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Old 11th June 2009, 11:38 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

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i have to say at this point that i enjoyed both the films and the books. the films are, in parts, needlessly cheesy. but then so are the books. i love how language is used in the books to make the non-hobbit parts more declamatory and historical, making Frodo's journey more intensely personal. at the same time i love the epic scope of the films, and i burst into tears every time the beacons are lit - something the books will never do for me.
ursa's point that the two mediums (media??) are completely different is exactly the point i would have made myself. making the film with Tolkien's dialogue represented word for word would have resulted in some of the most stilted, archaic dialogue known to mankind. it would have been offputtingly boring and po-faced, and would quite possibly have been unintentionally hilarious.
yep, it's unfortunate that modern popular culture (surfboarding elves) had to creep in, but popular culture does that. remember that had the films been made 30 years ago, they would have all worn bad flares and the camera effects would have been psyche-hippy-delic. hey nonny nonny.

Personally I have no issue with Legolas 'shield-surfing' - although notspecifically mentioned in the book , he is meant to be 'different' and 'other-worldly' in many respects , so it isnt out of character. If it had been any of the other heroes - yes , but Legolas - no.
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Old 11th June 2009, 11:40 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

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The Inquistion....
*collapses into a comfy chair*

Not quite the Spanish Inquisition to which I was referring....


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So... aside from my snobbish comments (something about the unwashed and illiterate masses) you are the target audience for the films.
No offence taken. (After all, here in the UK, we know how to do snobbishness properly. )

I doubt I'm in the target audience: even when the first film came out, I'd have been almost three times the target audience's age. I watched the films at the cinema because I believed that they would be more than a cut above the usual fantasy film fayre; and they were: truly epic in all the usual senses of that word; but I did not go into the cinema expecting them to match the books (in either sense). To put it bluntly, I do not expect that more than a handful of films can capture the poetry of a really good book, if only because the book's poetry is aimed at a reader and the temporal effects are very different: what is beautiful on the page (or pages) can drag - or, as chooper said, be risible - on the screen, unless it's done really well**. I think Theatre is better at this than film: the situation is not as "realistic" and the mind - my mind, at least - will accept stretching of time in a way that films find difficult to put across.

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You've heard something, but were really uninformed as to the characters and their motivations. Thus for you, the films are The Lord of the Rings. And you enjoyed them... that's great. I'm just saying that the movies were not made for die hard, freakishly devoted fanatics like me.

Again... if I'd never read Tolkien, then I'd confess the films to be among the best I've ever seen.
Having heard the radio series, I had a pretty good idea what to expect (but luckily, there was a lot less singing ). But even if i'd come to the films with no pre-knowledge, I would've known that it was going to be a reimagining of the story, at a pace set by the director (and not, obviously, a reader).


But I'll say it again: different media bring out different aspects of a work. So when I hear Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique played by an orchestra it is wonderful; but so is, in its own way, the same piece played by a pianist on a concert grand. (If anything, the piano version highlights just how strange - in a good way - Berlioz's imagination really was, something often hidden behind the glittering orchestral effects.) So it is with films and books.




** - Which it most often isn't.
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Old 12th June 2009, 01:03 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

I take this to mean, Large Bear, that because you had not read the books, none of the scriptwriting struck you as "bad"?
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Old 12th June 2009, 02:20 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

The thing is, the worst lines are bad without comparing them to books (this only makes them worse). So the difference from the books is not an excuse.
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Old 12th June 2009, 04:05 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

Well, I think I am a pretty die-hard fan of the books, which I have loved for more than forty years and have reread numerous times. But while I am well aware of the movie version's shortcomings, I still loved the films. I'm usually very picky when it comes to movies based on my favorite books (don't get me going on the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice), but this time, for some reason, I was willing to forgive a lot.

I've probably said this somewhere around these forums before (I know that I've said it elsewhere): When I saw the Bakshi animated version I left the theater feeling absolutely nothing, it was so flat and dull and uninspiring. After I saw FOTR for the first time, I didn't know what I felt, but there was no doubt in my mind that I felt something. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole movie.

