The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“They gutted the book, making an action movie for 15-25 year olds. And it seems that The Hobbit will be of the same ilk. Tolkien became…devoured by his popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of the time. The gap widened between the beauty, the seriousness of the work, and what it has become is beyond me. This level of marketing reduces to nothing the aesthetic and philosophical significance of this work.”

In a sense, the notoriously stuffy son of J.R.R. Tolkien isn’t far off about the popularity of The Lord of the Rings and how it’s own momentum and popularity has inherently changed Tolkien’s creation. The original book(s), and The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, will always exist in their own right, and, for those who choose it, can remain untouched by the explosion of popularity seen by the series over the past 15 years. Would Tolkien approve of all the films and videogames, t-shirts, action figures, bed sheets and director documentaries that are now available, each leaving the footprint of another creator/corporate executive on the soil of Middle Earth? I don’t know, but I’m not surprised that his son isn’t happy about it.

I could write a book on stupid requests that were made ​​to me. Normally, the executors want to promote the work. [For us], the opposite is true. We want to clarify what is not Lord of the Rings.

The beauty of the books still exists, and always will exist, but there is a whole lot of white noise that fans, new and old, have to wade through. Some of it adds to the experience (like, say, The Lord of the Rings Online, a terrific MMORPG that absolutely nails the atmosphere of Tolkien’s world) and some of it is garbage that fits Christopher Tolkien’s grumblings. I’d put the films solidly in the former category.

His criticism falls apart when he begins referring to the films as “action movie[s] for 15-25 year olds.” Yep, film is a different story-telling medium that relies on certain methods of story-telling that are either unnecessary in novels or will weaken a prose story. Yes, Jackson’s versions of the story put more emphasis on the action and the warfare that was present in the novels, at the expense of some of the novel’s quieter moments (I do miss Glorfindel…). But they’re good films. I suppose, somewhere in there is a noble effort to retain his memories of his father, and the stories and worlds the man created for them as children, but it’s all lost in C. Tolkien’s surliness.

One thing I expect C. Tolkien and I would agree on in the whole Paths of the Dead/Baldor shenanigans that Jackson shoe-horned into the films. Gimme Ghân-buri-Ghân any day of the week.

The rest of Tolkien’s interview can be read on It’s a fascinating read, regardless of what you think of C. Tolkien’s stance on his father’s opus.

  • Chad July 16, 2012 at 11:46 am

    He’s absolutely right. The movies would have been great if the books didn’t exist, but the movies are based on the books and misrepresent what’s in those books. Thankfully, the movie will fade and the books will remain, so no worries. But he is right.

  • Diana July 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I have to agree, I’m afraid, with Chad and Tolkien. Not to dismiss your view Aidan, but as an adult watching the films, after reading the books as a YA, I found them lacking the depth of the books. I realize that the books and movies were a continuous experience for you, so could see them via a, perhaps, broader perspective. I’m afraid that LoTR’s novels were also lost during the watered down poor imitation, Harry Potter “era”. I think I would recommend to newbies to see the movies first then revel in the books. Unless, like me, you prefer creating your own images.

  • Andy L July 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I’m on board. Film and books are two different mediums. Jackson took the material and made a moving and exciting film. It takes nothing from the books to enjoy the movies. Nor does it cheapen the experience of reading to have made the sort of choices that good film makers make all the time.
    My family and I watch the Harry Potter movies frequently, and the difference between the first two, which for all their charm are little more than ‘books-on-film’ and the later movies where brave choices were made to create what turned out an experience as compelling (in this case) as the books.

  • Scott J. Robinson July 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    We should be thankful that there were any LotR movies at all, let alone some as great as Jackson’s. It’s a bit silly saying the movies should have followed the books more closely because if Jackson had attempted that the movies would not have been made at all, or people would have been complaining about sitting through 40 hours of movie, 10 hours of which were people (or elves) reciting poetry. I love the books– have read them 4 or 5 times– but let’s face it they are pretty slow.

  • Ryan July 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I used to have this problem then I made the mental decision to stop connecting the movie and the books. I have always and will always love Tolkien’s work (I return to it probably once a year to remind me what great fantasy is like). The movies used to upset me especially the character assassination job on Faramir don’t get me started on that BS or that whole cowboy scene where Aragorn’s horse goes to find him. But then I started viewing the movies as telling the same story but from a different storyteller and I was able to appreciate much of what was there but still he’s right they did kind of botch major parts of the book to make the movie more exciting.

  • George July 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Tolkien invented most of the tropes and archetypes that comprise modern fantasy fiction. He did it with care and poetry and created a series of classic works. Like most classic works, I’m ashamed to admit they put me to sleep. I just can’t read this stuff. Maybe I’m too much a product of the MTV and videogames generation, but Tolkien’s works, although admittedly the basis of 99.999% of fantasy stuff that is popular now, hits me like a sleeping pill. I try to read that stuff and suddenly Peter Griffin jumps up and shouts, “For God’s sake, somebody throw a pie already!!” That said, I enjoyed the films, but like the books, they ran so long that they became painful torture experiments that I considered an offense to my backside which suffered through their long-winded wandering pretentiousness. It’s like watching a biblical epic, but without the religious guilt reflex forcing me to pay attention. I’m not interested in watching twelve hours of hobbits picking at their toenails and combing their foot hair. It’s boring in a way that makes watching the grass grow look like a combat sport. No offense to fans of these works, but I’ve already read the bible, and I did that only because I was in jail and there wasn’t much else to read. Even King James wouldn’t have made it through the Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion would have earned the author a beheading.

  • Danie G July 17, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Peter Jackson and Phillipa Boyens have always stated that much of what they did in the movies was in the ‘spirit’ of Tolkein’s work, not a straight adaptation. I’ve always viewed them that way and am very fond of them, although I’m a huge fan of the books as well. When I don’t have hours and hours to commit to re-reading the books, I can still indulge in Middle Earth with the movies. True they don’t have the depth and nuances that the books have, but I think the movies would have suffered greatly if we’d had to watch a extended minutes of Treebeard’s poetry, Tom Bombadil’s singing and had to sit through Frodo spending months in the Shire before actually leaving on his adventure – all things that are wonderful to ‘read’ about, but wouldn’t have translated into film very well – and these are only a few examples.
    I dislike when people try to compare the two mediums. They are SO different and for different entertainment reasons. Read the books if you want the whole experience, they are still there to enjoy and the movies are really just a companion piece to indulge in when you can’t spend the time on the books.
    Every couple of years I read the books and I usually watch the trilogy many times during the year and I truly enjoy both – for very different reasons.

  • Scott July 17, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I’m not at all surprised that Christopher has taken that satnce…what he sadly doesn’t realize is just how many NEW fans who never read the books, appendices, Silmarillion et al. That Jackson’s movies drummed up. For me that is priceless.

    And I WHOLLY agree with the film and books as different mediums. I’m friends with a lot of folk in the film industry and not a lot of people realize just HOW much “homage” has to go on in an adapted book or series of books to make it WORK as a film. In my opinion (as a HUGE fan of the books…all of them) what Jackson has done is an admirable homage to an untouchable source material. He’s made a compelling film series, and it exists separately from the books…which will forever be untouchable and will always be pristine on a reader’s shelf.

    It therefore kind of melts my brain for Christopher Tolkien (a man who published his father’s work against the author’s wishes in a lot of cases) to not see the difference.

    Example: The book SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS. The film version followed the source material SO slavishly that it made said film be nearly incomprehensible in that medium. Movies and books are REALLY different when you break it down.

    So yeah, the LOTR movies lose something in the translation…but I feel they gain something else to make up for it.

    And personally, when I watch the LOTR films (Extended Editions of course), and hopefully the same will be true when I watch the HOBBIT films…I keep the book knowledge as my backdrop to the enjoyment. They are separate and united at the same time. I love watching Gandalf and knowing that he is actually a Valar (Olorín), or Galadriel and knowing she has lived for over 60,000 years and is one of the last remnants of Beleriand and the Noldor who left Eressia with Feanor, or that both Thorin’s sword Orcrist and Bilbo/Frodo’s sword Sting were both smithed in the fabled, long lost Elven city of Gondolin, or that Sauron was also a Valar and spent years as a lieutenant to the last Dark Lord. So I have all that stuff to inform me as I watch and enjoy the film versions, but nothing will ever take those books and stories away from me.

    And like I said, I’d love to see statistics on the amount of my and the next generations of youths who have read Tolkien now as a result of Jackson’s films. I bet the numbers are HUGE.

  • Scott July 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Sorry, Correction: Gandalf and Sauron were Maiar (lesser Valar) not proper Valar….my brain, she no worky today.

  • LeNainJaune July 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Legolas snowboarding down the stairs on a shield. The guy is right.

  • Scott July 18, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Oh I see. A few moments of dramatic license damns the films? Showing that Elven prowess on the battlefield is nothing short of spectacular (a notion very prevalent in the SILMARILLION) is a bad thing.


    Enjoy your beige world then LeNainJaune.

  • Howard Sherman July 18, 2012 at 6:03 am

    I remember all the fuss when the news first broke on the Lord of the Rings films with the same indignation. Ordinarly, I’m a purist and cringe when books are adapted to films. Under any other conditions I’d be taking Christopher Tolkien’s side.

    Peter Jackson’s work changed my mind. I’ll always have the memories of my first imagining of Saruman’s battle with Gandalf, stepping inside Mordor for the first time, Gandalf’s showdown with the balrog and – of course – Rivendell.

    But the movies bring all that to life. The vivid imagery with the costumes, the settings and the special effects gave millions of people a glimpse into the worlds of JRR Tolkien they might never have had otherwise.

  • Scott July 18, 2012 at 6:41 am

    @Howard. Indeed, and I think that (again) “homage” is the key notion here. This is not LOTR as they are in the books, but it is a look at that same world from the filmic standpoint and lens. And for that we need to be grateful.

  • LeNainJaune July 18, 2012 at 6:45 am

    ( Oh I see. A few moments of dramatic license damns the films? Showing that Elven prowess on the battlefield is nothing short of spectacular (a notion very prevalent in the SILMARILLION) is a bad thing… )

    You know what SCOTT mon ami, you are right. I just remember this part in the Silmarillion.
    There is this elf, Firthaldidallsomething, who is spinning his sword so fast that he can create living tornados with laser beam eyes. Ah ! so cool. so full of colors !

  • Scott July 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Let’s not pretend you’ve even READ the Silmarillion. k? ;)

  • Jim Cormier July 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve always felt a bit bad for Christopher Tolkien — here’s a man who’s dedicated his entire life to sorting through his father’s work. As much as he’s done for the legendarium, one wonders if he ever had any desire to create anything entirely his own.

    No one has ever said (no one with any sense, anyway) that the films are anything but Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the books. The fact that the films have had such an amazing impact on sales of the books should be a positive thing.

    Moreover, writers who don’t want to see creative license taken with film adaptations should not sell movie rights. Tolkien chose to do so. The Tolkien Estate should question whether their curmudgeonly attitude toward the whole affair is a mature one.

  • Aidan Moher July 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Well put, Jim.

  • LeNainJaune July 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    No Scott i haven’t. I dont pretend to be a Tolkien scholar. All I was saying is that I do believe that the movie adaptation is more than anything else an action flick. It’s not poetry or existential or experimental, it’s a good old fashioned adventure-action movie with an incredible art direction. So you see i don’t piss on it ( or is it shit ? damn english language…) anyway, it’s just my opinion so don’t go nerd rage because of it.

  • Gabriele July 20, 2012 at 5:44 am

    Tolkien sold the movie rights at a time he thought the book could not be made into a movie anyway; it didn’t matter much to him. Now the technical tricks have reached a standard that can cope with a Fantasy world of balrogs and orcs and deal with huge battles convincingly., so of course, the movies would eventually be made.

    And the good thing about the movies are the stunning visuals, including the non-realistic elements like orcs and Gollum. They did a great job with him, also as character. There are some scenes I like even when they deviate from the book like the Elves and Helm’s Deep, the dialogue between Eowyn and Wormtongue, the dynamics between Aragorn and Boromir, Pippin’s song while Denethor is eating (though I wish the Steward of Gondor had displayed better table manners). I also have no issues with leaving out Tom Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire.

    But I do have a lot of issue with the characterization: The character assassination of Faramir, whiny Arwen, whiny I Don’t Want To Be King-Aragon, whiny I Don’t Want To Make War Against Saruman-Théoden, and the whole ‘Arwen’s fate is now tied to the ring’ nonsense.

    That’s not in the spirit of the books. And if the scrript screwers excuse themselves with the lack of character development in the books they had to change, maybe they should have picked some other book. Aragorn accepts his heritage despite his self doubts and it doesn’t take Elrond telling him some nonsense about Arwen dying and giving him a special sword he shoud have gotten 800 pages earler – Aragon accepts the heritage and all that goes with it when Anduril is re-forged and it’s one of those epic elements of Lord of the Rings. The same with Théoden, warrior king of AngloSaxon/Viking spirit who will fight a battle already lost for a death still worth a song, not someone who runs away from battle and has to be pushed by Aragorn. At least, there are some glimpses of the real Théoden in the third movie, but did we need the character detour to get there? Same with Faramir, the deschendant of the Stewards worth to be king, the man in whom the blood of Numenor runs strong, equal to Aragorn and because he is is equal in moral and wisdom, willing to take the second place. Because of that he is able to resist the ring at once, not after two hours worth of diddling and Sam’s words – though those words themselves are good and within the spirit of the book. (The fact that Davi Wenham gave me something of the Faramir I love, esp. with the additional scenes of the EE, says a lot for the actor.). Faramir, too, gets closer to the book in the thrid movie, but again, why the detour? For me, LOTR is not so much about character development (though that aspect is definitely there if you look close enough) but about the reinvention of the great epics of the past. The movies tone the epic greatness down too much for my taste.

