The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

In the previous post I said that the Harry Potter troll was much better than the Lord of the Rings troll. Really there are two separate issues: The CGI, which was better in the Harry Potter movie; and a particular piece of dialogue which I thought was the low point of LOTR.

What I found objectionable was the Moria scene where the party is attacked by orcs. Boromir looks out the door, comes back in, and sneers, "They have a cave troll."

One of the problems with LOTR is the layer of crud that has built up on top of it, generated by decades of posters, Dungeons and Dragons, video games, and imitative books and movies. So even though the book was unique during its time, it now appears to be laden with the hoariest cliches: The wizard with the long beard, the short and stocky dwarf, swords and scorcery.

Boromir's line contributes to the problem. In real life -- and LOTR did try to imagine real life from the point of view of its unlikely characters and milieu -- anyone, even a fierce warrior, would see that cave troll and say "Oh shit, a cave troll!" Or, to be less like Adam Sandler and more like Gandalf:

"For the moment they [the orcs] are hanging back, but there is something else there. A great cave-troll, I think, or more than one. There is no hope of escape that way."

Boromir, by contrast, sounds like a teenager playing Dungeons and Dragons. His speech could logically be extended:

They have a cave troll. Not a big deal, because I have 96 hit points left and a cave troll has 6d8 hit points. Now remember, it does d12 of damage, so you hobbits get in back. I'll get out my +2 sword, and Legolas, you can use your +3 bow on the orcs ...



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