I Hate Peter Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings”

(N.B. this was previously published on my old Bucket of Tongues blog, but I think the post bears repeating. I have also added some pictures and further comments).

I have a confession to make – lean close and I’ll whisper it in your ear… I’m a Lord of the Rings nerd. Only the novel mind you (not a trilogy!! It is a novel which was published in three parts due to the postwar paper shortage); I’ve never managed to get into The Silmarillion, despite numerous attempts. I first read it in 1990, and have read it at least once a year since then; it’s one of the staples of my reading life, along with Shogun, Bad Wisdom, and Howards End.

So when the film trilogy came out  I was pleased. I saw them all at the cinema and was astounded at numerous scenes – jumping the falling bridge in Moria, the battle of Helms Deep, the magnificent part played by Andy Serkis. I devoured the extended versions and savoured the success of the films, financially and critically. (Especially when Return of the King was awarded so many Oscars – it almost made up for the monstrosity that is Titanic being so grossly overrewarded).

However, as time has gone on, the weaknesses of the films have become ever more apparent. They are not films which age well, films which merit repeated viewings (like Chinatown or Pulp Fiction or Groundhog Day). I can imagine them in ten or twenty years time being viewed as historical curiosities, like epics such as Ben Hur or Cleopatra, rather than living parts of cinema which are vital parts of beloved film collections. I’d go so far as to say that the 1978 animated version by Ralph Bakshi is a superior cinematic experience which is far closer to the spirit of the novel, although it’s not by any means perfect.

Peter Jackson took a lot of credit for the success of the films. He must take the blame for their failings. (There is a story that he only read the book once – whether it’s true or not I don’t know. But it would explain a lot, especially his superficial treatment of the whole concept).

So what are the failings? Let’s go through them. (I have a feeling I might be some time on this…)

Characterisation. This is frequently completely off, to such a degree that it must be deliberate. While some modifications and condensations are to be expected (especially in such a large novel), why Jackson felt the need to change numerous characters for the worse I’ll never know. Gimli for example – reduced from a representative of the noble dwarf race to a Snarf (from Thundercats), a figure of fun for cheap laughs. Frodo loses all his nobility and “stature”, becoming a tepid victim. Merry and Pippin are reduced in a similar way to Gimli, becoming joke-figures – and without their apotheosis in “The Scouring of the Shire” chapter, there’s not enough development. For Gandalf, the difference between him pre- and post-Moria is too great; it’s like he’s a different character, rather than revealing different aspects of the same person. In Fellowship, he’s a kindly old man, with a bit of a temper; in Return he’s a  a philosopher-warrior-king: there’s little connection between the two. Sauron – apparently this source of all evil, this destroyer of worlds, this ancient power and unholy dread, is a glorified lighthouse. What a fucking joke! Denethor should be stern, cold and proud – introducing him as broken by the death of Boromir removes all the dramatic tension from his escalating hopelessness, and reduces the impact of the palantir. And what they hell is with his eating scene? What a waste of time!

Mishandling Scenes. Several scenes are understandably telescoped or skipped altogether (we’re dealing with a novel that’s over one thousand pages long and whose principal action takes place over one calender year). I doubt many would complain about the loss of Tom Bombadil or Ghan Buri Ghan. Nonetheless, there are several examples of Jackson getting scenes completely wrong, to such an extent that you wonder if he understood the book at all! The Council of Elrond for example – Jackson usefully gives some backstory at the start of each part of the trilogy, which reduces the need for such a lengthy, unwieldy scene. So what does he do with it instead? He has the various characters squabbling and then Frodo pipes up with “I will take the ring!” and all fall silent. This is just utterly ridiculous. Arwen making the river rise up is foolish, suggesting that any old elf can do “magic”, whereas it is Elrond does it, as he possesses one of the Three Rings. The fight between Gandalf and Saruman in Orthanc is just absurd – why the hell would two wizards have a glorified stick fight?! The scene between Theoden, Gandalf and Saruman in the ruins of Isengard is also handled appallingly, with all tension removed, and a complete lack of subtlety. Jackson, as always, goes for the conflict without considering what it might mean symbolically or thematically: it’s just good people against bad people, i.e. simplistic, reductionist nonsense. In Moria, we see the skulls of dead dwarves right away, rather than an rising feel of dread through the emptiness and darkness, and the battle in the Chamber of Records is much longer than it should be, and the troll unnecessary, reducing the impact of the later climactic scene with the Balrog. And what the hell is with that scene with Aragorn being nearly drowned in The Two Towers? With so much choice material being cut, why add more? We know he loves Arwen already, for christ’s sake! I also hate the entire section with Faramir – gone is Frodo’s nobility, gone is Faramir’s ability to resist the temptation of the Ring. It’s his ability to withstand the temptations of power which make him worthy of it – just as Aragorn announces that he will never set foot in the Shire. But such subtleties seem beyond Jackson, who seems more concerned with action and fighting than with conveying Tolkien’s thematic points.

Directorial Tics. There are several terrible examples of these littered throughout the films, things which become increasingly grating. The habit of showing the Ring in Frodo’s hand, the camera zooming in on the hand and Ring is one. The ridiculous elven music which comes out of nowhere at especially vital moments (Gandalf riding out to rescue Faramir, for example) is unwarranted by any dramatic necessity, and just seems absurd. And worst of all, the Hulk Hogan-esque displays performed by Gandalf and Galadriel when they display their hidden powers – these are frankly embarrassing. Tolkien was a man of great sensibility and subtlety – there is not the slightest chance he would have them rampaging in such an absurd fashion. And when Frodo is variously injured, the camera lingers on his pained expression far too long, emphasising his victimhood at the expense of his other qualities (which are never really shown).

The Scouring of the Shire. This chapter may have added little to the overall plot and action of the film, but it is absolutely fundamental in terms of theme, atmosphere and dramatic synchronicity. Tolkien himself said “it is an essential part of the book, foreseen from the outset”. The chapter shows not only how much the hobbits have grown, but that after wars, the Shirefolk choose to revert to their prior mode of life. Wars traditionally bring mechanisation, regimentation and industrialisation, all of which Tolkien deeply opposed. The Lord of the Rings is not (let me emphasis this a million times over) a sword-and-sorcery epic, it is a deeply-felt parable on the hidden powers of the “little people” based on the heroism of ordinary men Tolkien saw during the First World War, and is based on Tolkien’s anarchism and opposition to government. That the hobbits come back and reclaim their land from the usurpers and despoilers is a metaphor for what Tolkien wished, after the war brought increasing regimentation and government control. In this sense, it is similar to Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song, where the First World War is won at the cost of the freedom of the small farmers amongst whom Gibbon sets his novel.

