J.R.R. Tolkien discussion

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message 1: by McKenna (new)

McKenna | 1 comments Hey guys! I’ve seen the LOTR trilogy several times and have never read the books (its shameful, I know). I love to read, but I’ve seen mixed reviews about how the books stack up to the movies. I really want to try them, what should I expect?


message 2: by A (new)

A | 49 comments The movies dumb down or omit Tolkien's language.


message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael | 445 comments Mod
The films are their own thing; the books are their own thing. Personal preference as to which you prefer.

My preference is for the books - they are rich in character (despite what some might say), history, feeling and scene. To read The Lord of the Rings is to be immersed in a different world, but one that is recognisable and "human", notwithstanding the folk with pointy ears.

Are there long swathes of description? Yes, and you either love that, plough through it to get to the "good bits", or put the books down and watch the films.

I've watched the films numerous times (the extended versions, which make a lot more sense and give a better feel for Middle-earth than do the theatrical releases), and I thoroughly enjoy them. I can understand most of the decision that the director made in the parts that were changed for the film adaptations, and it's wonderful to see Middle-earth on screen. I'm lucky (I think) that my previous readings of the book before the films came out means that I still have my own imagery when I read LoTR, and not the film imagery.

The Hobbit films, on the other hand, are excrable (but I watch them anyway!).


message 4: by Matt (new)

Matt (celebrim) | 1 comments I prefer the books, largely because in many ways the movies depart from the books in theme and spirit.

Where the movies are good is where they draw on Tolkien fandom for their visual and musical effects. Most of the visuals are fairly true to some vision of the books and the music is often wonderful. But like many of the scenes, the movies actually inherited this and did not create them itself. You can go to an John Howe or Alan Lee painting and see the movie before there was a movie, or hear the music of the movie in the many fan choral groups that are out there.

Where the movies fall down is when they try to be smarter than the author. When the dialogue is faithful to the book, as in Théoden's speech to the riders of Rohan before they charge the fields of Pelannor, it's powerful. Where they decide to change that language because it's too grown up and complex and alien to the modern ear, I feel it sounds pretty stupid and loses all of its mythic power. It's particularly jarring when the dialogue is surrounded by people speaking like medieval lords and then they make some anachronistic comment.

The other problem with the movies is that the director hates the books. Sure, he loves the fighting in the books and the action in the books, but he would I think rather prefer that Frodo goes alone to Baradur with only his squire and defeats Sauron in personal combat, and that Aragorn takes the Ring and with its power smites his enemies. The themes of the book are mercy, humility, and providence, and the director would rather (in his own words) that there was more "violence and T&A". The movies reflect this opinion, adding more Hollywood action sequences at the expense of the deep exploration of the characters and themes.


message 5: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 55 comments I totally agree with the above comments. I came to the movies first, and I loved them for a long time. But once you read the books, there is really no turning back. I don't think the movies age that well, and the more you watch them, the more flaws that become apparent. You could probably read the books a thousand times, and find new things to love about them. There is a reason that so many fans read the books annually. Tolkien is the type of author that begs to be reread often.


message 6: by A (last edited Mar 23, 2018 12:05PM) (new)

A | 49 comments Don't get me wrong I'm a sucker for theatrics, but I also appreciate exploration of deep themes and drama. I was ok with the adaption of the Trilogy, but hated the adaptation of The Hobbit which even when it tried to be dramatic pulled entirely from cliche. I didn't realize the director "hated" the books. Is there a source for this?

My idea of a great adaptation is the 1977/80 Rankin & Bass children's animations. They are truer to the language, and I can't recall any great artistic license in play. They are of course heavily abridged versions of the stories.


message 7: by Anne (new)

Anne Gazzolo | 388 comments Mod
McKenna wrote: "Hey guys! I’ve seen the LOTR trilogy several times and have never read the books (its shameful, I know). I love to read, but I’ve seen mixed reviews about how the books stack up to the movies. I re..."

Hi McKenna, you should expect a master sub-creator at work and a story with much to teach us about what love, hope, friendship, loyalty and sacrifice is all about. I saw the movies before I read the books too. As much as I love the LOTR movies, my entry way to Middle-earth, for their celebration of the same brotherly love, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, etc etc, they have some grievous flaws too. So read the books and meet the real Faramir - yea! Learn that Aragorn really does want to be king, does not want to break up with Arwen and a male Elf rescued Frodo on the way to the Ford, not Arwen (which even though not true is still one of my favorite scenes). Learn Gandalf the White is not a wimp and Merry and Pippin are not just comic relief.

If you haven't watched the so-called Hobbit movies, don't. They have very, very little to do with the book. The book is so much richer in all ways and quite different. Except for a few minutes here and there, there is nothing to celebrate. I hope one day someone will make a movie based on Bilbo's memoirs.

Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)


message 8: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 36 comments The books kick the movies' butt. :) I don't think Jackson hates the books; I just feel like he realized he'd tapped into a goldmine and it went to his head - he kind of lost his mind the further into the story he got. The first film was beautiful; the second left me puzzled and unhappy; after the third one I had to pull over on the way home and cry, it was so horrible. I refused to go see the Hobbit films when Jackson got hold of them; I'm not giving him any more of my money. I tried watching one on tv, and had to stop before I started throwing things; I can't afford a new television.

Be prepared: there is no farting or belching in the books. (Or Elves at Helm's Deep.)


message 9: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 36 comments Oh, and welcome!


message 10: by Scott (new)

Scott Gottstein | 2 comments The movies portray the LOTR as a glorified children's story. The books are actually much more than that. They are literary classics, Tolkien's language and world building abilities are second to none.

I must warn you, certain parts of the books can be tough to read, specifically The Council of Elrond, Lothlorien and when Men start getting introduced. Tolkiens linguistic abilites really start to shine in these sections. Don't let it sway you.


message 11: by Joaquin (new)

Joaquin Mejia | 10 comments What should you expect in "The Lord of the Rings"? Well, you can expect a beautiful fantasy world, fascinating characters, deep themes, and lyrical prose. I personally think the movies are great but people need to learn that the books are SO much more glorious, profound, awesome, and beautiful than any adaptation of Tolkien's work.


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