Rating: 4 of 5
At first I was upset at what this movie was and then I saw the extended version of this movie and surprisingly enough, I found forgiveness. Now, ironically, it’s probably the one I’ve seen the most.
My major grievances with the theatrical version of this movie were as follows: Faramir, Elrond, Arwen, Tree Beard, Shelob.
Shelob, enough said, we all know why that’s just wrong.
Tree Beard, I was disappointed because in the book he got up in arms a lot sooner, his anger at the injustice of Saruman was nearly immediate and that’s why he called the Entmoot.
Elrond could just be me. I know in the appendices it talks about how he disapproved of Arwen and Aragorn’s relationship. But to me it just seemed like it had more to do with Aragorn not living up to his destiny. Maybe that’s just me. But in the movie he seems to almost not like Aragorn. Like he has to compete for his daughter’s love with this man. And he has to coerce her onto the ships? He’s Elrond! I still don’t like his movie version.
Arwen, well she’s just the opposite of Shelob because she’s not in this book and she’s still Liv Tyler.
But for me the worst of all was Faramir. Because he did not take Frodo to Osgiliath. He did not try to buy his father’s approval selfishly without seeing the entirety of what was going on around him. There was a reason that Boromir and Faramir were different men. And it’s obvious that Faramir was the better man; that more of the Numenorean blood ran in him. That that was evident in the way he led his men, in his loyalties and those he trusted, in the choices that he made. Having him try to use the ring for the same purposes that Boromir would diminished him, brought him down to the level of Boromir and it was just wrong.
And then in the extended edition, I was surprised. It became evident to me that it wasn’t what I wanted or the way I would have done it, but in the end wrongs were righted. Faramir did let go of the ring and show himself to be a better man than his brother. Tree Beard did call the Ents to war. Well, those were the only two ills that were made right, but it was enough for me not to be bitter anymore. Which is a good thing. Because I really love the books. And it was hard to watch this movie and feel like it betrayed something that mattered to me.
ETA: 8-11-06 – I read an essay LOTR that expresses what I was trying to say about the lack of nobility in Faramir and Tree Beard and extended it to other supporting characters which I found interesting and agreed with. I pieced various quotes together into a single paragraph that makes the point rather than drawing it out into the 4 original paragraphs.
“…supporting characters whose virtue, wisdom, or nobility suffers in translation include Faramir (who no longer immediately rejects the lure of the Ring, first kidnapping Frodo and Sam on a side trip to Osgiliath), the Ents (who can no longer be allowed to themselves reach the conclusion that they must stand against Saruman, but must instead be led about by Pippin and Merry in order to grasp the truth), [Théoden (portrayed as a middle-aged warlord who doesn’t immediately impress us with his nobility at all), Elrond (who for the sake of his daughter, rather than to save Middle Earth reforges the sword, brings it to Aragorn and urges him to dare the Paths of the Dead…the filmmakers seem unwilling to portray a supporting character behaving in too noble or heroic a fashion; he must be given an ulterior motive),] and Denethor, steward of Gondor (a tragically twisted character even in Tolkien who nevertheless had a streak of dignity and nobility lacking here).”
“This change is symptomatic of an unfortunate tendency throughout the trilogy of diminishing the nobility and heroism of supporting characters. Presumably the root of this impulse in a wish to enhance the virtues of the main characters, yet it seems an unfortunate means to that end. It would have been nice if Jackson and company had trusted the audience to admire Aragorn even if Théoden also were a strong and heroic leader.”