Frodo and Sam. Frodo (still less Gandalf or Aragorn) is not the hero of the book, Sam is. It’s that simple, and Tolkien himself acknowledged as much. Although Frodo gets top billing, this just goes to show Tolkien’s ultimate sympathy is with the underdog. To be fair, Jackson does acknowledge this to some extent by showing Sam and Rose’s wedding near the end, but because Jackson omits the Scouring of the Shire chapter, there’s nowhere to show Sam’s real growth, his leading role in the restoration of the Shire,  his planting of the mallorn tree (trees being a symbol of lineage, as Tolkien well knew); nor do we see Frodo’s pacifism, illness and withdrawal from Shire life, which lead to his desire to leave for the Grey Havens. Given the addition of some pointless if not absurd scenes (Gimli getting drunk, Aragorn revealing his real age), it is endlessly irritating that vital sections were chopped.

Religious subtext. Though not religious myself, I think it is fatal to Lord of the Rings if the religious aspect is not conveyed. By “religious”, I mean the sense of perhaps mystical power some characters and indeed some places demonstrate. The wizards, Elrond and Galadriel are clearly angel-like, while Sauron is a Satanic figure – their powers are obviously hard to demonstrate, but Jackson never seems to bother his arse in even attempting to do so, with little revealed about Elrond, his lineage and his importance. The Old Forest, Rivendell, Fangorn, Lothlorien, Mordor, and the Shire meanwhile all have a power of their own, something beyond an atmosphere, a power that’s not quite sentient or tangible but can be felt in the soil, whether for good or ill. Little of this is ever conveyed, yet one does get a sense of the bucolic richness of the Shire, the horror and damnation of Mordor, and the timelessness of Rivendell (albeit in a kinda hippyish way) in the Bakshi film. Jackson’s vision of Mordor seems to be a place where your face gets dirty.

More could easily be said. But my fundamental faulting of Jackson’s films are that they are action films, sword-and-sorcery epics. They fundamentally miss the archaic tone and atmosphere of the book, the freedom, the sense of maps with areas not yet explored. The films do the action sequences remarkably well; the scene at Helm’s Deep is astonishing, and the race through Moria, and the collapsing bridge, a remarkable piece of cinema. But I expect more than that from any adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, of which Jackson only ever captures the surface. For such a thorough, all-encompassing, deep book, that has to count as an failure.

28 thoughts on “I Hate Peter Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings”

  1. Have to agree with your basic premise that the films frustratingly fail to reward repeated viewing. But not sure that you captured exactly why. It’s noteworthy that on their release, fans and scholars were generally pleased. Perhaps there needed to be stronger acting – but then, star wars was full of ham, AND dorky humour. But somehow iv to vi are eminently rewatchable. I’ll sign off with two comments: i read arwen in that scene as reaching in earnest prayer to either the land or the spirit of her people (or both, as being properly fused), and being clearly surprised by the response she gets. I.e. She is not directly controlling the river. Last point: the films cover many of the themes well – including ones such as friendship.

  2. @readthemall – it’s nice of you to be so protective, but I *am* Mike/bucketoftongues, as you’ll see from my Twitter. I stopped the bucketoftongues blog some time ago but have reused this post in this new blog, as I thought it was worth repeating.

  3. Im quite torn between agreeing with your view and the feeling Ive always had about the films. Having just finished the books AGAIN and having watched the movies for the umpteenth time I admit that I love both just as much as the other. To be honest i couldn’t have imagined another director who could have done them justice (or as much), and Jackson is known as a being a huge fan.
    As far as your 6 points go I agree with them mostly, but I would imagine it very hard to try and incorporate some of those aspects into the movies (apart from the Scouring of the Shire).
    I feel that the movies go on a way of an ‘alternate timeline’ to the book, and I like to think of them as that; as in not to take them too seriously compared to the books as there was no possible way to ever show the feeling that the books portray in a movie.
    Its a lot like the Terry Pratchett TV adaptions; the books are phenominally funny and have great story lines but the humour is mostly narrative and lost when it’s transferred to a visual medium.
    In the end everyone to their own I suppose, but as a huge Tolkein fan myself (and having been since I was very young), and others I know that are too, we all love the films fo what they are.

  4. Interesting points – but Tolkein was certainly no anarchist! He was a supporter of unconstitutional monarchy and his dislike of industrialisation and regimentation was a little Englanders dislike of urbanisation – which is why the book have such a vulgar countryside good, mines/factories bad motif.

  5. @Simon Hardy – I think Tolkien disliked government and regimentation. The Shire is described as having essentially no government as such. The point being that he was against the abuse of power, which the state and industrlisation facilitate. The Lord of the Rings repeatedly shows that those who crave power, who seek domination for its own sake, are on the path of evil: not just Sauron, but Saruman, Boromir (even when in a nobel cause, at least to begin with), all the way down to Lotho Sackville-Baggins.

    I wouldn’t say, either, that he says countryside good/factories and mines bad. The dwarves are miners and can create splendour and beauty, the point again being that they do not do so to further their powers to oppress others. The trouble, of course, is that the temptation is always there, and thus dwarves (like elves, who for a time dealt with Sauron) have a recurring problem of using power in the wrong way. Of course, this is a mythic way of showing the temptation and dangers which we as humans with free will face.

    Much of these themes and issues are explicated in Tolkien’s Letters, edited by Humphrey Carpenter, which I highly recommend.

  6. You, sir, are entitled to your opinion of course, but realize you are in the very small minority. I could go through your “reasons” for where you think the film has come up short, and tell you why they’re ridiculous; for instance, in the interest of creating a coherent film with a climax that feels right in that context, it would make NO SENSE to include the scouring of the shire. Some things work in literature that just would not work in the context of film. I can’t honestly believe that you think Jackson should have included that, but, like I said, you must be in the VERY small minority of people who may feel that way. I could go on. Most of your points don’t seem to factor in the concept of film vs literature, and how the two medium differentiate. In fact, these points just seem to be completely unfounded and don’t hardly make any sense at all. And when you say the films “have not aged well,” well, I almost want to laugh; what a completely ridiculous thing to say! Clearly you aren’t talking about the visuals, the audio quality, or the conceptual design, but something much more insignificant that you choose to nitpick for whatever reason. I will just conclude by saying that, contrary to your prediction, there are no signs that indicate that this brilliantly crafted and masterful film will ever be viewed as anything less than what it is: a masterpiece. Peter Jackson is a genius, and my friend, the world knows it, and will remember it, thanks to this amazing film.

