Thursday, October 13, 2011

#74: The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien

Silver Jubilee Edition, Ballantine Books. 447 pages

OK, so after Needham I went back to the well to finish my annual reading of three of my five favorite books (The Hobbit and Catch 22 are the others, with a shout out to The Illuminatus! Trilogy). And, even after not watching the Two Towers movie for several months, I still see Faramir saying the one thing that made me gasp and develop a seething rage against the film franchise:

"The Ring goes to Gondor."

Of course, Faramir never says this in the book, and never would say this in the book. Why? Because he is noble in thought and deed, a true descendant of Numenor. His brother was a weaker man, and destroyed by temptation before he had a chance to redeem himself. Maybe movie audiences would not understand. Certainly in this world of Tron, Footloose and Dirty Dancing remakes, no one would understand that some people can master their own feelings! I am not one of them, which has always made me look up to Faramir. Even Frodo gave in at the end; Bombadil and Faramir are intriguing because they do not.

This book reads the fastest with the Three Hunters chasing the Orcs to the border of Fangorn, the awakening of the Ents and the downfall of Saruman. Then, it slows down when swinging to Samwise and Frodo. I have always been of two thoughts on this, that the Sam and Frodo action is slow (until Shelob shows up), or it is slow because it should be. Sam and Frodo are moving more slowly, their sense of doom is increasing (at least Frodo's) and the threat to them is growing every step they take. This time through I came down on the second of these, which again the movie fucks up by "sending Sam home". Frodo would never do this, as he trusts Gollum only through shared experience. This does not cloud the fact that Gollum is a sneaky little bastard. Frodo has no illusions. What makes Samwise a beautiful character is his ability to keep his head when all about are losing theirs. There is also a true tenderness to their relationship that the movie's change undermines.

My favorite line? The oft repeated "We are the fighting Uruk-Hai". That's always been up there with "Fool of a Took". When I was little, I wanted to go against the Uruks with Faramir. Lousy Dungeons and Dragons.

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