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November 13, 2009

Comments

This does seem to be a bit of a desperation move, Von. Nothing to say about more.. interesting issues? How about the trial of KSM?

Enjoyable rants Mr. V.

Nothing to say about more.. interesting issues? How about the trial of KSM?

Why don't you tell us what you think?

Eh, don't feed the troll scooby snacks.

Eric Martin, you and your friends have failed miserably in posting for days now, and when Von puts up a stunningly pointless post, you call critics trolls? How pathetic of you! Enjoy shepherding the decline of a once good blog, but don't expect to see people returning for more.

Rant Two. While I'm on the subject of children's films, let me explain why the movie adaptation of Horton Hears a Who sucks.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that all big-screen adaptations of children's classics suck.

(Or if it isn't universally acknowledged, it ought to be.)

It takes a particular kind of genius to write a story for children that is a work of art that can be appreciated by any age.

It takes a particular kind of genius to adapt a story from print to big-screen so that fans of the original story will think it's an exact adaptation and new fans who never read the book will love the movie.

It takes a particular kind of genius to make a film for children that all ages will enjoy.

The odds of all three particular kinds of genius showing up in the one person, who can then get funding to make the movie, are ... well, I'm sure someone has quantified them, but if we had a generator and a hot mug of tea we'd have an Improbability Drive spaceship, and so it goes. *drinks tea*

Seuss. Dr. Seuss.

I, for one, enjoyed seeing some film criticism on this site.

As far as the politics of Horton go, my mind always goes to the animated TV special -- in particular, the Wickersham Brothers*.

*who are, didn't you know, vigilant spotters; hot shot spotters of rotters and plotters...

Seussical the Musical does a better job than the movie of dealing with Horton. I don't know if it is on DVD, but it should be. Way more enjoyable.

Rant One: Oh, the odds are lower than that, von. For instance, there's the whitewashing of the cast and concept.

von -- nice writeup on Horton. It makes me remember the years when my kids and I enjoyed Dr. Seuss together.

Sneetches is one of my favorites. As with Horton: big topic in a deceptively simple package.

Not sure it's genocide if you don't know you're exterminating an entire race. More like negligent mass manslaughter. So far this issue has only come up in science fiction shows and fantasies, as humans are generally aware of each other's existence.

Eric Martin, you and your friends have failed miserably in posting for days now

Eric et al don't owe you a damned thing. If you don't like the conversation, start your own blog or go somewhere else.

It's dead easy. Here you go.

TypePad
WordPress

Let us know how you make out.

Eric Martin, you and your friends have failed miserably in posting for days now, and when Von puts up a stunningly pointless post, you call critics trolls? How pathetic of you! Enjoy shepherding the decline of a once good blog, but don't expect to see people returning for more.

Yeah, the nerve of them! Eric, don't you have a wife who can watch the new baby while you take care of important stuff like blog posts? It's been days (days! I say) since I've been suitably entertained by this blog. I'd like to join in Mr Snoutfur's condemnation and I demand an immediate refund from the proprietors. Cough it up, kitty.

Exact same thing happened with Steig's brilliant Shrek.
The book is truly great.
The movie got every single thing wrong, disneyfied it, and reversed the entire meaning.

read the book.

Jes, for a children's movie thaat doesn't completely suck, try Niki Caro's adaptation of Whale Rider, nicely nuanced and doesn't treat its audience like idiots.

I'm not a movie person so maybe I should just leave this alone, but I'm practicing work avoidance at the moment, so what the heck.

On the basis of my admittedly sparse experience, and generalizing beyond children's movies: the movie I've seen that most strikingly matched the book it was made from was A River Runs Through It. Gorgeous scenery, too. (And not just the landscape.)

And then there's Lord of the Rings. It's not the complete opposite end of the spectrum, but it's not the movie I would have made based on having read LOTR approximately once a year for the past 45 years.

My son told me not to watch part 3, because I'd be too annoyed, so I never have. But based on parts 1 and 2 we've had conversations in fits and starts over the years about who we would have cast as Aragorn, just based on our impressions from reading the book. I have never been able to think of anyone who looks like the Aragorn in my imagination. Anyone got any candidates?

