View Full Version : Elves at Helm's Deep? (and other deviations from the books).

18-09-2010, 17:18
Now. From my memory the Elves at Helm's Deep consisted of Legolas, Elladan and Elrohir (who I think arrived with the Dunedain). How great would that have been; Rangers and the sons of Elrond turning up? When in the movies Haldir and the host from Lorien showed up I was aghast and when Haldir died I nearly passed out.

This deviation from the canon seemed unforgivable, after all, Haldir and his brother (Oropher?) and the wardens of Lorien had plenty to do, dealing with orcs from Moria as well as the attacks launched from Dol Guldur. The Battle under the Trees kept them and Thranduil's bunch busy while Pellenor was going on.

Now I understand that PJ wanted to give us a dramatic loss without killing a 'major' character but it still rankles with me now. I recently watched them again on bluray (the 4th time I have purchased the movies :rolleyes:) and I love the movies. I see them as a great visual aid to the books with so much done perfectly. For Example The Balrog is just beautiful on bluray as is Treebeard. Is their anything else you don't like or do you just not agree? Such as Narsil not being reforged for ages and Elrond actually being a bit of a plonker? Or is everything fair game as long as the movie is good?

So what do you reckon? Excusable?

And as The Hobbit looks like it is on it's way (so long as the lawyers sort themselves out) what changes do you dread for the proposed two movies?

Edit; I know Helm's Deep should be spelt as two words but I type badly and am unsure how to change the title. Idiot, that I am. :)

18-09-2010, 19:21
Elves at Helm's Deep - At least you remember that Elves do, in fact, show up to reinforce Aragor at about this time in the books. They don't actually show up till after the battle though. All PJ did was merge some characters and fiddle slightly with the timing to make for a better action scene. No one seems to realize how important it is in movies to keep the number of characters the viewers need to keep track of to an absolute minimum. The Dunedain and the Sons of Elrond, while mentioned in the books somewhat frequently, don't actually ever DO anything relevant to the plot, they are just background flavor. If PJ had included them in the movies he would have needed to add some scenes in Fellowship that introduced them, and then some exposition scenes to explain who they were and why they were important (especially for the Dunedain) and then probably add some scenes in RotK showing more happening to them. Their inclusion would have meant other things had to be cut to keep the time manageable and they would most likely have confused the audience that wasn't familiar with the books, so instead he took some minor characters and merged them together to make the story more comprehensible to new people. Also, by making them all elves he demonstrates to the audience that the elves, so-called good guys, are not just sitting on their hands while the fellowship does stuff, which is what it would look like if they weren't there and didn't know attacks were going on elsewhere. (he can get away with not doing the same for Dwarves because the dwarves in Moria were all dead, so the audience sees that they have their own problems.)

In short I don't have a problem with the elves at helm's deep at all. It was a necessary (and really very slight) modification for the needs of the medium and a good decision on PJs part.

Other things

The Warg attack on the way to helm's deep. Lot of people seem to complain about this one too. It's in the books. It is only like one line in the book but the books do say they were harassed by wargs on the way to the fortress. It took me a while to figure out why PJ included it though. What I think was the reason is he needed to show the uruk-Hai army to both the audience and someone from the good guys (Aragorn) to drive home the incredible size of the enemy and the apparent hopelessness of the coming battle.

Changes to Faramir's character. This is a pretty big change from the books. In the books the ring basically can't tempt Faramir at all and he simply lets Frodo go. IMO that makes no sense at all. It completely neuters the supposed power of the ring for one thing. Tolkien spent 2 whole books talking up the corrupting influence of the ring, how anyone, even Aragorn, would have succumbed to it in the end and that men were particularly vulnerable and then here comes Faramir who simply has no interest in it at all...WTF. IMO the changes PJ made to Faramir really enhance his character and make the whole thing much more believable. Taking the Hobbits to Osgiliath, well, that is a little more questionable but OK.

Increased roll of Arwen - The storybook love between Aragorn and Arwen is a major facet of Aragorn's character and I have to be honest, the first several times I read the books I pretty much missed it except for the coronation. Also, like I said above, you ca't have too many characters in a movie so merging Glorfindel into Arwen makes sense. Glorfindel basically comes out of nowhere, does one fairly minor thing (story-telling wise) and then is never heard from again. Makes perfect sense to combine him with another character who you need to emphasize to.

I think those are the major points that I always hear people complaining about, and I don't really have a problem with any of them. What I DO have a problem with is...

