TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

What do you think of Tolkien on the silver screen...? Whether Bakshi, Jackson, Amazon, BBC radio play, or whoever else, come on in and discuss your reflections, opinions, and memories...

Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Elmtree » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:56 am

Semprini wrote:There is no need to be a Tolkien lover to understand that The Hobbit has many flaws as a movie regardless of its value as an adaptation. It is a movie where there is a teenager fascination for monsters and fantasy battles resembling video games - e.g., Thorin and co. kill hundreds of Goblins and fall from a 300 meters cliff, without a scratch, so that they look invincible just like video games characters - there is no tension since we never fear for their life. It is a movie that needs a cumbersome 45 minutes introduction to get going (bad writing). Azog is an extremely flat and silly character (the scene where he kills an orc who brings him bad news seems to come from a silly TV fantasy flick). It is far too long a movie for its subject matter.


Goodness, I feel like I've gone back in time reading the recent posts here! I'm rather glad to see some spirited discussion :) As far as the quote above, I do agree overall and I think what's different in some 'complaints' this time around is they are not purist/revisionst lines that are drawn (for the most part). There are problems in the structure of the film and some of the adaptation choices that have nothing to do with how faithfully it follows the books. I agree there is simply not enough material to justify a film this long. Well, there IS material (including the horrid added Azog crap-- I agree, it's very video game-- poorly animated, poorly crafted, and a very poor fit in this particular story). But there is not material that makes good building blocks for a film structure.

Although I think PJ, in both LOTR and the Hobbit, made changes to the text that were not wise, or at least didn't come across well (that is, I think something closer to the book would have worked better), I also think a film must be first, a good film. My complaints with some of his changes weren't that they were changes, just that they were changes that did not work well, or work as well as what was written. Some changes worked very well (Boromir's end in Fellowship, the exit from the goblin caves in TH, for example, and even Bilbo's separation from the Dwarves in TH).

My main complaint about the Hobbit is it just doesn't work as a film, though -- as others have said-- there is a good two hour film in there somewhere-- or part of one. If the Azog subplot had been greatly reduced, and certain scenes tightened, I think we could have had a good three hour movie that ended with Barrels as originally intended. That was a more reasonable breaking point and I think the pace would have been better. This film simply needed another edit. It's not purist/revisionist, it's how the film is actually crafted.

and reading both reviews and some posts here, I think I'm not alone in my feeling that this film could have been much stronger *as a film* - the problems not being lack of faithfulness but craftsmanship.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby JewelSong » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:08 pm

I went for a 4th viewing (what?) this past weekend with my daughter and her fiance.

She has seen the LOTR movies several times (comes with the territory when you're a teenage in my house.) He has never seen any of them at all.

Both liked it. My daughter's comment was that there was "a bit too much fighting." His comment was that he wanted to see the other movies now. And that he really liked the "Orc King" - meaning Azog. \
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Music of the Ainur » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:23 pm

Semprini wrote:

Based on the above, one could take the view that from an adaptation (not film) point of view, the storyline of a book may be more important for the so-called revisionists and that the tone, spirit and themes of a book may be more important for the so-called purists. So that one could presume that so-called purists would actually have been in favor of more changes (more "revisions) to the storyline of the book (even more so than those of the so-called revisionists who are focused on the storyline and the visuals) in order to preseve its tone, spirit and themes. Because what PJ has done is mostly an adaptation of the "surface" of the book, and he simplified or misinterpreted certain Tolkien themes (re: pity and death) in the process.

So we are not talking about people who disagree on how to adapt a book but about people who disagree as to what is important in a book and what is important in a film.



