Feature by: Jack Foley
"THE story of The Two Towers is as relevant today
as it was 50 years ago. Tolkien never lost sight of the destructive
and seductive nature of power, and the idea that a person - or
Hobbit - no matter how small or inconsequential, can change history."
The above viewpoint belongs to Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne,
co-chairmen and co-chief-executive-officers of New Line and executive
producers of the Lord of the Rings saga - and it is difficult
to disagree, particularly in light of the events of the past couple
The themes of war, good versus evil and mans propensity
for destruction - even at the cost of millions of lives - have
seldom seemed so pertinent in this modern era.
Adds Lynne: "History is marked with sagas like the struggle
for control of Middle-earth and the battle of good versus evil."
It is a point with which writer, Philippa Boyens, agrees. when
asked by fans what she thought the story had to say to us all
on the official Lord of the Rings website, she replied:
"Professor Tolkien made a point of saying there was no
allegory embedded in this work. That he didn't like analogies
to events and I can understand why. So for myself, this is my
"For myself, it asks some interesting questions of a modern
day audience; one of which - for me - is the journey that Frodo
takes to undo a huge evil. And could we do that in this modern
day. Could we undo
could we knowingly unmake something that
we know should never have come into being?
"It's a wonderful question to ask, and its not just
a straight allegory of the atomic bomb, for example. It encompasses
a whole lot of broader issues I think. He's not, the passing of
things, the loss of things, the passing of the elves from this
world, the loss of knowledge, I don't think that he treats that
in a nostalgic or sentimental way.
"There is a natural order to it, the world has changed, the
world will always change and we will lose things of it. So he's
not sentimental. He's not somebody who is looking back saying,
'We must destroy this and go back to a way of life'. He's fully
aware that the age has passed.
"But I think he asks the question and I hope these films
ask the question. The ring represents another kind of evil, and
its asking, to me, could we do what Frodo does? Are we able
to do that? I don't know. I don't know whether we could.
"I think the other thing it shows is different states
of mankind and speaks to that. It would then ask, within mankind
are elements of the elves. We have the ability to produce things
of great beauty. We have the ability to show great wisdom. We
have the ability to be childlike, innocent. But we also have the
ability to be destructive and vicious and cruel, just as the Orcs
are. So I think the breadth of their own humanity is shown in
these different races."
That said, The Two Towers isn't solely about allegories... far
from it. Director, Peter Jackson, wanted to give audiences something
they hadn't seen before, as well as remaining as loyal as possible
to the source material - so as not to alienate fans of Tolkien's
He had already come under fire, from certain quarters, for his
casting of Elijah Wood and Sean Astin in the role of the 'tiny'
Hobbits, while his decision to beef up the love story between
Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler was seen as straying a little too
far from the novel in favour of better Box Office profits.
Jackson, though, remains unrepentent and has promised that The
Two Towers will deliver more of the same. In another interview
on the official LOTR site, he explains...
"The Two Towers was a lot harder than the Fellowship. The
story splits into three and we've enhanced Tolkien's narrative
more. The key moments from the book are all there, but we've written
scenes that Tolkien didn't write and things he didn't describe,
to beef it up a bit more."
Examples of this include the extension of Gollum's story and a
greater showing for the giant wolf-like creatures, the Wargs.
"We've extended Gollum's story. Tolkien hints at Gollum's
schizophrenic nature. He's Gollum, as a result of 500 years of
owning the One Ring, but there are threads of his past life as
Smeagol. We've enhanced that more - Frodo shows him pity, which
allows Smeagol to dominate over Gollum. We've added scenes where
the Smeagol side and the Gollum side conflict, which we think
makes him a more interesting character....
"Similarly, Tolkien has brief descriptions of Wargs,
giant wolf-like creatures with Orcs riding on their backs like
saddles, like a cavalry. They're not in the forefront of any action
in The Two Towers, but we found them interesting, so we've added
a pitched battle between horsemen and the Wargs."
Another aspect which has been explored further is the emotion
in the ending. Jackson feels that one of the strong points of
The Fellowship was just how much emotion was projected on-screen
given the epic feel of proceedings. It is something he is keen
to repeat with Two Towers.
"Our action climax is the Battle of Helm's Deep,"
he explained. "It does have an emotional power of its own,
as you're seeing enormous heroic acts and the world of Rohan being
saved. We also have Frodo, Sam and Gollum's storyline with Faramir.
We've gone a little further than the books, and deviated in some
of the detail, and created a much more intimate emotional climax
with those characters."
Whatever fans may ultimately think of the changes, however, we
at Indielondon believe they won't fail to be impressed. The Two
Towers is a genuinely thrilling cinematic experience and one which
is worthy of the hype bestowed upon it. It is an event movie unlike
many others, in that it actually delivers the goods. The film
opens on December 18, so expect the praise to be flowing...