The LOTR Movie Site
January 22, 2001

A Few More Thoughts
Stephanie C.

Hi again, all (and particularly Max B. if he cares to continue our discussion)

Well, the trailer should have been called a teaser. Not enough substance to be a real trailer (by which I only mean that I'd like to see more!), but conveying some hints of what's to come. The Fellowship looked great. Just put more of the movie and less fluff in the next trailer and I'll be completely content.

Just to weigh in on the Bombadil issue, I think we have to be realistic about the cinematic appeal of this section of the story. The barrow-wight part is interesting, and maybe PJ could show that without involving Bombadil. Otherwise, the Old Forest adventures are mostly striking for their literary content and don't really advance the story. And they'd be quite difficult to film and take up too much time. I sympathize with those who are attached to Old Tom, but I'd prefer cutting that section to cutting others.

A couple of notes on Max B's last post:

You're absolutely correct in saying that Gimli could overcome any prejudices he was born or raised with. That leaves open several questions though.

First, why would Gimli even see any need to adapt his notions? Why focus on his notions about women? Then, again, we're all more flexible on some issues than we would be on others, and I think it's a lot easier to get over racial misconceptions than it is to get over competing notions of gender roles. Then too, I think Gimli is much less likely to make friends with Arwen than with a male Elf who likes to hunt orcs and has much the same level of aesthetic sensibility and refinement as Gimli. I don't wish to disparage Legolas or Gimli (they serve their purpose perfectly), but I would be disappointed if PJ wanted to make Arwen like them.

Second, how could Gimli be a legitimate representative of his race if he is a maverick?

More importantly, though, what does making Gimli PC do to Tolkien's character? Any good author understands that characters and peoples need quirks, strengths, and foibles. Tolkien created his characters and races with that kind of individuality. Give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his world. Most likely, cinematic alterations to Middle Earth will be less thoughtful and less effective than Tolkien's original.

As for the question of what is possible with the services of a good script-writer, may I make one or two observations. Adapting stories for a different medium is one thing; changing the psychological, social, or moral background in which the story plays out can be something quite different. Then there's the question of whether we should change Tolkien's story in certain ways, even if the changes could be made appealing cinematically. Tolkien built Middle Earth with much more than an ordinary amount of care. Why make major, unnecessary changes to his characters or to the texture of his story?

Enough of the Legolas/Arwen switch issue. And onto the XenArwen debate.

Back to screenwriting. Clever screenwriters can do a lot for a character, but they can only go so far before changing the characters themselves. Let's take Aragorn for instance.

Do you really think a halfway approach is plausible? To me, trying to make Aragorn both a concerned lover and a good military commander at the same time would be like lukewarm water. Not good for drinking, at any rate, and primarily rife with unresolvable confusions. As he's presented in the book, there's no doubt about how Aragorn feels about Arwen. He loves her dearly and he isn't about to let her be put at risk. And he respected Elrond too much to ever go against his wishes. Similarly, Aragorn wasn't about to take any chance of letting anyone detract from his effectiveness in the fight against Sauron. There was too much at stake. He was stronger when he knew she was safe. Why would either of them change things now? Why would Arwen defy her father after all this time? You said that a character doesn't always have to act in a consistant manner. But isn't character made of patterns of behaviors, even quirks? We all mold and change our patterns and behaviors over time, but how !
much character is left if characters break those rules all of the sudden and do not act in ways consistant with their developing or deteriorating levels of maturity, personalities, beliefs, motivations, and experience?

Yes, the contrast in the book between Eowyn and Arwyn is marked. Not freakish, though. Eowyn's values are clearly explained in the light of her culture and personality, even if it was a surprise to some that she went to war. There was something missing in her life, though Aragorn rightly praised her valor and courage and she made possible the downfall of the Lord of the Nazgul. She came to understand what that missing chunk was. She had moped, without taking active steps to better her world, so long that she had forgotten any hope and fixed her hopes on a noble but futile death in battle. Can we see why she might be attracted to Aragorn without understanding the first thing about him? Her participation in the war wasn't necessarily wrong (apart from neglecting her duties on the home front). But Tolkien makes it clear that her priorities, her focus on death, battle, power, and outward appearances, her dispair, were unhealthy. How different is that from our values? How, then, is she a freak? And I think Tolkien's Eowyn would have hurled at the thought of doing something so demeaning as pursuing an attached man, even if it was Aragorn. That obviously causes a conflict if Arwen meets Aragorn in Rohan in the movie.

Anyway, just a few more thoughts!