Adaptation Analysis: Lord of the Rings- The Fellowship of the Ring

For the adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson and his team claim to have remained exceptionally faithful to J.R.R Tolkien’s original novel. However, when comparing sequences, there seems to have been major truncation and combination of scenes, and removal of characters. For example, the length of travel in the chapter “Flight to the Ford” is truncated compared to the corresponding film sequence. The scene in the film does not last many days compared to the novel’s version, and the character development and journey itself seem to be less expansive. Frodo is also incapacitated in the film, while Tolkien has him regain strength at various moments of travel. The particular chapter, “Flight to the Ford,” is not an exact transference of what Tolkien included in his novel. In John M. Desmond’s Adaptation Studying Film and Literature, he explains the problem with “fidelity” and how when one claims “faithfulness,” they are putting literature above the film medium  anytime they employ “the language of fidelity.” In addition to this claim, Desmonds states, “Moreover, there is no standard measure as to how much of the “essential” text must be transferred in order for the film to be judged as faithful.” (40). In an attempt to create a system of evaluation of faithfulness, Desmond defines different metrics of evaluation: close, loose, and intermediate. Since Jackson repeatedly emphasizes the closeness of his adaptation, the definition Desmond gives of close adaptation is, “when most of the narrative elements in the literary text are kept in the film, few elements are dropped, and not many elements are added.” (44). 

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Before They Were Famous: J.R.R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien

Due to the rapidly growing success of a major motion picture franchise, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series remains exceedingly popular with a contemporary audience. Loved by (literally) millions of readers worldwide, Tolkien has been long celebrated for his vivid imagination. However, fans might be surprised to learn about his less commercially popular contributions to literature.

An avid lover of language, Tolkien received an undergraduate degree from Exeter College in English in addition to earning two degrees from Oxford University.

He served briefly in World War I as a Second Lieutenant but, after being discharged, rekindled his romance with words. His first civilian job was at the famous Oxford English dictionary. An academic at heart, Tolkien dedicated much of his life to teaching English and Literature at universities, including his beloved alma mater, Oxford.

Beowulf Adaptation

Within the literary realm, he was fairly renowned, establishing friendships with other well-known writers including author of Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis. He enjoyed a long career as a critic and theorist, introducing perhaps one of the most influential analyses on Beowulf to date. In 1936, Tolkien delivered his lecture, “Beowulf: The Monsters and Critics,” dramatically redirecting scholarship on one of England’s most historically significant poems.

While Tolkien remains perhaps best loved for his fictional works, his contributions to academia continue to influence scholars. They are a lasting testament to his profound understanding and love of both language and writing.

— Dominique Dusek, Assistant Managing Editor & Submissions Manager