Faramir's Journey

by Varda

Playing the dvds that come with the Extended Edition I have reached the scriptwriters' discussion of Faramir, and the film-makers' reasons for what someone here called the 'trashing' of Faramir.

Now PJ gave a couple of replies to questions on this subject in the fanclub magazine; the first was defensive of the TTT version of Faramir, saying that Faramir has no 'conflict' etc, so he was not interesting enough to portray properly. The second was quite different; PJ admitted that changing the character of Faramir caused problems later on in the filming, and he admitted there was a lot of resistance to the film by fans of the books simply on the basis of the damage the film had done to the character of Faramir.

The interviews on the EEDVD hark back to the earlier replies, defending the film's treatment of Faramir. They say that Faramir as a character has 'no journey', that is he is the same at the end as at the start.

I love your films guys but this I am not buying, no way!

Tolkien himself went a journey when he wrote LOTR. He develops too, and one thing he hones is his portrayal of character. Aragorn when the hobbits meet him is pretty stiff and stern. By the time Tolkien comes to portray Faramir he has had a truckload of experience showing character; Saruman, Theoden, Wormtongue, Eowyn, Eomer. As a result Faramir, as he admitted, was easy to portray; he just came walking into the scene in Ithilien. But ironically this ease with which Tolkien portrayed Faramir worked against the character when the filmakers came to look at him, for he is so natural and restrained they missed his progression throughout the story.

For Faramir definitely does develop. He is however a reserved, self-contained character; he has to be, he has enemies all around, and his father watches him for anything he can criticise. So when Frodo meets him he is not going to give much away, but under that facade is a man grieving for his brother, but also wanting to know how and why he died.

What Frodo tells Faramir increases his grief, for he learns that Boromir broke his oath, something vital to Faramir and all the house of Denethor. He also learns that Boromir communicated with Galadriel, and wishes he could find out what the Lady said to his brother. But above all Faramir learns to hate and fear the Ring, for he sees what it did to his brother. This hatred cements Faramir's resolve to not take the Ring 'even if it lay by the wayside'

The meeting with Frodo also refines certain aspects of Faramir's character. He forms a bond with Frodo and wants to prevent him throwing his life away. Faramir's compassion and generosity are brought to the fore and he is given a chance to be merciful and supportive, instead of just killing for his father, as he is doing when Frodo meets him. Frodo's departure to what Faramir believes is certain death makes Faramir realise how extreme the situation they are all in, and he begins to think that he cannot survive this war, and that only sacrifice lies ahead. He settles into an uncharacteristic fatalism...

Faramir's hostile reception by Denethor when he returns to the city also brings about changes to his character. Now, at what he knows is the last struggle, surely his father must relent towards him. Faramir's long buried hope that Denethor will at last accept him comes to the fore and he literally begs for his father's approval. Faramir is losing his hope, becoming more desperate, even rash. When his father still rejects him he marches out hoping to die in battle.

After the battle, recovering in the Houses of Healing, Faramir goes another journey, reconciling himself to his family's loss of power and himself to allegiance to Aragorn. And his battered heart learns to love again, when he sees Eowyn....

Faramir a character with no development? Oh pull the other one!

Just musing, no offence to any fellow Faristas,

V