminds me of what happened to the estate of James Joyce, which is a very sad tale: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/01/james-jo...
I don't know whether a series like A Song of Ice and Fire could every be adapted well, but the TV show has definitely ensured that more people will read, and most important remember, the work of R. R. Martin.
Whatever you may think about the artistic merit of LOTR and The Hobbit, I think Tolkien has still benefitted immensely.
It's a little worse than that.
Compare how the stories were told back in the 80s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdXQJS3Yv0Y (I saw this in first broadcast, and have probably been singing the song for 3 decades since.)
Peter Jackson wasn't an improvement on this? So let's be clear: This is not about showing respect for the stories. It is about the money.
I would love to see a production of Dune with the budget and values of LoTR, even just book 1.
But yeah, I would definitely find some things to be annoyed about :)
So have I, and as much as I wish it could coexist, I'm not sure it really can. For an entire generation, "Lord of the Rings" really pretty just means the movies.
What an outlandish and completely rediculous intro. I stopped reading right there.
I think he owes Peter Jackson an apology for pissing on the greatest thing to have happened to the Tolkien books in many decades.
What a whiny asshole.