What would Tolkien think of the movies? Spoilers...be aware

Seriously though…Tolkien spent a lifetime basically, creating the masterpieces. Would he approve of the slights taken here and there by the screen adapters? Only an hour ago did I get out of The Two Towers movie and I am awestruck that they didn’t include Shelob in the end.

They were right there ready to enter the tunnel, now we have to wait for the final movie…

Would Tolkien have approved of the movies…They followed the basic linear path but left out some detail oriented material that would leave someone who didn’t read the book scratching their head…

I liked the movie non-the-less…

How many authors actually do like the way their books are made into movies?
[li]Ann Rice’s head nearly exploded over the fact that Tom Cruise was going to be Lestat in Interview With The Vampire. (Yes, I know- she later repented.)[/li][li]JK Rowling insisted, and got, an all-British cast for the Harry Potter franchise but basically gave up any and all creative control when she signed the contract.[/li][li]Many other examples, too numerous to mention.[/li][/ul]

Having said that, what could Professor Tolkien have to say about his movies that other authors haven’t already said about theirs? “Yeah, they cut this; yeah they added that; yeah they deviated here and there. C’est la vie.”

I personally would think that he would want much more attention given to all the Elvish, all the poetry, and all the long tales that he took so much trouble to put in his books.

I also think that he would be apalled at the amount of play the Arwen & Aragorn love story is getting. But, Tolkien having been a reasonable man, would probably have understood that you can’t make a movie this day & age without strong female characters and/or a love story. He’d get over it.

I was just think about this earlier today.

Oh for JRRT to still be alive. These movies are good but could you imagine how amazing they would be if he were around to be an adviser on the set? Of course, we probably wouldn’t even be seeing Fellowship for another 5 years due to his inclusion of details but it would be more than worth the wait.

I think Tolkien would heartily approve of the historical/artistic detail in the weaponry, at the very least!

He may also have found the feeling “in keeping” with his books, in many parts. I daresay some bits would annoy him immensely, and some please him greatly. I guess that’s to be expected!
I think he might have pushed for Bombadil.

I think he would have approved of the casting of the background extras - so much in keeping with their types - Hobbits, the men in the Prancing Pony, not sure about how he would have thought of the elves though.

I think he would have liked Ian Holm’s Bilbo, and definitly the mapwork, the Gandalf/Balrog encounter, and possibly Gollum as well - I think he would have been amazed by Gollum.
And thats what I think I think - I think! :slight_smile:

OK, this whole thread has a big spoiler warning, right? Right. I’m not sure what Tolkien would think about it, but if I had written LOTR…

I think I’d strongly object at first to what they did to noble Faramir, although I’d feel a little better about it once he resolved to let Frodo go at the cost of his own life.

I’m not sure I’d understand why Aragorn had to fall off a cliff, but I could live with it. And I’d probably point out that Saruman wouldn’t need Wormtongue if he could control the king directly.

I wouldn’t be too upset about where the various parts ended and began. After all, I wrote it all as one book in the first place, and that book was just part of the great history of Arda. I wouldn’t object too strongly about scenes that got cut out or shortened. They could make six movies and not get everything in. And I might actually be happy that they found a way to get more of Arwen into the story. That was one of my favorite things in the Appendices.

I’d probably be pleased with the cast. Sure, Aragorn could be grimmer and Frodo should be older than his companions, but there all fine performers that project real feeling for the characters – and the one playing Gandalf, has he been in my head, or what?

I think I’d be thrilled by the amount of care that went into the details of the production: the languages, the props, the costumes, the scenery, the effects, all coming together to create a fully realized world that – in most essential details – is true to my original vision.

All in all, I think I’d be as happy as an obsessed author can be with someone else’s interpretation of his work. And if I’d seen what Bakshi or Rankin-Bass had done, I’d be grateful to Peter Jackson for going so far to set things right.

As I understand it, J.R.R. Tolkien refused to sell the film rights during his lifetime. That ought to give you a clue about what he thought of movie adaptations in general.

