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The Foreword

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The Foreword

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The Foreword

Dune and Lord of The Rings: My Experience Going from Paperback to the Big Screen

Dune and Lord of The Rings: My Experience Going from Paperback to the Big Screen
Town and Country

Dune took me nearly a year to read. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve allotted less time to reading for pleasure, but that wasn’t the reason I read the book close to real-time (the several hundred-page story takes place well over a year); It is because the novel is incredibly dense. But after many months of trudging through the book, I finally finished and was glad that I did. 

The novel and its connected universe are extremely impressive not only because of their comprehensive well of lore but also for remaining politically relevant over half a century after their publication. Despite my appreciation of the book, when I finished it, I was glad it was over. That’s why when I told myself that I was going to read The Lord of The Rings trilogy, I should’ve known what I was getting into.

My experience reading the Lord of The Rings trilogy was largely the same as with Dune. Even though the books are about very different subject matter at face value, they are surprisingly similar. They both feature reluctant protagonists who struggle under their immense burdens and are small parts of a much larger and comprehensive universe. And both stories are very, very dense. 

Although I also enjoyed my time with The Lord of the Rings, finishing the books was still a challenge, which was why it took me a while to get to the movies.

Reviews for the adaptations of both novels ranged anywhere from very solid to critically acclaimed. But after reading the source material for both,  I found it hard to get excited about watching the films. I had reached the end of my patience with these fictional universes, and the thought of going through the entire stories a second time did not seem appealing. 

Eventually, I started making my way through the lengthy Lord of The Rings movie series and soon after watched the 2021 Dune remake, and I was not let down. Both movies expertly and painstakingly depicted their respective universes in about as much detail as could be crammed into a feature film without sacrificing watchability. 

However, even though I went into these films knowing they would be excellent, I couldn’t help but be caught off-guard by the pacing and level of engagement the films provided. Sections of The Lord of the Rings in which Tolkien describes the characters walking through fields and over hills for dozens of pages passed by in mere minutes on the big screen, and pages of dense introspection and hyper-specific exposition are only depicted in passing or hinted at through clever cinematic tricks. I felt astonished and partially grateful that these less engaging moments had been shortened or outright removed. On one hand, they had been integral to what made these books so revolutionary, but on the other, they were prime examples of what can lose an audience’s attention.

Esquire

Less immediately apparent to me upon viewing these films, however, was how useful my knowledge from the books was in following and appreciating what was happening on screen. Initially, I largely took for granted the wealth of knowledge I had before I’d even heard the opening line; but upon reconsideration, I’ve realized how much more I’ve been able to take away because of it.

That is what made these films so enjoyable. Because of the natural limitations that come with adapting a book, tons of exposition, ideas, and story beats have to be cut, and this is doubly true for books like the Lord of The Rings and Dune, which are packed with even more of these narrative elements than usual. While hardcore fans may argue that this means the movies pale in comparison to the books, I disagree, especially since reading the books allowed me to bring my existing knowledge to the films. This meant that even though the movie skipped many tedious sections of the book, instead choosing to highlight the more engaging parts, I still had all the necessary background. 

Overall, my time with these classics has been positive. Not only were the books worth a read by themselves, but pairing them with incredible movie adaptations only made them better. The elevation of the films through the help of details solely found in the novels was an experience I won’t soon forget.

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About the Contributor
Nate Chinman, Editor
Nate Chinman is a senior at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School. He enjoys creative writing as well as writing and editing for the school newspaper. Outside of school, Nate can be found captaining the mock trial team, participating on the debate team, and running cross country. 

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