Saturday, December 5, 2009
What Has Tolkien Rolling in his Grave
After Peter Jackson finally gave Lord of the Rings fans a legitimate trilogy to watch, few die-hard fans are left in disgust. To Jackson's credit, his attention to detail and the overall richness of the trilogy is stunning. Also, to no one's surprise, there are elements changed, omitted, and added that all fall under artistic license. Of course many fans were angry with the omission of people like Tom Bombadil and an altered ending to the third film. For any non-fan, the film, as is, is painfully long, even if it is captivating. My problem, or I should say Tolkien's problem with Jackson's rendition of his epic Trilogy can be found in the third film, The Return of the King. I have read blog posts and seen fan polls about which ask which Jackson invention was the most unfaithful to the books. Overwhelmingly, the answer is when Frodo demands that Sam leave him, and "Go Home".
Why would the simply words, "Go Home", have Tolkien rolling in his grave, you ask? Well unlike all the other superficial plot and character changes, what Jackson chose to do is a thematic shift; a big no-no, and one that Tolkien would have had trouble swallowing. If you read the books, or even watched the movies up to that point, you would see that Sam and Frodo are inseparable; nothing and no one can break their friendship. In fact, their friendship is their survival in all the long months journey away from home. Without each other, the quest would have failed. I am angered to no end by Jackson's flair for the dramatic, with this being the culmination. I have watched interviews of the script team, where they try to justify their decision. Their overwhelming response is that "it could not work". They seem to think that the temptation is too strong, and it would create the conflict that they added into the film. That's funny. I seem to remember that Sam and Frodo's friendship held together just fine in the books. So i guess "it did work", but Jackson's team didn't want it to work. Tolkien worked so hard to inject the theme of unshakable friendship, and Peter Jackson has poked holes in it. Fans of the books would simply be pissed off by this change; what about those people who have only seen the movies? They are left with a misconception that Sam and Frodo's friendship is vulnerable, when in reality it is steady as a rock. As Steven Colbert would say, "A wag of the Finger" goes to Peter Jackson for his attack on the largest theme of friendship and fellowship that exists in the stories.