I really like these movies. I still think the first one is the best one. I get real pathos in that one, especially when Boromir dies. That made me cry when I read it, and I cry again every time I see it in the film. LOVE that scene.
One of the things the books nailed but the movies simply cannot recreate is the sense of finality of it all. Tolkien often threw in a but of unnecessary, but very moving comments that amounted to “and they would never see this place again.” You got a real sense that something grand was ending. Now this annoyed me too. I don’t want my magic world to become a “world of man”. That sucks! I live in that world already. But Tolkien did it very well and really captured the ancient gold/silver/bronze approach to history. The movies had some of that, but it didn’t feel as final to me.
Also, if we are talking about missing scenes that I would have liked, I’ll go with the Hobbits retaking the shire from Saruman’s orcs. In the books, that was a really cool moment, where freaking hobbits have become true warriors and come back and lead a rebellion. I loved seeing Merry and Pippin do that. And they were a bit bigger than other hobbits, thanks to the ent draft. So these orcs are all “what the hell? We’re getting beat up by hobbits!?” So cool to my 14 year old mind. I also enjoyed the brief tales of Legolas and Gimli traveling together in their later years.
Maybe I am alone in this, but I much prefer the theatrical cuts to the extended editions. While I am interested to see the cut material from a geek standpoint, as a film viewer after each of the extra scenes a little voice in my head says “Gee. It was a really good decision to cut that out of the film.”
There are two significant deletions from the books.
The Old Forest/Tom Bombadil/Barrow Wights. It was a side adventure that wasn’t really necessary to tell the tale, and quite frankly, I’ve never thought that much of Tom Bombadil. He never seemed like he quite belonged in Middle-earth. Give me Tim Benzedrine, his stoned-out girl friend, Hashberry, and their magic mushrooms any day (“Here comes the rush - ohwowowowowowow…”). If something had to be sacrificed, this was the best thing to jettison.
The Scouring of the Shire. The movie had a lengthy denouement as it was, but again, kept what was truly important: the bittersweet ending and its sense of loss. The theatrical version failed to resolve Saruman properly, to its great discredit (lose the elf on elephant scene and stick Christopher Lee back in), but from the extended version viewpoint, Saruman isn’t left to fester and plot petty revenge, so no scouring required.
Anyway, as compromises go, I don’t fault Jackson for them (with the exception on Saruman as needed for internal logic).
Movies are generally made to be seen once. Scenes break down if you have a chance to sit and study them. No smoke, no real logistical support for the watchfires - but that doesn’t really matter with the soaring music and grand vistas. It’s not a sequence that I’d nit-pick - I’m fine with it the way it is.
The Barrow Wights was one of the scenes in the book where one gets the sense of the depth of history of Middle-earth - but a movie has it’s own pace that must be maintained. Oddly, I really enjoy the Old Forest in the Middle-earth on-line game.
I love the scene from Fellowship where you see the entire company together heading off into the mountains. They are in scale to each other as they pass by the camera and I just really appreciated how the story was going to be portrayed by the movie. Fellowship is still my favorite of the films for that reason alone.
Good point. The strongest virtue of the LoTR films is their horror film pedigree, thanks to Peter Jackson. The orcs, goblins, trolls, Ring-wraiths, Balrog, and every conceivable Tolkien monster, were represented expertly. Especially Gollum.
The Extended Fellowship is the best film of the bunch. All the added scenes are from the book. I have a strong preference to the source material so seeing more of it in the film is always better.
When I watch The Two Towers I actually grab the remote and skip a couple sections, specifically when Aragorn falls off a cliff and is presumed dead and Frodo and Sam being taken to Osgiliath. The latter scene alone undermines the entire quest and makes the Nazgul look horribly pathetic. 1 Arrow. ONE Arrow!
He fought several Naz-gul and fought them off.
Which kinda destroys all internal logic. Aragorn could not hope to defeat several Nazgul through straight combat, especially with the Witch-King of Agmar among them…I mean, not even Gandalf could do it! Also to be fair, in the book Aragorn didn’t even have a working sword until Rivendale!
I theoretically agree with you on the Saruman scene, and one of the things I was most excited about in the extended edition was the re-addition of that scene. But it was a terrible scene! If they had done the scene right in the first place, I’m sure it would have been in the theatrical cut.
I did appreciate most of the other stuff they put back in in the extended editions, but they made the right call on that one.
But that’s what Tolkien wrote. Aragorn chases them off in the novel. The explanation Tolkien gives is that they were being cautious, and simply fell back, content to let the poison do its work while they gathered the rest of their numbers. No, it wasn’t all that convincing in Tolkien, either, but Tolkien likes to have his characters only use their full power when pressed or at extreme need.
Well the Nazgul pretty much leave on their own thinking Frodo will become a wraith after being stabbed. Aragorn didn’t sword fight several at once in close melee… but rather used fire exclusively as a ward against them. The Nazgul also didn’t really engage. The take away wasn’t Aragorn can best several Nazgul in combat…
Outside of that I actually really like the scene in the movie.
Favourite line delivery - ‘They have a cave troll’. Resigned, excited, scared, just beautiful.
Favourite moment - Aragorn ushering Frodo on his way at AMon Hen, and in that moment conquering his fears about the weakness of his lineage (since he’d been offered the ring and refused it) without even really realising it. Then a turn, sort of a ‘let’s go to work’ expression and a touch of PJ slow-mo as he slides out his sword and struts like an absolute motherfucker towards like 10000 Uruk Hai.
I’ve already commented extensively on ways in which the film trilogy could be improved (in the Jackson to do The Hobbit after all thread) and don’t want to reopen the same debates. I will say that, like you, I tend to watch the films about once a year and enjoy them for what they are. Nonetheless, they could have been even better. An A- and an A+ are both A’s, but the latter is clearly superior, and eliminating most of Jackson’s odd additions and character changes would have earned the film trilogy the highest possible marks in my eyes.
I actually prefer Jackson’s ending than the book. The knowing nod at the tavern between the returning warriors was far more potent a moment than kicking the shit out of some hobbits and a fallen wizard.
And favorite scene:(s)
Gullum arguing with Smeagol.
Shelob…still gives me shivers.
The only mistep I always feel watching is Lothlorien. It just didn’t work for me. It is slightly better in the extended, but it still feels rushed and not as meaningful as it was in the books.