LOTR: cinema for grown ups ?

I notice the trendy complex not too far from me is show all three films over the next few weeks and I wondered if this might be the time to catch the entire saga on the big screen.

I did read The Hobbit as a we nipper but that was so long ago Tolkien’s ink was barely dry on the page; iirc, it was fine fantasy-adventure but so is a lot of other stuff . . . I suppose what I mean is that I don’t have some lingering desire to see childhood fantasies realised – unless they involve that jump-suited chick in the original Batttlestar Galactica.

So I guess the question is, is the trilogy a worthwhile cinematic experience for:

(a) mature adults, with
(b) reasonably mature sensibilities, who
© are not particularly LOTR people, and who
(d) seriously don’t buy into the hype and associated crap, but
(e) don’t mind a bit of escapism and/or fantasy ?
What say ye ?

This is not a General Questions type question.

Please ask this in Cafe Society.

Oh, and I don’t recommend seeing the trilogy if you want ‘escapism’.

Many viewers have found the film an intensely emotional cinematic experience. I doubt whether the trilogy would have been nominated for Best Picture oscars if it was simple escapism.

Oh, and if you want escapism, may I reccomend the Cat in the Hat?

It’s what people who go to movies for escapism truly deserve.

Yes, LoTR is worthy of adult attention. While The Hobbit was intended as a children’s story from the beginning, LoTR has always been something deeper and more profound.

(Apparently Tolkein’s publisher was somewhat appalled when the manuscript first arrived. They’d asked for another jolly little tale of a hobbit on holiday, and he sent them this sprawling thousand-page epic instead.)

Don’t go expecting escapism. Yes, there are thrilling action sequences, but there are also serious adult themes of duty, sacrifice, compassion, and the seductiveness of evil. This isn’t a cartoon like Star Wars – there’s real emotional depth here.

You have to be willing to look for it though. Some people have a hard time seeing past all the fantasy trappings to the serious movie inside. If you walk into the theater with a mindset that equates “fantasy” with “escapist fluff” you’re not going to be paying the sort of attention necessary to pick up the more subtle nuances of the story.

You’re better off if you approach it like a historical costume drama. Pretend it’s a Civil War war movie like Gods & Generals and treat it accordingly.

I’ll also recommend seeing the Extended Edition directors cuts of the first two movies if possible. Peter Jackson added over 30 minutes of footage to each and mostly what he put in are the quiet character moments and backstory that add weight and depth to the main narrative.

I think so. I am a (fairly) mature adult, who has never read (and still doesn’t want to read) LOTR. I loved the movies.

It’s a fabulous story with worthy characters, action, and interesting themes. And yes, quite a bit of escapist fun.

I barely knew about LOTR before watching the first film and I thought it was marvellous. I liked the second one a lot as well especially the EE.

If the third part is up to the same standards ,and every indication is that it is, I will consider LOTR one of the greatest films ever made.

I second what’s said above: LOTR isn’t Star Wars; in particular the acting and screenplay are far better. Unlike Star Wars it’s a genuine epic and one of the very best ever made.

I say aye to A, B, D, and E, but I may have to DQ myself on C.

I will register a dissent regarding the EEs. Peter Jackson’s on record as saying the theatrical versions are the definitive films and the added scenes “muck up” the pacing and make the movies longer than they should be. I tend to agree. Although I enjoy seeing extra footage, someone who’s not already a fan may enjoy the regular editions more.


good one.

The book The Lord of the Rings is for

(a) mature adults, with
(b) reasonably mature sensibilities

Peter Jackson’s films are, at best, a pale reflection of the quality of the book.

What’s your opinion of PJ’s cinematic translation got to do with the OP, Wendell? That’s not what he asked. In fact, he specifically said that he’s “not particularly a LOTR person,” which, if he hasn’t seen the movies, must mean that he hasn’t read the books either. He’s not asking about the books or how accurately they are filmed; he wants advice whether or not he might like the films themselves.

To answer: for what it’s worth, at 52 my mother went to see The Fellowship of the Ring – and she’s not a fantasy reader at all – and she enjoyed it so much that she bought a copy on video, watched The Two Towers, and read the trilogy. In fact, she read the trilogy before Two Towers came out. I think that’s a positive vote.


As someone who never was particularly interested in the whole Tolkein mythos, my answer to (a) through (e) is an unqualified “yes.” The two movies I’ve seen are immensely entertaining. I would also highly recommend seeing it on a widescreen see you can fully appreciate their epic scale.

I know this is OT but is the “jump-suited chick” you’re referring to Maren Jensen who played Athena on the show? Because, for me, she was the only reason I ever paid any attention to that crappy Star Wars rip-off.

