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Old 09-22-2014, 06:49 PM   #1
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Question The Essence of the Tale

I was digging around amongst the old Books threads again, and Is there any hope of redemption ...? caught my eye (I might yet circle around and see if I have something to add)--in particular the last two posts:

Originally Posted by Tuor of Gondolin View Post
I actually think a really interesting version of the LOTR would have been to have Shelob kill off Frodo (sorry, Frodo fans ). This would have led to a fascinating dynamic of Sam and Gollum from there to Mount Doom.
And, paranthetically, it would have quieted initial critics of LOTR that "all" made it back safe (ignoring, of course, Boromir and the various kinds of "losses" by the free peoples at the end of the tale).
Might Sam, as a longer term Ringbearer, have gained a greater appreciation of Gollum's torment and been more inclined to forgiving and help redeeming him? And as not so long a Ringbearer as Frodo, could he have resisted the Ring's strength at the end? (Probably not, I think JRRT surmises somewhere that the power of the Ring at Dol Guldur was too strong for anyone to resist, which, if so, also helps to ease any criticism of Isildur).
And, to this was replied:

Originally Posted by HerenIstarion View Post
I suppose it would not be LoTR any longer (I agree it would be interesting, but that would be quite different story)
I suppose, since the thread ended there, I could have just added on to that, but the thoughts this stimulated were of a whole new topic entirely. Basically, my question is this: to what extent can you change the LotR and still call it the LotR? This is especially a question for the movie fans out there--or the would-be movie makers out there, if we have any.

Fans of the books have not gone easy on Jackson's adaptation, but I think even on this exacting forum you could find people who would say "but it's still The Lord of the Rings"--but, interestingly, I think you'd have a harder time finding the same number of people willing to say that about The Hobbit. And it's somewhere in that space between that I want to focus: what is essential to The Lord of the Rings?

Tom Bombadil, to use the PJ-movies as an example, does not seem to be essential. But to use that measuring stick, neither is "The Scouring of the Shire"--which I would have said, a priori, was.

To go off the quotes I gave above, what characters can you change? The movies tried this and struck a sour note with Faramir.

Can you add things?

What about Tolkien's own stated opinion about the LotR's chief theme being death? Would it cease to be The Lord of the Rings if you adapted it so that Gandalf never died? Others might call that streamlining.

In short, what's the line in the sand between an adapted form of the LotR and The Sword of Shannara?
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