And, yet, there are times when the prudent thing to do is not to reason from the facts that you have, but to accept that you might not have all the facts.

These two things are not mutually exclusive, JFTR. Science, in fact, does both at the same time, all the time.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that all big-screen adaptations of children's classics suck.

For the defense: Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Iron Giant, The Wizard of Oz, The Black Stallion (1979 version) and several others.

Maybe the movie versions suck because kids who are good readers make movies in their heads while they read. To see someone else's vision is jarring and annoying. Of course parrt of the problerm is tha the adults who make the movie version so often "talk down" to the child viewers.

My childhood was enriched my many memoralble bbooks tht I have no desire to see in movie form: the Wind in the WIllows, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Five Children and It, Peter Pan of course, National Velvet, ...

JanieM--

I've probably only read LOTR about half as many times.

Anyway, I liked movie 1 okay--there were a few things I didn't like, but most of it was reasonably close to the book and I actually liked making Arwen more of an action hero (rather like Luthien in the Silmarillion, so there is precedent for female elves doing this sort of thing).

I liked Viggo as Aragorn, though.
Movie 2 wasn't quite so good.

And yeah, movie 3 kind of annoyed me, especially what they did to Denethor. Just cheapened the whole book.

Annamal: Jes, for a children's movie thaat doesn't completely suck, try Niki Caro's adaptation of Whale Rider, nicely nuanced and doesn't treat its audience like idiots.

Whale Rider is terrific, but it's not an adaptation. Also, I'm not sure I would classify it as a children's movie just because it has a child protagonist. Of course, I also don't think it deserved its PG-13 rating. Kids encounter far more objectionable stuff on the playground.

Donald -- I knew there was a reason I have always appreciated your perspective. ;)

I thought Viggo was okay. He just didn't look like my image of Aragorn.

My kids have pointed out to me that there's no way I could make a movie that would succeed out of the parts of the book I love the most.

E.g., the Council of Elrond. Several hours of talk, talk, talk..... On the other hand, my son and his dad love Helm's Deep, which I usually skim through really fast when I re-read. Helm's Deep makes a great movie segment.

My totally least favorite part out of movies 1 and 2 was the scene where Frodo looks into the Mirror of Galadriel. I see nothing, not one word, in the book that suggests the eerie white- and gray-washed conventional spooky "magic" of the movie. They made it up out of whole cloth. Lothlorien is nothing like that.

Well, at least my Lothlorien isn't.

The film I most highly recommend for toddlers to see when they're old enough to stop squirming and sit quietly in a chair is The Old-Fashioned Way, where sweet lovable avuncular W.C. Fields introduces Baby Leroy to the concept of cause and effect.

Ahhhh yes, the good old days, when children minded their manners or sailed thru the air with the greatest of ease...

I'm indulging myself in somemind candy for grown up children--the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire mysteries. They are by non means great literature and I think the True Blood series is better than the books. Nether the less i find the books addictive nd fun. I bought the whole sereis on my Kindle and I am borrowing my why through them like a bag of potato chips.

Whale Rider is terrific, but it's not an adaptation.

Yes, it is. It's an adaption of the 1987 book of the same name written by Witi Ihimaera.

. Of course, I also don't think it deserved its PG-13 rating.
In New Zealand at least I believe it got a PG rating and it's certainly shelved with family movies in most video stores here (when it's not in with the rest of the kiwi movies, local pride bveing what it is).

Okay, shows what I know.

This is my favorite post since Hilzoy left, just for the record.

FWIW, I actually thought Peter Jackson's LOTR Trilogy was the greatest cinematic accomplishment of the last decade. But then I'm pretty serious about film, less so about fantasy literature (or at least being "true" to it).*

*Also, TBF, I only read parts 2 and 3, after being inspired by the first movie.

My favorite description of Aragorn is JRRT's
description of the kings at Rauros falls (Argonath) and at the crossroads. Hidden strength. Veiled power. Viggo? Not so much.

Actually, to refute Law-nosehair, Von's Horton musings are very topical. We have very few of the facts, but that doesn't stop someone like Allahpundit from breathlessly reporting twitter messages as "facts" to fill out a preconceved narrative regarding Major Hasan.

