August 12, 2001
More on Tom
So, hey, sorry about that folks, but my last forum seemed to
have lost bits and pieces of itself during communication transfer. Some of it probably
didn't make any sense. But the following is what I really meant to say in short.
And some of these points have already been made so bare with me.
What we have coming December 19th is an adaptation of the book Fellowship of the Ring.
Adaptation means to adjust from one thing to another. That means, yes, adjustments have to
be made in order for the book to work as a film.
Adjustment number one: Fellowship is over 500 pages long. The average screenplay is 100
(and actually even then, the format used to set up, run, and transition scenes takes up a
lot of that). Now, in order to stay true to the spirit of Tolkien, and in order to take
full advantage of Tolkien's rich story, some things have to be trimmed. Our focus is the
War of the Ring. The script team had to figure out what is essential to the focus of The
War of the Ring theme, and they had to find the moments of the book that would be least
detrimental to lose in the telling. The Bombadil sequences were chosen.
You know, there is a very good interview over on TORN with one of the screenwriters
(Philippa), and she says something that really rings true here (no pun intended). She
says, that it really isn't anything cut out of Tolkien's novel, for it's still there for
readers to discover for themselves. What's really being done with these scenes is that
they are remaining "untold". I think that's a great description. She goes on to
say that they don't actually change any of the story to suggest that none of this took
place, they just don't actually show these scenes on film. That's as good as any
explanation for me.
Someone, again, was complaining about Arwen's role being increased, and that they could've
used some of this time to portray Tom's bits. But you know, number one, most of Arwen's
scenes are expanded on from what's written in the appendix. Number two, again, Arwen and
Aragorn's moments are very brief and far between. Actually spread thin between all three
movies. Let me remind you that Tom Bombadil takes up 4 chapters of the first book. The
movie isn't covering any of the old forest scenes, including Old Man Willow, and none of
the Barrow White stuff. That's a huge amount of time being conserved here to spend on the
rest of the story.
Now, one final point here: someone mentioned that certain things won't work on film that
work in the book. That's very true. Big example: the whole thing is written in 3rd person
omniscient point of view. The only way to capture this is through constent narration, and
maybe with little pointy arrows and bubbles to illustrate. No one wants that, right? So
somethings do have to be altered so that the movie could show the story unfold and not
tell the story. I mean you can say that Frodo experienced the most warm and wonderful
sensation in his life when witnessing a most beautiful being beyond description, but do
you see how something like that would be almost impossible to show on screen? Dialogues
had to be written and scenes had to be arranged so that histories, background, and
exposition can be communicated. These are the sort of things that had to be dealt with on
film. And none of it, we've been assured countless times, compremises Tolkien's story. If
anything, they've just expanded on it. I wo
One final note: the only addition that I've seen to Arwen's moments is that she takes the
place of or accompanies Glorfindel (we don't know which yet) when guiding Strider and the
hobbits to Rivendell and to the ford. This really doesn't take anything away from the
story itself, unless you want to argue that it takes away from Frodo will when before he
was fleeing by himself and he turns to face the black riders. I've heard that one, but I
disagree because it was actually Glorfindel who urged his horse to take Frodo across with
something he shouted in elvish. The horse was pretty much in control the whole time. We
can still have Frodo scream in defiance once he crosses the ford. You don't know how this
will be presented. It could be he tries to get off the horse and brandish Sting at the
Wraiths. You don't know.
I can't wait to see this adaptation of Tolkien's grand epic tale.