Did you see Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers in a theater when it came out nearly fifteen years ago? I did. When I first saw it, I found the character Faramir poorly done. Then the extended edition came out, and changed all that.
Faramir was being a dick
In the original version of the Two Towers, Faramir was – to put it bluntly – a dick. I always liked the character in the books. Faramir is the younger brother of Boromir. Their father is Denethor, the steward of Gondor. Faramir leads a troupe of soldiers behind enemy lines to track the movements of Sauron’s armies and fight them from the shadows.
Frodo meets him as he travels alone toward Mordor with Sam and Gollum. Faramir captures Frodo, but eventually decides to let him go on his way, after hearing about his brother’s demise. In the book, Faramir has the opportunity to take the ring, but unlike his brother, he manages to suppress the desire for the ring. However, in the movie, he tries to take Frodo to his father, so that the ring can be used as a weapon against Mordor. ‘A chance for Faramir, Captain of Gondor, to show his quality’ he himself says.
This made him seem like a dick who wanted the glory of saving Gondor for himself.
The extended edition
The extended edition of the movie, which came out several months later, adds several new scenes to the movie. This is where it gets interesting. One of the added scenes is a flashback showing Boromir and Faramir just after having taken back Osgiliath from the armies of Sauron. If you don’t remember it, go have a look.
This scene casts an entirely different light on the character. It shows how Denethor favours his eldest son Boromir. Denethor sees Faramir only as a failure, a man with no uses. When somebody has to be sent to Rivendell to the council of Elrond, Denethor sends Boromir. Boromir does not want to go and Faramir offers to go in his stead. Then Denethor scathingly says ‘a chance for Faramir, Captain of Gondor, to show his quality. No, I think not.’
With this one scene it becomes clear that when Faramir captures Frodo, he is not being a dick, he is trying to earn the love of his father. What seemed like a hunger for glory is actually a hunger for acknowledgement. This one extra scene made this movie suddenly work for me.
Foreshadowing can make or break a character. Characterization is not just about showing what a character is struggling with, but also why they are struggling with it.
As this one extra scene in the Two Towers shows perfectly.