KSM will get a trial. It is supposed to reveal the "facts". Von's mob, like Allapundit, doesn't want to hear dissonant facts.

PS Curious - which of our past 5 presidents would refuse the ring of power as Aragorn did?

This is my favorite post since Hilzoy left, just for the record.

Yup. What's next, Haiku?

The lack of Bombadil was surprising to me. The one guy uncorruptible by the ring* because he already had what he wanted was not shown.

*Unless you count Sam. He knew what he wanted and knew the ring couldn't get it for him, at least not in the way he wanted it.

Has anyone seen the movie version of "Where the Wild Things Are"? I know it's getting good reviews, but we've been sick and very busy in my household lately and haven't had a chance to get out and see it yet.

"The lack of Bombadil was surprising to me. The one guy uncorruptible by the ring* because he already had what he wanted was not shown."

My understanding is, Jackson and Walsh were afraid Bombadil's scene would slow down the movie, as his visit doesn't really move Frodo closer to the ring.

Faramir's revision had similar reasons, and that call made it a much better movie.

Some things aren't worth the thought people spend on them.

"My totally least favorite part out of movies 1 and 2 was the scene where Frodo looks into the Mirror of Galadriel."

Janie, I'm beginning to think you're my sockpuppet. I hated what Jackson did to that scene, though my hatred centered on a different part--in the book, Galadriel (already a beautiful elf queen) temporarily morphs into some unbearably beautiful goddess. I don't know how one should film that, but turning her into a gray green Valkyrie with a deep mechanical voice didn't correspond to my notion of what was going on in the book. And you're right about the mirror too. Maybe it's Jackson's horror movie background--fine for depicting Nazgul, but not Lothlorien.

On points others mentioned--I missed Bombadil, but can understand (reluctantly) cutting him from an already long movie. And I think I'd prefer keeping the book Faramir and definitely keeping the book Denethor, who is a tragic Shakespearean figure , but becomes a sort of pathetic George Bush (except even worse) in the movie--they might as well have had him reading My Pet Goat when Minas Tirith is under attack.

Despite all this complaining, I loved the first two movies and liked the third--it had its good moments.

@ Point:

It wasn't just Peter Jackson who had a problem with fitting the Tom Bombadil segment of LOTR into a movie; Ralph Bakshi, in his semi-animated 1978 version, also decided to give old Tom the axe, as he thought the whole thing a time-consuming sideline.

For that matter, so did Tolkien: somewhere I read something he once wrote to the effect that after writing Book 1, he realized that he would have to condense the action a bit if the thing were to be at all readable (and that he confessed that he had no idea where the Bomabadil storyline would or could lead) - but having already written it, he left it in - and the rest of the books moved the action along pretty well.

I'm another one who had/has trouble with Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn (from a visualizing standpoint) - but I can't really think of anyone else who would fit the role better. Oddly, after reading LOTR again after seeing the Peter Jackson movies, I realized that my image of only two characters has subtly shifted as a result of the movies: Gollum and Galadriel, who I will now forever picture as Cate Blanchett. With pointed ears.

Jay C makes great points on Bombadil -- I'm surprised how I forgot all about Bakshi's animated movie.

"And I think I'd prefer keeping the book Faramir and definitely keeping the book Denethor, who is a tragic Shakespearean figure..."

Movie Faramir, to my mind, takes it, no contest: In the book, the guy poses absolutely no threat to Frodo's quest -- he practically offers the hobbits tea and crumpets -- and is noble without explanation or drama. He reads like a plot device. David Wenham's character, OTOH, not only proves an initial obstacle, but has a narrative arc that brings him to do the right thing -- which makes it all the more powerful when he suffers for it, at the hands of his father.

Speaking of whom -- yes, the novel Denethor certainly proves himself an intriguing, and engaging, character. But then it wouldn't prove quite so satisfying to see Gandalf beat the crap out him*.

*Now here's a thought -- Gandalf at Emma Brooker Elementary...

