Movie Reviews

Peter Jackson Has Learned His Lesson From Lord Of The Rings

Summary

  • Peter Jackson’s new project, The Hunt for Gollum, may be a more cognitive adaptation, exploring Gollum’s psyche.
  • Jackson has learned from his past adaptations, aiming to preserve Tolkien’s themes and values in his new work.
  • Focusing on Gollum’s perspective adds context to The Lord of the Rings and aligns with Tolkien’s themes.



Peter Jackson did a remarkable job with the Lord of the Rings movies, but his comments about his newest project prove he has learned an important lesson about adapting Tolkien’s work. The director was behind the three Lord of the Rings movies of the early 2000s, often regarded as the pinnacle of great book-to-screen adaptations. Still, the films weren’t perfect, and Tolkien’s own son, Christopher Tolkien, famously criticized their needless action sequences. The Hobbit took such problems even further, but Jackson might be back on track with The Hunt for Gollum.

Jackson is onboard to executive produce his next Lord of the Rings movie, tentatively titled The Hunt for Gollum, with Andy Serkis stepping in as director. The film will be set porior to the events of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, outlining a time in which Gandalf, Aragorn, and Sauron are all looking for Gollum. It’s a story passively described in Tolkien’s books, which makes it unique source material for an adaptation. The success of Hunt for Gollum will depend entirely on the angle Jackson and Serkis take, but they seem to be at a good start.


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Hunt For Gollum May Be An Emotionally Based Lord Of The Rings Adaptation

Gollum-and-Aragorn-from-Lord-Of-The-Rings-Franchise

While talking about Hunt for Gollum, Jackson clarified that the story would be from Gollum’s perspective and that he hopes to have more time to dive into the wretched creature’s mind. Gollum, sometimes called Smeagol, is both a despicable and sympathetic character in Lord of the Rings, and he holds a highly symbolic position in Tolkien’s works. The contrast between Gollum’s two personas reflects the split within every person’s heart, which evil can take advantage of. This is something Jackson seems to wholly understand:


“The Gollum/Sméagol character has always fascinated me because Gollum reflects the worst of human nature, whilst his Sméagol side is, arguably, quite sympathetic. I think he connects with readers and film audiences alike, because there’s a little bit of both of them in all of us. We really want to explore his backstory and delve into those parts of his journey we didn’t have time to cover in the earlier films. It’s too soon to know who will cross his path, but suffice to say we will take our lead from Professor Tolkien.”

Since Hunt for Gollum is based on a relatively minor, off-hand story in The Lord of the Rings, Jackson and Serkis will have to take a lot of creative liberties with the story. This is, of course, a little dangerous since it means a lot of opportunities to further enrage Tolkien enthusiasts. However, Jackson’s words indicate he is not looking for an excuse to bring needless action to the screen where it doesn’t belong. Instead, Hunt for Gollum sounds like it will be a more cognitive adventure, exploring Gollum’s psyche during this time when his precious has abandoned him and everyone is on his tail.


Instead, Hunt for Gollum sounds like it will be a more cognitive adventure…

Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy Especially Lost Sight Of Tolkien’s Themes & Values

Peter Jackson Fell Slightly From Grace When He Expanded The Hobbit Into A Trilogy

Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, famously criticized the action scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies, which included needlessly dramatic moments like Legolas’ shield surfing down some battlement stairs. He compared Jackson and Hollywood itself to Sauron, determining that they corrupt and destroy everything they touch. Overall, Christopher Tolkien was in the minority in this opinion. While it’s true that the Lord of the Rings movies went over the top from time to time, many have concluded that they aligned with the themes of Tolkien’s works. However, The Hobbit is another story.


Jackson stretched Tolkien’s single The Hobbit novel across three full-feature movies and filled them with a great deal of action involving characters never mentioned in the original text. While the White Council’s conflict with the Necromancer was implied in Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Jackson embellished so much that the foundation of the author’s work was lost. The director has proven that changes to Tolkien’s work can be done well, but it’s imperative that the intended themes and values still shine through. Hopefully, for the sake of Hunt for Gollum, Jackson has learned this.

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How Hunt For Gollum Taking Gollum’s Perspective Makes Sense Within Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings

Hunt For Gollum Can Dive Further Into Tolkien’s Existing Themes

A composite image of Gollum looking sad in front of a closeup of the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings
Custom Image by Dalton Norman

There are a great many ways that Gollum’s pre-Fellowship of the Ring story could be approached. In the book, Gandalf outlines the tale of how he instructed Aragorn to hunt down Gollum and what sort of treatment the creature ensured after being captured by Sauron. Therefore, it makes sense that Jackson’s upcoming film would take the wizard’s perspective. It would also be logical to follow Aragorn since he took on the practical portion of this adventure. However, Jackson’s indication that Hunt the Gollum will be from the titular character’s POV is way better.


Looking at this point in Gollum’s story from his own perspective adds further context to The Lord of the Rings. He had been tormented by the One Ring for centuries, to the point that he split his psyche into pieces. and having a better understanding of what the world looks like from his own tortured mind would be highly valuable. It fits right in with Tolkien’s themes, indicating that Jackson is headed back in the right direction with his Lord of the Rings adaptations.

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