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The Positive Peter Thread!

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I really, really like King Kong.

 

Its too long, has some bad CGI, and not all of the characters feel fully realized, but its an incredibly immersive exploration of a lost world, that manages to avoid escapism and instead present a story that has a strong, and genuinely poignant, emotional core.

 

Much better than Vogt-Roberts' Kong: Skull Island.

 

 

Peter Jackson remains one of my favorite directors. Every one of his films has the ability, I feel, to make a young man or woman watching them to want to pursue a career in film, and later they can study his career and learn a lot from it.

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Just another example of Jackson excelling as a director of actors: he does a lot of rehearsals, and takes a hell of a lot of takes until he gets it just right. And the way in which he shoots his multi-film projects as one long period of principal photography really allows the actors to embody their characters.

 

Another great aspect of this is that as a screenwriter, Jackson is always keen to allow the actors to have input regarding their lines and motivation. This is a godsend because in these big projects you can't quite write a part with a specific actor in mind as you could a smaller project. But allowing the actors to change their dialogue allows to create that retroactively.

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He transferred just enough of that storyboarding/DP into The Hobbit films to make them feel like they're cut from the same cloth. You really get drawn into conspiracies, into the seriousness and weight of the plot just by these reactions he can create. I was trying to find a few shots from AUJ where it's a side profile of one of the cast and just their eyes turning towards the camera that I think are great examples of his craft as a filmmaker and storyteller.

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Its also en example of his visual style: he likes getting the camera really, REALLY close to the actors. Much like Sergio Leone, it creates a nice juxtaposition with the shots of wide vistas.

 

Although I think the edit of Fellowship of the Ring showcases too much of that tendency, compared to the rest of his opus. In that sense, you see a progression in his style of directing.

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For all of Game of Throne's reception as a gritty, more realistic universe than Tolkien's, the LOTR films manage to look more real and tangible than a majority of GoT. 

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Game of Thrones takes gritty to a point where its beyond realistic. Its just too sanguine and depraved.

 

Peter Jackson cited his inspiration as being derived from historical (and quasi-historical) epics, namely Braveheart. So its just as gritty as it needs to be.

 

2 hours ago, Arpy said:

it's just unfortunate PJ had so much on his plate in every other aspect of the films.

 

And yet, to me, the emotional core of every single one of his films still works, which overrides whatever production and editing woes his films may exhibit.

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In terms of LOTR, I have almost nothing but praise for Jackson. Sure there are some issues (in ROTK mostly), but those are small nitpicks and easy to overlook.

 

The Hobbit is a different story, of course. It's almost like those films were directed by a younger, less mature and over indulgent Jackson. Almost as if he'd regressed in terms of storytelling.

 

"You bow for no one" chokes me up every time.

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I don't see his creation as necessarily "indulgent". I understand why he made three films: its a packed novel, and each film has more than enough individual setpieces and sequences to justify a feature-film. It also accomodates better for the tonal shift following Smaug's leaving of the Lonely Mountain, where the novel suddenyl takes a turn to the archaic and becomes almost a political thriller between Thorin and Bard, and continues to become a tragic war epic.

 

Really, the only part of the three that is overindulgent, in my eyes, is "An Unexpected Journey", so I frame it as a slip-up (which happens to all directors) rather than a regression, per se. The other two flow well and seem to lend themselves better to Jackson's darker streak, I feel.

 

I think he just had a hard time coming to gripes with the rolicking novel, compard to the more archaic interpertation provided through "Durin's Folk" in "Return of the King." With the sequels, he felt less obligated to the former, and based his work more on the latter.

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Well, its the most linear, most Bilbo-centric and most faithful to the novel. If that's your thing, you'll naturally like it the best. The other two really are a re-interpertation of the novel through the description of "Durin's Folk" which is fine by me: literary film adaptation are always a re-interpertation, to some extent.

 

For one thing, the focus of the story in the later two shifted to Thorin and the Dwarves, whose story I find much, much more compeling than Bilbo's. All my favorite moments relate to them: I love the way they behold the mountain from across the mists of the long lake. One of the best emotional beats is the opening of the hidden door. Those kinds of moments are incredibly delicate to film.

