Have you ever seen a film or computer game adaptation of a book and been disappointed? How about pleasantly surprised? Well, so have I!
Here, I give my views on adaptations old and new.
‘The Lord of the Rings’ Film Trilogy / ‘The Hobbit’ Film Trilogy – Peter Jackson
‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy were reshown on TV (again) recently. They are some of the few films that I will watch pretty much whenever they are on, despite owning the extended versions of all three on DVD. They are some of my all-time favourite Fantasy books and I did not feel let down by the films, or insulted as some die-hard fans appeared to be (though I consider myself one of those).
I thought that Jackson did a great job in adapting these to screen, lifting Tolkien’s beautifully written dialogue as much as possible to ensure the ongoing quotability / identifying with the characters that Tolkien did so well. The casting was excellent and the effects, brilliant.
I don’t mind that he moved Shelob from the beginning of ‘The Return of the King’ and placed Frodo’s meeting her at the end of ‘The Two Towers’, in order to maintain the tension, nor the handful of other, smaller changes that they made. The films are an adaptation and there will necessarily be some cuts and adjustments, in order to bring a book down to film length.
My only real gripe is the total lack of Tom Bombadil; an interesting (and ancient) character, whose impact and influence within the books is essential but who is wiped from the films completely. Having said that, I can certainly understand Jackson’s reticence in including a character who always sings his words and can actually be quite irritating at times; though that’s kind of the point – extremely long life and meaning well are no proof against being an eejit.
I cannot give my thoughts on LotR without mentioning ‘The Hobbit’ film(s) adaptation. Produced with the same gusto, standards and feel for the source material as the LotR adaptation was, ‘The Hobbit’ is visually stunning and a real treat for those who enjoyed the LotR films – but who have never read any of the books. Why was it three films, when the book is quite short and the story could easily have been told in one? Answer – £££. Why stretch it out, so that some of the three films feel (quite rightly) as ‘filler’? Answer – £££. And what the hell was Legolas doing there??! Answer – actually, I’m not sure on that one.
Whilst I watch the LotR films pretty much whenever they’re on, and despite the production values of ‘The Hobbit’ being just as high, it takes a special situation for me to watch the prequel trilogy with the same enjoyment.
I’ve just got to figure out what that special situation might be…