Academic journal article Mythlore

The Lord of the Rings' Interlace: The Adaptation to Film

Academic journal article Mythlore

The Lord of the Rings' Interlace: The Adaptation to Film

Article excerpt

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was rewritten as a film script by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens and the film itself released in three parts that more or less coincide with the volume divisions of the original text: The Fellowship of the Ring ([FR] 2001), The Two Towers ([TT] 2002), and The Return of the King ([RK] 2003). (1) In the film, as in the text, interlace is used to amplify and expand upon the central "matter" of the narrative in a manner that dramatizes its status as myth. (2) This paper identifies the specifically filmic variations of Tolkien's interlace involving cross-cutting apparent in the extended DVD editions of the trilogy: the appendix is a list of the occasions of interlace and the paper itself is a discussion of how the interlace technique is applied in the development of particular aspects of the lives of Isildur, Gollum, and Elrond in the film relative to the text.

All of the three types of narrative interlace found in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings [LotR, to distinguish it from the movies] also characterize Alan Lee's illustrations for that text (Auger 2008). These types include structural interlace, which involves achronological order, such that events are placed out of natural time so as to enhance and draw out associations--similarities and dissimilarities--between characters, events, and themes; stylistic interlace, which refers to the repetition or restatement of a particular theme or other element as a way of both emphasizing it and exploring its potential implications; (3) and pictorial interlace, which refers to the manner in which the movements of characters and the obstacles and furtherances they encounter are imbricated with the environment itself such that all are "apprehended like an image" (Fein 232), or as if the environment itself were a projection of the inner state and will of the characters (Burlin). In both Tolkien's text and Lee's illustrations, structural interlace is frequently apparent in the moments dedicated to story, dream, and fortune-telling because they intertwine past, present, and probable future events; stylistic interlace appears in the frequent restating of such themes as love and loyalty, and kingship and stewardship; and pictorial interlace appears so continuously that the physical aspects of the environment appear as a direct manifestation of the motivations and will of the various characters with regard to the quest.

These different types of interlace are also recreated in the film, though it does not incorporate all of Tolkien's characters and events, and cross-cutting generally serves to further the effects of continuity editing expected by today's film audiences. The interlace that is most unique to the film, best described as a kind of structural interlace, is the re-presentation of certain motifs and lines of dialogue with variations, often by cross-cutting, in a manner that serves to enlarge on the matter. Sometimes these follow Tolkien, some adapt the text, and some add to it. As the appendix to this paper demonstrates, the principal method of interlace unique to the film involves visual re-presentations of particular events, often with voice-overs from individuals who are disassociated in time and/or space from the accompanying images. Here, just a few of these film treatments are elaborated with reference to the text, notably those applied in the development of the story of Isildur, Gollum's torture, and Elrond's "council," not only the council at which the fellowship is established, but the expanded "council" highlighted in the film which also involves Elrond's private communications with Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen, and Galadriel.

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring text begins with a prologue about the life and interests of hobbits. The film opens with a different prologue in which Galadriel's voice-overs and related visuals present an abbreviated version of the long history of the Ring, including its forging, Isildur's taking of it from Sauron, and its passage to Gollum and then Bilbo. …

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