    And then we get the Hollywood stuff that’s about as useful as nipples on a breastploate. :) Legolas’ stunts (they are so not the restrained and somewhat remote Elf of the book), Denethor as torch – seriously, I had to laught at the point which is totally not the right reaction to the death of a great, albeit misguided man. The silly additons like Aragorn falling off the Cliff of Uncanonicity, Eowym’s stew (seriously, ad a woman overseeing the household of a king she would have know how to cook even if she seldom did it herself). Gimli as comic relief which is an insult to the races of Dwarves. The green ghosts – I mean, come on, there must be some other colour for them, why are the always green? ;)

    Some of these are not real biggies (like the ghosts and Aragorn falling off the cliff) but overall the movies left me unsatisfied. I loved the landscapes and the music and sometimes they did move me (Boromir’s death) but too often I got the niggling feeling that they could have done better, could have stayed truer to the spirit of the book if they didn’t have played the Hollywood games and Americanized some of the charactes. They were fine as an action movies, but it was not the epic tale Tolkien gave us. Thus I can’t blame his son for not liking them. A hour or so less overall, cutting the character detour scenes, cutting the crap, and the movies could have been great. The potential was there.

  • Ellie July 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I think I recall Christopher Tolkien speaking out against the films when they were still being made. He is obviously entitled to his own opinion, and perhaps for many people his opinion has greater weight than any other because of who he is. I think, however, that he stands too close to his father’s creation and thus tends to forget that any creative work acquires a life of its own. It is read/watched/etc by many many people, each seeing it differently. LOTR has been around for so long that it acquired its own, quite substantial, legacy. At this point, I think, nothing can possibly reduce its ‘aesthetic and philosophical significance’ or what have you. It’s like saying that after seeing the movie Troy, nobody will ever appreciate Homer’s Iliad ever again.

  • Brian Boru August 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    To me they were a strange comulgation of research into the Medieval English sources that made up Tolkien’s scholarship at Oxford University from where he got his ideas for the story and the Hollywood conventions that make up action movies. And here in New Zealand they are marketed as creating a film industry in New Zealand, which has become too dependent on it, and promoting New Zealand as a tourist destination, while at the same time writing off the education processes that made the story possible to be written in the first place, which is a shame given that it is the birth place of Kenneth Sisam Tolkien’s first tutor in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic literature, who came through NZ’s education system to go to Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. And Tolkien cited Sisam in his letters as someone who he owed a great debt to for teaching him to read these sources and Tolkien only got the professorship of the programme at Oxford after going head to head with Sisam for it, which had to be decided in the end by the rarely cast vote of the University’s Vice Chancellor. This makes Sisam a much more important NZ connection to Tolkien than Peter Jackson. As for the selling of the film rights of the book. Tolkien only did this because of the complexities around royalty taxes and inheritance taxes in Britian at the time, while the film industry has enjoyed a lot of tax breaks. Also, the Tolkien Trust were doing well out of it for the best part of a half century and therefore the books didn’t need the movies to do well out of it, while the movies needed the books to be as popular as they were for the movies even to be made.

  • Reeve August 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    While having the utmost respect for the above comments, I personally should like to see Mr. Jackson chained to a lorry and dragged the entire circumference of the M25, until every scrap of flesh had been scraped from his fat carcass. . . . for perpetrating one of the most heinous acts of literary sacrilege I have ever sat through. . . 9 hours of unrelenting Americanised vulgarity.
    1. Why are 2 of the hobbits Scottish ?
    2. What’s with all the slapstick nonsense at the start.
    3. New Zealand does not look like England / Europe.
    4. Where in Tolkien do you find the phrase ‘Nobody tosses a dwarf’.
    I could go on, but what’s the point. Jackson and his crew took a classic of English literature and extracted every ounce of beauty, originality and lyricism, replacing it with glib cliches and gratuitous mediocrities.
    Sure, there’s a lot more copies of the book sold . .. all sitting in pristine condition and unread on the shelves of the illiterates who would rather play the video game.
    Great books rarely make great films. If only the philistines could leave them alone. Poor old J.R.R. . . . must be turning in his barrow.

  • Brian Boru August 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I never thought that I would see the day when someone who describes himself as: ‘A Storyboard/Concept Artist /Illustrator/Cartoonist/Character Designer/ Animator and Painter [who has] worked for most of the press as well as T.V [and] designed the characters for ITV’s ‘HEADCASES’ series, also Spitting Image, Henson’s etc’ would make a remark like: ‘Jackson and his crew took a classic of English literature and extracted every ounce of beauty, originality and lyricism, replacing it with glib cliches and gratuitous mediocrities. Sure, there’s a lot more copies of the book sold… all sitting in pristine condition and unread on the shelves of the illiterates who would rather play the video game. Great books rarely make great films. If only the philistines could leave them alone. Poor old J.R.R. must be turning in his barrow’.

    I have read enough on JRR Tolkien to know that he would be glad that you haven’t let the learning of such technologies kill your appreciation for the beauty, originality and lyricism of his text. In Christopher Tolkien’s edition of The History of Middle-earth in The Notion Club Papers two characters talk about how the technology involved in space travel would impact on learning the language and culture of the inhabitants of another planet. This conversation was based on an actual conversation that JRR Tolkien had with CS Lewis, which inspired the latter’s cosmic trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra/Voyage to Venus and That Hideous Strength, which has the premise of a philologist, who is based on JRR Tolkien, being kidnapped in the first book and taken into space by two unscrupulous academics who take him to Mars where he is able to learn the language and culture of the creatures there because he isn’t contaminated by the technology of space travel, who in the second book is taken by one of the creatures he meets in Mars to Venus/Perelandra to stop the Biblical Fall from happening there who then in the Third book gets an assortment of animals together along with the legendary Merlin to stop the vivisectionists taking over the university that he works at on Earth. I think a big part of the problem with The Lord of the Rings movies is that a lot of the beauty, originality and lyricism of the original book got lost in the technology that it took to make the movies.

  • Haley September 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    @Reeve What the hell is wrong with you…

  • RK Sunhill October 19, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Its disheartening to hear Christopher’s dislike of the films. I think Jackson and the hundreds of crew members created something that J.R.R would have enjoyed. Regardless of how Christopher, or anyone associated with the Tolkien Estate, feels about the films the books were and are selling. Children, young adults, adults, people who have never read a Tolkien book and people who are rediscovering Tolkiens’ works are reading!

  • Brian Boru October 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Personally I find Christopher Tolkien’s dislike of the films very heartening because I have found that the people who were involved in making them are quite dismissive of the books that they came from and the Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic sources that the books were drawn from, which they have never even bothered to read even though those sources were consulted in the development of the films. And for that reason alone JRR Tolkien would not have liked the films. As for the increase in the sales of the books, the movies really only hiked them up when they had been doing quite well without them for the best part of half a century, which is also the reason why the films were made and also why they did well in the box office. Also, at least Christopher Tolkien of the Tolkien Estate, as his father before him, doesn’t really care about the quantity of the book sales as much as introducing people to the sources that they came from, which made up the scholarship of both JRR and Christopher Tolkien. The books, at the end of the day, didn’t need the films to do well but the films needed the books to do well and Christopher Tolkien would rather people turn to those sources than have movies made out of the books as did his father.

  • Cam J H October 26, 2012 at 9:30 am

    To the die hard fans of Tolkien’s work,

    These movies were not made for you, because no movie adaption could please you. A 100 hour epic that follows the books line-for-line directed by Orson Welles himself would not please you. The films were made for those who had no prior experience with the original books like myself and for general movie going audiences. Movies are not made to please fans (mostly because attempting to do so is an utter waste of time), they are commercial ventures in order to make money at least from the studios point of view, which is something a lot of people in this thread seem to have forgotten. If you look at the history of the LOTR movies, much worse could have come out of it. The fact is that the films were about the best product that could have come out of the situation. The art direction included the most well known illustrators of Tolkien’s work, the director had genuine appreciate of the original work, hell they even got Christopher Lee (who has actually met Tolkien) to act in the film. In regards to the actual script, yes it has been cut down and condensed, but what did you really expect? The movies have done undeniable good for Tolkien’s books. Myself and my friends would never have read the books if not for them and that probably goes for a lot of people. Decrying the commercialization and mainsteam popularity of something smacks of the same hipster BS that afflicts so many other things these days (comic book films being a recent example). When die hard Tolkien fans complain about the films accuracy, they sound no different than comic book nerds complaining about the Captain America’s costume in The Avengers film. I get why C. Tolkien dislikes the film. Nothing outside of his own writings or his fathers could ever please him, so even bothering to ask his opinion on the films is an utter waste of time. I also find him utterly reprehensible for having disowned his own son over his support of the films. Seriously, disowning your own son for having a dissenting opinion from your own? That is the mark of a true A-hole and if that doesn’t drive home how high C. Tolkien regards his fathers original vision then I don’t what does. Finally, to the first poster in this thread: no, a series of films that are regularly regarded as some of the best ever made by a wide range of film critics are not going anyway anytime soon.

  • Brian Boru October 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    No movie is ever going to be a faithful adaption of a book and nor have die-hard fans of JRR Tolkien works ever expected his works to be faithfully adapted into movies, as Christopher Tolkien said before the release of The Fellowship of the Ring movie: ‘The Lord of the Rings is unsuitable for transformation into visual dramatic form. On the other hand, this is a debatable and complex question of art’. And this is entirely consistent with what he is saying now because what he was meaning was that the movies could not represent at all the linguistic intentions of the books but at the same time could represent other forms of art such as those which make up action movies. Therefore if the success of the movies is to be determined by the former then it failed because even though it used some Old English and the languages that JT created from Old Finnish and Old Welsh it was done in ways that he never intended, just like The Hobbit movies will probably use Old Icelandic and the languages that JT created in ways that he never intended. Meanwhile, the LOTR movies undoubtedly were not failures as action movies just like the Hobbit movies undoubtedly will not be failures as action movies. But in saying that I also qualify that by saying that JT did not intend The Hobbit and LOTR to be action sequences.

    Meanwhile, as far as movies being commercial ventures in order to make money, at least from the studio’s point of view, go I have certainly not forgotten that. I hear about that all the time, which I really can’t escape. Especially given that I virtually live on the street where the red carpet was rolled out for the NZ premieres of the LOTR movies and will be rolled out again for those of the Hobbit movies. And this view doesn’t stop with the studio but extends to other things such as how the movies are greatly discussed in NZ to the exclusion of everything else as movie making manuals and draw cards for other movie productions from Hollywood and as tourist brochures for the scenery of NZ for those from overseas who can afford to come to it. Also, as far as the history of the LOTR movies goes, I think much better would have come out of it if Ralph Bakshi had of made and released the second part of his animated version of LOTR, which the first part of was my introduction to Tolkien’s works, and if the BBC radio production of LOTR, with a Tom Bombadil sequence made later on, had of been adapted to the big screen, which could have been achieved by not having so many of the special effects that Peter Jackson’s version had and less inflated battle scenes like the Helm’s Deep sequence. But then having said that that while the Ralph Bakshi and BBC versions both completed and represented on the big screen would have been different art forms from each other and Peter Jackson’s version, they still would not have fulfilled JT’s linguistic intentions.

    I am also well aware that the art department employed the likes of Alan Lee and John Howe and also aware of the fact that they got employed by the publishers of JT’s works because of someone employed by them who had done at university level Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic who head hunted them because of the work they did on some of the Old English and Old Icelandic sources that JT got his ideas from. I am also aware that they were employed by Peter Jackson because he was aware that he did not have the genuine appreciation of the original work that the media often portrays him to have, which is probably not his intention. And this is also why he consulted people like Professor Tom Shippey, who is a scholar like J and CT were in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic. Meanwhile, the fact that Christopher Lee has met JT is inconsequential to me (as it probably is to Lee) because I have had as lecturers people who have been scholars of Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic. One of those was actually tutored by JT at Oxford University and had many professional encounters with him after that up to JT’s death. But I consider that inconsequential because I never had that lecturer in his scholarship. Rather what was consequential to me was that I had another Oxford graduate as a lecturer in that scholarship who never met Tolkien but taught me that the only difference between JT and other lecturers in that scholarship, like herself, Tom Shippey and CT, was that he happened to write a piece of fiction that made him world famous as an author, which frustrated him because he really wanted to be remembered more as an academic. And consequentially because of that he would regard the movies as being only good for his books if the consequence of people reading them after watching the movies leads to them next learning to read the actual works that make up his scholarship. Otherwise the movies are merely monumental failures in regards to that.

    I also have not found it a waste of time for the interviewer of the piece that this article refers to ask CT’s opinion on the films because I have wanted to know it for some time though I am not sure if that interview gave all CT’s opinion of it, just like I am not sure if the media has given an accurate picture of the ‘disowning’ of Simon Tolkien by CT or of Peter Jackson’s genuine appreciation of the original work, which as I said above led him to employ others more qualified than himself. Consequentially I don’t want to make a judgement on whether or not CT is an A-hole. Rather I appreciate the fact that he has finally put up his opinion.

  • bianca November 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    What is great about the movies is it gives the books interest. If were not for the movies a whole generation of young readers would not have been curious enough to want to read the books. The books are a timeless classic that bring new adventures and insights every time you open the novels however, not many young readers know about such great classics. The lord of the rings trilogy is quite long and detailed which becomes long winded and boring for young readers however combined with the visuals of sir Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the books young readers are able to more clearly visualize the books. They will discover exciting detail not claimed in the movies which adds to the experience of the read.

    In my humble opinion they compliment each other if you think of them contextually instead of subjectively movie based on novel. Christopher Tolkein in my opinion shouldnt complain i am sure he has the opportunity to be apart of the making of the film and put in his opinion of the interpretation if he is so disgusted but whether he likes it or not the movies have excited the young generation of timeless writing that anyone who reads them can appreciate and the movies have renewed a sense of Tolkien respect and excitement for his writing.

