Why should PJ have creative license?

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Postby Markus » Wed Oct 11, 2000 12:46 am

Why is it that some people think PJ should apply creative license too the plot. I can understand creative license concerning the directing or producing aspect, but why the plot? It won't do anything to make the story any better. All it has achieved thus far is pi$$ing off a ton of loyal fans. It's about as strange as an illustrated copy of LOTR having paintings in it that do not correlate at all with the story. I tend to think creative license should apply only to your own work. Otherwise, you end up with graffiti. A marred surface on an otherwise beautiful work of human thought.
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Postby Hama » Wed Oct 11, 2000 1:00 am

And THAT has been my question all along! Could not agree more!<BR><BR>Hama.<BR>
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Postby AsGoot » Wed Oct 11, 2000 3:54 am

All I can think of is that PJ approaches LOTR from a less fanatic viewpoint than us. It seems to me that to him it is a great book, but not THE GREATEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN. So he "arrogantly" feels that he can make some changes (known to some as "rape"), whereas we cannot (well I could not) imagine a reason for doing such a thing, to appease 1) his creative impulses 2) financial backers, 3) ?? (don't know). I could imagine making changes to some of the good books I've read... no LOTR of course. Too bad, but could be worse.
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Postby richitis » Wed Oct 11, 2000 5:37 am

I believe it is considered normal by screenwriters/adapters/directors to get creative with other people's works. Personally I think this is A BAD THING - not just for LOTR but for any work, by anyone. I know that those of us who feel this way are fighting against the current, but it's still the way I feel. <BR><BR>richitis
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Postby Wildwood » Wed Oct 11, 2000 6:02 am

Markus,you phrase your question very well! The thoughts on paintings based on LOTR chiefly caught my notice!<BR><BR>You hit the point, there! I was thinking that, if one of those artists known for paintings based on LOTR (Nasmith, Howe,etc) had up and put Arwen in a depiction of Helm's Deep, plenty of folks would be pretty upset! And if they had painted a picture of the same battle, but with a host, or a company, or a group of more than ONE elves, then there would be a general outcry against it!<BR><BR>But since this is a movie, those changes seem to be ok with people! I really don't see the difference, in terms of PLOT! Yeah, a picture only shows one scene, and it has all of eternity to depict it, but that isn't the point. The point is....it must depict what is there to be considered an accurate depiction, mustn't it?<BR><BR>Why not the same rule for movies, in terms of plot development and storyline? I don't see - even when you take in all the difficulties involved in taking an epic story to 6 hrs of film - any reason for some of the blatant changes that have been made, other than the director's own desire to do it differently than in the book!<BR><BR>But...it's an old argument! Nobody need reply, in an effort to enlighten me, because I most assuredly will not agree at all!<BR><BR>Just wanted to say that I thought your analogy particularly apt!<BR>
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Postby frank » Wed Oct 11, 2000 6:08 am

I posted this on another thread (in reply to one of Hamas posts), but I think it fits this thread even better:<BR><BR>I think that creative licence is not only an issue of the "amount" of liberties taken, but also a question of what specific object or occurrence the liberties are taken with. Each case is unique.<BR><BR>The general rule is naturally that the authors vision should be respected in every adaption of a piece of art. If not because of laws, then because of moral.<BR><BR>However; There are, as I see it, some grey zones. Sometimes, very rarely (maybe 10-20 times every century), a piece of art becomes<BR>so well known that it no longer can be considered merely a properity of the artist. It has turned in to a part of our popular culture --an<BR>icon, if you will. Examples could be some of the works of Shakespeare, some extremely famous paintings or why not<BR>Mickey Mouse? In my opinion, the originators of these creations have to accept *some* tampering with their work, simply because it<BR>have come to represent something more than what they originally intended with it. If an artist paints a moustache on Mona-Lisa (well, not the original), I think it's okay. Maybe even good.<BR><BR>What once was a protected property has turned into a piece of contemporary culture.<BR><BR>I'm not saying that Tolkiens work has passed that point yet, but it's certainly on it's way. If Peter Jackson would make an adaption of,<BR>say, a yet not published novel by Hama, I think that I too would consider myself a purist. When it comes to Tolkien, I'm not sure.
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Postby Diamond of Long Cleeve » Wed Oct 11, 2000 6:39 am

