When you’re a kid, seeing your favourite stories come to life on the big screen is probably one of the most exciting things ever and for many it can be their first introduction to a new fandom. However, whenever a book series is adapted into a movie franchise. there is usually. if not always. things that are lost in translation from big battles to small details and conversations. Sometimes it just can’t be helped.
Like many other adaptations, the Lord of the Rings films do justice to some key characters while completely diminishing, erasing or ruining others. Of course it’s very difficult to nail every single character, especially when you only have so much time to squash them all together and develop each character arc. Some elements of the story have to be completely changed just to make it workable for the big screen, but still, it is unfortunate when they turn heroines into helpless damsels or heroes into wimps. With such a huge character list and immense world to bring to life, Peter Jackson did an excellent job with some of our beloved characters while betraying others, here we narrowed down seven LotR characters they ruined and eight they nailed.
15. Got Right: Gollum
The films nailed Smeagol from his seemingly malicious intentions to the horrid noise he makes that gave him his nickname Gollum. Most people feel who have read the books don’t feel a lot of compassion for him, as he is pretty nasty and manipulative. The movies were able to translate that perfectly, with Andy Serkis playing the role to a tee, as you were both disturbed and intrigued by the character. Most importantly, however, was the Riddles In The Dark scene, as it’s one of the most important scenes in the book as well as the movies.
Peter Jackson did an excellent job of keeping this pretty close to the book and you fully believed this creature was completely taken by the ring.
14. Got Wrong: Eowyn
This is something that a lot of fans cannot let go of.
The films turned this brave, fearless, heroine into a fawning damsel who was completely destroyed when Aragorn rejected her.
This is a pretty big contrast to the books, while Eowyn does confess her feelings to Aragorn, she isn’t totally shattered by his rejection, in fact she kind of just gets over it. Realizing she has bigger fish to fry, she disguises herself and rides into battle with the men after Aragorn told her not to. When the Witch-King attacked the king’s party, Eowyn and her companion Merry were the only ones who didn’t flee, instead she attacked, battled, and killed the Witch King herself fulfilling a thousand year old prophecy.
13. Nailed: Saruman
Saruman’s greatest goal is to acquire the One Ring for himself and rule over Middle-Earth. In both the films and the books, this is the driving force behind his character as he studies dark magic and throughout both versions he becomes increasingly aware of Gandalf’s superiority over him as well. The book version and film version are both arrogant enough to think that they can align themselves with Sauron and then betray him to rule Middle-Earth and in both versions he is thwarted by the Ents. Saruman serves as the chief wizard in both Tolkien’s versions and Jackson’s, however Tolkien implies that Saruman’s spirit was left naked and wandering after his defeat. That’s not a major enough detail to imply that the character wasn’t as strong in the movies, though.
12. Got Wrong: Samwise
In the films, Sam is Frodo’s companion, although he isn’t very happy about it and is kind of a baby most of the way. In the books, however, the only time Sam leaves Frodo’s side is when he thinks Shelob has killed Frodo and attempts to take the ring to Mordor himself. Sam is more than willing to go on this journey with Frodo and carries him up Mount Doom.
Jackson’s movies didn’t do too much damage to Sam’s character, but left out some very important moments for Sam.
Such as him being the one to introduce the idea of the Undying Lands, being elected Mayor, and saving Frodo from Cirith Ungol. Tolkien regarded Sam as one of the chief heroes of his stories and stands behind the fact that without Sam, the One Ring could not be destroyed.
11. Nailed: The Orcs
One of the highlights of Peter Jackson’s adaptations was the Orcs, as they looked absolutely terrific. Instead of using CGI to create the Orcs, Jackson had make-up artists create them and boy did it pay off. Tolkien had a very specific description of what the Orcs looked like and their characteristics, as he described them as blackhearted, evil, about hobbit height, clever, and at war with themselves and everything around them. Like the books, the film describes them as being the twisted result of tortured elves and men who hate the Dark Lord, but are ever loyal to him. Something we don’t get to see in the movies however is how they live while not under the rule of the Dark Lord, during these times they usually live in tribal communities led by brutal chieftains.
10. Got Wrong: Faramir
Peter Jackson turned Faramir into Boromir #2 instead of bringing to life his own man. In the books, Faramir is brave, level headed, and very clever. It was through wit and clever questioning that he was able to deduce that Frodo carried the ring and the fate befallen to his brother. Unlike the movies, Faramir never locked Sam and Frodo up or forced them to take the ring to Gondor. In fact, Faramir recognizes that such a weapon could never be used for good and returns to Gondor without it.
While Faramir is brave and strong, he has a soft heart that can be swayed by pity.
In other words, he would never have let his men treat Gollum the way they did in the film. Jackson claims that these changes were made partly because he needed another side adventure for Sam and Frodo, but that didn’t sit well with fans who wanted to see a more independent Faramir.
