Wednesday, January 08, 2003


After only a couple of weeks of promising a report on the movie (and after all of you have seen it now) I thought I'd finally make a couple of comments. I've actually seen it twice and must say it's one of the most impressive examples of moviemaking ever. Peter Jackson has taken one of the greatest works of fiction and myth-making of the 20th Century and made movies worthy of it.

The movie is generally true to the flow of Tolkien's book, but where Jackson makes changes it's usually to the story's detriment. I understand that the movies are of necessity abridgments. I know why Tom Bombadil didn't make it to The Fellowship of the Ring. (WARNING: Potential plot spoilers if you've not seen the movie!) But two particular changes did upset me. One is the essential change in the Faramir character. What Jackson likes to do is infuse his characters with more ambiguity, more 21st Century angst. Tolkien shows Faramir as a complete break from his failed brother Boromir; Jackson equivocates. Of bigger consequence is the change in Aragorn, the man who will be king. Tolkien's Aragorn is a decisive, strong leader. He is simply biding his time until the events are right for him to assume his kingship. Jackson's Aragorn is ambivalent about it all. Though not quite a Hamlet, he's certainly no Henry V. Tolkien was deliberately creating epic and myth. Quite frankly it can't be improved upon.

The spiritual implications of Tolkien's fable are profound. It's a parable that can teach us all about the lure of wordly rings of power, and the virtues of triumphing over them even if it means our very lives. Go see the movie (probably best to leave the preteens at home) and please, read the books.

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