  • Newt November 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I agree that every book that has a movie made from it has most of its meaning stripped away and only a few of the key moments are portrayed. But it is foolish to believe that the books will forever be popular if they did not get a movie adaptation. As great as the books are, the audience for them are growing smaller. With the making of the movies it got children and adults who never wanted to entertain the idea reading a book of Elves, Dragons and other magical beings interested in the fantasy worlds created by Tolkien and other authors of the genre. With the population of the world increasing as fast as it is, and the internet increasing, and information in general being recorded at the rate it is, and the less people actually read, it is not out of line to say that all works from the past 500 years could be swallowed up and forgotten in the next 100 years.

  • J R tokens November 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I found the movies to be more enjoyable than the books because it wasn’t a 200 page etymology lesson on a made up elf language.

  • Lachlan November 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I first saw the movies when I was quite young and so I hadn’t read the books as I didn’t understand them at all. I loved the movies and by the time the 3rd one came out I had started reading the books. Young and naive I got to wondering who the heck all these characters were (Glorfindel, Bombadil etc) And i wondered why the books and the movies were so different. Now I understand why it is so hard to convert books into movies, It is incredibly difficult to transfer the characters emotions without it being explained to you in the book. This is the reason for the long-winded character paths in the movies because otherwise the characters would never make any sense, we’d feel like there had been something left out.

  • DBarks November 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    It’s natural for Christopher to hate on the movies I suppose, but I think it’s shortsighted. Tolkien sold the rights because he believed a film adaptation un-doable. Today, we have the technology to do a great job on establishing real-looking monsters, huge cityscapes and the location shooting required to give the books justice.

    A lot of people have posted some hugely ignorant comments. “Why are the hobbits scottish?” – you serious? Where does it say every single “good” character must be English? Yes, Tolkien based his world on the lands he knew – England and Europe, but New Zealand is an absolutely gorgeous place with a lot of different scenery which lent itself amazingly for the filming of the original trilogy. Jackson made changes so the movie would be watchable – the point is not to directly adapt the story page-for-page. He could never get funding to make that, and nobody would watch it. I don’t think anyone could have done a better job, unless they waited ANOTHER two decades and funded it as generously as they did the Hobbit from the get-go, but it took the success of LOTR to get basically free license on an immensely expanded budget for The Hobbit.

    The books are unreadable for a lot of people, and the movies do a great job of expressing the world, and the plot in a very watchable way. Some of the changes weren’t great, but no movie is perfect, and I think that in general people should be very happy with what PJ and company have done. I’m sure sales of the book have skyrocketed since Fellowship was released, and we’ll see the same with the Hobbit. The effect can only be positive from the movies – anyone who watches the movies and finds the books boring would never read the books anyway, while the converse is not true – there are many people who would never have read the books originally, but did so after watching the movies. Same can be said for Game of Thrones. I think Chris Tolkien is being shortsighted, and not separating the books and movies properly in his mind, otherwise his criticisms wouldn’t be so harsh, and he’d realize its not a proper comparison to make anyway.

  • NickL November 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Maybe C. Tolkien should consider how Snorri Sturluson’s relatives feel about Tolkien ripping off his versions of Norse mythology. I love LOTR and I love the movies. Jackson did a brilliant job of translating the books into movies.

  • Anon November 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Doesn’t matter. I still have a first edition printing of LOTR. Envy ensue.

  • JD November 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    The books have a dark tone. The movies alternate between drama and straight comedy. That should be enough to ruin it for anyone remotely interested in Tolkien’s work. A lot of assumptions are made about the viewers. ie. The dwarf starts a sentence by stating a fact about his race being good sprinters etc… If you don’t know that much, then you won’t appreciate any of this world. It’s more than details…

  • Brian November 29, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    The writer nailed it; many of the commentator’s still don’t get his point. Any film adaptation of a book, or hell, book adaptation of a movie, should only be compared to the original as an adaptation, with special consideration of the medium. If Jackson had created bad films that poorly express the original, then he’s worthy of criticism. But I think you would have to be purposefully abstruse to say that Jackson’s films were both poor films and poor adaptations of the original work. He did a bang-up job by creating deep, spectacular entertainment that captured large parts of the book’s spirit. Hopefully it has and will continue to encourage more people to pick up the books. That alone is worth it.

  • Jonathan November 30, 2012 at 2:40 am

    I disagree that the movies are “in the spirit” of the books; they couldn’t be farther from the spirit of the books. They are, instead, long mishmashes of fistfights with random words from the books thrown in at random times. I also disagree that the movies would be any good even if the books had never been. They’re ridiculous, badly written, silly movies.

  • Frank November 30, 2012 at 6:59 am

    The films are crap. Really. They completely miss all that is powerful, beautiful, and terrifying in Tolkien. Sauron is a good example. The power of Sauron is that he takes what we love, corrupts it, and sends it back to us broken and unlovely and we are tormented with grief into despair. He eats out the heart of the world and vomits emptiness back into it. But Jackson depicts Sauron in the opening sequence as a giant badass with a big stick, a la Die Hard Middle Earth. Like some kind of RoboDarkLord. It’s pathetic, and ironically Jackson is doing what Sauron failed to do…

  • Adam Whitehead November 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

    After two decades of looking at Christopher Tolkien’s work on Middle-earth, and acknowledging the integrity in resisting the calls to release ‘original’ Middle-earth material not written by his father, I have come to the conclusion that Christopher Tolkien doesn’t actually understand or ‘get’ what his father was trying to do with the mythology. Or if he does, he is being purposefully obtuse.

    Consider: Tolkien wrote his books out of a deep desire to create an original mythology for England. The thing about mythologies is that they are subject to argument, discussion and reinterpretation. Tolkien himself published an interpretation and translation of BEOWULF that is merely one take on the legend. Tolkien, in his own lifetime, said he envisaged people similarly re-interpreting Middle-earth on their own terms: artists with their own paintings, and composers with their own songs inspired by Middle-earth, for example.

    When it came to dramatic adaptation, Tolkien was not opposed. He allowed the BBC to release a radio play based on the books in the late 1950s which he actively disliked (whilst becoming so fascinated by the technology – Tolkien wasn’t a luddite, despite his reputation – that he bought his own recording equipment and produced his own mini-plays and readings) but didn’t object to morally or legally, only aesthetically. After the books hit the big time in the late 1960s, he and his agent settled on a simple approach to the issue of film adaptations: ‘cash or kudos’, on the basis that both was unachievable. Tolkien certainly had no problem at all with what he termed the ‘grosser forms of literary success’.

    The second JRRT died and Christopher took over, Middle-earth was essentially ring-fenced. He refused to let any further film rights be sold, and dedicated his life to bringing to publication everything his father wrote about Middle-earth. On the one hand this is a great gift to scholars and literary historians, but it was completely at odds with Tolkien’s own beliefs (Christopher says in UNFINISHED TALES that his father would not have approved of the publication of incomplete material, or even the more completed but unrevised narratives). Whilst acknowledging the hard work Christopher put into UT and the HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH series, it’s also hard to deny that JRRT would himself have not approved of their publication (THE SILMARILLION is different, as JRRT had worked out a scheme for publication before his death and was explicit in his intentions for the book, which Christopher was made aware of).

    As for the Jackson films, they are certainly flawed, in some cases badly so, both as movies and as adaptations – though, as mentioned above, shield-surfing Legolas is actually somewhat less ludicrous than the elves of the First Age slaying Balrogs single-handedly in THE SILMARILLION and wounding Morgoth in single combat, when Morgoth was so powerful he made Sauron look like a hobbit. In other scenes the spirit and power of Tolkien emerges clearly, even under a different context: Theoden pumping up the Rohirrim before the Pelennor Fields (awesome, but totally different to the books where the Rohirrim take advantage of the darkness to hit the orcs whilst they are totally unprepared); Frodo and Sam rallying to carry on their quest into Mordor; or Gandalf acknowledging the gift of mercy that Bilbo gave to Gollum.

    Ultimately, they represent Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkien, warts and all, just as we previously had Ralph Bakshi’s interpretation (in the 1978 animated film) and Brian Sibley’s (in the 1981 BBC radio drama). I have no doubt that decades from now someone else will try to adapt the books to film, and that adaptation will also be valid. Tolkien himself always said that other people’s take on the legendarium would be appropriate, and by opposing and denying that, Christopher appears to be flatly contradicting his father’s wishes.

  • Elio García November 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Tolkien once setting out to create a “mythology for England” doesn’t really mean that that’s what he ultimately created. That was the very earliest beginnings of his world-creation, and by the time we’re at LotR, well, that’s a pretty distant memory.

    The key point of CT’s attitude, and one that should very much be thought about, is at the end: his complaint of the crass commercialization, the result of the absurdity of the present culture as he sees it, that overwhelms the art and serious philosophy behind what his father did.

    Who, in 1969, could have believed that a film — any film, much less a sui generis fantasy unlike anything ever put to screen before that — would spawn so many tie-ins, spin-offs, knick-knacks, and kitsch, to the point where the films might be construed to exist to peddle these things endlessly rather than to be art that stands on its own?

    If Tolkien were given a silver dish of water in which he could look to the year 2012 and see children in Frodo underoos, grown men swinging about their Authentic Replica Glamdring, and endless commercials hawking the latest tie-in (“Collect your Lord of the Rings Commemorative Glasses from Burger King!”), would he have still sold those rights? CT seems to think not.

    One might compare the situation to that of Alan Moore, who when he signed his contract with DC over WATCHMEN believed and stated that after a couple of years the ownership would revert to him and Gibbon since by then DC would no longer be printing it. That was, after all, the pattern of all works before it, and that seemed fine to Moore, a useful arrangement. And then, well, WATCHMEN happened.

    For the Tolkien Estate, it’s STAR WARS that happened, ushering the increasing typhoon of commercialization of film that was pretty much unheard of before then. Perhaps if all of Jackson’s films that existed was Jackson’s films, and not the hundreds (thousands?) of bits of kitsch that are now the sum total of what LotR means to far too many people, Christopher Tolkien would shrug and not mind. But the world of film and commercial exploitation in the 21st century is very different to what it was in the late 60s when Tolkien sold those rights.

  • Adam Whitehead November 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    “If Tolkien were given a silver dish of water in which he could look to the year 2012 and see children in Frodo underoos, grown men swinging about their Authentic Replica Glamdring, and endless commercials hawking the latest tie-in (“Collect your Lord of the Rings Commemorative Glasses from Burger King!”), would he have still sold those rights?”

    Tolkien sold the film rights to pay for the education of several of his grandchildren, IIRC, and to buoy up the family finances after his book income got hammered by tax. So I believe the answer to that would be ‘yes’, but he might have put in a reversion clause to ensure the film rights reverted to the estate if the film wasn’t made in, say eight years?

    As for the over-commercialization of the product, that’s actually a somewhat different issue (to the one of reinterpreting the original work in a different medium) and a thornier one. Tolkien, who was very much against the glorification of warfare, would probably not be happy with the Games Workshop wargame, and I don’t think anyone is with the gambling stuff (which the Tolkien Estate is currently suing Warner Brothers over). But a lot of this stuff related to the film – the Burger King kitsch – is fairly ephemereal and will vanish a few weeks after the film came out. What survives now from when the Jackson movies came out? The Jackson movies alone, pretty much (Lord of the Rings Online is based directly on the books, not the films), and what’s left of the Games Workshop game. Most of the other kitsch is long gone, and the same will be true of the Hobbit movies.

  • Elio García November 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Oh, gosh, there’s lots and lots of LotR stuff still around. Just the other day there was a photo of NZ’s prime minister waving around a replica of Sting that President Obama had given him. I doubt CT thinks any better of the replicas than he does of the Underoos.

    Perhaps Tolkien would have put in a reversion clause and signed the deal, had he known what the future would bring. Who knows, really? But basically CT bemoans the fact that when his father signed that deal, he had no idea that it would lead to all this material that CT considers crass — and which, I’d guess, he thinks his father would consider crass as well, and distracting from the meaning of his work. Seems to me there’s no one alive today who has a better sense of what Tolkien would say today, so I’ll take CT’s feelings as indicative of what Tolkien’s would have been.

    And now they’re stuck with it, in any case, and people expect the Tolkien Estate to actually be happy about it, or say, “Well, they should have known better” without thinking about how vastly more commercialized films are today than they were 40-odd years ago.

  • Lori Kisling December 1, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Gabriele said it best. Peter Jackson made films that LOOKED spectacular – the actors were beautiful. What he couldn’t do well was tell the story. And why not? The story was right there. All he had to do was TELL it. I disagree totally the film is a different midium and all that bunk. I have seen deep stories, beautifully told on film. (Think Amadeus). The movie was self-indulgent and dumbed down – and I guess the dumb crowd liked it and and are now Tolkien fans – sort of. I just wish since PJ went to all the trouble of puting LOTR in film he would have made an effort to do it right. Kudos to Reeve and a few others who already said this better than I did.

  • wycoff December 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    The movies weren’t perfect. For example, I strongly dislike the changes to Faramir and especially the entire Osgilliath sequence. However, I think that they did an admirable job capturing the emotional and philosophical essence of the LOTR while making the story accessible to a mass, modern audience, and I enjoyed them immensely. I think that the purists’ characterization of the movies as mere action films- as though they were on the same level as the Transformers movie or a Jason Statham movie- is absurd. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but, as someone who first read the LOTR as a young teen and had re-read it several times before the release of the first movie, I think that the purists lose some credibility when they can’t bring themselves to have anything good to say about the movies. Some people are just knee jerk contrarians.

    The commercialization is vulgar to some extent- the LOTR Pez dispenser set that I saw earlier today seems a bit much- but I don’t think that that’s a reason to hate the movies. Some people, even people who were fans of the books decades before the movies came out, love the fact that they can find LOTR memorabilia. Who hasn’t daydreamed about being in Middle Earth? I think that it’s great that I can go buy a replica Glamdring if I’d like. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the underlying message of the books, nor does it debase what was written on the pages. If you don’t want to buy the LOTR Pez dispensers, then don’t buy them.

    As for Mr. Christopher Tolkien, I believe that his opinions are really beyond the scope of what us fans can debate. His entire life and his memory of his father are involved, and there are certainly emotional factors that color his views on the books and the movies that we can’t really address or understand. I have read that the rifts in his family that were caused by differing views on the movies have been healed, and I’m glad for that.

