Meghan is full-time student and fangirl. When she’s not busy studying or writing posts for her book blog Coffee and Wizards, she likes to imagine a great wide somewhere.
When I was nine years old, my parents bought me the Lord of the Rings box set. By that time I was already reading high fantasy in the form of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, so the thickness of the books didn’t put me off, nor did the small size of the print. However, every time a character began singing I would cringe and find it harder and harder to continue reading. I finished the books, but they didn’t impress me: I preferred The Hobbit, which seemed to have more action.
Two years later The Fellowship of the Ring came out in theatres, and my whole outlook on the story changed. I had never been so awed by a movie before. The characters were so real. Gimli made me laugh and Legolas made me squeal. I wanted to be as beautiful and fierce as Arwen, though I couldn’t understand why she’d choose a scraggly man instead of a graceful elf.
I can still remember sitting in the theatre for the final movie and watching the credits all the way to the end, crying because it was over and because of that final look Frodo gave Sam. You know the one; it said “I’m happy now and I want you to be happy, too.”
The Lord of the Rings movies are still some of my favourite movies. I’ve watched hours of commentary and special features, and I love the movies both for the story they told and for the stories of the individuals behind the story. To this day I will still watch a movie or television show simply because one of those actors is in it. I feel strangely connected to them, as if I was somehow part of their journey.
After the movies, I reread the novels, and suddenly had more of an appreciation for them. I’m not sure if it was because I was older or if it was because the movies helped me to see what I couldn’t before. I still prefer the movies, and it’s the only movies that I have ever preferred to the books, but I don’t think I would have given the books another chance if it weren’t for the movies. Peter Jackson loved the books and he made me love them, too, and I think that’s what book to film adaptations should be about.
When The Hobbit comes out this year you can bet I’ll be first in line, and I hope to see a new generation of fans right there with me.
5 thoughts on “Guest Post: From Books to Movies and Back Again: A Fangirl’s Tale”
Great post. I can understand why some people would find the book not as good as the films. Some parts of the book do go on and on, especially the Council of Elrond sequence but for myself I love the books and I think mainly its because of the epic scope of the story and all of the language and history that accompanies it. I can’t read The Lord of the Rings as a stand alone novel I have to read The Hobbit and the Silmarillion with it. I love the films (I’m watching the third one with the cast commentary now haha!) and I totally feel what you do when it comes to the characters and the actors themselves. When I finished watching the special features on The Return of the King last week, I had a lump in my throat because it was all over (even though it was all over in 2004! haha) but I know I can just pop in the dvd anytime and be taken back to Middle Earth 🙂
I think you’ve expressed a lot of what other people feel when it comes to not just the Lord of the Rings adaptations, but other book-to-film adaptations–there’s the journey that goes full circle and places you back at the start, only you’re a little bit different, a little more wiser.
And of course, all the eye candy of the LotR films help too. Richard Armitage will surely bring a new dimension of sexy to dwarves!
Great post. I loved The Lord of the Rings movies, although I have yet to read the books (they’re on my shelves, though!). And I loved The Hobbit, and can’t wait to see how Peter Jackson adapts it. I’m sure he’ll do a wonderful job.
It’s great that these movies have helped you love the books – I love it when movies do that! But I think in this case it’s a true testament to the fact that, like you said, Peter Jackson really loved those books and it really showed in the films.
Thanks for this perspective, Meghan. As a childhood fan of The Hobbit and LOTR, it’s interesting for me to hear the perspectives of people who discovered the books and the movies in different circumstances. While I definitely prefer the books (despite the movies being among my favorite films), I acknowledge also that I’m the kind who loves the singing and the mythical background, and that now I can hardly think of LOTR outside of the context of The Silmarillion. The Silmarillion was Tolkien’s real life work, and reading it you suddenly begin to understand just what this whole world meant to him. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the trilogy, but I intend to return to it this year. Before Jackson’s new movie, I hope!
I also agree with what you say about Jackson’s trilogy, and how easy it is for we fans to feel connected to the cast and production crew. Jackson gave us unprecedented access to the filmmaking process, both during production (through fan websites) and after, with the spectacular Extended Edition DVDs. And as the story focuses on the brotherhood of the Fellowship, so did Jackson place high emphasis on the friendships between the cast and crew of the movies, and then went the extra step of including us, the fans, in that family as well. And now, watching the Production Videos for The Hobbit that Jackson posts on his Facebook page, it causes the back of my neck to tingle in excitement all over again!