Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meet Dori, Nori, and Ori

Here's our first look at three of the Dwarves from the upcoming film version of The Hobbit:
I don't have my copy of the book handy, so I'm not able to comment on how closely these guys match up to whatever description Tolkien provides, if any. My gut reaction, though, is a positive one. These three look a lot more "dwarf-y" to me than Gimli did in The Lord of the Rings and, provided there are no more dwarf-tossing jokes in The Hobbit, go some way toward redressing the wrong done to Durin's folk previously. Mind you, I've never had much of a problem with the way Middle-earth looked in Jackson's movies; it was their tone that annoyed me at times. So, I see this photo as a definite positive, but the proof, as always, will be in the script.

82 comments:

  1. Looks good to me, so far. I'm pretty interested in seeing this adaptation. I think Jackson will do a fine job.

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  2. I'm with you on the "tone" of the LoTR films, Gimli became the clown/joke of the Fellowship, while Legolas became the "action star". Much to over the top for me. I loved the look and feel of the first movie, but The Two Towers killed it for me. (And don't get me started on the 30 minutes of slow motion at the end of the trilogy). There are other ways to express drama rather than gratuitous slow motion scenes... ok stopping my Jackson/Tolkien rant now....

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  3. I'm a bit nervous about this because the dwarves in the Hobbit didn't even have weapons other than maybe knives and other tools.

    Also the brightly-colored hoods...where are they?

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  4. I'm not particularly worried about excessive dwarves-as-butts-of-jokes this time around. One, the complaints about Gimli are out there, and I am sure that the writing team has heard them. Two, you've got thirteen dwarves on screen for most of the two movies--you simply can't make them all comic relief all the time. I'm sure that Bombur will be the comic focal point, but I would guess that Thorin and some of the other dwarves will avoid comic duty for the most part.

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  5. You mean you don't like Legolas shield skating?

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  6. I agree with Taketoshi, in the Hobbit, the dwarves come off kind of bumbling and destitute at first(like the middle dwarf in the picture). They find gear along the way and such and not until they have to defend themselves at the end do they show any sort of backbone. That said I do like the looks of these dwarves. It seems they are trying to inject some personality into each, where in the book really only a few of them stand out.

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  7. I think some of the "tone" that people feel is lost is an inevitable result of being confronted cinematically with something that previously had the gravity of written words behind it.

    I mean, Legolas can sprint across rivers on a thin, silken piece of rope. He can loose arrows that burst into flame. He can see and hear things undetectable to others, because he's just generally magical. If you're adapting that character for a movie, something like shield-surfing- even if it's silly- isn't an unreasonable shorthand.

    In short: I'd expect watching even a perfectly faithful adaptation of The Hobbit to "feel" quite different than reading the novel, and I recognize that this adaptation will not be perfect in its fidelity. I also expect at least one joke establishing the indignity of dwarf-tossing.

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  8. Totally agree with charlatan75's post; well said

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  9. I really hated what they did to Gimli, but am hoping for a much better representation in The Hobbit.

    And I don't remember the dwarves not having weapons...

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  10. Wow. These guys look like crap, and I say that with only the most carefully considered choice of words.

    I don't care about the color of their hoods but the idiot making this movie seems to be have read the script for Time Bandits rather than the Hobbit when trying to come up with a 'dwarvish' look.

    There are good movie adaptions and bad, and there are, in the end, simply good movies and bad. I wanted a good movie made from LotR. It was a bad movie. I've seen excellent adaptions of Shakespeare set in modern times, or even re-adapted in Japanese such as Throne of Blood for MacBeth. The difference is that a creative genius worked on Throne of Blood, and 2-bit hack like Jackson worked on the LotR.

    For some reason the biggest defenders of Jackson seem to say that you just can't make a good movie and you have to accept the crap he shovels out and call it ice cream. They are wrong. There are good movies, great movies and epic movies that have been created, are being created and will be created. LotR and the Hobbit deserve better than mediocre or worse.

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  11. It's been over a decade since I read the Hobbit, but I do remember that the dwarves were supposed to be wearing rather bright colors. Seeing such a muted color pallet really illustrates for me a key failing of modern filmmaking; Tolkien's world was not one of dark greys and earth tones like the one that Jackson tries to portray.