  • ged December 12, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I hope I’m around when they remake the films so that they are true to the books. Where is The Scouring of the Shire, for instance? I’ve read with great interest peoples comments, especially those castigating CT. It’s his father’s work and his opinion means far more to me than any other available in the world today. I’m not a great fan of the films. I just end up pointing out the major deviations (story, characterization, etc) to my friends that haven’t read the books. Some on here say that the films couldn’t have been true to the books because they would have been too long blah, blah, blah. Are you serious? What are they doing with The Hobbit? They could have made 5 or 6 films and stayed true to The Lord of the Rings, whilst raking in greater profits. When someone gives you the material on a plate (JRRT), don’t start messing with it too much.

  • Brian Boru December 12, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I have read that Peter Jackson has basically said that the age group Christopher Tolkien said it would be targeting were not complaining about it. Being much older and having seen The Hobbit movie I can say that if Christopher Tolkien didn’t read it right for The Lord of the Rings he certainly did for The Hobbit movie. So why bother with complaining about what he said especially since the movie appears to be what Peter Jackson was aiming for?

  • Lala December 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I just saw The Hobbit last night and I am ashamed that I contributed my 11.45 dollars to this shameful, godawful crime against culture. The movie is very bad. The story is choppy, the characters (except for Bilbo, Gollum and some of the dwarves) are bland and uninspiring (which is the precise opposite of the book’s characters), the jokes are meant for those of the half-brain-dead amongst us who fancy themselves “nerds” because they own all episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with special unseen footage and also, perhaps, for 16 year-old boys. But all this is nothing compared to the movie’s aesthetic side– the colors, the characters’ dress, all of it resembles the kitschy landschaft painting you’d hang on the wall of your bathroom. Rivendell looks like a village Renaissance fair, complete with pseudo-Elves wearing ‘some sort of old ‘-looking garb and playing the flute. This movie (it goes for LOTR movies, too, but to a slightly lesser extent, I think) is not only a brutal travesty of the original, beautiful and profound story and a masterful prelude to the themes of the Trilogy, but also a terrible terrible thing in itself. Yes, there is such thing as good taste, and Peter Jackson has none. And don’t even get me started on the ways in which Jackson drags out the story to squeeze more money out of it.

  • Lori Kisling December 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Unbelievable that Christopher Tolkien takes the heat for what is basically Peter Jackson’s lack of talent. Unbelievable. And that reading Tolkien should be boring?? Are you kidding me? What was REALLY boring was the endlass war footage in the movie at the expense of story telling moments -the ones I missed most were the events in the houses of healing – which caused the people of Minas Tirith to accept that Aragorn was the true king instead of a usurper and a bully. Peter Jackson’s Gandalf was nothing but a political opportunist and a murderer!! (Consider his mangling of the incident in the Tombs where Gandalf actually pushed Denethor into the fire instead of trying to talk him down as he did in the book!!) Some of these things appalled me – and actually made the movies unwatchable, over time. Does nobody else have a problem with this stuff? If I were just seeing the movies, not having read the book, I would think Gandalf and Aragorn were just awful people, and I wouldn’t understand why Faramir, instead of just laying down for them, didn’t take up arms and fight them to the death.
    And why his people didn’t join him.
    Such is the effect of leaving out critical material – if the viewer has any kind of a critical mind.
    I’m just saying…

  • Brian Boru December 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Maybe watching The Hobbit in 3D zeroed me in too much on the visual representations that I hate about Peter Jackson’s movies, which made it look like he was filling in the time with a reversion to ‘Meet the Feebles’ and ‘Bad Taste’. But perhaps these things aren’t so pronounced in 2D. And yes the story telling moments in The Lord of the Rings movies are seriously underdeveloped. I always liked the scene in the book where Frodo back in Bag End at the end of the scouring of the Shire tells Sam not to kill Saruman after he tries to stab Frodo but is foiled by the mithril coat with Frodo saying: ‘No, Sam! Do not kill him even now. For he has not hurt me. And in any case I do not wish him to be slain in this evil mood. He was great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against. He is fallen, and his cure is beyond us; but I would still spare him, in the hope that he may find it’, at which Saruman looks at Frodo with mingled wonder and respect and hatred and says: ‘You have grown, Halfling. Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.’. It retains both the pity and mercy as shown by Bilbo in the Orc Tunnels and Frodo in the Emyn Muil and Sam on Mt Doom to Gollum, which ultimately enables the Ring to be destroyed, and the potential for Saruman’s repentence as Gollum is portrayed, which in the end is suffocated by Sam’s suspicions of him on the stairs of Cirith Ungol. People can go on to the death about how there would not have been time for these things though perhaps there could have been if the battle scenes weren’t so pronounced. I found watching them boring, while reading moments like the ones I refer to above inspiring.

  • Reeve December 17, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Well, things are hotting up nicely. Let’s light up a pipe of ‘Old Toby’and throw some more fuel on the fire .
    For those commentators who find the book ‘too long and boring’ and cannot engage with literature unless it is served up between the sesame seed buns of a film adaptation, or put into a blender along with their brains and mixed up into a nice thick gloopy shake . . . “ Mmmm . . . gee Mom this Bilbo Baggins smoothie is just the best) READING a book, as Susan Sontag says, ( look her up) is one of the most exciting things you can do with your mind, ( apart from writing one).
    Literature is that which enriches our minds and our lives. When we read a great work, we are personally involved in creating it, we bring to it our imagination, personality, the whole repertoire of our being . . and something extraordinary happens. It is as though there we are, meandering along the highways and byways of our mind, and suddenly an author in a big red Ferrari roars up ( “ Hey, get in kid ! “ ) and VROOM, we’re off, taken on an exhilarating journey of discovery, an entertainment which at the same time resonates and illuminates. It is not a passive experience, but something which is both intimate and demanding, but which rewards us with something which can sustain us for a lifetime.
    It is not a question of being against film adaptations of books, or of film as a medium in general. There are many fine adaptations of books – ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is brilliantly done, the television adaptation of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ is actually better than the book – they are two different mediums and necessarily there will be re-workings and compromises. It is not even about a contest between “ high” and “low” culture ( I personally like Blockbuster movies, Alien trilogy, Bruce Willis in the Die-Hard films, Spiderman – these are high in the canon of entertainment ). What we are talking about is taking something finely wrought, of great beauty and mangling it into a grotesque parody.
    By stamping such an indelible hairy footprint on the material, Jackson has ruined for generations the experience of reading these books. Anyone coming from the films to the books has been deprived of the chance of having their imaginative DNA spliced with some of the best creative writing western culture has come up with.
    It’s rather like what those “ Epic” films of the 1950s did to the New Testament. Remember John Wayne, standing in his plastic armour on an unrealistic studio knoll, and intoning slack-jawed ‘ Shhuurely this musta bin da son a Gaaad.’ For Chrisopher Tolkein I suspect it was like having a horrible little orc waddle up in a baseball cap and deposit a steaming pile of ordure on his doorstep.
    It is not the fault of film, or technology, it is simply BAD writing, BAD characterisation, BAD direction and the wholly crass and impoverished vision of one man – Peter Jackson. I know he employed illustrators like Alan Lee – whose prosaic imagination rarely rises from pedestrian depictions of Saxons, Normans and Vikings – but ultimately the smelly finger of blame points at the fat phiz of one man only.
    Sometimes to amuse myself I have little consolatory fantasy of my own : Christopher T and I, sitting side by side, in a couple of comfortable leather armchairs, snug in a Pall Mall club, a bottle of amontillado and a couple of glasses between us, sharing a genial laugh together as we take turns with the club luger to pick the prosthetic ears off a succession of Jacksonian creatures. Come to think of it . . . might make a good video game !

    P.S. Hullo Brian, no, I don’t have a problem with technology. Oil painting was at one time a new , sophisticated technology, ( still the best I think), for realising visual images. For all there are some things I wish had never been invented, such as nuclear science, fast food and sports wear.
    Will try out the C.S. Lewis book. Have heard it’s very good. I would recommend Alan Garner’s Weirdstone Of Brisingamen and Moon of Gomrath. Beautiful little books. And if you haven’t tried it, a masterpiece every bit the equal of Tolkien, though very different in every respect, Mervy Peake’s Gormenghast books – which containds some of the finest writing in post-war English literature.
    Dear Haley, ( see above) what am I on ? Irony darling – London water’s riddled with it.

  • Reeve December 17, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Addendum :
    Should be Mervyn Peake. Christ, “Shpelling ish sho impotant” as Shagrat might say. Wonder how HE got his name ?

  • Lala December 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Lori Kisling and Brian Boru: you are both spot on. It’s really beyond me why people are not receptive at all to Christopher Tolkien’s important criticism of the movies . I can only imagine the anguish of the man who spend his entire life working to preserve his beloved father’s legacy and seeing it misappropriated and twisted like this. It really pains me to think about it, honestly. Not to mentions that HE IS the greatest living expert on J.R. R.’s work. I think you both touch upon some of the most important themes that Jackson left out– the choice which profoundly changed the meaning of the original stories he supposedly only “adapted” (to the point that the main “message” or argument of the original is almost unrecognizable, I think…). One of the central problems seems to be that the films, particularly The Hobbit, reek with senseless, fire-lit (literally), cartoonish, gratuitous violence, where the dwarves kill 20 orcs with a single swing of a sword (so unlike the novel, where the dwarves are mostly awkward and actually NEED Bilbo’s skills). On the other hand, those moments of “healing” to which I always really look forward when re-reading the books, and the characters such as Tom Bombadil are not present at all (maybe that’s actually better, though. Bombadil happens to be my favorite Tolkien character and I fear what Peter Jackson might do to him. He managed to completely destroy Radagast , turning him into a senile glue-sniffer.). The beauty of the books is in this bitter-sweet balance, where good people have to go to war and kill and defend themselves by taking the lives of others, but they do not enjoy it and when they get too close to the relishing in revenge others are there to remind them of the power and importance of mercy and kindness. Thus is it the originary and semi-conscious act of kindness– the decision of the invisible Bilbo’s who chooses to spare Gollum’s life– which ultimately opens up a possibility to defeat Sauron. But for the entirety of the novel this act remains largely unacknowledged by Bilbo or anyone else. It is a decision that in the moment looks more like an mere impulse. These moments are the key to Tolkien’s novel’s and are highlighted in the narrative. They are, however, entirely missing from the movies. It is a huge shame and, even worse, I am afraid that this is through the filter of the Jackson’s franchise that the next generation or two will get to know Tolkien. I sincerely hope I am wrong about this.

  • Lala December 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Also, Reeve– I couldn’t agree with your posts more. I salute you, Good Sir.

  • Brian Boru December 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Reeve I didn’t think you had a problem with technology. I would go as far as saying if people like yourself were employed to turn CS Lewis trilogy into a movie/movies it would show up the weaknesses of Jackson’s use of technology in LOTR and Hobbit movies, which affects the story telling. A case in point being The Hobbit movie where I found the 2D version easier to cope with than the 3D version after having seen both. I have a better sense of the story now from seeing it in 2D but still felt it lacked the depth of the book as per Lala’s comment. I too hope that Lala is wrong about the next generation or two only knowing Tolkien through the filter of Jackson’s franchise. Roll on Tolkien Estate in going after the intangibles in their court action over the franchise. I wish they could put an embargo on NZ’s 100% pure Middle-earth campaign. I can already think of a campaign that could replace it, which would reinforce our national identity that would still bring in the tourist dollar without it being constrained by the copyright demands of the franchise and I think that the Tolkien Estate would support it.

  • Reeve December 19, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Bless you Lala, very sweet of you. It’s heartening to find people who feel the same way. As far as I’m concerned Jackson took a jewel from the crown of English Literature and made a cheeseburger out of it.
    And cheers Brian, I had no idea about the court action undertaken by the Tolkien estate. Here’s hoping.

  • Sunmonkey December 22, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Just spent the last three and a half hours watching The Hobbit. Saw it in 2D, so I could concentrate on the movie as much as possible. Folks, it fails on every single level. It is poor film-making, it is a poor translation of the book into film, and it willfully ignores the original work in any real way. Yes, it weaves in elements from the appendices and other works, but it is extremely superficial and self-serving.

    I love action films. I love fantasy. But I also love Tolkien’s work, and if you are going to base movies off of that work, you have to honor it in some way, not just strip it of character names and a few plot points, and shellac it with a heavy coating of amusement park. If you do decide to play to the demos and make a movie that hits the 16-24 crowd, and you make a good movie out of it, you are a talented opportunist and fit perfectly into the modern Hollywood studio system (and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing ’cause you made a good film). If you do that and make a piss-poor movie out of it, you are a hack.

    If you take Jackson alone, you get King Kong. Puerile crap.

    If you take Jackson adopting Tolkien, you still get puerile crap, but at least you can detect some of Tolkien’s genius reflected, albeit dimly, in the proceedings.

    And let’s not use the translation of the books to cinema as the sole reason folks are being critical. Yeah, that translation is a tough row to hoe, but it can be done, and done well (Kubrick comes to mind, 2001, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange). But Jackson fails utterly at it. He doesn’t strip down and simplify in order to quicken the pace, instead he bloats with sidetracks, flashbacks, his own embellishments (Radagast’s enlarged role and portrayal is a crime), and extended brainless fight sequences, and all of those things kill the narrative flow and are but a crude caricature of the original work. Sorry folks, but the arguments being used by the defenders of this slop do not hold water.

  • Miquel December 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I never liked the movies. I am glad I have found CT interview by Le Monde, as well as reading comments from others didn’t like themovies either. Thanks, for years I thought I was the only person in the planet thinking this :) I think that a good movie or rather series could be done out of the books. I have no doubt. I hope on day we will be able to see that. Thank you Christopher Tolkien!

  • Miquel December 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    The witch king beating up Gandalf ??? How come? Gandalf is a Maiar, similar in power to Sauron, while the witch king is just a servant of the latter.

