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Topic: movies vs books

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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Date: Apr 10, 2012
movies vs books

I thought this would be a fun topic for both vetran and new members and since I didn't see it in the history of this forum as a main topic I figured Id start it here; so that's te question, which do you prefer and why? Books or movies?

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Not sure they can be compared in that fashion. I like the books as books and I think the films are great as films.

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Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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For me the obvious answer is the books. There's just so much detail and style to the scenes and dialogue that the imagination takes off. When I read the stories I can place myself amongst the characters or just be a fly on the wall.

Then again after I finish reading The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings I do watch the movie to top off the experience...

So here it is: I vote book overall and movie as a quick fix.

There. I said it!

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I assume we are talking about The Lord of the Rings, not just books versus films in general. For myself the books are my favorite literature for so many reasons -- while in my opinion the movies are generally poor as films (despite some moments that I think are good), and even worse as adaptations.

 

 

In the past I have been at odds with respect to the notion that one cannot compare one thing to another, since the mediums are different -- with my perspective being that not only do I not think this is true, but that such a comparison is essentially what Peter Jackson and crew are doing when they make The Lord of the Rings; that is, deciding whether X or Y, from the books, will or will not work on film. That's what one does in adapting a film from a book, especially if one is claiming -- as Jackson did and does -- to be faithful to the source material.

 

 

That process, however, is very opnion-laden, no doubt; but there's nothing in the world that necessarily compels me to agree with Peter Jackson about what he or his crew thinks can be sucessfully taken from the books and put up on screen -- just as Tolkien himself didn't agree that many of the things suggested in the 'Zimmerman treatment' needed to be altered or injected due to the medium of film.

 

Also, if one can praise the films, or even parts of the films, for being faithful to the books, I think one must then accept un-praise in the same arena. How can something said to be faithful to the books, in detail or even in 'spirit', if one does not compare the films to the books? so if one engages in that, then the idea of 'judging the films only as films' is off the table I think...

 

... and while I have no problem with someone taking that approach -- judging the films as wholly separate works or art, with no book comparison whatsoever, and can even criticize the films under this consideration alone -- it seems to me that that approach, by its very nature, opens huge doors; that is, one essentially can allow just about anything in an 'adaptation' because the books are no longer in play, at least not beyond being a 'base source', where the phrase 'loosely based' can mean very, very loosely for instance. Does it matter (for extreme example) if Sam proves unfaithful to Frodo in a film? In my opinion not really if one is only judging whether or not this 'works in some way' on film, as whether or not it agrees in detail or in spirit with the source material seems basically off the table. In this arena the artwork is Jackson's, using a source book as a base (in some measure) to create a new thing, to live or die on its own merits.

 

I'll yet defend the criticsm of faithfulness to the books as a valid criticism however -- again, especially given Jackson's own characterization of what he was trying to do. As Carl Hostetter has noted, in Mythsoc message digest number 1086 (Mythsoc, the list for Mythopoeic Society):

 

 

'When one goes to see a film adaptation of a famous novel, one _naturally_ expects that the film will stay true to at least the most fundamental themes and characterizations of the novel. Only a child or an idiot would fail to recognize that books and film are different media; but that fact has _absolutely no bearing_ on the expectation of fidelity to core themes and characterizations (unless you are prepared to argue that there are some themes and characterizations that films are inherently incapable of exploring and expressing, which is absurd on its face).'

 

 

Is the discussion in general opinion-laden? Yes. For example, if one thinks the Aragorn of the films is 'noble' when he tosses Frodo about, or beheads an ambassador even from the camp of the bad guys, then all I can do is disagree. Yet my problem is often enough with the idea that one can't say something like: why wasn't X from the books put up there on screen, or what about 'film' as a medium made it necessary to so alter X or Y from the books?

 

 

I think the answer is not to be found in very general, mutually agreed upon commnents like 'books and films are different' or that we can't compare the two mediums -- the answers should adress X or Y in particular in my opinion -- and then I think we will see how very opinion-laden it really gets. Filmmakers aren't automatically correct because they make films of course, and even heaps of gold and jools don't prove they have made all the right decisions for the best reasons.

