I’ve been re-watching The Lord of the Rings with S recently. So many things about it are wonderful, but there are definitely some bits that drive me a little crazy…of course, I’m not the first to notice these things, but after the initial joy of the movies, it’s a bit of a disappointment. Some particularly grating elements:
- Frodo is a complete wimp. In the books, Frodo is funny, strong, and brave. In the movies he spends most of his time fainting, shrinking in fear and being wistful. To take just one example, in Moria he’s the first to draw blood from the orcs when they’re trapped in the room. In the movie, he runs away and hides. More generally, in the books, he’s much more his own agent and in the movies, he’s much more portrayed as the victim. I was trying to decide if this was the actor’s fault, but I really think it’s a directorial decision, since there are moments where he’s explicitly rolling his eyes and going into “zombie” mode. There’s no struggle for the character. By the way, in contrast, Sam is almost perfectly in line with the character in the book.
- Putting on the ring is not a big “wooo” world-goes-fuzzy moment in the book. Bilbo pretty much seems to indicate that it’s a blast, and it’s just not that big a deal most of the time. It’s certainly the case that in the book whoever is wearing it can see more or less normally, and hear normally, if not more clearly (Sam in the Two Towers).
- The threat grows much more gradually in the book. A variety of regular people and hobbits talk to and in some cases collaborate with the Black Riders. The threat grows as the hobbits get further away from the Shire, but it’s much more like general unease earlier on.
- Elves are light-hearted and funny. They don’t talk ponderously and wander slowly around in gray-looking habitats. Rivendell is famous for being the “last homely house” and a place of rest and respite.