I have made mention previously about visiting various filming locations used in “The Lord of the Rings” films. The films have spawned a tourism industry in New Zealand which, with the release of the inferior “The Hobbit” series, shows no sign of ending. I wanted to talk about the fact that I recently re-read the novel for the first time in almost 20 years. During the intervening period I have watched the films so many times that they have become the story. So…what of the book?
I was very surprised by just how much was changed for the cinema. Not only were a number of sections missing, new storylines were added, some storylines were changed for no obvious reason, some characters (notably female ones) were given larger roles and it is curious, when you consider the rather graphic violence that is present at times in the films, how little of this Tolkien actually describes. Tolkien almost gave freedom of imagination to the movie-folk so it is a credit to them in what they achieved. But it almost feels that in many ways the films are a dumbed down version of the book…but then when has a film ever been anything else?
It is rare to love a book and a film to be able to compare the two, and to still love them both afterwards. Actors are seldom good enough to truly represent a book on film without narration and you lose so much of what made the book so great…but what you get instead is an amazing visualisation of one of the greatest books of our time.
So, for anyone who may be interested, yes, the book is better, but I must also say that I think Peter Jackson did an incredible job of turning 1000+ pages of literature into an accessible movie masterpiece.