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Old 09-23-2014, 11:28 AM   #5
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
In short, what's the line in the sand between an adapted form of the LotR and The Sword of Shannara?
I'm not sure there is one. The most interesting idea about the first Shannara novel is the sole thing that differentiates it in any substantial form from The Lord of the Rings: the post-apocalyptic setting. It's interesting that despite being an extremely derivative early example of 'Tolkienesque' high fantasy, it comes across now as being far more stock and cliché than the very text upon which it models itself, even though The Lord of the Rings is supposedly the Prime Mover of the genre. 'High Fantasy' is not really 'like Tolkien,' no matter what people say. It's actually 'like Shannara and Riftwar' in my opinion. The Jackson films of The Lord of the Rings are the same deal: taking a source story and reshaping it with Hollywood sensibilities into something predictable and safe, and therefore profitable.

One of my biggest issues with the films is one that I think irrevocably differentiates it from its source material: the difference in tone. The Lord of the Rings is very clear about what is happening: Sauron must be defeated, but even if he is, much that is good in the world will cease to be. It is a spiritual crisis, a test of our strength and conviction: do we have the integrity to refuse to wield totalitarianism and evil against itself? Will we refuse to submit to those who try to usurp God's place? Will we accept the necessity of sacrifice and the inevitability of our own demise, and still stand up and do good anyway, even though we may not live to enjoy the fruits of our labour for long, if at all?

The films, by contrast, are riddled with 'personal angst' and 'human drama' like something out of a soap opera: 'Aragorn won't become king because he's scared of being weak like Isildur,' 'if the Ring is not destroyed, Arwen will die,' (wouldn't she anyway when Sauron inevitably overran Rivendell?) 'Frodo becomes corrupted by Gollum's influence and turns on Sam,' 'Treebeard is too scared or stupid to fight Saruman until he is emotionally manipulated by Merry and Pippin,' 'Denethor sacrifices his son in a fit of pique' etc.

Maybe that's my line in the sand. But in my opinion even sacrificing things like Bombadil diminish the story, because I don't support the idea that there are parts of the text which are essential and parts which are inessential. Every line, each word surely exists for a reason.
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried Éomer.
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