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Post by halfwise on Fri May 03, 2019 4:36 pm

I don't have HOME so can't check sources, but screen rant (https://screenrant.com/lord-of-the-rings-things-cut-changed-from-books/) says that Tolkien rejected several endings before settling on the one in the books. But several of his rejections were not far from PJ's:


The craziest (and perhaps favorite of all you Sam-haters out there) would have seen Gollum stealing the Ring from Frodo, then Sam bum rushing the little monster before hurling both Gollum and himself into the Cracks of Doom.

Realizing that Sam's death was probably a terrible idea, Tolkien revised it so that Gollum gets the Ring by breaking Frodo's finger and does a happy dance during which Sam sneaks up and pushes him off the edge.

As satisfying as that might have been, Tolkien thought maybe it would work better if Gollum willingly threw himself off the cliff and then eventually settled on the gloating monster accidentally stumbling over like an idiot.

This kind of puts a damper on all the rants about the deep meanings Tolkien was meaning to imply by the details. I aver the only act important to Tolkien was Frodo claiming the Ring for himself; all else was fluff in comparison.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri May 03, 2019 10:11 pm

{{An author is allowed to muse on different means of reaching a goal in a manner that satisfies all their personal criteria- but Toikien was crystal clear on the matter in interviews when he talks about the underlying meaning of the work, and particularly in Letters where he goes into depth on the meaning behind this very scene, and in particular Frodo's moral failure at that moment and the effect it has upon him going forward.

There is simply no excuse whatsoever for PJ to fuck that up- no weasely mealy mouthed excuses for him Halfy- the author is absolutely clear in his own words on more than one occasion and PJ does the EXACT opposite.

Tolkien said his work was catholic by accident in the beginning and consciously so in the revision. This scene is central to that.

That Tolkien took some time and tried different ideas out to get there means fuck all. Its where he got to that counts and what that meant- and where he got to is the ending we have in the book, and its meaning he lays out in detail in Letters.
PJ anbd the Coven had no excuses for not understanding this, they choose not to and Holywood the ending for the sake of a cheap drama moment between Frodo and Sam and to give the film an uplifting moment the book does not have.}}

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Post by halfwise on Fri May 03, 2019 11:40 pm

The point was in both film and book he succumbed to the Ring. In the film he didn't turn his back on the ring; he turned his back on falling into lava to try to recover the unrecoverable. If it had been stuck on a ledge he would have happily dropped, breaking all his bones to spend the rest of what remained of his life with it.

It was a cheesy ending, but I don't think it invalidated Tolkien's main intent. He gave in and claimed the Ring for his own.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat May 04, 2019 12:13 am

{{In PJ's version the visual narrative is clear as day. Frodo claims the Ring, Smeagol steals the Ring from him- so good so far.
But then Frodo fights for it (which book Frodo was incapable of at that point due to being exhausted in mind and SPIRIT to the point of being a helpless bystander) and Frodo goes over the edge and the Ring falls in the lava- but crucially it is NOT destroyed.
Frodo then looks with longing at the Ring sitting unharmed on the surface of the lava and Sam says 'dont you dare.' Clearly meaning 'don't you dare choose to follow the Ring.'
The visual narrative at this point is made absolutely stark by PJ.
He offers Frodo his hand to save him, Frodo again looks to the Ring, then to triumphant music CHOOSES to live, chooses to reject following the Ring and chooses to go on living and takes Sam's hand to be saved. And then and only then do we see the Ring finally sink into the lava and be destroyed because Frodo has rejected it and chosen life.

Its the utter opposite of the meaning of the scene in that book and therefore of the entire moment the story has built towards, had Tolkien been so cheesy as to dangle Frodo off the cliff and give him that choice- book Frodo would have gone in the lava.

As it stands everything that happens in PJ's to Frodo from the moment he fights for the Ring and falls over the edge makes no sense. He doesn't need healed in the Undying Lands, he isn't wounded by that sense of longing and desire for the Ring that he never renounced, PJ's Frodo did at the end renounce it when he chooses not to follow thew Ring but to go back to living and choosing Sams hand, nor does PJ's Frodo therefore suffer the subsequent self blame and guilt that haunts him as a result of his own spiritual failure to withstand or renounce the Ring.

