The LOTR Movie Site
April 8, 2000

Further Outrage

     “I shall remain only Galadriel.”
     Not if Peter Jackson has anything to do with it.
The anticipation of the release of the upcoming films “based upon” the trilogy The Lord of the Rings has, for me, decayed from excitement to disappointment to outrage.
     Some, I know, believe otherwise, and I would like to begin this essay by stating that I have no intention of discrediting anyone. I believe the films will be marred in the often unrestrained transformation from book to film. I know too little of Jackson’s work to guess if he will ruin or honor The Lord of the Rings. I do, however, know how political concerns can shadow any art. It is the place of the artist (in this case, director) to overcome this obstacle. If Peter Jackson succeeds, I will be the first to praise him. However, he has admitted to altering the storyline and characters. This has been soothed by several torn fans of Jackson and Tolkien who claim there is no way to avoid “cinematic adaptation” and “interpretation.” I maintain that there is a staggering difference between this and full re-construction of the book. As I explain below, I believe Jackson’s actions qualify as the latter, mostly because of multiple news articles I have seen which portray his motivations as appealing to people "beyond pointy ears and hairy feet." I am open to calm rebuttals to my opinion.
     The books, as written by Tolkien, provide exquisite depictions of an epic story blooming with enticing landscapes and heroic characters ideal for cinematic creation. Jackson has a tremendous opportunity to advance a long beloved tale into the overwhelmingly remarkable art which is cinema.
     Instead, he has decided (with the aid of his wife, according to what I read in a recent article) to alter the plot and “broaden” several character roles. His intent has not even innocently strayed. He did not seek to further express the author’s perspective, his sole purpose is to attract a wider female audience and avoid political controversy. 
     Why would a female find the roles of any of Tolkien’s lady characters less than flattering? Arwen’s music and mystic presence is enough to capture the heart of the valiant, mighty Aragorn instantly. This is stated in Appendix A of The Return of the King, “Then Aragorn was abashed, for he saw the elven-light in her eyes and the wisdom of many days; yet from that hour he loved Arwen Undomiel daughter of Elrond.” Is this magical strength of her beauty and spirit compromised because she returns his love? No, perhaps it is in her choice to remain with Aragorn, for how dare a woman forsake anything for a man! Hmm, are we forgetting a little journey Aragorn makes against some sort of all-powerful evil to meet Elrond’s decree “You shall neither have wife, nor bind any woman to you in troth, until your time comes and you are found worthy of it.” No! Their roles are not equal at all (This is said is pure sarcasm, for anyone who could possibly believe otherwise.)
      What Jackson does not seem to grasp is that to alter Tolkien’s vision is offensive. To take the tranquil, symbol of desired peace that is Arwen and mold her into war-loving, macho, and quite probably rebellious is both a cause for anger and remorse. It is my prediction that Arwen’s ride to battle will ring with youthful stubbornness, and because of this new trait bred within her, her decision to remain with Aragorn will as well. It will no longer be a tragic example of the Doom of Men and the love torn choice of Luthien, but more of a scoffing, “I am royalty, and more importantly, I am female, so I shall do as I please.”
     I have also read that the role of Galadriel is to be extended. As a child when my father read me Tolkien’s work I was captivated by the Lady of the Golden Wood. She certainly holds the power to remain my favorite character, even if she was not mentioned in each chapter. Would I be delighted to see more of my adored Galadriel in the movies? No, for if Jackson, and not Tolkien, were to reconstruct the slightest detail of her role, it would no longer be the Lady I have loved since childhood. As she is, Galadriel is mighty enough to aid the Ring Bearer and his faithful Samwise even in her absence. Her magic rescues the Shire from decades without the majestic trees Sam loves. One glance from her wise, ancient eyes disturbs Boromir and empowers the others (just as Arwen’s gaze in Rivendell enchants and strengthens Frodo.)
     I have stated in a previous essay posted upon this website my opinion of what the transformation of the other female characters shall have upon the human lady, Eowyn. Let me recap by saying it will shadow her remarkable choice, for in Tolkien’s Middle Earth at this time women, even royal women, did not battle. How can Jackson overcome the scene in which Eowyn begs Aragorn to allow her to accompany him? This excerpt may be found in the chapter, The Passing of the Grey Company in The Return of the King.
     It begins with Eowyn asking, “’Aragorn, wilt thou go?’
     ‘I will.’
     ‘Then wilt thou not let me ride with this company as I have asked?’
