One Movie to Rule Them All

I’m just back from a nice Christmas luncheon held for our department. It was in the posh Laurel Room in the South Campus Hall of the University, and they served turkey, beef bourgineon, mixed vegetables and stuffing. There was also a wonderful dessert tray.

What a nice way to have a break, get to know people and generally feel good about the department and the season!


Why, yes, I am salivating at the prospect of going to see The Two Towers. Chances are, you are too, since you probably know what movie I’m talking about without me having to say “that second Lord of the Rings flick”.

To each their own: my mother-in-law didn’t like the first movie as much as the rest of us. She felt that not enough focus had been given to the characters and their interaction. We feel none of the sadness of losing Bill the Pony, for instance, and we don’t get to hear Sam sing. The extended DVD release restores some of this balance, but a lot of the little touches of the book remain missing. My own mother rolls her eyes over how every theatrical adaptation of the Rings saga gives short shrift to the Old Forest and Tom Bombadil.

In general, I feel that the first movie stayed true to the spirit of Tolkien’s work, if not to the letter. It’s one thing to read a book, where you can control the pace, where your imagination fills in the blanks and, most importantly, where you can set the narrative aside when you have to go to the bathroom, or make your own popcorn. A movie should go on for no more than three hours without an intermission; the only way I can see this story staying truer to the book is if it was released as six two-hour episodes of a television miniseries. If you want to get the first book out in under three hours as a single movie, the Old Forest and Tom Bombadil are high on the list of things you’ll have to cut out, since they are but appetizers to the plot, and not the main plot itself.

The Harry Potter movies show that you can stay very faithful to the books you’ve based your movie on, but lose something of the inner magic or the soul of the work. The Harry Potter books have a current of anger in them that lends the series considerable energy, but which hasn’t been taken up in such a degree in the movie. On the other hand, while the first Lord of the Rings movie cut whole swaths of the plot out, and then yanked Arwen out from the Appendix and made her a real character, the epic, swashbuckling, battle for the soul of the world feel of the books was maintained.

I have my hopes that the second movie will also remain true to the spirit of Tolkien’s work, even though early indications are that this movie takes the most liberties with the series (Arwen inserted into the narrative — possibly in flashback — that could go wrong so easily; I am looking forward to seeing Gandalf’s battle with the Balrog in flashback, though). I won’t be looking for letter perfect accuracy of the recreation; as long as the movie functions as a movie, I’ll be happy.

The same director that worked on the first Harry Potter movie filmed the second, and the second movie built on the strengths of the first, while maintaining the same weaknesses. Not only is the same director working on The Two Towers, the bulk of that movie was filmed alongside The Fellowship of the Ring. I’m expecting, at least, a consistency of tone that will pick up where the first adventure left off, and that is a good thing.

So, yes, I’m salivating. I’m very excited. I haven’t looked forward to a movie this much in a long time.

The First Two Towers Reviews

  • “‘Two Towers’ a seamless triumph
  • Globe and Mail: “A Towering Achievement of Battle, Battle, Battle” (*)
  • Toronto Star: “Newest Rings Movie a Towering Achievement” (*)
  • Toronto Sun: “Towering Epic” (** 1/2)

Erin says the journalists just can’t help it. They go to journalism school and take Bad Puns 101, and they’re stuck with it for life. (with the exception of sports journalists who take Half-Thought-Out-Metaphor 101)

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