Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Forostar, Dec 21, 2007.
What is it about Tolkien's work that makes it unadaptable?
Thanks, Cried! A lot of stuff you just wrote explains a lot. And you had never told out here that you've seen these movies so often and that you have read so much into these projects. Must have missed it if you did.
On the contrary: your discarding writings up here have been so bluntly, cynically negative and bitter that I had trouble with taking it seriously, and with making sense of it.
This last post changed this somewhat. It was more serious than ever, showed more interest in the films than ever, and it shows background to your point of view.
I only wish you'd stop saying "does it matter?" or "I don't care" or "not relevant to anything I said", because definitely I do care, I find it relevant in relation to what you had said (zooming in at these questions can measure what you've said even) and I'm bringing it up simply because it was a logical thing to do.
I've mentioned it before, but you probably just missed it. No problem there.
That's sadly my general view of films for you.
I don't want to come across as slightly talked out here; but I probably am. I spent loads of time online years ago thrashing all this stuff out with people when the films came out. Hence why I don't want to get into a blow-by-blow criticism of, for example, the LotRs films.
I'm meaning it in a "why does the detail of this matter to you (Foro)?"; meaning these points are interesting enough, but do not change or influence the thrust of my own argument i.e. it doesn't matter to me, particularly, the mechanism by which, for example, Tauriel arrived on screen. She's there; I don't think it works; I don't think it's particularly respectful in terms of adaptation. And this can mean Jackson & Co. just misjudged it, or that they made the addition in full knowledge that it was totally un-Tolkien. One is bad; the second is unforgivable. (Of course, as discussed, it might have been neither of these; it might have been studio pressure.)
At one point in relation to the control and influences from the corporate crap around Jackson, you said "this is not relevant to anything I said, and I don't really care either way."
By trying to look at how much Jackson could decide himself with his wife and that other woman, I was wondering if we could deduce the influence from the studios.
By the way: he wanted to do 2 LOTD films? I guess I am glad that the studio's wishes were fulfilled. If we'd have 2 films, who knows how many other chapters were scrapped (remember Tom Bombadil?).
He initially thought he could only get money for 2. New Line offered to make it 3 and Jackson jumped at it.
Aha! So, who knows he also wanted to do 3 films (from a creative point of view), since the beginning, but was afraid he couldn't pay for the 3rd himself. Fair enough.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I've read somewhere that they scrapped Bombadil, because he didn't fit Jackson's vision of cinematic LotR. Like he was too fairy tale-ish or something...
I'm sure he was pulled all over the place & put under lots of pressure; some of the stuff he has said tells & hints at the compromises & negotiations that happened to deliver the three films to the screen. And that's a shame & I have great sympathy for people who creatively have to compromise in this respect. But this is why Hollywood is basically incapable of making anything of any truly great artistic value. Sure, some get through. But the vision required for such projects is always going to be compromised by the collaborative nature of how film production seems/needs to work and by commercial interests. Of course this happens everywhere in life, it's just sad to see it pulling down the media of film. Massive franchises and mass-appeal productions are of no interest to me. I think they're dominance is killing cinema.
That's the way I understood it too; something like that.
Indeed, a difficult ask for any studio to make that kind of commitment. LotRs was ground-breaking in that respect; with Jackson filming three films before releasing them separately. I just don't think artistically it was worth doing though.
Book to film/TV adaptations are never satisfying enough IMO.
If it's a movie, it has to cut out a lot of stuff (unless it's a really short book). Harry Potter films, for example, are more like trailers for books because they miss a lot of characters and storylines, simplify a lot of storylines and sacrifice storylines for action scenes.
If it's a TV show, it's usually made to last for a couple of seasons and showrunners usually decide to change a lot of stuff from the books just to make it more interesting
Limited mini-series seems like the best solution, but series' have a much smaller budget than movies.
If we're talking the adaptation of Lord of the Rings to film, I have 3 major moments that irritate me to no end in the film - for different reasons.
1. Aragorn's arrival at Minas Tirith. In the book we have this impactful scene where everyone sees the black ships sail up the river... and then raise friendly banners. How do you not use this? It's the most cinematic moment I can think of. You don't need actors, the visuals speak for themselves. Instead we got a close up scene of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli jumping off the ship with a smirk on their faces. Ridiculous.
2. The murder of Faramir. Not literal murder, but of his character. And with the change, there's no story-reason for him to be there anymore - in the book he is the opposite of Boromir, the human who can't be corrupted by the ring because he has no lust for power. So beautifully written - the two human brothers who together show how the ring works. It gives so much more weight to the hobbit's abilities to resist the ring's corruption... So much more weight to the whole nature of why Frodo was chosen by Gandalf. All that, thrown away because Fran Walsh thought it would confuse the audience. Any storyteller worth a damn would have seen this duality from miles away.
3. The scouring of the Shire. Robbed of the most impactful realisation the book ever gave me - that you can't go away, fight a war and return as if nothing happened.
Especially not when we care a lot about the book. In no way, these Tolkien films have grabbed me so much as the first time I read the stories. But I think I've managed to accept that. I still like to see lesser forms of this story. It's quite a harmless addition to something I like and not some replacement.
I have finally seen some Potter films (because I've finally done some books) and the difference with the books is pretty big indeed!
@Maturin well written (with humour as well; I like your expressions!).
