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Hall of Fire tomorrow. Movie Denethor: tragedy or travesty?

February 4, 2012 at 12:31 am by Demosthenes  - 

Peter Jackson’s reconstruction of Denethor, the steward of Gondor remains one of the more controversial aspects of his adaptation of Return of the King.

This weekend, Hall of Fire re-engages with an old question as we ask: “Movie Denethor: tragedy or travesty?”.

Denethor II, the last ruling steward of Gondor is one of Tolkien’s most interesting characters — as flawed and tragic as some of the greatest heroes of the First Age. In his rivalry with Thorongil and Gandalf to his strained relationship with Faramir and a stewardship where he resorts to desperate acts to save Gondor, we see his pride, nobility, arrogance and, ultimately, his despair and madness.

In Jackson’s live-action movie trilogy, Denethor (played by John Noble) is written differently — a weak ruler who passively (and even actively) works against Gondor’s defence.

What are the successes and failures of Boyens and Walsh take on Denethor? Does the more dramatically shown antipathy of John Noble’s function better in film, even though it comes at the cost of some of the subtlety of the original?

Does his grief — and self-blame — at the death of Boromir sufficiently account for his descent into madness considering absence of the Palantir of Minas Tirith as a plot point?

Are there particular scenes or lines — where Denethor interacts with Gandalf, Faramir or Pippin — that resonate with you? Does Jackson’s Denethor come across as truthful?

Join us tomorrow, Saturday February 4 at the special time of 6PM EST (New York time) when we’ll ask all these questions and more as we discuss “Movie Denethor: Tragedy or Travesty?”.

Recommended reading: John Noble talks Denethor: “The Noble Steward?

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Posted in Barliman News, Barlimans, Hall of Fire on February 4, 2012 by

Key to Erebor

8 responses to “Hall of Fire tomorrow. Movie Denethor: tragedy or travesty?”

  1. This may be already well trodden ground but I think the changes to Denethor are dwarfed by the nobility and wisdom stripping changes made to Faramir. I don’t buy the Wenham et al, justifications that it wasn’t filmically translatable. Rather, I think the Jackson, lacked the desire and therefore wherewithal to capture such nuance.

  2. Vetch says:

    The movie Denethor was more travesty than tragedy. Even the way he was shown eating seemed ignoble and demeaning. The movie Denethor was simply a bit of a miss, sadly.

  3. Jose says:

    How about when you post “America” you include countries from around the continent, since America is the name of the continent and not a country? 

  4. HAL 9000-MJ says:

    As unpopular as my opinion is bound to me, I must say that the way Jackson,Noble and company handled Denethor in the LOTR movies made him much more of an interesting character than in the novels.

  5. John Bailey says:

    I am immeasurably grateful to Peter Jackson for putting the Lord of the Rings on film.

    I just wish he had filmed the whole of the trilogy as written and offered a theatre version, an extended version, and the full version.

    I believe the success of the three would have created a large enough market for the whole thing, even it it were 25 to 36 hours long…

  6. Josh Riggins says:

    I think most on the “travesty” side are technically right, but of the issues I had with the movies, Denethor’s portrayal wasn’t one of them. He came across to me as a “I see more than you know” type of ruler, a stubborn one, a haughty one, even a crazed one (considering what he ‘knew’). I think that fits with Tolkien’s Denethor too. In fact, the scene of Pippin singing in Denethor’s Hall was one of the more touching scenes in the films, mainly because of Denethor’s character vs Pippin’s. I was happy with his character, despite the technical differences. The feel was right to me.

  7. davidt says:

    The PC revisionism in the LOTR movies was horrid.

  8. Joe Calahan says:

    I thought the other way I thought John Noble’s performance was a tragedy more than a travesty in the film. It was one of the few highlight performances in the filmswhere Peter Jackson worked on the character t bring him to life on screen.

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