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Defending PJ’s Faramir

February 9, 2003 at 8:44 pm by Tehanu  - 

Fighting words from Teri, who sent us this email:

Personally speaking, I don’t understand what all the fuss over Faramir’s minor changes in the film are all about. I’ve read Tolkien’s original version and compared it to Jackson’s Faramir and came to the conclusion that there were not such drastic or absurd changes made at all. The only minor differences between Tolkien’s version and Jackson’s was that Faramir in the book was a little more polite and courteous in his behavior, and allowed the hobbits to be released immediately. Faramir in the movie was a little more stern and moody in his attitude, and took the hobbits with him to Gondor. What’s the big deal? Why is everyone freaking out about it? The changes are very minor and don’t really take away from the story, so why is everyone getting all bent out of shape over it? There’s absolutely nothing wrong or devasting about Faramir’s portrayal in the movie…in fact, I think Jackson’s version is a lot better than Tolkien’s (no offense is intended!). The Faramir in the movie makes a lot more sense than the one in the book, and here’s why:

Number one, in Tolkien’s original portrayal of Faramir in the book, he was kind and gentle to the hobbits. He was never too suspicious to begin with, and befriended them immediately. He treated them with gracious hospitality and gave them food, drink, and rest. He was such a goody-goody from the very beginning, who was never remotely interested in the Ring and wanted absolutely nothing to do with it at all. Then he good-heartedly released the hobbits and allowed them to continue on their way. What a softie!

In the movie version, however, Faramir’s attitude is moodier and he’s much more serious. He’s very suspicious of the strange hobbits from the start, and he’s tempted by the Ring (just like Boromir) and decides to take the Ring to Gondor–taking also Frodo and Sam. But that’s all there is to it. It’s no big deal!

Other than Faramir being more stern in the movie and taking the hobbits and the Ring with him to Gondor, there’s not much of a difference between the film and book. Everyone acts as though Jackson’s Faramir was somehow mean and cruel to Frodo and Sam, and treated them terribly–but that’s not the case at all! If you recall correctly, in Tolkien’s book Faramir was a little suspicious of the hobbits (though not very much) and did interrogate them. He also did blindfold the hobbits when he led them to his secret hideout, plus, he also did have his soldiers aim their arrows at Gollum when he entered the Forbidden Pool. He even instructed Frodo not to try anything funny, or he would have to pay the consequences with the soldiers’ arrows. He allowed Frodo to go down to Gollum–but only under strict warning. I don’t understand why everyone has the wrong impression that Jackson’s Faramir was such an evil jerk. He was not evil and did absolutley nothing wrong in the movie. People act as though he tortured Frodo and Sam and treated them like dirt, but that’s not the case! Technically speaking, Faramir in the film actually made a lot more sense than he did in the book. No offense to the great master himself, but Tolkien’s portrayal of the character was just too lenient and somewhat illogical. Why do I say this? That’s easy, just analyze the situation more carefully.

Look at the grim circumstances Faramir was in. First of all, his older brother, Boromir, died and now poor unprepared Faramir was having to fill his big brother’s shoes and try to figure out a way to save his dying city of Gondor. Talk about being under extreme pressure! Gondor is literally falling apart, the citizens are perishing, and the city is constantly under attack. Faramir must save his doomed city and please his father, Denethor. That’s a mighty big task for the young man, and there doesn’t look like much hope for Gondor. That’s why when he sees the powerful Ring, he’s tempted by it like Boromir was. He sees the Ring as possibly being the hope and savior of his people, just his older brother did. Faramir did not want to take the Ring for personal, greedy purposes, he saw it as a desperate last attempt to save his city. He had no wicked intentions at all, in fact, he did not realize just how evil the Ring truly was. People seem to forget that Faramir didn’t know that the Ring was the greatest instrument of pure evil known to Middle-earth, he knew nothing about the Ring at all. He did not understand what was really going on. His intentions towards the powerful Ring was out of hope and desperation–not wickedness!