PJ's films completely miss the entire point by a country mile.}}

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Post by halfwise on Sat May 04, 2019 12:36 am

Now look. Frodo had been resisting the ring for years. Resisting it all the long exhausting climb up to the Crack of Doom. Then at the final moment he gave in. Tolkien's point is that after all he had been through and sacrificed, he still wouldn't be able to destroy it without outside help. That's different from saying he would kill himself to be with it a last few seconds. The moment of him choosing not to destroy the ring is what matters. If Tolkien wanted Frodo to be willing to die for the Ring, why didn't he throw himself over the cliff after Gollum in the book? Because that's essentially what you're asking him to do.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat May 04, 2019 12:51 am

{{Tolkien is very clear in Letters on the state of Frodo's mind and spirit in the moments after losing the Ring- he was crushed, utterly, to the point of complete exhausted inaction- he was not capable of throwing himself anywhere, or of fighting for the Ring- and in the book there is no opportunity- the Ring goes in and is destroyed soon as it hits lava. It does not, as in the films sitting about on the surface until a active revived Frodo chooses, as an act of free will, to not follow the Ring - that Frodo in the book never even gets that choice is part of book Frodo's subsequent issues- that at the end he was useless, he succumbed, he failed, he had no wish for the Ring to be destroyed, indeed the opposite he wanted it for himself and remains wanting it for himself for ever more.

This is why Tolkien gives Frodo no choices- he is beyond choosing, he is incapable of choosing at this point in the narrative because he is ultimately defeated.
And it is that defeat which never heals, that sense of his spirit having being utterly crushed and overcome he never gets over and for which he sent in sight of the Undying Lands to heal from.
There is no reason for Frodo to go on the ship in the films, none at all.

The moment PJ choose for extra drama to have Frodo fight for the Ring, and dangle off the cliff he had boxed himself in- the only 'film' narrative that now makes sense for why Frodo would not go in after the Ring in that scenario is for him to choose not to- which is exactly what PJ gives us.
But that one choice undoes the entire narrative and its purpose. }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Sat May 04, 2019 5:07 pm

Those are sweeping statements to make, Petty. Clearly the "entire narrative" isn't "entirely undone": the ending still works as part of a cohesive whole. The point is not missed by a "country mile": it's not as though Sam pushes Gollum and Frodo into the lava and takes the ring for himself before tripping and dropping it as well. I think you should consider the extreme plot deviations that lesser adaptations take on. By comparison, this is minor.

It seems to me that the only thing that changes by having Frodo dangle from the ledge is that we see that he has some strength left. This doesn't mean that he is now completely free of trauma.


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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat May 04, 2019 10:26 pm

{{ For me Forest Toliken is super clear here- the whole point was Frodo being defeated the point of complete inaction, of utter defeat.

His subsequent pain is a result of physical wounds, and that utter crushing defeat- the reason he goes on the ship is not for the physical wounds but for the healing of that crushing total defeat.
Book Frodo had no desire to survive, he made no choices at Mt Doom (thats the point) so by PJ explicitly giving him a clear choice between the Ring and choosing to live and having Frodo choose to live (which is the utter, exact, couldn't be more opposite to book Frodo's state of mind at the exact same moment if they tried, and they are)- it utterly undermines the entire premise and everything Toklien was saying in that moment- and that moment is everything the work has being building too, so yes it is fair to say if you fuck that moment up in your adaptation, you've fucked up the whole thing, or at least rendered everything precedingio tand after oit redundant as a coherent narrative- and PJ royally fucked it up with cliff dangly Frodo and his choice to live. }}

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Post by David H on Sat May 04, 2019 10:43 pm

PJ never could pass up an opportunity for a cliff-dangle! Rolling Eyes Razz

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat May 04, 2019 11:09 pm

{{Literal cliff-hangers are right up his alley indeed Nod They fell into the trap of believing your lead can never be passive, that the hero has to always be the one making a choice, driving forward, striving to win- the Coven just diodn't know what to do confronted with a lead character whose final mission is an utter personal failure of body and spirit. So they just ignored that and had a good old fight at the edge of a cliff over lava instead and dangling the hero over the edge to make a heroes choice. They just could not have got it more wrong. }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Sun May 05, 2019 5:07 am