 

 

I say one can compare the two when adaptation is in play, and that it's especially in play when the film fan points to X to claim or suggest how faithful something is...

 

... to the books smile



-- Edited by Galin on Sunday 15th of April 2012 03:23:44 AM

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Elf of Beleriand - Rank 2
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The books are best. They are, in fact, my favorite books of all time. I would more gladly read the whole book in a month than watch all three films in a marathon, for example...

 

But I do love the films as well. They are, in fact, my favorite films.

 

I do agree with a lot of what Galin says, though.

 

Books and films can't really be compared... they must be considered as different things. I really disagree with the films being bad, though. I think PJ did a great job with them, even though I do have some issues with them myself. What surprised me the most about the films was that PJ actually managed to capture that much of what I consider "The Lord of the Rings"-feeling. There are some things missing, though, but you can't really adapt everything from something as big as the LoTR books into films... simply impossible.

 

I just accept the fact that some things needs to change in order to adapt a book into a film. For example, Sam and Frodo doesn't seem THAT close in the books (in my opinion), as they do in the films. But my understanding of it is that PJ had to do so in order for the people who haven't read the books to understand their relationship a little "easier" so to speak.

 

Another example is from the beginning until the end in Cirith Ungol. It should have stayed true to the book. It's the one thing in the film I REALLY, REALLY hate.

 

I do think of them as seperate things, though... the films are one thing, the books another. The books are far better, though.

 

If you want to check out the differences between the films and the books, check out this site: http://gary.appenzeller.net/FotRDifferences.html



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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Great opinions so far, I think it comes down to this. If I listed my favorite books in order, LotR's at the top (well, behind the silmarillion I guess but still) and when I think of my favorite movies, the LotR's is prob in the top 10 or 20. The books are so great that nothing else I've read compares but that's not so with the movies. Though they are quite good!

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Felagund wrote: 'I do agree with a lot of what Galin says, though. Books and films can't really be compared... they must be considered as different things. I really disagree with the films being bad, though.'

 

But why can't the films be compared to the books smile

 

'(...) It should have stayed true to the book. It's the one thing in the film I REALLY, REALLY hate. I do think of them as seperate things, though... the films are one thing, the books another. The books are far better, though.'

 

 

But haven't you just compared the books to the films in this example? in a way where you find the films lacking, suggesting that sticking closer to the books would have been far better? So in what sense can't books and films be compared? I get the feeling that you really might mean: they must be fairly compared, so that the medium of film is well and truly considered with respect to the adaptation process.

 

If so I would agree. And next come the opinions about what is fair or unfair criticism given the differences in the mediums. 



-- Edited by Galin on Sunday 15th of April 2012 04:42:59 AM

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Date: Apr 15, 2012

The Topic: "movies vs. books"

Opinion per the topic: The books are far better than the movies.

Commentary:
I like the movies.  I occasionally watch them solo and sometimes back to back.  I am entertained and still marvel at Tolkien's creation.

Usually twice or more times a year I re-read The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Silmarillion. I love the books. And I marvel at Tolkien's creation.

I like Huan's comment ... "If I listed my favorite books in order, LotR's at the top (well, behind the Silmarillion I guess but still) and when I think of my favorite movies, the LotR's is prob in the top 10 or 20."

A very good explanation of his rationale of  "movies vs. books".
It got me thinking ...

One of the things The Might left us with before he went on to school and disappeared was a to give a template to be used in our profiles to help us learn about each other.
Two of those categories in that profile template were Favorite Books and Favorite Movies.

Here (as an example) is what I posted on my profile as part of my biography;
Book: Bible, Lord of the Rings, Shogun, Stranger in a Strange Land, Undaunted Courage, Men and the Water of Life
Movie: Lawrence of Arabia, The Searchers, Meet Joe Black, The Last Samurai, The Dictator, Modern Times, Quigley Down Under, Soldier, Dances with Wolves, Glory...

This fits with Huan's comment and reminds me of a bigger world outside of Tolkien.


