Novak (novak) wrote,

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Random: A Different "Lord of the Rings" Movie – The Horror!

I've been over at the Archives for awhile in the Tolkien Collection reading something that I didn't realize even existed until yesterday: a 1970 screenplay adaptation for United Artists by none other than John Boorman and Rospo Pallenberg, the pair who brought the Excalibur adaptation of Le Morte d'Arthur to the screen in 1981. I've always been a fan of Excalibur, despite its historical liberties (like the fantastical armour that's worn), because of its honest and sympathetic treatment of the high points of Mallory's book, and its preservation of and faithful adaptation of the Christian imagery scattered throughout the story. So when I discovered the existence of the screenplay in the holdings of the Tolkien Collection yesterday, I was quite excited, and looked forward to opening it today, wondering about what kind of faithful adaptation of The Lord of the Rings I might find, and wondering how it might have been perhaps more adequate to where even Peter Jackson's masterful effort had lackings.

Count your blessings that this movie was not made.

I can only acknowledge that John Boorman was quite young in his writing career at this point. Certainly the screenplay suffers by trying to squeeze the entire novel into one film, in a 176 page treatment. If I had not read the novel previously, I would have been bewildered by the inexplicable haste with which Bilbo appears and is hastened off the screen by Gandalf who, having badgered him into giving up the Ring, forces it upon Frodo and sends him packing within moments, too. The immediate appearances of Black Riders and then of Strider appearing out of nowhere just in time for Frodo to be stabbed and then saved the next day at the "crystal palace" of Rivendell (all in the space of what seemed to be four or five days of movie time) would have boggled the imagination and the credulity of the unprepared viewer. I can only imagine what the reaction at United Artists must have been to this hasty treatment.

Of course, I should not get too hasty myself: I've not finished the text. I was distracted by a much more agreeable conversation with a young professor of psychology who was doing some research of his own on Memory and Tolkien's form of creativity. Still, when I got to the Kabuki Theatre-style re-enactment of the history of the Rings in Rivendell, and the description of the actor portraying Sauron in this elvish theatre as a "combination of Mick Jagger and Punch," I quite felt that the script suffered a fatal case of... 1970.
Tags: funny, movie review, movies/film/tv, random, tolkien

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