I'm warning you now, if you're not a fan of Lord of the Rings or have not seen the films or read the books, this post is going to be completely confusing and possibly boring to you. You can continue to read, after all I can't stop you, but I advise you see the films and read the books first. At the very least, do one of the two, then come back.
|photo found at http://www.theonering.net|
Why I Think Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens Didn't Understand Faramir and Messed Him Up:
I absolutely love the film version of Lord of the Rings that Peter Jackson made. I admire the writing work they did, the gorgeous lines of dialogue. Especially notable for me is Galadriel's Prologue with one of my all time favorite lines from the three films: "...and some things that should not have been forgotten, were lost."
That said, I believe they completely went wrong with one thing. In the extended version special features they explain their thinking on why they decided to change how Faramir reacts to the ring. They wanted to give Faramir a character arch, a story. But what I feel they failed to see is that Faramir has an arch and a story, but it has nothing to do with the ring. It is centered around his relationship with his father. As for Faramir's relationship with the ring, in the books he plays an extremely important role, I think. Here's why.
In the books, humans (referred to as 'men') were the weakest of the races when it came to the power of the ring. Through the journey of the ring from Hobbiton to Mordor, there are only two humans that come in direct proximity to it and the influence of its power: Boromir and Faramir. Now, you might argue that Aragorn is human, but technically he is Numenorean, who have Elf blood mixed into their race along with having been given a 'blessing' of unnatural long life and the 'royal' line even longer life and greater strength. Not at least, your typical human. Whereas Boromir and Faramir are very much human.
Boromir in every day life was a strong man, valiant in defending Gondor, which was stewarded by his father. But when he came in contact with the ring, he proved weak, succumbing to its power through his own desire for power. Faramir seems weaker in the affairs of life and defending his lands, as he is a softer person, more given to the art of negotiation. Though he does lead a troop which patrols the lands around Gondor and kills enemies, which is how he meets Frodo and comes in contact with the ring. In the books, he states he would not touch the ring. He is stronger of mind than his brother though not as warlike and valiant. The contrast between these two I believe is vital for showing that not all humans were corrupt and susceptible. It also highlights the relationship of Faramir with his father in comparison to Boromir's. Faramir's role in the story holds a certain subtlety of layers that I appreciate. I did not enjoy seeing that completely dropped for the expediency of feeding the power of the ring. The ring held sway over enough otherwise strong people in the story that one more was not needed. Just because Faramir refuses the ring and resists its power does not mean it was easy for him, it simply means the ring did not affect him the way it affected others. Just like it affects Hobbits in a completely different way in the story. It holds a power over them, but it has nothing to do with desire to wield power for the Hobbits and therefore it mainly forms strong attachments to them and they in turn live overly long lives and become more and more paranoid.
In the end, I understand that Faramir's arch through his relationship with his father, and learning to stand his ground in the face of his father's madness might have been a much more difficult arch to convey and pull off in film. But I still think they could have done it and done a wonderful job of it too. After all, they managed to make an epic film from an epic story and knocked it out of the ballpark.