August 3, 2001

More Bombadil
Stephanie C.

Hi there! Just thought the other side should be represented in the recent revisiting of the Bombadil question.

Certainly, nobody can argue with your attachment to Bombadil. But he must be a rather singular character on the big screen. Perhaps too odd for those who aren't already familiar with LOTR--remember that the movies won't have much time to explain the rest of the story, much less the history of the Old Forest and Tom's nature and history. Which isn't very well explained in the books for that matter.

As for Tom and the incident with the Ring, it may be instructive in a way. We see that the Ring is already getting a little bit of a hold on Frodo, mostly through his sense of mischief. But Tom's response to it tells us nothing about the Ring and in fact weakens the Ring's credibility. Not to mention the fact that one would have to take time to explain why the Ring didn't affect Bombadil and couldn't be entrusted to him. Then, too, it doesn't seem to me that we learn much about the Hobbits in the Forest that's relevant. And the incidents in the Prancing Pony are much more revealing in my mind of our favorite characters and the growing influence of the Ring. As for Frodo, I think we get a better idea of what he's made of on the way to Rivendell; in the Forest the hobbits are mostly helplesss. The Nazgul and the dangers at the inn seem, to me, much more effective in depicting the difficulties of the outside world to me. And I think it's a little more believable that the Hobbits would act in such a naive manner.

Bottom line: I can understand your disappointment, but Jackson is probably doing the right thing. The Bombadil sequences don't contribute much to the story of the War of the Ring or to our understanding of the characters involved. It might have been fun to see the Barrow Down scene (suitably modified) to explain the Hobbits' swords, but, again, it's peripheral information. It would be a shame to shortchange more vital later scenes (some of which, doubtless, have to be cut because of time constraints) because Jackson wanted to bring in Bombadil. And I hope Jackson won't take much time out of the story inventing material for Arwen outside of what Tolkien already wrote.

Just, again, my opinion. Only my opinion. Any other thoughts on the subject?