 

Its also a darker story, and I found it exhilirating for it. I very much appreciate the inclusion of the charred remains of the Smaug's victims, including an infant in his mother's arms. A great means of launching the narrative into the (false) third act!

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2 hours ago, Chen G. said:

Well, its the most linear, most Bilbo-centric and most faithful to the novel. If that's your thing, you'll naturally like it the best. The other two really are a re-interpertation of the novel through the description of "Durin's Folk" which is fine by me: literary film adaptation are always a re-interpertation, to some extent.

 

For one thing, the focus of the story in the later two shifted to Thorin and the Dwarves, whose story I find much, much more compeling than Bilbo's. All my favorite moment relate to them: I love the way they behold the mountain from across the mists of the long lake. One of the best emotional beats is the opening of the hidden door. Those kinds of moments are incredibly delicate to film.

 

Its also a darker story, and I found it exhilirating for it. I very much appreciate the inclusion of the charred remains of the Smaug's victims, including an infant in his mother's arms. A great means of launching the narrative into the (false) third act!

 

I found the opening of the hidden door one of the worst moments in that movie (if we're talking about the same scene). They launch this mission, go all that way, cross ranges and river, fight through orcs and goblins and spiders and trolls, then when they can't open the door they sort of shrug and start to walk home. Awful. All I could think was at that moment they didn't deserve Erebor, the Arkenstone, or all that gold. And if they are willing to give up so easily on opening a door, what chance would they have against a fire breathing dragon?

 

The irony is, in the book they sort of start to give up, but it makes sense given the characterisation of the dwarves in the book. And if Jackson had made a film faithful to the book, that would have been fine. In Jackson's tonally uneven mess, it just makes them look pathetic.

 

Martin Freeman is excellent as Bilbo, and Armitage, while most decidedly not book Thorin, gives a committed and (mostly) persuasive performance as well.

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I'm talking about when the door actually opens.

 

And yes, I suppose having them give up and walk away first wasn't the best idea for the film but it certainly didn't offend me the way it did you: it's a standard, if overused, device of heightening tension, as well as a means of giving Bilbo more agency in an otherwise Dwarf-centric story. It certainly couldn't just "happen" immediately.

 

I guess that I give it a pass because it's staged such that Balin is the one to suggest that they walk away and he is portrayed from the very beginning as conflicted about their cause. In fact, his dumbfoundedness as he enters the mountain is a milestone in the development of his character. His and Thorin's awe is very palpable, and I still find the thing incredibly moving.

 

Armitage and the other main Dwarves (Stot, McTavish, Nesbit) are fantastic throughout and make the films for me much more than Freeman's Bilbo. I'm totally fine with the trilogy being theirs, as it were.

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7 hours ago, Nick1066 said:

I found the opening of the hidden door one of the worst moments in that movie (if we're talking about the same scene). They launch this mission, go all that way, cross ranges and river, fight through orcs and goblins and spiders and trolls, then when they can't open the door they sort of shrug and start to walk home. Awful. All I could think was at that moment they didn't deserve Erebor, the Arkenstone, or all that gold. And if they are willing to give up so easily on opening a door, what chance would they have against a fire breathing dragon?

 

 

One of my biggest problems too!  It was just as bad as Sam actually turning around on the stairs of Cirith Ungol

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Really, I'm not quite sure how I would have staged either of the two differently. Doesn't make them examples of brilliant cinema, but to me they weren't as bad as they were to you.

 

The way the films are written, they seemingly have no other choice left, and you want to prove Bilbo's contribution and inject the scene with some tension. I guess another aspect that saves it for me is that, perhaps unlike the Sam example, that scene immediately turns on a dime as Bilbo finds the door almost immediately thereafter.

 

They certainly didn't undo my investment in the Dwarves and Thorin, or the emotional effectiveness of them actually setting foot inside Erebor.

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17 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Really, I'm not quite sure how I would have staged either of the two differently. Doesn't make them examples of brilliant cinema, but to me they weren't as bad as they were to you.

