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Thread: Tolkien v.s Jackson?

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This thread is about what you think is best, the movies or the books. Myself, I think the book's are better.

So... What do you guys think? Is the Hobbit movie better than the book? I've read the Hobbit a couple of days ago and i find that the book contains more details, and much better too.

You'd have to be extremely crazy or incredibly lazy to think the movies are better.

Personally I really enjoy them, but it's not even a question which is superior.

Exactly what Balrogs said

No matter what the book is, Tolkien, CS Lewis, Rowling , you can never compare a book to a film as when reading we drift off into our own idea of the world we are reading about.  Everyone is different, my idea of how Rivendell would be very different to almost everyone else on this site.  Its silly to ask for a versus in regards to book and film because its chalk and cheese right from the get go.

I both love the films and love the books as two very different  entities.

Hmm... Tolkien versus Jackson.

I think a young Tolkien could put Jackson to the canvas in, let's say the second round or so. Tolkien played rugby... hmm... although maybe a younger Jackson did too?

Oh I can't tell. But I'm still choosing Tolkien, third round K.O., just because.

^^^Hahaha

Jackson was probably a pretty big dude when he was younger. Also NZ folk are pretty hardy folk, wouldn't be surprised if he played Rubgy as well. However Tolkien would win in the imagination department, so he'd catch PJ off guard I'm sure...

Place your bets here folks!!!

LOL

Tolkien hits Jackson with a blinding bit of Norse mythology! Jackson pauses to wonder at the wonder of it... and suddenly woosh... down goes Jackson! as if struck by Donner's hammer.

Seems likely enough to me Wink Smilie

He'd be smoking his pipe the whole time too.

i agree with Brego. The movie is good and the books are good. But you cant compare them. THey are both good in their own way.

It's simple for me - without Tolkien the movies wouldn't exist.

In my opinion you cannot compare J.R.R.Tolkien to Peter Jackson .but still.Tolkien... are the reason why I never stop reading his wonderful books .PJ ..my reason why I love the movies and watch them over and over again

 

But what about George R.R Martin .did he copy Tolkiens way of "inventing" different races .kingdom .? I admit I am a huge fan of his books as well though it is a different genre.I cant wait to the next book will be in store .and a big THANKS to HBO

Mellon, lol that was sort of a random statement buuuuut....Martin copied Tolkien just as much as Terry Brooks, Glenn Cook, R.A. Salvatore, Steven Erikson, Greg Keyes, Katherint Kurtz, Dennis McKeirnan....you get the idea.

Particularly when it comes to fantasy/sci-fi, I don't think it's fair to say someone copied someone else. Tolkien wouldn't exist if he hadn't copied all the Norse mythology stuff, right? Let's be honest there's only so much you can do at this point...

Off topic, but don't get me wrong, I love George R.R. Martin and the HBO series, but trudged my way through book 4 and 5. 1-3 are amazing (3 is the best), but the last two were just way too much. I really hope the 6th doesn't take that same path and is a little shorter with a bit more substance. All of those authors I mentioned were some of the better fantasy writers I've come across though.

Moral of the story...fantasy is awesome and I'm a sucker for it. I'll always read it no matter how similar to other stories. I'm probably alone in this, but it's true...

If P.J would be alive I think he would kind of just tell Peter Jackson to hell.... but you're right, you can't compare the movie to the book bcause P.J maybe sees the book in a totaly different way then other people do.

I mean to go to hell...

I actually think as long as Tolkien had lived threw the growth of cinema and understood book to movie translations never really work out, and why, I truly believe he would've enjoyed the films. Now if he were just resurrected from the grave and forced to sit in a theater, he'd probably hate them. In either case, I doubt he'd hate PJ enough to tell him to go to hell.

As a professor he wasn't the spiteful type. Espcially considering PJ would probably be on the floor groveling at his feet...