  7. John – it’s very kind of you to tell me I’m entitled to my own opinion 😉

    When I said “the films haven’t aged well” I wasn’t talking about the special effects etc (I praise the battle scenes, for example) – I mean that the films don’t bear repeated viewings because numerous aspects of them are grating, which I then go on to discuss. I believe that the characterisation and scene handling in all too many cases is simplistic. This is not just a matter of adapting the book to film: in most cases, what I’m discussing are weaknesses of the film as such. Such as Denethor’s character, the death of Saruman, the elven music, Gandalf and Galadrial’s “power shows”.

    You may have a point with Scouring of the Shire being an additional climax, but I don’t see why it couldn’t have been done: it could have been a nice twist at the end, and it would show the growth of Pippin and Merry. Still, it’s impossible to ultimately judge, because we don’t have other films to compare. (You never know, at the rate Hollywood is remaking films, we might have another version in 10 years time…)

  8. Pingback: Synaesthesia | booksandmusicandstuff

  9. I happened to have read the book – for the first time (although I’d had some exposure to Tolkien as a kid; my older brother had recounted a lot of The Lord of the Rings to me when he was reading it at the age of 12 or 14; I was 7 years younger), and more or less in one sitting – just before the first of the Jackson movies came out. So, I think I’m probably in a better position than most people to have made a side-by-side and relatively dispassionate comparison of the two versions of the story.

    And I have to say, I think most of your criticisms are bunk. They often don’t amount to much more than ‘I wouldn’t have done it this way’.

    That’s always a problem with a well-loved book, that its enthusiasts have such a vivid mental picture of how they think the story should look – and what its most important themes are, where its emphases should lie – that they’re inevitably going to be irked by a cinema version, however good it is. They’re going to latch on to the negative points, the places where it deviates too far from their conception, rather than fully appreciate all the things it does well. [Possible parallel example: I am irritated/disappointed by certain aspects of David Lean’s Great Expectations, and much prefer the book; but that doesn’t stop me enjoying the film, and applauding it as a masterpiece, the best-ever Dickens adaptation.]

    It’s especially a problem with the kind of book that fans read with an obsessive attention to detail, and may perhaps have re-read multiple times. Their own ‘vision’ of the story gets more and more entrenched, and no-one else’s is going to have a chance of displacing it. Curiosity (and respect for the magnitude of the undertaking) my lead you to cut the film-maker some slack on first viewing, maybe even first two or three viewings; but after that, the nit-picker starts to take control again.

    And it may be even more of a problem with a book that is as badly written – or under-written, perhaps – as The Lord of the Rings. I grant there are many great things about it, that it’s a very resonant story concept, but… Tolkien is in many ways not a wonderful writer. And one of his most notorious, conspicuous weaknesses is a lack of character delineation. Where the writer gives you so little to go on, you may be liable to fill in the gaps that much more vividly from your own imagination.

    Sam is NOT the hero/protagonist by any conventional criterion (Tolkien probably meant that he is the most truly admirable of the book’s many diversely heroic characters, the moral/emotional centre of the story; but that’s not the same as being the driving narrative focus). He’s simply the most interesting and likable character. But that’s because he’s just about the only reasonably well-developed character in the book. Gollum is the runner-up for that accolade, for heaven’s sake; might win it, if he weren’t a villain. Gandalf and Frodo are way, way, way back. And everyone else is pretty much a cipher.

    It IS a sword-and-sorcery epic. It happens to have some richer themes in it (as all sword-and-sorcery does; or at least the better examples of the genre), but that doesn’t put it into some more elevated, sui generis category. It’s sword-and-sorcery. And it does have an awful lot of fights and battles in it. It is inevitable, film being the visual medium that it is, that the action sequences are going to be more prominent – or to seem so in the memory – than the talky bits.

    I actually thought the movie evoked the mystical/spiritual dimension and the characters of the different locales quite well. But that was probably because I knew that element was there in the story, but didn’t have any strong sense of how I expected it to be portrayed.

    I also thought the characterisation of Frodo was OK. He is physically – and also in some ways in personality – quite weak. His strength of will (and/or courage disproportionate to his physical abilities) is the only thing that distinguishes him. And he does become progressively more pathetic – ‘victimized’ – as he is worn down by hardships of his journey, and by the debilitating influence of The Ring. That’s in the story. Aragorn and Boromir and co. are the badass swashbucklers. Frodo’s just a dweeb in way over his head. Admirably spunky, but never really a commanding figure.

    Merry and Pippin (and Sam, a little bit) provide comic relief in the book. You’ve got to expect that to be played up in the film. The book is incredibly turgid in parts; and the films would have been insufferable without the injection of a little additional humour. And – although the repeated dwarf-throwing gag may be a bit cheap – Gimli is achieves much more prominence, and wins much more sympathy, by being given a humorous dimension. In the book he’s not much more than a name.

    The development of Merry and Pippin – as with Frodo and Sam – is shown quite well enough in the main body of the story. You don’t need to see them as returning war heroes, and then as resistance leaders in The Shire. The Scouring episode is beloved by many readers of the book (and tolerated in a ‘WTF? Oh, well, it’s more story – we love this story!’ kind of way by rather more), but it feels like a completely separate short story, self-indulgently grafted on by a writer who’d lost all sense of proportion and created far too much peripheral material around his central story. It has absolutely no thematic or structural relevance – let alone importance – to the main story at all. And I’ve never before encountered anyone – even the most obsessive LOTR fan – who attempted to argue otherwise!

    The points you make about too many Ring close-ups and too much Elven music are interesting, and I’ll watch out for them (if I ever watch these films again; I may not do so, not because of any complaints about the film-making, but because they’re not the kind of film I really like – and I was never much of a fan of the book either). But these tend to be the kind of things that I notice and am easily irritated by, and I didn’t find them obtrusive on first viewing (I’ve only watched the films twice; once in the cinema, once a few years later on DVD).

