Tolkien’s Son Speaks Out Against Peter Jackson

I’ve always been a big fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, but I’ve always felt a little ambivalent about Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of Tolkien’s work. (You can read about my fondness for Tolkien’s The Hobbit here and my mixed review of Jackson’s movie here.) Friends and family have told  me that I’ve been too hard on the films and that I need to stop being so picky.

Today, however, I am vindicated. Christopher Tolkien recently broke his silence, granting an interview to the French newspaper Le Monde about his experiences as the literary executor of his father’s estate. Most readers will find his thoughts about Peter Jackson’s films interesting.

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”

Besides being disappointed in the movies’ execution, Tolkien tells about how the studio tried to deny his family any royalty income from the films. Amazing.

You can read the entire article here. Every Tolkien fan will be interested in hearing Christopher’s story.

Do you agree with Christopher Tolkien? Did Jackson eviscerate the books? Leave your opinion in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Tolkien’s Son Speaks Out Against Peter Jackson

  1. I had very mixed emotions about The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey. My initial impression was sheer awe at the spectacle. There can be no contesting that the design, acting, directing, filming, animating, and post-production were positively splendid.
    Then, when I began to mull it over as I left the theatre, I found that I was slightly disappointed at some of the major deviations from the book. The goblin king and pale orc were ridiculous and over the top, and in my opinion completely unnecessary to the furtherance of the plot. I was also displeased with the tiny bits of rude humor, and the disgustingly out-of-character and Limburger-worthy cheesy line given to Gandalf about “random acts of kindness.” But my least favorite change in the movie was the wierd and random suggestion of romantic interest between Gandalf and Galadriel, made especially strange by the fact that she is married to Celeborn.
    However, I have learned that I can not always fairly judge movies completely by their books. I can enjoy a movie for its own merit. And I think the merits I will now mention were the things that allow me to conclude that I really loved The Hobbit: Unexpected Journeys.
    The handkerchief. That particular scene really helps define Bilbo, and the spirit of Hobbits in general, by contrasting Bilbo’s realization of the dangers he would face (his strength and resolve) with his forgetting such a common, needed item (his innocence and lightheartedness). I was glad to see this transferred smoothly from book to movie. The creative embellishing of the dwarves characters was actually really delightful! It was very hard to keep them straight while reading; the only two I could keep straight were Thorin and Bombur and Gloin, the others were quite flat. But the movie made each individual memorable. I also received great joy from the music, which generally had a more folksy and traditional feel than the LotR trilogy.
    There you go…

    1. Thanks for the comment. 🙂
      You’re right about most of the dwarves being indistinguishable in The Hobbit. But I kind of think that’s the point. If you read the gospels most of Jesus’s disciples are indistinguishable as well. Only about four have personality.

  2. I’m pretty cynical when it comes to Hollywood, especially when it comes to adaptations of novels that I really like. I am generally disappointed. That noted, I also understand that studios do what they always do – embellish and change for reasons well-documented if not always well advised. These actions generally offend hard-core fans of the literature. Regarding The Hobbit and LOTR, my thoughts are that Jackson and the studio have presented adaptations that are fair representations of the literature, far better than many other examples. As for Tolkein, I detect in his eloquent interview a hint of sour grapes.

    1. Brian, you might be right about the sour grapes. But who can blame him for being bitter when the studio tried to use fancy accounting to hide its profits?

      I also wonder if his long residence in France may have altered his sensibilities to the point that Jackson’s style of film does not appeal to him.

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