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  12. I am Fatbeard, king of the Lionmouths. My trusty sword, Mr Limpett, is always in my hand.
    I know my opinion matters because my internet friends tell me so.

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  13. Tolkien's world was not one of dark greys and earth tones like the one that Jackson tries to portray.

    For whatever reason, Hollywood believes earth tones = fantasy. I have no idea why this is so, but it is.

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  14. Don't know what is up with the far left's hairstyle, but the rest looks all right...

    The "brightly-colored hoods" of the original book was something I think Tolkien really wished he could have removed later... He saw it in full form in Disney's "Snow White", which C.S. Lewis took him to specifically to see his reaction. Plus, Thorin with a pale-blue hood and silver tassle? Bleh! There's no way you can make that LOOK kingly...

    I expect that the film writers and director will take a lot of liberties to try and flesh out the 13 dwarves more thoroughly than the original book did. And I expect all the Jackson-haters to growl and snarl about it.

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  15. For whatever reason, Hollywood believes earth tones = fantasy. I have no idea why this is so, but it is.

    It's because they think earth tones = medieval. The odd thing of course is that most images produced by the middle ages are rather colorful:

    http://www.historycollaborative.com/09_Archaeology/Medieval/Photos_&_Components/medieval%20art.jpg

    Guess they just don't want anyone wearing orange stockings in a serious movie.

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  16. the idiot making this movie seems to be have read the script for Time Bandits rather than the Hobbit

    How can anyone not like Time Bandits? Egad!

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  17. For whatever reason, Hollywood believes earth tones = fantasy. I have no idea why this is so, but it is.

    Hollywood is generally obsessed with muted, washed-out colors in general, it seems. A reflection of the rather glum zeitgeist, I suppose.

    There's also the "medieval factor"--I believe it's on the Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD commentary where Terry Jones (or Gilliam?) talks about how people in the Middle Ages, even peasants, generally tried to add at least some bright colors to their outfits as a general rule. But, they go on to say, Hollywood doesn't believe it's authentically "medieval" unless it looks all grubby and dirty and fog-shrouded.

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  18. I think the dark colors, at least for LOTR, was because it is a dark story. Good barely triumphs, Frodo is half alive for the last part of his journey, and even people supposed to be on the light side steal, immolate themselves, or even attempt to slay the ring bearer. I'm not a filmmaker so I can't say how shadowy lighting and dark costumes mesh with the tone of the story, but that would be my guess at their intent.

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  19. Huh, I had no idea so many people hated Jackson's LOTR. I loved it, the trilogy hit that sweet spot between what a modern day pop spectacle requires and putting enough of the books in there to remind you of the source material. You at least have to admit that it's a better set of films than the Star Wars prequels and the Matrix sequels.

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  20. "Huh, I had no idea so many people hated Jackson's LOTR."

    They don't.

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  21. "Huh, I had no idea so many people hated Jackson's LOTR."--Marcus

    Not many. Just a few blowhards.


    "I loved it, the trilogy hit that sweet spot between what a modern day pop spectacle requires and putting enough of the books in there to remind you of the source material."--Marcus

    Exactly.


    "You at least have to admit that it's a better set of films than the Star Wars prequels and the Matrix sequels."--Marcus

    Absolutely.

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  22. I cannot stress enough (as Adamantyr already mentioned) that Tolkien wanted to substantially revise The Hobbit, to give it greater consistency with the later developments of LotR and his legendarium generally. More than once in writing he chides himself for lifting dwarf-names straight from the Voluspa, and acknowledges the children's story tone and content of The Hobbit (talking animals, the trolls' character and speech, the mention of giants, etc.) clashes with the later vision of Middle-Earth. So the implication that Jackson is betraying Tolkien by changing the book is rather over-zealous. Tolkien would have changed the book himself.

    Now, whether Jackson's changes would fit with Tolkien's changes -- that's another topic. But Dori, Nori, and Ori are barely differentiated in the book. Giving them discernable characters at all is a step up at this point.

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  23. I don't think the drab tones are what Hollywood equates with 'fantasy'... it's what they equate with 'gravity' and 'serious'... there are plenty of examples of fantasy films with bright colors... such as 'Prince Valiant' and 'The Wizard Of Oz' and 'The Ninth Kingdom'... but those are more light-hearted and whimsical than how they seem to have interpreted LOTR... and I imagine they want 'The Hobbit' to match LOTR's general style/look.
    If they made it all bright and colorful some folks would be complaining it looks like 'a kid's movie'.