Just because of the changes I wasn't always sure that I knew what was coming next -- which, for instance, made the Nazgūl a lot more terrifying. They might catch Frodo before he left the Shire! Of course I would have been outraged later if they actually had, but while I was watching the movie I was in genuine terror that they would. When Frodo came home from the tavern and it was clear that somebody had been in his house, I never even thought of Gandalf. I was convinced that a Ringwraith would jump out at him. The same thing happened when Gandalf heard something outside the window -- and really, that time I should have known it was Sam -- again I held my breath, because I expected something horrible out of Mordor to burst in through the door the next minute.

So with one thing and another, I knew that whatever it was I had felt, I had felt it very strongly. And I already knew that I much preferred that to the drabness of the animated version.

Of course after subsequent viewings there was no longer that suspense. Yet still to this day, every time I see Boromir start swinging his sword again during his last battle, part of me believes that he can somehow hold out and keep on fighting until Aragorn gets there to save Merry and Pippin.

So even though there were many disappointments, I am still grateful that I was able to see the Shire more beautiful than I had ever imagined it, and quail before the Nazgūl as I never did when reading the books, and experience so many other moments that I never would have experienced without the movies.

And perhaps I am overly optimistic (particularly at my age and in my state of health) but I am not at all convinced that there will never be another version during my lifetime. Quite the contrary. They've given the lie to the idea that the story was unfilmable. Remakes of successful movies are not that uncommon. And the special effects get cheaper and cheaper.

I've seen so many versions of some of the classics, and some of those only a few years apart. I see no reason at all why there shouldn't be another LOTR, possibly as a BBC mini-series. I would have said fifteen years or so between the Jackson movies and a mini-series (twenty for a movie), if it hadn't been for the Hobbit movies screwing up that time-frame.

Last edited by Teresa Edgerton; 12th June 2009 at 06:47 AM. Reason: if I'm going to be rude about the young lady, I ought to at least be able to spell her name
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Old 12th June 2009, 06:41 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

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Originally Posted by Ursa major View Post
No offence taken. (After all, here in the UK, we know how to do snobbishness properly. )
Aha! But as an American I reserve the right to just label people with little or no information.

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Originally Posted by Ursa major View Post
Having heard the radio series, I had a pretty good idea what to expect (but luckily, there was a lot less singing ).
Well, maybe they should have hired Mel Brooks...

He rode a blazing saddle,
He wore a shining star,
He came to offer battle,
To Goblins near and far.

He shot down Eowyn and he hacked up Orcs,
He rode the Paths of the Dead,
Then he let old Gandalf,

Put the crown upon his head.

Ursa, you're right. Different mediums bring out different aspects... but that does not mean that I want them to... I'd rather stick to my tunnel vision.

Teresa, I'm glad you're optimistic... I need more optimism.
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Old 12th June 2009, 03:47 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

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Chopper,

You mean like this... you'll never look at Spock the same way again.

YouTube - The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins
exactly that. a perennial bestseller from the easy listening section, by the way.....
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Old 12th June 2009, 04:35 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

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Originally Posted by Ursa major View Post
Having heard the radio series, I had a pretty good idea what to expect (but luckily, there was a lot less singing )
The singing made the bbc radio play so special though! Radio-Treebeard would kick Film-Treebeard's arse all over the shop. "To Isengaaaard we coooome, with dooooooooom, we coooooome" ;-)
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Old 12th June 2009, 06:02 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

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Well, I think I am a pretty die-hard fan of the books, which I have loved for more than forty years and have reread numerous times. But while I am well aware of the movie version's shortcomings, I still loved the films. I'm usually very picky when it comes to movies based on my favorite books (don't get me going on the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice),
I heard the director didn't even read the book prior to filming. Well, it shows
Now the BBC Colin Firth version is a true classic that's unlikely to be surpassed any time soon

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but this time, for some reason, I was willing to forgive a lot.
So was I with FOTR. Yes, there were some flaws and deviations but I was able to overlook them because on the whole, they stayed fairly close to the books and made a very enjoyable movie. However, with TTT and ROTK my patience ran out.

