The Lord of the Rings: Tolkien, Jackson, and “The Core of the Original”

David Rozema

In 1958, responding to a proposed screenplay of The Lord of the Rings , J. R. R. Tolkien wrote: “The canons of narrative art in any medium cannot be wholly different; and the failure of poor films is often precisely in exaggeration, and in the intrusion of unwarranted matter owing to not perceiving where the core of the original lies.” David Rozema argues that Tolkien would say the same of Peter Jackson’s recent films: that Jackson and his screenwriters are guilty of “not perceiving where the core of the original lies,” leading to “exaggeration” and “the intrusion of unwarranted matter.” This is shown through a close investigation of the character—the cardinal and theological virtues, or the lack of them—of the main characters in the story, thereby revealing “the core of the original.” Mr. Rozema is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

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Last Updated: June 27, 2008
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