flawed characters

Posts: 75

flawed characters

Post#1 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:40 pm

(begin ranting)
I used to hate PJ's movies. Well, before that, I used to think quite the opposite. I had the beginnings of a new favorite movie trilogy, replacing Star Wars. I eagerly awaited the release of the extended edition of FOTR; I even ordered it several months in advance to make sure I got it as soon as possible. But when I finally watched it... I cannot begin to express the depth of my dissappointment. "Where's Bombadil?!" That was my main outrage. No meeting in Buckland with Pippin's bath song. No Old Forrest Adventure with Old Man Willow. No revelation that, no matter how big you think your problem is, it is completely irrelevant to someone else. No barrowwight. Just a bunch of extra junk about the Sackville Bagginses. And the transition from "care-free hobbit life" to "the weight of darkness looming over the entire Middle Earth" still came much too abruptly, even though it was delayed somewhat (and it still occured much too early). What's the use of having an extended edition (which means you have to get up halfway through the movie to change the disk) if it's only going to introduce a bunch more of the crap that you didn't think should be there in the first place. However, after forcing myself to confront my issues by reading through some of the most recent threads in the "movies" section, I have decided that I will give the movies another chance, approaching them with a completely different attitude (a collective suggestion that I have extracted from many posts here). Before I do, though, I want to ask what y'all think of the characters in the movies.
(end ranting)

Compared to my perception of the characters in the book, I find that most of the movie characters have some quite noticeable flaws. I will list them below and try to keep the comparison brief.

Too much of a cry-baby and coward. Too much of a complainer.

Too stupid. Too serious. (a combination that does not work well for a character)

Merry and Pippin:
Too immature. Too oblivious. I will admit that I never paid much attention to these characters in the books, that's why I'm grouping them together. There are obvious differences between Merry and Pippin in the movies, but I don't remember my impressions of the book characters well enough to distinguish the two for individual comparison.

I have nothing but the utmost admiration for Ian McKellen's portrayal. I think that his character portrayal is what saves my DVDs from the trash can. He hits the nail square on the head and drives it all the way in with a single confident blow, Mr. Miyagi style. Way to go Ian! Exactly how I pictured Gandalf, to the minutest detail.

Tom Bombadil:
Too absent.

Too much of a wimp. Too uncertain. Too clean. It took me by surprise in the book when I found out that he was some kind of king or something. In the movie, I was just surprised to see the pretty boy out in the woods in the first place. Wasn't he worried about getting his fingernails dirty?

What is she doing there?! I wouldn't have even included her on this list if it weren't for her excessively prominent role in the movies. Sure she has an important influence, at least on Strider. Sure there is a bit of appendix matter dedicated to her love story. But I would gladly replace her character with Bombadil any day. (Wouldn't that have been amusing to see Tom come lumbering along through the woods, singing the black rider-dilli-dos away with some nonsense poem. And with PJs propensity for character misappropriation, why not.) If it's just a matter of Glorfindel, I guess I don't really care.

Too unapproachable. It's the last homely house, not the last boarding house.

No complaints. He was a little more deliberate that I was expecting, but not so much to distract me from imagining the same Bilbo from the book.

No complaints. I thought there was a bit of intential heart-throb factor thrown into his character (and also with Strider, obviously), but he was still basically the Legolas I imagined.

Too unsophisticated. Too jocular. Too concerned with appearance.

Good job Sean Bean. Very human. I actually saw some extra depth in the movie character that I missed in the book character (I was probably too young to see it then).

Outstanding portrayal by Christopher Lee, in spite of PJs adaptation. (and there was a lot of adaptationt to overcome.)

No complaints. I always found this character rather annoying, or maybe just repulsive, so I deliberately numb myself to him, and don't really notice any differences.

Another example of PJs making the elves more austere than they should be. (Yes, I blame PJ; he's the director after all.) Just because they have pointy ears doesn't make them Romulans.

Too sullen. Too needy. I was particularly dissappointed with this character. His name was Faramir; he was Boromir's brother and Denethor's son, but what happened to the other Faramir?

No complaints.

I'm getting tired. I'll leave the list at that.

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Lord Of All
Posts: 633

flawed characters

Post#2 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 1:55 pm

Well quite a bit to get round. On the character score you gave quite accurate analagy's.
Frodo was a wimp, Aragorn was too layed back and not wholly 'in it', Boromir wasd played well, Theoden, Saruman, Eomer, Denethor all played well. Sam could have been done a bit better and Legolas was simply too good in the film. It would not have surprised me if PJ sent Legolas to the Black gate alone to beat the army and no doubt win.

BUT there is a big flaw in all this. The films were BASED on the book. They were not meant as a word-to-word, or even chapter-to-chapter tale.
Take the films for what they are, something wholly seperate from Tolkien but simply maintaining the basic plot. Otherwise if you sit on your sofa with a clipboard and pen at hand ready tick your checklist on what was followed word for word and what was not then not only will you not pick up the pen in the first place but you will not enjoy the film.

