Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ringdrotten on Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:05 pm

Finished!

To point out the biggest difference between Jackson's trilogy and the BBC adaptation: The Scouring is included in BBC's version. Personally I wasn't too impressed with they way the handled it. Seemed very rushed to me, especially the battle. I suspect you might think otherwise, Petty, you being a purist and all Laughing I liked the bit with Sharky/Saruman, though. In fact, Saruman is one of my favourites in that adaptation. The "The Voice of Saruman" part was done very well I think, the actor did a good job at capturing that persuading voice. And the meeting between Gandalf and Saruman was way better, so much fantastic dialogue there that Jackson failed to include Mad

Still not too fond of Gollum, though. However, there were some really fantastic "Gollum moments" in the adaptation too, so it wasn't altogether bad Very Happy

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant on Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:41 pm

"Seemed very rushed to me, especially the battle. I suspect you might think otherwise, Petty, you being a purist and all"- Ringdrotten

In their defence battles on radio are never going to be a strong point. It is a bit rushed but I think their dilemma was a time one- its not enough on its own for an entire episode but its a bit too much to squeeze onto one. The compromise is not perfect but its infinitely better than PJ's choice to castrate the book. (Sadly one of the visual images I most looked forward to PJ bringing to life was old Cotton, standing alone in a circle of firelight in the middle of the street and the ruffians coming up to bully him, then the circle of hobbits appearing in a ring all around from out of the dark and Merry standing forward to challenge them. But then that's what I get for having 'expectations' PJ might do a good job).

"the meeting between Gandalf and Saruman was way better, so much fantastic dialogue there that Jackson failed to include"- Ringdrotten

One of the things the two adaptations do share is excellent actors in those roles. Sadly only the radio version makes use of its. To think how great the Gandalf/Saruman scenes in the film would have been with Chris Lee delivering those lines to McKellans Gandalf. Why on earth he thought the nonsense he gave us in its place was an 'improvement' I will never fathom, save to assume he just hates Tolkiens writing, making his choice of film a paradox!

I like Gollum, but he was my 'first gollum voice' so maybe that has a part in it, I hated Serkis when I first heard it although it grew on me. But the clincher for me is that with no visuals, just the voice, the scene in the Dead Marshes is both creepy, (cackling laugh) "The Dead Marshes. Yes, yes that is there is name." and poignant, "so they told him, when Smeagol was young. When I was young, before the Precious came"- the pain in his voice at that bit always moves me.
The PJ Dead Marshes is neither creepy nor poignant. Its saccharin and looks nothing like the book description of the scene (particularly the 'tricksy lights') and is about absolutely nothing.

I find when I listen to the plays that I am always shocked at just how much is missing in the films. And yet PJ's EE versions at roughly 4 hours a pop are only 1 hour shorter than the radio plays and thanks to visuals Pj doesnt nned to spend time on lengthy narration- makes you wonder what he wasted all the time on really. Oh yes, wizards fighting, fifteen minutes battles with trolls, collapsing staircases, flaming Nazgul, firework theft, and that's just Fellowship the 'closest' film to the book!
Oh bugger I'm all crabbit again now. Evil or Very Mad Must be buckie time. drunken Better.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ringdrotten on Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:35 pm

"One of the things the two adaptations do share is excellent actors in those roles. Sadly only the radio version makes use of its. To think how great the Gandalf/Saruman scenes in the film would have been with Chris Lee delivering those lines to McKellans Gandalf"

The thought of it almost makes me feel crabbity too Mad


And the Dead Marshes were definitely better in the BBC adaptation, very creepy compared to the film (in fact, I think the BBC adaptation managed to pull off all the creepy parts much better) and Gollum's lines were also superior to the film. I don't share your opinion of Jackson's Dead Marshes, though, I think they were good too (I do, however, agree that there's potential for improvement) Wink

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant on Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:47 pm

"I don't share your opinion of Jackson's Dead Marshes, "- Ringdrotten

Very Happy Which opinion? That its saccharin, pointless or looks nothing like the book description. (I accept the wide shots of them marsh look fine- just nothing else).

