It’s the Fellow-WHAT?-ship of the Ring

By: Billy Bunce

Although I can think of countless novels that take place in an Arthurian fantasy realm, very few films with such a setting come to mind. The most recent traditional fantasy film I’ve seen other than Lord of the Rings would have to be (surprise, surprise) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Looking back on both movies, I’d have to say that the most striking similarity between the two films was the almost entirely archetypal structures of their plots.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m perfectly aware that each movie is based on a decades-old instant-classic novel, but the reality is that the narratives present in these films are quite standard fantasy fare by modern standards, and neither really does anything too unique with its plot. In Fellowship of the Ring, we find clearly-defined good (the Fellowship) on a quest to defeat a painfully obvious evil (Sauron), and not much else thrown into the mix. Saruman’s betrayal of Gandalf actually could have felt unique had we met him before his corruption by Sauron, but unfortunately the whole scene comes across as awkwardly as the director loudly yelling, “Look! That wizard’s a good guy! Just kidding; he’s breeding an army of Orcs.” Instead, the plot of the movie contains little to no twists (aside from two character deaths, one of which is relatively minor) and acts merely to prolong the inevitable final battle between the forces of good and evil, where said good forces will unquestionably triumph.

Similarly, the first Narnia movie also makes its intentions nerve-rackingly obvious from the start. However, because The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was written as a children’s book, the clarity is even sharper. The main villain is named “The White Witch”, and the main hero is a morally infallible lion (an animal naturally associated with power and protection). Aside from the Biblically allegorical death of Aslan, not too much really happens in the plot of this film either, other than, again, the inevitability of a final victorious conflict. The allegorical nature of the film makes it somewhat unique, but all of its actual plot events are more or less just copied from the Bible.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy these movies. On the contrary, actually, they both drew me in with their enriching worlds and excellent ambience.  However, I find that these movies provide only that: a world and an overall “epic” feel. In terms of the narrative proper, not very much occurs that couldn’t be predicted immediately by anyone who has so much has picked up another fantasy novel. In this sense, the movies are both quite similar. They don’t have too complex of a narrative, but then again it doesn’t seem that either movie actually tried to have an intricate plot. From the beginning, it is apparent that both movies try to absorb rather than surprise. They find more value in crafting an incredibly believable  fantasy realm than in creating narrative twists. In this manner, I feel that both movies definitely accomplished what they set out to do, even if the plots themselves were a little too dry for my liking.

Hot Vampires vs. Vapid Hobbits is A No-Brainer to Me

For someone who isn’t a huge fantasy watcher, or reader (or gamer for that matter), I feel like my outside perspective may be of interest to those who share my common burden. Never having read any of the usual childhood loving novels for my own pleasure, or finding any type of online game or video game remotely interesting, along with finding it almost impossible to stay awake through the extended version of an already ridiculously long movie, might make me sound like such a pessimist. Even so, I’m quite fascinated by how passionate people can be about their games, and books and movies.

To me, a movie is just a movie. Whether or not it lives up to the expectations of the book or not, I could care less, I just want to watch a good movie. Passionate People might argue that Lord of the Rings is by far a better made movie then Twilight, because the book is known for being one of the most epic fantasy stories ever created. But think about it, what would you rather watch; 3 ½ hours of a journey that doesn’t end, or an arousing tale of a vampire fighting for the girl he loves?

Yes, I have to admit the realism of Lord of the Rings is quite breathtaking. The directors really knew what they were doing by making the movie look so real and making sure that every scene sent out just the right message for people to comprehend. And yes, I cannot deny that in Twilight, the shimmery glitter does look pretty awful when Edward Cullen’s character steps into the light. But the Twilight budget for filmmaking was far less then LOTR, and overall it is of nearly the same quality. And why doesn’t anyone complain about Elijah Woods over acting huh?