"What once was a protected property has turned into a piece of contemporary culture. I'm not saying that Tolkiens work has passed that point yet, but it's certainly on it's way."<BR><BR>Really, Frank? Do you seriously think that as many people have heard of Frodo Baggins as of Robin Hood, Mickey Mouse, or Obi Wan-Kenobi? Heck, Harry Potter is now firmly part of contemporary culture a mere three years after his creation. It's taken Frodo virtually 50 years to reach that point. Ironically, he might well become part of contemporary culture after the LOTR films. Whether that'll be a good thing, I don't know. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> <BR><BR>Because although LOTR has always had a loyal and devoted fan-base, and although it has sold millions, it STILL belongs more in the realm of the cult classic than mainstream contemporary culture.<BR><BR>As for creative license: as long as film has existed, film directors have always taken enormous liberties with authors' works. I don't really know why they do, but they do.
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Postby Gungnir » Wed Oct 11, 2000 7:12 am

Of course some changes are necessary when adapting any book etc. and it is stupid to deny this. I doubt that there is any book that could be translated exactly,totally and successfully to the screen - even most screenplays need some alteration before they can be filmed.<BR><BR>Some changes, however are quite difficult to justify. I get the feeling that often screenwriters and directors, when adapting books, comics etc. for the screen, make unnecessary and/or unwarranted changes for one (or more) of three reasons<BR><OL><BR><li>To put their "stamp" on it<BR><li>To justify their involvement (esp. screenwriters)<BR><li>To massage their own egos ("Hey I know better than this Toll-keen guy!")<BR></OL><BR><BR>Now I don't get the feeling that PJ fits into any of these niches. I think he thought that he had a valid reason for the changes he made and that he thought that the movie would be better for them. I don't think that he's an "ARROGANT DIRECTOR WHO'S RAPING THE TEXT!" I think that he thought that the changes were justified within the context of making a good movie. (I think he has also discovered that he was wrong and is trying to rectify the situation somewhat.)<BR><BR>(BTW could anyone tell me exactly what that unnecessarily emotive and IMHO rather idiotic phrase "RAPING THE TEXT" really means?)
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Postby Flamasaur » Wed Oct 11, 2000 8:22 am

Mr. --------, D.A.: The State will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Jackson is guilty of 7 counts of First Degree Textual Rape committed against the literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Fellowship of the Ring", "The Two Towers", and "The Return of the King", known collectively as "The Lord of the Rings."<BR><BR>Judge: Present the evidence.<BR><BR>Mr. --------, D.A.: Exhibit A- Several screen test scripts, and the testimony of several rumor mongers of varying credibility, as well as Mr. Jackson's own words from a year ago, which are carved in stone and unalterable.<BR><BR>Judge: Mr. Jackson, how do you plead?<BR><BR>PJ: Your Honor, I plead Creative License.<BR><BR>Judge: Case dismissed.<BR><BR><BR>(Hey, it's called the "Legal system," not the "Justice system.")<BR><BR>I'm an optimistic purist, who won't lose any sleep even if Jackson literally or figuratively "rapes the text"- I expect some compromises to be made, but in the US, at least, Jackson is innocent until he's proven guilty- or so I'm told. There can be no verdict until Dec. '01. (Barring incriminating evidence to the contrary in the form of an official New Line trailer, for example.)
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Postby Gungnir » Wed Oct 11, 2000 8:32 am

Yes, very amusing but my question was what does "raping the text" actually mean? It's a very 'nice' little phrase designed to whip up all sorts of powerful negative emotions but if anyone could actually quantify how you 'rape' a book... Come to think of it, maybe I don't want to know.
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Postby DrStrangelove » Wed Oct 11, 2000 8:36 am

Given that the three books have much more plot than the running time of a trilogy of films than it seems inevitable that some change in the plot will happen.<BR>It is HOW they go about changing the plot that matters.<BR>There are numerous brilliant pieces of Tolkien art that do not match the descriptions in the story. They even get put in the "official" calender.<BR>
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Postby Flamasaur » Wed Oct 11, 2000 9:39 am