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  24. "If they made it all bright and colorful, some folks would be complaining it looks like 'a kid's movie'."--knobgobbler

    Yep. And some of them would be some of the same folks who are complaining that it's not bright and colorful now.

    And I'm sure those same people will complain about the elves in the movie not singing and dancing like in the book too -- or complain even louder if they do.

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  25. I can understand if one doesn't like the Lord of the Rings movies, but to imply they are bad films? (Looks at shelf full of Mystery Science Theater 3000). Yeah, not so much.

    Your opinion is not a litmus test for good or bad, it's just your opinion. I think the dwarf on the left has a strange haircut. Other than that, yup, look like dwarfs to me.

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  26. Honestly, the dwarves in the Hobbit (book) probably would not be fit to adventure in our D&D party. But, those three scallywags in the picture above look like they could hold their own. (Well, at least the outer two...)

    I like the funky hair. Makes me think more of a "fairy-folk" kind of dwarf instead of the dour dudes that are relentlessly presented in most modern takes.

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  27. Yeah, anyone with a criticism is probably just a jerk that hates everything.

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  28. I always imagined the Hobbit as what Bilbo told to the hobbit kids - which is alluded to in the movie, BTW. LOTR is more of a dissertation.

    Bilbo and frodo have very different authorial voices, which is as it should be. I think of Bilbo as Heroditus (a great storyteller, less fussed on detail) vs Frodo as Thucydides, (a geek for detail.)

    And, yes, I am aware that this is all fiction. I have great powers of superrationalization honed by years of reading and gaming. Plus traveller.;)

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  29. Hollywood doesn't believe it's authentically "medieval" unless it looks all grubby and dirty and fog-shrouded.

    Yeah, a combination of the baleful influences of the Enlightenment and Gothic Romanticism seem to have forever turned the Middle Ages into a dark and dreary time in the imaginations of many.

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  30. Huh, I had no idea so many people hated Jackson's LOTR.

    I know very few people who hate them, but quite a number who have issues, large and small, with them. For myself, as I've said many times here and elsewhere, I think the movies were way better than they had any right to be, given how little Jackson and his screenwriters seemed to get Tolkien's worldview, but they're still quite flawed as adaptations, even given the concessions one must make for the medium.

    That said, they're still 1000 times better than anything we've gotten for Robert E. Howard, so I'm willing to cut them some slack.

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  31. Not many. Just a few blowhards.

    Disagree with the opinions, if you will, but there's no need for name-calling.

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  32. Now, whether Jackson's changes would fit with Tolkien's changes -- that's another topic.

    That's the $64,000 question. I expect the movies to be about as faithful to The Hobbit as the previous ones were to The Lord of the Rings: more or less the same story but with characterizations and a general tone that is often quite alien to Tolkien's original.

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  33. If they made it all bright and colorful some folks would be complaining it looks like 'a kid's movie'.

    Some might, certainly, but they'd be a different collection of complainers.

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  34. Yep. And some of them would be some of the same folks who are complaining that it's not bright and colorful now.\

    I think that highly unlikely, but then I don't possess ESP.

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  35. Yeah, anyone with a criticism is probably just a jerk that hates everything.

    Yep -- just as anyone who doesn't have a criticism is probably an unthinking sheep without any taste. ;-)

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  36. I always imagined the Hobbit as what Bilbo told to the hobbit kids - which is alluded to in the movie, BTW. LOTR is more of a dissertation.

    Bilbo and frodo have very different authorial voices, which is as it should be. I think of Bilbo as Heroditus (a great storyteller, less fussed on detail) vs Frodo as Thucydides, (a geek for detail.)


    I think this is right FWIW, which is why I really do hope that The Hobbit movies don't try to make it too much like the LotR movies in tone and presentation.

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  37. I was always surprised that Tolkien had any kind of mass appeal.

    What I hear mostly from the pro-Jackson crowd is that we shouldn't expect anything better and a few loud, rude and obnoxious Jackson fanboys who are terrified of having their opinions discounted or tainted by criticism disregarding anyones opinion which might threaten them.