  • Miquel December 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    And why not showing the scene of the tree flag with the ships sailing up the Anduin, instead of showing the ugly scene of the 3 companions jumping off the ship with the dead ( the dead!!!) coming after.

  • Miquel December 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    The dialogues! They are really a joke! The Council of Elrond is really bad made, as well as the scene when at the end, they decide to attack on the Black Gate, in order to help Frodo distracting Sauron’s attention. To me, those dialogues are an example of what is going on during all 3 movies.

  • wycoff December 30, 2012 at 5:20 am

    The tone of the attacks here on people who enjoy the LOTR and Hobbit films is very similar to the tone those in the literary world use to attack people who consider Tolkien’s works to be literature.

  • […] The one part about this whole thing that seems a bit off is where the source says that the Tolkien family trusts Warner Bros. with the success of the LOTR series, because I was under the impression that the Tolkien’s didn’t like the movies, and that there is some bitterness, especially after all of the lawsuits. J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher said this in a previous interview, […]

  • […] The one part about this whole thing that seems a bit off is where the source says that the Tolkien family trusts Warner Bros. with the success of the LOTR series, because I was under the impression that the Tolkien’s didn’t like the movies, and that there is some bitterness, especially after all of the lawsuits. J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher said this in a previous interview, […]

  • reeve is right January 6, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I don’t wish to give Jackson’s idiotic films more of my time than they deserve (I walked out of “Fellowship” on the film’s opening day and never looked back), but Reeve is right on.

    Sometimes the orcs win. :-(

  • Sarah Goodwich January 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    It’s amazing how some think that film is a carte blanche to do anything they want to the story, and that box-office returns are an absolution rather than a simple sellout or prostituting of the story, as with any Disney-version of a classic tale replete with abominable silliness and crass humor and crude flattening of the subtlety.

    The IQ-deficits of such claimants are abysmal.

  • Brian Boru January 7, 2013 at 7:20 am

    The tone of the attacks don’t surprise me at all, that is how literary criticism generally works. The movies will always be seen as merely one interpretation of the books, while the books will always be seen as drawing from older forms of literature, namely Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic as well as things Tolkien derived from Old Welsh and Old Finnish and even Old Hebraic. Meanwhile, Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic literature will always be in conflict with contemporary fiction as Tolkien experienced it at Oxford University as it has always been there and other university English departments around the world. NB When Tolkien sold off the film rights he stipulated that he didn’t want Disney to make movies out of his works because of the way Disney prostituted the works of the Grimms brothers. It appears the same thing is happening with Peter Jackson’s movies hence why the Tolkien estate is going for the franchise.

  • Brian Boru January 7, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Okay now it is time to say something more about how the aesthetic and philosophical significance of LOTR and The Hobbit have been overlooked in the movies to date. Tolkien’s legendarium, according to Humphrey Carpenter and other biographers, began with Tolkien writing a poem based on an Old English poem about the star Earendil that was thought to be the OE name for Venus. This poem was later reworked into LOTR where Bilbo sings it in Rivendell on the night of the day that Frodo awakens after being cured by Elrond from the knife wound of the Morgul Blade.

    In the poem Earendil is described as a mariner who sails his ship to Valinor to appeal to the Valar to come to the aid of Middle-earth against Morgoth the original Dark Lord, which they duly do setting Earendil to sail with his spouse Elwing permanently in the sky as a star. Earendil and Elwing are both of mixed heritage of both Men and Elves with Elwing in fact descending from Beren the mortal and Luthien the immortal, the latter who is the daughter of Thingol and Melian, while the latter is a Maia or a female equivalent to Gandalf. After setting Earendil and Elwing to set sail in the sky as a star their children are given the choice to choose immortality or mortality, with Elrond choosing the former and Elros the latter. Elrond’s children are also given the same choice with Arwen choosing mortality to be espoused with Aragorn who descends from Elros thus joining the two sundered lines.

    The only reference to Earendil in the movies is in Galadriel’s giving to Frodo the star glass, which captures some of the star light of Earendil and later on reveals Shelob to Frodo. In addition, in the extended version of the movies Samwise sees Earendil in the sky the night before he and Frodo ascend Mt Doom to complete their quest. Maybe I shouldn’t be given anyone any ideas but why couldn’t there be an additional trilogy of movies centred around these things, without breach of copyright, with Aragorn’s unrequited love to Arwen and later forbidden love by Elrond after it is requited being the focus. There would surely be movies in Aragorn with the rangers guarding the Shire, then meeting and travelling with Gandalf to other Middle Earth realms, then serving Thengel of Rohan and then Ecthelion of Gondor and then travelling into the lands of Harad and Rhun. This could have a theme like the OE poem The Wanderer until Gandalf reveals to Aragorn that the One Ring could have been found and how they go on the hunt for Gollum and how Aragorn captures Gollum who is interrogated by Gandalf and how this reveals that the One Ring has indeed been found and the possibility that Aragorn could get back his ancestral kingdom, which Elrond stipulates he must do in order to marry Arwen.

    I just thought I would put that out there.

  • Paul Marino January 9, 2013 at 4:45 am

    As simply as I can put it, the JRRT’s novels, which really should in no case be compared to a film since they are completely different pieces (in one we have a man or woman in his or her underpants at a typewriter or computer alone for 2 years, while the other is a collaboration of often thousands of different people, most of whom are required to shower daily even – apples & orange groves, you might say!), are high school kids books. Jackson’s films combined for 17 Oscars and another 13 nominations. Christopher is a fool! The 15- 25 year old demographic barely watch the most internationally viewed television event in the world annual, The Academy Awards. Does he honestly think the Academy Awards are kids fare??? Is he discounting the entire history of the ceremonies? It sure seems like it given that only Titanic and Ben-Hur garnered an equal number of Oscars (11) as Return of the King!!

    It is his father who aimed his work at youth. His novels were going around like wildfire when I was in freshman & sophomore years of high school. And even then, I knew that only the LOTR books were worth anything. He’s lucky that Jackson did the films and re-sparked interest in them. Especially now that adults find 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight Saga, etc. to be worth reading – you know, high school kids stuff just like the Tolkien pieces. And I do mean LOTR since The Hobbit and Silly Million are just plain crap!

  • oxo January 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    This is so great! I, too, thought I was alone in finding the movies cringe-inducing. It’s nice to know there are others out there.
    Read the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, especially the ones dealing with an early proposed treatment, but the others as well, and you will see how offensive he would have found Jackson’s triology(ies). Check it out. I can’t believe that Jackson did.

    I would like to add a couple of complaints to the sizable litany already presented here. The ending to the Council of Elrond, which as I recall degenerates into a brawl in the movie, is much more moving and dramatic in the books, where everyone falls silent and then Frodo quietly says he will go to Mordor, though he does not know the way. The atrocious scene where Frodo believes Gollum’s accusation that the fat hobbit has eaten the Lembas. The literal cliff-hanger at the Cracks of Doom. The excursion to the Shire by Treebeard and Merry and Pippin. The botching of Eowyn’s slaying of the Nazgul, a scene that I had always pictured as being potentially great reduced to the overall general murkiness and confusion that characterize all the battle scenes. I could find more if I had the strength to watch them again, but in general, every deviation from the texts results in a cheapening and a flattening that does not contribute anything to the story. Furthermore, Jackson’s decision to largely jettison all of Tolkien’s dialogue is a palpable fail.

    Are they good movies anyway? Don’t ask me; I think Star Wars is crap, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller sublime. But no matter. They certainly could have been a lot better by simply showing more respect for JRRT’s story-telling skills, his mythic imagination, and his language.

    As for the argument that film is a different medium necessitating changes, one need only consider the long list of authors both greater and lesser than JRRT who were well served by their adaptors: Fielding, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Alcott, Verne, Conan Doyle, Chandler, Malory, Conrad, Capote, and of course C.S. Lewis. There are many others whose works were tenderly treated, and in some cases even improved, in their transfer to the screen.

  • mx January 21, 2013 at 5:14 am

    why should i give a fuck what he thinks? for all i know, he’s an effing idiot who can’t recognize talent when it’s thrown on his face. there are always people who have to trash things that most people love so they can feel they are better than everyone else, they are losers. obviously having a famous father guarantees nothing

  • Brian Boru January 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I wouldn’t trash Christopher Tolkien like that, he was consulted so much by JRR Tolkien on virtually every turn of the legendarium that it could be said that he co-authored it especially given that his scholarship at Oxford was the same in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic as his father’s. This is also why he was appointed by his father to be his literary executor after his death. The view he is expressing is only a reaction to something that he equally loved like his father being trashed by something that does not really understand what it is about because of Hollywood conventions and studio demands.

  • […] En realidad la situación es muy simple. Los derechos de El Silmarillion, como los de los Cuentos Inconclusos, Los Hijos de Húrin o los volúmenes de las colecciones Historia de la Tierra Media e Historia de El Señor de los Anillos (es decir, todos los libros publicados tras la muerte de JRR Tolkien) pertenecen a Tolkien Estate. Y Christopher Tolkien siempre se ha negado a vender los derechos, de hecho ni siquiera considera la posibilidad de una negociación. ¿Por qué? Porque literalmente odia las adaptaciones cinematográficas de El Señor de los Anillos y El Hobbit y quiere proteger el legado de su padre. “Destruyeron el libro, haciendo una película de acción para chavales de entre 15 y 25 años. Y parece que El Hobbit será igual”, declaraba Christopher Tolkien en una entrevista concedida a Le Monde de la que se hacían eco en el blog A Dribble of Ink. […]

  • Sul38 February 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Even if the books didn’t exist the films are pure garbage on themselves, full of typical hollywood topics so repeated that tire me out. Stupid obvious and mindless one liners, the poetry and beauty of the story completely destroyed. Childish stuff for a childish public. Yes sorry but Mr. C. Tolkien is completely right he knows the works of his father very well and so do i and i can state that the films are MUCH inferior material than the novels. In the end you are left with just a couple well made scenes and a good technical job (sometimes there’s too much unecessary CGI for example Saruman’s fireball – this is not dungeon and dragons folks- ) The best moments of the film come (as expected) when the scriptwiters stick completely to Tolkien, who is a much better storyteller than them. And no, watching how your most beloved book is destroyed is not fun at all.

  • Ridahoan February 17, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Oh good, the Hobbit has revived the thread, so I can get in my jabs at the horror of Peter Jackson’s trilogy (haven’t seen the Hobbit, but I’m guessing I would like it better due to the criticism of it being ‘boring.’)

    I wish the LOTR movies would have never been made, as it will probably preclude better versions for the next few decades.

    Other than not being true to the books on so many levels, here are my chief gripes at the moment:

    1) I hated the soundtrack with a passion. Talk about manipulative sentimental pop neo Celtic tripe to make up for lack of character development. Putred. (I know, I know, everyone loved it.)
    2) Boring battles at the expense of character development.
    3) Lothlorien filmed in a studio.
    4) Galadriel’s gifts to the Nine forgotten. Those gifts are central to the story. Now Galadriel is just some weird beautiful elven witchey thing.
    5) Nothing left to the imagination when it came to the evil — show it in full blown CGI and it is diminished. The Ring Wraiths were hardly scary, the Balrog uncloaked just another mediocre monster. Sauron something you blow away at the end of a video game.
    6) Gimli reduced to comic relief.
    7) Aragorn reduced to a whiner (Viggo could have been perfect).
    8) Despite the endless ending, no ravaging of the Shire.
    …. ok, painful enough memories. I did like Gandalf and Sauraman and Gollum, and much of the Shire. Frodo and Sam were … pretty good. Other hobbits not much.

    I hope someone creates another thread in a year or two to let me vent again.

    I have little sympathy for those who find the books too long or boring, but at least they are being honest. Did reread the trilogy in a 24 hour stint, once. Now I guess we brag of playing a video game for 24 hours straight.

  • Brian Boru March 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    So far The Hobbit movies’ production hasn’t had it as good as The Lord of the Rings movies’ production. The first Hobbit movie only got Oscar nominations for boring things like best production design, visual effects and make up and hairstyling none of which it won. This is while the LOTR movies got Oscar nominations for major catergories such as Best Picture three times and Best Director twice securing wins on these in the third movie, which was suggested to be because of the earlier nominations, which Peter Jackson said himself. My guess as to why there is such a gulf of difference is that while Hollywood was made to look bad by its deals with the NZ government to keep the Hobbit production in NZ and the much promoted 3D version didn’t win over all the punters the academy didn’t find it expedient enough to give the first Hobbit movie any awards. Meanwhile, Hollywood was made to look good by the promotion of the LOTR movies by academics such as Professor Tom Shippey, a specialist in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic, which was Tolkien’s speciality, who was consulted for the movies and appeared in its promotion videos. This was also helped by other academics in this speciality in New Zealand and other parts of the world who gave public lectures on how Tolkien’s scholarship contributed to the creation of his legendarium. The Hobbit movies have become too much about Peter Jackson, the creative artists and the celebrities and too far removed from what Tolkien was all about.

  • Mike April 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Gotta say I agree with you Mr. Brian Boru on many points and find your perspective compelling. And also I agree with those of you feeling like LOTR/The Hobbit deserved a better telling. I grew up as a LOTR superfan and saw the movies in high school/college where I was, well, largely angered by what I saw. All the haters-on-haters want to say that the fans who have problems with the movie simply expect the movies to be word-for-word interpretations of the book. Wrong! I can hardly imagine a fan that would expect a word-for-word movie. The book, although bolstered by a powerful academic grounding and with a considerably crafted and perfected narrative, ultimately is simply a product of a vast imagination. The adaptation to the screen should follow in that creative pursuit, and yet, in my mind, remain loyal to the book hopefully in a way that bonds the tellers in a unique way. Mr. Boru you illustrate a way that the film producers can follow down Mr. Tolkien’s rabbit-hole to older texts, and certainly I would recommend emphasizing an academic approach to those ends, and yet at the end of the day the creative elements are what draw us to the story and I have no qualms in giving the screen adapter the reins to sculpt his own vision. Although like I said a more committed and loyal approach would have been appreciated to a point. Simply put, Peter Jackson’s screen telling of middle-earth is broad, yet hollow. There is no magic. No profundity. The art direction and music are beautiful but unfortunately squandered by a sprawling and unprincipled script, and as a possible result the cast didn’t hold up to contribute compelling characters (gollum as the exception for me). I casted Daniel-Day Lewis as Aragorn in my head when I was 14 years old well before the movies were filming. Funnily enough, he was offered the role and turned it down, presumably for length-related reasons. It’s unfortunate as I feel like he was the most worthy actor for a Tolkien part based on his unparalleled approach in the method-acting discipline. He also has a commanding screen presence, which the movie had a distinct lack of. Patrick Stewart wasn’t particularly fond of the script in his rationale for turning down the role of Gandalf…

    But casting-rant aside the magic/beauty/majesty/whatever-word-you-want-to-use-to-describe-sheer-brilliance, was simply lost and while I’d like to say all LOTR fans that were moved deeply by the books would agree with me, perhaps it’s just in my nature (and certain other fellow fans) that we can’t grasp the beauty in these films. Sigh, first-world problems.