Gungnir... Yes, I was actually commenting on the concept of Creative License. It was your question that prompted me to think of it in a quasi-legal context. (I say quasi-legal because I don't want anyone to think that I am a self-proclaimed legal expert, because neither my sales nor computer networking background qualify me to make such a claim. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> )<BR><BR>Anyway, my opinion on "raping the text".... <BR><BR>Funk and Wagnall does list this as their entry #4 under "rape"...<BR><BR>an act of plunder or despoliation: as in 'the rape of the countryside.'<BR><BR>So I guess from a linguistic standpoint, if PJ is despoiling the text and plundering it for material gain, then "raping the text" is an acceptable metaphor, albeit a rather harsh accusation. <BR><BR>(But then again, I cannot lay claim to any formal training in linguistics, so it's just my opinion.)
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Postby ~Elrohir~ » Wed Oct 11, 2000 12:57 pm

That's an incredibly naive statement to make, Gungnir, AsGoot, and richitis. While we can only speculate why anyone would make changes to any story, I think it is of paramount importance to remember that screenwriters are writers too, and as such usually respect ALL writing. Any screenwriter worth his salt (or his salary) will always attempt to do one thing with an adaptation: stay true to the heart and soul of the source material.<BR><BR>My question is, what does "changing the plot" consist of? Specifically? <BR><BR>Certainly, most of us scratch our heads over the Arwen rumors...but, is it "changing the plot" to excise Bombadil and then have Aragorn present the Westernesse daggers to the hobbits? It sounds to me like changing the plot, yet just about everyone here has agreed that they are alright with that.<BR><BR>So...that begs the question...are we really talking about changing the plot, or are we talking about changing the plot more than you think is ok? I doubt PJ has changed the basic plot of Frodo getting the ring, getting to Rivendell, joining the fellowship...etc.<BR><BR>In fact, the only MAJOR plot revisions are the rumored changes to Arwen and the infamous RSWD. As for the RSWD, while many "purists" may dislike the style/tone of such a death for Saruman, I think everyone agrees he should die in some fashion if there is to be no scouring. While I would love to see the Scouring intact, if it has to be cut for time I doubt any of us can argue that. Particularly not as an "ego" thing.<BR><BR>Anything I'm missing? Orc pods are not plot change...neither is Boromir touching the ring (or it's chain), or fallen leaves in Lorien, or Balrog wings, or pointy elf helms, or bad dialogue, or Faramir cutting open Frodo's cape, or Frodo bleeding, or....you get the point.<BR><BR>Thus, we are back to Arwen. Something that we all suspect could be problematic (some hate it more than others). But, as time passes, I think it sounds less and less detrimental.
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Postby Kelannar » Wed Oct 11, 2000 1:40 pm

"Orc pods are not plot change..."<BR><BR>Oh REALLY? They're not in the book, are they?<BR><BR>"neither is Boromir touching the ring (or it's chain)"<BR><BR>Again, I couldn't find this in the book!<BR><BR>"or fallen leaves in Lorien..."<BR><BR>Ironically, I thought PJ had gotten this part right. I remember reading a news report about them picking up leaves for the Lorien scene. Maybe I have it backwards, though.<BR><BR>"or Balrog wings, or pointy elf helms"<BR><BR>There is a difference in artful visual adaptation from ambiguous cites from the book, and arbitrarily changing the course of the story, dialouge, themes, and characters.<BR><BR>"or bad dialogue"<BR><BR>Dialouge was changed for no apparrent reason. Why does he change the dialouge to "Let them take me, if they can." to "Let them take me, if they will." Totally different meanings, and no apparrent reason for the change. <BR><BR>"or Faramir cutting open Frodo's cape"<BR><BR>This is an extreme change in the nature of Faramir and never happened in the book.<BR><BR>"or Frodo bleeding, or....you get the point."<BR><BR>Right. All unnecessary changes that have no place here at all. I think you've implicated PJ better than I have, Elrohir.<BR><BR>Why do people defending this disasterous production find it so difficult to understand that these changes do not belong, are not faithful at all (by any analysis), do not follow the story in the book, change the characters, change the story, and change the dialouge? Why is it necessary to debate "is this REALLLLLLLY a change?" Don't you see Arwen at Helm's Deep for what it is? <BR><BR>"I doubt PJ has changed the basic plot of Frodo getting the ring, getting to Rivendell, joining the fellowship...etc."<BR><BR>Sure he has. Frodo GETS TO RIVENDELL with Arwen's help! There is photographic evidence of this. There's a story about a ring, but Arwen is there too! There MIGHT be a story about a supposed "fellowship", which is inconsequential because Arwen shows up out of nowhere to suddenly save the day! There might be a story about the Ring's power and the pitiless corruption of the spirit, but this is become now a story about ROMANCE and XenArwen and GIRL POWER!<BR><BR>Does time compression force these changes? Certainly not.
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Postby ~Elrohir~ » Wed Oct 11, 2000 1:53 pm

