I believe that Peter Jackson's films should be judged as a work in and of themselves, distinct from the books. Like some critics or rightous Tolkien fanatics I could quibble over this or that part of Tolkien's work being left out, or Peter Jackson's revisions to the plot or character development, but I'm sure everybody who's read the book will agree that taking Tolkien's prose and bringing it to life on the screen is no small feat, considering the volume of his work. And having just seen Return of the King
, I can only say that, taken together, these films are the greatest film trilogy I have ever seen.
Of course I realize in saying this I will certainly merit the pity and scorn of Barbara Nicolosi, who -- because Peter Jackson and company didn't invest as much of an interest in the Catholic elements of Tolkien's work as she'd hoped -- sniffs:
. . . in that the LOTR films are based on a work that purportedly has strong Christian themes, the films will probably have some kind of residue of these themes. You would have to work very hard, for example, to film the Sermon on the Mount, without some aroma of the Christ coming through. My sense of Jackson and his collaborators was that they were intent on preserving themes that were in the book -- even if they would never articulate them or ascribe to them. I will grant that there is much more than "an ounce" of Christianity in the films. It is just important to note that the preservation of the same was of zero concern to the director. "Not an ounce."
For those to have ears to hear, hear. For the rest of you, enjoy the film - and tell yourself it is not an over-hyped, over-produced spectacle that doesn't amount to much. I'm happy for you.
Thankfully, Steven D. Greydanus
(critic for the National Catholic Register
) had the ears to hear, and the eyes as well -- explicating the Catholic elements in Tolkien's work (and
Jackson's films) for his readers (see ""Tolkien the Catholic, The Lord of the Rings, and Peter Jackson’s film trilogy"
, decentfilms.com). I also heartily concur with Greydanus' review
of The Return of the King
- " . . . To call it the grandest spectacle ever filmed is no exaggeration; it may also be the most satisfying third act of any film trilogy, completing what can now be regarded as possibly the best realized cinematic trilogy of all time."
I am in complete awe, and most incredibly appreciative and grateful for the years of work Peter Jackson, cast and crew took in pulling this off: thank you, thank you, thank you!
(And if this doesn't get the Oscar for "Best Picture" this year they really oughtta feed the judges to Shelob!)
P.S. Ms. Nicolosi -- if you remain in doubt as to the Christian themes of Tolkien's work, this might help.