All that is gold does not glitter
“From the ashes a fire shall be woken…”
And thus we begin our epic journey through Middle Earth.
The first time we set foot through Middle Earth, we were apart of a company of dwarves, a wizard, and a hobbit, making their way to the Misty Mountains. I first read The Hobbit when I was in junior high and enjoyed immensely, however I wasn’t aware of the obvious sequel until I reached college. A friend of mine took me to see the first Lord of the Rings movie during my freshman year and explained what Lord of the Rings was.
As incredible as it is, I finally got around to reading the actual books, despite having seen the entire trilogy several times. Needless to say, we’re discussing both the book and the movie, so if you haven’t seen or read either, there will be some spoilers worthy of Mordor.
So, let’s began at the beginning – with the Fellowship.
Originally published during the summer of 1954, the Fellowship of the Ring begins the journey of Frodo Baggins, the nephew of The Hobbit hero Bilbo. Like his uncle before him, Frodo is dragged into an adventure by the very mature and powerful wizard Gandalf. However, unlike his uncle, Frodo is more than happy to take the role of adventurer.
But Frodo isn’t alone in this – his friend and gardener Samwise Gamgee, and his cousins Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandywine and Peregrin ‘Pippen’ Took, join him on his quest to destroy the one ring. Along with Gandalf, the mysterious ranger Aragorn, the strong prince Boromir, swift elf archer Legolas, and sturdy dwarf Gimli the group forms the very fellowship that creates our title.
The book actually does a great job at joining together the children’s story of The Hobbit to a young adult, in depth character story of all involved (and some not involved) .
The Kindle edition is about 531 pages, including the very detailed maps of the world of Middle Earth, while the actually paperback is around 400 pages.
In 2001, director Peter Jackson released the first of the movie trilogy into theaters, bringing to life the familiar characters readers were used to. The film starred Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Sir Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen, and John Rhys-Davies.
As with the book, the movie follows Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, and the others as they head to Mount Doom to destroy the one ring. The movies are visual triumphs, showcasing images that were once only in the minds of readers onto the large screens of theaters.
Book vs Movie
As with any book (well, any good book), Tolkien goes into extreme detail on several accounts, including the scenery, secondary characters, and basically any character we come across that’s outside of the main cast. And yes, that’s a statement for everyone’s favorite non-essential character of Tom Bombadil.
Other than providing a safe space for the hobbits, he really does have a weirdly large part in the first half of the book. He’s kinda like the break out character on a TV show – like Tobias Fünke, Pam Poovy, Louise Belcher, etc – the one that everyone remembers and, in this case, the one that people aren’t sure why is so memorable.
While the movies are great at bringing the scenes described in the book to life – like the beautiful Lothlórien and River of Anduin, the collapse of Mines of Moria, and of course Hobbiton – was something to behold. There was also some inclusions from The Silmarillion, which you could consider as a prologue and sequel to both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Sadly, adding these elements in cut something that’s full in the book, but missing in the movie.
So What’s Better?
After watching the extended edition of Fellowship, I sat down and actually read the book. This is, in my opinion, a good way of keeping the imagery of the film in your head while reading the book; that’s not to say you can’t do the opposite and read the book first and then see the movie. That’s perfectly fine too. The point is to have the story in mind while you’re reading/watching.
For me, honestly, I think it’s a toss up. As mentioned, the movie helped with the imagery of different scenes, even if movie Frodo is much younger than book Frodo. The casting of the characters was spot on and I can’t actually separate the image of Viggo Mortensen from Aragorn.
But as nice as the landscapes were, some character development was lost. Boromir (and later, the Faramir controversy) isn’t such a dick in the books as he is in the movie. His sense of duty and love for Gondor is expressed much better in the book; in fact, it’s his brother Faramir that makes the good case that his brother isn’t a complete asshole, but that’s way later in Return of the King.
There’s also the relationship with Legolas and Gimli, which is much friendlier earlier in the book, then the movie. And Aragorn seems – to me, at least – a little more skeptical of Gandalf’s motives as they journey towards Mordor; movie Aragorn appears to be more trusting of Gandalf’s path.
Overall, the first entry into the Tolkien epic is done skillfully on screen, bringing the very elements that readers loved in the books. More importantly, it keeps the essential parts (most of them) in the movie, while getting rid of the unnecessary. I’ve heard the same reasoning from friends who have read the Game of Thrones series and are fans of the HBO show.
If you haven’t read Lord of the Rings, you should. I bought all three for around $10 – $20 bucks on Amazon, though my roommate does have the actual hard cover editions of all three. If you haven’t seen the movies, Amazon has the entire trilogy – either the theatrical or extended editions – for both DVD and Blu-Ray, so go check that out. If you have Prime, you can also get the stream versions of the entire series, plus The Hobbit (which I have)
Next up – I finally finish the Two Towers. Yes, it’s going to happen. Shut your mouths! But we’ll look at the more controversial version of the younger and ‘far from the book’ brother of Boromir, we’ll watch the great love story that is obviously happening between Frodo and Sam, we greet the return of the precious – I mean Gollum – and we follow two hobbits with three adventuring warriors.