 

The way the films are written, they seemingly have no other choice left, and you want to prove Bilbo's contribution and inject the scene with some tension. I guess another aspect that saves it for me is that, perhaps unlike the Sam example, that scene immediately turns on a dime as Bilbo finds the door almost immediately thereafter.

 

They certainly didn't undo my investment in the Dwarves and Thorin, or the emotional effectiveness of them actually setting foot inside Erebor.

 

Easy. Handle it same way they did with the Fellowship at the gates of Moria. It's not like Jackson was afraid to repeat other beats from LOTR (lots of them in fact).

 

Have some Dwarves sitting around dejectedly, a couple arguing, a couple trying to physically break down the door, etc. Maybe even have one saying they should just go home if that's your thing. Then just have the rest of the scene play out as it is, with Bilbo first noticing the moonlight.

 

That way the Dwarves don't seem like a  bunch of lame quitters...they're doing whatever they can...and Bilbo is still the one who has the eureka moment. Make that tiny change and the scene works.

 

It might not be a huge deal, but it's just endemic of the numerous little character problems that plague The Hobbit. And unlike you, yeah I lost a little respect for Thorin in that scene. He's supposed to be a leader.

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Yeah, I thought of that, but you'd still want them at least sitting quite far away if you actually want tension in the finding of the keyhole, Bilbo losing the key, etc...

 

And I see it as tied to the character of Balin (who is unsure about their cause from the very beginning) who urges the company to leave, and to the theme of the film, which seeks to  temper with Thorin's ambition and raises the viewpoint of such characters as Bard who indeed view it as vain.

 

Anyhow, I see the issue, it's just really not a big one for me, nor are others of that sort. I find the Dwarves, and especially Thorin, to be extremly compelling throughout, and that's what counts.

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It's one of those changes the format of film brings with it.

You can look at it the way Nick does, and say it's wrong to have them give up.

But you can also look at it from the perspective of getting hit after hit until you just break down. The dwarves went through a lot until they arrive at Erebor, and certainly, under the multiple threat of death, they asked themselves more than once if it's worth it, or if it wouldn't be easier to just walk away and spend a reasonably happy life.

Finally arriving at Erebor, and failing literally on the doorstep, may very well be the last straw.

 

From a cinematic point of view, if the dwarves just sat there depressed, it would be just like any other situation that came before, and there is no tension in that, at a point where tension is needed.

It's also a very different situation from the Doors of Moria because there, nobody was pressed for time. The scene wants to tell you that it's an obstacle in the journey, and the Fellowship waits forever, and maybe they need to take another way.

On the doorstep of Erebor, the story is that they clearly need to reach the door on THAT day, with the (sun)light hitting the door, and they need to stand at exactly the right spot, as Balin clearly points out.

The dwarves leaving does a very good job of accentuating that time issue, and their failure to be there in time.

 

It's just one of those things that you can't do in a film, having the dwarves and Bilbo sit around, until a bird accidentally gives Bilbo the idea. It's nice in a novel because pacing is less of an issue. Just like it wouldn't make sense to replicate the Black Rider story from FotR as written, or having the conversation with Gildor Inglorion in the Film.

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14 hours ago, gkgyver said:

But you can also look at it from the perspective of getting hit after hit until you just break down. The dwarves went through a lot until they arrive at Erebor, and certainly, under the multiple threat of death, they asked themselves more than once if it's worth it, or if it wouldn't be easier to just walk away and spend a reasonably happy life.

 

And that's a theme of The Desolation of Smaug in general, the question of whether going through with this Quest is truly a noble cause. It's an argument voiced by Bard, and one that is illustrated through Thorin's willingness to leave Kili behind, to leave Bilbo to the mercy of the dragon (and what does he say both times? "I cannot risk the fate of this quest" etc). It's not a straw man argument on the part of the film, certainly not given what is to come. Not your usual blockbuster indeed.

 

And Balin in general is leaning towards that side of the argument since the party at Bilbo's, and since he has some sway over the group, when he says "come away, lads, it's over" it makes sense that they'd listen. There are even hints of fatigue earlier, before they meet Bard when Balin explains they can't cross the long lake.