Look at the Harry Potter movies. Rowling was overseeing all of them and look how accurate they turned out (not very accurate if you haven't read/seen them). Still enjoyable on their own and still showed "the world of HP," but even with direct oversight from the author, changes had to be made.

Tolkien once noted...

'The canons of narrative art in any medium cannot be wholly different; and the failure of poor films is often precisely in exaggeration, and in the intrusion of unwarranted matter owing to not perceiving where the core of the original lies.'

JRRT, letter 210

And as Tolkien was quite displeased with the 'Zimmerman script' for example, just like anyone else he was not simply going to accept that what any filmmaker claims is necessary is necessarily so.

All true. Hence, "...had lived threw the growth of cinema and understood book to movie translations never really work out, and why, I truly believe he would've enjoyed the films."

Perspective on books and films have come aloooong way since he wrote that, which I'm going to assume was somewhere in the 60s. Plus I don't think any author in this situation would immediately accept changes that seemed unnecessary, but pretty much all of them are satisfied with the end product. And of course this is all assuming he was still alive, so I'm pretty sure he'd have some authority over the story.

Also I'm fairly sure at one point Tolkien encouraged readers to expand on his work after his death. So it seems he was at least open to the idea of someone else picking up his writings for their medium.

But aren't plenty of Jackson fans of the opinion that this adaptation did work out?

And are you suggesting that Tolkien would have just accepted that his books could never be faithfully translated to film, and so he would have liked the films?

All of us on PT are obviously huge JRRT fans. Some of us love the films, some hate them, some lay in between. It's simple, if you don't like PJ, don't see the films. If your like me appreciate the films for what they are. If your not, either make your own film or simply continue reading the great books. It makes me laugh that a lot of criticism comes from people who have not read all of JRRT's books. Perhaps only one or two of them. We have to remember that we know the back history, the missing info, the riddles that Tolkien uses in his work. The films need to cater for those who have no idea of the huge world on Arda and need to be shown for the movies to make sense. These gaps are filled in by PJ to the best of his ability, working around various copyright issues, which are beyond his control.

Balrogs, if you're interested I collected a number of things Tolkien had to say about possible film adaptations. The fuller tale is somewhere on Planet Tolkien, which includes JRRT's earlier reactions to a film proposal. I lifted these last two from another site, which represent his latest comments (that I could find so far), relatively brief as they might be:

In August 1964 Tolkien wrote in a letter to Miss Ward (this letter came up for auction).

'I am delighted to hear of your great enjoyment of my book. As for Television, however, I am personally averse to dramatizations of my work, especially The Lord of the Rings, which is too long for reproduction without severe cutting and editing; in my view destructive, or at best severely damaging to a complicated but closely-woven story. But in such matters the inerests of my publishers must be considered. They are in any case primarily concerned in all questions of reproduction by any process (vide the copyright notice).'

In 1969 (rumors of a Tolkien-based film had surfaced in connection with the Beatles) Rayner Unwin again reminded Tolkien of their agreement (Hammond and Scull): that if a film brings cash, they will waive any kudos. He points out to Tolkien that whatever the film is like: 'the book remains inviolable and that is the main thing. What they do with the property in other media will, I regret to say, be entirely their responsibility from an aesthetic point of view, will only vary in degrees between bad at best and execrable at the worst.'

 Probably in June 1969 Tolkien wrote a letter about a proposed film, quoted by Joy Hill:

'No film nor any 'version' in another medium could appear satisfactory to any devoted and attentive reader. On the other hand some of the greater pictorial and dramatic scenes could, with modern resources, be a moving experience. All possible precautions have been taken that the story should be presented without serious mutilation and without alteration or alterations.'

JRRT, quote published by Hammond and Scull

"But aren't plenty of Jackson fans of the opinion that this adaptation did work out?"

I'm not sure how this ties into my point? Generally speaking the "Jackson" fans you speak of are people who liked LOTR. So I guess yes, they are under that opinion. And they hated King Kong. Thus they are willing to hate on PJ, so they liked The Hobbit. So...yes, I think it shows it was a good movie and Tolkien might enjoy it as well.

