Finished Lord of the Rings! At last!

An era has ended for me, for I have just finished the Lord of the Rings! That’s right, after about half a year of on/off reading, I have finally got to the end of those devilishly hard-to-read books.

Why did it take so long? I really don’t know. The truth is that the Lord of the Rings are excellent books, excellently written and following an excellent storyline. And when you consider to wealth of background detail which has gone into these stories, you’d be hard placed not to find someone who would not be amazed. However I think that the reason it took me so long to get through these books was that, despite being amazing, they took a lot of concentration to get into the words, to take in the story, which meant that I could only really read a few pages at a time. Another thing that added some 2 months to the process, was the fact that at the back of the last book is the Appendices. These are 100 pages of background information to the Lord of the Rings, half of which is good, a quarter is ok and the last quarter is incredibly boring.

Now, most of my thoughts were ‘How is this book the same or different to the films’. Well the answer varied. At some points Peter Jackson’s films followed the book to the word wheras at other points it differed intensly with scenes being dropped out or put in. Mostly this was for the better however there were a few occasions when it was not (see old posts).

I would defiantly recommend these books to anyone who loves reading, reading fantasy and reading fantasy for months on end.

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The Hobitit

Hobitit - Gollum‘Hobitit’ is a Finnish TV Series, being one of the only live-action representations of the Lord of The Rings.

In a total of nine episodes this series shows the finding of the one ring by Bilbo Baggins and then goes on to account Books 1,2,4 and 6 of the Lord of the Rings, as narrated by an older Samwise.

I have many criticisms for this series, not least the fact that it is not in English so I can only watch it with subtitles. My main concern is that by limiting themselves to 9 episodes, they featured far more heavily on some aspects of the story and skating over many others with large sections of the story cut out completely. For example a whole episode focussed on Bilbo finding the ring, another on Bilbo’s 111th birthday and another almost complete episode on the hobbit’s journey through the dark forest. However the entire journey of the fellowship only lasted one episode and the scene in the mines of Moria less than two minutes. It also begins to show the scouring of the shire, however this cuts out halfway through for some reason.

The Hobitit

However the series does have to be admired. The representation of Gollum was simple and yet superb and the series was also one of the few adaptations to feature Tom Bombadil.

I also saw quite a few similarities in this series and Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. These include the scene where Saruman imprisons Gandalf in Isengard and the death of Boromir.

All in all a very good series, if I could understand it.

Osgiliath? When did they go to Osgiliath?

That, and by that I mean the title, is a very good question. Where does it say in the Lord of the Rings, or in any of the dozen books of notes accompanying them that Faramir took Frodo, Sam and Gollum to Osgiliath? Nowhere. So why the hell does director choose to add in that tiny little seen, taking up about fifteen minutes of the movie which could have been used for some of the things he left out.

Now don’t get me wrong I agree that no film can follow completely with the books. I understand that some scenes have to be taken out and some added in, that lines need to be swivelled around a and personalities changed, however I think in this scene Jackson goes to far.

Faramir

Most of you will probably not know what the hell I am talking about so I will explain thus. In the Two Towers book, Frodo and Sam are captured by Faramir, Captain of the White Tower of Gondor where they are taken to his base at Henneth Annûn. Here he questioned them about the One Ring, realised they were working to destroy it and let them go.

However in Peter Jacksons ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ movie after being captured Farmarir they are kept prisoner in Henneth Annûn and, after discovering the one ring, Faramir decides to take the one ring to use to help the city of Gondor. He then takes the hobbits, along with Gollum, to Osgiliath where they arrive in a city at war and being bombarded by an attack from orcs and Nazguls.  In the film Faramir also tortures Gollum which was actually quite sad to see.

I don’t know why Jackson did it. Maybee he wanted to show off that his stunt team could successfully tear down the rood of a building, or maybee he was having fun with his remote control Nazgul. It’s not even as if they have made the story any better by doing it this way. Another point to Tolkien.

Osgiliath

Flooding of Isengard

It seems a good way to continue reading Lord of the Rings with your sanity intact is to every now and again, put it down and try to forget about it. This I recently did and yesterday recommenced the story at what I must describe as ‘quite a cool part’.

It was the flooding of Isengard where I returned, a saga which spawned 2 chapters and recall the vents where Gandalf and his company return to Isengard to converse with the evil wizard Saruman, only to find him imprisoned in his tower with the area surrounding flooded by Ents.

I particularly enjoyed these two chapters. The events of the battle are told from the perspective of Merry and Pippin in the first of the two chapters; ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’. This certainly worked well for me as I felt that other battle sequences written from the 3rd person perspective seemed to focus too much on the very minor details rather than the whole picture of the battle (especially the Helms Deep scene). The second chapter; ‘The voice of Saruman’ is where we finally meet the so-much discussed White Wizard. Throughout the book, and indeed the Fellowship of the Ring, we have heard much about the character and exploits of this guy, made all the more mysterious by the fact that we have never seen him until this point. When you do meet you really feel how powerful he is and how is presence resonates and affects those around, even the reader. It is here that you realise that Gandalf, who seems mighty and has returned from the dead, is nothing compared to this guy.

