Denethor, who is he?

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Denethor, who is he?

Post by Kafria on Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:39 pm

Something I have been meaning to ask. A number of people have expressed dissatisfation at Denethor as portrayed in the films, so what was wrong? Is it not just a case that there was not enough time to give a full impression in the films time limits so the slight characture was necessary to hit the necessary story points?

(I'll duck the explosion and then wait for the eerie calm to see what response I get Laughing )

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Ringdrotten on Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:06 pm

An interesting question which will get many interesting answers, I'm sure Smile

"Is it not just a case that there was not enough time to give a full impression in the films time limits so the slight characture was necessary to hit the necessary story points?"

Like Petty will no doubt tell you, there was probably time enough to do Denethor justice, but Jackson & Friends didn't prioritize it. I think I will wait for Petty and Eldo to answer before I say anything else, though, as their lore knowledge is far superior to mine, and they'll probably give you much more detailed answers to your question.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:30 pm

Where to start.
Things that make no sense just within the film itself;

1. There are no Captains save Faramir. The entire defence of the city and people of Gondor has 1 Captain. In the scene where Denethor says "Is there a Captain here who will still do his masters will?" or words to that effect, there is only Faramir, Pippin, and a couple of servants in the room.
The same scene in the book has a full blown meeting with Captains, lords and sundry surrounding nobles present. PJ's Denethor runs all of Gondor all on his own without so much as an advisor.

2. No one in the films seems to mind been ruled by a clear mad man who is putting all their lives at risk. Even when Gandalf runs up in the street to Faramir in front of the populace to shout "Your father's will has turned to madness".

3. PJ's Denethor is simply far to mad and an idiot. He does nothing to defend the city and gets away with it, he sees things, he rants almost continually.
His decision not to light the beacons and call for aid just to stop Aragorn coming is the act of an insane man. Someone else would have lit the damn things long before were that the case. In the book the beacons are lit by Denethor before Gandalf even reaches Minas Tirith.

4. What exactly does the Denethor of the film rule? PJ makes Osgiliath old looking but implies Faramir lost it to the enemy recently and that before it was a place full of music and song. "You let the enemy walk in and take it on a whim," he says to Faramir. The Pelennor, a plain of fields, homesteads and orchards is in the film a barren land of scrub grass and dirt. PJ removes all the coastal people form Belfalas and Dol Amroth and the Lebennin so all thats left is one city with no supplies ruled by a man whose clearly mad, ruling over a very small number of people who don't appear to care what happens to them.

5. There is no reason for why Denethors despair at the loss of his son and the growing threat of the days he lives in leads him to suicide beyond he was mad to start with. Removing the palantir and his use of it means two things, firstly that Denthors despair becomes just another bit of his madness, and secondly it removes the role of Sauron in corrupting an otherwise good man and ruler. There is nothing to like in PJ's Denethor, or even admire, so there is nothing to pity as he burns.

6. His death. In the book Denethor commits suicide and there is no doubt what has happened. In the film he tries to commit suicide and fails when Gandalf knocks him from the pire, only to then have Shadowfax kick him back on. This is no longer suicide, he may have come to his senses-he seems to just before the flames get him so why wouldn;t he have lying on the floor?, Gandalf could have easily saved him, instead Gandalf helps kill him. Besides the political ramifications what it says about Gandalf's morality is not very good.

7. And then of course there is the final flourish (insult) the running more than a half a mile on fire to through himself from the Courtyard. There's nothing to say about how bad, inconsistent and impossible that is.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Ringdrotten on Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:53 pm

"1. There are no Captains save Faramir. "


Even if the films only show one captain, Faramir, that doesn't necessarily mean that there are no other captains. I agree, though, that Jackson should have shown that there were more captains and advisors.


"PJ makes Osgiliath old looking but implies Faramir lost it to the enemy recently and that before it was a place full of music and song."


Denethor doesn't imply this (or at least, I cannot recall him doing so - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong Smile). It is Boromir who says that Osgiliath was once a place of music and song.