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ringdrotten on Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:56 pm

The opinion that they're no good, whatsoever, apart from the wide shots Wink (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, and that this is not your opinion). They don't entirely match the description in the book, but I still think they're good (Sorry if your crabbit-meter goes wild again!) Smile

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant on Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:22 pm

I suppose my point is if I compare the two adaptations of the 'tricksy light' scene (it is the centrepiece of the Dead Marshes sequence after all) I get this;

radio play: creepy, poignant, you learn a bit more about Smeagol and share the feelings of pity Frodo displays towards him, yet he remains dangerous enough that you also understand Sam's position. Even with no visuals they manage with sound to convey the 'tricksy lights' and combined with a bit of the description from the book given as dialogue by Sam the entire picture is painted very accurately.The radio version uses Tolkiens dialogue for Frodo too, "Many faces proud and fair....all rotting, all dead." Ian Holm delivers it brilliantly and its creepy as hell.

film version: not creepy, not poignant. Poor sets, bad lighting, rubbish mist, hopeless 'tricksy lights' (shining smoke, misty flames above unseen candles, twisted like ghostly sheets unfurled). Gollum is neither creepy nor poignant in it, his only purpose in the scene is now to support the Covens own changes. For this to happen the 'drama' needs heightened so that Frodo's life is threatened. The entire purpose of the scene is gone already. Tolkiens dialogue is abandoned, we learn nothing really about Gollum in this scene, certainly not a sharing of Frodo's pity and Sam's suspicions. The brilliant speech Frodo gives is abandoned in favour of him falling in to be accosted with a ghost who has escaped from the Ark at the end of Raiders. Only to be rescued by Gollum, who saves his life. By making this scene about their own changes the Coven destroyed it.

If there is another purpose to this scene thats not self serving in PJ's version it alludes me. It seems entirely contrived and altered by a need to set up and support their own late changes to the Frodo/Gollum/Sam relationship.and to achieve this they have happily dumped the book version in the bin.
The radio plays at least are more concerned with letting the authors words breathe, not their own.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Tinuviel on Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:51 am

I've heard alot about this BBC version. Can someone post a link as to where I can find it??? from what you're all saying, it sounds quite good Very Happy

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:08 pm

Check your PM Tin.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Tinuviel on Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:47 pm

got it Cool
And I have to say that I thought the 80s beat in the animated ROTK made me want to vomit. But that's just me

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Eldorion on Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:03 pm

That movie was horrible, but it was worth watching just for "Where There's a Whip There's a Way". Twisted Evil

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Tinuviel on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:02 am

hahaha!!!!! That was my favorite song! That and "Frodo of the nine fingers" Evil or Very Mad

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:47 am

I've never forced myself to watch that film- and after that I am certain I made the right decision- my crabbit meter would explode- again.

But for the sake of argument lets see how it compares with PJ's version.
Well obviously orcs look awful in the animation, putting aside the 'genetic corruption' of the films which is no better, PJ's orcs look the part.
In the animation the hobbits being mistaken as orcs seems to largely be down to a helmet and ear muffs. Not very likely.
But PJ's version, whilst looking a lot less silly, is not much better. The lighting is far too bright, their faces to easy to see, there's not much more chance of them being mistaken for orcs in PJ's version than in the animation.
And for all its faults the animation is kinda closer at the end to the book than PJ. Ok the animation changes an orc group to men but at least there is a meeting of groups at a cross roads and a fight breaks out. The Coven, in typical style could not help themselves from giving the 'heroes' the instigator role by starting a fight (the animation partly succumbs to the same thing by having Frodo tease the orc into fighting).
Neither version is really very good, in fact out of the three adaptations discussed so far, again, only the radio play does it as it is in the book and is all the better for it.