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Just because of the changes I wasn't always sure that I knew what was coming next -- which, for instance, made the Nazgūl a lot more terrifying. They might catch Frodo before he left the Shire! Of course I would have been outraged later if they actually had, but while I was watching the movie I was in genuine terror that they would. When Frodo came home from the tavern and it was clear that somebody had been in his house, I never even thought of Gandalf. I was convinced that a Ringwraith would jump out at him. The same thing happened when Gandalf heard something outside the window -- and really, that time I should have known it was Sam -- again I held my breath, because I expected something horrible out of Mordor to burst in through the door the next minute.
I didn't mind any changes to up the suspence or for other cinematic purposes. Even if they didn't work for me, I could live with them. I was more far more concerned with unnecessary plot alterations and character assassinations.

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Of course after subsequent viewings there was no longer that suspense. Yet still to this day, every time I see Boromir start swinging his sword again during his last battle, part of me believes that he can somehow hold out and keep on fighting until Aragorn gets there to save Merry and Pippin.
The kudos must go to Sean Bean. He is a good actor and has a screen presence (more than Viggo). He managed to play Boromir as conflicted rather than inconsistent and made him likable enough that we felt sorry for his fall.

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So even though there were many disappointments, I am still grateful that I was able to see the Shire more beautiful than I had ever imagined it, and quail before the Nazgūl as I never did when reading the books, and experience so many other moments that I never would have experienced without the movies.
I noticed that all your examples from FOTR, the most faithful to the books. Did you feel the same way about the other two? Any particular likes or dislikes?

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And perhaps I am overly optimistic (particularly at my age and in my state of health) but I am not at all convinced that there will never be another version during my lifetime. Quite the contrary. They've given the lie to the idea that the story was unfilmable. Remakes of successful movies are not that uncommon. And the special effects get cheaper and cheaper.

I've seen so many versions of some of the classics, and some of those only a few years apart. I see no reason at all why there shouldn't be another LOTR, possibly as a BBC mini-series. I would have said fifteen years or so between the Jackson movies and a mini-series (twenty for a movie), if it hadn't been for the Hobbit movies screwing up that time-frame.
I'd love to see a 30-hour miniseries one day. I think TV is better suited to LOTR's leisurely pace and nuanced characterization. Shows like Rome prove that it's possible to have big budget historical dramas with some quality acting. Not sure how they're going to handle all the poetry though
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Old 12th June 2009, 08:32 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

Siberian, I second your post.
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Old 12th June 2009, 08:43 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

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Siberian, I second your post.
Which one?
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Old 12th June 2009, 09:26 PM   #42 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

Hmmm... I agree somewhat. I still will love the films no matter what is said about them, but the dialogue is quite iffy in several places.
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Old 27th July 2009, 06:11 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

I think that you should take the movies for face value. Of course, I have been upset with people when they didn't know who Tom Bombadil was when claiming they knew EVERYTHING about Lord of the Rings. But one probably needs to keep in mind the fact that they are movies, where not all of the complexity of the book can be kept. Also, you'd be silly to expect more from something as many-layered as Lord of the Rings, or any of Tolkien's works for that matter.
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Old 30th July 2009, 04:09 AM   #44 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

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I noticed that all your examples from FOTR, the most faithful to the books. Did you feel the same way about the other two? Any particular likes or dislikes?
Likes:
The Orcs. Not so much as individuals, more in their masses. The Moria sequence with the Orcs swarming over every available surface really emphasised their distance from other humanoid races.

Dislikes:
Faramir & Denethor. 'nuff said.
Dialogue. The worst dialogue would have been bad in any movie.
Gimli. I can almost hear the production meeting.
UNKNOWN STUDIO FUNCTIONARY: "We've got Legolas for the tweenies and teens, and Aragorn for the Twenty-somethings. Arwen works as love interest. Who are we going to use for comic relief? Merry and Pippin aren't in the main plot for long enough. I know, that Dwarf character; who was he?"

Condolences:
Elves; especially the older ones. How is anyone supposed to portray a being who took part in the fall from heaven? Or one who personally remembers a time equivalent to the foundation of the Egyptian empire?