I still think there's a deal of hyperbole going on here, but I can certainly see that PJ and Co. made a significant change with that dangle. This is for the first time, interestingly enough, that I've considered the idea that Frodo was considering letting go so that he could get to the ring. I always saw it as Frodo not having the will to go on: that he wanted to die.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun May 05, 2019 6:16 am

{{ I recommend rewatching that scene Forest, as PJ makes the visual narrative very clear. Important factors, Frodo looks at the Ring below and in direct response Sams warns him 'Don't you dare' and then he looks back at Sams hand- think this actually happens twice but at work and cant double check right now, and its only after Frodo makes the choice to take Sam's hand (and the hero music swells) that the Ring finally sinks to be destroyed, only once Frodo has made the choice to abandon it and choose to take Sam's hand and go on living.

And that's just the opposite of everything the book is saying at this point and given this point is THE pivotal moment in the story screwing it up screws up everything. The entire meaning of the work and its conclusion.

Is almost certainly because of this change, that despite trying to shoehorn Arwen in everywhere, the one time in the book she is present and has a one on one scene with Frodo is absent from PJ's- the scene she gives him the jewel to ease his pain of longing for the Ring- PJ left it out because in his version Frodo doesn't need it, it would make no sense given he just showed us Frodo actively rejecting the Ring and choosing to live. But its absence, and such an obvious chance to have them both share screen together missed, is explained by it not being needed and backs up the view that PJ was aware what his change at Mt Doom meant for the overall narrative. Which makes it even worse. Mad }}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun May 05, 2019 9:40 am

{{ Not a great review from Kermode- pretty much voices the sort of stuff I feared it was going to do. I'll still go see it but expect it to be more crabbit inducing than pleasing. }}}}


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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun May 05, 2019 9:46 am

{{ Back to PJ screwing the Cracks of Doom stuff up, just checked a transcript and Sam's words as Frodo hangs are "Don't you dare let go." Which is even more explicit in implying its a choice than I remembered.

As there is no reason for Sam to say this unless, as the visual narrative is informing us, Frodo is contemplating that very choice, to let go.

This makes it clear- film Frodo as he hangs there has a choice- to follow the Ring or to take Sam's hand and live on so rejecting the Ring in that act if he does.

He rejects the Ring, chooses life, takes Sam's hand and only then is the Ring destroyed by the lava (which till then just sits on the surface waiting on Frodo's choice).

And no matter how much you like PJ, there is no way to put that beside what happens in the book and the meaning Tolkien clearly ascribes to it in Letters. They are utterly opposed to each other at every single point.

And that is why, out of all the things that make me crabbit about those films this is the biggie. This scene is where in the book all the spiritual and religious themes meet and come together and are resolved- and the films miss it entirely and do the opposite and in so doing miss the whole point of the books in that regard. Compared to all the other crabbit inducing moments; anything with Legolas after FotR, elves at Helms Deep, reluctant emo Aragon, they all pale in comparison to the massive mishandling of the books central themes that occurs here at the one crucial moment in the narrative. It was here I realised with a doubt that either PJ and the Coven were deliberately shitting on Tolkien's themes and purpose, or they were so incompetent they'd managed to adapt the novels this far without knowing what they were about. Neither of which is good.}}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun May 05, 2019 1:39 pm

{{ Given slightly more thought to why the Coven and PJ chose to do this. I think its as simple as they knew what they were doing, but believed their overriding writing technique for character drama was better.
That is the hero has to be proactive, and everyone must have something to overcome.

Leaving Frodo aside for now there's Aragorn, they changed him to make him reluctant and having no desire to be King, which he had to overcome. His winning of Arwen is tied to this, which is why when he accepts his role as King he gets the sword from Elrond which was only re-forged at Arwens behest.

And Elrond of course they put in Arwens way of winning Aragorn, that's what she has to over come.

Oh and incidentally the pattern is always the same- create a conflict to overcome/obstacle in way to goal and finally over come it in a rousing speech or action.

