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Thread: Characters: Movie vs. Book

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How good of a job do you all believe Peter Jackson did at portraying the appearances of the characters?

I believe that Jackson did a tremendous job on everybody, except the HOBBITS! What happened to frodo being 33 and chubby? The only hobbits done well were Samwise Gamgee and the Proudfoot father.

I woudln't say a TREMENDOUS job on EVERYBODY. Like Faramir, in particular. And Denethor. Denethor WAS an active steward and he had lit the beacons, and DID care about the future of Gondor, and DID order battles and got involved. And Theoden. Having no faith in Gondor, huh! But lots of other characters were done well. Like Saruman and Gandalf. I did like them. I think Pippin was done reasonably well, could've been better, but still a good achievement. Merry too. You can't expect too much. But Frodo! Ugh! The WORST!!!! I agree with you on that one. Always standing there with some weird look on his face, and having little evil moments, and TURNING SAM AWAY!!!! How could he? Sam was quite good, though. I think it was a mixed result of quality for the portrayal of the characters.
I agree with most of which Loni said. The films were good as films and if there hadn't been any books to base them on they would have been really good but those of us who love the books see the changes and you just can't change Tolkien's writing as it was perfect.

But, i-aran, do you mean just the appearance as in make-up/costume/physical? If so then I have to say I liked Galadriel and the orcs, the balrog, Gandalf and Theoden and Gollum and Boromir, Aragorn and Eomer. I didn't like Arwen (either appearance or character) or Frodo, Eowyn or Faramir.

The detail given to the various races was phenomenal - the armour, weapons, wall hangings, halls, costumes - all fantastic.
The films were good as films and if there hadn't been any books to base them on they would have been really good but those of us who love the books see the changes and you just can't change Tolkien's writing as it was perfect.

I agree and disagree with V here. I saw the movies first and then read the books. I must say, I loved the movies. Speaking of the changes that were made, I think you can't really blame PJ for them, because movies and books are two completely different media. I mean, PJ had to make sure that the movies were good as movies and not as exact replicas of the books, visualised. That would be a case for the stage maybe. But I love both the movies and the books and after reading the books, I still enjoy the movies as much as I enjoyed them when I first watched them, because, I watch them as movies and not as books replicated!!

P.S. After talking to Blue about this, I really feel good now, that I watched the movies first!!
I agree with the notion that its hard for Tolkien lovers to step away from the books sometimes and give a totally unbiased look at the movie. That's not a bad thing, rather we (at least me) have spent all those years reading Tolkien's work and picturing the characters in our own mind. When we see someone else's interpretation, its natural to say 'that's not what I pictured.' For me the elves were not quite what I had always pictured in my mind. I felt the movie made them seem rather effiminate, and I had always pictured them as not only being cultured individuals but skilled warriors. More edgy and mysterious perhaps. I also pictured Frodo being mid-30's. But all that's probably nit-picking. I really love the movies and hope someone will attempt to make The Hobbit.
I really love the movies and hope someone will attempt to make The Hobbit.
I loved both after I temporarily suspended my book visualizations of the characters and the outline of the book plot. When I did this I saw the movies hung together plot-wise. Sure PJ rewrote some of the chartacters differently than Tolkien; however, when you see how they fit in the movie and just forget about the book for a bit, they do make sense; even though some people refuse or are incapable of seeing this. Just consider that the books=the apples and the movies=the oranges; both are good fruit, but they are not the same fruit.
WEll, that's a good point, Grondy. But I still think he could've changed it a little less. Especially Faramir and Denethor. He put them in a worse light than Tolkien. The rest of them were pretty good, but I really ddn't like Frodo. It was good showing the Ring taking control, but you can have too much of a good thing.

(i think If I had watched the movies first, I probably would've had a completely different opinion.)
Yep Grondy - I agree mostly with what you said and I do enjoy the films but when it comes to a discussion about the two I have to support the books. I can see why certain things were changed but others (such as Faramir) made no sense and some seemed unnecessary. I thought the elves at Helms Deep were fantastic both visually and the for the WOW factor.
Yup, agreed with V.
I saw the movies before reading the books and that is what got me completely hooked on Tolkien. I love both for what they are. PJ did an excellent job casting the characters, although had I read the books first I may have formed some preconceived images of the characters. The hobbits could have been chubbier but they somehow fit the roles perfectly anyhow. My most favorite (I have many) is Aragorn and I don't think I would have appreciated his character only reading the book. Viggo was so perfect for the role. The movie characters really made me feel their fears, loyalty, hope and made me appreciate the books even more when I read them.
When we read something we build a picture in our imagination of what the characters looks like. Often this picture is totally different to how others imagine those characters, and often quite different too to how they are actually described in the text. It is the same here on this site. How many of you have a picture in your head of what another member looks like, only to be really surprised when you do finally see a picture? Visual pictures are very strong, however. Have you noticed how you can carry a picture around in your mind for years unchanged, but once a real picture comes along, that original image is driven away and banished?