Good to see you back, Kel!<BR><BR>PLOT: noun; The main story (as of a book or movie).<BR><BR>I don't need to defend this film. It's not out yet. I agree that the things I listed ARE changes. They are NOT in the book. Why else did I list them so conspicuously?<BR><BR>They are NOT plot changes.<BR><BR>I took this thread to be about PLOT changes and how ludicrous it would be to screw with a perfectly good age old story. Other than the Arwen changes (I don't dispute that she will be different...however, the more I hear (rumors), the more it seems like they won't be as big as we originally thought), I don't see any plot changes.<BR><BR>You're usually such a stickler for detail, Kel...
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Postby Frode » Wed Oct 11, 2000 2:56 pm

Removing Bombadil is not changing the plot I would say. Indeed Tolkien himself admitted that Bombadil was not important to the main story. <BR>Arwen/active elves is a whole other matter. <BR>Removing Bombadil is a pretty clear lift which does not touch the main story. Having an active Arwen/elves will not only change the story, but touch with one of the matters that lies at the heart of Tolkiens mythology: the fading of fairy. Such a move on behalf of the filmmakers would signal a serious lack of understanding and respect. I am tempted to use one of Kel's phrases about such an eventuality.
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Postby JWW » Wed Oct 11, 2000 3:01 pm

Everyone has good arguments for both sides. I myself would like to see the movie stay true to the book's plot line. Any "creative license" used should only expand situations and/or characters to enhance the movie. Especially for the non-tolkienites.<BR><BR>But Kel describes my greatest fear, though I don't think PJ and crew will make this mistake. And that is to make out Arwen as a Xena warrior type and therefore make this a girl power movie with 20th century undertones. The entire feel of the "fellowship" would be ruined. To raise Arwen's role and yet keep it a supporting role, doesn't bother me. But it would bother me if the Fellowship became less heroic due to the xenarwen rumor having a greater role. <BR>
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Postby Khajran » Wed Oct 11, 2000 3:21 pm

<DISCLAIMER> I am now going to be a spelling nazi. This contributes absolutely nothing to the thread. Move along, nothing to see here.</DISCLAIMER><BR><SPELLING-RANT><BR>It's <i>dialoGUE</i>. Not <i>dialoUGE</i>. That annoys me almost as much as rogue/rouge, although at least it doesn't convert a character designation into makeup.<BR></SPELLING-RANT><BR><BR>--k<BR>
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Postby Frode » Wed Oct 11, 2000 3:35 pm

<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> Khajran
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Postby Hama » Thu Oct 12, 2000 12:17 am

