If you haven’t read/seen The Lord of the Rings, go read/watch it now. Honestly, how have you not at least seen the movies, even if you haven’t read the books? Go on. I’ll wait.
Here is a song,
About reading a book,
I’ve given you a warning,
Not to look,
If you haven’t read it,
And italics you skip,
Just be aware,
Plot spoilers may be slipped.
Many years ago, I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then they made some movies based on the books. I saw the movies. I liked them. Since then, I’ve watched them a few times.
This year when I was looking for my next book to read, I came across The Fellowship of the Ring again, and thought “I wonder if I remember it, or only remember the movie version of the story?”
(I already remembered some things, such as the unnecessary change to Faramir’s character which annoyed me and anyone else that I spoke to that had read the books, but exactly how different are the movies?)
I’m half way through The Two Towers now, and I’ve been surprised at some of the things that I didn’t realise or remember had been changed.
One example is Gandalf. When travelling south in the movie, Gimli insists that they should go through Moria to avoid the gap of Rohan. Gandalf doesn’t want to, instead attempting to take them over the mountain Caradhras, but they have to turn back because of a storm that Saruman is shown to be whipping up.
In the book, Gandalf is the one that wants to go through Moria; it is Aragorn that doesn’t and insists that they try the mountain road. They are defeated by the malice of the storm of the mountain itself, Saruman doesn’t conjure it. When they return down the path Gandalf is glad to go into Moria.
There are a few changes like that dotted around, but it doesn’t annoy me. For the most part, any changes that the films made I understand why they made. In a film you have to get the character across quickly, and move the action forward due to being on limited time.
Another example is if they had included Rohan’s ride towards Isengard. In the book King Théoden intends to meet Sarurman in open battle, but after the second day of riding Gandalf tells the King to go to Helm’s Deep instead because they are outnumbered.
If that had been done on screen everyone would have been “huh? Why bother riding that way at all? It didn’t move the plot forward, and we could have spent screentime on X instead.”
Whereas in the book the time (and word count) is there to explain the reasoning and the thoughts that go along with the actions; it makes sense.
In the end I noticed that it doesn’t matter if a character does something differently, as long as it is consistent within their character. In the book Gandalf gives his advice based on what he knows to be safer paths; he knows Caradhras is treacherous and his wisdom tells them that to sneak through Moria is a better way. He gathers information on the way to Isengard and makes the call that to rendezvous at Helm’s Deep is the better option. In the films the same is true; he knows of the danger of Moria, and so chooses the (safer?) path of Caradhras. He knows that the horse lords would get trapped in Helm’s Deep, and so advises them to ride out.
Different actions, but the same character; the wise advisor.
That’s why Faramir’s decisions in the movie were disliked, whereas Gandalf’s changes went unnoticed. Faramir wouldn’t have made those choices based on what we knew the character to be like.
It’s interesting to see that in some circumstances we can believe a character will make an opposite choice and accept it. So when writing a story if you get stuck and think “what should they do next?” try out the opposite choice. It might not work (like if you have a nun character who is debating whether to use the medicine or the power of prayer to heal someone, and then try out having them stab the person. That’s just daft.) but you might find a route that you didn’t think of which works just as well.