"And are you suggesting that Tolkien would have just accepted that his books could never be faithfully translated to film, and so he would have liked the films?"

Would have "just accepted?" No. I think he would've learned to understand that it's necessary for several reasons. This is how film works man. I know you're master of Tolkien and apparently know how he thinks, but realistically a verbatim translation of a book to movie is near impossible. This has been proven time and time again over the past 50 or so years. So he probably would've hated at least 40% of films released in that time period, regardless of how great they were. And it just seems incredibly unlikely that an author as creative as Tolkien would be so close minded to change. Particularly since, as you said, he had plans to go back and change lots of his work.

Not to mention this is Middle Earth we're talking about. Same with Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice In Wonderland....all incredibly unfaithful. Some moreso than the LOTR movies. Yet they're still classic films because they were fun to watch. They captured the world of Oz, or Willy Wonka's factory, or Alice's Wonderland, and that's what made them true to the books.

This line alone, "All possible precautions have been taken that the story should be presented without serious mutilation and without alteration or alterations," shows he understands there's a chance it won't work out, but it's important to try your best to make it work out.

So are you suggesting Tolkien would hate the films because they weren't 100% true to his work?

I'm not sure how this ties into my point?

I asked because you implied that had Tolkien lived through the growth of cinema he would have understood book to movie translations 'never really work out' -- but they do work out, according to plenty of people, no? Or at least some, it would seem.

Would have "just accepted?" No. I think he would've learned to understand that it's necessary for several reasons.

'Learned to understand' is basically what I meant anyway: not just accepted, but ultimately just accepted (as the time period was already noted in your statement about living through the growth of cinema).

So are you suggesting Tolkien would hate the films because they weren't 100% true to his work?

Well I posted Tolkien's own statements for you (and anyone else) to read, but what I can say is that faithful to me need not mean verbatim translation or 100 percent slavish to the book, but that does not mean I think Peter Jackson has produced what I would call a faithful adaptation.

Totally agree Balrogs. Books as a medium are impossible to fill line by line, chapter by chapter, character by character. It's impossible, if you tried it would've a mess and intelligible. People who think its possible are deluded. Sounds harsh but its true. It's never been done because it simply won't work.

I don't usually take part in this kind of discussions, but here I go again.

I got english prints of both The Hobbit and The Children of Húrin at around christmas and while I have only read 100+ pages of both so far, I've enjoyed of it.

For the past few years, I haven't been that interested in reading and at some point I realized, that I started to drift away from the genre of fantasy itself.

But after watching the hobbit and after reading some books, I realized I can't really allow that to happen, 'cause then I might lose my ability to write fantasy themed stuff.

So, in other words, it's good to be back and for once, I'll maybe join you others and start taking part in Tolkien related discussions, 'cause no matter what I say, I'm still a fan of his works.

Now, back to the topic.

I think that the movies and the books are at 50-50. Tolkien wrote magnificent books during his time and later, Peter Jackson decided to make great movies out of them. I respect the both, 'cause by continuing to direct such awesome movies, Peter Jackson ensures that Tolkien's name won't be forgotten. You know that some people find their way to bookstores by watching such movies and after that, they might also find their way to sites like PT.

That's about it.

Books as a medium are impossible to fill line by line, chapter by chapter, character by character. It's impossible, if you tried it would've a mess and intelligible. People who think its possible are deluded. Sounds harsh but its true. It's never been done because it simply won't work.

But the question here is, who are these people?

The films fail as adaptations for many people, but no one that I'm aware of ever expected or demanded anything 'line by line, chapter by chapter'.

I think that you're all right, you can't compare a book to a movie.  But he could have made it a little better...

 

The bottom line is if you're a purist, you won't like the movies. If you like Tolkien, you'll like the movies.

