Does film Gandalf get weaker?

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Does film Gandalf get weaker?

Postby original.wombat » Fri Aug 05, 2005 2:01 pm

I remember reading somewhere that Tolkien had given Gandalf four big confrontations with major villains, each one weaker than the previous and each time Gandalf wins a kind of victory. So The Balrog in a sense killed him but he came back, the confrontation with Saruman ended with Gandalf breaking his staff, The Witch-King turned away from him at the gates of Minas Tirith and Gandalf does not believe The Mouth of Sauron has Frodo captive and this is confirmed when the other squirms after being asked to produce him. Every time Gandalf reveals his inner strength or his superior intellect.

In the films the first of these two confrontations are much the same but the Witch King over comes Gandalf and breaks his staff and I noticed that after this Gandalf seems less sure of himself, he seems to despair in "The Last Debate" scene that he has sent Frodo to his death and it is Aragorn who comes up with positivism and a way to help Frodo, and when Gandalf is told by The Mouth that Frodo is a prisoner he obviously believes him, you can see it in his face, and once again it is Aragorn who rallies him (and everyone else) I wonder if this is to do with "Men" raising the standard of hope for when they take over the world and relying less on more magical beings. any thoughts. It's also odd that of these four confrontations only the first was in the theatrical edition of the film
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sat Aug 06, 2005 6:09 am

We've discussed this before, but what the hell.

I'd have to break it down into films.

FOTR Gandalf only differed from canon Gandalf in being a tad sentimental in presentation, and in being overly deferential to Elrond and Saruman. He's still the fount of all wisdom, etc. PJ upped the ante a bit, in his usual way, with the "let this cup pass from me" scene. Y'know, with Gandalf not wanting to enter Moria but accepting the Ringbearer's decision. Well, it made it clear to general audiences that Gandalf knew he was facing death in entering Moria. Let's not go into the Deliberate Fall: it's been done to death.

TTT Gandalf is powerful and authoritative. I suppose it could be argued that his victory over Saruman is achieved in the exorcism scene, with Theoden as a proxy. I suppose.

ROTK Gandalf was poorly written (IMO). His wisdom was reduced to bashing a despairing ally. Symbol of hope? No way: he's hopeless and has to be reassured by Aragorn. Those two scenes were, I believe, in the theatrical cut and so were seen by wide audiences.

The fans got a Gandalf who can't see through the MoS's lies and who is weak in his confrontation with the WiKi (reduced to a noisy physical stand-off, rather than a spiritual contest).

Some of this seems to have been done to big up Aragorn, the rest just smacks of crude writing and direction.
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Postby Old_Tom_Bombadil » Sat Aug 06, 2005 10:26 am

As I reflect back on the films--as I often due--and the choices the filmmakers made to differ from the books in various places, I believe in every instance the choice they made was for the purpose of heightening the drama. I'll give you an example:

In Return of the King Frodo and Sam are on the stairs to Cirith Ungol. Tricksy Gollum frames Sam for stealing lembas. Frodo sends Sam away. Sam wanders off in a blubbering mess. Frodo faces Shelob alone. Sam finds the lembas that Gollum had tossed down the stairs, then runs back to try to save Frodo.

None of this was in the book.

What's the point? More drama. Oooo!

More examples: The deluge of skulls in the Paths of the Dead, Aragorn's beheading of the Mouth of Sauron, the battle in Moria with a Cave Troll (remember in the book Frodo stabs the troll's foot as it attempts to get through the door and that's about it), the battle with the Warg Riders on route to Helm's Deep, Frodo's leap onto the Buckleberry ferry with a Black Rider on his heels, etc.

So the conclusion I come to is that PJ & Co. didn't feel that Tolkien's book offered enough excitement for the big screen, so they kicked it up a few dozen notches to add to the drama. I really believe it's that simple.
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Postby original.wombat » Sat Aug 06, 2005 2:22 pm

re Queen Beruthiel's comments.

I think that runs concurrent with the films "rise of men" thing that was more implied in the book, I never noticed it but the film constantly makes refernce to it. I think making Gandalf a bit weaker is fine in this respect but I agree with you about his knocking unconscious of Denethor particularly when listening to PJ's commentary and one of them refers to this scene always getting a big cheer so that means it works. They said the same thing about Legolas on the Horse and on the shield, but it's not because it works dramatically they cheered it's because it looks "cool" and most people are not so involved in Tolkien's world as us and want to see it treated respectfully. It's lowest common denominator stuff and It also seemed to me that Gandalf pratically murdered Denethor then said whistfully as he ran down the road on fire "Ah, there passes Denethor, son of Ecthelion" like he was watching a sombre funeral procession.
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Postby Mithfânion » Fri Sep 16, 2005 1:33 pm

OW

I naturally agree with the thrust of your argument that Gandalf is weakened in the films, it should be obvious to anyone familiar with book and film. Just don't recall the Witch King deliberately turning away from him in the books, rather it seemed to me they was simply an intervention which prevented a face-off.

In the films there is build-up to the defeat of Gandalf as well, with some repitions about him fearing the Witch King and then the Witch King confident that he will beat him.
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