‘The Lord Of The Rings’ Film Trilogy Screenwriter Philippa Boyens Explains Why Tolkien’s Stories Are So Beloved: “He Didn’t Compromise Anything”
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy screenwriter Philippa Boyens shared her thoughts on why she believes Tolkien’s stories are so beloved.
Boyens comments about Tolkien’s story came back in 2003 while she was promoting the final film in the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Her comments were recorded at the time by TheOneRing.com founder Jonathan Watson and recently shared to YouTube.
Boyens was asked by one of the reporters what she meant when she previously described Tolkien as an amateur writer.
She responded, “What we mean by that is that he didn’t set out to write a novel in the same way that professional writers do. He’s not a novelist. He’s an incredibly, I would say almost unsurpassed storyteller.”
“And that to say he is an amateur it was only to the extent that I think that’s where a lot of the heart of the story came from. Well, the truth, it’s an incredibly truthful story. And it’s not slick. He needed an editor. You know, God knows the amount of repetition we came across when you actually get into those books and was a big problem for us,” Boyens continued.
The screenwriter then shared, “And a lot of the stuff he did in reportage. Like, you know, he had a great idea and instead of going back and rewriting, like for example, you could tell that suddenly he had this wonderful idea about how Gandalf escaped from Saruman. Why didn’t he do that whole Saruman-Gandalf confrontation live? Why didn’t he follow Gandalf too? Why was it in the reportage? And I can’t help thinking that things like that or certain things like that.”
“Suddenly, he had this great idea and so he decided to tell it as reportage instead of taking you there as an audience,” she observed. “And I think an editor would have said, ‘Take the audience and tell the story from that with more immediacy.’ Maybe, that’s what an editor would have said. It would have been easier for us.”
However, she then posited, “But then, you know, that was his privilege. I think what’s so great about this is that he didn’t compromise anything. He told the story the way he wanted to tell it, which is why it is as rich as it is and why it is as personal as it is because it is a very personal story.”
“The stuff in that book that works the best is that it is very, very personal. I think the relationship between Frodo and Sam. The whole tragedy of the Shire was very much things that he genuinely felt, you know, drawn from his own experiences. Which is why it’s often, I think, it what’s you can attribute the success of these stories to,” she declared.
Not only did Boyens explain why she believes Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings novels are so beloved, but she also shared her thoughts on why the film adaptations have been so successful.
“And people got into the spirit of what Peter was trying to do, don’t you think? Which is tell these stories as if they were real,” Boyens said. “Find the honesty in it so that it is real sentiment not sentimental. That it’s not manufactured emotion. Peter hates that.”
She then commented, “In, fact he always destroys my stuff like that, which is great, which is what a writer needs, and he makes you go deeper, and he makes you find the truth of that moment as a writer, which is great, which is what you need. Because boy, I could churn out, you know, some stuff that you can… you can do it off the top of your head. It’s probably good enough for some people, but it’s not good enough for Peter or Fran actually.”
What do you make of Boyens’ commentary about why she believes Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books are so well loved?