SFX Issue 114

February 2004

Lord Of The Rings: Book vs. Film

Frodo – 74% translation accuracy

Book: Big-eyed nephew of Bilbo who ends up with a really crappy job.
Film: Big-eyed nephew of Bilbo who ends up with a really crappy job.
Accuracy: Frodo has far less screen time than he deserves, with the result that his emotional journey is a lot less powerful.

Samwise Gamgee – 90% translation accuracy

Book: Stolid, subservient gardener pal of Master Frodo who really, to be honest, saves the day.
Film: Stolid gardener pal of Mister Frodo who really saves the day.
Accuracy: Sam is the most successful page-to-screen Hobbit translation. He receives better presents from Galadriel in the book, mind.

Pippin – 68% translation accuracy

Book: Daft Hobbit who gets into all kinds of scrapes.
Film: Very daft Hobbit who screws up a hell of a lot.
Accuracy: Poor Peregrine Took; he comes across as a bit more heroic, and less idiotic, in the book.

Merry –  74% translation accuracy

Book: Fatter, more sensible Hobbit who is wise beyond his years and keeps Pippin out of mischief.
Film: More sensible and svelte Hobbit who keeps Pippin out of mischief.
Accuracy: Meriadoc Brandybuck, like Pip, suffers a little from being a second-rank character.

Gandalf – 93% translation accuracy

Book: Ancient and powerful spirit masquerading as a wizard who rallies the world of men.
Film: Ancient and powerful spirit masquerading as a slightly arch wizard who rallies the world of men.
Accuracy: It’s Ian McKellen. He’s great, but occasionally just a tad fruity.

Aragorn – 85% translation accuracy

Book: Ugly and misanthropic heir to the world of men.
Film: Very good looking and misanthropic heir to the world of men.
Accuracy: Far too gorgeous, and a little too Danish.

Gimli – 63% translation accuracy

Book: Noble son of Bilbo’s old companion Gloín. Representative of an ancient and proud race of fearless warriors and craftsmen.
Film: Comedy beard.
Accuracy: Poor Gímli, he really gets the piss ripped out of him in the movie.

Legolas – 79% translation accuracy

Book: 700 year-old archer, son of the king of the Elves of Mirkwood.
Film: Prince of the Elvish pin-ups.
Accuracy: He’s pretty, as well as pretty spot-on. All this despite stating the bleeding obvious like “Orcs!” or “Goblins!” the whole time. But technically he should have dark hair. Legolas is not one of the Noldorim like Galadriel or Celeborn, those Elves who saw the light of the trees in the Undying Lands and… Okay, I’ll shut up now. 79%

Boromir – 92% translation accuracy

Book: Deeply honourable if flawed man, subverted by the Ring.
Film: Deeply honourable if flawed Yorkshireman, subverted by the Ring.
Accuracy: Spot-on. Really good. Apart from the Sheffield twang.