    The fans obsess about the detail of the stories, but it’s actually just the core story idea – the corrupting influence of power portrayed in the imagery of drug addiction – that’s so powerful. People who haven’t read the book will probably mostly enjoy Jackson’s films, and think they’re an excellent representation of that idea. People who’ve read the books once or twice – without developing OCD towards them – probably would as well. They are not an absolutely faithful representation of the book; but no film could be. I think it’s arguable that they are, for their medium, as good a representation of the core story idea, maybe even a better representation than the book is.

  10. By the way, Jackson’s best film is – and will likely ever remain – his amazing no-budget debut flick Bad Taste.

    When his Lord of the Rings came out, my wise Scots drinking buddy The Bookseller wistfully observed: “I hope they’ll give him $100 million dollars to make a zombie film now.

  11. @Froog: I wholeheartedly support your argument when it comes to the movies, as I believe I made a similar argument. The Scouring of the Shire simply does not belong in the film; certain aspects of a story that work well in a narrative do not translate in the same way to a film setting. However, I have to disagree with your analysis of the books. But first – Jackson’s best film is The Lord of the Rings. Come on.

    Firstly, Tolkien is a fantastic writer. Reading the words “a book that is as badly written – or under-written, perhaps – as The Lord of the Rings,” shocked me, as I think even the biggest complaint I hear from people who didn’t finish the books, generally, is how much time Tolkien spends with description. Landscapes and such, yes, but characters also. I find Tolkien’s writing beautiful, lyrical, and insightful far beyond the majority of other writers; this is probably because he had the greater grasp on language itself than anyone during his time of prominence.

    What do you consider “conventional criterion” by which you ascertain that Sam is not the hero? There are multiple heros/protagonists, yes, but Sam is certainly one of them, if not the most important of all. Probably the most developed character in the narrative, if not for Sam’s ultimate courage in the face of danger, Middle Earth would have lost the War and Sauron would have had the victory. Aragorn and Gandalf could have fought and fought and won as many battles as they could, but if the Ringbearer’s quest was not fulfilled, it wouldn’t have meant anything. In the films, Frodo says, (in the third person) “Frodo wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam.” Truer words were never spoken! This one sentence, spoken by the “protagonist” as the audience is initially lead to believe, characterizes and sums up the entire relationship between Frodo and Sam, as seen in both the books and films. Because, of course, SAM is the hero. Uncorrupted by the burden of the Ring, Sam is able to save Frodo time and time again, and it is chiefly because of his efforts that the Ring is destroyed. I suppose Gollum, in a sense, is responsible for the Ring’s destruction in those final moments, but Sam, clearly, IS the hero. Could you not glean that from your read-through of books or watching of the films? What else, “conventionally,” is required to define one as a hero?

    Character development. I think there’s tons of it. Sam’s character is developed the most, as he transforms from a bumbling simpleton who constantly “puts his foot in it,” unable to perform a more complex task than that required of a gardner, into the hero I’ve already discussed. But, how about Aragorn? He questions his inheritance, his ability to lead, his role as the heir of Isildur, his right to assume the kingship of Gondor. He struggles with this throughout the story, but, ultimately decides to “put aside the ranger,” as Elrond says in the films (great line), and step up as the King and leader of the free peoples. He makes a hard decision and develops as a character – character development. Legolas and Gimli. Perhaps their characters, separately, don’t change too much, but the bond between them as friends certainly does, and this constitutes character development. Hell, once all is said and done, Gimli actually accompanies Legolas aboard the last, LAST ship to leave Middle Earth, and enters the Undying Lands with him. The first and only dwarf ever to do so. A true testament to the friendship that we, as readers, watched develop between them. Merry and Pippin develop in their own way, as you mentioned, in similar fashion to Sam, although not to the same extent. Frodo’s character certainly changes, and it seems for the worse, until the Ring is finally destroyed. Gandalf doesn’t need to develop, for his character is already so rich and endearing. “Merry he could be, and kindly to the young and simple, yet quick at times to sharp speech in the rebuking of folly; but he was not proud, and sought neither power nor praise.” Basically a total baller. All in all, I witnessed tons of character development.

    The Scouring of the Shire episode does have thematic relevance, actually, especially to Tolkien himself. Saruman was his depiction of the “evil scientist,” the power hungry machinist who destroys the environment; and therefore it was very important to Tolkien to bring closure to Saruman’s story, and, of course, for Saruman to be killed, as retribution for the devastation he wrought on the natural world. Also, this little episode is important in showing that even the Shire, this picture perfect place that we think could never be touched by evil, is not impervious to the destruction that the War of the Ring brought to all of Middle Earth. Even the hobbits had to man up and fight for their home, and that certainly is an important theme. All that being said, it has no place in the film; I can’t believe anyone could think that Peter Jackson should have included it under any circumstance.

    So that’s it!

  12. Sam is a sidekick. Sancho Panza is a very important character in Don Quixote, but he’s NOT the hero. How many pages (and thousands of words) are devoted to Frodo as against Sam? How often do we hear about Frodo without Sam, or is our focus almost exclusively on Frodo even when Sam’s present? How often, by contrast, do we focus on Sam alone? He’s a very appealing figure, but very much a secondary hero. Really quite a minor character, in fact – much less prominent for the most (or crucial to the success of the book’s mission, for that matter) than Gandalf or Gollum. Sam only briefly assumes a larger role in the final phase of the book. (I have read that Sean Astin was expecting to get a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ nomination in Return of the King [Note: best supporting role, and in the third part only!], and was pissed off with Peter Jackson that so much of his screen time was cut [Note: as being not actually crucial to the plot!]. I assume the long version on the DVD restores most of this. Mike – were you still dissatisfied with the attention given to Sam even in the extended edition??)

    The protagonist is the central focus of the story who is present almost continually from start to finish, and is fundamental to the working out of the narrative. That’s not Sam, it’s Frodo.

    Character description and character development are not the same as characterization. That’s making figures in your story come alive – as fully realised, three-dimensional, believable characters – through frequent but subtle hints about their inner life revealed in the action and the dialogue. Tolkien’s terrible at that. Well, just doesn’t bother most of the time; rather heavy-handed about it when he does. But most of the time, he just tells you about his characters, rather than letting you see what they’re like: back-story is not characterization.

