Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lord of the Rings book to film changes

There are always changes made when a book is adapted to make a film.  People have varying opinions on such changes.  Here are my thoughts on the major changes in The Lord of the Rings films, together with verdicts on whether I agree with the changes.

  1.  Frodo leaves the shire very soon after Bilbo.  In the book, there is a 17 year gap before Frodo needs to leave.
    I’m fine with this change.  Plotwise, there is no need for Frodo to stay for 17 years, and would have slowed the film down and required extra explanation in an already very info-heavy opening to the film.
    Verdict: Agree
  2. No Old Forest/Tom Bombadil sequence.  In the film there is a 3 or 4 chapter sequence between leaving the Shire and arriving at Bree where the hobbits meet a character called Tom Bombadil.
    Again, I’m happy with this omission.  The Bombadil sequence does very little, if anything, to advance the central plot of Frodo taking the ring to Mount Doom and it’s inclusion would have massively slowed the filmd down and delayed plot advancement.  In fact, I didn’t particularly like this section in the book – I found it unnecessary and an obstacle to the plot.
    Verdict: Agree (improvement to the book)
  3. Arwen rescues Frodo instead of Glorfindel.  In the book, Glorfindel is the one to bring Frodo across the ford to Rivendell.
    There are a lot of characters in this story.  They can’t all be included in the films or it would get messy.  Glorfindel is only a minor character and therefore no great loss.  This change also helps with the next one, the expansion of Arwen’s character.
    Verdict: Agree
  4. General expansion of Arwen’s character.  In the book, Arwen o€nly has one line.  Her character is massively expanded in the film.
    This is a good move as it makes the Aragorn/Arwen relationship more believable and gives it more depth.  I’m not a fan of every aspect of Arwen’s expansion, but in general it was necessary to help Aragorn’s story.
    Verdict: Agree (overall)
  5. Aragorn’s character change.  In the book he is more confident and willing to become king.
    I think the changes make Aragorn more interesting and less perfect.  I like his slight reluctance and his fear that he will fall like Isildur.
    Verdict: Agree
  6. Warg attack and Aragorn’s fall.  In the book, the warg attack occurs before Moria rather than on the way to Helm’s deep.  Aragorn does not fall off the cliff in the book.
    This is a difficult one.  The warg attack had to be either moved or omitted for the sake of pacing in the first film.  I have no problem with it fitting in where it did, but also probably wouldn’t have a problem with it being omitted.  Aragorn’s fall was pretty contrived and obvious but does help to heighten both the tension and his relationship with Eowyn.
    Verdict: Indifferent
  7. Elves at Helm’s Deep.  No elves come to Helm’s Deep in the book.  Instead they stay to defend Lorien from orc attacks.
    The Elves do fight in the book, just not at Helm’s Deep.  I like the element of hope that their arrival gives and I think that it was important to show that they were fighting alongside men to save Middle Earth rather than sitting around doing nothing.  It would not have worked to show Lorien battles, so Helm’s Deep is a good place for them.
    Verdict: Agree
  8. The ents don’t initially go to war.  In the book, the ents go straight from the entmoot to Isengard.  In the film, they have to be tricked by Pippin into going.
    This is poor – it makes the ents look stupid and makes them more of a joke.  The reason given for the change was to give the hobbits more of an active role, but this was unnecessary.  They could have just persuaded the ents to go during entmoot.
    Verdict: Disagree
  9. Faramir takes the hobbits to Osgiliath.  In the book, Faramir lets Frodo and Sam go, and doesn’t try to take them to Gondor.
    In the book, Faramir easily resists the ring’s temptation – as Philippa Boyens said, this ‘strips the ring of its power’.  In the film, he more realistically is weaker, like other men.  He doesn’t fall to temptation in the end like Boromir did, but he needs more of a shock in Osgiliath to persuade him to let the hobbits go.
    Verdict: Agree (improvement on the book)
  10. Gimli’s character changes.  In the book his character is fleshed out more and he is not just comic relief, as he is by the end of the film.
    I don’t have a problem with reducing the roles of Gimli’s and Legolas’ characters – it would have been nice to have had more of them but I understand that not everything can be included.  However, reducing Gimli to the comic relief farce that he is, is the worst of all the major changes.  It is unnecessary, as (a) the film doesn’t need any injection of humour at this stage, and (b), he’s not even funny anyway!  In the third film, almost all of Gimli’s lines are intended to be a joke.  Not necessary, not funny, not acceptable.
    Verdict: Disagree
  11. Frodo sends Sam home.  This doesn’t happen in the book – they enter Shelob’s lair together.
    Another difficult one.  This is against Frodo’s book-character and is a pretty huge change in the Frodo-Sam relationship.  However, it does allow all of Gollum’s hard work a pay-off, which is important for tension, and it allows Frodo to enter Shelob’s lair alone.  The sequence is well done, and overall I think it is a good change.  Mainly because Gollum has spent lots of time trying to drive a wedge between the hobbits, and needs some sort of result from this.
    Verdict: Agree (overall)
  12. Scouring omitted and different Saruman ending.  These are separate but related changes.  In the book, Saruman retreats to the Shire and starts causing trouble there.  On their return home, the Hobbit’s find the Shire greatly changed, and rescue the situation, killing Saruman.  In the film, this ‘scouring of the Shire’ is omitted and Saruman’s death moved to Isengard.
    Much has been said about the ending of the film.  My verdict is here.  Although I am in favour of the so-called ‘multiple endings’, including the scouring would have added another twenty minutes after the film’s climax.  This would, I believe, have been too long.  It is a shame that the theme of the homelands suffering indirectly from the war is not included, but I always thought that theme was a bit dodgy anyway, because they do not suffer indirectly but rather directly from Saruman, one of the chief antagonists.  So overall I agree with the omission of the scouring, and therefore also with the altered Saruman ending, much of which (the conversation with Gandalf and Theoden)  is actually present in the book.
    Verdict: Agree

 So, I mostly agree with the changes made.  There were generally necessary for pacing or plot reasons.  The change in the ents is a shame and the change in Gimli an even bigger one, but no film, not even The Lord of the Rings, is perfect.


dcjohnson1990 said...

dcjohnson1990 said...