Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In My Defense

I continually have to defend my decision to never watch Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations. People, I will never watch them. Stop looking at me incredulously and trying to convince me otherwise. When they were in preproduction, I watched the casting and hoped for the best, but at the same time I didn't want to see the movies because I didn't want Hollywood's images competing with the superior images I have in my head when I read my favorite trilogy. For those of you who think the on-screen version does justice to or surpasses your mental images, then for you I am sorry. I have seen enough clips to know. I wish I could invite you to hang out inside my brain while I'm reading them.

The second part of my argument is the one you hear me harp about all the time: Literature offers a different artistic medium than film, and Tolkien's is perfect as it is. It's too rich to translate. It offends me deeply when Hollywood thinks it can cut out all the history, linguistics, and poetry; delete or change parts of the plot; and manipulate characters, and somehow improve upon LOTR. Sometimes Hollywood gets it right, but this isn't one of those cases.

Anyhoo, I underwent that debate. Ickie and Jackamo, among other committed LOTR fans, saw The Fellowship of the Ring and brought back fairly positive reports with some reservations. Then they both came back with angry, disappointed reports about the 2nd movie. Ickie said the 3rd movie was the worst--ultimately boring for him; Jackie didn't even bother to see it in the theater. I trust these folks more than movie critics, and I feel utterly vindicated regarding my decision not to see them. Others (Hambone, my dad) also saw the movies and ultimately agreed I had made the right decision not to see them, at least for someone who is as voracious a fan as I.

Besides the reactions of my friends and family members, I remember being amused when the third movie came out and a critic (I can't recall who) described Elijah Wood (playing Frodo) as a "spoiled princess in a curly wig" and "a turd in the middle of a beautiful angel food cake." Tonight I read another excellent summation of the movies in an article listing several movies nominated for Oscars which should have won over those that did.

"The Return of the King skated right over [the deep places of the soul], trading the spare, almost tender, way that Tolkien crafted his characters for a slick, overly produced, ham-fisted drama that’s about as subtle as being struck in the back of the head by an actual copy of The Lord of the Rings."

Hear that, naysayers? "Ham-fisted." I rest my case.

Also, I think there could be a subtle allusion to this fight scene in The Bourne Ultimatum in there (a film series that greatly improves upon its source).

P.S. I did see the first Narnia movie two years ago, and it too was a disappointment. Aslan wasn't even close to big enough. I had none of the magical tingles I get when I read those books (especially when I read them for the first time in elementary school).


Josh said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your position (even without needing the professional critics to add ammo) that the LOTR movies cannot match the LOTR books, as well as your general belief that movies cannot do justice to the books on which they're based. However, for me, that does not translate into my not enjoying those movies, but rather into my not expecting the same thing of those movies. I watch the movie adaptations as a completely different entertainment animal. To compare the entertainment value of a book & a movie is to compare the nutritional value of a spinach salad (with feta, walnuts & a creamy vinagrette dressin) to a classic Big Mac. Both fill their prospective niche but not at the same value & not in direct competition/comparison with one another. Now, whether you ever indulge in both a bacon double cheeseburger when you love BLT sandwiches is your call. You know what you like & what's worth your time/effort. But when I want a quick Hollywood entertainment (which I often do, since I'm pretty good at being lazy & often enjoy doing something productive at the same time, not possible with reading a good book) then the LOTR & Narnia movies were pretty darn good, I think.

hayumbone said...

What -- are you being harassed again?

Reading the critic's comments about Elijah Wood made me laugh. However, he wasn't the problem for me -- it was Viggo Mortensen and his portrayal of Aragorn. But you know all this already -- ad nauseum, ad infinitum.