And I, PERSONALLY, think Tolkien would've enjoyed them, meaning I don't think Tolkien himself would be a Tolkien purist.

Well I love Tolkien, am not a 'purist' when it comes to the films, but I did not like Jackson's Lord of the Rings as adaptations, nor as films.

And is there an all agreed upon definition of a 'purist' in the first place? Tolkien's comments to Zimmerman are quite negative, but I think he has film firmly in mind, as opposed to X or Y being bad simply because they do not follow the books.

Well Galin you must be what my grandma called the purple peach that grew on the apple tree. And for someone who claims not to be a purist, you come off as a massive purist. Whether it's intentional or not, nobody, I don't think even you, will ever know.

Also I don't understand why you don't think Tolkien would enjoy the movies, particularly since your main point of reference is some obscure film he referred to in the 60s. Regardless of his later encouragement towards film being a possibility in the future.

Out of curiosity, what didn't you like about the LOTR films?

Maybe define 'purist' briefly before I respond? You don't have to of course, but currently Wikipedia describes (although not that I trust Wikipedia in any event):

The Lord of the Rings purists are fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings who dislike changes in New Line Cinema's film trilogy adaptation. Again, the use of the term varies extremely widely; it may be used offensively, in a complimentary way, or neutrally. The term may be meant to connote more sophisticated appreciation than that of "fangirls." The definition especially refers to those who adamantly detest the Peter Jackson-directed trilogy for deviating even in minor detail from the original text.

I definitely do not consider myself a purist in the sense of this last sentence for example, and again I don't know anyone who 'detests' the trilogy for deviating even in minor detail.

Haha! I think you can be a purist and love the films. I feel I'm a purist when it comes to JRRT but still think that PJ has done a Stirling job spreading Tolkiens message of Love, humility, fairness, green values and goodness. I can't say that if I was a wealthy film director that I would have done any better. It's easy to sit back and think that I would have done it this way or that but think of this, it could have been so much worse! Anyone seen Eragon? Great book, terrible travesty of a film.

Neither did I like The Lord Of The Rings trilogy by P.T, but The Hobbit: An unexpected journey was better, and I hope he will live up to my expectations when it comes to The Hobbit.

Mellon, lol that was sort of a random statement buuuuut....Martin copied Tolkien just as much as Terry Brooks, Glenn Cook, R.A. Salvatore, Steven Erikson, Greg Keyes, Katherint Kurtz, Dennis McKeirnan....you get the idea.

 

I was not saying that he actually did copy .I asked Did he copy ? Anyway George R.R.Martin describes a lot into his books like Tolkien did .different races .language maps .like Tolkien .that's probably why I can picture it in my  imagination without seeing it in a movie/series

Add JK Rowling to that list as well Mellon.  The are many similarities to JRRT within Harry Potter.

The Horcruxes are basically The One Ring and Voldermort Sauron.

Sorry for the confusion Mellon, I think the grammar kind of threw me off. But I would say yes and no. Unless it's kept in a vault that nobody else knows about, Martin doesn't have quite the "history" of his world that Tolkien did. I think the various "races" in Martin's world are supposed to be more representative of our own world. People look slightly different (almond shaped eyes for instance), but essentially all are human. Whereas with Tolkien the races are VERY distinct with completely different traits. So it's more like Martin based his "races" on the world he created, whereas Tolkien shaped his world AROUND the races he imagined....hope that makes sense.


Galin I'm not really sure why my definition of a purist matters when it comes to why you didn't like LOTR???

Balrogs, I was just wondering what you mean when using the term, due to you saying that you think I come off as a massive purist.

As noted already, I don't agree that I'm a purist according to the definition I posted and commented on, but maybe you mean something else.

I still don't really see why it matters what I think, I just want to know why you didn't like the movies...

Well it might not matter to you but I'm interested when someone says I come off as a massive purist and I'm not quite sure what is meant.

Smile Smilie

Hmm, I could start with the acting Balrogs. And if you think I'm alone here...

