September 29, 2019


Revisiting "The Fellowship of the Ring" (Joseph Pearce, September 28th, 2019, Imaginative Conservative)

The film version of The Fellowship of the Ring culminates with the death of Boromir, differing from Tolkien's book in which Boromir's death comes at the beginning of The Two Towers. It's a scene that has great sacramental significance in Tolkien's original work, the final exchange of words between Boromir and Aragorn reflecting the formal aspects of the sacrament of penance, in which the repentant sinner must have contrition for the sins he has committed, confessing them, and making satisfaction in terms of an act of penance. Boromir's final words contain all three of these prerequisites for a good and holy confession: "I tried to take the Ring from Frodo [confession]. I am sorry [contrition]. I have paid [satisfaction]." Aragorn's role is that of the priest, acting in persona Christi, who forgives the sin and bestows "peace" upon the penitent. Mr. Jackson deviates radically from Tolkien in this scene, replacing the sacramental "confession" with Boromir's fraternal "confession" that he would have followed Aragorn, proclaiming him to be "my brother, my captain, my king." Thus the allusive allegorical confession to God in Tolkien's original story is replaced with an explicit literal confession in Jackson's adaptation, expressive of Boromir's final reconciliation with the man (and king) whom he had wronged. The effect lacks the nuanced subtlety and the depth of theological applicability of Tolkien's original, but it has great power nonetheless in terms of its cathartic effect upon the viewer. Had Mr. Jackson chosen merely to reiterate Tolkien's words, it is very unlikely that the literary subtlety of the original text would have been grasped by the viewer, the allegorical significance being lost in the fast-paced medium of film, weakening the scene and depriving it of the catharsis that Mr. Jackson's reworking of it provides. As I pondered the artistic license that Mr. Jackson had granted himself in this most important of scenes from Tolkien's book, I realized that a film adaptation of a literary work should not be expected to follow the literal letter of the original but should seek faithfully to encapsulate and project its true and essential spirit because, and to co-opt the words of St. Paul, "the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life."

There's only One Story.

Posted by at September 29, 2019 7:36 AM