  • Brian Boru April 25, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Thank you Mike. I posted the following conversation on my facebook status. It does kind of reveal what can be lost when you adapt something to screen.

    Questioner: ‘Who is your favourite character in The Lord of the Rings?’
    Me: ‘Widfara.’
    Questioner: ‘Who is that’?
    Me: ‘He was a character that followed Théoden to Minas Tirith. His home was in the Wold, the wild grasslands of Rohan’s northern border, and in these northern lands he had acquired a special weather-sense. It was he who first reported a change in the wind during the long ride, a change that augured the end of Sauron’s looming darkness. He only appears in the story to tell Theoden this.’
    Questioner: ‘Why emphasise him then?’
    Me: ‘Because his name means ‘far, wide traveller’ from Old English and for a king like Theoden to trust a character like that at that point demonstrates how far the West have come in unifying against the East, thanks to Gandalf, whose name happens to mean ‘Wandering Elf’ from Old Icelandic, which is given to him by the people of the West when Mithrandir or ‘Grey Wanderer’ from Sindarin, which is also given to him from the people of the West, is in fact more accurate for him (though I am not that keen on Tolkien’s made up languages). But that is not the real reason why Widfara is my favourite character.’
    Questioner: ‘Then what is the real reason why?’
    Me: ‘Because the naming of him prevents him from being a flat character, while the emphasis on the shift from being less in Frodo’s head after the Fellowship breaks and more in the other Hobbits’ heads, particularly in Sam’s head as Frodo and Sam travel onwards to Mordor, makes it harder to portray Frodo as the main character in the story. This means Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings is undermining the catergories that make up Contemporary Fiction, which often has the proponents of such literature in the English Departments in the Universities want to have Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic Literature dumped from the English programme.’

    Also, at the same time this could be adapted to screen say if you have Widfara see the Orcs and Uruk-hai coming out of the Emyn Muil and then later being seen meeting up with Eomer outside Edoras and Grima Wormtongue saying something like: “You can’t trust anybody with a name like Widfara’, which Eomer chooses to ignore . It could also set up why Gandalf et al are challenged by Grima Wormtongue later on when they came to Edoras.

  • Patricia Hall May 7, 2013 at 6:48 am

    How could you not love The Lord Of The Rings? The movies are great and the books are awesome. Can not wait for the next Hobbit movie to come out.

  • Bob Soper May 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    The language and story of LotR & the Silmarillion as written works are only “boring” to those whose brains have been turned to stimulus-addled mush thanks to television, TiVo and Twitter.
    The majesty and poetry of JRR Tolkien’s books can (to those who are willing to make the requisite effort of sitting down in a quiet place and READING them) be SO much more rewarding on SO many more levels than PJ’s films (which I found to be a mildly entertaining but miserable failure at conveying the story).
    Seems to me that George RR Martin had the right idea when optioning his Song of Ice and Fire series: give each book at least 10 hours, and serialize it. HBO’s Game of Thrones seems much more true to its source material than PJ’s efforts… And yes, Jackson’s Hobbit is beyond dreadful.

  • […] questo proposito, Christopher Tolkien ha recentemente criticato la trilogia di Peter Jackson. Lei crede che apprezzerebbe maggiormente il suo […]

  • J.J. Fields May 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Good Lord (of the Rings),

    Nerds will argue about anything. Superman’s crotch is too bumpy. Gandalf’s beard is too long. Maybe nerds and stuffy English guys are just pissed at life and can’t even begin to understand how to enjoy something, whether it is the penultimate version or not.

  • Grendel May 11, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Where was Superman mentioned and Gandalf’s beard in this comment trail? And the only nerds I know are film nerds and they don’t enjoy The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. They just enjoy idolising Peter Jackson and the celebrities and only value the movies for how it will bring other Hollywood movie productions into New Zealand. I also don’t know any stuffy English English guys.

  • Lori Kisling May 12, 2013 at 6:29 am

    “Nerds” is just a name for people who are more intelligent, more thoughtful and more tuned up to what art is all about than the dumb bunnies who have no sense and no ability to descriminate between one thing and another. Let you Middle brows call names and argue with ad homonims all you want – we got A LOT more out of the book than you did. A LOT more. Your loss, Ass hole.

  • Brian Boru May 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    In recent times I have got a lot more out of looking at the Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic sources that the books drew from, which have also been drawn on to develop the movies by the experts in those literatures employed by the productions. I can now understand more clearly why there were experts in those literatures in Tolkien’s time who derided him for even writing the books and why classmates of mine have the same derision and more so to the movies. I wonder what ad homonim would be used to apply of me for saying that.

  • Brian Boru May 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Here are some examples of what I have got out of those sources:

    1. ‘Hobbit’ comes from the combination of ‘hott’, the Old Icelandic for ‘small’, and the ‘byt’ in ‘holbytla’, the Old English for ‘hole-dweller/builder’. Hott also happens to be a small character in an Old Icelandic saga whose parents live in what appears to be a house built in a hole in the ground.

    2. ‘Gollum’ comes from the plural of ‘gull’, the Old Icelandic for ‘precious treasure’, and the origin of the word ‘gold’.

    3. ‘Middle-earth’ comes from the Middle English ‘middel-erde’, which, in turn, comes from the Old English ‘middan-geard’ and is related to the Old Icelandic ‘Midgard’. It also refers to how the Anglo-Saxons viewed their land in relationship to the seas surrounding it and the heavens roofing it.

    4. ‘Bilbo Baggins’ comes from both the combination of the Middle English words ‘bilt’ for ‘dwell’, ‘bo’ for ‘dweller’, ‘baggi’ for ‘bag’ and ‘inne’ for ‘in’ and the combination of the Old English words ‘bil’ for ‘sword’, ‘bua’ for ‘dweller’, ‘bagge’ for ‘bag’ and ‘anum’ plural for ‘one’. Hence Bilbo is the ‘dweller that dwells in a bag’ who becomes the ‘sword dweller from the ones in a bag’, which refers to his parentage, which is crucial for a warrior’s identity in Anglo Saxon society.

    5. ‘Gandalf’ comes from the list of Dwarf names in the Old Icelandic poem ‘Voluspa’ that Tolkien got nearly all his Dwarf names from, ‘Voluspa’ being the poem that describes the rise and fall of Midgard/Middle-earth and the rising of a new Middle-earth. It means ‘Elf with a wand’, which suggests that Dwarves are the dark Elves referred to in Old Icelandic literature, which had Tolkien carefully avoid giving his Dwarves Elf sounding names. The ‘gand’ can also come from ‘ganga’ the Old Icelandic word for ‘to go’ or ‘to wander’. Hence ‘Gandalf’ could mean ‘Wandering Elf’ and is of course not his real name but one given to him by the people of Middle-earth who think that he is an Elf because there are only five wizards in Middle-earth.

    6. ‘Smaug’ comes from ‘smygel’, the Old English word for ‘burrowing’, which is also the origin of the name ‘Smeagol’ and for ‘smial’, or ‘burrow’, the Hobbits’ name for their houses.

    7. ‘Mirkwood’ originated from the forest separating the gods and giants in Old Icelandic literature.

    8. ‘Tolkien’ comes from the germanic ‘tollkühn for ‘fool-hardy’ and is the origin of the oxymoron ‘dull-keen’. The word Old English ‘tuk’ for ‘fool’ comes from that as does the name ‘Took’ the name of the family which all the Hobbits except Samwise descend from. ‘Samwis’ is Old English for ‘half-wise’, while ‘frod’ is Old English for ‘wise by experience’. The Old Took is therefore an old fool and the expression ‘fool of a Took’ said by Gandalf of Pippin is intended to be a philogical joke like the opening sentence of The Hobbit ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit’ if taking ‘hobbit’ to being the wearing down of ‘holbytla’.

  • […] questo proposito, Christopher Tolkien ha recentemente criticato la trilogia di Peter Jackson. Lei crede che apprezzerebbe maggiormente il suo […]

  • […] 8. Surprisingly, Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien hates The Lord of the Rings movies – Source […]

  • adanero November 4, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    The movies were good adventure movies, but as lotr adaptation they were terrible.
    the disneyfication of gimli is unforgivable. elves at helm’s deep means the most fundimental message of the story has been missed. lost the dark forboding pathos of the book in return for a rollicking adventure story. kinda like playing AD&D instead of rolemaster ;P

  • Ben December 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    1) These movies aren’t going anywhere. They are bigger than Star Wars. You won’t find a bigger Middle Earth fan then me. I will say, Chris seems awfully bitter to me. Of course the movies are quite different than the books. To expect less is idiotic and even quite naïve. Chris is a very old school guy and I 99.9% positive there is nothing Peter could’ve done to get the approval of Chris. The story of LOTR was told tremendously and it only has increased the book sales TEN-FOLD. So, this negative view towards Peter and Fran is very much unjust.

  • Brian Boru December 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    There were 100 million book sales before the movies were made and 50 million since. Many of the latter were probably the cheap film tie-in editions for the books with a small share for the Tolkien Estate and a reasonable royalty to the movie studios for the cinemagraphic images on the books. They seem to be the only books of Tolkien on sale in the bookshops along with books related to movie franchise. Meanwhile, the other books of Tolkien said more about his story-telling, which came from Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic. That is what the Tolkien Estate want to promote hence the lawsuits. They care about the storytelling more than book sales and you really do not need to read his books in particular to get that. I am always informed best about Tolkien through my classmates who have never read his books or seen the movies, while the movies and movie franchise say not enough about it. and that is worse in The Hobbit movies than the LOTR movies. So this negative view towards Christopher Tolkien is unjust.

  • Lori Kisling December 16, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Let me get this straight. This guy’s argument for the LOTR movies is that we are supposed to like them because they are PRESENT? What the hell. That they are “not going away” is no argument in their favor. That’s just stupid.
    I’ll tell you where I got off the boat with PJ, Fran, and Phillipa. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt , all the way up until the extended Return. When I saw the scene in the Paths of the Dead, what they did to it, I was convinced for all time that these people had NO respect for the source material whatsoever, and were exploiters pure and simple taking a great story, stipping it of all content, and turning it into empty spectacle. Fran et. al. may have breadth of trivial knowledge, but they lack all depth of understanding, and the braying jack-asses who defend their work (because it’s “not going anywhere”??!) are so like the movies they defend – telling tales told by idiots – full of sound and fury – signifying NOTHING.

  • Brian Boru December 17, 2013 at 2:42 am

    It is not really an argument. It is just a parroting of what popular media says, or at least implies, particularly as far as the Tolkien Estate ‘owing’ something to Peter Jackson et al goes. I thought that something was not quite right from the beginning when I saw amongst other things in the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring movie the Orcs jumping on Isildur and then next his body floating in the river with arrows in his back. Then after listening to the audio commentary in the extended edition of the movie where the scene had been inserted where Isildur put on the Ring etc and hearing Peter Jackson et al say that they took out the scene in the theatrical release because they were worried that it would be too much for the audience to take in at that point in Sauron being visible when he wears the Ring, and then Isildur being invisible. Then I realised that the movies were targeting a rather undiscerning audience who at the same time would not question things like how did Gandalf know that Gollum had been captured and tortured by the Enemy.

    This was all reinforced to me when I wrote an article recently for The One Ring Net website titled: ‘The potential of JRR Tolkien’s story-telling in The Hobbit movies’ where I demonstrated how if the first Hobbit movie had been embellished with more of Tolkien’s actual story-telling it would have appeared less bloated. Here someone commented: ‘This has got to be one of the most fascinating Hobbit-Movie related articles I have ever read and I thank TORN and Brian Boru for providing it. I am grateful to have increased my knowledge of Old Icelandic translations and meanings of various Tolkien character’s names. Now that I have read every word of it, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that Tolkien fans worldwide are lucky that Sir Peter Jackson is in charge of these movie adaptations and not Mr. Boru’. To this I replied: ‘Thank you for making the time to read the article. It was of course voluntarily written and I was generous with my time in writing it as I generally am with such matters even though I don’t get paid to do it. I also would look forward to read anything interesting you might have to say about Tolkien’s story-telling’. There also seemed to be a general consensus in all the comments that The Hobbit movies, and assumedly The Lord of the Rings movies, cannot be the standard for story-telling like JRR Tolkien’s with someone going as far as saying: ‘Even those who have not read the books but have seen the films have at least come to love a version of Tolkien’s work, reduced though it is from the original. Most would never have read the books anyway, so why deny them the pleasure of at least a nodding acquaintance with the Professor’s work?’.

    I also was reconfirmed at the same time that the movies had attracted a more discerning audience when someone commented: ‘Great article. Good points. I agree with you. So much of the time spent “wandering”, if you will, made the first Hobbit film feel bloated and slow to me. And with what they filled the empty time with, which I felt were pointless additions, they could have put in useful information like the one’s you’ve pointed out’. And to this the person added later: ‘WHY add pointless filler when you’ve already got fantastic stuff there in the books to put in??? I think that, right there, more so than the deletions or cuts from the books, is what bothers me most: there’s stuff already there, don’t make new things up to fill the time’. And this has me thinking that such a respondent should not be denied the pleasure of such information in order to get to know Tolkien’s story-telling better.

