Now This Log

Monday, 7 January 2002 : "LOTR"

Saw The Lord of the Rings part I Saturday. Overall, I was quite pleased with it, though I have no wish to see it again soon (3 hours is a long long time).

I've only a few quibbles about the editing of some shots -- as in Harry Potter..., the frequent, extended looks of astonishment became tiresome. And the sudden, scary Bilbo face was unnecessary; I'm sure Ian Holm could have done a perfectly serviceable real nasty expression.

But in all, I thought it very well done, particularly Ian McKellen's Gandalf.

I recommend Lake Effect's review which covers most bases very well. He made me pay attention to McKellen's reading of Gandalf's last line, which was wonderfully underplayed. Many directors would have just had him shout it, I'm sure, but it was most excellent this way.

I told L I'd like a loop of the Gandalf/Balrog scene that I could call up at any time. <crack> "You Shall! Not! PASS!" <BOOM>. Heh.

What I don't get are the negative comparisons critics insist on drawing between LOTR and the Harry Potter movie, as though the two must be in conflict and you have to choose only one to like since they were released near each other in time (a common, annoying fallacy). They're both good, and LOTR has deeper source material, many more locales and a grander scope, so you'd expect a very different/deeper experience, especially if you're an adult.

However, people leave out of their bitching the fact that this Potter movie was just the first story of many, and the lightest, most kid-oriented plot of them all; of course it pales in comparison to LOTR if you insist on judging them by the exact same yardstick.

I just know, however, that as the Potter movies continue to be made, some of the same critics will remark on how much better and more satisfying these later films are and how they look at the series with new eyes now, blah blah blah. If they'd think for half a second before slagging the current Potter movie, they'd put 2 and 2 together today and not a year from now: <rubbing chin> as Harry gets older... and the Potter stories get more adult... the more adults will enjoy the movies made from them! Eureka!

Really, it's okay to appreciate both movies for what they are and not try to make them something they aren't. LOTR is no Brazil or Citizen Kane or Schindler's List or Casablanca, either, right? And so the hell what. It's still great.

Anyway, as I think of more notes about LOTR, I'll post comments on this entry. Feel free to post your own reactions as well.

Replies: 4 comments so far

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I liked the "scary Bilbo face" -- I thought the sudden transformation (of a degree that would have been impossible for Mr. Holmes) was very effective in showing how far the ring could change a person, both for the benefit of the audience, but even more, perhaps, to put Frodo himself "on warning" in an unmistakable way, of what he was up against even from people that he trusted. It sort of allows the subsequent hypnotic responses of other characters to partake of that horror indirectly (natural, since they'd had a shorter time than Bilbo to be enmeshed), rather than their having to work up horrific faces themselves...

But just another country heard from...
A most enjoyable movie. Makes me want the others queued up though.

Posted by rf @ 01/07/2002 10:42AM est

oh! and what about those cool water horses that the elf woman conjured out of the river! man!

Posted by rf @ 01/07/2002 10:54AM est

As I read many reviews of LOTR, I am struck by how many people criticize the movie for elements that actually come straight out of the book. Most notable was the reviewer who complained that there were too few women in the movie (despite the fact that Arwen's role was actually expanded in the movie). The "scary Bilbo face" falls in the same category. If you read the original text, Frodo "found that he was no longer looking at Bilbo; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands."

Now, some people may have a bone to pick with the original story, but unless they say so outright, I find it a little strange to fault the movie for adhering closely to its source.

(For the record, the way-cool water horses are also straight from Tolkien.)

Posted by nrh @ 01/07/2002 02:56PM est

Oddly enough, I didn't remember the passage verbatim or go back to check it.

If they had shown 'a shadow fall[ing] between them', and a 'little wrinkled creature with a hungry face, etc.', I probably wouldn't have had a cow, but that's not what I saw.

Tolkein didn't write that Frodo "found that he was no longer looking at Bilbo but at a demonic videogame monster ready to rip his throat out", though, so I'm not sure you can say the movie adhered all that closely to its source.

Posted by Steve @ 01/07/2002 09:22PM est

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