Well said Semprini, With me it is very much about the Spirit of Tolkiens works, and this is my largest problem with the film adaptions. They cheapen and diminish the powerful characters and humanize and weaken what JRR created as Powerful Good characters. Of course many changes would be needed to bring the books to film, but "what" gets omitted and "what" gets promoted is the issue. Personally I find the decision to downplay the Powerful Good magical essence and to promote the Dark powers causes a fundamental shift in spirit. This change in focus weakens the story in my view.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Music of the Ainur » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:40 pm

Jewel song wrote:


Music of the Ainur wrote:

Among the "Serious" and multiple time readers of ROTK who were able to love the movie I have also found that only a small percentage of those can give TH much praise. Most of them are also very disappointed with that film.


Jewel song wrote:
Where have you found this data? What is a "small percentage?" You have said yourself that you have read very little of what anyone else has posted on this site. I can assure you,there are MANY "serious and multiple time readers" of Tolkien on this site, some of whom have been posting here for more than a decade. And many of us loved the films. Including "The Hobbit."
As I said before, you will find some folks here who agree with you. But please do not insult us by suggesting that if we DO like the movie, we must be casual readers of Tolkien or not understand the story, or whatever.

You keep saying that "most" serious readers of Tolkien agree with you. I ask you again - where are you getting this information about "most" of us? Or do you just think that is the case, without much evidence?


Hi, If you go back to where you copied these words from and read the others things I said there you can find the answer to your questions. As I said there, I am not claiming to be an expert and in my small bit of experience... and so forth.

Sorry that you are somehow upset by my opinions and experience or feel personally threatened or feel the need to scold me . As I also said in most all of my posts: I am not saying that my sensibilities are more correct or more holy than anyone else's... these are my opinions. I have no intentions of judging you or your love of Tolkiens writings. I am just unable to grasp how someone could Love both the books and the films. I see how some one could like one and love the other, or even like both or neither, just can't get how someone could Love both. I am not selling anything or seeking converts or disciples... just trying to get the angst and disappointment out of my belly which these weak films created.
peace and happy enjoyment to you Jewel, wish I could feel some of that Love of the movies.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Semprini » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:05 am

Diamond of Long Cleeve wrote:But Semprini, he doesn't get pity and death? Seriously? I give you desolate Movie Arwen at Aragorn's tomb! Which is canon. And Bilbo's crucial moment of pity on Gollum in The Hobbit - one of the film's highlights.


As you know, they have been hundreds of threads on this subject back in 2001-2005, with the likes of jnyusa, Faramond, Voronwe, vison, Iavas participating. :)

However, just to summarize - this only concerns LOTR:

1. Pity

By showing too many battles, violent images, monsters, focusing on Saruman, beefing up the roles of the antagonists, in his LOTR films, as compared to the LOTR books, which are contemplative books, and by showing Frodo as a weak character, complaining and crying all the time, as opposed to a strong Sam, by taking rid of the line of Frodo about forgiving Gollum, etc. PJ undermined the pity theme. Elijah Wood looks weak. Frodo should look strong, convincing and determined, because according to Tolkien, the ability to show pity or mercy, is a strength and not a weakness. Wrong casting. As I have written elsewhere: "Tolkien says that we resist primarily when we are being merciful. PJ says that we resist primarily when we fight back and kill our opponents."

2. Desire for deathlessness

I am too lazy to summarize this one, but here is an excerpt from a post I wrote in 2005 in the "Are they important film" thread, which I think is relevant (viewtopic.php?f=13&t=78386&start=210) - EDIT: I am not sure these excerpts are very clear or always make sense taken out of context, since they come from a long post where I had tried to explain Bachelard's elemental theory as applied to film.


