Faramir from a Different Point of View

by Celedor

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 movies.

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 out.

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!