Harmless to you, maybe. While I'd like to believe this is the general viewpoint of many, I just don't think it's the case. If you look online now, Tolkien's world is dominated by film derived imagery. And people do not differentiate between these two things.
Christopher Tolkien said the following in 2012:
I can't say I disagree.
My problem with the films is one of approach. It's possible to omit material & still retain elements that suggest that they still happened within the plot i.e. visual redaction. This would still allow a film to be edited in a way that takes into account pacing, perhaps the unfeasibility to depict/film particular scenes, and control film length --while not entirely denying major (&/or favourite) plot elements. I'm not saying Jackson didn't do this, but he should have made better use of it. Another major annoyance is not apparently having the time for some bits of the book, but having plenty of screen time for entirely invented material. It would have been much better if they'd just laid off with their own storytelling & attempted to film those elements which they omitted. This presumption that their own storytelling is superior to Tolkien's is, frankly, offensive. This is the kind of disrespect I mentioned previously, Foro.
And another thing, Foro; see if you dig around & start to read & listen to some of the reasons behind the editorial decisions they made, you find that most of them were made by the writers & had very little to do with studio interference. (I'm not saying either of us were particularly claiming this to be the case; but we did discuss it). Maturin gives a good example of this. It makes looking for the answers to why these things were done so much easier. They changed things because they felt like it. Clearly the story in the book just wasn't up to scratch...
This is a really good point actually. I can definitely relate to this now finally reading the books, when reading Tolkien's descriptions of the various locations and characters of Middle Earth, it's Peter Jackson's vision of the world that I picture. It sort of gets in the way of the imagination. And I haven't even really seen the movies.
Someone brought up Harry Potter, it's a similar thing but there's a major difference in J.K. Rowling being around to approve everything. I haven't seen all the HP movies yet, but so far a lot of what I've seen matches up really well with what I picture when reading the books. So I see where Foro is coming from with "harmless addition". That's how I feel about the HP movies, I look at them more as supplements to the books. A way of visualizing some of the more action packed scenes and adding faces/voices to the characters. But they are not definitive versions of the stories by any stretch and don't try to outdo the books. I'm hoping that the LOTR movies will come off in a similar way, though bearing in mind that Tolkien had no involvement.
I think Cried's point about the dominance of visual imagery from a movie is valid for almost any film adaptation of a book. I'm just not convinced that any director's film adaptation is any more or less valid than the original author's.
One of the things I like best about LOTR was the way the character and settings were brought to life visually.
Maybe not extactly the way I might have envisioned them, but in a way that looked so good.
My first exposure to the fact there was even going to be a movie was seeing the trailer in the theatre.
The iconic scene of the Fellowship cresting the mountain one by one sent shivers.
That's the value of book adaptations.
That's one element of what I meant. So, yeh, it's kind of sad to read that. Having said this, one could argue that everyone pre-Jackson was just as influenced by other adapdations; namely radio adaptations like the BBC's & artistic interpretations of Middle-earth by artists like John Howe, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith, etc. These were pretty small contributions in comparison though. The scale & coverage that Jackson's film version(s) command, in the media arena, absolutely dwarves (!) the influence these other adaptations made; so much so, as I said, that they even dominate the book themselves in the popular imagination. It's the massive global influence these films have had that I have issues with; as well as the massive profits they have generated for people totally unconnected with the creator.
This is the other point I didn't really make. Tolkien is dead, we can't change that. But at least George R. R. Martin, Rowling, George Lucas, etc --these guys have all retained some creative control over the adaptations of their work. Additionally, they are sharing in the profits these adaptations have made, as they should.
The "original author's" adaptation? Don't you mean the author's original? Tolkien didn't adapt his own work.
I think this all comes down to one central point. If you have two versions of something (& I'm not going to load this with claims that one is superior to the other), do you guys not care about what one came first? Do you not care whether one was truly original & one was simply a re-hash of the first? Do you not think differentiating between these two is even slightly important? You guys give the impression of not caring about where ideas comes from.
That's not Jackson's "fault". It's the choice of the reader, reading it for the first time after being exposed to Jackson's products.
I mean, can we all agree that there is a choice to first read the books and then see the films (or be confronted by merch)?
@CriedWhenBrucieLeft , this is what I meant here:
... when you replied in a manner I didn't and still don't understand:
Exposed; do you note your own intersting choice of language there? Jackson's vision is difficult to avoid; your own imagination is exposed, unprotected, dominated by another. Pretty hard to be this exposed to a book.
Yes, you can watch them in the order of your choosing. But before you make that decision you've probably already been exposed to some element of Jackons's films, unless you are some sort of media hermit. In respect to "merch"; broadly, no, I don't think you can avoid Peter Jackson's Middle-earth, particularly online.
I'm being a pedant & taking the piss out of you (although you're not the only one here to mis-spell it) for writing Middle Earth...
Okay, I guess no one saw that.
I read The Hobbit and LOTR somewhere around 1988-1989.
I think anything be avoided. One can choose to be a hermit if something is important enough to avoid. Apparently Mosh didn't find it important, either no one warned him about the risk. Although, people talk about Tolkien for years on this forum, and I am sure the advice to first read is ancient, as is Mosh's presence around here.
Okay, trailers in cinema's are hard to avoid (still, eyes can be closed during a trailer), I give you that. But it's going to be hard to take in a trailer and let this dominate all Tolkien's descriptions.
Don't be a pedant. You know what I mean.
Separate names with a comma.