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Rewatching LOTR

I've been watching the extended LOTR movies: Fellowship last night, Two Towers tonight. I'm not sure what is driving the rewatch. Maybe the upcoming final Hobbit movie? Or just feeling a bit burned out on Cumberbatch and Moffat lately and needing to reboot.

It's actually been quite nice. This is not me sitting down to watch the movies and nothing else so much as just it being background for me doing other stuff. So I'm not as invested in it as I once was. And there are bits that just really resonate. Most recently it's Haldirs appeal to the Last Alliance when he shows up to Helm's Deep, and Eowyn's begging Aragorn not to send her off to the caves. I loved the political machinations with Saruman and the Dunlanders too, and the domestic moments with Frodo and Sam wandering about the Emyn Muil were just really nice. It felt comfortable. The bad things just seem much less important than they once did.

The one exception seems to be Denethor. I hated pretty much everything about his scene in Osgiliath once he showed up. Passionately. I still have strong feelings about his character apparently. No great surprise there, I've spent most of the decade since the films came out writing him and living inside his head. But there's also just nothing in this scene, or what I remember about ROTK, that connects with what I love about him in the books, or the country he rules with the books' Numenor and Gondor. It will be interesting to see if I'm able to enjoy the third movie like I did the first two.

Anyway, it's interesting just how *comfortable* going back is. It really has been refreshing and just a nice thing to visit again.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
ericadawn16
Nov. 21st, 2014 05:49 am (UTC)
My extreme hatred of Denethor was what made it so hard for me to get into Fringe at first.
marta_bee
Nov. 21st, 2014 06:47 am (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't recognize the name "Fringe"? Is that a fanwork? Do you have a link?

I actually really liked Denethor in the books - complicated enough to sino your teeth into, and scholastic enough I identified with him. For me there's a similarity in how I react to people pike him and Severus Snape, and to a lesser extent to Plutarch Heavensbee. But movie Denethor was too simplistic, and his morally questionable actions lacked the context that explained his character., how he got to be that way. That just leaves a blunt instrument who is petty and a bad father.

But to each her own. It always surprises me how different people react differently to the same character.
lin4gondor
Nov. 21st, 2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
Fringe was a long-running sci-fi type television series on Fox network, which starred John Noble, among others. He was quite, quite awesome in that series, actually!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fringe_%28TV_series%29

My main complaint with the LotR movies has also always been the defamation of Denethor. I haven't tried rewatching them as yet to see if I am still upset about it! I am currently rereading the books, so I may wait to have a rewatch until after I have reminded myself of book Denethor's qualities.
ericadawn16
Nov. 22nd, 2014 02:32 am (UTC)
lin4gondor described it quite well below.

I haven't read Mockingjay so I haven't formed an opinion on Plutarch Heavensbee but Snape is one of my favorite Rowling characters.

You do make me think whether I need to re-read the series or at least a scholarly essay on Denethor or probably both.

I think a lot of my bias has to do with my love of Faramir. He was always one of my favorites and it took a while for me to accept why they changed him for the films.
marta_bee
Nov. 22nd, 2014 04:14 am (UTC)
Erica, you might be interested in an essay I wrote six or so years ago, defending book!Denethor against a lot of the criticisms and assumptions I saw fans making against him based on his movie character.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/172347/chapters/251616

I've also written... well, entirely too much Denethor-centric fanfic over the years, but one in particular jumps out. It's written as a fictional letter from Imrahil's son to Halbarad's grandson after the Ring War and is an attempt to make sense of who Denethor was and how he could deny Aragorn's return without being a traitor or a monster. It's probably the quickest road to getting into what I see in the character, if you're interested.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/153204

The bottom line, for me, is that a lot of what Denethor says in the movies doesn't match the books. He doesn't single Faramir out for a hopeless task but offers it up to all his captains. He never says he wishes Faramir was dead; he says he wishes Boromir had been the one to intercept the Ring in Ithilien. He doesn't think Faramir's useless in the book; if you read carefully, he's all but assumed Boromir's post in his brother's absence (riding back and forth between Ithilien and Minas Tirith; he's not just a regional captain at that point), and Boromir goes to Rivendell because he claims the quest, not because Denethor charges him with it. And the pyre -- which really, really needs defense! -- is done when he's basically driven into madness by facing down Sauron for years through a device JRRT says he has no real hope of withstanding for long. Even Saruman withers under the palantir. I've always found it interesting that it's Faramir's death, not Boromir's, that finally drives him over the edge in the books.

And now you have me in full apologia mode, I'm afraid. I'm not trying to say he's sugar and spice, there's a lot that needs explaining and working through. (There's a reason in that fic I call him "not an easy man to love, much less to like"!) But I think there's a nobility that's bending and starting to crack under a decades-long war that's basically taken everyone he loves. That doesn't make him flawless to me, or even excusable on every point, but he did strike me as much more interesting and sympathetic and at least morally grey. But as I said, I try not to judge personal tastes. That's just my read of his character, if you're interested.

PS - Thanks, lin4gondor, for the link and description. I'd never heard of it but anything with awesome John Noble is worth checking out. I saw him in a Shakespeare play once, when I was in England. He was magnificent.
just_ann_now
Nov. 21st, 2014 12:46 pm (UTC)
For years my Cookie-Baking-Day tradition was to watch the FOTR cast commentary. It was like an annual party with good friends (retelling the same stories, but, hey.) The setup in my new house, alas, won't allow this, so I'm considering putting it on in my kitchen on my tiny, tiny portable dvd player. FOTR on a six-inch screen. But it's not the visuals, it's the company *grin*

John Noble's over-the-top scenery-chewing on "Sleepy Hollow" makes me appreciate what great practice his Denethor was for his current role. His Denethor certainly wasn't your Denethor, or mine, and I'm sorry that his Denethor is now many peoples' understanding of a very complex man.

Edited at 2014-11-21 12:47 pm (UTC)
shirebound
Nov. 21st, 2014 03:16 pm (UTC)
there's also just nothing in this scene, or what I remember about ROTK, that connects with what I love about him in the books, or the country he rules

I feel the same way. Book-Denethor is a complex character, and I didn't feel that in the film.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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