T is for The Two Towers



Let me nail my colours to the mast and start by saying I’m a big Tolkein fan. I read The Lord of the Rings at least once every year from the age of about fifteen to my late twenties. I’ve gradually cut down and these days probably only go back to it every four years or so. I’m not sure where this puts me in terms of Tolkein Geekdom but I think I’m certainly on the spectrum.

I’ve chosen The Two Towers not so much for the fact that it’s a good book, (it is by the way), but because it contains the point where the film absolutely got it wrong. I’m talking about Rohan, and I’m talking about Theoden.

In the film Theoden is actually possessed by Saruman. He speaks Saruman’s words and taunts Gandalf who then effectively performs an exorcism in order to cast out Saruman’s spirit. Afterwards Theoden is physically younger, his hair turns from white to brown, and he behaves like an angry middle aged man. It’s totally over done, a classic example of the film exaggerating something in order to use the visual medium to the full and losing the point in the process. It happens in Harry Potter, the curses and spells thrown by the Wizards when fighting the death eaters are shown in the films as just a series of zaps and explosions, it might as well be Star Wars.

Contrast this with the book. In the same scene Gandalf does reveal himself as The White Wizard in all his power and he silences Wormtongue, but he works no dramatic magic on Theoden. He bids Theoden to stand, to walk outside and survey his kingdom. The real magical moment is when Gandalf suggest that Theoden should hold his sword again.

“Slowly Theoden stretched forth his hand. As his fingers took the hilt, it seemed to the watchers that firmness and strength returned to his thin arm. Suddenly he lifted the blade and swung it shimmering and whistling in the air. The he gave a great cry. His voice rang clear as he chanted in the tongue of Rohan a call to arms.”

The story of Theoden is that of a man who chooses to step out of darkness into light. He remains an old man, but one who has regained his nobility and taken control of his destiny. In the book Gandalf expects Theoden to lead the women and children to a safe haven, instead Theoden chooses to lead his armies into battle. Theoden’s story is a crucial part of the book, the film doesn’t do it justice.



6 thoughts on “T is for The Two Towers”

  1. That part of the book is always been one of my favourite. I kind of like the film too. I don’t mind the changes, because of course you need to change things when you torn a story into a film… especially a story like The Lord of the Rings, where a lot happens ‘inside’ the characters. But the book is stronger, I agree 🙂

    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the films as well. You just have to accept the differences. Just before the bit I wrote about, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas take out all Wormtongue’s henchmen as Gandalf strides down the hall. I love that bit which isn’t in the book.
      Thanks for all the comments and visiting my blog


  2. I like both the films and the books. We grew up on my dad reading them out loud when we were just kids so they have a big place in my heart. The one thing my dad was most disappointed in was how the movies left out Tom Bombadil because that’s his favorite character. My favorite character is Sam so I’m okay with the movies, I think they do his character justice. Actually the part that gets me the most is the look between Frodo and Sam when they’re first waking up after destroying the ring. All the feels.

    Liked by 1 person

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