Who knows whether the movie Twilight lived up the standards of the book or not; they’re making the second movie so it obviously couldn’t have been that bad. A Passionate Person might say that I’m stupid to try and compare a movie/book like Lord of the Rings to a movie/book like Twilight because they are obviously on different rungs of the ladder. However, being the underdog in this class due to my lack of knowledge in books movies or games, I find it appropriate to support the epic love story of Twilight for it’s sexy vampires, blood hungry villains, and its massive appeal of a fantastical world to the younger generation.


The Lord of the Rings vs. who?

Tyler Gilcrest

When asked to compare the Lord of the Rings to another fantasy movie, the first thing I have to do is simply think of another fantasy movie.  The trouble is, that’s the trouble.  It’s hard to think of another movie in the fantasy genre the readily comes to mind other than the Lord of the Rings, let alone find one that is comparable.  After a bit of thought, I come up with a couple satisfactory choices, namely the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Harry Potter.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if those were the two that most people picked to write about.  But I think to myself, I want to be unique.  I search the archives for a little longer and Eragon (not a memorable movie experience by any means), the Golden Compass (which may not score high on the fantasy scale) and Reign of Fire (of which I can only remember that it contained dragons).  None that jump out at me for sure. 

Which makes me think, why is the Lord of the Rings such a prominent fantasy movie? Why did the Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King win all 11 academy awards (including best picture, which no other fantasy movie has done) for which it was nominated?  And why does the Lord of the Rings have such sincere, what can best be called, “replayability”?  I think most of this comes from the world that the movie immerses you in.  And it truly is immersion.  Harry Potter’s Hogwarts and the world of Narnia are simply places in which you watch people interact.  In the Lord of the Rings, you  feel like Middle-Earth is a world that could actually exist.  Part of the reason for this could definitely be the amount of time that you spend in such cinematic experiences.   The Lord of the Rings extended edition reminds me of  Lawrence of Arabia and the era of movie intermissions.  The amount of time that the movie has to acclimate you to the world gives the director that much more time to immerse you in the story and the characters. 

Another advantage the Lord of the Rings has is its origin.  J.R.R. Tolkien did a wonderful job imagining Middle-Earth and then describing it in his books. Compared to his Tolkien’s works, the Harry Potter books are juvenile stories of teen angst written on a napkin in a coffee shop.  C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, was a very accomplished writer and his books do compare to those of Tolkien’s, considering they were friends who imagined fantasy worlds together and pledged to bring them to the mainstream public.  But I think the Lord of the Rings movie outdoes the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe through better characters, and better use of both development and interiority, and battles that can only be described as much more badass and epic.  So asking me to compare the Lord of the Rings to another fantasy movie is a tall order indeed, since in my opinion the Lord of the Rings stands alone on top.

Harry Potter 6 or The Lord of the Rings 1

by Theo Dentchev

Which movie is better?

Some might say that the answer is entirely subjective, and so you cannot conclusively say one is better or worse. That’s true enough, but I’m not asking, “which one do you like more.” Rather which one is objectively better? I suppose to make that kind of judgment we will need to define a set of criteria for determining which is indeed “better.” I propose we look at and compare the following four characteristics commonly used when evaluating film: coherence, intensity of effect, complexity, and originality.

Let us omit discussing complexity and simply assume that both films are sufficiently complex. That is, they both engage us on several different levels and have relatively intricate systems of relationships. Let us also omit intensity of effect, as that covers a range of subjects which are more subjective than I would like, such as how vivid or emotionally powerful the film is.

Then let us begin with coherence, or unity, which refers to how well or clearly everything is presented in a film, and if all the loose elements are tied up by the end. Now, being installations in a series, both of our films don’t conclude their stories and naturally leave certain things unaddressed (left, we assume, for the sequel to pick up on). Though we have to keep that in mind, we can still compare the way the rest of both films are structured. In The Fellowship of the Ring all of the characters and events clearly and logically relate to each other and serve a purpose. Those that don’t are either being left for the next film, or are negligible and require careful viewing to catch. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince it is more fragmented, as though not fully completed, and in a way unrelated to the fact that it is to have a sequel. There are scenes and places which, in the context of the movie, make little sense and are unclear. A striking example can be found at the end of the film, when Dumbledore is confronted by Draco Malfoy atop the astronomy tower and eventually killed by Snape. Harry is hiding in the vicinity the entire time yet does nothing until after Dumbledore is already dead. His inaction does not make any sense and is completely dissonant with his character as well as with the nature of his relationship with Dumbledore. In the book his action is explained by Dumbledore immobilizing with a spell which does not wear off until either he dies, but in the movie it is simply illogical.

