It’s often said by readers, “The book is always better.” But is it? Are some works of literature impossible to translate to such a visual medium as film? Or do they just need some tweaking to let their stories run free on the silver screen?
I wrote this piece some years ago; my opinion still stands, though I’m interested to hear what readers and fans of Tolkien have to say, since I’m well aware opinion is divided on what Jackson did with Tolkien’s work.
Much is made of the differences in tone between J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and its eventual sequel, The Lord of the Rings. One was written for children, the other clearly was not. But what is the defining characteristic of Tolkien’s epic (and there may be more than one) that sets it apart from its child-friendly origins?
I’d venture to say it’s that Tolkien brings horror to Middle-earth.
Those of you who have been Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog and following the many posts collected at BookSnobbery, or those who are just fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, may be interested to read more on the Big Friendly Guy who pops up briefly in the story but is none the less memorable for all that. I’m talking, of course, about Beorn.
Tolkien explored the notion of “the wild” literally and figuratively in the character of Beorn. He was a civil (if potentially dangerous) host, and the head of a well-ordered household in which domestic animals obeyed his commands. Yet he lived between the inhospitable Misty Mountains, home to the less-than-human goblins (or orcs, as Tolkien later referred to them), and the menacing Mirkwood, perilous to all who entered. Continue reading →