For years I had carried around pictures in my mind of what the LotR characters should look like. I was nervous when I went to see the film that these images would be shattered and driven away, but what I found really surprised me. Instead of these total differences I was expecting, I was amazed just how similar many of the characters looked to how I had always imagined them to be. Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Frodo, Sam and many others were just as I had expected them to be. The places too, appeared familiar.

I think JR's piece of genius here was to employ John Howe and Alan Lee. Those images I had prior to seeing the films were not really my own original memories but the ones which had slowly replaced them over the years after seeing Middle Earth artwork on calanders etc. The images I carried of the above characters were not my own, but ones drawn by JH and AL years before. By getting those two artists involved in the sets and costumes, PJ was able to create scenes and characters that were already familiar to his audiences.

I ask myself what happened to Faramir? He looked nothing like I had imagined, but thinking about it, I have never seen a JH or AL portrait of Faramir. My image of him, which the film version has so rudely driven away, was my original pure one developed from reading the book.

RIP Faramir.
I agree with Val! I think PJ was mostly successful with the visuals, just not 100%.

Luckily I can still picture my original Faramir when I read the books.

by me the characters in the movie best portraied are the horse lords, and the ishtary.
I'm a frank person, and I say this: it was first very good then good then no comment. If he sings Linkin Park's "n The End"He is murdering the song, "I tried so far and that's so far in the end it doesn't even matter! It doesn't really matter and it really should not matter, why? Movies as always were not loyal to the book, but it doesn't really have to be really loyal that almost every single detail should really matter. But he changed the whole thing, everything Exclamation Smilie and I say the story became meaningless! Boring Smilie Mad Smilie

Thank you! I could have said more but I have not enough time. Big Smile Smilie
What? PJ sang "In the End"?? OMG Shocked Smilie
I agree with most of what Vee and Val have said. Faramir...RIP indeed. I love the movies, but that makes me really, really upset whenever I think about it. That was the whole point of the two brothers -- making them out to be different, making Faramir out to be the true strong one even though his father couldn't see it.

I would have to say that Eowyn was definitely not what I pictured while reading the book either. I was expecting this tall, strapping, healthy-looking Viking woman...a woman that looked like she had strength, drank her milk. I like Miranda Otto, but not as Eowyn.

Ya know, I guess I would have to say that I do like Elijah Wood as well, but by the end of the third movie, I kind of felt like...all right, all ready! We get it! You are tormented, you can't go on. Enough with those weepy eyes and that stare! Boo hoo! Ugh! I just feel that the books don't beat you over the head with it as much as the movie. Of course, that could be the directing too. Anyway, I feel that the books make you feel what Frodo is going through, and I stopped feeling it as much at the end of ROTK. Does that make sense?
I agree with V and Loni on most of the things. I am suprised that Virumor didnt shout out already that this is all blasphemous and that the movies suck!! No no. Only kiding. But i do know how Vir likes the movies. Not at all.
I thing they are great. You try making them better, The work, effort and fantasy put into it is tremendous!!! I think they did a great job.
I've said it once and I'll say it a million times...Just how else can one make a 1000plus page book into a 9 hours movie without cutting up parts or modifying the storyline. Also keep in mind, he had to make some money and also the movie had to make sense to people who haven't read any of the books. I say let the people who complain about the unfaithfulness of the movies film a movie on it and be faithful too. Hows that for a challenge, eh?
Give me the money then.

There are definitely parts where I can see why PJ made changes if only for impact and wow factor but there are other parts which he messed up - need I say Faramir again? And the Army of the Dead - too over the top. And Eowyn and Theoden when he died... I think all those bits would have been better if they were true to the book.

Let's just complete the Bakshi movie on LOTR. That one is true to the books.

Of course, we wouldn't make any money but who cares about that.

Just how else can one make a 1000plus page book into a 9 hours movie without cutting up parts or modifying the storyline.

