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Fygar

I have to say (and I recognize I might be blasphemin' here): I saw the movies when they came out, but only recently read "Fellowship" and "Two Towers". I thought "Two Towers" was a great read but "Fellowship" was a bit dry compared to the movie.

"Fellowship" (the book) just didn't seem to amp up the tension the way the the movie did. I'd have to re-watch the movie to explain just why I feel this way. The book, I thought, did a great job of portraying just how far these hobbits had wandered out into the world, but the movie just honed the whole story down until the creeping tension was so exquisite. I keep going back to utter dismay of the group after (spoiler!) Gandalf goes down with the Balrog. Hell, in the movie, the whole sequence with the Balrog, is so intense and so, ultimately, heart-breaking. It achieves something the book doesn't.

On a related note, of the three movies, the most amazing image, for me, is in the "Two Towers", at the end of the Balrog battle, there's the shot of the cavern that's slowly lit by the light of the Balrog and, suddenly, the massive Balrog appears off in the distance, tiny, giving scale to the stunningly huge cavern into which they've fallen. Goosebumps.

Ken Houghton

I stopped reading about 1/3 of the way through Fellowship, bored, and have never felt the need to go back. (If the above is blaspheme, I guess that makes me apostate. I can live with that.)

But the second film is the one worth owning in the extended version, just for the funeral scene.

Judith

While I recognize that there is something poignant about Aragorn giving Frodo up to the woman he trusts and it's cool to have a strong female character (conjuring the floods herself, for example), this is actually one of my least favourite scenes. I accept that for a movie, you kind of had to have a big exciting romance, but for me Glorfindel was such a significant character. First, his friendship with Aragorn said a lot about Aragorn's past, and the sort of brotherly love that existed not only between Aragorn and other men but also between Aragorn and the Elves, which is rare. Though you get some of that from Legolas, it's greatly downplayed by taking out Glorfindel as well as any participation by Elrohir and Elladan and the Rangers. I also think they could have done a really good job cinematographically of the moment where Frodo sees Glorfindel across the river as another wraithlike figure, but stronger - that's the moment in the book for me where the majesty and power of the Elves really becomes evident. There's something in there about the wraiths seeing an Elf-lord in his wrath and the horses being driven to madness and drowning themselves - that really just highlights the dichotomy between light and dark, how the dark forces can at times be a bit afraid of the Elves and the Elves at times afraid of the dark forces (like when they plug their ears when Gandalf uses the Black Speech). Finally, I like Frodo being on the horse alone because there's that moment of hesitance and then Glorfindel speaking to Asfaloth, as well as the moment once Frodo has crossed when he says "By Elbereth and LĂșthien the fair!" and draws his sword that were just really interesting to me.

Oh, well. Really showed my nerd colours there ;-)

In other news, I found a black grocery-style tote the other day that says "Not all those who wander are lost" for $9. Woo!

Lance

Judith, if readers can't show their nerd colors here, then there's nowhere in blog world they can. Frodo is a much more active and heroic character in the books, and I'm ambivalent about the way the movies changed him. The flight to the ford is one of his more heroic moments, and it would have been out of keeping with his movie self if when he's wounded and sick he suddenly turns into his book self. I think the movies combined Glorfindel and the other Rangers and stuck them inside Legolas. I missed them all too, but I understand why Jackson felt he couldn't fit them in. Don't get me started, though, on what he did to Faramir.

Here's a question for everybody. How old were you when you read---or tried to read---the trilogy? I was in 7th grade. I think that you have to read them at the exact right moment in your life and if you miss that moment...

Rana

I don't remember exactly when I tried to read the trilogy, but it was too long and complicated for me at whatever age it was. I'd been expecting something like the Hobbit, most likely, which was a story that my mother read to me when I was too small to read it myself. (Yes, really. With scary Gollum voices and everything.)

I was impressed by the movies, not just the visuals, which are stunning, but the soundtrack. Great music, if you're a neo-Celtic fan.

Fygar

I agree that I liked the book Faramir much more than the movie Faramir. Reading the book actually bummed me out about the movie Faramir.

I tried to start The Hobbit a few times somewhere between the ages of 9 and 12. I had been previously weened, though, a steady diet of Stephen King. About 15 pages into The Hobbit, I was all, "Where the f**k are the dragons?!" As a result, I never really got into D & D, fantasy fiction or the LOTR trilogy.

My wife loved the books; we both love the movies and a month ago, between books, poking around for something to read, I came across her copies of the trilogy.

Rana

Does anyone else remember that 70s animated movie of the Hobbit?

Linkmeister

I read the early Ballantine editions in 1966 or 1967. Another geeky friend (Rick Sakamoto, where are you?) and I used to leave messages to each other on our various high school blackboards, in Runes!

actor212

I tried reading The Trilogy in high school and got one chapter into Fellowship and said "Meh! This is crap".

I was dragged to the movie and ended up reading the final two books before the end of that year.

I still think they're crap, but they're crap like a beautiful 20 foot blue spruce Christmas tree...with Christopher Radko ornaments on each and every stinking branch.

I love the idea that Tolkien did so much prep work on the backstory and the details. Undoubtedly, it made the story, the tree, so much stronger and fuller.

But damn, get them goddamned gaudy ornaments out of the way! The "songs", the genealogies, the expository histories of this clan or that tribe or that race, all that shit could easily have been left out and the books would have been even better.

Rana, which one? The made-for-TV version with Orson Bean or the theatrical one done by Ralph Bakshi?

Emma

I read the books -- required in my geeky end of the sf/fantasy world -- and found them compelling as world-building, but did nothing for me viscerally. There were no female characters of interest other than "the shield maiden of Rohan", and worse, I had this feeling that not being of the anglo-saxon persuasion AND could be considered as coming from the "south", well, my role would have been at best as a dwarf-wife. The movies, somehow, pushed me past that; maybe it's because I tend to be extremely visual, and by golly, they are a visual feast.

J.

I disliked the movie version - echoing Judith, the book was much more effective in dramatizing the race between a wounded Frodo and his enemies, climaxing at the Fords. I really, really disliked the forced interjection of Arwen in the movies, as a purist of the books. I understand why Jackson did it, but to cut Galadriel's presentation of gifts to the Fellowship and include all the Arwen-Aragorn stuff was nonsense.

Started reading the books in 8-9th grade, I think. Lost count of how many times I've re-read them.

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