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On 1/14/2018 at 3:45 PM, Nick1066 said:

 

I found the opening of the hidden door one of the worst moments in that movie (if we're talking about the same scene). They launch this mission, go all that way, cross ranges and river, fight through orcs and goblins and spiders and trolls, then when they can't open the door they sort of shrug and start to walk home. Awful. All I could think was at that moment they didn't deserve Erebor, the Arkenstone, or all that gold. And if they are willing to give up so easily on opening a door, what chance would they have against a fire breathing dragon?

 

This.

 

As Nick said, you could so easily avoid it by doing the same thing as entering Moria. Gandalf says 'oh, it's hopeless', but I don't think he does that in the same 'right let's all go home' sense, more that he needs to sit down and think about it. The dwarves just give up and turn around the moment they can't find a doorbell.

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Its after they've tried smashing it, and after Balin said it "can't be opened by force", so its not like they didn't give it their best shot. The way they read the moon runes, they are led to believe that their last chance is lost, what with the front gate being sealed in the film and all.

 

Having them walk away brings tension to Bilbo calling them back, missing the key, accidentally almost knocking it off of the ledge, etc. I really like the shot of Thorin's boot on the key.

 

What I thought would have added to the scene is that when Thorin says "no" that he would go to the wall and try to feel the door, before giving up. Either way, its not a big issue by any means.

 

What matters is that, on the whole, the story of the Dwarves and Thorin is relatable, so I didn't mind that it was their trilogy much more so than Bilbo's.

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1 hour ago, Chen G. said:

Its after they've tried smashing it, and after Balin said it "can't be opened by force", so its not like they didn't give it their best shot. The way they read the moon runes, they are led to believe that their last chance is lost, what with the front gate being sealed in the film and all.

 

Having them walk away brings tension to Bilbo calling them back, missing the key, accidentally almost knocking it off of the ledge, etc. I really like the shot of Thorin's boot on the key.

 

What I thought would have added to the scene is that when Thorin says "no" that he would go to the wall and try to feel the door, before giving up. Either way, its not a big issue by any means.

 

I don't think it added any tension at all. i just think it made them look like weak quitters, especially Thorin for crying out loud.

 

What about this...some of the Dwarves start to leave, and Thorin says something like (enter Armitage impassion speech mode)...

 

"Go if you must. But I will not abandon Erebor a second time. No locked door, no fire drake from the north, no kind of magic known to men, elves or dwarves will keep me from taking back what is rightfully ours. Does the word of an Elf-Lord count for more than our own hearts, our own strength?  I care not what Elrond or Gandalf says or which season it is or which way the Thrush flies...Dwarves made this door and Dwarves can open it. Our people. Look what we are...merchants, miners, tinkers, toy­makers (he pauses, puts his hand on Balin's shoulder and makes eye contact)...hardly the stuff of legend. Yet look how far we have come. This little Hobbit, who owes nothing to my kin, will not give up. Why do you go then? Well do what you must..but I. WILL. NOT. LEAVE."  

 

Then, during this moment of supreme tension, Bilbo makes his discovery. Almost like the "I'm a school teacher" scene in Saving Private Ryan...the bickering company is pulled back from the ledge (figuratively and literally) at the last moment. Then do the almost losing the key, etc. if you must.

 

But just shrugging and shuffling home? No. It makes zero sense in context of the way Jackson is telling the story and has portrayed these Dwarves. It was just sloppy and IMO perhaps a product of a rushed production and unfinished script. I know you love these films and respect that you do, but even you can't think this works. It's not a good moment for the Dwarves, Thorin most of all.

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10 minutes ago, Nick1066 said:

I know you love these films and respect that you do, but even you can't think this works. It's not a good moment for the Dwarves, Thorin most of all.

 

I already said I see the issue. I like these films (especially The Desolation of Smaug) but I'm certainly not oblivious to their shortcomings.

 

I'm not trying to say it works particularly well, I'm pointing out to whatever elements of it that somewhat alleviate the issue, for me. 

