RE: Fellowship of the Rings
Dear Peter Jackson,
……….First off — congratulations on winning Best Picture and all for LoTR: Return of the King. I know, it’s about six years too late. Forgive me? So, I just want to come out and say that this letter may be more appropriately addressed to the entire adaptation team. That being covered, I’ll just jump in.
……….When I saw this movie for the first time, I had never read LoTR. I had read the Hobbit in 3rd or 4th grade. (I was a fantasy buff at a Catholic school, and I had no taste for Narnia. The fantasy collection into the SJS library was limited. Hence, why I took it on.) But that was my only exposure to the series. After watching Fellowship, I swore I would read all three books before the next movie came out. That didn’t happen.
……….Then, my mom bought the family the extended version of Fellowship for Christmas. I swore I would finish the book before watching it. That never happened. Why? Because I couldn’t finish the book. I was stuck at Tom Bombadil.
……….Whenever I tell a true Tolkien-buff that, I usually have to prepare myself for a rather astonished, “WHAT? I love Bombadil! He’s my favorite part.” And usually I just shrug and say something like, “I was just impatient to get to Aragorn.”
……….And for that, I blamed your movies. But, nothing to worry about now — I have finished Fellowship of the Ring and watched the extended version of the movie. On to Two Towers…
……….But before I move on to the next book, I just wanted to make a few observations.
…2) Thank you for making Aragorn more awesome and Sam more loveable.
3) (most importantly) I understand that some things need to be adapted to make a book into a movie: for one, pacing needs to be faster, stakes higher and more visible. However, I didn’t like (after having read the book) how foolish Frodo and the other hobbits seem. For instance, Pippin, Merry, and Sam light a fire on Weathertop and that draws the Wraiths. In the book, no such action is taken and the Wraiths discover them anyways. It seems this way all throughout — the party is cautious, careful, and still the powers of evil manage to find and harm them. For me, THAT was more sinister and bone chilling.
……….But here’s a question: on screen, everything is visually striking, visually sinister. In the book, it is only as sinister as our minds make it. Is it just as true to capture the feeling of the sinister in the look of the Wraiths rather than in the circumstances of the situation? I have no opinion on this yet. You imagined Wraiths to be much darker and scarier than I did. Even with the movie at the back of my mind, your inventions trumped those of my overactive mind on the sinister-scale.
……….I guess what I’m trying to say is that if there was one thing I missed from the book (besides Tom Bombadil who has, ironically, become one of my favorite characters/parts), it was the hobbits’ resourcefulness, facility, and heroism. In the book, I never doubted Fate, or whatever it was that set the Ring in Frodo’s hands. In the movie, I really felt what perhaps Boromir and some of the other characters seemed to be feeling: that the quest was placed in the wrong hands. I just felt sorry for Frodo more in the movie — he seemed pathetic and incapable compared to the Frodo in the book.
……….That’s a bit harsh. Like I said, I understand that adaptations need to happen. Adaptation is a tricky conundrum. I’ve never attempted it, so who am I to say anything?
P.S. The action sequences are KILLER!