    The ‘insights’ of the book are an element of the story rather than how it’s written. Most people admire Tolkien (without, perhaps, always realising it) for the breadth of his imagination, for the richness of detail in the stories and the symbolic weight so much of this carries (but maybe he shouldn’t get so much credit for that, since the majority of it is derived from old myths and folk tales). But it’s hard to make an argument for the quality of his writing per se. What you call lyrical, I would call mannered, pretentious, florid, and long-winded.

    A writer like Raymond Chandler or P.G. Wodehouse you read even if their stories are slight and formulaic, even if you don’t like their genre; their exquisite craftsmanship in the use of words is delightful, exhilarating, breathtaking. A writer like Tolkien you read for the story – and end up kind of wishing someone else had written it (C.S. Lewis, for example…).

  13. Just saw this post. I agree with all of it. Jackson really did butcher the story. I tend to think he based his films on the paintings of Alan Lee and John Howe rather than on the book.
    Every single character is altered beyond the point of recognition mainly because every single character talks and acts like an angst-riddled 14 year old valley girl from a John Hughes film.

    We aren’t suppose to be able to relate to Aragorn, Faramir, Gandalf, Gimli or the others because they are above and beyond us. That’s what makes them ‘full of wonder’ to be near. We are meant to associate with the hobbits and to behold the wonder of it all along with them.
    And as the story moves along Frodo himself becomes one of them and moves beyond us and so Sam becomes the eyes through which we see the rest of the story.
    The Ring’s influence is also twisted in the movies. Example, Gollum was malicious before he got the ring. The movies turn this fact on its head and so we get a warped view of Frodo.

    Someone above wrote that Tolkien was terrible at developing or showing the inner lives of the characters or character development, but that is mistaken. The idea of ‘getting into the heads of characters’ is basically a modern pop-cultural gimmick. Yes, it can be done and done well and appropriately in a limited fashion, as with Frodo and then Sam, but to over use it is to enter into pop psycho-gobbolyguck territory.
    Of course it also helps pad out a novel’s length.

    Tolkien’s mythology was influenced by Northern European and other Medieval literature. And if you familiarize yourself with the Icelandic Sagas or even Beowulf you’ll discover that characters are judged by their actions, not their words or even their inner thoughts. Rarely do Medieval tales reveal their characters thoughts to any great extent, if at all.
    This is true in real life as well. What people say or even think and what they do are often two different things. A person or character may be full of fear and doubt but still act heroically, betraying their own thoughts to the contrary. So you judge them by what they do. Anything added beyond that is superfluous.

    One particular theme that was not touched on in the post is the implicit juxtaposition of power vs. authority. This theme is critical to the story and is butchered in Jackson’s films. The best example is when movie-Gandalf strikes down Denethor and takes charge. Had Gandalf done that in the book he would have become evil himself. He would have been no different than Saruman. Gandalf had great reverence for designated position. To the point that he scolds Pippen about not fulfilling his assigned duties during the siege of the city when the apocalypse is seemingly upon them.
    Authority holds steady. Power breaks and runs.

    In the novel the good have authority to act in certain spheres. The bad have power to act everywhere. Gandalf had the power to take the ring from Fordo, but he had no authority to do so.

    The best example of that theme is the Palantirs. Denethor, as the steward, had authority to use the Palantir. Saruman, though an infinitely more powerful being than Denethor, had no such authority to use a Palantir. Sauron, being a more powerful being than Saruman, was able to use the Palantir to decieve the Wizzard and bring him into his service.

    Yet Denethor wrestled against the will of Sauron and basically came to a stalemate with the Dark Lord. Ultimately Sauron simply revealed his armies to Denethor in an attempt to break his spirit. But in the realm of the Palantir, Denethor and Sauron were basically equals and Saruman was their lesser.

    The point being authority trumped power. Denethor was a mortal. Saruman was an ancient being whose power was, prior to Gandalf’s resurrection, only surpassed by the Dark Lord himself. Yet Denethor had authority to use the Palantir and Saruman did not.

    This is also why Sauron panicked when Aragorn revealed himself in the Palantir. Aragorn was a mortal with no power to match the Dark Lord. But Sauron immediately recognized that Aragorn was, by lineage, the rightful heir to the throne and thus had authority, as King, to reclaim the lost and fractured lands of his ancestors. He had authority to rule.
    And as King, Aragorn had no equal in the area of the Palantirs. The Dark Lord was outmatched.
    Power has no answer to authority. All it can do is rage and destroy.

    But that’s a hard message for post-industrial audiences to process as Tolkien, a Catholic, clearly saw legitimate authority as ancient and divine. Thus Aragorn, a rightful king by blood, is crowned by the priest-like ambassador from Valinor, Gandalf.

    Tolkien certainly made his feelings about popular democracy known in the portrayal of the master of Lake-town vs. Bard the bowman. I can only imagine how Jackson “interprets” that episode.

    And You’re right about the religious aspect of the story. Tolkien clearly saw that as significant, so to ignore it serves no purpose. “Bilbo was MEANT to find the ring.”

    It’s also telling that Gandalf sent Frodo off to throw the ring into the fires of Mount Doom even though he knew right from the start that Frodo would never willingly destroy the ring.
    It’s revealed early in the book, in Frodo’s kitchen, in the safety of the Shire when Frodo demonstrates his unwillingness to toss the ring even into his little wood fire which would cause the ring no harm.

    “The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many -yours not least.”
    Gollum (the existence of evil) serves a purpose in the end.

    • You make many insightful observations with ample textual support, but you could have taken them a step further. As I reflected on them, it dawned on me that the same clash between power and authority applies with equal force to the cleavage between the novel and the films. To wit, the effect of Jackson’s movies is to overpower their audience with visuals and noise. What they lack is any respect for the literal AUTHOR-ity of Tolkien’s text. The soulless, mechanized hugeness that Jackson pummels us with is precisely what Tolkien was railing against, particularly in the character of Saruman. Like the fallen wizard, Jackson was seduced by the possibilities of technology, but failed to apply them with reverence and care. In the process, Jackson hybridizes the humanity of the source material with the artificiality special effects. In the process, he somehow fails to capture the potential virtues of either approach, and the result is as ugly and brutish as Saruman’s uruk-hai. He breaks the novel in a misguided attempt to make it work better, and thereby leaves the path of wisdom.