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Perhaps I'm a tad late here, but the scene where Thorin and co. turn and begin to leave after failing to find the door is just as jarring and ill-fitting of a moment as that scene in ROTK, where Sam actually leaves Frodo on Cirith Ungol. Both are just terrible character moments that completely betray and undermine the characters involved, as well as their entire arc and the journey they've traveled.

 

40 minutes ago, Nick1066 said:

"Go if you must. But I will not abandon Erebor a second time. No locked door, no fire drake from the north, no kind of magic known to men, elves or dwarves will keep me from taking back what is rightfully ours. Does the word of an Elf-Lord count for more than our own hearts, our own strength?  I care not what Elrond or Gandalf says or which season it is or which way the Thrush flies ...Dwarves made this door and Dwarves can open it.  Our people. Look what we are...merchants, miners, tinkers, toy­makers (he pauses, puts his hand on Balin's shoulder and makes eye contact)...hardly the stuff of legend. Yet look how far we have come. This little Hobbit, who owes nothing to my kin, will not give up. Why do you go then? Well do what you must..but I. WILL. NOT. LEAVE."  

 

This alone is better than any passage of dialogue in DOS.

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I don't mind it with Sam one bit.

 

Characters in film have to evolve. If Sam's dedication to Frodo is entirely unwavering throughout, than it becomes a constant.

 

Its like Faramir: instead of being sympathetic throughout as he is the book (which is just not interesting in film) he becomes that. Its not how it is in the book at all, but when you adapt a book you have to know when to say "screw the book" and do something that will work for the film. Jackson and co. strength in both trilogies comes from just that - the audacity to make significant changes to the book in order to make it cinematic.

 

You might not like some of the changes - I sure don't. But changes, big changes (beyond just abberivating the book) are necessary because the medium is entirely different.

 

I'll let Hartwell do the talking for me again:

 

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16 minutes ago, JohnSolo said:

Perhaps I'm a tad late here, but the scene where Thorin and co. turn and begin to leave after failing to find the door is just as jarring and ill-fitting of a moment as that scene in ROTK, where Sam actually leaves Frodo on Cirith Ungol. Both are terrible character moments that completely betray and undermine the characters involved, as well as their entire arc and the journey they've traveled.

 

I always felt the same, and said so a while ago in the thread with BloodBoal's (we miss you) excellent review of the film. It seemed completely out of character for Sam..and even if Sam did have a moment of weakness, the way it played out with the bread just didn't make sense. 

 

And I don't think it has anything to do with adapting the book...the LOTR films make a lot of changes that work perfectly well, and some even better than the book in terms of dramatic context for the film. Most of the changes made in LOTR worked, and were done with restraint and respect for the source material. You can't say the same for The Hobbit.

 

Still, that scene with Sam is much easier to overlook than the quitter Dwarves, given how good the rest of ROTK is.

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15 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Characters in film have to evolve. If Sam's dedication to Frodo is entirely unwavering throughout, than it becomes a constant.

 

Sam's devotion to Frodo is a constant. His unwavering loyalty and courage is literally the heart of his entire arc as a character throughout the books. His leaving Frodo to continue the journey to Mordor alone in the films completely undermines all of that.

 

As far as I can tell, you don't seem to be nearly as much of a Tolkien enthusiast as you are a Jackson fanboy.

 

15 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Its like Faramir: instead of being sympathetic throughout as he is the book, he becomes that. Its not how it is the book, but when you adapt a book you have to know when to say "screw the book" and do something that will work for the film. Jackson and co. strength in both trilogies comes from just that - the audacity to make significant changes to the book in order to make it cinematic.

 

None of the changes I mentioned earlier work in the film narrative's favor. Given the context, neither do anything to make the films any more "cinematic" or increase tension. They only serve to contradict previously established arcs and lore, and frankly frustrate longtime devotees and fans of Tolkien's work.

 

15 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

You might not like some of the changes - I sure don't. But changes (beyond just abberivating the book) are necessary because the medium is entirely different.

 

This makes zero sense. You can include plenty of aspects and details from the books (including Sam's loyalty and the Dwarves' perseverance) while still retaining the film's sense of cinematic scale.