    Immature person is immature. Go tell your mommy I was mean to you and said bad things about your favorite movie. Tell her I don't like Barney or most Disney movies either.

    Tolkien's works deserve better. I'm not speaking about special effects, all very Oooo and Awwww, but even these will become better over time. What I am talking about is taking an epic tale and producing an epic movie, or at least a reasonably good movie without bizarrely sculpted dwarves, shield riding elves, 2nd rate though extremely attractive actresses, and anemic script adaptions with the defense that it is impossible to make more than a holywood travisty from a literary classic.

    Great works can be made into good movies, or even great movies. Just because horrendous movies have been made from great work such as every attempt at Conan is no reason to accept mediocre or worse work. Life is far to short to settle for garbage.

    Life is full of dissenting opinions, just find the strength to have your own and the courage to express it well. If you are going to resort to insults try being more inventive and add some reasoning to make the insults more effective.

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  38. ...and others shoul try not to sound overly condescending.

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  39. It is a perfect day for bananafish, See More Glass.

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  40. I just noticed you used a serial comma in the title. That has made my day... err... night.

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  41. Jackson's TOlkien films were about as epic as any films I've ever seen...

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  42. No matter what Zav, i'll bet a dollar you'll still going see the Hobbit to matter what. I wouldn't be surprised if you pay full admission so you can watch it in 3D.

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  43. I just noticed you used a serial comma in the title.

    I noticed that right away, Evan. Serial commas 4-evah!

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  44. @crowking you owe me a dollar. I will wait till it is at my local library and watch it for free. Maybe Jackson has gotten his head out of his ass and actually made a decent go of it, though previous experience makes me doubt that possibility. Free is the only price I'd pay to see this.

    Or do you mean that I express one opinion and live another? What an interesting number of ways you have of saying 'Good Morning'.

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  45. Dude, really. Take a chill pill or something. Your acting as scary as you look in your mugshot.

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  46. They look far more belligerent than they were described in The Hobbit, at least at the start; perhaps this is a still from when they are in the mountain.

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  47. IIRC, didn't the dwarves in The Hobbit have crazy-colored beards as well, like blue and yellow? I certainly won't complain if they drop that and just opt for goofy haircuts instead.

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  48. I like them... And to give you an idea of how deeply The Hobbit affected me, well my mom read it to me when I was 5 or 6 years old and ever since then I have been in love with Fantasy. Hell when I was 7 I tried to read Lord of the Rings. I made it all the way to Tom Bomberdale.

    I do wonder how well the dwarf on the left's (Ori's?) hair is going to stand up to the rigors of adventuring life, but I like the look of them. I agree that they look more rough and ready than they were described at the beginning of the Hobbit, but I liked Jackson's depiction of the innocence of Hobbiton in "A Long Expected Party" so I'm not overly concerned.

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  49. Uhhhh... not a fan. Especially the star-shaped guy to the left.
    And the one to the right looks like Travolta in Battlefield Earth (and that's never a good thing).

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  50. "Tom Bomberdale"? No offense intended, but you just made my day! Cheers!

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  51. "Disagree with the opinions, if you will, but there's no need for name-calling."--James Maliszewski

    Sorry. I didn't mean to name-call. All I meant to say was that very few people actually hate Jackson's LotR movies, but that the few who do express their hatred extremely vociferously.


    "I think that highly unlikely, but then I don't possess ESP."--James Maliszewski

    It doesn't take ESP to see that some people just complain about everything without any consistent pattern beyond that they will complain no matter what.

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  52. "Your opinion is not a litmus test for good or bad, it's just your opinion.--Drew

    I wish more people understood that.

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  53. My first though was - pin head dwarves. Davies was good dwarf casting because he's got a big and fits the bulky dwarf image. Brian Blessed would another good choice. When these guys are bulked up to dwarf proportions their heads look too small to me

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  54. I think the reason for the muted colours is that, for the film industry, fantasy = medieval which means natural dyes. Bright colours were hard to produce and most colours fade.

    That's fine if you're trying to make something very 'real', which is certainly the Peter Jackspn approach. He treated the Lord of the Rings like an historical document and tried to make a film in the style of an historical epic. But for me that was one of the problems of the film.