  14. To Froog:

    Two points. First, by nature of your comment, are you saying that, because Sam is delineated as the sidekick from the outset, that he could never be the hero? He receives more attention in the third book because he GROWS to become the hero. Sam is the hero. We see how timid he is at first, and then how courageous he becomes. As I said before, perhaps you missed it, Sam’s role, particularly as the story progresses, and as Frodo’s control of his own destiny shrinks and shrinks, becomes seminal to the quest. If the Ring was not destroyed, or was reclaimed by Sauron, nothing Gandalf, or Aragorn, or anyone could possibly do would matter. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Gandalf is important, as one who stirs up and rallies the free peoples against Sauron and all the work that he does to achieve that end, and for his farsightedness in picking the Hobbits for the quest, etc. But, Sam’s actions in pushing Frodo along for the better part of the third book are more important than everyone’s; without Sam the quest would not have been completed. No other way around it. Gollum, yes, is important as well, but can we really call him the hero? Perhaps in a tragic sense. Frodo is NOT the hero. He is the main character, and it’s his struggle with the Ring that we find so interesting, hence the amount of literary time spent with it. But he did not complete his quest! He failed, i.e. not a hero. Gollum completed his quest for him, and only at the very last second (and by accident). Hell, you think he would have tossed it in the fire either? Were it not for Sam’s unwavering heroism (a characteristic which he acquires, as I’ve said, and is not endowed with initially), nothing anyone did, anyone one in the whole world, not Gandalf, not Aragorn, not Galadriel, not Elrond, not anyone, would matter. And, what’s more, they all knew it in the end. Tolkien makes a point of expressing heroism in this story through the pure and simple goodness that is quintessential to hobbit nature. That is that.

    Second point, regarding Tolkien’s writing: agree to disagree. I think his writing, his syntax construction, his pure use of the perfect words all the time, is great. If you disagree, well okay then. You have your own opinions, which is cool. But, who could possibly wish that someone other than Tolkien would have written this story? Certainly not many people. I think that’s a bit ridiculous to say.

    To Richard: What you, and the author of this article, fail to grasp is the concept of conversion; things that work in the literary world don’t always work the same way in the cinematic world! You can’t just take everything as laid out in the story and throw some visuals on top of it. It just wouldn’t work. Peter Jackson’s representation of the story, while not necessarily perfect, is nothing less than spectacular. He managed to take the Lord of the Rings, a book that everyone always said was unfilmable (including Tolkien himself), and translate it into one hell of a film, while maintaining the essential themes, stylistic integrity, and attention to detail worthy of Tolkien. Millions of fans the world over get it. It’s the Tolkien “purists” who will never be satisfied, because what they want simply cannot be done.

    And one more thing. How can anyone not appreciate the enormous, vast amount of hard work, effort, love, blood sweat and tears that went into making this film trilogy? How can anyone not appreciate the level of dedication and craftsmanship that went into every set, piece of armor, weapon, miniature, costume, makeup, etc? Watch the appendix material on the Extended Editions. The makers of this film trilogy took the concept of going the extra mile, of giving 110%, and shat on it. No one has ever put more love, care, and craftsmanship into the making of a film than Peter Jackson and co. did with the Lord of the Rings.

    Everyone have a nice day!

    • It feels like all of the films’ defenders, when backed into a corner, fall back on the very same tired, unconvincing argument. What’s odd is that, while you do it as well, you also contain within your post that argument’s own defeat.

      I think Richard, and everyone else who was disappointed in the films, were just as disappointed in them AS FILMS as they were disappointed in them as adaptations. Nobody ever said that the original texts were sacrosanct or that concessions, compromises or even (gasp) improvements couldn’t or shouldn’t be made in the course of transferring this story from one medium to another. We all knew that from the outset and welcomed the opportunity to see what a skilled craftsman would do with them. Unfortunately, we got Peter Jackson instead.

      Read Richard’s piece again. He’s offering one of the most insightful thematic analyses of the novel that I’ve ever read, one that, after reading, makes me appreciate the Lord of the Rings’ qualities even more. But again, all of his considerations are thematic, nothing to do with the pacing, music, acting, visual effects, etc. You’re completely correct when you write that “things that work in the literary world don’t always work the same way in the cinematic world.” But many things do! Please tell me, of the things that Richard finds to praise in Tolkien’s novel, what would not survive the translation from page to screen? The fundamental conflict between power and authority, it seems that this would work on film just fine and wouldn’t require any alterations from the visual aspects of Jackson’s work that you seem to relish so much. (Now, it’s conceivable that a 21st century audience wouldn’t get it, but that’s a slightly different matter.)

      Again, what I find so curious about your post is that you stand up for Tolkien’s words, dialogue, construction, etc. Don’t misunderstand me, we can agree to agree wholeheartedly on that point. But how then do you proceed from praising J.R.R.’s words to implicitly defending the horrendous dialogue that Jackson, Boyens, et al. shoehorns in? The contrast as the films shift between the elegant constructions of a true scholar of the classics to the bombastic, pseudo-archaisms of a semi-literate film nerd is unmistakable and jarring. In another part of the internet, someone has written critically of “Tolkien’s pseudo-Shakespearean inversions (“This way lies danger,” etc.).” That writer (an art scholar named Denis Dutton, sadly deceased since 2010) continues: “Their occasional meditative soliloquies may be Tolkien’s words, but they end up sounding like Hallmark cards: ‘You can’t go back. Some wounds don’t heal.’” He’s half correct, that dialogue is atrocious, but those are most definitely not Tolkien’s words. A writer and scholar with perhaps history’s most developed ear for language, he would have torn up any such amateurish drafts and chuckled all the way to the cellar door.

      My point is that, from a purely filmmaking perspective, there was much in the novel that called for change and adaptation, but as for the actual WORDS that the characters speak, so precisely chosen, so evocative of position and background, more of that should, and easily could have been retained. Jackson proves that he has an absolute tin ear for this type of writing – so tone deaf is he, in fact, that he doesn’t even seem to realize how difficult it actually is to mimic the master’s style convincingly, apparently believing that any hack can pull it off with a bit of inverted syntax, Yoda-style. People seem to think that’s easy, since the only visible inputs are a person in a quiet room with a pen and paper or keyboard, when in fact this writing stage is the critical point at which the movies are crippled from the outset. Jackson’s approach seemed to be “Alright, the books have already been written, it will be a piece of cake to bang out a screenplay, make some cuts here, add a scene or two there, and then get on to the REAL business of filmmaking. We can fill in the dialogue no problem, Tolkien’s style is easy to reproduce, nobody will notice the difference.” But we can tell the difference, we really can.