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Of course my view was shaped slightly by the film. In Peter Jackson’s film trilogy the actual flooding bit was in the Two Towers movie however the encounter with Saruman was only available to those with the extended cut of the Return of the king.

The flooding bit was certainly excellent, a chance for Jackson to show off some of his CGI creations hurling rocks at a dam (much more epic than I make it sound). However the encounter with Saruman was a let-down after reading the book. Here Jackson thought it appropriate not to have Saruman to be standing on a first floor balcony but instead on top of a sixty floor building. And he’s not shouting and  his voice inst magnified, how the hell can they even hear each other? I remember when I first watched that thinking ‘I bet somebody is gonna’ fall off that tower’.

Oh I love being right. Jackson had moved Saruman’s death which takes place in the Shire in the book to this point and had Saruman falling of the building. Yep, I’m definitely with Tolkein on this one.

Saruman with the Stone of Orthanc

The Battle of Helmsdeep

McKayla2towersIt’s been an everlasting conundrum for me as I cannot seem to work out whether I prefer the book or film versions of the Lord of the Rings. The film is more concise and the action scenes are better (well of course, you can see them) however the book gives you all the background description to the ways and creatures of middle earth which I think is masked in the film version by the landscape shots.

However a specific scene I am certain about is the Battle of Helmsdeep. The film version is way better, no competition. All that really happened in the book was that Aragron, Legolas and Éomer ran around getting incredibly tried and always looking out of windows at the massive army but not doing much about it. During this Legolas seems to spend pages in deciding where to shoot his last arrow and Aragorn and Éomer get so tired they need to use their swords as leaning post instead of going somewhere and fighting with them.

The battle was very very modified into the film version and considering it’s the best bit of the film, I don’t think anyone can moan. The best thing about the film was that we got to see some tactics. The elven warriors (not in the book but who cares) firing a folly of arrows at the orcs, the Uruk-hai using ladders to scale the ramparts and the last warriors charging out the meet the remainder of the enemy. Gandalf’s role was also changed so that it was more clear that he was the pivotal pillar (oh that is very good) to the Rohans winning the battle.

Definitely the film version, definitely. DEFO!!!

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

‘The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey’ a film that I have been told on many occasions to be the most anticipated picture of 2012. Yesterday I went to see this film and I feel that it is always nice to do a little light-hearted review of a film you have recently seen.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the beginning of a trilogy of films which focuses on Bilbo Baggins, a young hobbit who sets off on a mission with a band of dwarves. The film, which was directed by Peter Jackson, is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy from the same director and features many of the same cast. Being a fan of these films myself it was very easy to get into the spirit of the film however the Hobbit acts as a completely different story told in a completely different way. In fact somehow whilst watching it I was both always and never thinking about the Lord of the Rings.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyBefore watching the film I, like many others, was wondering how on earth Jackson had managed to stretch one 280 page book into three motion pictures. I was pretty shocked to hear that the nearly three-hour long film only covered 6 chapters of Tolkien’s original book. However you forget all your criticisms when you are watching it. The film never ceases to be amazing, truly bringing Tolkien’s work to life. The film also contains many scenes (and many villains) that weren’t featured in the books however fit in perfectly with the world of Middle Earth.

The start of the film is spoken from the view of an elderly Bilbo (played by the returning Ian Holm). He tells the tale of the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield and the capture of the lonely mountain by the dragon Smaug (epically played by Benedict Cumberbatch). This part then seamlessly returns to a point only about an hour before the Lord of the Rings starts, with Frodo Baggins running off the meet Gandalf. If I hadn’t known otherwise I would have thought these scenes were filmed simultaneously.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyPerhaps my favourite scene featured the return of three “Lord of the Ring-ers”. These were Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, Saruman, played by Christopher Lee and Elrond, played by Hugo Weaving. These three along with the good old Gandalf come together in the White Council where they sit around and talk about stuff. Christopher Lee especially gave a great performance (especially considering his roles for all three films were filmed in four days). Lee managed to combine the character of the kindly wise-old wizard with a darker backbone of the traitor which is to come in the Lord of the Rings.

However in every film there are a few minor moans to be had. Some of the battle scenes seemed to never end (yes that worked well in LOTR however Jackson should remember that the Hobbit is a children’s tale). Another thing; though pleased at the sight of Sylvester McCoy playing Radagast the Brown, I wasn’t completely sure that some of his scenes were completely necessary (take the part when he is running round frantically trying to save a dying hedgehog while giant spiders knock on his windows).

The PenPal Magazine

At school I am currently undertaking the ASDAN CoPE qualification.

To complete this you have to undertake several tasks and challenges which you can undertake in any way you can. Here is the latest task I have been given:

“You have two weeks to publish and book or magazine of at least 6 pages, which costs £2 per copy. However you have no money to pay for it to be printed.”

To complete this challenge I created a magazine called ‘The PenPal Magazine’, and sold black and white copies (which I printed out for free at school).

The magazine is full of previous blog articles which can all be found on this blog. Now I have done this task I would like to share my magazine with everyone, so you can read it as well.

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