The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, Part Two)

The Two Towers  - J.R.R. Tolkien Perhaps more than last time, we have now a shifting of perspectives in many ways. For, in many ways, The Two Towers is much more different than the Fellowship of the Ring was. We have the book split into two "books" as last time, but this time the meaning is far more significant as one half of the story follows one part of the broken fellowship, and the other follows the other part. It makes for a very interesting read, for while you follow one half, you wonder about the other, and vice versa. Yet though there are many things to wonder at in this book as well, the delight we had in the first book of wandering through Middle-Earth has been hastened. No longer do we stroll, even swiftly, through places of wonder. Oh, we have moments! But they are like brief glances at beauty and grandeur that are quickly taken away from us as we are rushed elsewhere. And in the second half of the book, we have nearly none! For there we are heading deeper and further into the gloom and death of Mordor, with only one brief span of beauty--a gasp of air and wonder in Ithilien, which is a land I take to with love of forest and mountain both. But there is the essence of The Two Towers! Great things happen, and suddenly the Quest we were started on has rushed forward like a stream become a great roaring river! Things are happening every which way in the first half of the book, and we hardly have a moment to spare to let it all catch up before other things are happening. Indeed, this book is much more fast paced than the last! And the only time it slows, we dread it to, because the second half of the book is -not- what we want long lasting experiences of. Yet Tolkien shows his skill, shows first the world as it is in peril, with the beauties we are fighting to protect and the peoples of it! And in the second he slows us down, to fully ingrain in us the mirthless, horrible stretch of the journey into Mordor.

Ah, and friends, it gets worse. Speed and battle grow the greater in the next book, and horrible twisted adventures are ours to suffer through along with the other half of the fellowship in the lands of Mordor--in the very midst of those miseries! Alone we have growing the sensation now, which we'll feel even greater in the third and final book: the battle within our hearts and minds of Hope against Despair. It has tinged our thoughts, wormed its way into our beings as we read further and further through The Two Towers...but what we have now will only peak and sear our minds in the next book. Great and terrible things must be done still, and I at least am so caught up in the tale that I could not wrench myself away from it now if I tried with all my strength. I want to know, and I cannot bear to leave them all here!

But let me take an aside. The story started off this time with sorrow. And yet, unexpectedly it was filled with lasting and cheering flashes of wonder! We lose people we care about...that I will not hide from you, but we are ever gaining others. Yet still things are twisted, and things are hard. The people we love are now more beautiful, because they can still shine and make us laugh--make us smile!--even amidst all that is crashing down around them. It makes them wonderful and brings them closer to our hearts. They are, perhaps not unlike any other characters that have followed in the years since the Lord of the Rings trilogy was written, but they are the first I know who captured my heart with Hope, and were themselves the light that we so desperately sought for. They give us, as readers, that hope in a way that is purer and cleaner than any other way I have experienced. ...for they too are pure, and unblemished. They touch the heart in a way other characters are unable to, and make them all the more cherished.

For here now, I think I will end my commentary. It is much shorter than its first, but that too may be understood best by those that read the book. It is an in-between, but unlike so many that we know today, it is not a failure in capturing the attention and the mind. It holds its own, marvelously and great. And though it is not the climax or the steady, wondrous beginning, it is potent and full of things that fill the head with whirlwind thoughts, and awaken in us a complex web of emotions that we cannot disentangle without reading onward. For reading onward is what we seek most to do, at the end of both the "books" in The Two Towers. We are left with bated breath, and an eager clenching of teeth, hoping and desiring to know what will happen next! And yet for those of you who have never read this series, you do not know the things that are yet to unfold. They will take the air from you, and will leave you staggering and in disbelief. You will feel everything you are now experiencing rising into a tumultuous cascade of wonder and awe and fear and a last desperate hope and confusion! Great things will happen. Great things. And I will go on with you to meet them. We "are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: 'Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more.'" (Pg.364) But I tell you this...move on, readers. Every thing we will come to now will be worth more than you know yet. But...you will know it then. *Smiles with warmth* Go on. I will go on with you and before you. You have the people you care for waiting for you there already, waiting for you to meet them.


Now! For those who have seen the movie...
There are a great many things that I could say here, but I will not go into all of them. For those of you who have read my review on the Fellowship of the Ring and saw the movie section of my review there, you know my thoughts on the movies altogether. However, there are a couple of things about this movie in particular that I would like to comment on.

