Faramir from a Different Point of View
There is no doubt now that Peter Jackson has
attempted to make the best Lord of the Rings movies he can, as opposed
to the most accurate account of the War of the Ring possible.
Characters, places, and even the story have been changed as LOTR has
moved from the page to the stage.
When I saw FOTR, I loved the movie; but I was
a bit concerned about how some of the long-time Tolkien fans would take
it. I needn't have worried. The changes were not only accepted, they
were welcomed. So by the time TTT came out I figured the purist issues
were behind us. Wrong again. The film gave us the most controversial
change so far: Faramir.
This took me offguard. Yes, I noticed his
character had been changed. But what of Elrond in FOTR? Certainly in
the book he wasn't this impatient, angry man trying to manipulate his
daughter. Yet nobody said a word about it -- including me, because I
thought it made for good drama.
So what is it about Faramir that gets so many
people in a tizzy? I asked several fans, and here's the answer: most
people really like the Faramir in the books. They admire his morals,
his wisdom, and the way he treats others. His exchange with Frodo in
the book is delightful; his encounter with the Ring, commendable. He is
who we wish we aspire to be. Many fans miss seeing this guy in the
Fortunately for these people the Faramir they
know will become more evident in Film III. And they will better
understand movie-Faramir in Film II when the Extended Edition comes
But I'm happy to hear their thoughts right
now, because at last I understand the reason the Faramir issue is so
controversial: fans are looking at the Lord of the Rings the wrong way.
Or perhaps I should say they're looking at
LOTR differently than myself, Peter Jackson, and Professor Tolkien.
That is certainly their prerogative. The books and films are, afterall,
entertainment; fans should be allowed to enjoy them however they wish.
As a fan of both The Lord of the Rings and
Harry Potter I'm often asked to compare the two. There are similarities
between them, but the two tales are fundamentally differently. So it's
a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Harry Potter is a
character-based tale. It's about following the thoughts and feelings of
Harry and his friends while they share incredible experiences and
mature as people. There are some very exciting adventures in the books
(and the movies) but these are there to serve the characters. When an
adventure is over, we leave it behind and move on with Harry, Hermione,
and Ron. (This sort of tale lends itself well to sequels.)
On the other hand, LOTR is a story-based
tale. There are wonderful characters in the books (and the movies), but
they have been created to serve the story. Their thoughts and feelings
are not nearly as important as "What happens next?" When the adventure
is over, so is the tale. (This sort of story does not lend itself well
to sequels, though that doesn't stop Hollywood from doing them.)
When Professor Tolkien wrote LOTR, he wasn't
trying to write a tale around Frodo or Sam. He wasn't trying to glorify
Aragorn or Faramir. "The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller
to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of
the readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them
or deeply move them."
Peter Jackson's adaptation has been made with the same goals.
Imagine you're a writer, and you're on the
project. Which Faramir would be better for the movie: a friendly, warm
man who has no desire for the Ring, or a man struggling with family
issues who sees the Ring as a powerful weapon? If you look at the issue
from a character point of view, you'd probably go with the former. But
Peter, like Tolkien before him, knows his number one priority is to the
story. And he did what was best for it, which is the latter: the Ring
continues to appear powerful, the story of Frodo and Samwise gets added
drama, and the issues between Faramir, Denethor, and Boromir come into
play. For the most important aspect of LOTR is not how great Faramir
appears to be. It's not how great Frodo and Sam are presented. It's how
wonderful the tale is overall.
A response from Anborn1:
Well, the whole story from a different POV:
A guy agrees to take a weapon to a far away place and throw
it into a
volcano. On the way they meet some other guys, some of whom get killed
while others get beaten up. The main guy gets beaten up pretty
regularly and pretty badly. One of those other guys is the last
possible guy to become king of a country near the volcano. While they
are going to the volcano the dude who made the weapon is looking for
them, so the king guy decides to pick a fight and distract the bad guy.
Although the guy can’t throw the weapon in himself, someone he picked
up on the way accidentally does it, and so kills the dude who made the
weapon as well as destroying the bad guy’s set up. The king guy become
king and the first guy goes away.
The story is important, of course, but the
elements that go into the telling bring it to life. Things like
description of the lands they travel through, events on the journey and
the actions and nature of the characters bring it to life. For many
fans like myself, Book Faramir is a delightful, deep, intriguing and
moving character. He, more than almost any other character, “feels”
like a real person. His actions and words with Frodo and Sam give us
the first insight into what a wonderful man he is. Then later, when we
see his interaction with Denethor, when we see him abused by Denethor,
we are more shocked and saddened on his behalf because he SO does not
merit such treatment, and yet he bears it with such dignity.
I love the movies, but I still hold that the
theatrical release was severely impaired for me because of the way such
a powerful character was treated. I am almost more anxious to see what
the EE DVD will bring, than I am to see ROTK (but that gets complicated
– how can one look forward to ROTK, knowing that it is the last, and
knowing what is to come in the film itself!!) But I also respect your
thoughtfulness and the very interesting and valid points you raise –
thank you for sharing them. Cheers and namarie!