But a wise piece of the profile template laid down by The Might also was Favorite Tolkien Things.
Here (again as an example) is what I posted through that template;
~World of Tolkien what is your Favorite~
Book: Fellowship of the Ring (but I really love them all)
Favorite Chapter: The Mirror of Galadriel
Character: Beorn, Gandalf, Faramir, Galadriel, Sam
Song or Poem: Road Goes Ever On and On
Tolkien Quote: "I hope that those who have read The Lord of the Rings with pleasure will not think me ungrateful: to please readers was my main object, and to be assured of this has been a great reward ..."
Quote from the book: Well, Master Samwise," she said, "I hear and see that you have used my gift well" (Galadriel, LOTR-ROTK-Grey Havens)
Place: Lorion, Rivendell, The Shire, The Prancing Pony or the Green Dragon-somebody else buying


My whole point is that with movies vs. books we are comparing apples to oranges.  And being human we compare them against each other ... but I like part of what Galin says ..."In the past I have been at odds with respect to the notion that one cannot compare one thing to another, since the mediums are different -- with my perspective being that not only do I not think this is true, but that such a comparison is essentially what Peter Jackson and crew are doing when they make The Lord of the Rings;"
The story told in the movie is not the same as the story in the book.

Where I differ with my friend Galin is I think the films were well done.


This is an interesting topic (parts which have been discussed in other threads) which has many wonderful "side doors" which can lead to more knowledge of Tolkien's works AND can lead to deeper knowledge of each other (which has the side benefit of deepening our bonds of friendship)


Well Done Huan!  Well Done Everybody!



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Elf of Beleriand - Rank 2
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Galin wrote:

Felagund wrote: 'I do agree with a lot of what Galin says, though. Books and films can't really be compared... they must be considered as different things. I really disagree with the films being bad, though.'

 

But why can't the films be compared to the books smile

 

'(...) It should have stayed true to the book. It's the one thing in the film I REALLY, REALLY hate. I do think of them as seperate things, though... the films are one thing, the books another. The books are far better, though.'

 

 

But haven't you just compared the books to the films in this example? in a way where you find the films lacking, suggesting that sticking closer to the books would have been far better? So in what sense can't books and films be compared? I get the feeling that you really might mean: they must be fairly compared, so that the medium of film is well and truly considered with respect to the adaptation process.

 

If so I would agree. And next come the opinions about what is fair or unfair criticism given the differences in the mediums. 



-- Edited by Galin on Sunday 15th of April 2012 04:42:59 AM


 

You're right. My post was a little contradicting, sorry.

 

What I meant is that they can be compared in some sense. PJ attempted to recreate LoTR in the medium of films instead, which he succeeded doing. Hence, they have a somewhat different story, due to the "recreating" part. But, being a Tolkien fanatic, sometimes I wish the films stayed a little more true to the book (for example, what happened at Cirith Ungol). A lot of things in the films are changed; hence, not entirely true to the books, rather recreated so they could fit the medium of films.

 

Hope that cleared it up.



-- Edited by Felagund on Sunday 15th of April 2012 12:27:27 PM

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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I'm not exactly sure what you mean by 'in some sense' but you appear to be suggesting that the films and books have a somewhat different story due to the different mediums, and your second to last sentence suggests that the films can't be entirely true to the books because the medium of film does not allow this.

 

But Jackson's most ardent critics know that entirely is not possible, they just wanted enough to be able to call the adaptations faithful.

 

I see apples and oranges again, and to use the image another way: to my mind those Jackson fans who claim the films are faithful to the books are essentially claiming that the apple of the books has been successfully translated from one medium to another. Exactly the same? No. But not an orange certainly, at least not to those who think the films have succeeded in the arena of faithfulness.

 

But in my opinion Jackson has essentially made an orange. And also in my opinion, it would be unfair of me to simply say that an orange is 'bad' simply because it is not an apple -- but it is not unfair of me to say that: as a great fan of apples, I would much rather have had one, especially given that the 'farmer' claimed he was trying to be faithful to apples!