How else? Well, by not cutting up parts or modifying the storyline.
Well, I certainly loved the book more than the movies, but that is all about myself being an "epic" person, and the movies simply have more of the action element. Still, like many, I was angry with PJ on the subject of Faramir whom I absolutely loved in the book. I think it was a great loss for the movies to deprive him of that chance to prove his worth and to be so incredibly well-balanced and "a man whom pity deeply stirred", a philosopher as well as a soldier. But I liked Legolas. The Jackson's character is much more dynamic than Tolkien's.
Give me the money then.

Show me the movie first.

Well, yes even I didn't like the dead army part and the fact that there were no other rangers but they are just usual casualties in a long battle!
Oh yes, Eowyn too. I'd had a better opinion on princesses in general before I saw the movie. Is it really OK for them to go about hugging stray rangers Shocked Smilie ? And oh! that crying, all the time! Come on, she came from a family and a nation of warriors! And what about why she actually went to war: wasn't it because she thought there was nothing for her in this life but to die, and committing suicide was too weak?
Anyone? Wink Smilie
What Eowyn was really after was a way out of her mundane life of cooking stews, and baking bread, sweeping floors, mucking out stables, and washing pots and pans (reminded me of the Dwarves comic washing-up song in The Hobbit.) A life that had been falsely shown to be worse than it actually was by the deceits of Grim Wormtongue.

As princess I doubt if she had to do much of this; however, she couldn't marry just any old horse wrangler. She thought she had found a way out in Aragorn, but when he left, she decided to go after Glory, bring what it will: 'Death with Honor' or 'Fame and Fortune' via some princeling of Gondor. Yeah, I know, she wasn't a princess nor was Faranir a prince; but you catch my drift. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
I notced that in the book Faramir has a very "white" good personality and while that works quite well on page, for a casual viewer this might seem a little unrealistic so PJ kind of made him a bit grey. I think, though, that he took this too far especially in the theatrical release but the extended version does explain it a little and at the same time shows how the power of the RIng affected Boromir.
Thats just my view but i think some people might have been a bit harsh on the film Faramir and PJ's depiction of him.
I saw The Fellowship of The Rings before I read LOTR , but still I think PJ did a good job on the caracters, I loved the elfes, dwarfs, hobbits, balrog, grond and of course the FELLOWSHIP
I loved the elfes, dwarfs, hobbits, balrog, grond

I agree that we all love Grondy but I didn't know that he was there in the movie FotR. Can you tell me in which scene was he?
Well Lord_aragorn 86, isnt he referring to that big battering ram in the shape of a wolf's head? The one used to knock down the gates of Minis Tirith. Wasn't that named Grond? Just a thought.
Grond was indeed the battering ram the Witch-King used to take down MT's gate, named after the Hammer of the Underworld, but that object only appeared in ROTK and not in FOTR.
HI, Yes I meant the big battering ram that took down the gate in MT, I do not "know " Grondmaster yet. Sad Smilie And of course GROND didnt take place before The Return of The King Elf Smilie
And I chose my name in honor of the Dwarven Smith who mastered Grond, the battering ram, by melting it down for use in forging the mithril and steel gates that replaced those of Minas Tirith that were destroyed by the forces of the Witchking. Wiggle Smilie
I am not too fond of Arwen in the movie. For one, what was she doing at Weathertop? I see that nobody mentions Grima and Gollum a lot though their characters are well interpreted. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
Since, for me, I don't believe any director or producer will have the time and money to spend forever testing actors to find one that exactly fits the written word character in phsyical and character appearance. It is just too much. So for me, it is that essence , that something special in the acting that somehow ties it all together and leaves an imprint of what the character should be. If he or she can accomplish that then I am well satisfied.
I truly loved the elves, just the essence of the majesty, the cerebral genious of them combined with a hint of the passion and heart of a mere mortal that was amazing.
I disagree with the Frodo thing, I very much liked the treatment Elijah gave to Frodo. I loved him in the book, and I loved that Frodo on screen, they both brought something to the table thta fed and nourished me and gave me a feeling of completeness in the character.
I read the LotR after i saw the movies.So my imagination kind of never took flight.But with my limited observation i believe PJ did a great job.It all had to be a commercial success in the hindsight catering to non-Tolkien people too.Like the spectacular scene when Arwen flees with Frodo when it actually was Frodo alone.It was visually so amazing.And also the lighting of the beacons.That it caught the attention of a Potter addict(still am) like me and made me love Tolkien is a feat.I love the movies and i love the books.I am so glad it did not suffer the Potter movies' fate.And i believe all the actors were quite convincing.
It all had to be a commercial success in the hindsight catering to non-Tolkien people too. Like the spectacular scene when Arwen flees with Frodo when it actually was Frodo alone. It was visually so amazing.

