Sunday, November 12, 2017

Remakes Blogfest - The Lord of the Rings

Hello Lovelies,

Today I wanted to take a moment to step outside of my normal format and join in on a little fun. If you're not aware, Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner are hosting a little thing they're calling the 'Remakes Blogfest' today. And yes, I AM releasing this a day early, but only because of my normal blog format of leaving a day or two between posts. Either way.

The idea behind this blogfest is to identify those books/movies/tv/etc. that you feel actually improved when they were remade. Now, while most people think about remakes across the same medium (example provided The Thing from Another World (1951) versus The Thing (1982)), remakes also count with regards to adaptations from the original source material. And, while most would probably expect me to delve into the horror scene with something like The Thing, Dawn of the Dead, or some other title, I decided to go a different route.

Lord of the Rings.

To those that don't know, I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I've actually read the entire series three times now, quite literally have the One Ring as my wedding ring, and have drawn massive inspiration from the concepts, styles, designs, characterizations, and more in a number of ways. A lot of the time, the inspirations are only more obvious personally due to their involvement in my game design for Dungeons and Dragons. Once in a grand while they're noticeable in any fantasy series that I work on, but that is what it is.

Now, while both the books and movies are enjoyable, I feel that the movies are actually a large improvement upon the original source material. Before anyone screams 'Blasphemy!', allow me to explain. There are a few areas, particularly in the range of tone and characters (both entire characters and character design), that the movies really improve upon in comparison to the books and really make it the high-epic fantasy story that we all know and love.

First and foremost, let us talk about the tone.

To those of you that have never read the books before, allow me to clarify that the books are much slower and longer than the movies. Now, I'm sure those of you who have tried to marathon the extended movies like I have are shouting "THOSE THINGS ARE ALREADY OVER 11 HOURS LONG! HOW CAN THEY BE ANY SLOWER?!"

The answer? The original books were only half-fantasy-epic.

The original intent behind the books had less to do with high-adventure and had more to do with world creation. To those unfamiliar with Tolkien's history, the books were partially written in the trenches of war. They were an escape. Tolkien devised and created this massive, incredible world with all of these creatures and beings and cities and customs and the books themselves ended up being an exploration of that world. Literally. The books are essentially a mashup of a geographic travel guide that talks at length about the world and people that are being met and experienced with just a hint of 'Oh yea, war and evil.' There are certain sections of the books that are as much of a slog as actually going on a trek across the world. While there are plenty of amazing visuals and a hell of an adventure story, there's also plenty of areas that feel like 'a review of middle-earth's foliage in a million words or more'.

The movies, in turn, decided to largely cut this element out. While there's plenty of huge, sweeping shots to show off the landscape and the travel, it's nothing compared to the books. The movies, instead, focus on the adventure of this fantasy epic.

Now, while many will likely agree with me that the movies improved in this element, I feel the next section needs clarification because of the focus. There were a number of characters in the books that were either glazed over or entirely removed. The one that I'm going to focus on has actually gotten a lot of heat for NOT being in the movies. I'm outing myself as a horrible person (supposedly) for supporting that the character in question is not present, so fire away if you hate me for it.

Without further ado, let's talk about Tom Bombadil. 

As previously mentioned, the original books are an exploration of the world of Middle Earth. There are plenty of characters that make little to no impact and simply don't need to be explored within a cinematic version of the film. However, there is also ONE character that makes WAY too much impact while doing LITERALLY nothing. Insert Tom Bombadil.

Tom Bombadil, to those unfamiliar with the books, is a character that shows up in the middle of 'The Fellowship of the Ring'. He is a 'merry fellow' the lives in a small valley with Goldberry. Frodo and Sam meet him on their travels and, if there's one thing Tom is good for, its bringing the story to a grinding halt. While the entire scope of the story is about the travels across Middle Earth and the overwhelming threat that is the One Ring along with Sauron and his armies, Tom is introduced as a character that not only doesn't care about this, but genuinely isn't effected and can even SOLVE the issue. In essence, this character is basically a God and we spend a significant period of time with him just fucking around. This character not only isn't influenced by the One Ring, but literally has power over it like no one else short of Sauron does.

So what comes of this character that surpassed all others in power? LITERALLY NOTHING. He there. They meet him, they dick around, and they leave. He serves absolutely no purpose within the story other to introduce himself as existing. I genuinely have no idea what Tolkien was thinking with Tom's introduction, but if there is one character that is not only worthless but annoyingly worthless within the scope of everything, it is Tom Bombadil and I'm very happy the movies ignored him.

