Whenever you translate a book into script form, it is necessary to make changes. However, some people can not accept that this is a necessary part of the translation. Other people say that they had to. This essay will attempt to document the changes between the book Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and the movie of the same name. I hope to shed light on each side’s arguments and allow the reader to draw their own conclusion from the facts stated.
I will be focusing on the four most changed characters. However, in general, characters have had parts cut that were in the book, parts added that weren’t in the book, and in one case had his character changed so much that he is virtually unrecognizable as the same character. The characters will be explained in alphabetical order.
The first character is Aragorn. One major change made to his character is that in the books from the moment we meet him he is already confident in his role as King of Gondor. However, in the movie, he is struggling with his heritage. This is a change that makes sense from a film makers point of view. It is far more dramatic to have a man struggle to fulfill a set role than to have him already confident in his self. However in the movie once he gains his confidence he becomes far more bossy than he was in the books. He even goes as far as to tell the King of Rohan what to do. Something the book Aragorn would never have considered doing. The other significant change is the introduction of Eowyn as a love interest. This is not in the books. This is in the movies because they have Aragorn breakup with Arwen due to the influence of Elrond. This is also not in the books where the only romance for Aragorn is in the appendices.
Secondly, we see Arwen who has had her part expanded. In the books she is not mentioned in the text, except for one comment which does not even contain her name. However, in the movie we see her bring Aragorn back to life, in two flashbacks, talking to Elrond, and going to the Grey Havens. In the eyes of the film makers this is necessary because people have to remember her in the next movie. A major problem amongst book readers was that when they reached the end of Return of the King they did not remember Arwen.
Next we will talk about Eowyn. The books have her as far more cold, private, and less in love with Aragorn then she is in the movies. She has, like Arwen, had her part expanded. In the movie she is more open about her feelings and falls in love with Aragorn. You might say she is more like a teenager in the movies. One of the major concerns of the film makers was that the women were under represented in the books. Another important concern was that people have to connect to the characters and it was believed that the audience would be able to connect better with the new Eowyn.
The character who has probably been most mangled by the movie is Faramir. The movies give us a man who is far darker then he was in the books. The books gave us a wise, careful leader and a kind, understanding man. Both the book and the movie have him as the leader of the Ithillien Rangers, son of Denethor, and brother of Boromir. When Frodo and Sam come to Ithillien, they have a very different reception in the movies than in the books. The movies have the Rangers manhandle the Hobbits and abuse Gollum; Where as the books have the Rangers trying to find out who they are and what the are doing before they take any damaging actions. The book has Faramir refuse the ring stating that he has already given his word not to take it, even if he hadn't given his word that he "would not take this thing if it lay by the side of the highway." Then he cautions them about Gollum and their route, gives them food and sends them on their way with "the good will of all good men." However, in the movies, he has ordered the ring taken to Denethor. He only releases them when he sees Frodo stand straight in the path of a Nazgul because of the ring. This is when he realises it only can destroy and corrupt. The reasons for this change that the film makers stated was that they wanted more obstacles for Frodo and Sam; also Faramir needed to be tempted by the ring, because it would not look right if after all the people who had been tempted by the ring, one man could simply reject it out of hand.
Whether or not you agree with the film makers is your own choice. I personally have the position that most of the changes in the movie were fine, but they went to far with Faramir. Some things that must be considered are: Could most people today understand the messages that were contained in the book about loyalty, courage, and friendship? Does the movie have these messages? Could people have been content with a stay and wait Arwen, a cold Eowyn, a more stable Aragorn, and a Faramir who could reject the ring? Could we believe in these characters like people who read the books fifty years ago? And the most unsettling question of all; Do people like the book characters still exist in the real world?
Author's Chapter Notes:
Iwill admit that I saw the movie before I read the book.