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25 minutes ago, JohnSolo said:

Sam's devotion to Frodo is a constant. His unwavering loyalty and courage is literally the heart of his entire arc as a character throughout the books. His leaving Frodo to continue the journey to Mordor alone in the films completely undermines all of that.

 

If it is a constant than its no good for cinema. And if something is no good for cinema, you need have to change it. That the book isn't like that is not an issue.

 

Quote

As far as I can tell, you don't seem to be nearly as much of a Tolkien enthusiast as you are a Jackson fanboy.

 

Peter Jackson is always "regarding first the needs of people who love cinema", not books. And that's the approach that one needs to take with any adaptation.

 

Quote

As far as I can tell, you don't seem to be nearly as much of a Tolkien enthusiast as you are a Jackson fanboy.

 

I'm not a fanboy. I see the flaws in all of his films, from the Rings films, through King Kong to The Hobbit, especially An Unexpected Journey. But overall, I still find him an excellent writer/director/producer, and I enjoy the emotional core of every one of those films, in spite and above all the flaws. A fanboy would be someone who ignores those flaws alltogether.

 

My enjoyment of Tolkien's writings has little to do with this. At no point did I ever feel compeled to compare Tolkien's vision to Jackson's, because they operate in mediums that are completly different.

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8 minutes ago, JohnSolo said:

 

Sam's devotion to Frodo is a constant. His unwavering loyalty and courage is literally the heart of his entire arc as a character throughout the books. His leaving Frodo to continue the journey to Mordor alone in the films completely undermines all of that.

 

This. And he even makes a big deal in Fellowship about his promise to Mr. Gandalf...don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. And I don't mean to.  Sam left Frodo knowing what Gollum was, what he was planing, and that he stole the bread. Sam leaving Frodo wasn't his character evolving, it was acting out of character completely.

 

Yes, it undermines Sam's character, and unnecessarily so. Or for the worst reason...to service the needs of the plot for that moment. I understand the need to separate Sam and Frodo at this point, I just don't think this was the way to do it.

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8 minutes ago, Nick1066 said:

And he even makes a big deal in Fellowship about his promise to Mr. Gandalf...don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. And I don't mean to.  Sam left Frodo knowing what Gollum was, what he was planing, and that he stole the bread. Sam leaving Frodo wasn't his character evolving, it was acting out of character completely.

 

Character development needs to have highs and lows. You have to show Sam's loyalty to Frodo at its lowest in order to eventually reinforce it.

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48 minutes ago, JohnSolo said:

Perhaps I'm a tad late here, but the scene where Thorin and co. turn and begin to leave after failing to find the door is just as jarring and ill-fitting of a moment as that scene in ROTK, where Sam actually leaves Frodo on Cirith Ungol. Both are just terrible character moments that completely betray and undermine the characters involved, as well as their entire arc and the journey they've traveled.

 

On 1/14/2018 at 6:02 PM, Jay said:

One of my biggest problems too!  It was just as bad as Sam actually turning around on the stairs of Cirith Ungol

 

;)

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5 minutes ago, Jay said:

 

 

;)

 

On 4/18/2017 at 11:28 AM, Nick1066 said:

After making a huge deal about Sam promising Mr. Gandalf that he'd never abandon Mr. Frodo, he does. Why? Because an out of his mind Mr. Frodo tells him to. Even though Sam knows Gollum is a liar and murderer, he leaves his friend to the mercy of this cutthroat. At most, Sam would follow them in secret, not scamper down the mountain crying. And what makes him come back up? Finding the discarded bread. Which Sam knew back on the ledge Gollum was responsible for. What, knowing Gollum tossed some bread made him REALLY angry? As opposed to hearing with his own ears that Gollum was planning on killing them both? I don't buy it. I've generally gone along with the changes to some of the character's character (e.g. Faramir), but this was a change in Sam's character, towards the end, just to suit the needs of the scene, that IMO didn't work (in context of the character).  All that said, I agree with you regarding Frodo's actions...they do aptly demonstrate the Ring's growing influence on Frodo. It's the way they had Sam react to that I take issue with.

 

;)

 

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