I think the differences highlight the problem. In both film versions the script bends to expectation- rather than our heroes getting a lucky break and taking advantage of it they have to be promoted to the people who cause the lucky break. But life isn't like that. Most of its chance and luck- I'm certain Tolkien's own experiences in war, and all those who didn't come back, his own near misses will have informed to that. The climax of the destruction of the Ring is chance or providence depending on your view. But its not actively instigated either way.

Frodo and Sam get away from the orcs because of a bit of blind luck in the book. Two groups of orcs meet at a bridge and get angry about it. The hobbits slip away while the going is good.
Its not a long scene, or a big scene, it happens, they slip away. PJ in particular is incapable of doing this sort of thing. They look at a scene and immediately try to see how they can promote the 'hero' to the active role. They turn every molehill into a mountain of drama and in the end, the real dramatic moments of the book, are lost in a fog of 'false' dramatic moments.

It also reduces the sense of solidity and realism the books engender. By removing chance events and making everything the result of the actions of the heroes it feels false. Life isn't like that. LotR has a spinal cord of chance running through it. Its chance Gandalf meets Thorin on the road, its chance that Bilbo finds the Ring, its chance that Frodos parents die in a boating accident, its chance he gets the Ring and so on to the destruction of the Ring.
What Tolkien creates is the very real sense we all have, that the universe is chance, and being creatures of pattern recognition we also see Providence at work in all this chance. The same feeling is true in LotR's. Even Gandalf never seems quite certain and never makes definitive statements on it, just ones with caveats "Chance as it might seem," even when he tells Frodo he is meant to have the Ring Gandalf ends with "and if so, then that is an encouraging thought". Is it all chance or all providence?
The question never gets off the ground in the films because nothing in them happens by chance. The heroes always get an active role. It undermines the whole thing before it even gets going.

This seems to be a problem with both film adaptations. They don't try to to reproduce what is written but to make it fit a mould of what a film 'should' be like.
In a film you can't have things just happening- they must have a reason. Bad guys must be punished, so PJ gives us bad guys where there are none. In FotR and in particular TT he does it with Saruman and Wormtongue, he expands their role by giving them far more focus than the book does. He gives the audience someone to boo and hiss. Its probably why he dumped the great speech with Gandalf/Saruman- that Saruman is harder to just boo at, but one who pins Gandalf to a wall that's easy to hate. That simplifying to play on cheap emotion for instant results undermines the films all the way through.
In RotK he creates Gothmog (the name is from the book but little else-he was probably one of the Black Riders) a loathsome literally corrupt character whose only purpose is to make up for the lack of a bad guy on screen to boo at in that film. Its hard to boo a big eyeball.

But this feeling you have to have these things to make it a 'proper' film makes me rage with crabbitness. Great films do not begin by making sure you check a bunch of boxes on an imaginary list of what a film should be like. Just do the original justice and trust in it. Too much to ask of PJ and TH? You bet.

Ahh its ages since I had a really good long crabbit rant.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ringdrotten on Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:48 pm

I think you're being a bit unfair when you compare Jackson's trilogy to that disaster of a film - watch the whole thing and even you would prefer Jackson's version Wink

"even when he tells Frodo he is meant to have the Ring Gandalf ends with "and if so, then that is an encouraging thought". Is it all chance or all providence? " - Petty

Feel I need to correct you here, Petty. Gandalf says it was chance that brought the Ring to Déagol and Gollum. However, he doesn't seem to think that it was chance that Bilbo found it. What Gandalf says is this:

".... It abandoned Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo Baggins from the Shire!

Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ringmaker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought"

I think this implies providence, not chance.