Finally, I want to talk about characterization.

Briefly speaking, the movies did a better job of providing more memorable characters for most of the individuals in the story. I clarify most because there were a few missteps. As stated, the books were largely exploration focused rather than epic focused. This caused one character in particular, Aragorn, to somehow be examined and subsequently ignored when he shouldn't have been. The books touch on Aragorn's lineage, his age, and the fact that he has a pretty amazing history as both the one true king and a hardened ranger, and yet make Aragorn into this incredibly placid character that doesn't act as much as is acted upon. He doesn't push forward in the same ways as he does in the movies and is largely just pushed along by the plot. It's an incredible miss.

HOWEVER, if there is one thing that the movies do make a mistake with, it's in the characterization of a specific few. Merry and Pippin, characters that seem almost interchangeable within the films, are actually explored in a more in-depth manner and really make a name of themselves singularly. They deserve special mention. The character that doesn't deserve as much love but goddamn does he get it is Legolas.

Oh fuck me Legolas.

While there's nothing really wrong with Legolas in the books or even with the initial characterization in the first movie, something happened somehwere in Hollywood that turned Legolas into this God. I don't know if it had something to do with the actor or the actor's agent or Peter Jackson or what, but Legolas becomes this Mary Sue character that can do no wrong, essentially has super powers, and is so 'critical'(?) that is literally shoehorned into a story HE'S NOT EVEN INVOLVED WITH, i.e. the Hobbit movies. While it's one thing to note that Tolkien was not focused on specifics of any given battle outside of the fight itself, it's another thing to have Legolas shield-surfing down stairs or murdering an entire team of Oliphaunt riders ALONG with the Oliphaunt. 

In short, much like Tom Bombadil, it just feels so out of place in comparison to everything else. Honestly, the wizard is more believable.

And so, ignoring God-King Legolas, I feel that the Lord of the Rings movies are overall superior to the books. While, again, the books are by no means bad, the necessary trimming and cleaning up of the story really helps to make it the fantasy epic that we know and love today. It does a tremendous job of filling in areas that need it, cutting off areas that aren't needed, and just giving us a wonderful tale of adventure, fun, magic, and heroism.

I hope you all enjoyed. What was your favorite parts from the books and movies? Was their one you liked better? Share in the comments below.

- RB

(Additionally, I have no idea what happened with the copy paste of the links to the other authors, but I hope you'll forgive its odd appearance and join these authors as they explore their favorite remakes.)
1. Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
2. Heather M. Gardner
3. Diane Burton - Adventure & Romance
4. Christine Rains
5. Tamara Narayan
6. Juneta @ Writer's Gambit
7. CineMarvellous!
8. Tossing It Out
9. Stories I Found in the Closet
10. Spunk On A Stick - Diane
11. Pat Hatt
12. The Write Game
13. PepperWords
14. XmasDolly aka Marie Moody
15. Writing Off the Edge
16. Sharon M. Himsl - Shells, Tales and Sails
17. The Warrior Muse
18. Michelle Gregory at Dust Kittens in the Corners
19. Elizabeth Seckman. Author
20. Birgit
21. The ToiBox of Words
22. Shah Wharton
23. Spacerguy
24. Michael Abayomi
25. Stephen Tremp Breakthrough Blogs
26. Madly-in-Verse

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  1. Excellent choice! (And your initial example of a remake is actually one I ran with for my choice. You'll see tomorrow.)
    The movie cut out all of the description, in part due to the way the script was written and part because of the advantage of visuals that can say more in five seconds than a thousand words. Good point Legolas gets a lot more attention. (Maybe it was his sex appeal and hopes it would attract more women to the series?) I'd pretty much forgotten about Tom. Guess that means it was a good idea to leave him out!
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest.

  2. I am not participating in the blogfest but will add my personal "movie is better than the book" nomination. Forest Gump was painful to read and was a comic over exaggeration of circumstances. I thought the movie did a much better job humanizing Gump. As a time investment I would advise everyone out there to watch the movie and ditch any intent to actually read it. Let my mistake serve as a guide for everyone.

  3. I am not a movie watcher (particularly not of books I love). They cannot match the pictures I have in my head.
    This is an intriguing take though. Thank you. I almost always would come down on the side of the book. But may have to think deeper.