    Given that I am thinking of continuing the exercise for the next two Hobbit movies especially after seeing the second Hobbit movie, which only reinforces what Christopher Tolkien said, which has been the topic of this blog. The movie incidentally ends with Bilbo saying: ‘What have we done?’, which seems in my mind to be a general reflection about the additions done to the movie to make it more of an action movie. It also seemed to allude to Sam saying to Frodo near the end of The Two Towers movie: ‘By right we should not be here’, which seemed to be a reflection on the movie doing, amongst other things, an assassination on Faramir’s character by having him drag the Hobbits to Osgiliath, unlike the book, to make it more of an action movie. Given all this I cannot possibly see what the Tolkien Estate ‘owe’ Peter Jackson et al and think that it has no other option but to sue the movie studios in order to use the damages to set the record straight about what the books are not because of the way the latter have been gutted by the movie-makers.

  • Lori Kisling December 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Brian Boru – I respect it so much that you can still offer a thoughtful and measured response to guys like the one last week who (inarticulately) defended the LOTR movies, yet again. Obviously, I lack that kind of patience. The thing is, these people are illiterate – they can’t, or won’t read your carefully thought-out response because they are not thoughtful themselves. Hence their utter inability to make a distinction between a great book and a mediocre movie. Over time, I have become crazy with frustation with the arrogance and aggressiveness of these middle- brows whom no amount of reasonable discourse will dislodge from their ignorant love of noise and empty spectacle. One sees it in other walks of life, too (think politics). I guess the bottom line is – everyone who was going to “get” the Lord of the Rings already did – when the books came out, and since then. The movies added nothing, nothing at all, to the canon. The problem as I have always seen it, is that the movies SPOIL the story, without delivering it. So someone who goes to the books after – will only be disapponted because they already know how it comes out, sort-of. Suspence is killed, though. Their loss, I guess.
    Glad those of us who read the book FIRST, did so. It’s the only way to go.

  • Brian Boru December 19, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Agreed. It comes with practice from living on the main drag in central Wellington where the New Zealand premieres for all of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit happened including two world premieres. This was dubbed Middle-of-Middle-earth by the Mayor of Wellington last year prompting me to put on my facebook a map of Middle-earth including all of the south and east lands and pointing out that Mordor was in the Middle-of-Middle-earth. I hear this stuff all the time in Wellington and it has got rather cliche. But I guess a lot of people would like to trade places with me but I wouldn’t have traded places with those handful of people who camped out the night before the World Premiere of The Hobbit last year when they still could have found a good position to view it the next day if they spent the night in their own beds or the Youth Hostel around the corner. I am glad that there was not a World Premiere here in Wellington this year and people In Wellington are dreaming if it is going to happen here next year. I will be glad though when the last movie is released because I won’t have to hear ‘New Zealand is Middle-earth’ again. And don’t get me started on the 100% pure Middle-earth 100% New Zealand tourism campaign! A lot of money they say it will bring to the economy. If so how come it isn’t being spent on specialists in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic in the universities where Tolkien got all his ideas from? And that is precisely why I totally sympathise with Christopher Tolkien. It will be time to turn my head too at some point.

  • […] early 2013, Tolkien’s son, and executor of his estate, blasted Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, […]

  • Guilherme December 23, 2013 at 3:51 am

    In fact, i accept both ideas. The movies are a part of an art that can show us images of fellings, can give us an imaginative idea of a story, and can bring us to the real story, like characters.
    But a book is a way to you to imagine our own world. I like very much of LOTR, but i can assure you I loved more to read the books than to see the movie. Why? Because there you can choose whats your more interesting part: the wars, the story, the languages, the midle earth history…you will choose what you want to understand best.
    And, besides, the LOTR is another world, with another language. It is a reborn of the world in the imagination of Tolkien, and it’s so much described that, even languages of elves, dwarfs, man, are very well described foneticaly, gramatically, etc. I imagine this as an complete new world, with complete new countries. The way he founds to write it is to describe every detail. The movie show us the principal story, and the musics give us a way to be part of the story, living there, fighting there.
    In my opinion, it would be better to not exist any movie at all, but if exists, these ones are the best ones to the objective.

  • Brian Boru December 25, 2013 at 11:34 am

    If any movie production was to exist I would prefer something in between Ralph Bakshi’s production and the BBC radio production taking into account 30 odd years in improvements in animation since Bakshi’s production. Meanwhile, Peter Jackson’s productions are right off the radar.

    Though I am grateful to The Hobbit movies for making it possible for me to expound a theory that I have held for several years now about the possible origins of Hobbits, which grew out of the liberties that were taken in The Lord of the Rings movies. This is with one such liberty being Aragorn saying that it is because of the beards that Dwarf- women take after Dwarf-men in voice and appearance when Tolkien was rather ambiguous about that in the book’s appendices.

    Meanwhile, in the prologue of the book Tolkien in his revised account of how Bilbo found the Ring refers to how the authorities differ about whether or not Bilbo’s asking Gollum what he had in his pocket was a question or a riddle. Because Tolkien was an Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic specialist it can be extrapolated that he could be referring to authoritative texts in the Old Icelandic canon which include riddle games that end in questionable non-riddles, and in the Old English canon which includes riddles of an adult nature such as a riddle about a key in a man’s pocket that could be inferring a certain part of a male’s anatomy. Hence Bilbo’s asking Gollum what he had in his pocket could either be just a question or a reference to a riddle not suitable for children, while saying something at the same time about Sauron’s impotency.

    Because these things can be inferred it suggests the possibility that Hobbits only break down into three groups of Hobbits, referred to also in the prologue, because the Men, Elves and Dwarves in the area that the Hobbits originated in cohabitated with each other, thus also possibly explaining the latter’s origin. These groups were known as the Fallohides (which translates from Old English as ‘fallow-hide/fair-skin’), who have an affinity with Elves, the Stoors (which translates from Old English as ‘strong’), who have an affinity with Men, and the Harfoots (which translates from Old English as ‘hairy-foot’), who have an affinity with Dwarves.

    These things also could explain how Hobbits in general were good at disappearing like Elves, were mortal like Men and small in height like Dwarves with them all originally having at least one grandparent that was an Elf, one that was a Human and one that was a Dwarf. This is while originally the Fallohides fourth grandparent would have been another Elf, while for the Stoors it would have been another Human and for the Harfoots it would have been another Dwarf.

    This theory seems to have a textual basis, at least as far as the Fallohides and the Stoors are concerned, given that it was rumoured that an ancestor of the Tooks, who took after the Fallohides, may have had a Fairy/Elf wife and that it was rumoured that there was Bree-blood in the Brandybucks, who took after the Stoors. Meanwhile, there are of course a lot of stories about Elves and Men cohabitating with each other, not to mention one of the Maiar, which the Wizards were originally, cohabitating with an Elf. However, the only possible textual rumour of Hobbits having Dwarf-blood in them is in the name of Farmer Maggot who in The Lord of the Rings could be a conflation of the occasional farmer and Dwarf that Gandalf, Bilbo and the Dwarves meet as they make their way through the Shire in The Hobbit. This is when considering that the Dwarves’ names come from Old Icelandic literature where Dwarves are made out of the maggots imbedded in the giant Ymir’s flesh from who Midgard/Middle-earth was made by Odin and his brothers. But this rumour gets rather lost in foolish notions amongst Men that Dwarves came out of holes in the ground because Dwarf-women took so much after Dwarf-men in voice and appearance leading to the belief that there were no Dwarf-women.

    However, because of the creation of the character Tauriel the Elf in The Hobbit movies and the relationship that is developing between her and Kili the Dwarf, whose mother is the only Dwarf-woman named in Tolkien’s legendarium, there is now the possibility for a rumour that maybe there is Dwarf-blood in the Hobbits after all, which could become more substantiated if Tauriel indeed finds something in Kili’s trousers. Hence I am grateful to The Hobbit movies for enabling me to expound that and all that may infer! I think though if my theory is correct Tolkien might be annoyed at The Hobbit movies blowing the subtlety of such inferences especially since the text also said that the rumour of Fairy/Elf blood in the Tooks was absurd and that Bree society is made up of both Men and Hobbits.

    My tongue is in my cheek!

  • Brian Boru March 5, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    So, just like The Unexpected Journey , The Desolation of Smaug wins no Oscars in the catergories that they were nominated in. It is not all that surprising and they were boring categories anyway. Meanwhile, I am of the view that The Lord of the Rings movies were nominated for Best Picture on three occasions and Best Director on two occasions (securing wins for each category on the last occasion) because the production had the sense to engage people like Tom Shippey in the promotion of them. Tom Shippey is described as a Tolkien biographer but he is actually more than that. He is in fact an Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic literature expert. He gave these movies a rousing endorsement (in fact too much so as other experts in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic say). And this is something that The Hobbit movie production has dismissed and think that the movies’ success can be carried just on Peter Jackson and their special effects. Hence why they only got nominations in boring categories. They may have done well in box office figures without factoring in inflation but at the end of the day they won’t be of long term substance while finally killing off the substance of The Lord of the Rings movies.

  • Logan April 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Christopher Tolkien is entirely correct. As a perfect example in the films when they reach Lothlorien the fellowship is greeted by Haldir. He has a nose that has obviously been broken. No elves look imperfect. That’s part of what defines them. Rivendell was designed and built by the team responsible for sets on Xena, the warrior princess. Important plot points and story details were left out to show them…walking, and walking, and walking. Things were changed for no discernible or logical reason. Liv Tyler is a **** actress who shouldn’t be in any movie. Elrond didn’t look all that impressive…and now we have a Radagast that has bird **** in his hair and beard and has consumed to many magic mushrooms? I couldn’t like these movies if I was 8 years old and severely mentally disabled. Why on earth did Saruman and Gandalf get into a physical battle using wire harnesses? It dissapoints me to no end that these films exist.

  • Steve May 24, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    It’s not shocking at all but perfectly understandable that Christopher hates the films. Jackson, Boyens, et al. misunderstood and mangled the story greatly while claiming they respected it and were trying to be true to its spirit. Their primary concern was clearly marketability and profit, not making a worthy adaptation.

  • bobsoper May 25, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    One would think that if the story if Spider-Man could be told twice in one decade by two different movie studios, someone else could take another crack at LOTR.
    The quality of HBO’s treatment of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) exceeds that of the source material, IMHO. It would be wonderful if Time-Warner could obtain the rights to LOTR, and make a 3-season, 39 episode series for HBO.

  • Fëanor June 12, 2014 at 5:34 am

    Jackson is a jerk who has ruined an excelent book with his crappy adaptation. Hats off to Christopher Tolkien!

  • Katie moffat August 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I partially agree, because i appreciate the lotr books more than i appreciate the films, but i think of them both in completely different ways… One is a fantastic, beautiful book series which will always be known as the original lord of the rings series…one is an amazing, epic series of films which we should be grateful for, and not compare to the books. They have also lead thousands more people to read the book series, and learn to appreciate them as much as i, and so many others, do. The Lord of the Rings phenomenon is huge, whether the people who like the series are lovers of the books, or lovers of the films. I’m only 13, but i still appreciate the books as their own thing-not at all linked to the films-and believe that they will always be nothing but an extraordinary work of art, and it’s quality could never be reached by any film maker.

    The films are the best digital representation of the books that i could have imagined. Yes, i watched the films first, and was thoroughly obsessed with them, but they lead me to read the books, which i now love too. There is no reason not to like the films (although it is understandable) but infact we should be grateful that Tolkien’s work was made into an extraordinary film series.

    In conclusion, i do not appreciate the films more than the books in the lotr franchise, only appreciate both separately, as two different things, both amazing for different reasons

  • Andy Kosela September 7, 2014 at 6:18 am

    The movies could have been much better if they would be made more realistic. The fellowship of the ring was going in the right direction with realistic elements (first fight in the tunnels for example). Unfortunately after that everything went downhill with arcade game elements that can be fun only for todays generation of console teenage players. Hello, it’s not Marvel super heroes and unfortunately it was made like that.
    I was thinking that Hobbit gonna be more realistic but no its even more Marvel super heroes filled. The whole movie industry nowadays is so crappy – everything is so unrealistic to the point of nonsense.

    Give me “platoon” any day… Even “conan the barbarian” was a better fantasy movie…

  • Jayden September 28, 2014 at 1:07 am

    You’re kidding right? Reading the comments the majority of you nitpick every little minor detail that doesn’t follow suit with the books… 2 of the hobbits were scottish? Gandalfs beard too long? what a joke The lord of the rings movies were incredible. Book and Film are two different mediums, whatever they chose to cut was 100% to better the story as a FILM, what a joke this is.

  • Brian Boru October 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Incredible in what way? Are they incredible as action movies or as movies that meet the aesthetic and philosophical significance of the books?

  • J May October 13, 2014 at 8:51 am

    LOTR has been a constant through my teen years so like Jayden I believe both the movies and books are incredible for different reasons. The films were revolutionary in so far as CGI and book-to-script development is concerned. Yes the movies lack the depth and character development and deviate from the plot on occasion. But what Jackson and team have managed to produce with the aid of lifelong LOTR artists Howe and Lee, the mesmerising music from Shore and the incredible location shots across New Zealand is a masterpiece that brings Tolkien’s Middle Earth to life. From the set of Hobbiton to the ruins atop Amon Hen, from the depths of Moria to the falls of Rauros the backdrops of Tolkiens world is impressively realised.

  • Brian Boru October 20, 2014 at 8:36 am

    And yet all these things have become no more than an advertisement for Tourism New Zealand and the wizardry of Weta Digital especially in New Zealand, which is essentially why the Tolkien Estate has gone to court over the franchise attached to the movies so to clarify what is not Middle-earth.