I'd also question the notion that JRRT's dialogue would not work on screen. Compare readings from the King James with those from the Good News. The Royal Jim performs so much better. It's language written for speaking and I find JRRT to be very much an heir to this tradition of writing; especially his dialogue and poetry.

PJ et al had the Mise-en-scene handed to them on a plate and then took a pineapple to it. FoTR was the exception along with the battle scenes (bar Mumak surfing). I think it can, and will, be done better.
That said, these were the first serious attempt at a live action version. Jackson and his script writers had reason to belive they could write films better than JRRT. Their failures may represent a systemic failure of the Hollywood style rather than a failure of vision on the part of the movies' creative team. The economics of big-budget movie production often force artistic compromises (which directors had better pass off as their own judgement if they want more work) which rarely work to the advantage of the movie. It's the old dictum "Smart people will watch dumb movies, dumb people won't watch smart movies." If you want to maximise profit you have to maximise bums-on-seats. Not that these are dumb movies, but they could have been a whole lot smarter. Worse they could, in my opinion, have been smarter and still made nearly as much money.
[/rant]
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Old 31st July 2009, 11:35 AM   #45 (permalink)
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Re: Bad writing in the LOTR movies

i would have to agree that the writing was bad in large parts of TTT and RotK... FotR was consistently good, with only a few lines here and there that were ...odd.
Above all... there were a couple of things that grated... and i won't go into the faramir thing since its been said above. in FotR... i understand that Cate Blanchett was not available for long to complete her filming commitments, but deliberately closing off the chance that she would deliver her granddaughter to her futrue husband at the end of RotK was something that immediately annoyed me... Galadriel is by far my favourite of Tolkein's characters so i am biased in this instance.
Aside from this i found the vast majority of FotR to be at least good, if not great in parts.
TTT however is where things start to plummet into the abyss... The degradation of Frodo continues here as well as Faramir. Elijah Wood was perfect for Frodo. the perfect look, the right amount of acting ability, but his lines and the direction consistently point him toward the 'weak' hobbit who needs to be taken care of, who falls for the lies of Gollum, who needs rescuing because he's not strong enough. Not nearly enough is made of Frodo's strength of will in these films, and his strength is legendary when one knows his journey from the novels. (needless to say i am also a Frodo fan - though mostly through outrage at the injustice both Tolkein and PJ commit), and always resented the hobbits of the shire for shunning him once the journey concludes after SotS and Merry, Pippin and Sam get all the glory, yet it was Frodo (and Gollum) who saved middle earth, they had help getting there - yes, but in the end it was them).
Aragorn also takes a big slide in TTT. it can only be attributed to either Viggo's complete inability to master a SINGLE ACCENT throughout these films, or the poor realisation of his character and the strange lines he is given.
Elves at Helms Deep annoy me only by their presence, not what they do ... they are very visually appealling, and their consumate skill is put on display... though they do still die far too easily.
Legolas gets some extra screen time, and i have to say... i like the shield riding. An elf ninja... big question... How to make it abundantly clear how dangerous this slight looking elf is without making him more ninja like than brutal barbarian? And lets not forget, Legolas should be the most dangerous fighter of the fellowship, 4500 years of training is going to make killing easy for you.

RotK... OMG Aragorn falls entirely to pieces in this film. Killing the Mouth of Sauron, as mentioned, is the most heinous distortion of the character imaginable. No-one, especially not the supposedly "good-guys" would ever break the rules of parley. Aragorn seems like such a brute, that i half expected him to proceed to slaughter the entire army of mordor there and then on his own..(or at least try). Further, when trying to make him appear more noble, all they do is make him look weak. I'm not an Aragorn fan in any shape or form, but Return just made me hate him. the removal of Prince Imrahil was utterly despicable... and clearly done to make any comparisons with Aragorn impossible... a True Prince beside a Ragged Filthy Ranger from the North.
There are other parts equally as bad... but i haven't watched RotK for a while, so i won't add anything else specific... its the one out of the three that deserved the least acclaim, and yet won all its oscars... go figure???
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