That last example is a good place to bring originality into the discussion. Yes, both films are adaptations of books and as such one might be inclined to say that the films cannot be original, but even in films which have a frequently used subject, originality can be found in the way that subject is presented. Likewise both these films display originality in the way they relate the story which they are adapting. Both do depart from the text, sometimes changing minor details, sometimes going so far as to omit entire portions of the book. However, the changes and omissions that are made in The Fellowship of the Ring are done so that the viewer is able to more easily and quickly understand the plot, as superfluous characters and events which serve to unnecessarily complicate the plots are shorn off (such as Tom Bombadil, who never appears in the movie, and the corresponding scene in Rivendell where it is suggested that the ring be given to him). The end result is a more streamlined work that, while differing in some places from it’s source, still tells a complete story and gives the viewer all the information they need to understand and appreciate it within the length limitations of the film meidum. In contrast, Harry Potter omits vital scenes (such as several memories of a young Tom Riddle which offer insight into his character’s motivations and also give more information about the horcruxes), while adding completely irrelevant scenes which do do nothing for the story other than complicate it (such as the burning of the Burrow, which never happens in the book and which goes on to appear again in the seventh book). The end result is that those who are not familiar with the source text will find it difficult to understand everything. While undoubtedly both have elements of originality, just being original without a purpose has no worth. The Lord of the Rings is original in a way which has a clear purpose and achieves the desired effect, while the originality of Harry Potter is haphazard and only undermines the film.

From those two respects The Fellowship of the Ring emerges as the “better” of the two films. Having not covered half of the criteria I suggested in the first paragraph, I could certainly see someone making an argument that Harry Potter is more complex or has greater intensity of effect to the extent that it makes up for its deficiencies in the other areas. Such an argument would have to be very convincing, and I myself am rather skeptical as to the possibility of such an argument existing. But maybe that is just my personal bias, and regardless of what objective judgments we might render, in the end they likely won’t be the determining factor in which film you enjoy more.


So I watched LotR yesterday…again…

And I’m supposed to compare it to another fantasy movie I’ve seen. I haven’t seen many. This may be a problem. However, I will not be stopped by a meager unfamiliarity with other media in a genre! The synopsis begins!

Alright, so ((Luke)) Frodo lives with his uncle, ((Owen Lars)) Bilbo in an isolated sort of town, kept secret from ((the galaxy)) the rest of Middle-Earth, almost left behind in time. This place is called ((Tatooine)) the Shire. There is a wandering hermit named ((Obi-Wan)) Gandalf who shows up. He is a ((Jedi)) wizard with far more to him than meets the eye, except on special occasions. He loves the ((isolation and safety of anonymity in the desert wastes of Tatooine)) simple and peaceful ways of the ((Jawas)) Hobbits, and hangs out with them whenever possible.

Meanwhile, certain events take place that force young ((Luke))  Frodo, his new mentor ((Obi-Wan)) Gandalf, and his faithful ((droids, R2D2 and C3PO)) Hobbit friend, Sam to have to leave the Shire. ((Luke)), among others, enters a bar and meets ((Han  Solo)), a Ranger that will transport them to ((Alderaan)) Rivendell, home of ((Princess Leia)) Princess Arwen.

See where I’m going with this?

Later on, Obi-Wan sacrifices himself heroically to buy time for Han to lead the others out of the Death Star.

NOW you see what I mean.