Faramir is an obvious example of a character drasticly changed purely for the reason of making him an obstacle to overcome for Frodo and Sam. The entire diversion to Osgiliath ends of course in two rousing speeches for the price of one, one from Sam and one from Faramir when he releases them, giving your dramatic catharsis. And even though having just watched Frodo try to give the Ring right to the Enemy without much, if any, struggle should have logically persuaded him he was damn right to not let Frodo go wandering off with it, rather than it change his mind, it does show that they cared less about it making narrative sense, than they did about making him an obstacle, they now no longer needed him as an obstacle and just needed a fast route to putting him back on course with book Faramir's story. Even if it doesn't make sense why he would then act that way.

And of course Faramir himself has to overcome the loss of his brother and his fathers lack of love.

Merry and Pippin with Treebeard is a good example of the heroes must be proactive, even at the expense of making Treebeard look either uncaring or unwilling or too stupid to act. Its the hobbits who have to trick Treebeard into noticing the destruction of his own trees in order to rouse the Ents. Not because the Ents decide to whilst the hobbits await their decision. The hero must be the one making the action happen. That's their golden rule throughout.

One of the worst changes of course is Smeagol setting up Sam and Frodo sending Sam away in favour of Smeagol- a lot of terrible rubbish, but another example of creating an obstacle to put in the way for the 'hero' to overcome. And of course the formula remains, person has obstacle, reaches a turning point, acts/says/does something triumphant to mark it.
In Sam's case turning up in time to defeat Shelob and rescue Frodo.

And of course Gandalf- his obstacle to overcome is Saruman, first check- good guy gets beaten by bad guy in combat (changed Gandalf Saruman dialogue word play to combat!), second check bad guy directly responsible for seeming death of good guy (changed Caradhras to being Saruman not the mountain itself attacking them forcing them into Mordor, and Saruman who reads the narration about he Balrog in there), good guy surprise return, confronts bad guy, bad guy dies. Gandalf though doesn't get to be triumphant, so PJ cut it from the theatrical version despite making Saruman a much more prominent villain in film one.

Eomer, exile is thrown in as his obstacle to overcome.

And now Frodo, what his obstacle? What's he got to overcome? Well as they make him passive for the most part from the start, giving the 'action' he does have in the book and moments of bravery to other characters, its nothing he confronts in particular set up as character obstacles, just general plot ones he shares with other characters. So all he really has is the Ring to overcome.
This explains why he does so little, why so many of his heroic moments are given away or absent altogether. In every way PJ tries to emphasis the power of th Ring, and with Frodo they do so by making his one sole thing to overcome. Presumably in the belief the big single THING to overcome will have a single big emotional dramatic pay off when it finally it is overcome.
And for that he needs to be seen to overcome it and the music needs to soar etc and the big bad be finally defeated.

And of course they have to stick to their wining repeated pattern. If you have an obstacle it has to be overcome, seen to be overcome, and done so in triumph and the hero must be proactive in achieving it.

And so we have the Cracks of Doom scene. Where Frodo, remember hero, has to be proactive, physically fights Gollum for the Ring, which at this point Frodo has claimed for himself, not overcome. Gollum goes over the edge with the Ring and Frodo hangs off the cliff. The Ring sits on top of the lava.
Now Frodo has to overcome his obstacle to complete the trope, so we have the choice, and he chooses to live.
Cue triumphant moment and music and destruction of the Ring finally as it sinks taking the Big Bad with it.

Now the set up an obstacle, let the character struggle to over come it, have emotional/triumphant conclusion where they succeed is fine. Perfectly handy tool in the writing arsenal. But it's all they do, over and over, character after character, scene after scene. And not only that they have to change a lot of Tolkien's characters and stories to achieve it.

Even if its at the expense of the books core themes, they still do it. Almost as if its the only writing trick they know! Shocked }}

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Post by halfwise on Sun May 05, 2019 1:44 pm

Forest Shepherd wrote:I still think there's a deal of hyperbole going on here, but I can certainly see that PJ and Co. made a significant change with that dangle. This is for the first time, interestingly enough, that I've considered the idea that Frodo was considering letting go so that he could get to the ring. I always saw it as Frodo not having the will to go on: that he wanted to die.

I'm with Forest on this one.  I think the ring didn't dissolve as a result of him making a choice; it was kept undissolved simply because if it did much of the tension would dissolve with it.  The tension was whether Frodo would give up on life (a life without the ring which he could look down and see about to disappear forever) or choose to go on without it.  Any fool could see he couldn't get the ring back, that choice was simply out of the picture by now.  The film makers had added a second choice between live or die.  Having failed in his first choice (keep or destroy the ring) Frodo was being offered a redemption of sorts here.