As to films needing Bad Guys: I think they do, and I don't really think the quality of the movies suffered from making Saruman's role bigger. On the other hand, I agree that with Tolkien's dialogue Saruman would have been ten times better. And the RotK could probably have managed without Gothmog Razz

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:54 pm

My mistake Ringdrotten. I was on a break at work and relying on memory. But even so I don't think it affects my point much.
"And that may be an encouraging thought"- it still leaves room (wisely) for doubt and for chance. And I did say it could be seen as Providence, its just not ever made wholly explicit or definite. My point that by making characters instigators it undermines the theme of chance and the subliminal sense of reality that gives, still holds.

I don't think I could take watching that whole film. Look how crabbit just one song made me. Shocked

I really don't believe LotR needs on-screen bad guys. The book doesn't have an on page one after all. And the radio plays manage just fine in conveying the peril and danger from Sauron without the need to elevate other characters temporarily to the role.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ringdrotten on Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:06 pm

"My point that by making characters instigators it undermines the theme of chance and the subliminal sense of reality that gives, still holds." - Petty

It still holds, and I agree. Just wanted to point out the difference Wink

"And the radio plays manage just fine in conveying the peril and danger from Sauron without the need to elevate other characters temporarily to the role." - Petty

True. Don't really have any good argument in response to this scratch

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:19 pm

"Just wanted to point out the difference"- Ringdrotten

And quite right to. Can't have sloppy Lore lying about the place. I wasn't entirely sure when I wrote it but I was sure whatever the exact wording it had room for doubt it.

As to your lack of an argument Ringdrotten that's simple the Pure way is true. We are beacons of shining Tolkien love in a wasteland of dark PJ mesmerising (he's like Saruman you know, when you watch his films you think they are good, but its tricks and deceit). There is no argument for you to make Ringdrotten, Tolkien's words, plotting, pacing and characters are superior. You can alter bits for time, you can shorten bits, heighten bits in adaptation, but so long as you don't alter the basics its all good. PJ altered and should therefore never be forgiven. Evil or Very Mad

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ally on Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:38 pm

Guys- it's a different media! Very Happy In radio dramas it's all dialogue and all plot, this couldn't have worked in a screen adaptation! PJ had to chance things!(Though to be fair I thought PJ could have squeezed in the Crickhollow scene, which is done well here, giving Merry and Pippin a nice intro!)

Being a member of computer generation, I downloaded this adaptation (1981 version you're talking about right?) a while back for free. So I can't really grumble. But, some of the voice I really disliked. Legolas for example. I thought he was supposed to be a fair elf? Very Happy Gimli seemed very weird too, and Boromir seemed too old! But I got used to Aragorn pretty quick (once I got over the fact that he wasn't Viggo Mortensen, so I hope when I relisten to them they all seem natural!

But I agree, it's actually great, saved me life on a 15 hour drive through Europe. .. Very Happy
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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:15 pm

I'm not sure what year the version I listen to is from Ally. It had Michael Horden has Gandalf and Ian Holm as Frodo if that's any help.

I agree you can't have as much dialogue as the radio plays, in fact the advantage of film is you can paint a visual picture that makes much dialogue obsolete, but Pj dumped a lot of dialogue in favour of their own. And if you need to prune a book to fit it into film it does not seem wise to go about making new stuff up of your own at the expense of the original.

I like the Gimli- he's one of the highlights of the radio version for me- the bit where he recites the poem about Durin in Moria ias one of my favourites. That's the voice I have in my head now when I read the books, thank Elhonna, if I was stuck with the PJ version I'd have a bad Scottish accent in my head- at least for TH they cast a real Scotsman for Gloin.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ringdrotten on Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:25 pm

Ally wrote:Guys- it's a different media! Very Happy In radio dramas it's all dialogue and all plot, this couldn't have worked in a screen adaptation!

