Messing with the Ending

On the return roadtrip on my little Treo™ 700P, my mind wanders.

Recently I saw all three Lord of the Rings films. In the cinema, the story, the effects and one very fine elf dazzled me.

Seeing it again, this time on the small screen, I noticed problems with the films I previously missed.

First let me say I adore JRR Tolkien and feel that director Peter Jackson did breathtaking work. That said, both Tolkien and Jackson have their flaws.

In reading the books, I always notice that Tolkien portrays the bad guys as people (or creatures) of color or else working class cockney stiffs. The greater the virtue of the character, the whiter they appear and the posher they sound.

Jackson replicates and expands on this. He also plays up all the phallic imagery of towers and swords. Aragon has the largest, thus once he whips it out, he becomes king.

To Jackson’s credit, he does expand the roles of heroic women.

But Jackson’s greatest flaw is how he ends the film with a return to the pristine and untouched Shire.

The book instead has the hobbits encountering evil in the heatland, evil they have to drive out.

Jackson did not like this ending.
But how I looked forward to Merry and Pippen, after doing battle for everyone and their drawf uncle, coming home to cleanse the land of evil.

Seems realistic particularly in the world of activism. We face injustice & ugliness in the world. But so often we face the same in our own families and ourselves.

Jackson’s vision though reinforces the idea that injustice and oppression come from without and happens in a distant land. “That could never happen here.”

But it does all the time within the queer community, within progressive liberal white churches, with the very products we buy.

The light that we receive not only illuminates the crooked in the “oppressor” but also exposes the injustice that comes from our own actions.

The world is not as simple as the Good vs. the Evil. That happens only in the movies, oh and politics..

This post has 7 Comments

  1. Anna HP on November 25, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    ah yes, legolas is one good looking elf. and i am still mad that jackson messed up one of my favourite moments:

    the people of minas tirith are fighting and they see more ships with black sails entering their harbour. they loose hope for a moment but then the sails change to white and they know the king (aragorn) has returned. and what happend with that in the movie. Aragorn jumps out of a boat, slaughter some uruk-hai and it´s over.

  2. nonsequitur on November 25, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    Odd that you should bring this up… I’ve not read the books (I intend to soon), but I just barely watched the entire trilogy a few days ago and I also noticed that the good guys were all lily-white and the bad guys were varying colors & seemingly non-white ethnicities. I definitely want to read the books now.

  3. Anna HP on November 25, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Oh you should, the books are soo good, especially in english. Well duh, not much of a choice for you but still,being swedish, I do prefer reading them in english.

  4. Willie Hewes on November 25, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    I’ve never been able to read the books. Too tough. And I studied literature at Uni.

    Anyway, yes, good points Peterson. Some of the morality in LOTR is pretty dubious. What annoys me about the ending is Sam’s tragic marriage, I mean, the girl doesn’t even get a single line (no, not in the extended version either), and the shots of him and his happy family are so clearly slightly off…

    I’m sure they’re happy, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’d have been happier with Frodo. And maybe Frodo wouldn’t have felt so lonely and out of place either, if Sam had stuck with him. But no, of course it could never have been like that.

    Legolas is OK, but, to be honest, I’m more partial to Pippin (yes, really).

  5. KJ on November 25, 2006 at 11:05 pm

    Aragron “whipped it out”. I missed that. I’ll have to watch the movies again.

    Tolkien did not set out to write allegory or allegorically. Perhaps another reader can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that his intent was to create a British mythology since the isles had little to none. The stories are now over 60 years old, and few literary works of previous generations will look politically correct through our 21st century eye.

    The movies, and Legolas, were beautiful, but the heart of the story is lost in the spectacle, I think. It is the simple things in life, such as the love that Sam and Frodo have for each other, that conquers evil.

  6. gabigab on November 25, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    I noticed the same thing…. that, and the fact that *all* the good guys have blue eyes, bugged me a lot way back in the first episode (as a matter of fact, at the time I mistankenly thought that that might have damaged its chances for winning the oscar).

    I wouldn’t blame only the director. All of the books of Tolkiens’ ring series (including, The Hobbit), are also suspicious. In all of them the leit motive there are good bloods and races, and lesser races (the descriptions of darwes moral character in The Hobbit), and people whose blood ain’t so pure anymore, and so on. I’ve often wondered if that had to do with the cultural milleu of Europe in those years.

    About the ending, it could be read that way… I thought the director was just skimping on us because of time constraints (although I felt he lost a lot of time in the first movie, oh well….).

    That being said, I would still watch the movies and read them books – I always found The Hobbit a riot, the trilogy and the trilogy a good read, granted that they are far denser.

    (OT: Harry Potter, a far easier read, is certainly less racist, but I’m still undecided on whether on the whole the series is more morally sound).

  7. nonsequitur on November 26, 2006 at 11:46 pm

    Gabigab, I am no parent, but I’ve read the entire series through twice in the past year and did not notice anything that I would consider to be morally unsound. Though I am curious to hear your side of things and why you are questioning the moral value of the series.

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