Defending the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Movies


So, back in January, Christopher Tolkien spoke out on his opinions about the movies and why he actively hates them.

Why JRR Tolkien’s Son Hates What Peter Jackson Has Done

“Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

“They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”

Chris, I respect everything you’ve done to keep your dad’s legacy alive. It’s thanks to you that we have the Silmarillion and the Histories of Middle Earth and so on. And you are to be commended for that. Thank you so much for preserving your father’s legacy. Your father is my all-time favorite author, and his works on Middle Earth are my favorite works of all-time to read. And I mean that. It’s thanks to you we get such an incredibly detailed and beautiful look into your father’s world, Middle Earth. You’ve preserved and released the Silmarillion and the Histories. So honestly… thank you.

But you seriously need to get over yourself. This is such bull that it’s not even funny.

Translating a book to film is hard. You can’t just use the book as the script. It doesn’t work like that. Yes, there are some movie-adaptions that are pretty much faithful, but I doubt you’ll find any in the fantasy/epic genre… there’s just too much in the books!

Peter Jackson changed quite a bit about LotR in order to translate it to film.

Some things are, admittedly, unacceptable. In fact, there’s this hilarious fan-fic spoof I read a long time ago. I don’t remember if it was called “The FanFic That Wasn’t” or “The Fanfic that Almost Was” or something else entirely.

What I do remember is that it featured the ghost of J.R.R. Tolkien leading Peter Jackson to the house of a young girl writing a fanfic where she cast herself as the tragic love of Legolas. After chastising the girl, she’s offered a choice. I don’t remember the first choice, but the one she chose was to, basically, live out her fanfic. Upon arriving in Rivendale for the initial meeting that bred the Fellowship, she’s quite dismayed to find that Legolas has black hair, not blonde.

I have been looking for this spoof-fic for a long time now, but can’t find it. If anyone knows what I’m talking about and where it can be found, please, link to it in the comments.

The change in Legolas’s hair isn’t important, of course, but it highlights the point.

I was also disappointed by the lack of Tom Bombadill and his wife. A lot of people said Tom couldn’t be translated.

Bull.

They could have done him and they could have done him well. I could see cutting him out of the theatrical edition, but why not include him in the extended edition? They could show the elves leaving for the Undying Lands, but not Tom Bombadill?

There were other things left out and changed that I didn’t like, but I also don’t think these stories could have been translated any better to film. Peter Jackson literally did the best job he could…

Unless Chris thinks he can do better.

How’s about it, Chris. Why don’t you give it a try?

Peter Jackson took a series that for a long time was considered untranslatable and actually translated them. He took liberties, but most of them were liberties that had to be taken in order for the translation to work on film. Book and film are two different mediums, and it’s time we started accepting that.

As for the Hobbit… I see people complaining about additions and liberties all the time over this film. How many of you are aware of what Jackson’s doing?

If you’ve read Lord of the Rings, then you know that there’s an appendix to the trilogy that bridges the gap between the Hobbit and LotR, tying them together to create a single narrative.

Jackson’s “additions” are from this appendix. He’s taking from the appendix in order to visually show that tie, so that the connections between The Hobbit and LotR would be right there, in the films. It is this appendix that forces Jackson’s hand in making the Hobbit story into a trilogy. And yes, I am quite happy with this decision. It is, in my humble opinion, a brilliant idea. I love how he’s chosen to weave the appendix in to the Hobbit narrative. It really does work and I don’t find it jarring at all.

To be entirely honest… what angers me the most about all this is that I desperately want to see what Jackson could do with the Silmarillion. This would be a much harder task, of course. Chances are it’d work best as a number of TV miniseries with two or three large-scale films. And yes, this even includes the creation account in the Silmarillion, which, IMO, is absolutely beautiful. I’d also want to see the Children of Húrin done as a movie series, as well. Jackson could use the tale of Túrin Turambar in the Silmarillion to build the backstory right into the series. And what about the Histories? Again… as numerous TV miniseries and a few major motion pictures, I do think it could be done.

But it won’t happen as long as Chris has any say over it, and that royally ticks me off. Honestly, it isn’t fair. There is so much in Tolkien’s work that simple demands to be translated. And yet a few purists, apparently including Christopher himself, won’t let it happen because… what… they still think the stories can’t be translated?

Peter Jackson proved that false.

Join us in the 21st Century, people.

Please?

Tolkien’s work deserves to be put into a visual medium. Not everyone reads, but everyone should be able to experience Tolkien’s work.

Period.

Again, Chris… thank you so much for the work you’ve put in to preserving your father’s work. I respect you so much for that and cannot thank you enough. But please, let all his work be adapted. It really is worth it. It’s not perfect, no, but I’m honestly not sure that anyone could do any better in adapting it. Middle Earth deserves to be seen.

Let it be seen.

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About Nathan Hevenstone

I hate straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men. I also play guitar and sing, and I'm an atheist and anti-theist. What now?
This entry was posted in Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Defending the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Movies

  1. lovepirate77 says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I remember when Fellowship came out and one of my teachers refused to go see it because they left out Tom Bombadill. And while I was equally upset at Tom not being in the movie, my point to my teacher was that she was missing out on something fantastic. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. J.K. Rowling approves of the Harry Potter movies despite all of the changes, why can’t Christopher Tolkien get over it?

  2. Sheikah says:

    An optimistic point of view.
    At first, when I saw the first Hobbit movie, I wouldn’t stop ranting for days about how the dwarves didn’t look like dwarves, how Azog was supposed to be dead, how Mirkwood had already been ‘Mirk’ for like a century before Bilbo came along, how blah blah blah. Then I read a couple articles about what Jackson was really trying to do, and I thought, Hey, that’s actually a pretty good idea. I realized that the little changes he was making were designed to make the plot less jarring, and I began to forgive the bunny sleighs and the White Council of four people.
    Then Jackson gave Legolas a girlfriend, and my brain short-circuited.
    But yeah, other than that, I can see what he’s doing and people should stop trying to be over-protective of his legacy. Peter Jackson’s done a pretty darn good job so far, I don’t see why he shouldn’t keep it up.

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