I can remember
back in the earlier days
Obwi Haiku threads

Also, in defense of the Mirror of Lothlorien scene, while I can't speak to how it compares with the book, that part of the film really helped tell the story -- Frodo is shown the stakes of his mission, and the audience is left with no doubt as to the importance of Galadriel's decline of the ring. IOW, it helps the story significantly.

The content of the Mirror of Galadriel scene isn't all that different as between the movie and the book, although in the book Sam looks into the mirror too, not just Frodo.

My problem with it isn't the content but the atmosphere. In that, the movie is drastically unlike the book, in a way that sensationalizes and stupidifies the scene IMHO. I just don't see the point.

I can understand rearranging and cutting -- e.g. why Bombadil had to go. I can even understand (though not appreciate much ;) that the movies at times needed some different ways to move the story forward. But some of the changes seemed (to me) gratuitous at best, stupid at worst. No doubt that had something to do with the fact that as a middle-aged-plus female, I was a long way from being part of the target audience for the movies.

Then again, I'm not a great movie fan at the best of times, and when you start messing with my lifetime's most beloved book, well, eh, in the end I just go back and reread the book again. I'm perfectly happy with the fact that my images of the characters and scenery were so firmly fixed in my imagination that the movies did nothing whatsoever to dislodge or reshape them. ;)

But Point -- I appreciate your snippets of analysis. If I ever re-watch the movies, I'll keep them in mind.

Thanks, Janie. I think we're just coming at this from two different paths (books fan v movie buff).*

At any rate, it is interesting to compare the two sides of LOTR fandom. :)

*Though, from where I sit, missing out on (what I think, at least, is) the best of the trilogy is something of a shame. :(

For non-sucking movie adaptions of children classics I would name the non-US films of the books of Astrid Lindgren. An important point there is that she kept tight control and would not allow a director or scriptwriter to spoil it. Ronja Rövardotter imo takes the crown.
---
As for LOTR, the BBC radio serial also left out Bombadil (while the German one did not).
More questionable in my opinion is to leave out the Cleaning of the Shire. I can understand the decision from a moviemaker's point of view but it changes the "we won but at what cost?" character.
I found the Battle of Pelennor Fields in the 3rd movie a real disappointment because it turned into a pure special effects show. The Battle of Helm's Deep in the second movie on the other hand was, even with the annoying comic relief, really gripping.
One thing I found really annoying was the StarWars-ified encounter of Gandalf and Saruman in the 1st movie.
---
I only saw a animated short of Horton hears a Who maybe 20 years ago but never read the book. In that short the situation among the Whos mirrored the outside world, i.e. the Who scientist talking to Horton was considered a crackpot by his own people too. Also the fim ended with another talking speck of dust floating in front of the Who scientist putting him in the Horton situation. Don't know whether that is in the book too.

Annama: It's an adaption of the 1987 book of the same name written by Witi Ihimaera.

Yes, I've seen the film and read the book, and remember thinking when I read the book that if I had been a fan of the book before I saw the film, I would have been dissatisfied with the film - there was so much more to the book. (Though the film did not suck: Keisha Castle-Hughes was terrific as Paikea.)

I thought the Jackson adaptation of Lord of the Rings was, on the whole, pretty good - it was clearly one fan's take on the series, and another fan may do it differently in twenty to thirty years time.

Tom Bombadil couldn't fit into the film - he barely fits into the novel. The Scouring of the Shire needed to fit into the film, but it's hard to see how. Lord of the Rings might well work better as a multi-series multi-episodic big-budget TV series... but what are the odds of that happening?

Viggo Mortensen is too young to play Aragorn, but I didn't mind that as much as I did all the short jokes about dwarves and hobbits,

"I thought the Jackson adaptation of Lord of the Rings was, on the whole, pretty good - it was clearly one fan's take on the series, and another fan may do it differently in twenty to thirty years time."

This is true -- whatever else you will say of Jackson's adaptation, he clearly loves and knows the material.

"The Scouring of the Shire needed to fit into the film, but it's hard to see how."

Yeah, maybe if it was a TV miniseries, but this trilogy was meant to have one, overarching story -- the quest, and the war, to destroy the One Ring.