But this might imply that Jackson's handling of this scene is part of what 'had' to be done for reasons of success and catering to non-readers. Frodo alone arguably would have been more spectacular for instance (or arguably just as striking as riding with Arwen anyway), and his moment defying the Wraiths not only spectacular, but in line with Frodo's character from the book.

The chase would have been exciting, Frodo's stand an amazing moment, the flood both amazing (I liked the visual myself) and mysterious too.

Actually I find nothing at all un-cinematic for readers and non-readers had Arwen (if it had to be Arwen that is, which is not a given in my opinion) appeared on Asfaloth as in the book -- instead of this 'sword at the suprised Ranger's neck' moment that Jackson's team invented for some reason.

Jackson's answer to using Arwen here was basically that he thought there would be too many introductions of new characters at this point -- why introduce Glorfindel here if he essentially vanishes from the rest of the story? then introduce Arwen at Imladris, and other characters.

But this is a very general cinematic concern, and really does not speak to the specific changes Jackson chose to incorporate -- especially since he could have used Legolas instead of Arwen here, and in any case, elsewhere chose to expand Haldir's role in the films.
This, as I have posted before in other threads, was my problem with the Jackson improvisations on Tolkien. There was reason to make some changes for the sake of dramatization. Too many of the changes were not dramatically necessary, but were made just for the sake of Jackson's putting his own "touch" on the story. No one can tell me that Gandalf's staff being broken by Angmar was more dramatic than Gandalf's (in the book) meeting Angmar at the gate interrupted by the horns of the Rohirrim and Pippin. No one has demonstrated the necessity for having Aragorn fall into the river (with the actor nearly drowning) for the sake of "drama," or for having the Galadrim take part in Helm's Deep, while the Dunedain never show up. No one has explained why Denethor's despair was better shown in his jumping off the "cliff" was better than (in the book) his burning in the tomb. And the list goes on...
You are both right Galin and Gandalf.
But for the uninitiated the movies helped to introduce them to Tolkiens world.
I cant be thankful enough.Deep down i am sure we all have different picturisations of Middle Earth and that is the only thing that matters.Not what others do to it or say about it.And i think Jacksons was a genuine effort.

I think Jacksons was a genuine effort.

More than a bit of Effort. More like a masterpiece, but not quite as good as needed.
Others would have mutilated the books given a chanceSmile Smilie
Well, there are plenty of films based on The Lord of the Rings that 'could' be made of course, and again in my opinion, plenty of adaptations that could have been much more faithful to the books and the tone and spirit of JRRT's tale.
Someday let all of us from PT make the LotRSmile Smilie

I really like this site, on other sites this post would have descended into madness and bad language and bullying after around 10 posts....

I read the books a number of times before seeing the books.  Yes there are differences and yes I would have preferred that some of the changes did not happen.  However I love the films and I see that the Heart of the stories remain with the characters, which really have not shifted that much, yes Faramir is altered, Frodo's age etc etc, but did we really want to spend an extra hour in the Shire (15 or so years) while waiting for Ganalf to return and see the hobbits sell Bag End and purchase the new house on the Brandywine.... Im bored already.  Add Bombodil into the mix and there is three quarters of the first gone!These changes have to be made sometimes and unfortunately usually are horrifically handles.  Just look at the movie version Eregon for God sake...

The only thing I hated to the point of upset was the scene in the extended version of Return Of The King which feature Gandalf ShadowFax & Pippen confronting the Witch King - This was bad form!  The Witch King overpowering Gandalf was wrong wrong wrong......  I see why PJ wisely removed this scene from the final cut - Ever notices that Gandalfs staff if missing from the final hours of ROTK!

Don't get me wrong.  Many things in the movies were done exceptionally well, and went right to my heart.  And I do understand the need to cut some scenes from the books for length and for dramatization.  That is not what I'm talking about here.  What I objected to is Jackson putting his own spin on things just because he directed.  So the whole revamping of how Aragorn gets to Helm's Deep, for example.  Or the Galadrim showing up there for the battle.  Come on!  And, as I said before, my greatest aggravation was the meeting of Gandalf and Angmar.  As you rightly surmised, Brego, Jackson must have left that scene out of the theatrical version because he knew what reaction he'd have got from the cinema audiences.  But then, weren't the EV scenes extra things that were filmed afterward?  Well, either way, he should have just done the scene as Tolkien wrote it and it would have been very exciting and satisfying.  Let's hope he has learned his lesson before he starts the new Hobbit.