My esteemed blogger colleague Mark has pointed out (click entry title for link), despite the box office success and widespread infatuation of Peter Jackon's trilogy of Lord of the Ring movies, Tolkien's vision didn't completely make it to the screen. (Mark has several entries on LOTR, all well-worth the reading.)
Mark took the more objective tack, and since I pretty much agree with him and he got his entries written and posted faster than I did, I'll take the subjective tack: what did Countess Elena think.
Return of the King
How Sam and Frodo behaved with each other while trudging up Mount Doom was lookin' a little too lovey-dovey for me on first viewing, but having watched the extended version a few times now and having listened to/watched the commentaries and appendices, I see the strong friendship between the two, rather than homosexual overtones. So...I sigh a great sigh of relief.
I know that Peter, Fran, and the other lady didn't think the audience wanted to see the full stories of the Houses of Healing and of Faramir and Eowyn, but I thought that these plotlines should have been more fully developed in the extended version at least. Yeah, I'm a girl, and I like romance...so I like to see the guy and the girl get together, especially two such noble souls as F and E. And I like to see how the romance developed...all the nuances of looks and smiles and words said and little gestures---like watching an Impressionist painter at work. In The Houses of Healing chapter of the book, we see the Healer side of Jesus in Aragorn...gentle, diligent in his task, humble. We get the barest glimpses of this side of Aragorn in ROTK: EE.
Yes, the Paths of the Dead parts were pretty cool. Nice sound effects. All the skulls were creepy. Loved the confrontation with the Corsairs on the shores of southern Gondor. That's my man Aragorn. Go get 'em, Tiger! .............. I did think that the breaking of the oath and the redemption of the dead folk was a bigger point in the book... It seemed to be merely a plotline point in the movie, rather than an aspect of Tolkien's faith and worldview.
OK, now, Arwen's life being tied to the fate of the Ring??? What???!!!??? Yeah, that was some major Hollywoodizing there. Shouldn't have been surprised.
Did anyone else chuckle a lot at Hugo Weaving as Elrond? I couldn't help but wait to hear him say, "Here's your sword....Mr. Anderson." (If Mel Brooks can mix up a scific cocktail, so can I!)
As for the multiple endings thing...well, that issue is what separates the men from the boys, the LOTR reading fans from the LOTR-movie-only folks. (If you read the book, you weren't surprised. Speaking of surprise. One friend, on seeing FOTR for the first time, leaned forward, chin in hands, mouth gaping open at the end of the movie. "What?! It's to be continued?! What's that about?!?" He knew zilch about LOTR the books and had had NO idea the movie was the first of a trilogy! His face was priceless. Dagnabit, he'd been jipped!)
Was the LOTR movie trilogy a successful adaptation of the books? I think so, such as can be done in Hollywood by non-Christians. Plotlines were condensed and chopped up and realigned in order to focus the story and to put scenes in chronological order, rather than grouping the stories as Tolkien had done. Even though Jackson and cohorts have other views on sin, good and evil, and the nature of humanity, Tolkien's worldview is still discernible for Christians willing to seek and recognize it in the films. As Mark has stated, Sam's loyalty and hardy nature were highlighted rather than diminished. Gollum still was nasty, corrupted, and pitiful. The Ring still had power that made everyone susceptible to its corruption. Evil was still evil. And good won in the end. And Tolkien's genius, acknowledged but not exalted, was revealed to new generations. For what Peter Jackson set out to do, I think it was successful. For Tolkien, well, we'll ask him when we get to heaven.
Other thoughts as I think of them...my brain's jelly right now.