Though I think Petty's point about a constant stream of proactive heros is correct, his analysis of what Frodo was set to overcome here is off the mark.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun May 05, 2019 2:05 pm

I think the ring didn't dissolve as a result of him making a choice- Halfy

{{ You think given how that scene is edited that the Ring only sinking as Frodo makes his choice and grabs Sam's hand to be pulled into the living world is not what they were going for?

Also again the editing tells a clear story to me, Frodo looks down with longing on the Ring, Sam responds with 'don't you dare let go'

Why would Frodo be going to let go if not to choose to follow the Ring? He isn't slipping off, he is letting go, a choice, a choice Sam, who knows him so well, can see on his face he is considering which is why Sam tells him he better not do it.
And only when Frodo makes the choice to not let go, but instead to live on (and if memory serves its edited on Frodo's face as he turns from the Ring to looking up to Sam's outstretched hand) then, only then as he takes Sam's hand does the Ring go in.

Both the dialogue and the editing seem pretty clear to me to saying Frodo has a choice between following the Ring or living on without it. A choice book Frodo never made, ever, right up till we last see him he never makes that choice.
You say it has to stay that long for tension.
No it only has to stay that long because they added in the extra bit where Frodo gets to make a choice. After all what else is this additional scene doing here at all if its purpose is not to show us Frodo making a choice and overcoming his obstacle in triumph? Just to dangle him off a cliff?
If it wasn't there, Ring goes straight in, Sam grabs Frodo pulls him out, bang!
The Ring is only there that long because Frodo now has a choice to make, and then when its made, the Ring can go, because Frodo has rejected the idea of following it to his certain death.

Now book Frodo for ever more until the ship is haunted by a sense of personal moral failure. Of that crushing total defeat book Frodo suffered, unable to act and having totally succumbed, and been left after the Rings destruction with the same desire to possess it.
Given that, had book Frodo for some reason found himself in the same position as film Frodo, with the same choice, book Frodo would have let go. He utterly succumbed to it, no will left to resist, he'd have gladly gone. To part nick a quote from Gandalf, 'He had no will left in the matter.' Because book Frodo never stopped desiring or wanting the Ring. He was totally, utterly completely in the most entirety of being, body and soul,  defeated and crushed by the Ring at Mt Doom. He had totally succumbed, completely in its thrall. He lost the spiritual and moral fight entirely. And that's how he himself sees it afterwards- as having lost, been defeated, failed. Something Tolkien highlights in Letters.  And because of that total succumbing and never renouncing it or being capable of choice any longer in the matter, he is also forever more in desire to have it back again and cannot find rest without it again. Its why Arwen gives him the jewel to ease his longing, its why he has to go on the ship to be healed in sight of the Undying Lands.

Film Frodo does make a choice, a huge choice, the opposite of what the mindset of book Frodo at that point would do. He chooses to turn from the Ring, take Sam's hand and be saved. None of which displays any sort of total and complete defeat. Instead it is a deliberate conscious choice to act, to turn from the Ring and live on. And the accompanying triumph music that goes with it (not the same as that which comes shortly after as the Ring, Sauron and mountain go boom)  it is another case of hero overcomes obstacle in emotional/triumphant manner. Its just the same trope as all the other character arcs they invented use.

But this one has huge ramifications for the entire narrative.

Film Frodo chooses to live in a black white choice between live without the Ring, follow the Ring to your death.
Book Frodo suffers utter defeat and never ceases desiring the Ring or longing for it and never once does he get to make a choice about it. Which is why in letters Tolkien says Frodo felt in part like a pawn, used by higher powers at his personal expense and suffering to get a job done. Frodo was in part resentful of God basically, which is why going in the ship was a fitting cure. Presumably before his death he would have found understanding for why his part in events had to be one of suffering and therefore in understanding find peace and rest finally.

Film Frodo is on the ship 'cause he cant fit back in, has a bit of post stress trauma and a sore shoulder occasionally!}}

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Post by halfwise on Sun May 05, 2019 3:36 pm

Oh okay, you win.

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