      What Peter Jackson has failed to grasp, and he’s not at all alone in this, is that Tolkien’s much-vaunted attention to detail actually had very little in common with the Aspergy obsessiveness that the director applied to the making of his trilogy. No, Tolkien was concerned with the getting nuances of the language and storytelling exactly right. As an admirer of the originals, I could frankly give a fig about whether Jackson’s army of set designers painstakingly carved grammatically flawless Quenya calligraphy over every surface of Rivendell. It may be pretty, but it’s not poetry. Tolkien’s labors were qualitatively different and far more indispensable, and to watch Jackson treat them so cavalierly is tragic. Because, in the final analysis, while good writing requires just as much marginal input of effort and talent as the shiny window dressing, one thing it doesn’t require is a similar input of money! In fact, comparatively speaking, good writing that respects the best elements of the source material, that’s practically free. If the writing team (scratch that, teams of writers almost never make anything worth reading) had put twice as much time into getting the script right, and the team of design and effects wizards had spent only half the budget that they did, I think I might have enjoyed these movies four times as much.

  15. I think that if a book is called “The Lord of the Rings” and then this Lord of the Rings doesn’t even turn up in the whole book and is referred to as the “Unnamable” and some such by many, and if then some drool eyed “director” creeps along to show this Lord of the Rings in the – say – first two minutes of his motion picture adaption, then… …something might be far from right.

    Peter Jackson shouldn’t be allowed to make films. He raped Tolkien’s tale and sold its half alive carcass to the numb masses.

    One question remains, though, and it goes to Tolkien: Why didn’t they ask the f+cking eagles to fly them *to* Mount Doom?!

    • Aarfy, I won’t dignify whatever that was supposed to be with a response other than to ask you to please not make comments about a book/film if you don’t know anything about said book/film. Oh, and news flash: Tolkien has been dead for over 40 years.

  16. I have to say that, as usual, those who defend the film and even deride the book, simply don’t UNDERSTAND the book, and are simply too low-brow to understand anything other than cheap action, simplistic labels and raunch; Jackson simply personifies what Tolkien described as “the deplorable cultus.” To truly capture the story on film would take a British director with a classical education to understand the impact Tolkien was trying to convey.

    It’s like the movie “Titanic” compared to the real disaster, i.e. a debasing of classic story into cheap commercialized crap; but it’s inevitable that great works spawn cheap renderings an imitations.

    As to why they didn’t they ask the eagles to fly them to Mount Doom, that was answered readily in The Hobbit:

    The Lord of the Eagles would not take them anywhere near where men lived. “They would shoot at us with their great bows of yew,” he said, “for they would think we were after their sheep.

    As indicated at the beginning of The Two Towers, Sauron could see hundreds of miles in every direction, and the Ring drew the Nazgul; it wouldn’t take Sauron long to see an eagle carrying the Ring, and that would be the end of it– especially since Nazgul has bows, too. Notice that once the enemy was defeated, the Eagles were right there at Mt. Doom.

    Perhaps someday someone will it right

  17. This idiot film director completely missed Tolkien’s main idea – Sam is the ultimate hero. My brothers and I (total LOTR fanatics when we were kids) figured this out as teenagers over 30 years ago. Consider :
    1. Galadriel gives Sam her most precious gift,
    2. Sam is the only mortal to freely give up the ring of his own choosing (Bombadil is unaffected by it and may not be mortal),
    3. Sam completes the quest – he literally carries a broken Frodo for the last third of the journey, rescuing Frodo from Shelob and orcs along the way,
    4. and most importantly, it is Sam who comes to symbolize and inherit the new age of Middle Earth (Frodo, Gandalf, and the elves are leaving, and Aragorn is the last of the Numenoreans).
    One of Tolkien’s most important ideas, going back even to The Hobbit, is the idea of the common man who rises up to do impossible things and eventually triumph over evil. For the other characters, the story is an ending; for Sam it is only the beginning. It is notable that the book ends with him – he is the one who must go on.
    The films have many other faults, but this one is unforgiveable. I am convinced that the people who love these movies do not read – they are the kind of troglodytes who think American Idol is great music or that chain restaurants serve the best food. You know, simpletons. But is it too much to ask that they be challenged as well as entertained? This is linear, easily-digested film-making at its worst.
    I hate Peter Jackson.

    • We’ve all read the books. I think it is you who, in fact, has not actually watched the films. How could you have watched and not recognize that Peter Jackson’s films address every one of your complaints? Literally, every single point you make about Sam was very clearly portrayed in the film. Seriously. In Fellowship (the Extended Edition) Galadriel gives Sam the Elven rope (true, she does not give him the little box with a G on it, but it could easily, very easily, be argued that her most precious gift was given to Frodo). So there’s your first point. Sam gives the ring back to Frodo, of his own freewill. There’s your second point. Sam carries Frodo up Orodruin. He rescues him from Shelob. He rescues him from Shagrat in the tower of Cirith Ungol. These are all portrayed in the film. So there’s you third point. The film ends with Sam, just as in the book. He is shown to inherit the fourth age. So, again, there’s your fourth point. Now, to address the overarching idea of the Hobbits being the real heroes, I will give some examples. At Aragorn’s coronation, he, Arwen, and everyone else present bow to the Hobbits. They all know it was the Hobbits especially who showed the greatest valor. I should have listed this one last, as it is perhaps the most monumental in the films. At the battle at the Black Gate, it is Merry and Pippin who follow Aragorn first in the charge, followed then by everyone else. The smallest of those present, again, show the most valor. Galadriel specifically says these words: “for the time will come when Hobbits will shape the fortunes of all,” and “even the smallest person can change the course of the future,” among other things. These themes are ever present. It is Merry and Pippin’s persistence that finally causes the Ents to do the right thing and march on Isengard. This is, in fact, in contrast to the book, where they don’t play much of a role in that attack at all. Again, they are very clearly shown to be heroic. Gandalf says something to the effect of “it was more than mere chance that brought Merry and Pippin to Fangorn; their coming will be like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains.” Specifically pertaining to Sam: Frodo says at the end of TT, “..you’ve left out one of the chief characters – Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam.” Even he knows that it’s Sam that comes to his rescue time and again. I mean, at every turn, this idea of the Hobbits being the real heroes is amply portrayed. There’s no questioning it, and there’s no way around it. This leads me to the conclusion that you haven’t, in fact, actually watched the films. For, how could you make the statements you make, if you had? You’re allowed to not like the films, but at least watch them before you make unfounded and ridiculous complaints about them. And maybe refrain from insulting those of us who do like them; those of us who, unlike you, actually understand the themes and ideas founded by Tolkien and faithfully represented by Peter Jackson.