9. Nailed: The Nazgul
The dreaded Black Riders that hunt Sam and Frodo relentlessly throughout the story are largely unchanged from their book counterparts. They were once nine great kings of men who were given rings of power by Sauron, who knew they would not be bale to resist its power. After years of using the rings to achieve wealth, power, and prestige, the men became corrupted to the point of spectral figures, only being able to rise when Sauron did. The only real difference between the books and the movies is the portrayal of the Witch-King. In the books, the Witch-King is revealed to be the leader of the Nazgul and most powerful of them all, more powerful than Gandalf, who has his staff broken by him. It’s only in Return of the King that he is named and separated from the other Nazgul.
8. Got Wrong: Frodo
The movies didn’t necessarily ruin Frodo, but they made some significant changes to his character. For example, when we first meet Frodo, he and Bilbo are both celebrating their shared birthday. Unlike the movies, Frodo was in possession of the ring for seventeen years before Gandalf arrives. He also never sells Bagend, instead leaving it to Sam and his family. It was never fully explained but the wound on his shoulder and the influence of the ring gave Frodo the ability to see into the spirit world, see future events in his dreams, and connect with Lady Galadriel’s ring. Spending so much time with Gandalf and Bilbo before his adventure, Frodo was also well versed in the Elven language and lore of Middle-Earth. We understand that it would be difficult for the movies to entirely include these facts, but it definitely diminished his character a little bit.
7. Nailed: Smaug
Smaug was an integral part of The Hobbit and formed the background for Gandalf and Bilbo’s relationship. In both the books and movies, Smaug is portrayed as a psychopath, a sadist, and a arrogant and greedy creature whose only motivation is self-fulfilment. In accordance with Tolkien’s drawings, you only ever see parts of the dragon instead of the full scale. He mocks Bilbo in the treasure chamber and attempts to get into his head by telling him the Dwarves are only using him to get the stone.
He actually seems to be a little more cruel than his book counterpart, going out of is way to mock Bard.
6. Got Wrong: The Ents
If you have ever seen the films, but never read the books, you probable hate the Ents and you really wouldn’t be blamed for it. In the films, the Ents are merely time fillers and terribly boring ones at that. They take about half a movie to decided whether or not they are going to help and need tricking to even get going. Usually sentient and patient, the Ents become enraged in the books and decide to go to war against Saruman, who is killing their kin. When our hobbit friends arrive, it’s just as the Ents are about to leave for Isengard and they decide to tag along. After destroying the mines and towers of Isengard, the Ents decided to move the trees there and build a new forest, unfortunately the Entwines are probably gone forever.
5. Nailed: Elrond
Although slightly different than his book counterpart, Jackson’s version of Elrond is very close to the books. Elrond is very distrustful of men after witnessing Isildor’s refusal to destroy the One Ring. He isn’t as upset about Arwen giving up her immortality in the book as he is in the movie, but in both he realizes his daughter’s love for Aragorn cannot be overcome. Like his book counterpart, he summons the court and creates the fellowship sending them on their task.
Although his role is expanded beyond his original role in The Hobbit, the film still represents Elrond well.
4. Got Wrong: Gimli
In Tolkien’s books, Gimli was a very capable and valiant warrior and he even became King of the Glittering Caves. True to the book, Gimli joined the fellowship in part because Legolas had and he didn’t trust the elf. Throughout the book, Gimli and Legolas take many walks together and become fast friends, but in the movies it isn’t until Gimli visits Galadriel that he begins to see Legolas as an equal. Gimli also didn’t suggest going through the mines, it was Gandalf, although Gimli didn’t protest since he wanted to know what happened to his cousin. During the battle of Helm’s Deep, Gimli became trapped in the caves, separated from the other with only his axe, and he fought his way out, successfully beating Legolas in the Orc killing competition. After the war, Gimli returned to Helm’s Deep with a number of Dwarves and built his own Kingdom in the caves he was once trapped.
3. Nailed: Lady Galadriel
Galadriel is the Lady of Light and co-ruler of Lothlorien along with her husband. Like her portrayal in the films, Galadriel is unsurpassed in beauty, knowledge and power. She easily casts away the Nazgul and telepathically sends aid and advice to the fellowship. In the books, she is incredibly smart and one of the few who didn’t fall for Sauron’s deception, suggesting the rings be hidden and didn’t openly use her ring of power until Sauron was vanquished. That’s not that far off from her intelligence in the movies.
In both the books and movies, she warns Frodo that Boromir will try to take the ring and gifts him with the Phial of Light.
2. Got Wrong: Aragorn
The self-doubting, vain, annoying Aragorn from the films is completely different than the book version. One of the biggest differences is that in the film, Aragorn’s character development mainly centres around his self-doubt about his ability to be King, while the books have Aragorn ready to take the throne and claim his title right from the get go. The movie also neglects to show Aragorn carrying around the broken pieces of Andúril, only being presented with the reforged sword. The Hobbit films also have him already in his career as a ranger and known amongst his people, while in the books he is only ten-years-old at this time.
1. Nailed: Bombur
Do you agree or disagree with these selections? Let us know in the comments!
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