    In the hobbit Bilbo is unexpectedly dragged lut of a life that should be very familiar to the reader into a world of dragons, goblins and trolls. It should feel slightly unreal, otherwise the fantastic can become mundane.

    The reason that the RingWraiths weren't scary in the LOTR films was that they were reduced to men in armour and cloaks riding around in broad day light. Threatening, but not unsettling.

    These dwarves look pretty decent, but I fear that when we meet Smaug he won't be much more than a large lizard.

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  55. @Hum_Com,

    Honesty, with the work that's been put into the design of the dwarves alone, do you actually think their going to have Smaug represented simply as a Lizard? Please, this is a 200+ budgeted million dollar film( some are reporting even more expensive) that's been in development for years and new technology created by Weta. Their even having their motion picture cameras shoot at a frame rate of 48 FPS so the 3D will look even better then what anyone has seen before( or at least untill Avatar 2 and 3 comes out). Other then the fact they both started their careers making cheap horror films, there's a HUGE difference between Peter Jackson and Edward D. Wood.

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  56. You mean you don't like Legolas shield skating?

    That was my favorite part of the movie. The only reason the second film wasn't a complete bore is the humorous parts. The books and the other two movies take themselves way more seriously than any story about gay sobbing gnomes should.

    At least the Star Wars prequels (like the original films) were campy and hokey (and about an hour shorter apiece) and more importantly, fun.

    I grew up with The Hobbit and I hope the movie keeps the spirit of the book -a rousing adventure in a fairy tale land, rather than the biblical epic Snored Through The Rings was.

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  57. Tolkien's works deserve better.

    Why? Are they great literature or something?

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  58. That single image has left more of an impression on me than most of the dwarves ever did in the book, so I'm all for it.

    Now if we could convince Jackson to change the names into something a little less Dr. Seuss-ish.

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  59. "you've got thirteen dwarves on screen for most of the two movies--you simply can't make them all comic relief all the time"

    Oh, good - a challenge!

    Whatever else happens, I'm sure this will be a pile of crap except for the visuals.

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  60. "So the implication that Jackson is betraying Tolkien by changing the book is rather over-zealous. Tolkien would have changed the book himself."

    But he had the deceny not to. it's not about betraying Tolien, it's about betraying The Hobbit. Although I object to Elfdart's tone (there's that word again), I tend to agree that The Hobbit is better than LotR.

    As we all know, adventures about ragtag parties of n'er-do-wells with a map trying to get rich than those about pretty boys with cool magic items trying to save the world.

    (And they should have colorful cloaks. Dirty and tattered maybe but colorful. And musical instruments.)

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  61. "So the implication that Jackson is betraying Tolkien by changing the book is rather over-zealous. Tolkien would have changed the book himself."

    I'd like to think there's a difference between the author of a work choosing to monkey about with his own creation, and another person entirely choosing to monkey about with previous author's creation in an adaptation. (And yet another difference between another person choosing to monkey about with an author's original work, but let's not get into that)

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  62. So much pissing and moaning about film adaptations changing things from the way they are in books. It's like people don't even know what the word "adapt" means.

    a·dapt

    [uh-dapt]

    –verb (used with object)

    1. to make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly: They adapted themselves to the change quickly. He adapted the novel for movies.

    Peter Jackson made The Lord Of The Rings suitable to the requirements and conditions of big-budget, mainstream, feature films which must appeal to as wide an audience as possible for worldwide distribution -- and he adjusted and modified it fittingly to those requirements and conditions. And I expect that he'll do exactly the same thing with The Hobbit too.

    So, if you either don't like any big-budget, mainstream, feature films or think that The Lord Of The Rings shouldn't have been adapted into that form, then of course you don't like what Jackson did with The Lord Of The Rings -- and you probably won't like what he'll do with The Hobbit either.

    But the mere fact that you don't like what he did or what he's doing doesn't make it bad or wrong. You just don't like it -- which is your right -- but that's all.

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  63. Why? Are they great literature or something?

    Yes. Seriously man, do a little digging on the subject. Academic conferences, peer-reviewed academic journals, accredited college courses, dissertations, reams of critical studies, biographies, letters--what evidence is lacking for you?