One of the things that people will notice, in fact, the thing that most people notice immediately when they watch the movies after reading the books, is that the sections in the books where you know things to happen are placed differently in the movies. The start of this book, just the first few pages, is put in the end of the first movie instead. And, the end of this book, is pushed ahead to the first part of the third movie, along with the flashback and explanation of Gollum's, Smeagol's, past. I will not criticize this, because it was kept true to the main storyline, and movies have to run differently than books as a rule. If they do not, they lose the purpose of being a movie and fail, which is something I would not want for any movie. The music and the features of Middle-Earth are wonderful, as always, but there are places where I feel things were a bit lacking, and to two of these I will address here. The first is the way Rohan was portrayed (just in a few minor details) and the second has mostly to do with the character of Faramir.

Now for those of you who have read my status updates, you will say to yourselves, "Oh these are her pet-peeves. She obsesses over them so much it's obvious she was going to nitpick about them now." But, I will be fair and will not criticize unjustly, I promise you. I will also say, first and foremost, that I do love Rohan and its people, and I love Faramir greatly. That is why I pay great attention to them. That is how people act. We deal most with what we care for most. And so I wanted to make a few notes.

About Rohan I have much less to say than might be expected. They are minor things I was reminded of while reading the book. I thought of its hilly, green lands, and they were still beautiful in the movies! Lovely, in fact, but they fell, I feel, short of the glory that I imagined. I will not condemn them for this, because they worked wonders in the story, and considering they had a time limit in which to use that particular area of New Zealand for the filming of Rohan's scenes, I do not blame them for doing it as much justice as they could muster. Another thing most horse and animal lovers will note, is the fact that Shadowfax was a white horse in the movie, and not silver like he was described ever in the books. I must say I was a little disappointed too. I wanted to see a horse of silver and majesty! But the steed they got for it was still gorgeous by any man's means, and though I remember thinking, "Well they could have put in some kind of animation to -make- him silver-ish!" I didn't hold it against them in the end. The great house of Rohan, Edoras, I think fell much shorter of the mark than anything else. Then again, I could say this is the same note I had about Lothlorien in the last movie. It was not as great or charming as I thought it. But all reader interpretation is up to their own, and I will not bash them for this. I will say, I was a little disappointed, and still am, at how Rohan was portrayed. But the movie itself carried the tale well, and that I feel is the most important thing, especially since they got so many other places right.

Now for Faramir.... *Pauses to muse for a time* ...I am more lenient about the differences in artist portrayals of the same thing. As someone who designs and draws as a hobby, I know the way images can conflict. That is why Rohan does not upset me as much as it might seem. But changing a character around...so that he is -not- himself... *Clenches her teeth a little and knits her brows together as though in agony* That was unjust! That was wrong! They made Faramir a secondary character where in Tolkien's work there are no secondary characters, and that I do not mind, IF they had kept him as HIMSELF. But he was NOT himself! He was selfish, he went against his true word and intentions in the book! He redeemed himself in the end of that part, you may say, but I cannot forgive it! They RUINED him! They made him seem like he could be bent by the power of the Ring to do evil! He became just another Man with his own greedy desires, instead of the noble and king-like man, soft and clear with words, unshakable and kind in actions, even when they must be swift and hard. They reduced him, in the movie, to what every regular guy would do: trying to get a promotion by selling out someone below him. *Cries out!* He was fair and generous and good and they put him under the sway of Evil as though it could reach him! Every man can be corrupted, or so it is said. But he WASN'T!

That's my big deal! He DIDN'T get corrupted! He WASN'T gotten to by the Ring! He ENDURED almost -flawlessly!- ...and then they go and have him take them captive, bring them to Osgiliath, and then change his mind?! IT. NEVER. HAPPENED! I don't MIND the movie people changing things around to make the story flow and get it across to its watchers! It doesn't bother me! But THIS?! To RUIN a character so great! So wonderful! ... *Shakes her head* ...it was terrible. It was worse than seeing what happened in Moria unfold. ...you who have read and watched know what I'm speaking of. *Sighs heavily* ...I do not like it when movies take characters and sacrifice them for their own ends. Sometimes, sometimes I can see why. But this? ...this I cannot accept lying down, or even at all. And it will remain a great blemish on this movie, every single time I watch it. It was terrible. I cannot forgive it, except to say that I -do- love the movies. I just wish they had not done this.

For those of you who watched the movies, my recommendation is this again: Read the books, then watch the movies, again if you must. When you see these things in their original forms as the book intended them, you will perhaps understand my grievances better. It was still a great movie. The battle at Helm's Deep was fantastic, even if they -did- stray from the mark there a little too. However, keep in mind: the movie must be held accountable for its deviations by the books. That's the way to judge the movies. And this one has many things lacking which the book makes much more fantastic. My final thought: book definitely surpasses the movie this time. Unlike the book, the movie could -not- hold its own in the trilogy. The book did.