Of course, during his lifetime it would have been impossible to film the Lord of the Rings without it looking really cheesy.

IIRC, Christopher Lee said during an iterview that he actually met JRRT at least once and he (Lee) thought Tolkien would have approved.

Take that with as large an amount of salt as you will, given he was promoting FOTR at the time.

Tolkien would have hated the adaptations. Totally and utterly hated them. He never wanted the movies made and his estate was not happy that Jackson had the rights.

That’s why we will never see the Hobbit on screen. He kept the rights for that.

I don’t think he would have liked them. That said, I am glad he is not around. Movies that stuck exactly to the books would not have been the success that these movies are.

We geeks look at parts that were taken out or changed and don’t understand why. But the MASSES, the people who wouldn’t appreciate all the depth of Tolkien would have chalked those movies up as weird.

Average Joe would have wondered what the hell Tom Bombadil was. Or hated all the singing and poetry. Many women would have hated the lack of any real Females in the movie (I know several that said they weren’t going to see the current movies until they found some changes on that front).

Yes, Jackson changed things. But I feel the SPIRIT is intact. Yes he appealed to the masses on some levels. But, if he hadn’t, I am betting these movies would have never been made.

I can’t claim to know Tolkien’s mind. Never met the guy, never will.

But I do know this: books ain’t movies, and movies ain’t books.

They’re two radically different methods of storytelling. It’s the equivalent of me telling a story around a fire… and then you like the story, so you make a point of remembering it, and then YOU tell it later, at a cocktail party or whatever.

Are you going to remember it word for word? No. You’ll make your own version, and you’ll tell it your way, at another venue. Different storyteller, different time, different style, and different audience under different circumstances.

Does this mean you’re a scumdog for stealing my story? No. You had every right, just as Jackson did when he started LOTR. Furthermore, who’s to say that your version isn’t better than mine? Maybe you’re the more gifted storyteller. Maybe you’ve got the better time and place for that story.

…and that’s just the VERBAL story. There’s style and flourish for verbal stories, just as there are for printed ones, and for visual ones. When translating from one medium to another, changes HAVE to be made, as a rule. This is why Ray Bradbury never seems as magical in the movies as he does in print; his neat written style just doesn’t translate. H.P. Lovecraft is another victim; his verbose style and dialogue just don’t work in movies (and his trick of scaring the hell out of you without ever showing you the monster doesn’t translate well into a visual medium, either).

When you read FOTR, you encounter a guy named Tom Bombadil, who sings and dances. He takes the hobbits home for dinner, and teaches them a little song to sing if they need his help. Naturally, later, they wind up screwing around with the Barrow-Wights, and they need Tom to come save their butts, so they sing his little song, and…

…and yeah, I missed this scene. Scared the poop out of me the first time I read the book. Loved the idea of seeing the Barrow-Wights on the big screen… but Tom Bombadil works in the book. He’s a fairytale character, firmly embedded in his fairytale world.

Can you imagine what he would have looked like on the big screen, singing and dancing about how his boots are yellow? He would have come across like the host of some demented PBS children’s program. And the idea that this singing loon could save the hobbits from Barrow-Wights wouldn’t have worked at all.

For that matter, the books are rich with song. You can’t get through a chapter without Aragorn or Legolas or the hobbits bursting out with one tune or another.

In a medieval fairytale world, this works. People used to sing to each other regularly. You couldn’t walk into an inn without someone bugging you about what the news was out in your neck of the woods, and you were obliged to tell them! “Singing for your supper” was a reality back then. Tolkien knew this. In the absence of MTV, CNN, and the Internet, it’s how news and entertainment worked in a medieval society.

…but for a generation RAISED on MTV, CNN and the Straight Dope Message Board… jeez, you couldn’t put all that in the movie. It’d seem like some kind of demented musical. Hell, I was glad for the scene on the Extended DVD where Frodo wakes up and hears Strider quietly singing to himself.

He asks Strider about the song.
Strider mentions that it’s about the love of Luthien for Beren.
Frodo asks what happened in the song.
Strider wanly says, “She died.”

