More RotK Thoughts

So many people have now said “well, the extended edition will take care of all that!” that I think the theatrical version failed on some fundamental level. The Extended Edition may turn out to be a lovely movie, but the movie I actually went to see, the one in the theater, was flawed and incomplete at the end.

The Houses of Healing were needed not just because I’m fond of that portion of the books, but because four different character arcs are incomplete without them. That goes beyond individual preferences: it’s a large part of what makes the story feel incomplete. Surely we could have found a few seconds somewhere to at least hint at this?

Good is portrayed as something that evolves and grows and has to work to get there, but evil just starts out evil and stays there, given the screen versions of Denethor and Saruman. Villains don’t get character arcs, while heroes get character arcs created for them even where they didn’t have them before. The movie portrays evil as something that’s just there at one’s core from the start, rather than the more subtle thing it really is. Given how few people seem to understand that in our world these days, I found this depiction particularly troubling. Sauron is evil for evil’s sake, as he should be–but the others are human (or wizard), and I wish they’d been portrayed as such.

What happened to the Arwen who greeted Aragorn with a sword at his throat, who raced with Frodo to the Ford and saved his life? In both this movie and TTT, she was replaced with a sort of breathy passive elf maiden. Which is consistent with the books, but not with what the movies set up in FotR.

Things I liked a lot: Eowyn’s battle reactions. Pippin’s arc. The visual depiction of the black stair. Sam’s return home at the very end.

A glorious ride, but ultimately an unsatisfying one. FotR is still the best of the three movies, to my mind, for all that it ends on an out-and-out cliffhanger. And this is the end of the cycle: the character stuff that’s been set up, for all that the multiple threads make it a challenge, needed to be brought to more of a conclusion. The stunning visuals and adrenaline-inducing battle scenes are lovely things, but they aren’t enough.

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