On the mirror scene in book vs. movie, Tolkien was making a theological point --Galadriel was tempted to become a goddess, and like Lucifer, she would appear to be an angel of light--she would be unbearably beautiful, but apart from that, she would start out doing good things, turning the world into a garden, seemingly doing wonderful good things and yet it would in the end all be about herself and attracting worship and the end result would be a totalitarian nightmare. It's the antichrist theme done in a paragraph or two. Fred over at Slacktivist has been spending years tearing apart the "Left Behind" series, which is about the Antichrist in part. Tolkien does a better job with the idea of an antichrist in this one short passage than the "Left Behind" authors did in their multiple volumes. It's an interesting idea, sort of classically Christian (only God should be worshipped) , one of the examples in the book where Tolkien works in his religion without ever mentioning God.

The movie completely misses this--that great evil could start out appearing like something very good. Jackson just portrays her as a grayish goblin queen with a loud deep voice. Not exactly someone who would seduce the world into worshipping her and no conversation with Sam about how it would start .

I think a 'mere' TV series would never have gotten the budget etc. and that despite Jackson's LOTR trilogy being comparatively cheap (iirc they spend less than the latest Hollywood blockbuster for the whole trilogy*).
The extended versions filled a lot of gaps of the cinematic versions. All together it already comes close to a typical half-year series in 13 parts.
I doubt that in the next half century anyone will seriously try again.
But when will at last someone make a movie from Sauron's point of view. If they can do it with Darth Vader...
---
Terry Pratchett has been, until now, been quite lucky with adaptions of his books. Although I find a few (minor) flaws, PTerry seems to see no major problems (although he found it a pity that the rain of pickles in Johnny and the Bomb** could not be done with the available budget).

*doing all of it at the same time, not separately only explains part of it.
**which on the other hand found an ingenious way to make the repeated time jumps creating different timelines tangible without any verbal explanation being necessary.

There's a quiet motif throughout the book of various characters imagining what they would do if they got hold of the ring: Galadriel in the Mirror scene; Boromir when he tries to take the ring from Frodo on Amon Hen; Denethor when Faramir tells of meeting Frodo (though this bit is more in passing than the others); Sam when he enters Mordor carrying the ring -- great scenes, great lines, especially Galadriel and Sam:

I pass the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.

And --

In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense... The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.

Not only theology, but questions of power, identity, even love.

Too much and all too subtle for a movie, I suppose. ;)

It's too recent to be a classic, but I finally got around to seeing "Coraline" last night, and it was quite good. I can't compare it to the book—my wife tells me the book was a bit less involved than the film—but it was surprisingly sophisticated for fiction targeted at kids.

"The movie completely misses this--that great evil could start out appearing like something very good."

Just reading your theme of the antichrist point (a great one, by the way), I actually see it in the movie -- and I don't think her momentary transformation necessarily diminishes it.

And FWIW, I cried when Frodo said, on the slopes of Mt. Doom, "I'm glad your with me Sam -- here at the end of all things"

"But when will at last someone make a movie from Sauron's point of view. If they can do it with Darth Vader..."

Oh dear God, no... ;)

"the mob, for all its mob-ish-ness, is doing exactly what most of us would ordinarily find praiseworthy."

I'm not I get this. For starters, Horton says "I can hear you just fine. But the kangaroos' ears aren't as strong, quite, as mine." The mob would be a bit more praiseworthy if they cut Horton, being the most qualified observer, a little more slack.

And even if they were right to doubt Horton, their actions seem sadistic in the extreme. If I see a dude walking down the street holding a sprig of clover and claiming there is a world of tiny Who's on it, my first reaction isn't to rope the guy up, seize the clover, and drop it in boiling oil.

Yeh, von, I too am a little troubled by your misspelling of "Seuss." Otherwise, great, thought-provoking post.

TBS provided showings of "The Wizard of Oz" Friday and Saturday nights, a film I think more of as a family classic than a children's classic.

The movie has always held a special place in our family history: My mother always reminds me that she developed labor pains and had to be taken to the hospital when she was carrying me during the first network showing of "The Wizard."