 

And if the result has to be an orange because things are so different (and an orange looks and tastes notably different from an apple), I would wonder why anyone would try to adapt the apple in the first place! What's the point? Or if one simply means that the mediums are different, I think we all already agree with that very general observation.

 

The mediums are different to be sure, but beyond that one must ask: what is it about the medium of film that made Jackson change A, B, C... X, Y and Z, and many more letters beyond the Roman Alphabet! When things get specific and beyond these general comments, that's when we see that Jackson's very many changes and alterations become opinions. 

 

Enough Jackson fans have disagreed that it's impossible for a film to be faithful to Tolkien's books, and so do I -- I just further disagree that Jackson has achieved 'faithful enough'. In response to a film treatment Tolkien noted...

 

'The canons of narrative art in any medium cannot be wholly different; and the failure of poor films is often precisely in exagerration, and in the intrusion of unwarranted matter owing to not perceiving where the core of the original lies' JRRT, Letters

 

Agreed.

 

And one can't have it both ways in my opinion: that is, one can't fairly point to a given scene in the films to claim or suggest how faithful it is to the books... and also answer negative criticism by saying books and films can't be compared.

 

Basically I see little reason why the mediums can't be compared, as long as it's done fairly, with due consideration for the 'needs' of film -- but what are the real needs of film? not whatever Peter Jackson or any director simply claims is 'needed' or wanted; this is a very opinion-based matter! And again, why not compare? Faithfulness to the source material has long been an accepted form of criticism with respect to books and films... and how is one going to do that without comparison?

 

 smile



-- Edited by Galin on Sunday 15th of April 2012 06:43:49 PM

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Tom Bombadil
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The Films have introduced millions to our beloved books. So I say that the movies served to bring attention to the writings of the Professor. As it is, most people will not go to long movies, and the LOTR has certainly broken that with close to a 3 hour movie. I still remember the long lines on opening nights. So the movies introduced the non-reader to Tolkienism and many people bought the Book set which also included the Hobbit. I first bought the 4 book Paperback edition for $10.95 at Sams Club after I saw the First Movie.
If not for the movies, many people would not have become interested in further study of Tolkien Books, including yours truly.

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Yet arguably far better films could have brought even more people to the books.

 

Nor do we know the amount of movie goers who will not read the books because they think they know the story, or Tolkien, from the films.

 

Nor do we know how many people won't like the books (or won't like them as much) because they wanted the films rather.

 

And in any case Tolkien's books were selling very very well before Jackson's films came out. I found the books without any films, and it's very difficult to say who would, or who would not have ever read them if Jackson's films never existed.

 

Also, even a bad film, or a bad adptation, can be advertisement for the books!

 

Hey no doubt it is good to bring people to the books, but it's not as simple as it seems, and we also can't know how the reaction to the books might be altered if the films have been met first (especially if viewed over and over).



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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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When this topic was posted I had wondered if by referring to the movies you meant Jackson's movies or any of the movies that had been done. I see that everyone has responded with regards to Peter Jackson's.

Well, I for one don't really like his LOTR anymore. Especially ROTK. I know I'm probably one of the few in the world who doesn't. However, I love the cartoons from the '70s. I had actually wondered why for a while now. Part of it may be nostalgia. But, I think other than visually, I don't think the films kept the FEELING of the books while the cartoons did. Even though Rankin/Bass Return of the King was altered in so many ways from the book, I felt that they had the feeling right. (I would say the same for the Narnia movies.) Perhaps it's because it's easier to work with cartoons than live action. I'm not sure. I guess my point is that while it is not necessary to get the story perfect, a filmaker should be able to take the author's intent and put that on screen. I think 2 good example of this working is The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Little Women (Katherine Hepburn's version, not that hideous one with Winona Ryder). Of course, what the filmaker sees as the author's intent and what I believe may be at complete odds.



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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Well, I for one don't really like his LOTR anymore. Especially ROTK. I know I'm probably one of the few in the world who doesn't.

 

 

Don't worry Laurelin, you are not alone. I post or 'ghost' at a number of Tolkien chat forums and the films have plenty of Unfriends.