(...) Galadriel was terrible, and since Cate Blanchett is a fine actor, she must have been directed to perform in that wooden, zombie-like manner. Sean Bean is the only person who played as if he believed who he was. His Boromir was a real person, not a type. I found him totally convincing, and his funeral journey down the river and over the falls was the film's finest moment. Truly moving. Although the script sentimentalized and overdid the character's repentance at the end. Boromir is not that good. As for un-Tolkienian lines like Gimli's "Nobody tosses a dwarf," and Strider's "Let's hunt some orc," they are beyond comment.

Verlyn Flieger commenting on Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring

I'll guess some here at Planet Tolkien might disagree, but again I just wanted to point out that I'm not alone regarding this. I liked parts of Ian M's performance for example, and he looked very good, but generally speaking I had plenty of problems with the acting overall.

I do like Sean Bean however. I wanted him for Aragorn before I knew who Peter Jackson was.

Lol, I love how you have to copy and paste someone else's argument to re-enforce your own. Surprise, surprise...

In any case that's fine if you don't like the acting, but it shows you can't distinguish between implication and specification. And since I apparently need to justify myself, I'm a major film buff. I studied it for 3 years. The acting really is not that bad. Best ever? Far from it. But considering it's about 10 hours of footage, with maybe a handful of characters having the occasional melodramatic scene, well...try making a movie sometime. Regardless I think all the praise it's received speaks for itself. It also means you don't like the acting of maybe 90% of movies released in the past, say, 30 years. In any case I don't need to copy/paste someone else's argument. In fact, the conclusion of that argument consists of complaints about inconsistencies and the script veering away from the book. A common complaint of a purist. Also suggesting Cate Blanchett was told to act like that (I thought she was great) shows, if that's the case, her brilliant acting. She played the role of what she was supposed to. So it wasn't the acting, it was the script.

Also I just want to point out it's joked about on many Tolkien fan sites that the classic purist defense of not wanting to sound like a snarky purist is calling out the acting and green screen effects of the movies.

So since you love to focus on technicalities and can't figure out implications, let me rephrase my sentence:

"If you liked the LOTR movies and are not a purist, you'll like The Hobbit. If you didn't like LOTR, you won't like The Hobbit. If you're a purist, you won't like The Hobbit."

Ok go ahead, dissect this post too.

Gee and all this time I have thought that the most awarded high art fantasy films ever made, lauded by film makers and actors and fans all over the world were considered a masterpiece!

In any case that's fine if you don't like the acting, but it shows you can't distinguish between implication and specification.

Well I can't agree there. Also, I'm getting the impression that you were not simply interested in my opinions about the films but want to debate them too. That's fine of course but such chat is going to be quite subjective on both sides.

And since I apparently need to justify myself, I'm a major film buff. I studied it for 3 years. The acting really is not that bad. Best ever? Far from it. But considering it's about 10 hours of footage, with maybe a handful of characters having the occasional melodramatic scene, well...try making a movie sometime. Regardless I think all the praise it's received speaks for itself. It also means you don't like the acting of maybe 90% of movies released in the past, say, 30 years.

I don't agree it means that; and this appears to be based on your opinion that the acting here is just as good as 90 percent of other films from the past 30 years. 

Regarding your opinion about the acting, that you think it's 'not that bad' is hardly a glowing endorsement to my mind (unless you simply mean not as bad as Flieger implies). And as for your: 'Best ever? Far from it' 

I can agree with that statement but my 'far' might be different from yours Wink Smilie

Also I just want to point out it's joked about on many Tolkien fan sites that the classic purist defense of not wanting to sound like a snarky purist is calling out the acting and green screen effects of the movies.

Well obviously you don't have to define purist if you don't want to, but I can hardly agree to this label considering at least one definition I found on the web.

Ayup All...

Books. If it weren't for them, Where would we be ? 