But I see I was deficient in not introducing it to my son at an earlier age. I yelled for him to come up from the basement den Friday night and, at age 11, he looked at it and just shrugged.

Like Dorothy, I was always especially fond of the Scarecrow. But on this viewing I really enjoyed the way Ray Bolger's Cowardly Lion hammed it up.

Margaret Hamilton's Bad Witch remains priceless. Her monkeys struck me as even freakier this time around.

And in case you didn't know: There's no place like home.

I've always been fascinated by Horton, and the attempt to show how problematic decisions by mob were, especially when juxtaposed against Geisel's WWII editorial cartoons, which have a strong current of racism against Japanese. (this one in particular). The book was written after Geisel/Seuss traveled to Japan and has the dedication ""For My Great Friend, Mitsugi Nakamura of Kyoto, Japan", and deals with the question of genocide rather directly.

But when will at last someone make a movie from Sauron's point of view. If they can do it with Darth Vader..."

Oh dear God, no... ;)

As a kind of greek tragedy, Jacqueline Carey wrote the Sundering. Its a duology consisting of banewreaker and Godslayer. It is situated in a middle earth clone and is told from the point of the supposed bad guy Lord Sartoris

Viggo Mortensen is too young to play Aragorn

Yes, but they did a decent job of making him look as if he had some miles on him. Did you have some other actor in mind that might have been a better fit?

I mean, the guy was in his early to mid 40s at the time. Possibly a fit man in his early fifties would have been better, but I'm having trouble coming up with one.

Clancy Brown has the size, but after Highlander he might not have the credibility to play a good guy with a sword :). I always thought of Strider as being big, in a long-limbed way. Mortensen is only 5'11". You can't always get what you want, though.

One of my biggest problems with Jackson's LOTR work was that Arwen's role got worked up in a way that wasn't really consistent with the book. Not badly done, IMO, but not faithful to the original, either.

A lot of the banter and antics in combat I could have done without, too. The book has some of that, but I would have preferred that Jackson exercised more restraint.

How is the Horton mob "rational"? There's nothing to be gained by boiling the clover in oil except jerkishness.

Also, "Where the Wild Things Are" is a brilliant movie, and it's an adaptation of a classic kid's book.

I thought Peter Jackson did a great job with the LOTR films, though I had my quibbles.

I had no problem with cutting Bombadil.
I didn't mind expanding Arwen's role
I didn't mind the Elves at Helm's Deep.

I did mind the changes to Faramir and (more importantly, IMO) Denethor. Faramir was my favorite character when I read the book as a ~13 yr old. I understand their reasons, and reject them. Bah. Bah I say! Denethor... dude wasn't totally nuts. It was much more subtle. And scarier, IMO. Denethor was hardcore, and yet still not strong enough (you may still govern yourself in most matters...).

I minded the Army of the Dead showing up at Minas Tirith. To me, that diminished what the defenders/Rohirrim had done against long odds.

And finally, I didn't like the decision to cut out the Scouring of the Shire & passing of Saruman. Scouring was KEY to what Tolkein was trying to say. I know it would've been hard to do. But then that's true of the entire project.

If one is going to complain about age of the cast re: Aragorn, what about Frodo? Frodo was middle-aged in the book. Instead, we get Elijah Wood and his eyes. That bothered me at times. Viggo, on the other hand, was excellent.

Um, "Horton Hears a Who" was primarily a strong anti-abortion book ("a person's a person no matter how small..."). Geisel himself was a very pro-life guy.

Um, "Horton Hears a Who" was primarily a strong anti-abortion book ("a person's a person no matter how small..."). Geisel himself was a very pro-life guy.

Really? That's... kind of depressing. Oh well: Horton Hears A Who is still enjoyable, even if it was written by a misogynist and racist.

Rob in CT: If one is going to complain about age of the cast re: Aragorn, what about Frodo? Frodo was middle-aged in the book. Instead, we get Elijah Wood and his eyes. That bothered me at times. Viggo, on the other hand, was excellent.