Actually, I think most of the BBC dialogue could have been used in the film script as well. For instance, why not use the original dialogue between Gandalf and Saruman? Nothing that "doesn't work on film" there.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:44 pm

I also dislike the changes made to Sam and Frodo relationship in the film. It is handled much better in the radio play, as it is in the books. In the EE's the Coven claim they did this because a modern audience would not react well to an obvious difference in class between the two. But Sam is a servant, a gardener in the book and radio version. He is not Frodo's friend. His friends are Merry and Pippin, the heirs to the two most important families in the Shire. He doesn't hang out with the gardener.
Frodo thinks Sam's loyal, brave within his own measure but not bright, not much of a thinker and he doesn't expect him to be. After they meet the elves and Frodo asks Sam what he thought of elves his reply surprises Frodo, partly because Frodo just didn't expect deep thoughts from his gardener. The same is true again later when Sam suddenly sings the Lay of Gil-Galad.
For some reason the other thing they greatly reduced is one of Sam's endearing qualities, his Gaffer. Who barely gets a mention in the films but whose name in the books and radio version Sam often invokes. Why they did this I have no idea. But his character is less fun and loveable without it.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ally on Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:32 pm

Having read the books, I admit that the changes to Sam seem rather pointless. " obvious difference in class between the two"- You would think that this would be a perfect opportunity to develop Sam, as he does in the book, and show the message that friendship and bravery, are much more important than class, when the world as we know it is close to the brink. At the end they are equals, a measure of how much Sam and Frodo have came. That by the end they are friends. I would have thought that this was the perfect chance to add an additional dimension to both of the characters, and show the barriers of class being rather pointless, when everyone is in danager.
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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:56 pm

I agree entirely Ally. Frodo goes from effectively just Sam's boss and social superior through being surprised by the depth of thought he is capable of to relying on him, loving him and at the end they are as you say friends beyond any distinctions of class.
The Covens choice to alter this and start them out as equals and friends seems a bad one- I've really no idea what they were thinking.

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Ringdrotten on Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:23 am

I agree. However, I think they tried to show that Frodo had changed his opinion of Sam in RotK. At the end of FotR Frodo says: "Sam - I'm glad you're with me". After the ring is destroyed in RotK, Frodo says almost the same thing, but with one small difference: "I'm glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee. Here at the end of all things". My interpretation of this little change has always been that Frodo at this point thinks much higher of Sam and that he sees Sam as a better person than himself. There are probably other interpretations of this, but I like this one - it's a nice thought Smile

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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Eldorion on Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:27 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I agree entirely Ally. Frodo goes from effectively just Sam's boss and social superior through being surprised by the depth of thought he is capable of to relying on him, loving him and at the end they are as you say friends beyond any distinctions of class.
The Covens choice to alter this and start them out as equals and friends seems a bad one- I've really no idea what they were thinking.

I think the "Coven" thought that a modern audience would be unable to relate to a Victorian-era master/servant relationship, and changed it to fit modern sensibilities. A more cynical explanation is that they weren't able to relate to that sort of relationship themselves. Wink
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Re: Alternative adaptations of LoTR and TH

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:37 am

Or if you are even more cynical, ie me, it because they lack the writing skills to depict a subtle character development arc across three films that takes in class boundaries, expectations, friendship and love without ever putting it right up front or battering you over the head with it. Its subtle- I think that word must have fallen out the Covens collective dictionary at some point.

As to the lines of dialogue you mention Ringdrotten- and they could be interpreted just as you suggest- its a pretty lazy way to go about it- lets not bother showing the developing companionship between these two, we'll just have Frodo come out and say it at the end as if it all happened.

And the Sam of the books is at the end of the day level headed and practical- its not beyond the realms of probability that if the Sam of the books found himself in the position of Sam of the films; cast out by Frodo, abandoned in the middle of Mordor- he would have come to the conclusion, slowly, with regret, but determinedly, that Frodo could no longer be trusted to take the Ring- would he have tried to take it under those circumstances with the idea of destroying it himself?- it would be a consideration as you wandered alone in the cesspits and fumes hundreds and hundreds of miles from anywhere pleasant. But the Coven never did think through consequences of their changes very well- they just bung them in and then at a given moment rejoin the book story and carry on as if nothing had been different in-between. Its hopeless.

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