It’s plain he’s thinking about Arwen, naturally. And the scene lasts no more than a minute… but it works.

In short… it ain’t really “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings Trilogy.” It just ain’t. You want it? Go to a bookstore, they’re selling lots of them right now.

What we are discussing is “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, As Presented By Peter Jackson”, which is a very different beast.

I don’t think he’s doing badly. Considering the subject material, I’m amazed he’s doing as well as he has.

But I dunno if Tolkien would have liked it… I mean, if you spend thirty years of your life on something, how well COULD you like someone else’s version of it?

I’m only a tepid fan of Tolkien, and of the fantasy genre in general. So, I can’t sympathize too much with Tolkien fanatics who think every line Tolkien wrote was sheer genius, and that ALL of it should be on film.

I generally liked FOTR, and loved “The Two Towers.” No, neither was a perfectly faithful adaptation, but both were far more faithful than anyone had a right to hope for, and large passages of dialogue were taken DIRECTLY from the book.

Are there things I’d have changed, things I wish Peter Jackson had done differently? Of course, and I’ve discussed some of those things in previous threads. (Big ones: I wish Legolas and Gimli weren’t so underutilized and underdeveloped, I wish Saruman were more charming and less OBVIOUSLY evil). But I also understand that, in order to keep each film under 5 hours, SOMETHING had to go! I loved Tom Bombadil, for instance, but I understand perfectly why Jackson decided to leave him out of the film.

On the whole, I think Jackson did an admirable job, and stayed truer to Tolkien than almost any other director would have. Now, whether Tolkien himself would have liked the films… I suspect not. From what I understand, he never even owned a television, and might have been put off by loud, bombastic, effects-driven films. But that’s a reflection of Professor TOlkien, not on Peter Jackson.

Too late. There was already an animated feature made for television in 1978.

Oh good grief, Tolkien did indeed sell the movie rights. He got $250,000 in 1969, plus a share of any profits. If the movies make over 2.5 times productions costs, his estate gets a share on par with Peter Jackson’s. And I think we can guarantee that that will happen. He sold these rights fully aware and willing to lose any and all artistic control.

In fact the first movie project started in 1957. Tolkien eagerly sought a movie adaptation. At the time of course it was going to be animated.
I am quite prepared to play ball, if they are open to advice - and if you decide that the thing is genuine, and worthwhile. - Letter 201 to Rayner Unwin
A final agreement was almost reached, but eventually he nixed the deal when Morton Zimmerman’s screenplay proved to stray too far from the story. Great details as to what Tolkien found objectionable can be found in letters 207 and 210.

By 1969 Tolkien decided that artistic concerns were far less important than providing for his family. And he happily signed, what for the time was, a very good contract. His children, who have already been made wealthy through book sales etc, are going to make hundreds of millions from these movies. Tolkien provided for his family indeed.

Scary thought, though – the contract signed allows for franchising. We know this, because we see LOTR dolls, a LOTR version of the Risk boardgame, and, of course, the LOTR Roleplaying Game.

Has anyone ever thought about what might happen if some loony producer at WB or Fox or something thinks it might be a good idea?


Starring Kevin Sorbo as Aragorn? And Anna Nicole Smith as Eowyn?

Cite? I heard that if these three movies do good they’re gonna make a Hobbit movie.

Read that back in 1998 or '99. Of course these movies are doing good so I’m hoping for a big screen Hobbit :).

I know that Jackson doesn’t want to do the Hobbit but I will be genuinely shocked if someone doesn’t jump on The Hobbit (and maybe even the Silmarillion) after the success of Lord of the Rings.

Of course, I suspect that we’ll wind up with a weak film made to take advantage of the popularity of the LotR fims that will stray so far as to make Jackson look completely accurate.

Nitpick: JRRT sold the rights to the Hobbit for animated productions, but not for live-actor productions.

narrows eyes, scrowls menacingly

If this ever happens I’m holding you personally responsible for putting the idea out there.

How about The Silmarillion? Who has the rights to that? Can that be made into a live action movie?