This is a good question and it hadn't occurred to me to wonder about it before. My first thought is that unconsciously I never expected them to be able to get the hobbits right, but I did expect them to be able to get the humans more or less right. (I.e. matching my imaginative images. ;)

The fact that I can't think who I'd cast as Aragorn undercuts the latter assumption, in retrospect. But I didn't realize I was making the former assumption until Rob asked his question.

Paul -- Um, "Horton Hears a Who" was primarily a strong anti-abortion book ("a person's a person no matter how small..."). Geisel himself was a very pro-life guy.

Nope. It was published in 1954, well before there was such a thing as a pro-life movement, so claiming it is pro-life in anything but the pre-Roe sense is revisionism. And it seems this co-option doesn't sit well with Geisel's widow.

"And finally, I didn't like the decision to cut out the Scouring of the Shire & passing of Saruman. Scouring was KEY to what Tolkein was trying to say. I know it would've been hard to do. But then that's true of the entire project."

To me, Tolkein's points in the Scouring came out in other ways that didn't harm the overall narrative of destroying the One Ring.

For example, the Mirror of Galadriel showed, more or less, the industrial devastation of the Shire (albeit as a result Frodo's failure). And the point of war's high cost, and how some can never be lost, is still found in Frodo's scars, and in his departing the Grey Havens.

But then again, we may just have to agree to disagree on this*.

*Ditto for Faramir

Hobbits aged more slowly than humans--IIRC (and maybe it's time for another rereading) they went through their irresponsible adolescence (their tweens) when they were in their 20's. So Elijah Wood wasn't quite inappropriate.

Aragorn should have been bigger, but I didn't mind that. In "Unfinished Tales", there's a little info about Numenoreans and others--Tolkien had them unreasonably tall, IMO. When they called hobbits (typically 3-4 feet tall) "halflings" they were being literal. Picture an NBA player and that's Aragorn.

I also hated having the green ghosts win the battle--it did make the Rohirrim's role seem pointless (in the movie) . In the book the ghosts frightened off the pirates and Legolas wasn't afraid of them at all--apparently they had no physical power and if you weren't frightened, as mere humans and dwarves were, they couldn't do a thing. In the movie they wiped out Sauron's army in about five minutes. It was almost as cheap as if Aragorn had shown up with the First Armored Division and just machine gunned all the bad guys. I did like the battle scene before they arrived, even if some of it was a blatant ripoff of the opening battle in "The Empire Strikes Back".

"A lot of the banter and antics in combat I could have done without, too."

Yeah, me too. For instance, Legolas doing skateboard stunts at Helms Deep, and the choeographed killing of the men on the Mumakil and his jumping off at the end--kinda cheap. I doubt Tolkien would have approved. Jackson did too much of this.

I still loved the first two movies--it was the third that started to seem like Jackson was straying too far from the material and not in a justifiable way.

Donald, funny you should mention the NBA. Slarti's "long-limbed" made me immediately think of Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. Neither of them is Aragorn, but maybe I should dredge up some memories of my basketball-watching days, and see if I can find anyone who fits.

On the Army of the Dead arriving in Minas Tirith -- on reflection, I can certainly see your point.

The only justifications I can really think of are logistical ones (background on summoning the new troops, the timing of the battle in mortal reinforcements, etc.), but it may not have been worth it. Though, it didn't bother me at the time, I surely understand how a real fan of the novels would be.

"A lot of the banter and antics in combat I could have done without, too"

Now those I loved, esp. Legolas' moves*.

*this looks like another one of those "agree to disagree" issues...

Oops... the "you" in the first line of my last post was meant for Rob and Don -- sorry if that weirded anyone out... :s

Some of Legolas's moves were fine--demonstrating that elves were preternaturally graceful. In the first movie he kills the troll by jumping on its back, standing straight up and shooting an arrow into its head. That was cool. His fighting style is fluid, but with the impossible moves in Eastern martial arts movies, kind of a toned down and slightly silly Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-- while Aragorn is skilled but with a higher component of brute force and most of what he does would be physically possible for a (very athletic) human.

I just didn't like the skateboarding stuff--so we'll do that agree to disagree thing.

I will deminish, and go to the west.......


