Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Diary of a Nitpicker


verb (used without object)
1. to be excessively concerned with or critical of inconsequential details.
verb (used with object)
2. to criticize by focusing on inconsequential details.
3. a carping, petty criticism.
4. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a nitpicker or nitpicking.

We're all guilty of it at some point or another, and it could be about anything. People have made a living at doing it online as movie/game/tv critics. I do it a fair bit on The Whostorian Podcast about various Doctor Who episodes. Most nitpicks are pretty simple, some are nagging or glaring problems, at least when perceived by the Nitpicker. Then there are some that just seem to sit and grate at you the more you think about them, or the more times that you watch/read/play the source material that led to observation of the nit that needed picking. It's one of these that I want to talk about.

The Lord of the Rings.

One of the most amazing fantasy stories that I (and a lot of people the world over) have ever read. It's a wonderfully crafted story by a genius of a man who took a lot of time to craft and create a world with so many different peoples and lands and even languages. Tolkien hashed out the Elven language along the way as an actual speakable language with rules and pronunciations that could be learned.
Nerds the world over can't gush enough about the story and I'm going to do my best not to do so here, because this entry isn't about my love of the Ring.

Back in 2001, Peter Jackson brought the book series to the silver screen and there was much rejoicing. The three movies were ridiculously well done and are the very best adaptation from book to screen that we are likely ever to see. So much was done that the DVDs got extended editions to put back footage that had to be cut for the theatrical releases. Even then there were things left out of the movies, mostly because there really is too much in the books to be able to get it all on film.

I understand that aspect, things have to be left out for time constraints. I get that. I accept (begrudgingly so) that Tom Bombadil had to be left out because to add him in right would have probably added another hour to The Fellowship of the Ring movie. I accept that Frodo and company never went into the great woods and onto the barrow downs, never fought the barrow wight and that Aragorn gave them their swords. That's a very quick synopsis of what happens before they get to Bree, there's a lot more, which is why it had to be left out and again, I'm ok with that.

My biggest nitpick, the thing that really sticks in my craw, the nagging item, the oversight that I despise the most in these movies comes at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring movie. It's actually part of The Two Towers book, but again the movie gets to pick the best places to start and stop the narrative to sew the three movies together. My problem is with adaptation of The Horn of Gondor.

We're given, when reading the books, that the horn is very special. It is possibly magical in nature and is an heirloom passed down to the eldest sons of the house of the Stewards of Gondor. The LOTR Wiki gives account of it being used: "Boromir blew it before leaving Rivendell with the Fellowship, as he always did when setting out on a journey. He sounded it again in Moria, causing the Orcs and even the Balrog to pause in their advance. The third time he blew it was on the banks of Parth Galen, calling for help in defending Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. This last call, in addition to being heard by Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, was faintly heard by his brother Faramir and his father Denethor II."

Bottom line, it is a big deal of an artifact. When I was watching the movie and the fight started at Amon-Hen I knew that Boromir was going to die in the fight and I knew that he was going to call for help with the horn. The Two Towers book gave a description of it and I was really looking forwards to how it would be brought out in the movie.

Never have I been so let down by a movie that I enjoyed.  

The book lays it out like this: "Then suddenly with a deep-throated call a great horn blew, and the blasts of it smote the hills and echoed in the hollows, rising in a mighty shout above the roaring of the falls."

Read that over again, that is incredible, that it earth shaking, that is an almost epic description. But did we get that? No, we got this...

That was the most anticlimactic event in the movie for me. That was the worst possible way to bring that part of the book to life. That was a let down. That was crap.

And it's not like it had to be done that way for budget constraints, that movie had an unreal budget. It's not like there is no way to make the sound, it's not like they couldn't do it right. They chose not too. But then they did it. They did it in The Two Towers movie for the Horn of Helm Hammerhand when Gimli sounded it. Here, look:

That's the sound I was expecting to come from the Horn of Gondor, not three pathetically short bursts that barely managed to make itself heard from the bottom to the top of the hill. That is the effect that I was expecting when Boromir raised the horn to summon aid. That would have closely matched what came to my mind when I read the passage in the books.

For everything else that was done right in those movies, this is the one part that left me out in the cold.

and that's my one giant nitpick from a movie and I feel better for getting it off my chest.


- Stylin' Steve

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