The Lord Of The Rings: 10 Characters Who Just Didn’t Look Right In The Movies
While The Lord of the Rings is a beloved film franchise, some of the characters don’t look quite the way they should, according to the books.
It’s not very easy to visualize the incandescent beauty of Tolkien’s Middle-earth in his epic, The Lord of the Rings, let alone bring it to life as well as Peter Jackson and his crew have. The Elves are tall and beautiful, the Dwarves are strong and hardy, and the Hobbits are cheerful and spry, all as the author had intended.
The world aside, this doesn’t necessarily apply to several characters, whose cinematic depictions fall short of their novel versions (although not by a drastic amount.) Still, the differences are present when considering the story’s magical context, as Tolkien has either implicitly or explicitly ascribed a certain variety of emotional and spiritual temperament in his characters.
Liv Tyler does an excellent job playing Arwen Undomiel, daughter of Elrond Half-elven, and through her father, the descendant of Luthien and Melian the Maia. However, this heritage alone makes her one of the most beautiful living entities in her world, which is why she bears the name Evenstar.
There is a lot more to Arwen than some pale makeup and diluted jewelry, not to mention a visage that is as bright as the evening star, said to be almost impossible to look at directly.
As Hobbits go, Bilbo is a rather average one before his adventures begin, in that he is chubby, prefers flashy clothing, and laughs like he means it. To the contrary, Martin Freeman’s portrayal, while a great attempt, doesn’t quite match his book counterpart.
He is reedy, with a perennially anxious expression, and possesses little of the charm that young Bilbo supposedly displays when he invites Gandalf into his hole for the first time. Also, Hobbits are said to have extremely young looking faces.
The corporeal form taken by Sauron during the Second Age (right before Isildur cuts the One Ring from his finger) is terrifying to behold in the movies. This is at least partially based on the illustrated watercolor made by Tolkien of his main antagonist, except that it’s obvious the filmmakers have taken some creative liberties with the character.
For one thing, the original one’s helmet looks like it has an aligned row of spikes, similar to a mohawk, but the movie shows it as having a six-pronged set of spikes, instead.
Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel is eerily similar to the description in the novel, from being intimidatingly tall to her terrifying (and temporary) conversion into the Dark Queen when Frodo requests her to accept the burden of the Ring.
The singular discrepancy here lies in the hair — where the actress bears long blonde tresses, the written version is claimed to have hair so radiant that many believe it to be of the same quality as Laurelin and Telperion, the Two Trees of Valinor. Of course, there is no way to actually get this look accurately in the film, but the point is that there is no Galadriel without the hair.
Viggo Mortensen does a great Aragorn: all muscle-y and brooding and solemn. It fits the theme surprisingly well, but it’s not what the author originally had in mind for this character.
First of all, he’s supposed to have deep gray irises, not blue, as well as a “shaggy head of dark hair flecked with grey” indicating his age (eighty-seven at the time.) Another aspect that stands out in novel Aragorn’s anatomy is his height, standing at a massive two meters or six feet six inches.
Elrond as played by Hugo Weaving is subtle in nature, but is also open to emotional expression whenever the time calls for it, like when he pleads to Isildur to throw the One Ring into the only fire that can destroy it.
Tolkien’s description of him, on the other hand, implies that he not only doesn’t seem to age, but there is no possible way to accurately guess how old he might be. Elrond’s eyes mimic the star of Earendil his father, glowing with ancient wisdom. At least the hair and the sterling circlet around his head are accurate.
Elijah Wood’s Frodo has the iconic chin cleft, auburn curly hair, and a pale skin tone, all of which fit the original rather well. In fact, even the “bright-eyed” perkiness is visible at the beginning of the movie, but this disappears far more quickly than it does in the books.
To be honest, the animated film by Ralph Bakshi is more authentic, even if slightly less detailed. An important change that could have been made to the cinematic version would have been, for instance, dressing Frodo in bright yellows and greens.
Theoden under the spell of Saruman (via Grima Wormtongue) is a spot-on representation of how he’s described in the books, but not all that much after he transforms back into his old self with the help of Gandalf.
This is evident during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, in which Tolkien refers to him as charged with “the battle-fury of his fathers” with “new fire in his veins.” Bernard Hill may have been inspiring, but he technically fell short of the visual aspect.
The son of Elendil, Isildur is descended from an unbroken line leading all the way back to Earendil. This lineage offers him a massive life-span improvement, not to mention an appearance that is said to have been as graceful as any Elf.
Harry Sinclair’s performance is certainly invigorating, especially at the edge of Mount Doom, where he decides to keep the One Ring for himself. Still, it doesn’t really work, because Isildur looks far too much like a Man to be Half-elven.
Brad Dourif’s Grima Wormtongue is a slimy sight to behold — all raven-haired, dark-robed, bearing an extremely pallid complexion, and groveling before his master, Saruman. The novels don’t describe this character in great detail, but they do make it a point of mentioning that he is “gaunt” in appearance.
The film version does not seem all that emaciated; however, having Dourif play the character without any eyebrows was a brilliant decision on the director’s part, as it adds to the discomfort his presence on screen instills in the viewer.