The replies to this thread are awesome - I almost didn't dare to give a slightly different opinion, because I won't be able to argue quite so deeply and with so much background information as many people on this thread.<BR>But after seeing you all so unanimous about LOTR's darkness and only such a few attempts at showing the light, I couldn't resist to try.<BR><BR>First I think it's most important to distinguish, as most of you did, between the darkness of evil and that darkness of feeling that comes with all the loss the characters have to undergo.<BR><BR>The first kind, the darkness of evil, was imo impressive and it had to be - you have to give a formidable foe to such a great quest - but it never really made the book terrifying to the extent of being shocking. Maybe I overread it, but I don't recall Tolkien going into any great length about the way orcs look like or how they are created. The movie showed all that explicitly (knowing that "monsters" sell with a younger audience).<BR><BR>There's a similar thing about warfare.<BR>Some of you compare the book to classic myths like the Nibelungen. I never read LOTR when I was a kid, but when I was a kid you could be sure you'd sooner or later be given versions of that kind of myth, retold for young readers - I hated them! In classical myth there's nothing but gore and slaughter, no character, no thinking, just action and reaction: a kills b, so c gets d to kill a etc. When I first heard of LOTR it was described as a mythical tale and I thought, I'm never going to read that, I'm sure to hate it.<BR>Well, as you can guess by my being here, that has changed: I read it and loved it. One of the reasons was that there was so little warfare and killing in it! I mean, of course there are great battles, but look at what a tiny proportion of the whole they take in telling time!<BR>Also, in Tolkien, the whole business of killing takes on a bitterness that alone makes it tolerable for me to read about battles at all.<BR>And, again, PJ enlarges this and gives quite unproportional telling time to warfare. So, I think the movie was definitely darker than the book, with respect to what you might call the more obvious, superficial kind of darkness of the war against Sauron.<BR><BR>The other thing is the darkness of loss and change.<BR>I agree there is great sadness in all that. This is, as someone said, taken from real life, where the thought of the things you have lost, even if you won others in their stead, is almost unbearable. I cried for something like twenty minutes, when Frodo went to the Grey Havens! And the sadness of the elves at the awareness of the ending of their age, the hopelessness of the task, the forlornness of many moments set a pervasive tone of sadness that underscores the whole book.<BR><BR>But I never considered that darkness!<BR>For me there's incredible sweetness to it. I'd compare it to a piece of baroque music, so sad and sweet at the same time, it just feels like dying pleasantly. (Or, now I said that, maybe you could think of Keats' Ode to a Nightingale if you haven't yet experienced the musical example) But comparisons seem far-fetched here.<BR><BR>I mean, all this loss is sad, but it's also so perfectly right! One age ends, another begins, both will have their good and their bad sides. Sam, Pippin and Merry get older and change, they get respectable and paunchy and especially for Pippin and Merry their adventures will make good fireside tales of memory to tell to their grand-children. They may miss the old days at times when you met noble generosity and did courageous deeds, but what they have now is also good. Different, but just as good! Sam with his many children doing a good job as mayor probably making wise and just decisions, maybe having learnt mercy from Frodo but still being a bit strict at times, and living to ripe old age - I was just so completely happy when I read this appendix I cried again.<BR>Frodo - he had seen too much to resume his old life and though I would have wished for a miracle healing for his soul, I see it's more realistic like that.<BR><BR>And the reason you do feel so intensively about the characters is because you grow to love them so deeply - I can't recall another book that made me love so many characters, or any character, as completely as I loved most of the "good" characters in LOTR - and there's a lot of brightness in that feeling!<BR><BR>And one last trait I loved LOTR for, that makes it so different from classic myths: it's so absolutely English! And the religion of the English (I apologize for the stereotype if any native Englishman is offended at this) is Common Sense! Yes, you feel your losses and mourn, but then you pull yourself together and get on with life! It's the only way to survive.<BR>When Sam gets home in the end and says "Well, I'm back" that seemed to sum up the whole point of life, at least for ordinary mortals like us - there is darkness in everybody's life, but it does not rule!<BR><BR>This, I guess, is the opinion of a cheerful-hearted Hobbit, and I beg your patience for the length of it!