06 October 2011

The Adventure Continues

Note: I wrote this at Christmas time, when I was with my family and we were watching Lord of the Rings, as we are wont to do. Somehow, this never got posted. I have no idea why. Maybe I wanted to edit it, or expand on some of the ideas. If so, I've forgotten now what I planned to do, so I'll just post it and if I have additional thoughts, I'll post with follow-up.

The LOTR film odyssey has proceeded apace through The Two Towers. I find a bit less faithfulness to the book in this adaptation, and it never fails to bother me. My father agrees with me that Jackson's most disappointing departure is a sheer misfire, a true detriment to the film version of this story: the total ruination of the character of Faramir.

In the book, Faramir is possibly the most truly and essentially noble character, not least because he is given many reasons and many opportunities to be less than noble and he rises above them all. Frodo is the central character of the story and Aragorn the standard epic hero born to greatness, and they offer many nuances to the trilogy. Like Sam (the courageous and noble everyman, or rather, everyhobbit), however, Faramir is relatable and provides lessons on rising above adversity and consciously choosing good over evil. Tolkien's view and his created world are essentially medieval, and a reverence for the code of chivalry and the feudal system is absolutely implicit in his writing. A titled but not royal character, Faramir represents every aspect of the ideal knight: a natural leader who inspires courage and faithfulness in followers both human and animal; a skilled administrator and commander; a great but humble warrior; a loyal subject; a devoted son and brother; a brilliant and disciplined scholar and student; a gentleman with consideration and respect for women and for people (and hobbits) that others might consider lesser and unworthy of regard. He is one of the few individuals who is able to resist the lure of the Ring, this being all the more remarkable because his own brother falls prey to that weakness. He is secure enough and wise enough that he accepts his father's injustice toward him and partiality toward Boromir, and dedicates himself to the service of Gondor. And he ends up marrying a strong woman whose fame and courage may exceed even his own, and he admires rather than resents her abilities.

In the movie, Faramir is unfortunately shown as a weakling who cannot resist the Ring, and he is rather whiny and petty, to boot. Ultimately, he makes the right choice after a series of wrong choices, but the damage to his character's integrity is substantial. I guess we just have to return to reading the books to enjoy the true essence of the greatest Captain of Gondor.


meesh said...

I could not possible agree more - that choice by Jackson bothers me more than just about anything else (I'm also not a huge fan of how they concluded Saruman's arc, especially in the theatrical cut). I *love* the movies and overall, think Jackson did an astonishing job, but there were a few missteps.

I must say, I am getting more and more excited about "The Hobbit" every time new info comes out.

Willow said...

As I'm sure you know, I too agree with you. Faramir is one of my all time favorite characters and he certainly deserved more respect in the movies.

Kiti said...

Micha - I also had issues with the handling of Saruman, but I at least understand why Jackson opted to leave the Scouring of the Shire subplot out of the films. [My father has a theory that the last few chapters of the story comprise a miniature, Shire-level replay of the whole trilogy that was on an epic level.] But yes, I still enjoy watching the movies.

As I now recall, I was going to do a whole extra exposition on how Faramir was presented as an Ideal Knight to Aragorn's Ideal King, a sort of Gondorian Gawain and Arthur, but I decided against doing it, doubtless because it would have involved actual work in researching, writing, and citing everything. And now maybe somebody trolling the internet will steal my idea and use it as a basis for a doctoral dissertation in medieval literature. :o( A pox on you and your plagiarizing ways, anonymous but enterprising scholar!