The LOTR Movie Site
May 2, 2000

A Worrisome Undercut
Brian M.

As the production continues on the trilogy, I must admit that I have been waffling between great expectation and great apprehension. Hearing that Arwen would be portrayed as a warrior elf was quite a blow, but then again, the news that Loreena McKinnett and James Horner had been approached about the sound track could not be better.

Still, there is a worrisome undercurrent that seems to me to
flow beneath many, if not all, of the proposed changes that the powers that be intend to make. "Staying true to the spirit of Tolkien," the general defense given for modifications such as Arwen, is indeed the necessary approach to this movie (as much as some of us might like the 40 hour version! :) What troubles me is that attached to the rear of the statement "We're staying true..." is a little annoying appendix muttered under the breath "...to the parts that we agree with." And so, if they object to Tolkien's portrayal of women, out with the old Arwen, in with the new. Though environmentalism and New Age spirituality were not likely even issues in Tolkien's mind when he wrote his masterpiece, they might say: "For crying out loud, they should have been!" Therefore, we have Orlando Bloom, who apparently intends to play Legolas as a kick butt tree hugger. (In an interview on E! Online he stated that Legolas' trouble with the dwarves is that "they take things away from the earth without giving anything back." Apparently the elf-dwarf enmity has nothing to do with the brutal war discussed in the Silmarillion.)

What it boils down to is that we have people who don't think about the world like Tolkien did, trying to interpret the spirit of his work. They do this through their own set of presuppositions about the way things are, a world-view which is drastically different from the time in which Tolkien wrote. I greatly fear that the result, no matter how well intentioned their efforts may be, will be a big budget, bastardized version of LOTRs. I don't doubt it will have lots of pretty lights, things that go bang, and good acting, but their approach may well end up killing the very thing they were seeking to preserve: The spirit of Tolkien.

What do I think can be done about it? Barring some act of God in which someone can sit down with the good Mr. Jackson and argue this point well enough for him to agree, not a bloomin' thing. Nor do I expect my opinion, or anyone else's for that matter, will cause a mass uprising of Tolkien fans to storm New Line and make sure its done right. But maybe by everyone exercising our inalienable right to blow off steam (and give praise where it is due), we'll all be better able to appreciate the final result when it gets here. Besides, it's fun!