  4. Loved your review. You are a true fan.
    What I really enjoyed was learning that Tolkien--one of the writing royalty--made the mistake of leaving in a character that should have been cut, just like we commoners frequently do:)

  5. You sure know your Lord of the Rings. The movies did leave out a lot of the description and kinda delved a bit less here and there. lol at Legolas. He kinda did become Superman. Wasn't The Hobbit one big shoehorn err umm cash grab though? haha

  6. this is one of the best posts i've ever read on why the LOTR movies are better than the books. my kids grew up watching these. we love them around our house.

    Michelle Gregory --

  7. As a fantasy fan, I hate to admit this out loud, but I never got LOTR. I've never read the books, and I found the movies tedious. Yeah, I'll duck my head in shame now.

  8. I haven't read The Lord of the Rings and I don't think I want to now. I can't stand super slow plots or over-description of scenery. I did like the movies.

  9. I loved the movies. They took all the best parts of the books and left the rest. All of that description just bogged down the books.

  10. I also loved the movies. Too bad they screwed up "The Hobbit" so terribly.

    I have Aragorn's ring, and my kids have already begun fighting over who will get it when I die. Um...

  11. I read The Hobbit, but not Lord of the Rings. I did love the LOTR movies. And I truly want to live in a Hobbit hole. I'm short; I could do it.

  12. I usually cringe when I see a movie of a book I enjoyed reading, but Lord of the Rings was an exception. I really loved the excitement of seeing all those characters and the places on the big screen.
    My link didn't work on the Linky. I think it's because I screwed up the path with the switch to my new, cranky blog.

  13. It's been years since I've read the books, but I'd have to agree with your assessment. I think if I tried to read them today, they would feel like a slog.

    As for Legolas, well, he was hot and us ladies were all a drooling over him. I think his popularity has something to do with that. LOL

  14. I did miss Tom Bombadil, honestly. As for Legolas, you cracked me up here. When the first movie came out my partner and I stood in line at Disney World arguing over who was hotter, the ranger or, as he put it, the 'greasy' elf. Still cracks me up.

  15. This is a great choice!
    I didn't think of it.
    Well done, sir!

    Thank you for joining our blogfest today!!!

  16. LOL, agreed with the majority. Made laugh, Legolas as far as the movie goes yeah, agree, but I do love that actor but enjoyed him more in Pirates of the Caribbean as Will Turner. Like with the dark hair better too.

    Great post.

  17. I agree with you. The movies were so much better than the books. I read the series back in the mid-70s. Then I tried to read them again after I was well into my writing career. If ever there was an example of telling and not showing, it's TLOTR books. The movies made the stories the adventure they were intended to be.

  18. Very extensive analysis. Well done.

    I've never read any of the books. And now I need to go back and rewatch my DVD copies. Actually I never made it to the 3rd film, but now I'd want to start the series over since I don't remember much about what has gone by.

    They are pretty long movies. Better for winter nights.

    Tossing It Out

  19. I actually haven't read the books or watched the movies. I did try to watch one of the movies but it just failed to catch my attention.

  20. Loved your review!!! I never read the books, but I did watch the movies! I have to admit, sorry to say, I thought the entire atmosphere was gorgeous, but the movies were just so, so for me.
    (to answer you question, I have never done any conventions. Thanks for asking!)

  21. I think the movies did a great job making the stories something more people can enjoy. The books aren't for everyone, especially not in modern times. I always loved The Hobbit and read it several times, but I think I only made it all the way through the Lord of the Rings books once in full. Then I listened to an audio production from the BBC, I think, so twice through. Loved the movies.

  22. Tolkien fan here, and probably in the minority. Liked the books better than the films. The films are great, the books are just magnificent.

    The only book I've ever read which was better as a film is Spielberg's Jaws. For all others, the book is better than the film, every single time. Some by a wider margin, others slim. In the case of LOTR it's slim but...the book(s) it is for me...

  23. I resisted watching the movies for a while, as fantasy isn't my thing and the idea of the books didn't appeal to me, but I was surprised by how much I liked them. (Only enough to watch them once each, mind you--I didn't find repeated or extended-version viewings necessary.)

    From the sounds of your post, I never would have gotten through the books, so I'm glad they made the movies.

  24. So cool, I love Lord of the Rings too and couldn't agree more:)

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