And as for the so-called “cruel and ghastly” treatment of Frodo and Sam, that’s just totally absurd! Faramir did nothing unusual or uncalled-for whatsoever regarding the hobbits. Faramir was a captain and behaved quite normally and acted very
appropriately in his position. If you analyze the circumstances carefully, you’d realize that Faramir’s behavior was very logical. Think about it, Faramir and his soldiers had just finished destroying one of Sauron’s evil armies, that had invaded Gondor’s territory. As soon as they eliminate the wicked army, they come across two strange hobbits. Faramir found the suspicious hobbits in the same exact spot where Sauron’s army was wiped out. If that’s not bizarre, what is? If I came across two weird-looking strangers in that situation, I’d be very suspicious and assume they were orc spies, too. Who wouldn’t? People must keep in mind that most of the citizens of Middle-earth had never seen a hobbit before, and did not know much about them. Some people had never even heard of a hobbit. The other races of Middle-earth were not very acquainted with the hobbit society. It was quite obvious that Frodo and Sam were not citizens of Gondor, that’s for sure. Faramir would have been the world’s biggest idiot and worst captain had he not been suspicious of the strange-looking hobbits and assume they were possible spies! He behaved appropriately by being cautious and taking the hobbits prisoner for questioning. Plus, he never once harmed the hobbits in any way. It’s not like he smacked Frodo and Sam around and tortured them on the rack, for crying out loud! He was not out of line for interrogating the hobbits and being a little stern with them. It would have been foolish for him not to be. And as for threatening Gollum at the Forbidden Pool, well, he did that also in the book. Let’s face it, if you saw something creepy like Gollum lurking around your hideout, you’d want to shoot him with an arrow, too! Faramir was not cruel to the hobbits, he decided to take them and the Ring to Gondor only to help save his city–that’s all! People are so worked up over the minor changes with the character in the film, and quite frankly, it’s just downright stupid!

So what if Jackson altered it a little from the original book, big deal! I would much rather seen a more logical and serious Faramir, than a goody-goody one who doesn’t show any interest at all and only wants to welcome the hobbits with food, drink, and overly-gracious hospitality. I think Jackson’s version of the character behaved more reasonably due to the circumstances than Tolkien’s.
If I was Faramir, I would have acted according to the way he did in the film, not the book. Jackson’s interpretation is actually more realistic for the situation; plus, it gives a much more dramatic effect to the story. It’s a better way of going about it.

What a lot of so-called “Tolkien purists” just don’t understand, is that some things that might work well in a book does not or cannot always work as well in a film. Reading a bunch of descriptive paragraphs in a book is not the same thing as actually seeing something visually with your own two eyes on a big screen. A movie is different from a book, it doesn’t always work the same way. Some changes and alterations may be necessary. Take for instance, the changes in the expansion of Arwen’s character. Now, in Tolkien’s book version, you never really got to see Arwen or know anything about her until the very end when she marries Aragorn. It was only at the end when she married Aragorn, that you briefly got to know a little about her unimportant character. Now, perhaps knowing nothing about her or the fact that she had a relationship with Aragorn all along didn’t matter much in the book, but that never would have worked in the movie. If Jackson had not expanded Arwen’s character and given the audience more insight into her and her deep relationship with Aragorn, it would have been a total disaster! Could you imagine watching Aragorn all through the three films and sharing in his adventures, only to see him marry some unknown elven princess at the very end. Some anonymous elven woman–whom you’ve never seen before and you knew absolutely nothing about–yet you find out at the very end that she and Aragorn were supposedly in love and have been having a relationship the whole time (though you never once got to see any aspects of their relationship throughout the movies at all). No way! That never would have worked in a million years! You would have everyone in the audience asking, “Wait a minute, who in the world is she? Where did she come from? Why is Aragorn marrying some strange elven girl? What’s going on?” A lot of people came down hard on Jackson for giving Arwen a bigger role in the films, but that was a very brilliant move on his part. It was wise to improve her character for the movies, and it worked out perfectly–much better than in Tolkien’s original version.

Tom Bombadil was a wonderful and delightful character in Tolkien’s book–however, considering the fact that Jackson had so much of the story to cram into the film, it’s certainly understandable why he had to leave Bombadil and Goldberry out. They may have been great characters, but they also would have been a distraction in the story and would have delayed the hobbits from making it to Bree. Let’s face it, the movies are three hours long enough as it is. Poor Jackson can’t fit everything in. And as for the expansion of Saruman’s character, that is also a very smart move on Jackson’s part. You barely got to see any of Saruman in the books, and again that never would have worked for the films. It was necessary for Jackson to build up Saruman (like Arwen) in order to make the movie work properly. Saruman having a tiny, insignificant role like he did in the books wouldn’t have worked well on the big screen. I wish that the “Tolkien purists” would get off Jackson’s back! He’s doing a spectacular job with the films, and he’s a magnificent director who deserves to be acknowledged, respected, and praised for his outstanding achievements–not scorned and ridiculed by the Tolkien-purist society! Cut PJ some slack, he’s a genius director and the only director who possesses the true ability to do the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy proper justice. Give credit where credit is due! Tolkien may be the master of the books–but Peter Jackson is the master of the films, and that’s the truth!

Posted in Old Special Reports on February 9, 2003 by

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