This is a little rant about the hero’s struggle as seen in books vs modern movies.
I am sure that somewhere in the last year or so someone at LHP has mentioned their grief over how certain characters were portrayed in a movie adaptation. Just read Brian’s post, where he brings up the problem of Peter in Narnia and Faramir in LOTR. (by the way, I agree with Brian’s assessment)
Anyway, my rant is on the hero’s identity. We all have identity issues. And when I say we, I mean the civilized world at large. You don’t really see identity issues in third-world countries, I think they are still to concerned with the need for food and other basic necessities to feel the need to question who they are. But it is something the those of us with more time and knowledge have struggled with. We question the meaning of life and what we are to do with our gifts and talents or the positions we have been placed in.
We portray this identity crises through the heroes in the movies we make and in the stories we write. But not all our stories have heroes that struggle with identity. In LOTR, Faramir and Aragorn are two such heroes who in book form are confident and self-assured, where in the movie they are given complexes. Aragorn struggles with his love for Arwen and his “destiny.” You have him running away from both at any given time in the movies. But in the books, Aragorn is waiting patiently for the right time to reveal himself as king and Arwen waits for him, weaving Aragorn’s kingly banner all the while. These are not the signs of characters struggling with who they are, but characters who know who they are and who take their responsibilities seriously.
Why did we make Aragorn needlessly struggle over his identity as King? Why do we have to make Arwen agonize over her love and duty to Aragorn. Why did we have to give Faramir daddy issues? Is it because we struggle so much over our identities and what we have been called to that we cannot even begin to relate to characters who don’t? Shouldn’t we look to characters like Aragorn (the book version) and find comfort and strength in the fact that we can know who we are and take up our responsibilities with dedication and devotion? Shouldn’t we see Arwen’s devotion and dedication to her love as something to be admired? She is not forlorn or shaken in her identity or Aragorn’s, but she embraces the responsibility and love that her identity requires of her.