Tolkien the Movie. (Arts)

By Wood, Ralph C. | The Christian Century, January 2, 2002 | Go to article overview

Tolkien the Movie. (Arts)


Wood, Ralph C., The Christian Century


THE FIRST OF THREE annual film installments of J. R. R. Tolkien's 1,500-page epic The Lord of the Rings, directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson, has many fine qualities. The New Zealand scenery evokes the fantastically real world of Tolkien's Middle-earth, and the tunnelly hobbit-homes are finely rendered. The special effects--whether in the brilliance of Gandalf's magical fireworks or the hideousness of the fiend called the Balrog--are also well done. Jackson gives riveting attention to the actors' faces, especially the discerning eyes of the wizard Gandalf. The film's pacing nicely echoes the undulating movement of the book, as it moves from chilling confrontations with orcs and trolls and ringwraiths to episodes of tranquil splendor in the elven reams of Rivendell and Lorien. These latter places have a late Victorian loveliness about them, while the scenes of horror might have been borrowed from Hieronymus Bosch.

In times like these, it is remarkable that the two blockbuster films of the season--Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Fellowship of the Ring--contain neither nudity nor profanity nor sex scenes. But Fellowship is a wholesome movie not because it avoids these, but because it is whole. The Company of Nine Walkers charged with the task of destroying the one ruling Ring of power are not one-dimensional figures but embodiments of virtues: courage and trust, love and loyalty, friendship and resolute will. Both characters and viewers are made to feel the corrupting lure of the Ring. Knowing well that its power will ruin them, hobbits and wizards and men are nonetheless tempted to wield that power. The deeds of the wicked are depicted in arresting and memorable ways--especially the underground metal-works for manufacturing monstrous weapons of war. After September 11, the movie also serves as a salutary reminder that war is not an antiseptic affair of bombs dropped from on high, but that the battle against evil is dirty and dangerous and unending.

Yet in making iniquity obvious and uncomplicated, the film departs from Tolkien's heroic fantasy in lamentable ways. Consider Saruman, Gandalf's fellow wizard. In the movie he is utterly sinister, while in the book he is an almost tragic instance of good gone wrong, a figure who wants to make an alliance with the demonic Sauron for the sake of a benevolent despotism. The film does show the warrior Boromir to be genuinely conflicted about wanting to use the Ring, but it fails to clarify the nature of his quandary. Tolkien, by contrast, reveals that the Ring corrupts virtues far more than it preys on vices. Boromir's stouthearted willingness to die in defense of his assaulted people tempts him to employ the Ring against the evil Sauron. His bravery is the source of his undoing, even as the wizard Gandalf is threatened by his compassion, and the elven-queen Galadriel by her beauty. Such subtleties and profundities are largely absent from the film. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tolkien the Movie. (Arts)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.