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flawed characters

Post#3 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:51 pm

I think you make it sound too extreme and calculated. There is no pen and paper. There are no words being analysed. There are characters with characteristics that one can notice. This is the exact opposite of sitting down with a pen and paper and tallying all the consistencies as each one comes along. (and I am in no position to do that anyway; I haven't read LOTR in years.) This is taking the movies as a whole, realizing that something is not quite right, and then later trying to put it into words. It is exciting to see Gandalf come to life on the big screen just the way I saw him when I first met him. "That's my man, Gandalf!" I might say, whenever I see him do something so characteristically Gandalf. That is fun. However, it is distracting and disappointing to expect to see the diligent unsung hero Faramir come to life on the screen while watching some self-interested jerk named Faramir blubber about how daddy doesn't love him (though that is an exaggeration).

I wouldn't invite someone over for goulash and then serve them chicken soup. I wouldn't ask someone to play a game of soccer with me and bring a volleyball. Chicken soup can be eaten and enjoyed, and a game of soccer works almost just as well with a volleyball (the way I play), but something would just be noticeably amiss.

Anyway, the point is not to dissect the movies and show that PJ is just a big nincompoop (feeling I had hoped to clarify at the end of my ranting). The point is to see how an interpretation of a book character can either harmonize or discord with adaptation.

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Lord Of All
Posts: 633

flawed characters

Post#4 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:14 pm

Firstly I was being sarcastic with my pen and clipboard analogy.

If you invite someone over for gaulash and served them Chicken soup then chicken soup tastes just as nice (in my opinion) even though its not what they expected.
If you bring a volleyball to a game of football as you say yourself it can be just as good.

Just becuase something is not the same as what you expected doesn't mean its worse than what you expected. Instead of comparing the films with the books why not compare them to a similar film (like Eregorn) and then see how good it is.
Instead of putting the disk in and expecting to see a brilliant, 100% accurate film version of LOTR, try putting the disk in and expect to see a film. That way it cannot disappoint (it wasn't the only film ever to receive 17 oscars for know reason after all).

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Túrin Turambar
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flawed characters

Post#5 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:52 pm

For the most part your film characters portrays are accurate. Faramir was probably the biggest screw up out of all the Characters. Gandalf was exactly how I pictured him in the books and Gollum a close 2nd.

One of my favourite moments in the book for Legolas was when they were trying to go over the high pass over the mountains, Caradhras, and they decide to turn around Legolas, using his Elvish powers, jumps up and run across the snow, I really wish they added that part. I also agree that Legolas seemed a little too much like a comic book hero.

The movies in their own rights are excellent movies, yes there are many scenes they could have added from the book and a quite a few scenes they could have removed and weren't in the book. They did get the gist of it though.

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flawed characters

Post#6 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:57 pm

Lord of All,
If you want to start a thread to compare one movie to another movie, then please do so, but that's not the purpose of this thread. I realize that this kind of discussion may be quite overdone on a forum like this, but that's precisely what I want to do: to compare the characaters of the movie to the characters of the book.

I think we agree with each other that LOTR movies are good movies. At least I am willing to view the movies with a different attitude now. (Maybe I should remove my ranting from the first post to remove the confusion, but for the time being I am inclined to maintain the ranting). But, please don't try to change the topic of this thread.

Legolas is a comic book hero. Consonantly put, Turin.

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Post#7 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:14 pm

I don't like them much, nor hate them much anymore either. They're just movies, after all.

Nothing to lose sleep about, compared to the problems in this world.
Give up the Halfring, she-elf...

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Lord Of All
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flawed characters

Post#8 » Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:15 am

Apart from Gandalf who used just the right attitude that was needed when playing both Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White, I would say Theoden was done very well. His speech to his rohirrim when he was trying to spur them on towards the army at Minas Tirith was very good.
Also Boromir was done well. They portrayed him as valiant in arms but not quite tough enough to combat the Rings corruption.

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Post#9 » Sun Feb 11, 2007 11:23 am

Reading the differing opinions confirms one thing to me. I worked with children and still do for a long while. And I noted that whenever I read a story to them the results, the way they saw the story and reacted to it was quite varied, Amazing really. Some thought the story the most enchanting thing they ever read, no matter how many I read them, some picked out obvious flaws and were always telling how the story should have gone, some saw the wisdom in the story and remembered it ever after. And then there were some children who hated the whole story, front to back. So I think that a lot depends upon who we are inside, what our values are and our ability or lack of it to be wide eyed and able to love what is put before us with out judgement or preconceived notions. And if that is true then nothing Peter Jackson could have done would have pleased everyone. I love the books so much, they are a part of my life in some ways. I also very much liked the movies.

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flawed characters

Post#10 » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:02 pm

I knew I forgot someone important. (A few people, actually). I agree about Theoden. And his character was one of the more dynamic ones, so that just adds to my appreciation.

That's kind of what I wanted to see from everyone. I want to hear how differently other readers have understood these characters, and even how their lives have been touched. When I watch the movies, I am confronted with some of my impressions that I was otherwise unaware of.

I am pretty close to editting my ranting out of my first post. It looks like I have given the wrong impression.

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