Tolkien v. Jackson

It seems that Jeffery Overstreet didn’t care much for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Tolkien was better than this. The Hobbit never stooped to mere smack-down storytelling. Bilbo was heroic precisely because he saw typical warlike behaviors as madness.

“Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check,” says Gandalf to Galadriel. “But that is not what I’ve found. I’ve found that it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.”

Jackson seems unconvinced. He’s too fond of muscular power, drawn to show characters dueling instead of developing. He’ll seize any mention of strife in the story and exaggerate it into absurdity.

As fun as it is to watch, this is not Tolkien’s The Hobbit. That enchanting story of a peaceable traveler who knew the virtue of restraint is now lost to the vision of filmmakers who have none.

But what is more interesting to me is not what Overstreet says in his review, but what he says in a reply to a comment on his review:

When I interviewed Jackson about The Return of the King, he was very frank about saying that, in short, “audiences want heroes” who win by fighting… and he wants to give us that so (he said) we can believe that we can save the world. He expressed grave reservations about weaknesses of the character of Frodo, and rejected outright Tolkien’s desire to show that “Frodo failed” and that human history is a “long decline” that can only be redeemed by Providence. That’s a fundamental difference between Jackson and Tolkien as storytellers, and it affects all kinds of decisions in Jackson’s films…

Indeed.  The non-Christian cannot see strength in weakness, cannot imagine that forgiving one’s enemies is true triumph – because we first were forgiven.  I think of people cheering for William Wallace in Braveheart who violently seeks revenge on his enemies in the name of Justice.  This is not how Christ conquers.

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