Making Merry and Pippin and especially Gimli all into comic relief. Aside from the rather blatant sterotyping of making the short people into clowns, Merry and Pippin (like Frodo and Sam) were mature adults who followed their friends into danger out of a sense of loyalty and love. Pippin especially is depicted and a clumsy, incompetent buffoon who causes more trouble than good. And Gimli, gimli is supposed to be every bit the total badass that Legalos is but in the movies he is tripping over his own feet in the middle of battle, falling off horses, buried under warg bodies while his friends do battle, the idiotic (and I believe offensive to some) Dwarf tossing jokes. This is my biggest complaint about the movies, that they took 3 really cool characters and reduced them to running gags.

Changes to Ents. Absolutely hate it. Lets just completely reverse the primary trait of an entire race and have them spontaneously and emotionally change their mind. I know it was done to try and make Pippin seem like he had a point for being in the story but they could have done that without totally butchering the Ents themselves.

Um, there are other things but this has gotten pretty long already so I will stop for now.

19-09-2010, 15:40
I think rumours of PJ's storytelling abilities were greatly exaggerated...

Sorry ForgottenLore, I don't think "It was in the books - it was just completely different is all" is a great argument either. There are a number of small things that could've been done to preserve a lot of details from the books without drastically changing the running time. At least, no more so than the additions and emphasis PyJamas shoehorned in himself: Aragorn limping across Rohan after the warg attack? Villainous Faramir dragging Frodo to Osgiliath? A trudge across Fangorn and a couple of speeches instead of the march of the Ents? The whole disapproving-dad Elrond bit? And more. Not buying it. Sorry.

Here's a site that might be of some interest. Exhaustively in-depth, but speaking on a forum about collecting and painting armies of tiny fighting men, I don't think we can begrudge the guy a little list-collation.


24-09-2010, 09:52
Edit; I know Helm's Deep should be spelt as two words but I type badly and am unsure how to change the title. Idiot, that I am. :)
Fixed the title for you :)

24-09-2010, 16:43
Sorry ForgottenLore, I don't think "It was in the books - it was just completely different is all" is a great argument either.

When the complaint is "That 5 minutes of screen time wasn't in the books, I hate the whole trilogy" then I would say the argument "It was in the books, right here, just not emphasized as much." is a perfectly valid argument.

People have to understand that film and books have very different limitations and in almost all cases stories HAVE to be altered and adjusted when translated to another medium.

That's the reason why stories are usually best in their original form. Film adaptations of books are usually not as good as the books were, novelizations of movies are almost never as good as the movie was.

That doesn't mean the derivative work should be dismissed out of hand or that it isn't any good. People should factor the need for changes into their appreciation of a derivative work.

24-09-2010, 22:15
I can forgive a lot of the changes, i understand it's difficult to introduce all the characters in the book and the film would be too long if it had every scene in from the book. I don't mind Tom Bombadil not being in the film, i don't mind Arwen taking on some of Glorfindel's role. Visually i thought the films looked amazing. The Balrog looked better than i had imagined him to. I thought Minas Tirith was stunning. The armour, weapons and all the props were perfect.

I miss some of the intrigue and mystery from the books. An example is the scenes around Bree, when the Nazgūl organize themselves along the road and set up a watch system. Then at night some of them sneak into Bree. Also a cloaked figure that shadows the hobbits when they enter Bree (you later find out it's Aragorn) The same with Weathertop. They spot dark riders on the road, and dive down for cover.

I also have a bit of a problem with the timing of the film, which i guess is down to editing. Two scenes immediately spring to mind;

- The first is the weathertop scene, up until Frodo puts the ring on i like it. Once the ring is on and the Nazgūl are shown as Twilight Wraiths the film slows down. The Witch King slowly reaches forward, does a twirl, takes his time, shows his best side to the camera. Fair enough they want to show off the CGI, but these Nazgūl have been searching for the ring, that's why they exist, it's all they do. They are fast and ruthless, and surely they know their prey is physically weak. It slows down too much for me.

- The second is when the fellowship is fleeing from the Balrog, and they go down those stairs and spend a long time leaping a gap, Gimli does that "Nobody tosses a dwarf" line. When i first saw that in the cinema everyone laughed. I remember thinking "that's removed any tension the film had trying to escape this big demon. What's the Balrog doing? waiting for them to cross over? giving them a chance?" Yes you could argue the Balrog is taking another route, but for me it ruined a tense and dramatic escape scene.

There's other scenes in the film where the timing is all wrong... goblins snarling and forming a perfect circle around them in Moria, when 30 seconds earlier they were attacking the fellowship in Balin's Tomb. Why do they wait? there's other timing issues in the film, can't think of any more right now.

But saying that, i did enjoy the films overall. Hopefully the Hobbit will be great.
Never thought about what i'm dreading in the Hobbit. I think a potential stumbling block could be all the talking animals in the Hobbit. The eagles talk, wolves talk, even the spiders talk. It'll be interesting to see if they manage to make it look good. I hope PJ sticks with the White Council going into Dol Guldur, i really want to see that. :D