This , istm, is the repeated theme, and the importance of the book (vs the movie) Farimir. He refused the ring of power (while serving tea and crunpets;) becoming a foil to his brother ( borimir) and in an entirely different way, his father ( Denothor) This is totally lost in the movie ( which I enjoyed btw) .

Farimir is the most misinterpreted of any character, IMHO.

I think Faramir still proves a contrast to his brother and father in the movie -- he just struggles to get there, not least because of their influence on him, and that makes him all the more fascinating (IMHO).

Just noticed: the post was about Horton Hears a Who and half the thread's about Lord of the Rings.

And I say...

Oy, at least there are elephants in both ;-)
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I find it interesting to compare the BBC radio adaption with the movies (there is actually an overlap. Ian Holm played Frodo on radio and Bilbo in the Jackson movies, and Peter Woodthorpe played Gollum on radio and in the Bakshi movie of 1978).
As far as the voices go I find the radio version superior in almost all speaking parts with Robert Stephens (Aragorn) and Peter Howell (Saruman) winning hands down (and that says me, an ardent Christopher Lee fan).
My own imagination of Middle Earth was mainly influenced by the comic books based on the Bakshi film. That was years before I managed to read any of Tolkien's books.
Interestingly the thing that annoyed me most as a child about the Bakshi film was the high pitch of the horns instead of the deep booming I had expected.
I think visually the character most deviating from my imagination in the Jackson films was Eomer.
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One thing I found to be not worked out enough in the books is that why the returning hobbits immediately know that Frodo's relative Lotho was behind the vandalizing of the Shire. From what is in the books they could only know that he traded tobacco with Saruman. Remarkably in Tolkien's drafts for these chapters there were initially neither Lotho nor Saruman and the 4 hobbits dispatched of the ruffians without help. But there is much in the LOTR drafts that seems unbelievable knowing the finished product (e.g. a scene were Frodo and Sam enter Minas Morgul and get out only because Sam is mistaken for the Lord of the Nazgul!!! And Aragorn was initially a hobbit up to the breaking of the fellowship at Rauros).

It's true that Jackson gave a nod to Scouring in the Mirror of Galadriel scene. Still, it's presented as the cost of defeat. In the book, it's part of Victory.

Faramir is definitely an agree to disagree thing - you either believe the change was necessary to make the character believeable, or you don't. Since I believed the character in the book - the guy who would not take this Thing if he found it lying in the road - I didn't like the change. I'll grant, though, that for someone who is less into LOTR than I, buying into that character might be tough. And Faramir ends up in the right place.

Denethor, though, was done a real disservice, IMO. He's well-explained in the DVD extras in the box set I have, but poorly in the movie itself.

I actually liked the loss of the scouring, since it really was done as an homage to Christopher Lee. That Saruman got a stake through the heart was great, especially since things were going to be cut out of the film. If cuts are going to be made, they might as well pay tribute to the films Peter Jackson loves.

The ghost army killing off the orcs and oliphants was anticlimactic at best. That's the part that bugged me the most.

Looking forward to the Hobbit movies. I hope one is called There and the other is called Back Again. I wonder how the elves will be portrayed, how the trolls will have voices, and how the dragon will look, but I'm sure I'll have a lot to gripe about as I enjoy the heck out of them.

Elephants aside, looks like nobody has anything to say about the Last Airbender.

Guess nobody gives a damn about Shama-llama-lan anymore...

Christopher Lee already asked to be the voice of Smaug (and hopes to live long enough to do it). That could be done without him travelling to NZ again, which he says has become too exhausting at his age.
If The Hobbit is done in two parts, where to put the cut?

"If The Hobbit is done in two parts, where to put the cut?"

I'm thinking end the first half with Bilbo rescuing his comrades from the spiders -- it's the first time Bilbo shows bravery in his own right (so it works for narrative purposes), and it's about halfway through the book anyway.

Good idea, maybe using the closing of the wood elven fortress' gates behind the captured company as the cliffhanger.
Alternatively Bilbo jumping on the last barrel drifting down the river towards Esgaroth.

I think a better cliffhanger would be slightly sooner, like Thorin, or the rest of his company, being captured by the wood elves.

Then the next movie could begin with their arrival at the Elf Kings Hall.

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