Classic Remarks: Changes from Book to Film in LOTR

Participating in a two month old discussion now because I couldn’t then, but I have so much to talk about. This was hosted during the Tolkien Reading Event that I was a part of with my first guest post. Excerpt from the original post:

Tolkien Reading Event 2017

 

Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. Feel free to comment even if you are not officially participating!  This week’s (24/03/2017) prompt is:

DISCUSS ONE OF THE CHANGES PETER JACKSON MADE FROM THE BOOK WHILE ADAPTING THE LORD OF THE RINGS.  WHAT DID THIS CHANGE ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM THE STORY?

Classic Remarks

As regular readers know by now, I probably can’t survive a week without talking about The Lord of the Rings somehow. Being the crazy fan that I am, I have decided to discuss not one but three changes that Peter Jackson made and what I felt about them. Let it be known that no matter how I feel about certain scenes, I love the movies and The Lord of the Rings is my favourite movie trilogy of all time as well. (I can’t say the same for The Hobbit, unfortunately, but that’s a story for another day.)

Warning: Spoilers ahead for both the movies and books!

1. The Treatment of Aragorn

Aragorn is one of my favourite characters in the book as well as the film. His story, however, has so many changes in the movies that I was left with mixed feelings. The scene between Arwen and him before they leave Rivendell is one of my favourites in The Fellowship of the Ring.  In The Two Towers, a drawn out fake death scene is included. It may have added some romantic tension, and more screen time for Liv Tyler, but it felt largely unnecessary. The Return of the King changed much as well, but I had mixed feelings about the presentation of Andúril. It was epic in its own right and a crucial point in the character arc of the film Aragorn, but I prefer the book version.

Image result for aragorn and arwen

2. The Dismissal of Sam

Sam is another character I adore in both versions. I especially love the relationship between Sam and Frodo. As they get deeper into Mordor, Frodo grows weaker as Sam grows stronger, enough to support both of them and get them through the most harrowing part of the journey. Sam’s rescue of Frodo from the hands of the Orcs is a defining moment where he finds his courage. While Gollum is definitely cunning enough to cause a rift between the two, I found it a tad unrealistic that Frodo would suspect his faithful Sam enough to send him away. Also, this little deviation would’ve caused loss of precious time and made the precariously balanced timeline wonky.

Image result for samwise bread crumbs

3. The Scouring of the Shire

I would’ve enjoyed The Return of the King even more if this important part was included. Of course it would have made the film way too long, but for fans such as me, it would’ve made a world of difference. The four Hobbits return to see their beloved Shire in a state of upheaval, much like how Bilbo came back to see his things being auctioned off, except on a larger scale. It drives home a wonderful point that Tolkien emphasises – that their return does not mean that they can get back to the lives they once lead and is a physical manifestation of the change within the characters.

Image result for return to the shire


Do you agree with my views? Do you have a grouse or praise for Jackson’s interpretation of the canonical works? Let me know in the comments section below. Enjoy the weekend, readers! 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Classic Remarks: Changes from Book to Film in LOTR

  1. Aragorn’s portrayal in the movie has always bothered me, as has the Anduril scene. Book-Aragorn is focused on doing his duty and restoring the kingship because he feels the time is right. But Jackson once again (see Faramir and Treebeard) changes a character we are supposed to admire into something a little lesser, presumably to make him relatable. Flim-Aragorn’s reluctance to take his rightful place on the throne is disappointing. And it makes little sense that Elrond would keep his rightful sword until the last possible minute, leading him to have to leave his people to make a dangerous journey across Middle-earth just to Aragorn what he should have had all along. Dramatic? Yes. Logical? No.

    And I agree that Frodo would never have dismissed Sam. And Sam wouldn’t have listened if he had! It was another moment that might have added drama, but didn’t feel right–a sort of sour note in the film.

    I can understand cutting of the Scouring of the Shire. I think the Scouring is really important in terms of Tolkien’s understanding of the far-reaching consequences of evil and ambivalence. However, If something had to go, the Scouring does make sense since the movies feel conclusive without it. (Keeping in mind that its function in the book is actually to make readers realize that there aren’t always nice and tidy conclusions, and you can’t always come back to the same place you left!)

    Thanks for participating! I loved your thoughtful answers!

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    • I agree that the journey made by Elrond was unnecessary and illogical. None of the Dunedain came along either and it was just Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn who made the journey to The Paths of the Dead. Everything about that was off. I’d have liked to see Andúril in action in the Battle of Helm’s Deep. However, that wasn’t meant to be due a strange character arc Jackson decided to give Aragorn.
      It’s just wishful thinking for The Scouring to be included, of course. There are so many possible endings in The Return of the King. I somehow feel it was too easy for them when they got back after reading the books. I was expecting that anyway since they killed off both Saruman and Wormtongue in Orthanc. However, I’d have liked to see Pippin and Merry in a leadership position and a final little battle scene, just to satiate my inner fangirl.

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      • Yes! The Dunedain would have been nice. I understand that they probably didn’t want to hire more actors and maybe they didn’t want to have to explain who the Dunedain are and potentially slow the film or have an info dump. But it would have been great to see them anyway!

        Yes! More Hobbits is always better! And I do love seeing Merry and Pippin using their new skills and confidence to make a change in their own community. 😀

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  2. I always miss the Scouring of the Shire, too! It seems important to the characterization of the main hobbit characters, as well as all the hobbits left behind. Also it shows that they were not left unscathed, and the difficulties with thinking the war is over, only to go home and find there is still more work to be done. I get that people joke about RotK having too many endings, but I would have liked to see this included.

    I also don’t really like the inclusion of Arwen. As a concept it’s fine since she’s not really in the book at all, but the way they filmed half the scenes is pretty cringey.

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    • I agree. Even though I’d have liked to see more of Arwen, the scenes were awkward and I don’t think it was required. It was so the film audience would recognise her as the love interest and also to heighten the tension between him and Eówyn, perhaps.
      I get why the Scouring had to be left out, but I wish it was there all the same. It feels too convenient after having read the books to see it end that way.

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      • Yeah. I also take issue with the way they made Arwen’s health connected to the strength of the Ring. She has zero personal connection to the Ring! Why is she the only one getting all faint because the Fellowship hasn’t succeeded yet???

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      • That felt off to me too. That was strange as unnecessary. I also didn’t like that she was so ready to leave even after all the unnecessary romantic dreams (scenes?). In the book it was said that she watched over him in thought and fashioned the new standard, which is conspicuously absent. Arwen’s portrayal is a tangled mess, to be honest.
        However, the story of Aragon and Arwen in the Appendices is one of the only romances I truly like. It was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

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  3. Now I feel like the odd woman out. :S Maybe it’s because I saw the films before I read the books? I don’t know. But I personally don’t have much problem with the changes that were made for the movies and can understand why they were done. But like you hinted, I can’t say the same for certain changes they made to The Hobbit… But that’s for another day.

    I’m curious what your thoughts about Faramir’s treatment are, btw. That’s one of the other big differences between the books and the films, especially since book-Faramir wasn’t tempted by The One Ring like film-Faramir was.

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    • Oh, I did leave a comment on the Pages Unbound post about the treatment of Faramir. I don’t mind the changes as long as they don’t alter the timeline. In the books and the movies, they reach Mount Doom in the same day of the final battle and the timing is very crucial. Some of the changes mess up that timeline and I prefer the book version. I did see the films first, picked up the books two years later and then have watched the movies a dozen times at least. Those are the changes that stood out for me because I just prefer the book version.

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