"The Arwen and Aragorn’s tale as seen by PJ is a good example of a “complex of culture” (within the meaning given to this term by Bachelard). It has been claimed here that by expanding the A&A tale, PJ expanded upon Tolkien’s desire for deathlessness theme. I disagree with this statement, which IMO just looks at the image of Arwen dying in the film without analyzing to what kind of substance this belongs to. IMO, there is nothing in PJ’s treatment of the A&A tale that is about the desire for deathlessness. Tolkien said that the A&A appendice in the book is essential to the desire for deathlessness theme and I believe that it is true. Why is it true? Because of the choice by Aragorn of the manner of his death. Aragorn chooses to die, showing that he does not fear death and that he accepts his human condition. Had he not accepted his condition he would have taken the Ring, which gives immortality. It is thus in Aragorn’s dying scene that the theme is present. It is a serene death and Aragorn says to Arwen that she should not despair and accept Eru’s Gift to Men. This scene is not in the film, except, very much altered, in the form of a flashforward. The purpose of PJ’s flashforward is completely different from the purpose of Tolkien’s scene. The film shows an image of a dying Aragorn evoked by Elrond for the purpose of despairing Arwen, of showing her how terrible and sorrowful death is. The substance from which the scene draws is exactly the opposite of the substance of Tolkien’s substance. Hence, Tolkien’s desire for deathlessness theme, which is about the fact that Men yearn for immortality but should not accept it and die serene, is not treated. And this is even truer for the fact that Arwen’s fate is linked to Middle Earth in ROTK. This serves to increase the stakes (as if they needed to be increased). It also serves to give a role to Arwen in the narrative. It may serve another theme. But it certainly does not serve the desire for deathlessness theme."

In the same thread, I had also written this:

"I think that PJ can be said to have a “complex of culture” (within the meaning given to this term by Bachelard) in respect of LOTR. He uses the images drawn by Alan Lee and John Howe, but he does not clearly convey the meaning ascribed to the images and symbols by Tolkien. His inconsistent and incoherent style, his immaturity as an artist, make it very difficult to see what is the substance or the conception of the world that is behind the images, which become impersonal, suffocating under the over-the-top sentimentality, which I see as one of PJ’s hallmarks. PJ tries to rationalize in his film everything that happens in LOTR. Each time in the book something happens that he believes is not immediately understandable by the audience he either remove it or gives it a rationale, believing it is a flaw while it is in fact a window towards the substance of Tolkien’s Middle-earth (this rationalization frenzy obliged PJ to stuff his movie with a enormous number of narrative threads let loose and unfinished or finished in a rushed manner). By doing this and by refusing the contemplation and hieratism that the book called for, a hieratism which is for example used in Visconti’s The Leopard and almost gives it a mythic feeling, PJ makes sure that his film is not a mythological film, but a rational action adventure movie. For example, PJ’s decision to cut the symbol of Aragorn being designated as King because of his healing hands deprives the film of the archetype of the healing King. By having Frodo falling with Gollum, PJ rationalize Gollum’s death. It is not anymore Providence or Gollum’s failing to respect his oath on the Ring, ie, something that belongs to the transcendent and the spiritual, which kills Gollum. But a human act, something which is easy to explain. Etc…PJ appears to interpret mythic acts only from an emotional and psychological perspective. He is anachronic in his own kind of way. That said, it also gave us some very nice scenes (his psychological approach of Boromir did wonders).

I think that one of the reasons of the differences between the book and the film (which go beyond the fact that literature and cinema have a different artistic language) is that the source of PJ's imagination, ie, the Element where it has its roots, differs from the source of Tolkien's imagination. It is very possible that PJ's style is not rooted in any Element, because of its superficiality and inconsistency. But I will assume here that it has elemental roots and apply Bachelard's theory to both PJ and Tolkien for comparison purposes. The source of PJ's imagination, which seems to me to be excessive, bellicose and dualistic, appears to be the element of Fire, although it is a difficult guess because of PJ's inconsistent style. If the source of Tolkien's imagination, which is more contemplative, is, as I suspect, Water, with a little bit of Earth (Tolkien's vision of Men is that he can be modelled under certain influences), then if we apply Bachelard's theory, we find that PJ's family of imagination is so different from Tolkien's that PJ's images cannot direct us to the source of Tolkien's mythos which is Water (death) and Earth. Also, because of the source of PJ's imagination, it is possible that he did not identify or did not care for the substance to be found behind Tolkien's artistic symbols and images. This would explain why PJ's images and vision of the world sometimes seem to contradict's Tolkien's vision. This would also explain why Tolkien has a tendency to beothianism where PJ has a tendency to manicheanism. Tarkovsky has filmed water like nobody else, so a LOTR by Tarkovsky would have been interesting".

