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Philippa Boyens in ‘The Angst of Adaptation’

New Zealand’s Sunday Star Times talks about ‘The Angst of Adaptation’ – translating a book to film – and interviews Philippa Boyens about writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films.

Boyens, who was appointed to the New Zealand Order of Merit, wrote the screenplay for The Lord of the Rings as well as acting as a co-producer for The Hobbit films. She also collaborated with Sir Peter Jackson on King Kong and The Lovely Bones.

In the interview, Boyens talks about the daunting task of converting a book to film and how, for the screenwriter, something is lost:

When you adapt it you kind of lose it forever, because you have a different knowledge of it now […] Your adaptation is just your version of a piece of literature, a piece of work that you love as much as anyone else. You cannot take on the responsibility of making a definitive version of The Lord of the Rings, because you would fail.

She also spoke of the creation of Tauriel, a controversial addition to the second and third Hobbit films:

The female energy is great, and she’s become one of the most popular characters in the film so I feel like we made the right choice there. It allowed younger women a way into the story, and it also leavened it because you can feel the blokiness of 13 dwarfs after a while.

You can read the full article online.

About the Author: Shaun Gunner

Shaun is the current Chair of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2013, Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien’s works whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time can be found in the cinema, playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter.

  • sanch

    Did the story need Tauriel? Din’t we love The Hobbit book.. ? I can understand if you add this to a not so popular book. But a book which is held sacred by many of us . How can you change the spirit of the book?

  • sanch

    I appreciate everything you guys did with Lord of the Rings. But i think the key to an adaptation is by not changing the characters or the main themes and motifs of the story .. In the lord of the rings this was preserved with more or less similar characters , some altered a bit. With the hobbit some of the characters are drastically changed , Beorn for example – i know he is a childhood favorite of many of us. The beorn of the movie is not having the same character or similar as the book .. You changed the character of Bilbo and adding unnecessary characters like Tauriel is really not the motif of the story. ISN’T THE HOBBIT ABOUT THE HOBBIT and the loss of innocence , why does DOl guldur , necromancer , tauriel have anything to do with this ..? The point of view should have been entirely Bilbo’s as is in the book , never shifted .. This results is shifts of tones among the movie creating inconsistent material in my opinion .LEGOLAS was the worst addition to the story .. I MEAN WHY ? DID WE REALLY NEED TO SEE HIM KILLING ORCS? i think nobody liked that..

    • perdogg

      A lot of people have complained that The Hobbit movie was the fan fiction equivalent to the Hobbit. However, movie goers are not going to pay $14 to watch Bilbo complain about missing a meal.

  • sanch

    What film makers are forgetting these days is that people are attracted to movies with great heart and not great action because after sometime the action is boring .. The heart of the story remains forever.. And the hobbit , well it’s missing the main spirit of the book … THERE IS A REASON PEOPLE LIKED THE HOBBIT BOOK.. and it is not because it is a prequel or anything of that sort.. People love hobbit for different reasons.. What one fails to understand is why people are so much interested in viewing another Lord of the Rings when we have a great material in the form of the hobbit. The two books are appreciated for their differences and not anything else

  • perdogg

    I have no problems with Tauriel, but let’s not get preachy and sanctimonious about it.

  • geoff

    I honestly feel that this woman is one of the worst writers that I have ever had the displeasure of being subjected to. I can’t really get behind any of the changes or ‘adaptations’ that were made to the stories. None of it was done with a deft hand (or pen). Pure rubbish.