"PJ removes all the coastal people form Belfalas and Dol Amroth and the Lebennin"


You get a glimpse of burning settlements along the river sometime during RotK, but I can't remember exactly when (I think it is when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli comes out of the mountain, and they look at the mercenary ships from a distance). I agree with you, though, if you haven't read the books you can't really know that the burning places are settlements/cities/towns that belong to Gondor.

On the whole, I agree with you, Jackson did a lousy job with Denethor.


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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:04 pm

"Even if the films only show one captain, Faramir, that doesn't necessarily mean that there are no other captains."- Ringdrotten

True, but when you use a line of dialogue clearly addressing a room of captains and theres only one its a bit silly. Why not just have assembled captains in the room, the viewer doesn't have to know all their names, just have someone else military there and the odd advisor.

"Denethor doesn't imply this"- Ringdrotten

"But for Faramir this city would still be standing"-Denethor, TT- flashback scene, Faramir remembering his brother.

"You get a glimpse of burning settlements along the river sometime during RotK"

Yes you do, but unless you already know the book PJ tells you nothing about where they are in relation to anything else except somewhere o the coast, or what sort of people they are or whose people they are. Nowhere does PJ directly link them with Gondor which as far as the films is conserned is Minas Tirith and a big empty plain.

"On the whole, I agree with you, Jackson did a lousy job with Denethor."

Yes, he did indeed!




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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Ringdrotten on Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:37 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:

"Denethor doesn't imply this"- Ringdrotten

"But for Faramir this city would still be standing"-Denethor, TT- flashback scene, Faramir remembering his brother.




Standing, yes, but I don't think that equals a place of music and song. Boromir, in his speech in the same flashback, says that "this city was once a place of....", which to me sounds like a long time ago. I don't think people lived in Osgiliath at the time when Faramir lost it (at least not in the films), but that Osgiliath was more like a military outpost or something like that.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:08 am

I would agree it is not clear or explicit either way. Which is the problem really. By putting in the lines spoken by Boromir then Denethors to Faramir, PJ makes something which should be crystal clear and straight forward, muddier. As he does with the age of Moria and exactly what Gimli is expecting to find there and why.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Ringdrotten on Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:15 am

We can agree that he made a lot of unnecesseary mess then? Smile still, I can't help it, I love his films, despite their flaws - they are still my favourite movies Very Happy I feel I need to remind myself of that every now and then, or else that silly purist nonsense of yours might ruin them for me Laughing Very Happy

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:21 am

Hopefully the fact I have taken the trouble to try to salvage them to my own tastes demonstrates that I do not hate these films either, they just disappoint to often, and in their presented form by PJ, they disappoint me more often than they please. But there is wonderful work there, in bits, here and there where they got it right, I am grateful for them. Id rather at least have my edits to watch than nothing at all which was the alternative. Just they are for me so much a case of .'if only....'

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by odo banks on Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:21 pm

I haven't read the posts on this thread because I'm sure it's all rubbish.

Well, I DID read them, but with my mind safely closed! Very Happy

Anyhow, what about that boy who befriended Pippin? What a lovely charming little side-story that could have been. We could have cut out the Denethor scenes to incorporate it. Loved that part of the story. Shame I can't remember the boy's name off hand.
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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by halfwise on Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:30 pm

Sorry I didn't find this earlier, it's a topic very dear to my heart. We had a discussion of this on the old forum where I think I worded it perfectly, and I'll never do it justice again, and I don't think anyone on this thread has quite done it justice. it's not just a question of logic, Petty, it's a question of Character - the loss of a very memorable one.

Denethor is one of the deepest, most complex characters in Tolkien's creation. Gandalf describes him to Pippin: "He is not as other men, by some chance the blood of Westernesse runs nearly true in him, as it does in his son Faramir, but not in his other son Boromir who he loved best." Some of the complexity comes in that the character should be played as closer to Faramir, while coldly rejecting him as not the soldier type that Gondor needs for these times. The movie portrayed him as witless at every turn.