Thus, PJ sometimes creates images that seem to come from a substance that is the exact opposite of Tolkien’s substance."
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Hobbituk » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:15 am

by taking rid of the line of Frodo about forgiving Gollum, etc. PJ undermined the pity theme.


"Now that I see him, I do pity him."

Do you mean that line? The line that was in the film?
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Semprini » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:48 am

Hobbituk wrote:Do you mean that line? The line that was in the film?


I mean this line, from Frodo, after the Destruction of the Ring, one of the most important lines of the book if not the most important:

"But for him [Gollum], Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him".

PJ has cut this line from ROTK. This very line, which is at the heart of Tolkien's LOTR...

PJ has villainized Gollum in ROTK.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Diamond of Long Cleeve » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:58 am

I would not dispute that some Tolkienian themes are simplified, or even vulgarised, in PJ's films. But I also find some of the criticism of PJ overly harsh. Although the scene of Aragorn's death serves a different purpose in the movieverse, Canon Arwen's emotional and spiritual devastation is NO LESS than Movie Arwen's. Canon Aragorn might serenely decide it's acceptable for him to die that particular day - but his Elvish wife, who gave up her immortality for him, is crushed and protests. And her own end is one of the saddest things in the entire mythos. Tolkien's 'desire for deathlessness' theme is complex.

But let's get back on topic. Which is The Hobbit. I have little time for the view that says the first 45 minutes of AUJ are 'too long'. My inner film critic might concede this point - but my inner book-fan loves every single minute, especially the Dinner Party. If the film needs trimming, it's in some of the later action sequences.

AUJ is goofier than PJ's LotR, hence the more light-hearted and improbable battle and escape scenes in, for example, Goblintown. Yes, it's very PJ. I much prefer it when he's subtle. And he is capable of it - as in the scene where Bilbo has second thoughts about refusing the call to adventure, to the Quest ... and embraces that call.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Semprini » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:07 am

Diamond of Long Cleeve wrote:AUJ is goofier than PJ's LotR, hence the more light-hearted and improbable battle and escape scenes in, for example, Goblintown. Yes, it's very PJ.


Yes, The Hobbit is lighter and goofier than LOTR. But the improbable battles and escape scenes you refer to are neither goofy, nor light-hearted. They are violent. Hundreds of deads among the goblins, beheadings, etc.: that's just horrible, and too much violence for a children's tale. Too many battles, too much violence, coming straight from Warhammer or any other role-playing fantasy games.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Diamond of Long Cleeve » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:43 am

That is true, Semprini, but then again the book Hobbit has some very strong and violent images - Smaug carrying off maidens to eat (it's in the text), the Wargs rending the bodies of the fallen in the Battle of the Five Armies - again, in the text. Dark stuff for a children's book! - but that's why The Hobbit is a classic.

I will happily own that Tolkien's portrayal of the dark forces is more subtle than PJ's!
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Semprini » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:48 am

Diamond of Long Cleeve wrote:That is true, Semprini, but then again the book Hobbit has some very strong and violent images - Smaug carrying off maidens to eat (it's in the text), the Wargs rending the bodies of the fallen in the Battle of the Five Armies - again, in the text. Dark stuff for a children's book! - but that's why The Hobbit is a classic.


Just a few lines in a 300-page book, whereas at the end of the day, I suspect that the time devoted to battles and violence in PJ's three films will take quite a chunck of the timeline (the last hour of AUJ is already non-stop action). Hey, one line in the book on an orc named Azog was turned by PJ into a series of ridiculous and ugly battle scenes involving a ridiculous giant white orc.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby JewelSong » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:00 am

Music of the Ainur wrote:Sorry that you are somehow upset by my opinions and experience or feel personally threatened or feel the need to scold me .