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  64. I'd like to think there's a difference between the author of a work choosing to monkey about with his own creation, and another person entirely choosing to monkey about with previous author's creation in an adaptation. (And yet another difference between another person choosing to monkey about with an author's original work, but let's not get into that)

    I'm sorry but that kind've thought is just about the worst excuse for not liking something, and would deny us about 30,000 great variations on the arthurian myth alone, never-mind anything that reused characters and situations from Homer or the Eldrich creatures of Lovecraft. Gone with the wind was horribly inaccurate to the book, removing great swaths an changing more. Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory was so far off from the book in word that Dahl went crazy.

    Adaptation is good. It allows one to innovate, nad to look at things differently. I love Brut, but I don't consider Once and Future King a betrayal, much less Mort.

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  65. "Gone with the wind was horribly inaccurate to the book, removing great swaths an changing more. Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory was so far off from the book in word that Dahl went crazy."

    A couple more recent examples are L.A. Confidential and The Prestige. Both are among the best films ever made. And both are also extremely different from the books they were adapted from too.

    In almost every case, the changes Jackson made to The Lord Of The Rings made it a better film. The few exceptions are rare moments like the dwarf-tossing references and the shield-surfing. They do detract, but they don't make it a bad film. They're just minor missteps in an otherwise excellent adaptation. I'll be happy if The Hobbit turns out even just nearly as well.

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  66. The dwarves look you know, fine. Before I get too worked up either way I'll go see the movie.

    As far as LOTR goes, with respect to the critics, I never did get why some folks are determined not to get the fact that a book and a movie are not the same. I read the Hobbit at 9, chewed my way thru LOTR at 10. I must have read the Silmarillion 2 dozen times in my twenties. But you know what? I love PJs LOTR. I admit I'm puzzled by James' comment that Jackson doesn't get Tolkien. I think he absolutely gets Tolkien. Converting exposition & inner dialog to images is just freaking hard to do without totally losing the feeling of the book. Doing that + making it mainstream enough to get it past the moneymen, into cinemas, and onto the top grossing list for a work like LOTR is, IMO, quite frankly touched with genius.

    So I love the Jackson LOTR. I love that my 5 yr old daughter has watched it a dozen time and that she trades Pippin & Gollum quotes with me like Python lines on game-night. And now I think about it, I love it that movies like Avatar & LOTR have brought fantasy & sf out of the exclusive domain of a few weird kids like me and shared it with the wider world. YMMV.

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  67. Adaptation is good. It allows one to innovate, nad to look at things differently.

    This presumes that innovation is, in itself, a good thing. Not everyone shares this view -- Tolkien, for one.

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  68. In almost every case, the changes Jackson made to The Lord Of The Rings made it a better film.

    I'm glad you think so, but not everyone agrees. The changes made to many characters -- Frodo, Sam, and Aragorn chief among them -- don't, in my opinion, make the films better than if they had stayed truer to the novel. Again, I'm fine that you and others disagree on this score, but let's not pretend that it's a truth universally acknowledged that everything Jackson changed worked and anyone who disagrees is just a narrow-minded ninny who hates everything.

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  69. I never did get why some folks are determined not to get the fact that a book and a movie are not the same.

    That's not the issue and never has been. I think most reasonable people would acknowledge that movies sometimes have to make alterations to characters and plots to accommodate their medium. The issue is not merely one of different mediums, but of differing sensibilities. Jackson and company made many, many changes that were both unnecessary and did violence to Tolkien's stated intent. That's what irks me, not that Legolas's hair is the wrong color or whatever.

    I admit I'm puzzled by James' comment that Jackson doesn't get Tolkien.

    Have you seen of the commentary footage from the LotR DVDs? There are myriad places in that footage where Jackson and his collaborators make statements about Tolkien that clearly and obviously in contradiction to what the Professor himself said about his works.

    There's no crime in this. Lots of people don't understand Tolkien except on a very gross level -- Gary Gygax, for example -- and that's how I view the LotR movies. They get the basic facts right (more or less) and present the story in its general outline. The tone and animating spirit behind the story, though, is often lacking and it's that which disappoints me more and more.

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  70. Curious if people think the movies would have been as successful and approachable for the general public had they kept the tone and spirit Tolkien was going for in his novels?

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  71. "The changes made to many characters -- Frodo, Sam, and Aragorn chief among them -- don't, in my opinion, make the films better than if they had stayed truer to the novel."