I believe that Tolkien wouldn't agree to sell the rights to his story/stories to the filmmakers if it would be completely up to him, without any other factors. And in a way, he would be absolutely right, because no matter how capable the director is going to be - there's no way you film it 100% true to the book. And of course I believe that the author wouldn't want to cut down the visions of his readers to one simplified version. There are books that deserve to be left that way.

But there's another thing - what if they would be filmed anyway? I wouldn't say that Tolkien would hate Jackson's movies, just as much as I wouldn't say he'd love them. I think he would perfectly understand how his amazing book needs to be narrowed down to the limits of the cinema. If he could - he would supervise director's vision, and we wouldn't have 'skateboarding Legolas' in the movies.

As I think about it - I bet it would be so overwhelming  - the resposibility to have Mr. Tolkien looking at your hands while you're trying to make a movie based on his books, that I doubt in sanity of the person who'd like to do this. But maybe it's just me, and the money would do wonders here.

I love the movies. In their own way - they are magical. Yes, a lot of differences, flattened story and flattened characters. But nobody said that all the readers of the book we're able to dig into the last layer of author's mind. Nobody said that the readers are supposed to feel the same way and like the same things just because they read the same book. It's an art, isn't it? (I still see some details in the movies I haven't seen before. I love it.  just as I see some details and nuances in the Tolkien's books).

To be honest - P. Jackson's movies somehow revived Tolkien's work, introduced the Middle Earth to the masses. We live in a times, where everything has to be easily accessible, pretty and fast. I'm sure that a lot of people fell in love with Middle Earth after seeing the movies, and I don't think anyone can say it's a bad thing.

I believe that Tolkien wouldn't agree to sell the rights to his story/stories to the filmmakers if it would be completely up to him, without any other factors.

I think you're right Indis, at least back in his day.

My impression is that Tolkien was somewhat open to the idea at first, but soured when he got the Zimmerman treatment... or at least became very wary (and possibly the Beatles rumor didn't help). And I noticed that Tolkien's publishers seem in the mix, more than once 'reminding' JRRT of his original deal with Allen and Unwin.

This plus the tax situation (at the time) seems to have caused the original sale.

My impression is that Tolkien was somewhat open to the idea at first, but soured when he got the Zimmerman treatment... or at least became very wary (...)

Yes, it was exactly what I had on mind when I was writing this. I'm sure that the Professor, being a very creative person, very open to various forms of art would at least consider at times how his stories would look in the cinema. But of course - it is often a problem when art meets economics. And most of the times it is rather sad compromise.

I don't think comparing the books to the movies is a good comparison for a few reasons. The movies are based on the books. Movies are made to watch from start to end in 1 sitting, where as books (especially longer ones) are made to span over time. Last, as mentioned above, books makes the reader get into the story and uses their imagination. Even though the words are there each reader have their own image in the head. Movies shows you of what the film makers see in there head. A better comparison would be between the cartoons or the live-action movies.

Books and films are different experiences no doubt, but in the end they both tell stories.

And when considering whether or not one has a faithful adaptation, not only can one compare books to film (it's done often enough, even sometimes by film critics), there is no other way to do this really. No one has to make this type of judgment of course (I never did with Lawrence of Arabia for example), but there is no way to judge faithfulness without comparing the films to their source.

I would say even the filmmakers 'compared' the two mediums almost constantly, in a sense, when making the films. 

In my opinion, Lawrence of Arabia is the most accurate book to movie translation. And LoA is not a short book. A lot of movies could learn a lesson from that. I think timing is key. It's one of those things that is so obvious it's difficult to execute. If you spend too much time making this scene perfect, you lose time making another scene accurate, and eventually have to cut a scene out entirely. Make tiny exceptions with every scene, and you'll find the story actually becomes more faithful to the book.

Admittedly I'm not a filmmaker or script writer so maybe it's one of those things you have to do to truly understand (like parenting), but looking at things that have and haven't worked, clearly we know which method hasn't worked...