Honey, I am not "upset" by your opinions, nor am I "scolding" you. And I certainly do not feel personally threatened! ;)

I am asking you to justify your statements, especially your contention that "most" serious readers of Tolkien agree with you.

So I ask you yet again - where are you getting this information about "most" of us? Or do you just think or WANT that to be the case, without much evidence?
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Elmtree » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:51 am

Diamond of Long Cleeve wrote:But let's get back on topic. Which is The Hobbit. I have little time for the view that says the first 45 minutes of AUJ are 'too long'. My inner film critic might concede this point - but my inner book-fan loves every single minute, especially the Dinner Party. If the film needs trimming, it's in some of the later action sequences.



I agree. It's possible they could have cut some from the opening without harming it, but I enjoyed the whole long thing. I felt the film fell apart after that, due to the fact it couldn't decide what (or whose) story it was telling.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby FrodoTook » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:12 pm

The "tone" of the movie did indeed change quite often. The same could be said of the book from my perspective.

The Hobbit text went to extremes for me. Magical / childlike to Graphic / adult...from my own literal perspective.

Quite a roller coaster ride from the text and from the movie..for me.

Thinking...

If someone had read The Hobbit to me when I was very young I would have had nightmares from some of the tale.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Dunthule » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:34 pm

Overall, I liked the film.
I saw it with a friend who had not read the book and he really liked it, but the ending was unexpected.
I think his comment was "What, that's it?!".

One of my favorite scenes was "Riddles in the Dark".
Has anyone heard if PJ will try and work Gollum in either of the remaining two films?
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby andurilwest » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:43 am

Dunthule wrote:Has anyone heard if PJ will try and work Gollum in either of the remaining two films?

Whyyy?
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby ManFlesh » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:41 am

Lest Semprini's critique be deemed an isolated viewpoint, I would like to chime in and say that his discussion of Tolkien's themes vs. PJ's themes crystallizes quite well many of the thoughts that have been swirling around in my own mind. Well done, and very insightful.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby Dunthule » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:21 pm

andurilwest wrote:
Dunthule wrote:Has anyone heard if PJ will try and work Gollum in either of the remaining two films?

Whyyy?


My question was not whether or not Gollum should be in any of the remaining two films.
But if anyone heard PJ was thinking about it. Gollum seems to be a moviegoer favorite and PJ may act on it.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby portia » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:43 pm

Comments: vol. II

I saw the movie, again, in 3-D, today. I suggest it, as I found it easier to understand, in 3-D.

I kept the comments on this thread in mind, and I have the following comments:
I do not think the stone giants were aware at all of the Dwarfs; Frodo was not necessary, tho' some sort of intro was helpful; I would have expected Howard Shore to have thought up some sort of theme for the trolls; I still think the goblins were too much and should have been cut about 1/3.

I loved the dinner party and the waking up in the AM (note that the house was all cleaned up). Since Bilbo decided to go with them, I liked the reason he finally came up with. The 3-D was very nice in the smaller things, as the birdies. I also saw it in a big 3- theater, so I probably saw a lot that my local theater missed. As to Radagast: The Istari are NOT OLD MEN. They look like it for their own reasons, but they are something else entirely. Saruman is wrong; Radagast has his own purposes, but he is not a fool. I caught the Moon writing better this time.

I still think the movie was good, though it suffered from where it was cut. Bye the way, I do not think that a cut at Barrels out of Bond will be any better. It is ONE book, and will react like it.
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Re: TORCers Review Thread (spoilers of course)

Postby FrodoTook » Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:26 pm

I have enjoyed reading this thread again.

Many thanks to all of the TORCers who shared thoughts in it.

I hope more do share.
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