There are wild magics, glowing swords, and epic quests. Our heroes must cross the world/galaxy in order to take the Ring/proton torpedo and deliver it into the fires of Mount Doom/two-meter wide exhaust port. Our hero, who is young and innocent but tenacious and determined, will encouter things that will force  him to grow and test his purity with the temptation of corruption. Our tragic hero is probably going to die. Our Han is going to become a General (or the King) and marry our Leia. There is a formula to these things, one might notice.  And yet, we can always appreciate them, even if only giggling at Luke screaming “NOOOOOO!!!”

— Breon

The Ring and the Heart

At first glance, the Lord of the Rings series and Pirates of the Caribbean series appear to be very different. Pirates is set in the real world, while Lord of the Rings is set in a complete fantasy world. Magic and the supernatural are common and accepted in the Lord of the Rings, while at the beginning of the Pirates series, most of the characters did not even know magic existed. Overall, it seemed like Lord of the Rings is completely immersed in fantasy, while Pirates is mostly based on real life with bits of fantasy sprinkled in.

There is, however, one area where the two films are almost alike: the presence of an object of great importance that brings the holder power over others. In Lord of the Rings, that object is the One Ring. Made by Sauron, it controls all of the other rings of power. Throughout the course of the film, most people who come into contact with it desire it immensely, with the notable exception of Frodo. In the Pirates series (especially Dead Man’s Chest) the object is the heart of Davy Jones. Since Davy Jones rules the seas, whoever controls his heart controls the seas. Throughout the movies Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and others battle for control over it.

There are still some differences between how the two objects are treated. The One Ring is treated as if it were an object of divine power that no man can control, but every man desires. Meanwhile, Davy Jones’s heart is treated as an object that can be used to accomplish a specific goal or objective. For example, Will wants it so he can get his father back, Norrington wants it to get his honor back, Jack needs it to settle his debt with Davy Jones, and Cutler Beckett uses it to try to rid the world of pirates.

Although the two series are different in many ways, one of their most important ideas is an important object that gives the holder great power and control over others, a plot point that makes them unique when compared to other films.

– Kashyap Saxena

Harry Potter vs. LOTR

By: Matt Almeida

       I have not seen many fantasy films so I have very little with which to compare Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. One film which with I think some interesting comparisons can be drawn is Harry Potter. In many ways the two films or film series’ are very similar. Both were adapted from novels and broken up into multiple films. Also, both depict powerful struggles of good vs. evil filled with much temptation, violence, death, and destruction.  In the case of Lord of the Rings  it’s film adaption was done in a much more efficient and well thought out way. The film itself was produced to cater to the viewer and recreate Tolkien’s novel in film form. The film is easy to follow and provides extensive information to give the viewer a very solid idea of what is going on. This can be seen immediately from the start of the movie with the extensive introduction and continues to persist throughout the film through events such as flashbacks.

            Having both read the Harry Potter series of books and having seen all the movies as well it is easy to draw many comparisons between the two. In designing the movies it seems that the director’s cut out many essential details, assuming that the vast majority of the audience had read the books as well. The character development and background information in these movies is not every extensive at all and without it many viewers are left with questions unanswered. However, in the Lord of the Rings the background story and character development is much more extensive. In the beginning many of the aspects of the film are introduced. The events leading up to the movie are clearly depicted and described and the struggle between the orcs and the humans is introduced. Maps and vast depictions of varying landscapes are shown to give one the idea of the drastically different races and lands as well as where they are positioned relative to each other. The main ideals of the movie and the power behind the ring are also strongly introduced, preparing the viewer for what is to come in the rest of the movie. On top of this characters are developed thoroughly before the plot really begins to develop. The viewer is brought to the shire and meet Gondor, Frodo, and many other characters, leaving one with a  strong sense of what is going on before being overwhelmed with action.  Having not read LOTR before I still thoroughly understood what was going on.

            Another interesting but specific comparison between the two movies is the interesting roles that Frodo and Harry play as heroes of the films. Both characters are depicted as somewhat weak and innocent. Neither seems to be overwhelmingly strong or brave as you would expect out of a hero. Instead they play a different hero who does not necessarily give the viewer a sense of great confidence, but one that they can identify with and watch develop throughout the films.