      • It may be that you’re both right. Jhoge, your points are well taken, Jackson did clearly recognize the critical role Sam played and tried to include that. The reason, I reckon, that unstampcollector wasn’t satisfied was twofold.
        First, Jackson abjectly fails the “show-don’t-tell” test when it comes to this and so many other elements of the novel. Whereas Tolkien was patient and respectful enough to allow the events of the story and the characters’ own decisions to determine how we responded to them, Jackson resorts to the cringe-inducing, on-the-nose dialogue that others here (myself included) have been ranting against. It’s ironic but true that, for someone conditioned to be sensitive to subtlety, dialogue that comes at you like a blow to the head often fails to connect or even register. So rather than accusing him of not having seen the films, perhaps you should consider that the clumsy manner in which Jackson conveyed Sam’s nobility simply flew beneath unstampcollector’s radar.
        Secondly, we also have to consider the actor portraying Sam. I’m no actor myself, so it’s difficult for me to offer an articulate critique of Sean Astin’s performance on a technical level, but I’ll go to my grave asserting that he’s just atrocious. Not merely a bad or uninspired performance, but a truly epic fail. Sam the hobbit is obviously not the brightest bulb, for simplicity is his core virtue, but it’s precisely that limitation that required an actor of superior intellect and sensitivity to unpack Sam’s real depths. When I watch Sean Astin, I see an actor struggling with his material. I maintain that he understands neither his own character nor the dialogue he’s been given, and that it shows. I sense that he truly wanted to give a quality performance, but had to work with the limited resources he had at his disposal. As such, the majority of his effort seems to have gone into two arenas: mastering an unfamiliar accent and straining to emote (I use the word “straining” advisedly, with its attendant connotation of constipation). In fairness, I don’t really blame Sean Astin. It was Peter Jackson’s responsibility to cast performers who wouldn’t be totally out of their depth with the material. Astin may be a talented actor, I don’t know, although the fact that he hasn’t gotten work of comparable stature in the 10+ years since LoTR should tell you something. But even otherwise talented actors can stumble when they don’t have the background or training to grasp difficult dialogue and fall back on scene-chewing. See, e.g., Leo and Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet. It’s a shame, because you just know watching them that better guidance would have yielded performances they really could have been proud of.
        But I digress. Returning to the original point of contention between Jhoge and unstampcollector, I submit that the weaknesses in Astin’s acting, combined with Jackson’s alteration in the tone, if not the ultimate content, of Sam’s development are what led to some people’s failure to perceive in the film’s portrayal of Sam what we found so affecting in the original novel.

  18. Pingback: Best Of, 2012 | booksandmusicandstuff

  19. Thank you, thank you for this post. (This is a re-thank, I posted accidentally on your abandoned blog first.)

    It is such a relief to finally find some words of sense against the LOTR films among all the swooning on the Internet (though I admit I perhaps wasn’t searching much). I may not agree on every point you make, but in spirit I’m with you on all of them.

    Of course, I accept that people can disagree on which changes are unnecessary and which not. I don’t object to changes in film-adaptations of any book, as long as they are well-argumented. Also I don’t miss Bombadil or the Scouring, for film-technical reasons.

    The problem with Jackson is that the majority of his changes are idiotic.

    As you said, most of the movies’ solutions are totally superficial. They seem to aim at making a generation of intellectual illiterates even more stupid. I don’t think Tolkien’s spirit requires simplifying, his books have something for every age and for many tastes. I loved some aspects of LOTR when I was seven, and now I love others.

    There are also many details in the films which I love, but fundamentally I simply hate them (apart from parts of FotR). The lacking nuances you mentioned just show a complete non-understanding of the humane, deeply cultivated, elegant British gentleman Tolkien was – and consequently his writings.

    One major defect of the films I’d like to add to the list is the American/Hollywood notion of simply exhausting individualism. Everything, that is, EVERYTHING, has to be felt through a handful of director’s – and a supposed spectator’s – pets: the key characters who get to represent every possible emotion that could be felt through the story itself, by its own virtue. Just some examples:

    a) Nations of thousands of people of different local and social backgrounds are battling for their homelands – these are presented by one or two “emotionally relatable” characters (like the Morwen of Rohan, random Minas Tirith lieutenant, five Rohan/Gondor soldiers keeping one last door as a sign of a lost battle (WTF?) etc.).

    b) A storyline seems impossible to be deigned interesting without an unending row of conflicts between the half dozen key characters, when the real conflict lies elsewhere (Aragorn-Theoden, Gandalf-Denethor, Frodo-Faramir, Elrond-Aragorn, Frodo-Sam…). Or their conflict/angsting with the surrounding world in general.

    c) The death of *any* “relatable” good guy is the biggest cause for cinematic mourning for endless tedious and awkward screen minutes – with the complete indifference to the actual armies dying on the battlefields, in short, the real drama of a real battle. (Which Tolkien had experienced, thank you very much.)

    d) Etc.

    Conclusion of the rant: Personally I find that LOTR doesn’t have and doesn’t have to have protagonists in the typical, banal sense. When reading the book, my main concern isn’t the next emotional crisis or heroism of Frodo, Aragorn, Arwen etc. For me the main protagonist of the Lord of the Rings is the War of the Ring, and the interest and fascination of every major or minor book character comes from their relationship and actions regarding that One Big Challenge and the shadow in the east. (OK, a special spot goes for Sam and the other hobbits.) There’s no need for more kitchen psychology and so-called “deepening” of character development. No need for “a more interesting concept of evil”. I think Tolkien knew what he was doing: One of the most important dramatic effects keeping the climax of Lord of the Rings together is the one collective crisis – the war; but this theme the individualistic and commercial Hollywood movie makers seem uncapable of seeing or understanding.

    Like someone commented, it’s actually just fine to have large audiences find the books via the films. But on a personal level I still claim the right to hate them . 🙂

    PS. Also loved the post of Richard above!

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