    Have you thought about how much longer the movies would have to be to accommodate Frodo, Sam and Aragorn being more like they were in the book? They, and many other characters, were simplified (or eliminated completely) so that the movies could be merely extremely long, not so long that only Tolkien purists would ever want to watch them.


    "Again, I'm fine that you and others disagree on this score, but let's not pretend that it's a truth universally acknowledged that everything Jackson changed worked and anyone who disagrees is just a narrow-minded ninny who hates everything."

    Who here has ever pretended that? I don't remember seeing that position stated here -- ever. All I've seen is reasonable people, like you and me, say they think the movies are, to varying degrees, good, but also, to varying degrees, flawed, and unreasonable people say that because the movies are flawed in any way, that means they're bad. It's been only the films' haters who've pretended that it's a truth universally acknowledged that everything Jackson changed didn't work and anyone who disagrees is just a simple-minded ninny who likes everything.


    "Jackson and company made many, many changes that were both unnecessary and did violence to Tolkien's stated intent...Have you seen of the commentary footage from the LotR DVDs? There are myriad places in that footage where Jackson and his collaborators make statements about Tolkien that clearly and obviously in contradiction to what the Professor himself said about his works...There's no crime in this. Lots of people don't understand Tolkien except on a very gross level...and that's how I view the LotR movies. They get the basic facts right (more or less) and present the story in its general outline. The tone and animating spirit behind the story, though, is often lacking and it's that which disappoints me more and more."

    It seems you're mistaking for misunderstanding the ability of others to assess an author's work more objectively than the author could possibly do themself. But that's what good editors do. And that's what Jackson and company did for Tolkien. Not misunderstanding and unnecessary violence. Just the sort of good editing his work should've gotten before it was ever published.

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  72. Curious if people think the movies would have been as successful and approachable for the general public had they kept the tone and spirit Tolkien was going for in his novels?

    I'm generally of the opinion that "the general public" isn't as stupid and narrow-minded as the purveyors of popular entertainment would have us believe. After all, The Lord of the Rings sold very well as a series of books during the 60s and 70s. I see no reason why movies closer in content to them couldn't do just as well.

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  73. It seems you're mistaking for misunderstanding the ability of others to assess an author's work more objectively than the author could possibly do themself. But that's what good editors do. And that's what Jackson and company did for Tolkien. Not misunderstanding and unnecessary violence. Just the sort of good editing his work should've gotten before it was ever published.

    You can choose to interpret my disagreement on this score however you like, but I assure you it's not based on a mistake. Jackson and his screenwriters clearly do not get Tolkien. I don't want to play the quote game and cite dozens of examples where Jackson isn't just saying, "This wouldn't work in a film as it does in a book," but where he suggests Tolkien is saying X when he really said Y. Hardly a character in the films shares the personality and motivations of his novel counterpart and it's not because Jackson was a "good editor." The deviations stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of what Tolkien was about and what his novel was about.

    Now, I think, despite this, Jackson made enjoyable enough movies full of fantasy spectacle. I don't hate the films by any means, but they're deeply flawed as adaptations of Tolkien's masterpiece, lacking in subtlety and nuance. They also, in places, set a tone that is completely contrary to Tolkien's own.

    I find myself reminded of the movie adaptation of The Natural, generally considered one (if not the) greatest baseball movie ever made. The book on which it is based ends on a very tragic note, whereas the movie upends this, thereby completing missing the point of Malamud's novel.

    I haven't made up my mind whether Jackson did as much violence to Tolkien's tale as Barry Levinson did to Bernard Malamud's, but violence he did. I can't fathom how, for example, changing Elrond from a loving foster-father to Aragorn to a petulant, bitter old crow with a millennia-long grudge against Men can be reckoned mere "editing." It's a significant change in my mind, one that casts not just Elrond and Aragorn in different lights but also much of the plot of the story.

    Anyway, I've spent more time on this than I intended and since I'm sure I'll be spending more time on it later, I'll end here.

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  74. @James Maliszewski

    Thanks for replying and explaining in some detail why your take on this is different from mine. I can see the possibility that you might be more right than I am. In fact, I might be completely wrong. It's been a long time since I read The Lord Of The Rings. I need to read it again, comparing it to the films and keeping in mind the things you've said.