The linked quote doesn’t sound to me like PJ is saying that the Extended Editions are poorly paced, or inferior films in any way. In fact, it doesn’t seem like a commentary on the quality of the EEs in any way at all, but rather PJ’s thoughts on the inherent differences between the big screen and DVD formats. And I agree with his analysis: the EEs would NOT have worked in theaters, if only because for most viewers, a three hour film is already stretching it. A 3hour, 45 minute epic like The Two Towers: Extended Edition would not have done nearly as well in the box office as its truncated sibling did.

However, home viewing is a completely different animal from theater viewing: the viewer can pause, rewind, get up and grab some food, etc. That massive length is now manageable, because the audience gets to watch it on their own terms. IMO, PJ’s sensitivity to this difference between the two mediums is just another manifestation of his genius as a filmmaker, and if anything, the EEs only *help *the pacing by giving the films room to breathe. The Two Towers, especially, was improved immeasurably by the changed/ added scenes, the most obvious example being the new Faramir scene (which I won’t spoil for those of you who haven’t yet seen it).

Fish writes:

> What’s your opinion of PJ’s cinematic translation got to do with
> the OP, Wendell?

The relation is the following:

London_Calling asked:

> . . . is the trilogy a worthwhile cinematic experience for:
> (a) mature adults, with
> (b) reasonably mature sensibilities

and my answer is, no, they are not a worthwhile cinematic experience for mature adults with reasonably mature sensibilities. The book, on the other hand, is for mature adults with reasonably mature sensibilities. The films are a mess, written, directed, and largely acted by people who don’t remotely understand the book.

I would agree and not agree. On many levels, the movies are a pale reflection of the books. On the other hand, that’s still pretty darned good, and well worth watching. These are real adult movies - movies for mature people who want to see a great story told with great acting.

And given that one of the actors walked around on-set with a copy of the books in his pocket tso they could check pronunciation, much less the script, I’d say you’re full of it, Wendell.

Hold up there, cowboy. While I thoroughly and utterly disagree with Wendell’s opinion, each person has his own view of the books. That is the chief virtue of a book, that you get to cast the characters, create their voices, and direct the action in your own head. If Wendell’s version differs radically from PJ’s, so be it. A book speaks to each reader uniquely, and the pleasure and insight derived from it differ from person to person.

Fair enough but this

is a load of bollocks to be frank. Even if you really disagree with PJ’s adaptation to say that there it is not a worthwhile cinema experience (and remember L_C hasn’t even read the book) is just incorrect.

Yes the movies move from the book on a lot of points but the 2 movies I’ve seen contain some of the best produced/directed scenes I’ve ever seen.

I fit L_C’s criteria.

Never managed to finish reading the trilogy (gave up, bored shitless, halfway through the second book). I’ve only seen the first movie, and I enjoyed it - for me, it was great escapist fun, and managed to be serious about itself without crawling up its own arse.

For me, it certainly wasn’t

I suspect the only people who found it thus were Tolkein fans already.

Well, Yojimbo, you know you’re going to get a big amen from me there. PJ has created a cinematic masterpiece in all three films that IMO will be remembered and studied in film classes for decades to come.

Tolkien is no more escapist than Pratchett–both authors use an imaginary setting to examine the eternal questions; in Tolkien’s books, the matters of honor, sacrifice, the corruption of the soul and its redemption through suffering.

Which is fine. But he wrote:

Which is utter crap. PJ’s understanding is obviously different than Wendell’s, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t “remotely understand the book”.

I stated my opinion. I didn’t feel it necessary to call any of your opinions “crap” or “a load of bollocks”. London_Calling asked for our opinions about the films, and I gave mine. There’s no way for me to express my opinion about the film without saying what I think about Jackson’s screenwriting abilities.

And, for what it’s worth, I know a lot of people who are experts in the book, and many of them also think that the films are a mess. For the past twenty to thirty years, I’ve been reading books and articles about Tolkien and going to conferences on Tolkien. I was at two of them just this year, one in the U.S. and one in England. I’ve met dozens of Tolkien scholars. A lot of them also think that Jackson doesn’t understand the book.

So if you’re claim is that I’m objectively wrong about the movies, then I would say that I’ve read more about the books and listened to the opinions of more Tolkien scholars than Jackson ever has. Many of these scholars think that Jackson has done a terrible job of adapting the book. If this is a truly objective matter, then a lot of people who are better experts in Tolkien than Jackson think that the films are bad adaptations.

On the other hand, if you think that this is merely a matter of subjective opinion, then my opinion is as good as Jackson’s. My opinion is that Jackson has created a mess. My opinion is that Jackson may have certain talents in visual images, but he’s a terrible adapter of books.

That is why you fail. Look to deeply at something, and you start seeing only the leaves on the trees. Since appareently people did get out of the movie the principles that Tolkein put in, I’d say that Jackson objectively did understand the whole point of it.

Again, that is why you fail. Tolkein never meant for people to study his books. Frankly, the entire literature department ought to be taken out and shot, given the way they mutilate and torment good things into unenjoyable rubbish. Rather like British Rail.