Gandalf and Denethor have full respect for each other, even while trading barbs. Here is Denethor's words after the first meeting with Gandalf: "None shall hinder your coming to me at any time....let your wrath at an old man's folly run off, and return to comfort me." And Gandalf replied: "Folly? Nay my Lord, when you are a dotard you will die. You can use even your grief as a cloak. Do you think I do not understand why you questioned at length one who knew least, while I stood by?" Again, in the movie there was none of this respect, only the trading of barbs was retained. Note that Denethor questioned Pippin not just to put Gandalf in his place by ignoring him, but because he knew he could read between the lines of Pippin's responses, where Gandalf would have more skill in covering up the presence of Aragorn in the company. Perhaps he even counted on reading Gandalf's wordless reactions to Pippin's questioning. All this subtle mastery fell on the rubbish heap in the movie.

He has deep nobility, and remains totally in control while fighting against the devastation of losing his favorite son. He shows not the slightest sign of madness until Faramir is struck down, and then his spirit finally crumbles. In the movie he's already lost it when Boromir dies, and in the extended edition his sons don't even respect him at any point. It's criminal.

As I mentioned somewhere else, Sir John Gielgud would have been perfect in the role. John Noble may have done well if well directed, but Gielgud would not have put up with the rot in the first place: he's incapable of playing a character without nobility.

In short, the movie shows Denethor only as an idiot, instead of the masterful yet crustily proud lord he was. Movie audiences were denied the experience of one of the great characters of literature: a monumental loss.


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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Kafria on Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:59 pm

Denethor is one of the deepest, most complex characters in Tolkien's creation. Gandalf describes him to Pippin: "He is not as other men, by some chance the blood of Westernesse runs nearly true in him, as it does in his son Faramir, but not in his other son Boromir who he loved best." Some of the complexity comes in that the character should be played as closer to Faramir, while coldly rejecting him as not the soldier type that Gondor needs for these times.

Interesting, I have never really thought about this in any depth. That actually makes the sadness of Faramir so much more painful, to be alike, but disliked for being so.... why would that happen?

I had never recognised before that the likeness to the men of Westernesse was attributed to Denethor too. But I agree that the film character is extremly onesided. It compounded for me the issue of it seeming as if this one people were the only ones underattack, missing the feeling of impending doom for everyone that is present in the films.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:01 pm

I agree with every word of your post Halfwise.

"to be alike, but disliked for being so.... why would that happen?"- Kafria

In my experience this is not uncommon between fathers and sons, th emore alike they are the less likely they are to get on.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Orwell on Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:21 pm

I know this is not exactly the right place for it, but I don't see the need for a whole thread to ask my question. The question is: Wasn't Osgiliath more than a hundred metres from Minas Tirith? Denethor eats his lunch while his soldiers ride across a narrow strip of land to Osgiliath. It was like PJ thought, "I've done some plain disrespectful things to Tolkien, but what now? Oh, I know, I'll go for absolutely absurd." Nod

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:29 pm

I thought Denethor was great. Cool

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:34 pm

Mad
I thought the actor was good and did a good job with the terrible part he was given, I would dearly like to see what he could have brought to a full realisation of that characater.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by halfwise on Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:38 am

Mrs Figg wrote:I thought Denethor was great. Cool

Re-read "Minith Tirith" and "the Siege of Gondor" to remind yourself what Denethor could have been.
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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:28 pm

I still think he was great, the actor did a great job at being a hunched balck velvet crow. If I want the book Denethor I read the book. He did in a short space of time show that his dismissive attitude to Faramir was more about his own pride and bitterness towards the "usurper" Aragorn and his claims, because Faramir reminded him of the line of Kings whereas Boromir reminded him of himself, they were both cursed with pride which directly led to their downfall. I really thought the actor portrayed these emotions very well indeed.
..and I wont change my mind..