Just to point out that Aragorn giving the swords to the hobbits is not a plot change I condone. I think the hobbits should already have the swords when they get to Bree. Peter Jackson said in his second Q&A:<BR><BR><i>12. Ok, here we have a fella that's willing to let you not show EVERY character mentioned in the three books, but.... Well Greg, wants to know... <BR>"You've hinted that the first film may move quickly to the Council of Elrond, showing very little of the hobbit adventures in reaching Rivendell..which would be fine with me." <BR>PJ: There's more than you think. The actual council doesn't start until page 72. <BR>"as a fan of the books, I think I'd prefer the approach, where possible, of moving a favorite character or scene or relationship "off screen" rather than watering it down or creating composite characters. In other words, maybe your film doesn't show me Prince Imrahil...but don't tell me there IS NO Prince Imrahil." <BR><b>PJ: I agree with that. The same goes for Bombadil ... when the hobbits arrive at Bree without us seeing the Bombadil episode, it doesn't mean it didn't happen ... it just wasn't shown in the film. You are certainly welcome to imagine that they have had that experience, and we do nothing to prevent that.</b></i><BR><BR>I much prefer this idea. Don't tell me there are no Barrow Downs by having Aragorn give the swords to the hobbits at Bree. And anyone worrying about plot holes should consider this. In a western, you expect to see cowboys with guns. In a fantasy film, you expect to see the protagonists armed with swords. Ergo, when the hobbits appear at Bree, few in the audience will question the fact that they are armed. And those of us in the know can imagine that the whole affair with Bombadil and the Barrow Downs took place!<BR><BR>Hama.<BR>
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Postby AsGoot » Thu Oct 12, 2000 1:47 am

Yeah, I know my position is naive and not reasonable. With some other books that I consider good, Arwen-magnitude changes would be no problem; if I was writing a screenplay (as if I could) on, say, a Carl Hiaasen (Sp?) book, I might change a thing or two and not feel bad about it. But because of my fanaticism I, once again writing that imaginary screenplay, would not make any changes to Tolkien. I accept that PJ is not THAT fanatic and understand what he is doing from his standpoint. He seems to respect the source a great deal more than is usual in Hollywood anyway. How much, remains to be seen. What is certain IMO that it could've been million times worse and a lot of things we, or well actually I (don't want to talk for anyone else) make a fuss about are small potatoes and amounts to nitpicking. But it is fun now isn't it? I am still enthusiastic and will be there for the premiere.
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Postby Greybeard » Thu Oct 12, 2000 8:52 am

It would seem that no one here has considered the most obvious change that we will see. How will Mr. J wrap the first two movies? That is to say, how will they end? Of course, we Tolkienians would hope that he will remain true to the text in each movie and simply end with the phrase "To be continued", but I can tell you "that ain't gonna happen." The vast majority of the movie going audience doesn't know, and doesn't care about the book. They go to the movies to be entertained, and will not accept a movie with no ending. If Mr. J isn't very careful, and very creative in wraping the first movie, his work will die a sudden and ugly death. How he will accomplish this task without destroying Professor T's work, I cannot say, but I wouldn't want to be in Mr. J's shoe during premiere week. On the one hand he could see his career come to an end, on the other, he could be fed to the Orcs.<BR><BR>--------------------<BR><BR>"So!" said the Messenger, "Then thou art the spokesman, old greybeard."
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Postby Diamond of Long Cleeve » Thu Oct 12, 2000 9:04 am

Well, it seems that Jackson will wrap 'Fellowship' with Boromir's death, Merry and Pippin's capture by the orcs and then maybe end with Frodo and Sam on the Emyn Muil, screwing up their courage to get on with the Quest. A superb way to end the first film, in my opinion.<BR>For people who don't know the story, it should whet their appetites to know more! And book sales will rocket when the films come out.<BR><BR>PJ is well aware of the power of the cliff-hanger. Do we forget that 'The Empire Strikes Back' ended with a classic movie cliff-hanger?
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Postby Greybeard » Thu Oct 12, 2000 9:31 am

OUCH!, Diamond. Mentioning "Star Wars" in the same breath with "LOTR" is like equating "The Life Of Brian" with the "Bible". :-)
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Postby Frode » Thu Oct 12, 2000 10:15 am

Well I don't really consider that a change at all Greybeard. PJ might choose to end FotR anywhere he wants without changing the story of LotR. I want no changes made to the content of LotR in the transport from one medium to another, but ending FotR or TT in a different place than what Tolkien did would not alter the content of LotR.
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Postby Cain97 » Thu Oct 12, 2000 2:51 pm

It will still seem like a continuity blunder if the hobbits just popped up in Bree bearing their blades. If we see the Hobbits leave the Shire and escape the nazgul without blades, they had better explain how those blades just miraculously appeared on the hobbits. The movie can't leave something like that unstated or it will stick out like a sore thumb.
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Postby Greybeard » Thu Oct 12, 2000 7:22 pm