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  75. "A couple more recent examples are L.A. Confidential and The Prestige. Both are among the best films ever made. And both are also extremely different from the books they were adapted from too."

    Yeah,LA Confidential would've been a nightmare to film if they'd stuck to the book.

    And no, LOtFR the movie is not catering to the 60s and 70s audience that made the books popular. That audience doesn't exist any more than does the audience that made 1e a mighty fad exist. I doubt Tolkien's books would see publication with a major company today without serious revisions.

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  76. The book on which it is based ends on a very tragic note, whereas the movie upends this, thereby completing missing the point of Malamud's novel.

    I don't think it can be granted as a simple premise that 'the point of' an adaptation must (or even should) be shared with its source material. They're not polemics, for heaven's sake, and they're different stories (even if you don't grant the whole medium = message thing). It should be noted that The Natural is still a fine, moving film.

    Like the thick-headed fools who carry on about Lovecraft's 'cosmicism' being the main or even sole point of his stories - as if he were a philosopher who could only get his papers published in pulp magazines, rather than a fiction writer - Tolkien's 'purist' fans do him discredit. His philosophy isn't the point of LotR; the story is the point. If a good story comes out of it, everyone wins - except the purists, who just want to torture themselves anyway. Which they can go on doing, come to think of it, so I suppose they win too!

    The antimodern elegiac (and very, very, very English) character of LotR was always going to see an interesting interpretation in the hands of a Kiwi director living in a very post-post-Freud era. I adore the book. I loved the films and am glad to revisit them, even as I find choices I disagree with. The heart of the story ('the world has moved on') remains.

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  77. I can't fathom how, for example, changing Elrond from a loving foster-father to Aragorn to a petulant, bitter old crow with a millennia-long grudge against Men can be reckoned mere "editing." It's a significant change in my mind...

    If I had to guess, I'd call it a relatively straightforward case of psychologizing the novel's symbols: recasting a relatively thin (in emotional terms) relationship between a man and a Figure of Myth as a more complicated relationship between stewards of the earth from different generations. It gives the (merely!) human actor playing Elrond something universal to play and ratchets up the human tension around the somewhat abstract Aragorn/Arwen story.

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  78. They look like Warhammer dwarves more than JJRT dwarves, IMO.

    As for the LoTR movies, James M mostly wrote what I would, had I the time. To sum up:
    1. Good flicks in their own right, probably the best epic fantasy yet filmed.
    2. Most of the plot is followed, but not all.
    3. Tone is way, WAY off from JRRT's.

    I still long for a _small_ Conan(or Solomon Kane)/REH or FatGM/Leiber that gets the tone right and does _not_ involve a plot that requires saving the world.

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  79. "Huh, I had no idea so many people hated Jackson's LOTR." --Marcus

    Watching 'The Fellowship of the Ring' was quite a bad experience. The filmakers seemed unable to do anything right (*). After sixty something minutes of movie I had got enough and left the theater in anger. I didn't feel so cheated since 'Super Mario Bros the Movie'! I'm amazed that there's no more people out there who hates FotR.

    There's a taste for anything, and some of my favourite movies happen to be silly, crazy and/or immoral stuff which I wouldn't dare to recommend to anybody else. So, if you enjoyed FotR, too good for you. What annoys me is its *massive* success, and Peter Jackson's ascent into godness.

    (*) Just a drop from the ocean: do you think that there was a need for Sauron to be shown at the very beginning? There's not a right answer to this question. Maybe yes, maybe no: it's the filmaker's choice.

    But *if* you choose showing Sauron, you don't give him the looks of a deranged Power Rangers bad guy. You don't put him in a shining armour. You don't turn his last stand into a display of cartoon physics (Asterix single-handedly beating the Roman legions can be amusing to see, but doesn't qualify as epic). You don't get him defeated in a goofy way (kiss your Ring goodbye, Lord Butterfingers). And, by the Iluvatar's sake, you don't make him explode in a burst of PRISTINE WHITE LIGHT. He's meant to be Sauron. S-A-U-R-O-N: the Middle-Earth antichrist, not Jesus.

    There was a need for Sauron to be made into a practical joke at the very beginning? There's an ultimate answer to this question: NO.

    DISCLAIMER: That's just an example taken out of context. When you put it back into its original context, such a context happens to be more of the same crap.

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