The Great Debate

Since the announcement of the ambitious three-film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, directed by Peter Jackson (PJ), a debate has swept the Tolkien fandom.  The phenomenal success of all three films has only further fueled this debate – sometimes raging, sometimes quite civil – among both Tolkien and Jackson fans.  The fandom has been broadly divided into those who are critical of the films for deviating too much from the story told in the book and those who have little or no problem with the changes that were made.  Members of the more critical camp are commonly referred to as “purists”, while members of the more accepting one are “revisionists”.

However, the true extent of the divide between purists and revisionists goes deeper than just their opinions on the films.  The crux of the purist-revisionist debate is two fundamentally different methods of approaching book-to-film adaptations.  These essays will consider two ongoing questions: how should adaptations be made, and how well did PJ do?

Table of Contents

  • Purism in Five Minutes: A brief introduction to purism and the purist-revisionist debate.
  • The Purist Manifesto: An overview of the purist philosophy on adaptation with some brief rebuttals to common revisionist arguments.
  • Changes to The Lord of the Rings: A lengthy multi-part analysis of the major changes made by Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens, and their implications.
  • Changes to The Hobbit: A collection of essays about Jackson’s second Middle-earth trilogy, written before and during their original releases.
  • Other Essays: Shorter pieces that don’t fit into any of the above categories.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Exactly what it says.


If you have any questions, comments, criticisms, or other feedback about these essays or any other part of this site, I’d be happy to hear them.  Just fill out the comment form and let me know what you think.