The LOTR Movie Site
July 6, 2000

In Response to John K.
Ralph J.

Well, dear John, I am sure we both love the books – although obviously both in our own way. I am sure Peter Jackson loves the books in HIS own way. Now, through some bizarre twist of fate, HE is at the helm of this project, and we are not. I for one wouldn’t want to be, I tell you. The responsibility to bring this novel to the screen is just overwhelming: all the fans in the world (adamant purists and more liberal ones alike) are panting down your neck and scrutinizing every millisecond of film, music, dialogue, FX, scenery, make-up and set-building. But as if that in itself is not enough, there is also an unwielding colossus that is called ‘the production company’. These are the guys whose money is at stake here. They will want to see some of that green stuff back, I presume.

Now, in a desperate attempt to satisfy both parties, and an even more desperate attempt to make the story understandable and gripping for non-readers, Mr. Jackson has beefed up the love story of Arwen and Aragorn and expanded her role a little bit. Personally I don’t believe that Arwen will become a second rate Xena (in itself Xena is so second rate that it will be very hard indeed to get below that level), but a highly believable, involved person, fighting her own little fight in that far away Middle Earth. What surprises me is the way fans are thinking: if she’s not who she is in the books (a rather absent protagonist, to put it mildly: she only shows up after all the dirty work has been done), then no doubt she will take the lead role and go a-hacking and a-slashing. To me, things are not that black or white, there is quite a bit of grey in between. If I want to see the story Tolkien has written, I’ll read the books, but I am sure that even if you have 3 billion dollars to spend, and are allowed to make forty hours of motion pictures, you’re not going to get everything on screen in a comprehensible way.

You complain about ‘mass market appeal’. Well now, how about ‘the best selling book of the 20th century’, with over a 100 million copies sold in 50 languages? (Latest estimations by the publisher). How’s that for mass market appeal?

Please John (and all who read this), let’s wait for December 14, 2001. That’s when we know what has been done to the story and how big a role Arwen got. I am sure that we will be amazed by the beauty of it all, and that we will only realize afterwards what has been changed. But then we did have a night of fun, didn’t we? And that is the main target: fun. Tolkien himself said it somewhere (n his letters, I believe): I hope you have enjoyed the book, because that was the key element: to be enjoyed.