     ‘I will not, lady,’ he said.....”
     Let me try to understand this, at this point Aragorn either is not aware of Arwen’s choice to battle, or he simply says to her, “I return you affection, so stick around!” 
     If the first is true, then Arwen has concealed her presence from Aragorn, adding to the rebellion and decaying the truth of their love, or she has yet to battle at all. This leaves only opportunity for her appearance upon the Pelennor Fields, which would again overshadow Eowyn, or among the company which rides to the Black Gate and faces the Mouth of Sauron. Would it then be Arwen, and not Gandalf, to speak to Sauron’s servant!? 
     If Aragorn is portrayed as accepting Arwen’s warrior desires, but rebuking Eowyn’s plea, then he is no longer a character with concern for the lady whose love he cannot return. He becomes a coward seeking to avoid her uncomfortable presence. However, if Jackson deletes Eowyn’s begging, then her motivation for stealthy ride to war is no longer foreshadowed or even valid. Can you even picture the transition if Eowyn simply blinks a tear as the Grey Company rides away and then suddenly appears before the Nazgul King in the garb of a knight? 
     All of these female characters serve in the defeat of Sauron, and if a woman cannot understand this, she is the offensive one.
     Speaking of Sauron, I have read his role is to “beefed up.” Why? Is this so all the wicked masters of evil who go into the theater will not be offended? Forgive my sarcasm, but if Sauron were any stronger, he would not be defeated, which would really spoil the ending, in my opinion. If their is scarce room for the enhancement of female characters, there is none for Sauron. Shall he be seen by the audience when Pippin gazes in the palantir? Well, unless he stills everyone who beholds him with chill and terror that is never forgotten, he is not Sauron. The moment would be so much more effective if the audience perceives only the stunned horror upon Pippin’s face and in his shuddering words when Gandalf calls him. It is far too simple to show the audience exactly what happens than to leave a quailing fear in their minds as they develop their own image. Hence, the beauty of the books.
      A final concern I hold, is the worry that with the overwhelming number of expanded roles, how much film time will remain to portray the other characters of the book? This fear has, tragically, been supported by the deletion of Tom Bombadil. Will a critical scene be discarded simply to make room for the politically correct alterations? 
     Here’s an idea, Mr. Jackson, one that will really save you some editing. Instead of permitting Gandalf to return from his fall in Moria, why not let Galadriel take his place in the Company? No, it will be fabulous! She can bring a small hand mirror of water along (dazzled up with an Avon touch, perhaps) and then the Company will never be forced to guess what choice to make. She can tell Frodo to go off on his own with Sam for his comrade, thus, cutting that dragging, internal debate he has about his destiny. When Boromir protests, she can smite him, making sure that base is covered. The Orcs will never take Pippin and Merry, she will ensure their safety with a wave of her hand (by magic or sword I shall leave to you.) Of course, this means we shall never meet the Ents, but their separation from the Entwives is cause enough for that, right? I mean, who needs male characters with no female counterparts? 
     When they come to meet Eomer, Galadriel shall slay him for his “offensive” remark regarding the Lady of the Golden Wood. This cuts Gimli’s and Legolas’ irritating stand in her defense. After all, we certainly have no use for male dialogue which protects a woman! Galadriel can take care of herself, and it is crude to say any woman cannot!
     In Rohan, Theoden will be slain by Galadriel, in contrast to Gandalf’s healing. With the death of her uncle and brother, Eowyn may take the throne and ride to her glory multiple times. This replaces that ridiculously skimpy section in the books where she finds her renown against only one enemy.
     Arwen shall join them at Helm’s Deep, rescuing the day and breaking Saruman’s might quite easily. From there they shall scamper about defeating all of Sauron’s minions. To maintain Tolkien’s love of quirky songs, they sing as they lead the weak men behind them. The fate of the good rests in the destruction of a ring? In the hands of a male, have you ever heard such thing? We lead the true hope, follow behind, you warriors grim! Sauron’s doom lies in we, the undefeatable women!

     Of course, you seem to be avoiding Tolkien’s wishes, so perhaps you should cut all songs. 

     My dear readers, I pray you realize the above as a farce. I am an author, myself, and I cannot break the habit of expressing my outrage in words, often long pages of them. I imagine your chuckles are laced with bitterness, as are my own as I realize the true dishonor in the making of these movies, the disrespect to Professor Tolkien, and the marring of his ingenious legacy.