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by halfwise on Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:01 pm

Yes, he did a very good job with what he was given. Nobody's doubting John Noble's ability to portray tragic nobility, except that he wasn't asked to portray tragic nobility, he was asked to portray a character the audience would not respect. He did a very good job at it, and nobody was moved when his character was killed. A few tweaks to the script, nothing more, and a much richer character would have emerged. We would have realized something was lost when his mind was overthrown.
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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:14 pm

If they had introduced his use of the Palantir and shown him being corrupted by Sauron, but they didnt have time, and would have been too similar to Sarumans use of the Palantir for the audience. They showed him in total denial of the events outside the walls of Minas Tirith instead of the palantir abuse, he only was shown as being unhinged from the moment he actally looked at the massed army of orcs, and Faramir's "death". He did become mad with grief in the book so I dont see what the problem is, it was only timing that was different. The death dive was just done for dramatic purposes. Surely its not too hard to overlay the film and book Denethor? thats what I do.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by halfwise on Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:41 pm

It wasn't so much that he became unhinged a bit earlier, it was that there was nothing in the character you could respect. Proper writing would have shown greatness crumbling. In the movie he was just a guy everyone wanted to get rid of.

It's not at all true they didn't have time to show this, for they took many of Tolkien's lines and reversed the meaning. In the book Gandalf's statement "You can use even your grief as a cloak" is said directly to Denethor, as a sort of compliment to his abilities under bereavement. In the movie it was said dismissively to Pippin, implying he turns grief to selfish purposes. Again in the book the phrase "the rule of Gondor is mine alone" is said proudly, a statement that he is in control. In the movie the manner in which it was said demonstrated he was losing control. The film makers went out of their way to make him despicable: as Petty pointed out, Book Denethor was competent and in control, lighting the beacons even before Gandalf arrives; in the movie he curls his lip in disdain when they are lit behind his back. I can go on and on, but the movie character can not be matched to the book character in any way but name.
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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:44 pm

"but they didnt have time"- Mrs Figg

And whose fault is that? The scripts fault. Perhaps if they hadnt moved more than half of the content of TT and tried to cram it into RotK they would have had the time.
And I have to agree with Halfwise- Denethor has lost it in PJ's version from the word go- he gets worse yes but he is crazy already which he is not in the book- there is no sense of his commanding presence, power or dignity or the respect he is held in, in the character PJ presents- he is a selfish coward who wouldn't even defend his own people and is too prideful to even call for aid- all of which requires a huge suspension of belief that no one else in the city seems to mind their imminent deaths and their leaders complete lack of leading.

"Surely its not too hard to overlay the film and book Denethor?"- Mrs Figg

I don't see how when the two are very different characters indeed.

Entirely agree Halfwise-its not just that they reduced Denethor by simplification for adapting reasons they delibretly undermine him and use the text in the book to portray an entirely different man whose sole purpose dramatically in the films is just to be an obstacle that needs removed.

I don't think PJ likes language, he doesn't revel in words or their construction and placement like Tolkien does - I get the impression PJ gets bored filming dialogue as for him talking just gets in the way of more spectacle he could be doing. But you can't do LoTR's without a love of language. You can never do Tolkiens writing justice otherwise.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by halfwise on Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:56 pm

"...there is no sense of his commanding presence, power or dignity or the respect he is held in, in the character PJ presents- he is a selfish coward who wouldn't even defend his own people and is too prideful to even call for aid."

That was the perfect phrasing I was looking for and never quite found.
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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:18 pm

I think they purposly contrasted him unfavourably with Theoden. As both of them had been under some kind of outside power to a lesser or greater extent. Theoden with the influence of Saruman and Denethor with Sauron. Theoden rose to the challenge in the film and Denethor did not. Obviously in the book they both rose to the challenge to differing extents. I dont dislike this dramatic choice to make Denethor a lesser ruler than in the book, it made his terrible death easier to bear for the audience, and his eventual and inevitable dethronement by Aragorn. As I said I dont want my quotes thrown at me to evidence that you are right and I am wrong. I stick to my liking of Denethor in the film.

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Re: Denethor, who is he?

Post by Eldorion on Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:40 pm

No one is trying to tell you how to feel, Mrs Figg, but this is a discussion forum. People are naturally going to discuss the topic of the thread with you and they are perfectly within their rights to disagree with you. And, of course, you are perfectly entitled to disagree with them as well. Smile I don't think anyone is throwing your quotes at you though; quoting other people's posts is really just a convenient way to structure ones own posts. Most people here do it at least sometimes. Shrugging


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