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Re-reading LOTR in light of the films

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I'm putting this in the film forum because it is hitting on the efficacy of the film trilogy, but I suppose it could go in the literature section just as easily.

I'm re-reading the LOTR books, for the first time since seeing FOTR in the theaters. To start with, I'm a big fan. I had read LOTR probably seven or eight times before the movies came out, and since ROTK was released on DVD, my wife and I have probably watched the entire Extended Edition Trilogy about 2 or 3 times.

As I have been re-reading the trilogy, I have noticed that in my mind, SOME of the actors from the films have replaced my old mental images of the characters, while some haven't. I'm wondering if anyone else has had the same experience. For instance:

1. Elijah Wood HAS NOT replaced my mental image of Frodo. In my mind as I read, I may stage the scenes involving Frodo similarly to the movies, but I still see Frodo as middle-aged and round, rather than young and waif-like. I thought EW was great in the films, don't get me wrong, but he wasn't strong enough to dislodge my set mental picture.

2. Sean Astin HAS become Sam for me. While I am seeing a lot of nuances of Sam in the books that didn't make it to the films, I still see Sean Astin saying and doing the things in the books - even the things he didn't say and do in the movies.

3. Sean Bean HAS become Boromir, even though Boromir is dark-haired in the book, and in the (blah!) cartoon version he's a red-haired Viking (?) when I read his lines in the book, it is Bean's voice I hear in my head.

4. Ian McKellen has ALMOST become Gandalf. His performance was great in the films, but there are a lot of disconnects for me as I am reading.

5. Orlando Bloom HAS become Legolas, while John Rhys-Davies HAS NOT become Gimli. I enjoyed both of them in the films, but for some reason, they did not equally make an impact in my mind. Maybe it's because Gimli is such a rich and noble character in the books, and such a buffoon in the movies (though a well-played buffoon).

6. Both Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd HAVE replaced Merry and Pippin for me - but how could they not? They are very underwritten characters in the books, and those guys infused such life into them.

7. Christopher Lee IS Saruman.

8. Cate Blanchett IS NOT Galadriel, NOR is Hugo Weaving Elrond.

9. Liv Tyler HAS replaced Arwen in my mind, but probably only because I had almost no mental image of Arwen from the books.

10. Ian Holm HAS replaced Bilbo Baggins in my mind (though from the audio recordings, it's also his voice I hear in my head for Frodo!).

etc.

What has been your experience? Have you re-read the books since seeing the films?


In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."

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9. Liv Tyler HAS replaced Arwen in my mind, but probably only because I had almost no mental image of Arwen from the books.
That's because there is almost no "there" there in the book. Tolkien's female characters are pretty sketchy, to put it kindly. You really have to realise them yourself, which is what Jackson attempted (pretty successfully, too).

I agree with your Frodo vision. I love EW as Frodo, but my mental Frodo is older. Sean Astin IS Sam Gamgee. I always pictured Boromir and Aragorn as older looking, just like Frodo, but Sean Bean took the character and ran with it. Viggo M did the same with Aragorn. He's amazing. Aragorn could have become a whiney recluse, but Jackson/Mortenson really made him heroic in a quiet, humble way.

Gimli was, yes, a bit goofy, but I buy it. Legolas is fine. I'm still annoyed with Jason Isaacs for not taking the Elrond part when it was offered to him, but Hugo Weaving makes an unusual (if a bit melodramatic at times) and interesting Elrond.

I like McKellen's Gandalf a lot. It's almost perfect, for me. I still hear John Huston's voice, though, at times, even though I despise that Rankin Bass Hobbit.

Neb


Fortus fortuna uvat!

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Do the movie actors come to mind when reading LOTR?

YES for:

* Sam

* Legolas

* Merry

* Pippin

* Elrond

* Saruman

* Bilbo

NO for:

* Aragorn

* Gimli

* Frodo

* Galadriel

* Boromir

NOT sure about:

* Gandalf

* Treebeard

* Theodin

----

This is off topic, but I've always thought of Tom Bombadil as Eric Idle.


"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - Groucho Marx

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Robin Williams is too self-aware to be Bombadil. Bombadil needs to be completely free of self-consciousness.


In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."

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I saw the LOTR cartoon before I read the books as a child, so its got a strong pull on my imagination as I read the novels. I still hear John Hurt when I read Aragorn's dialogue, and envision the cartoon Frodo and Sam. But when I reread Two Towers and ROTK before their respective films, I did see McKellen as Gandalf (but before I saw him as Gandalf the White). The Hobbit cartoon has almost (thankfully) no bearing on my reading of the books, since I hated, hated, hated it even as a child (except for the slaying of Smaug).