Frodo & Diamond - I think you have missed my point. You can stop the FOTR movie at any point you like, but that isn't an ending. There is no ending there, at least one that the general movie going public is comfortable with. We purists would be perfectly content to leave all of our lovable characters dangling just as the book does, but the average movie goer has been conditioned to expect movies to be wrapped in neat little packages of 90 to 120 minutes with a beginning, a middle, and an end. In FOTR or TTT there is nothing that these movies goers would call an end. My question is will PJ try to create something that will at least resembles an end to appease these people, or will he leave them hanging?<BR><BR>Cliff-Hanger you say? All well and good, but how will the uninitiated take it when PJ, says "come back in a year and I'll show you part2", "come back in two years and see the ending". People may run out of patience.<BR><BR>Look at it this way. Say for instance, there is a TV mini-series that you want to see. A story you know nothing about, but it looks pretty good. You find out that the first episode will air tonight, but the second part will not be aired for another year, and the third a year after that. Will you still watch the the first episode anyway, or consider it a waste of time?<BR><BR>I can guarantee these thoughts have gone through Mr. Jackson's mind. So, the original question remains. Will Mr. J be true to the book and risk the utter failure of his project, or will he hedge his bet and do some substantial tinkering with Professor T's work.<BR><BR>One thing I think we can be sure of is that Arwen's part will be beefed up. Lovely Liv commands a pretty hefty salary and is a big box office draw, so you can bet Mr. J will give her as much "face time" as possible. For instance, Arwen should not appear in TTT at all, but I would bet a dollar to a doughnut she will be there. PJ isn't going to leave her out of a whole movie. I call that a substantial diveation from the books.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Thu Oct 12, 2000 7:47 pm

Greybeard, the available evidence, especially the eOnline reports, suggests that what PJ has done is exapnd the fighting that takes place at Parth Galen. Instead of two separate skirmishes with Orc, one invovling Boromir, Merry and Pippin and the other Legolas and Gimli -- both of which take place "off-camera" in the book -- there is going to be a battle involving the whole Fellowship.<BR><BR>How this fits in with the confrontation between Frodo and Boromir is not apparent. But clearly there will be lots of adrenalin flowing.
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Postby Frode » Thu Oct 12, 2000 7:47 pm

Well FotR is going to end in a cliffhanger that might work as well as Empire Strikes back. That's a classic cliffhanger and people didn't mind waiting 3 years. Now they only have to wait one year. Two Towers offers a bit more resolution. The battle of Helms Deep is won....if Peter Jackson is wise he'll leave us hanging with Frodo lying 'dead' in Cirith Ungol....people will flock to see return of the king.
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Postby Diamond of Long Cleeve » Fri Oct 13, 2000 1:58 am

Greybeard, I take your point ...<BR><BR>But sod the average movie goer! I saw a brilliant film called 'Limbo' earlier this year, which had one of the most infuriating and tanatalising endings to a movie I've ever seen. I loved it! OK, so that was an art-house movie, not a mainstream one, but if PJ is the innovative and daring director I think he is, I am sure he can end the film skilfully without majorly tampering with the plot. He is of course already majorly tampering with the plot in other places, but that has nothing to do with the endings, or the non-endings. Roaccarsson, I wasn't aware of that. Hmmm ... <BR><BR>"People may run out of patience" - Why should they, when at least they can read the flippin' books?! <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> <BR><BR>As for Arwen, cheer up. Her battling with orcs might end up on the cutting floor. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR><BR>As for comparing LOTR the MOVIE with Star Wars, it's a perfectly good comparison, since you are equating the Star Wars audience with the LOTR one: the average movie-goer, in other words. I am not suggesting that LOTR the BOOK is on the same level as Star Wars, no indeedy ... that is on a different stratosphere altogether!<BR><BR>I do regard the first 'Star Wars' as a movie classic. 'Empire Strikes Back' - rather interminable. 'Return of the Jedi' - enjoyable fluff. 'Phantom Menace' - candyfloss. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0>
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