The LOTR Movie Site
April 25, 2000

A New Concern: How Will the Movie be Rated?

As I was thinking about the movie, a concern suddenly sprung to my mind - how will the movie be rated; U or 18+? This is in fact a concern in more ways than one. Firstly, if it's going to be given an adult rating, less people will be able to see the movie. More importantly, however, if the movie is given an all-ages rating, it will have serious repercussions on everything from the atmosphere to the screenplay, even the plot.

In my mind, the rating it SHOULD be given is unquestionable; it was an adult book, and therefore should be an adult movie. That is, the movie should be made with no inhibitions as to whether the content is suitable for children. I know this sounds cruel (I have an 11 year-old brother and can sympathize), but nothing should cause the movie to stray from the book significantly.

What do I mean by significantly? Well, take Bakshi's Lord of The Rings. I don't think I even need to remind anyone it was a complete disaster. In a nutshell, he left out too many important details and the details he did keep were distorted and spoilt the story. Anyway, I didn't mention Bakshi to criticize him. Did you ask yourself WHY he left out so much details? I believe that one of the main reasons was to make the show MORE WATCHABLE FOR CHILDREN. Once he made up his mind about that, he began to go down the slippery slope of disaster. He simplified it by replacing Glorfindel with Legolas, leaving out Bombadil, etc. Thus making it easier to understand for children, and more enjoyable to watch. Now I hear that similar things are happening in Mr. Jackson's movie. A foreshadowing, perhaps?

Now what worries me the most is that Mr. Jackson WILL make the movie presentable to as wide an audience as possible, as George Lucas did with The Phantom Menace. I just thought I'd compare it, since everyone has been comparing the two movies everywhere else! Why would he do that? The answer is simple - more money. Not only because of a bigger audience, but because of merchandising. Which leads me into mentioning yet another result of making this movie with an all ages rating in mind.

A movie like The Blair Witch didn't need to worry about little scared people dolls to ridicule the movie, as the movie was made for adults. However, look at all the stupid Phantom Menace merchandise out there? It'll really break my heart if I see a Gandalf doll holding a silly wand, or an Aragorn doll with a separable plastic sword.

However, if you think of it, it's really inevitable. The movie will have an all-ages rating in the end. How else is he going to get a decent profit? I can't even begin to imagine how much he's spending!

That would mean the battle scenes would be less gruesome, for one thing. More seriously though, I fear a change in the plot, for 2 reasons. Firstly, it's complex... to complex for a child to understand. Secondly, it's depressing. I'm not going to spoil it for the people who haven't read the book, but I'll say this - I was crying when I was reading the end of the book for the first time, and every time I read it again it brings me on the brink of tears. The emotional contrast from the 'Scouring of The Shire' to 'The Grey Havens' is overwhelming... but anyway that's another story. Now how can you have a popular children's movie which is as depressing? Even the whole atmosphere must be affected in some way. In many parts of the book it is very dark, which by the way makes the cheerful parts so much more uplifting. I just don't think a child will be able to endure the sad moments of the film. And (I dread) the producers will think so too.

I just hope, really hope, that Jackson somehow manages to make the movie so that it follows Tolkien's plot closely and keeps the author's atmosphere, albeit dark in many instances. Actually, the movie looks promising in the latter respect; I think the trailer hit the nail on the head, as far as atmosphere goes. However, to tell you the truth, I don't see this happening if it's geared for an all-ages audience. Alas! Whatever you do, don't run out of money, Mr. Jackson! Please don't give us another unfinished LoTR!