Yesterday I finally finished reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s first installment of The Lord of the Rings. Once I was done I immediately went on to re-watch Peter Jackson’s epic adaptation of a book considered impossible to be turned into a movie. Here’s what I thought:
Dark forces are rising again in Middle Earth. Everybody is in danger as Sauron is searching for his one ring that allows him to rule over all the free peoples.
The fate of them all know depends on a little Hobbit who was entrusted to destroy the ring. Along with eight companies he sets out for Mount Doom.
Book vs. Movie:
First of all I need to say that it is extremely hard to get into the book. The story up to the council in Rivendell (about 2/3 of the book) seem to drag on forever. What really annoyed me was that Tolkien indulges in describing rather unneccessary stuff nobody wants to hear that much about while other by far more interesting events are handled within five sentences. There was for example a scene in the books (left out in the movie) where the Hobbits walk through the woods and are attacked by a barrow wight. The whole incident was covered in a few sentences and I still have no idea what really happened nor what a barrow wight actually is.
In the movie however, this part of the book is covered extremely well. A lot of the walking was left out and many things were altered which I appreciate very much. It gives the movie a faster pace while still keeping all important elements of the story.
Another point I really like about the film are the side plots. In the book you only here about Gandalf’s problems once he reaches Rivendell. Meaning that a whole lot of plot (of several characters) is stuffed into that one chapter where everybody tells his story. In the film these events are shown when the actually happen. For me it is a lot more interesting this way.
Another sub-plot that was shown in the movie (but did not exist in the book) is the love story between Aragorn and Arwen. Although I am not a fan of unnecessary love stories being thrown in somewhere to attract a wider audience, here it was done very well and blends in perfectly with the rest of the story. As I felt like the whole book could use a bit of sub-plots, this was a very welcome sight in the movie.
This is of course also true for the side plot where Saruman is shown doing work for Sauron. For me this really helped to get more into the story and to understand what is going on in Mordor and what their goal is while this was basically not mentioned in the book.
I’m not sure whether I got used to Tolkien’s way of telling things or the book really got better, but after the council in Rivendell it is far more enjoyable to read. The movie however, doesn’t let you down either. All the incidents along the way are covered pretty well in the movie. The only time I was a little disappointed was when the fellowship reached the woods of Lothlórien. I had pictured it to look more magical, but all of this was forgotten once they came to Caras Galadhon. This was more wonderful than I ever could have imagined. Very well done Peter Jackson+Team!
The only thing the film lacks are certain bits of history that would have made places like Moria even more impressive. I am aware that it had to be cut out in order to prevent the movie from being five hours long, but in the film pretty much no info was given about certain stuff.
So finally coming to an end, I can say that for more than half of the story I definitely prefer the movie. Although the book finally picks up speed and gets more interesting towards the end, I have to say that the film is far more enjoyable to watch.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments whether you prefer the book or the movie! =)
A little side note: What about the damn pony?? I didn’t notice this while I read the book, but in the film it really hit me. What did they do with the pony while they crawled up the mountain only to be defeated by the snow? No pony to be seen anywhere! But when they head for Moria, there it is! So if they decide to let it go at the gates of Moria what the hell did they do with the pony while they where on the damn mountain???