  • Lori Kisling October 29, 2014 at 4:32 am

    Okay. Here’s the thing. Its not that Peter Jackson didn’t get the details right that is a problem for a lot of us. You movie wonks misrepresent us by claiming that. As for me, I got into Tolklien because of his philosophical position on things – that is – what he had to SAY. Ultimately, what was wrong with the movies was that Peter Jckson substituted Tolkien’ agenda for his own Fascist agenda. You Fascists out there weren’t offended by that, obviously, but people who got into Tolkein because of what he had to SAY about the world, found that very troubling. Okay?

  • Brian Boru October 29, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Those movie wonks, as Lori puts it, are obviously not reading my comments. As for Jackson getting Tolkien’s philosophical position wrong, one just has to consider how here in New Zealand The Hobbit production was basically used by the right wing government currently ruling the country to showpiece the gradual selling off our soverienty to foriegn interests. This was begun by changing employment laws for people working in the film and TV industry, which was protested against by people who had put in a lot of the hard miles over many years into the establishment of a film and TV industry in New Zealand long before The Lord of the Rings was produced here making it possible for it to produced here in the first place.

    At the same time, while this situation is portrayed in The Lord of the Rings book by Lotho Sackville-Baggins unwittingly buying up a lot of the Shire with Saruman’s money, thus enabling his ruffians to run rampant there, like Treebeard I am not altogether on anybody’s side because not everybody is altogether on my side. I am on the side of the intellectual property used and abused by the productions to make the movies just like Christopher Tolkien is as his father was who drew on that intellectual property to create his legendarium in the first place.

  • Tom November 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    C. Tolkien could’ve worked as consultant on the films.

  • Brian Boru November 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    And what would that have achieved when it is the movie studios who ultimately decide what the movies look like? Even Peter Jackson’s creative freedom is limited by the studios. It is much better for the Tolkien Estate to promote what JRR Tolkien is about by not being involved. Once their involved that limits their freedom to do so.

  • mark December 18, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    C. Tolkien is a buffoon. He and the rest of the Tolkien estate had no problem approving the deal for the first trilogy or the hobbit trilogy. Everyone got a nice payday,a fat check, for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The the estate provide ample material for the DVD extras. C.Tolkien should keep his mouth shut especially since he rakes in the cash off his daddy’s work. As Harrison Ford told Shia lebeouf, after the latter bad mouthed The last Indiana Jones movie, “you’re a fucking idiot. Sometimes you have to be a used car salesman”.

  • Jonathan Larsson December 26, 2014 at 5:52 am

    Who knows what JRR would have thought of Peter Jacksons adaptations? I believe that he would’ve been impressed by certain aspects, less impressed by other aspects.
    To see the creatures, the different cultures and some of the casting choices probably would have made him happy. I especially think he would’ve liked the Shire parts of the movie.
    However, certain changes to the characters and story probably wouldn’t have flowed easy with him. He wrote numerous songs and poems, but less than 25 percent of them were in the overall movies.

  • 2face January 4, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I don’t think there is anything morally or ethically wrong with the way Peter Jackson has adapted the books. I just hate the movies. I think the acting is stuffy. The CGI look fake. The creature makeup is unimaginative and cliché. The hair and costume design make the characters look like glam rock musicians. The action scenes look like computer games. It’s purely my opinion though and all the more power to the people that do like them. Personaly I hope that the inevitable reboot of the movie series will be better.

  • Brian Boru January 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    It was not Christopher Tolkien and the Estate that licensed off the film rights, it was JRR Tolkien who did that who appointed Christopher and the Estate to look after these matters. Hence Christopher would be a buffoon if he did not look after such matters. Also, when JRR Tolkien licensed the movie rights off for the books he did not license of his opinion or the opinion of anyone in the Estate so Christopher Tolkien has not got any reason to keep his mouth shut especially when in fact the Estate do not provide any material for the DVD’s. The people that speak there are the publishers and Tolkien biographers like Tom Shippey and Humphrey Carpenter and there is material it seems that comes from places like Oxford University, all which are separate entities from the Estate. Also, Christopher and the Estate would have to be only used car salesmen if their agenda was only about selling millions of copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings of which they probably make less money on the film tie editions than the movie studios who probably get big royalties from the publishers for the use of the cinematographic images on the book covers. But thankfully the Estate is not about that but about getting published other material of JRR Tolkien’s, which is now a lot harder for them to promote because of the franchise attached to the movies.

  • Brian Boru January 5, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    I do not think JRR Tolkien would have liked any of the movies, especially the Shire sections, and would have probably said that the movies only showed how unfilmable the books were. In getting the Hobbits out on the road quickly the movies neglect to show how characters like the Gaffer and Farmer Maggot were intended to show how diverse the Shire is and suspicion between different sections of it with Farmer Maggot having an affinity with tom Bombadil, which makes him more diverse than merely a gruff farmer who hates trespassers. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Bagginses and Sackville-Bagginses is intended to show how Tolkien hated the French elements that entered English society because of the Norman Invasion, while the conflict between the Gamgees and the Sandymans is meant to show how such societies never liked the local miller. This is while the Gamgees, Brandybucks and Tooks are respectively meant to show the respective differences between Harfoots, Stoors and Fallohides, which were never really part of the character development of Sam, Merry and Pippin in the movies.

  • Anon2 February 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I have read the hobbit, lotr and the silmarillion, and I loved Jackson’s adaptations. I read Lotr before seeing any of the movies, and though I do feel that certain parts were left out, I don’t think the films are “crap” or lack the beauty of the books. The incredible landscapes and music brought middle earth to life for me. I kinda miss the prince of dol amroth, and I wish Faramir was closer to character, but I do understand why these changes were made. Jackson understood that people who had not read the books would be seeing the films too, and if he included every book detail it would have been a dud with those who didn’t read the books just because of length and the die hard fans would still have found a fault with it. I appreciate both the movies and the books, and I believe that the visual representation of middle earth in Jackson’s work is beautiful in its own right.

  • Ged April 27, 2015 at 7:10 am

    @mark, December 18, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I think you have proved who the buffoon is with your comments. Certainly not CJR Tolkien.

  • Dennis June 3, 2015 at 8:41 am

    I’m happy he spoke out, I agree with him. I went to see the first installment of Lotr on opening night. I never watched any of the other films, and I regret having given in to the hype. It certainly is a bitter pill to swallow looking at lotr become a joke and a parody. Now I am just numb, I have no fight in me, I just don’t say I’m a fan of lotr anymore, and invite discussion. Before the movies it was pleasant to run into someone who also liked Tolkien’s work and wanted to talk about it. Have your movies, have lotr, eat your fill at Jackson’s trough. I’m done.

  • Shanice Ubhol June 5, 2015 at 5:07 am

    Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.

  • Brian Boru June 9, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    It is absolute torture Dennis being a Tolkien fan long before the movies were made and living in Central Wellington on the same street where the red carpet rolled out for each movie. I spent the World Premiere of the first Hobbit movie in my apartment reading my translation of Beowulf.

  • Brian Boru June 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Lamposts came to my mind, Shanice, when I saw a few people camping out on Courtney Place the night before the World Premiere of The Hobbit, when I wondered what they used for toilets during the night.

  • M.Z. June 12, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I could live with most of the foolish changes made to the LOTR movies, save this one: the films completely gut the central idea of the books, namely, the rise of Man. While Tolkien was writing a book about the final ascendency of the Second-Born, the screenwriters decided to emphasize Man’s weaknesses instead. Instead of the triumph of (good) Man over Evil, Jackson gives us sniveling, dithering, foolish men who win the War of the Ring by tricks and magic, rather than by strength and courage. Many people have commented on the addition of Elves at Helms Deep, and that is indeed a good example. The massacre of the fleeing Uruk-hai by the Huorns, doesn’t bother me, as it is part of the book, and is meant to show the struggle between Nature (Ents, etc.) and Industry (Saruman & his creations), which is revisited in the Scouring of the Shire. The portrayal of almost every human character is much more negative than in the books. Aragorn is shown as vacillating and almost despondent about his fate. Faramir’s nobility is erased, replaced by an implied desire to escape the shadow of Boromir by seizing power for himself. Denethor and Theoden are made into farcical caricatures of what they were shown to be in the books, in order to make their deaths fit the modern idea of fall & redemption for flawed leaders. But the most egregious change has to be the addition of the Army of the Dead to the Pellanor Fields. Having spent the money to create the ghosts, Jackson decided to have them be the deciding factor in the battle. The problem is, their presence completely erases any and all sacrifice, glory, and honor that was won by Man at that battle. The determined valor of the Gondorians, the descendants of Numenor? Pointless. The brilliant charge by the Rohirrim, showing that the “Middle Men” with no ties to the Elves of Beleriand were capable of accomplishing? Reduced to a suicidal delaying action. Basically, every human who died that day, died for absolutely nothing. The Gondorians could’ve huddled in their cellars, and the men of Rohan need not have left their home at all, since the invincible army of ghosts showed up (on ships? WTF?) to wipe out the hordes of evil and save the day. In a sense, everything Tolkien had written up to that point was reduced to 38 seconds of green CGI ghosts washing over a field. It made me want to vomit, and it should make everyone who loves that botched abortion of a storyline ashamed of themselves.

  • Hans Yuan June 25, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Having read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (before watching the movies) and the Silmarillion (after), I consider myself a fan of Tolkien’s work with Middle-Earth and Arda. But I’m also a fan of Peter Jackson’s movies, simply because I’m also a 15 – 25 year old who enjoys gleefully and gratuitously violent and mindless cinema produced at the cost of supposed desecration of the source material. In this respect I consider myself lucky because I am able to keep the movies and the books separate as completely distinct entities in my mind. They share nothing but a title, and one does not detract from the other. Sure, the movies may not be an adaptation of the books in any sense of the word, but consider this: if it were at all possible to adapt Tolkien’s work for the big screen and have it both be a cinematic masterpiece as well as a faithful rendition of the spirit of J.R.R.’s intentions with his work, then even if such an adaptation did not exist yet, someone (likely a Tolkien reader, perhaps even C.T. himself) would have created a specific and detailed outline of such a work and left it to the filmmakers. As no such thing exists, I am convinced that Jackson’s movies were the best that anyone could do, all things considered. Certainly not from the perspective of Tolkien readers, from the looks of it, but for everyone else. And while one might argue that the opinions of Tolkien’s readers should count for more than that of everyone else, simple math says otherwise. Look at how much recognition the movies have had from movie critics, and how much of a financial success they were. Those might not be valid indicators of quality for a Tolkien reader whose foremost concern is faithfulness to the original work, or Tolkien’s complex and interwoven themes, or the rich well of mythology and philosophy behind The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, or what have you, but it counts for a lot in the eyes and minds of anyone else who’s watched the movies, regardless of age or…”literacy”. To disregard all that with heavy vitriol backed by a wall of pretentiousness and the holier-than-thou attitude prevalent elsewhere in the worlds of both literature and cinema is, I think, a little childish and disrespectful, and more than a little pointless. I mean things like calling fans of the movies “illiterate” for no better reason than because they happen to like something that a lot of other people like. I would expect someone who considers him or herself “literate” to understand the meaning of “petty” and “slander”. Also consider that, setting everything irrelevant aside for a moment, that cinema is in fact a completely different medium to books – the same things that worked so well in books would be complete fiascoes in movies. The scouring of the Shire as an ending or near-ending after the battle of Pelennor Fields and the Black Gate, for example. Or losing the momentum of the movie to show everything from The Houses of Healing, which was my personal favourite chapter. Or showing Aragorn’s supposedly effortless transition from ranger to king instead of visually showing his inner struggle and indecisiveness and doubts, which gets the audience actually invested in the character. Keeping to the idea that a Mary Sue is a sure sign of a bad or bland storyteller, Jackson absolutely HAD to make each character have some kind of flaw, which is why the human characters were weak and foolish or whatever else may be. I agree with some of the criticisms of the films, for example, the ghost army completely destroying the significance of Rohan’s charge and the sacrifices of the Gondorians, but it was the on-screen representation of the return of the king with the army that only he could command. Audiences were much more interested in Aragorn’s journey and his triumph in the Pelennor Fields with his rather unique army than in nameless and faceless (to them) men whose jobs were to die to make the battle more intense. Again, not a matter of literacy or faithfulness to the book or even personal preference, but the simple difference between what flies in the cinema and what passes through the pages of a book, by necessity. And in case anyone thinks that I’m trying to justify all of Jackson’s changes by sacrificing everything Tolkien at the altar of book-movie discrepancy, I do absolutely hate that Gimli became little more than comic relief without any need for such a change. That one happens to be my biggest personal grievance.

    I understand why there are criticisms of Jackson’s LotR movies from the Tolkien camp, but I urge you to consider the movies more as separate entities unrelated to the deep roots of the book than as adaptations, and I almost guarantee you’ll enjoy them just a little more.

    The Hobbit movies (plural, I ask you), on the other hand, did not work as adaptations nor standalone films.

  • Brian Boru June 29, 2015 at 9:31 am

    I can go along with the book and the movies sharing nothing but a title. Just like I can go along with Christopher Tolkien saying: “They gutted the book, making an action movie for 15-25 year olds et al’ (albeit in translation) in order to make that distinction. After all the marketing attached to the movies does not make that distinction.

    As for any ‘heavy vitriol backed by a wall of pretentiousness and the holier-than-thou attitude’ and the ‘calling fans of the movies “illiterate” for no better reason than because they happen to like something that a lot of other people like’ coming from the Tolkien readers, I guess it is not surprising. Especially given that the blog, after quoting the translated words of Christopher Tolkien, refers to the latter as the notoriously stuffy son of J.R.R. Tolkien, thus setting the tone for the blog. And this includes heavy vitriol et al from fans of the movies towards the Tolkien readers.

  • Lori Kisling June 30, 2015 at 5:22 am

    The only characterization problem you had was with Gimli? Seriously? How about Gandalf? Faramir? Merry and Pippin? God, how about FRODO? All of these characters were either turned into “joke” characters, or just bad people, weak people, unheroic people. These were the main characters. Gimli, shes. His demotion was the least of it.

  • […] 8. Surprisingly, Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien hates The Lord of the Rings movies – Source […]