The Lord of the Rings: The Movies

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#Lecture 7: The Lord of the Rings: The Movies


Of course, we cannot really talk about the Lord of the Rings anymore without talking about the movies.


Maybe it was because they couldn’t find the appropriate place in New Zealand, but the plains of Rohan were way too rocky.

Many of you who have seen Kenneth Branaugh’s Henry V have perhaps been distracted by his serious case of 80’s hair. And we have all seen things like this date themselves too frequently to excuse us continuing to do it. What’s with Aragorn as major greaseball?

Aragorn floating in the river, getting kissed by his horse, surrounded by a major Enja moment.

The village (!) of Rohan evacuating. That whole thing was like a Monty Python view of what it was to live in medieval-like settings.

The fact that elves came to defend Helm’s Deep was bad enough. But them arriving like a precision marching drill team was the utter frozen limit.

Legolas sliding down the stairs on a shield or something was the obligatory James Bond moment.

In the final sortie at Helm’s Deep, I was interested to learn where the horses suddenly came from.

Mordor looked like a Transylvanian castle on Halloween night, on steroids. Way overdone.

Dramatic Limitations:

One of the most glaring problems in the movie was the artificial way they had of creating tension to keep the folks in their seats, forgoing the popcorn. This was done through the expedient of having characters collide over a bunch of nothing, at what seemed like ten minute intervals. This happened (at least) with Aragorn and Legolas, Theoden and Gimli, Merry and Pippin, and Theoden (the slow learner) and Aragorn. This last one happened twice.


Having been warned, I was braced for this atrocity. But it actually turned out to be just a lesser abomination. I was expecting Faramir to crater before the Ring just like Boromir had done, but what they did was at least consistent with the character of Faramir in the book. In other words, he makes to send the Ring back to Gondor, not because he was in the grip of it, but because he was being a dutiful son. The change made a hash of the dramatic action, and was certainly unnecessary, but it was not the full-throated howler that I was expecting.


In the category of the overdone, I would also want to list Gandalf’s theophany. Way too bright. I would also put Theoden’s release from his spell here. And Wormtongue was just a tad more greasy than Aragorn.

Impossible to Please?

No, Gollum was just right.


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4 years ago

Another point I thought was much better done in the book: Frodo displays chivalry towards Smeagol, however the movie turns Smeagol into the victim when Frodo betrays him at the forbidden pool.