 

And as I noted I don't think the films, simply as films, are really that good (even if there were no books to compare to), but then again, I have yet to see a Peter Jackson film that I like, counting two that he only produced! although granted, I've only seen a limited number of his films.

 

I don't really think the acting (looking at them simply as films) is all that good, although I agree with Verlyn Flieger about Sean Bean...

 

'Galadriel was terrible, and since Cate Blanchett is a fine actor, she must have been directed to perform in that wooden, zombie-like manner. Sean Bean is the only person who played as if he believed who he was. His Boromir was a real person, not a type. I found him totally convincing, and his funeral journey down the river and over the falls was the film's finest moment. Truly moving. Although the script sentimentalized and overdid the character's repentance at the end. Boromir is not that good. As for un-Tolkienian lines like Gimli's "Nobody tosses a dwarf," and Strider's "Let's hunt some orc," they are beyond comment.

 

From http://greenbooks.theonering.net/guest/files/100102.html

 

 



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Elves of the Third Age - Rank 1
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The books are much better than the movies. The movies may have introduced the books to a lot more people, but they screwed up some things. And in the books, Tolkien didn't have to cut chapters because his book was too long. The book has the full story where as the film doesn't.



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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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I don't think that will be a worry with the next three Hobbit films. Lack of time to get it all in. How close they'll follow the lore is another matter altogether though.

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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I hate to say it doesn't sound like they'll be following it too closely. A romance between one of the Dwarfs and an Elf? How ridiculous can PJ get?

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Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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I don't like the sound of it. Maybe it's been blown out of proportion?

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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I know I will be seeing the movie. I won't be able not to. I am glad to know that they'll be adding in the side story with the Necromancer though. I think that could be interesting.

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Although they have the framework from the LotR appendixes to use I think alot of made up dialogue will be required to flesh it out. We'll see...

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Haldir of Lorien - Rank 6
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There's a good chance I'll be heading to the movies on Saturday. Will anyone else be making the trek to see the Hobbit this weekend?

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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Laurelin,

I'm holding off until I can go with my daughter in January.
She has been a Tolkien fan since she was little and I read her "The Hobbit" and "The Lord Of The Rings".

She will be making a Christmas pilgrimage from Chicago to Ohio ... so this is a big deal as far as we are concerned.

Let us know how you like it ...
Bear



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Peoples of Beleriand - Rank 1
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I appreciate the movies for the stunning visuals they lend to the stories but the books contain so much more depth than the movies that I can easily say that I prefer them over the films. Every time I read through the books I find new bits of lore to take delight in, whereas the movies simply can't contain the same amount of information. I'll admit I'm very biased, I can recall but a few instances in which I have seen movies ere I read the books they were based upon and I am far more likely to read a book without knowing of the existence of a corresponding movie than I am to do the reverse. Bottom line though, the books are better.

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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     Of course one example doesn't prove anything. And I don't know the rate with which the books were selling before vs after the movies... But I know for sure that in my case, Lady Arwen is exactly right. Without the movies the chance was about 100% that I would have never known about the books. I have not heard Tolkien's name until then.
     This is not to say that I saw those movies right away. I am not a movie person. But after the second movie even I started wondering what the fuss was all about. Luckily at that time I had friends who told me about the books, adding that I probably would not like them (now I totally understand what they meant). And they gave me, no, not a Tolkien's book, but a sequel by another author (written at the level of "Twilight" at best). Only after I read that did they give me The Hobbit and other books (not HoME, they had no idea). That's how it all started.
     And eventually I saw the movies too. It turned out that it was nice to have something visual, but omissions, new inventions and other perversions are very annoying. I noted though that the actress playing Arwen looks like Edith Tolkien, which is how she is supposed to look (Arwen resembles Luthien whose prototype was Edith). All the similarity with the character ends there of course.
     The first Hobbit movie is equally disappointing - not clear why they had to change Bilbo's character so much. I like the old cartoon though (although I have not seen it as a child), and especially songs from it.



-- Edited by Lorelline on Wednesday 7th of August 2013 07:06:37 AM

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