The silver lining of influenza is that you get to lie on the couch and watch TV a lot, at least when your head is neither throbbing nor stuck in a bucket. K and I took this to heart and re-watched the entire extended edition of LotR, playing spot-the-Jackson-kids, say-the-lines-before-the-actors (“Fly, you fools!” is a perennial favorite), and many other fun games along the way.

I was somewhat disappointed when I saw the theatrical version, because it was, to put it simply, cut to pieces. It felt disconnected and slightly incoherent. The extended edition is much, much better. I am well aware of the many departures from the novel (having read it about five times in three different languages), but I also understand the reasons for them. Still, there are a few things that bother me, such as the use of Gimli and Pippin for comic relief. There are also some parts I wish they hadn’t left out, such as the Scouring of the Shire (which obviously would have greatly increased both costs and running time) and the scene where Elrond’s sons Elladan and Elrohir hand Aragorn the black banner Arwen made for him (which wouldn’t; they could have let Haldir carry it). Finally, I think Jackson’s love of monsters sometimes goes too far, especially in the Paths of the Dead sequence.

What really ticks me off, though, are the serious factual errors in the films’ depiction of archery: the repeated use of the word “fire” instead of “loose”, and the fact that every single archer in the films, including Legolas and Aragorn, carry their bows strung at every time, instead of carrying the bow unstrung (to preserve its elasticity) and the string neatly rolled up, along with spares, in a waxed pouch (to keep them dry; wet bowstrings stretch, and break more easily). I don’t get it—I’m sure they had plenty of archery experts on set who could, and should, have taught them better.

Nock! Draw! Aim! Loose!

2 thoughts on “Fire!”

  1. I forgot to add that I found Denethor’s refusal to light the beacon of Amon Dîn, Pippin’s subsequent rock-climbing excursion (and other betrayals of his liege), and Théoden’s cravenness completely gratuitous and out of character.

    I always found the image of the beacons lighting from east to west as Gandalf and Pippin ride west to east particularly poignant.

    In the same vein, I would also have liked to see the Red Arrow and Ghân-buri-Ghân.

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