||The LOTR Movie Site
November 20, 2000
An Appeal to Max B.
Robert Van de W.
I am a philosophical theist and a Born Again Christian. As
you pointed out in an earlier post, this means that I cannot argue the more abstract
merits of being a Tolkien "purist" with you. The disjoin between our
philosophical starting points prevents me. I can, however, make an appeal based on
practicality, and this is what I intend to do. (In fact, I am not so much making an appeal
to you as I am defending the appeal that Tolkien "purists" such as myself have
made to Peter Jackson.)
Have you seen the LOTR movie site voting booth question, "Thus far in film history,
what is the greatest fantasy movie ever made?" Have you looked at the choices that
are available? If you have not, do so now. Can we not agree that good fantasy movies are a
Until the mid 1990's, I was content with the infrequent appearance of my favorite genre on
the big screen. Simply speaking, the technology didn't exist to make good fantasy movies
and I would rather have no fantasy movies than shoddy fantasy movies that detract from,
rather than enhance, my own imagination.
In the last five years, however, things have changed. The technology now exists to make
excellent fantasy films and I would dearly love to see that happen. I am sure that,
whatever our other differences, you would like to see that happen as well.
Don't you understand that what is needed is a really solid blockbuster? A breakthrough
movie that convinces Hollywood executives that there is money to be made in making good
fantasy films? This is why Peter Jackson should stick to the Tolkien story line as much as
is cinematically possible. Let's do the math.
If the Tolkien fan base is 50 million persons worldwide and each person that makes up that
fan base saw each of the three LOTR movies one time at a cost of 5$ per ticket, this would
be 5$ x 50,000,000 = 250 million dollars for each film or $750 million dollars in box
office receipts. This does not include videos, shirts, posters, action figures or lunch
boxes. Now if each member of the Tolien fan base goes an average of 2 times and takes one
other person with him/her once, that makes more than 2 billion dollars in box office
receipts alone. "But", I can hear you protesting, "making Arwen a warrior
princess will not make the movies a bomb" This is the heart of our disagreement.
You display a certain ignorance when you wrote in a previous post, "(bad ring-hobbits
and friends go on a journey-lots of heroism-bad ring destroyed-check)". Do you think
this is what separates LOTR from the mass of other fantasy novels that are out there? Have
you ever read any of them? These elements, far from being the distinguishing factor, are
the elements which are common (albeit in a general way) among fantasy novels too numerous
What is it that distinguishes Tolkien's work, then? This is a subject beyond the scope of
this brief note, but may I suggest that it has something to do with the many years
(decades?) that the esteemed professor spent working on the history of Middle Earth and
its languages and cultures? May I suggest that making casual changes can only result in
degrading the story and the world that Tolkien created which has generated such excitement
and enjoys such cross-cultural appeal? May I suggest that the fact that Peter Jackson
recently acknowledged giving up on some of the ideas he had early on in favor of doing
things the way they are done in the books supports this claim? But allow me to give you an
In your earlier posts, you defended the idea that Gimli would bond with Arwen in the same
way as he did with Legolas. Did you realize when you said this that in all of LOTR books,
nobobdy even mentions the name of a Dwarven female? The reason for this is that Dwarven
females are few in number and very protected in Dwarven society. This is one of the
reasons why Gimli has such a reverence for Galadriel and it is a interesting bit of
Now you may say that people wouldn't notice such things in a movie and that this kind of
thing doesn't matter, but it DOES matter to the Tolkien fan base which can make these
movies a success that dwarfs Titanic or Star Wars.
Now I would enjoy seeing other fantasy stories brought to the big screen and I might even
enjoy a movie where an Elf princess goes off to war with her betrothed and faces down the
Dark Lord with a blazing sword. The problem is that these other stories do not have the
fan base or cross-cultural appeal enjoyed by Tolkien's LOTR and probably won't get their
chance on the big screen if Peter Jackson makes a bad movie.