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Unfortunately, my mental picture of LOTR has long since been lost to that of Jackson's films. I don't mean this in the sense that the film's vision of Tolkien's world is somehow not as good as mine (quite the opposite), but rather that I am disappointed that I am unable to remember how I used to perceive the characters.

You see, I first read LOTR from August-November 2001. While I was reading the last two books, some production images leaked out online and in bookstores so I started to lose my own vision right from the get-go.

In retrospect, though, I have to admit that the films have made me feel as though the entire Tom Bombadil subplot is more or less pointless. I like Bombadil, since he can do fancy crap like put on the Ring without disappearing, and hang out with elf chicks even though he's Middle Earth's equivalent of a nerd, but still. Something about it seems out of place to me.

What do you guys think of Tom Bombadil, anyways? I wonder if I'm the only one who finds the Bombadil excursion a bit taxing (though I love the books otherwise).


-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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It's been awhile since I read it, but I do remember trying to read Fellowship after The Two Towers movie came out. I found myself skimming a lot of passages, because it was too slow. The movie kind of ruined it by fast-forwarding much of the story (with good reason!).

Ian Mckellan is in my head as Gandalf for some parts, not so much in others.

Iam Holm is Bilbo.

A big, hearty YES to Sean Astin as Sam. I came out of the first movie going "He nailed it. He nailed Sam". I was thrilled, since Sam is my favorite character in the books.

Merry is NOT Dominic Monaghan. I always found Merry to be more responsible and practical than the movie made him out to be. But, I do think Dominic played Merry very well.

For the most part, I see Billy Boyd when reading Pippin, especially as they are traveling.

I honestly can't say if Viggo is Aragorn in my head; it's been too long since I've read it.

Boromir is too gravitas in the book for me to hear Sean Bean. Though I think I like Bean's Boromir better. He made me care more for the character.

Orlando Bloom was and is too popular for me to think of him as Legolas. Legolas has some light-hearted moments in the book that was never really shown in the movies ("I go to fetch the sun!"), and Bloom portrayed him as more serious.

Gimli is much the same as Aragorn. I don't think I would hear Rhy-Davies, but I'd have to read it again to be sure.

I think Elijah Wood did a good job as Frodo, but I don't hear him in my head when reading the books. Even though Frodo may have looked young because of the ring, he still had the life experience that Wood didn't have at the time of the movies.


Subtlety is underrated

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I haven't read the entire trilogy since I was 11, and I haven't read Fellowship since I was 14 or 15. So, the film isn't really obliterating any mental images, there.

I did see the 1978 version of the film a few times in my teens, though, and when I saw that version again a couple years ago, I realized that Peter Jackson's version had absolutely shattered what little hold that earlier film might have had on me. (I think of certain scenes involving Gandalf, Sam, and Galadriel in particular.)

On a related note, I bought the soundtrack to Fellowship a few weeks before the film came out, and found myself thinking, "Yeah, this seems to follow the emotional progression of the story pretty well, as I remember it." I began to imagine images of my own to go with Howard Shore's music. But it wasn't long before I saw the film a few times, and NOW, whenever I listen to the soundtrack, I think of course of the many images in Peter Jackson's film. Which is fair, since Shore wrote the music FOR the film.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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What do you guys think of Tom Bombadil, anyways? I wonder if I'm the only one who finds the Bombadil excursion a bit taxing (though I love the books otherwise).
I love Mr. B! It will never happen, but I'd love a super duper extra whammy director's dream cut with the Bombadil and Barrow Downs stuff back in. Bombadil and the Ents are a mystery. They seem to exist independantly of most everything else in Middle Earth; Bombadil because he can, and the Ents because they're uninterested hermits. I can relate to the Ents and love Treebeard.

I realize that it totally derails the rhythm of the film to put the Bombadil sequence in...but it's a big part of the whole, for me, almost like an appendix stuck in after the first plot point. Another thing is that the Downs are where the boys get their weapons. Since that's not in the film, we have Aragorn magically producing them with no explanation. He's been carrying around a pile of long knives all year just in case he ran into them? Feh. ...but not a really big deal.

Neb


Fortus fortuna uvat!

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It's interesting that this character hasn't come up yet - I didn't even think of him until just yesterday - but GOLLUM!

To be sure, my mental image of Gollum was pretty much what they showed on screen already (I have a picture I made of Gollum before the films came out; I'll have to dig it up and show it) but I see the Gollum from the films, and I hear his voice in my head. The character was perfectly realizedon film.


In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."

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My pre-Jacksonian mental picture of Gollum was merely a giant frog that could talk. I'm not kidding. Just a really huge frog.

Thank God for Andy Serkis and that motion capture technology!


-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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