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First - I think PJ totally botched the part of Denethor - totally!
Secondly - I think JRRT would have been appalled at the response to his Denethor - Tolkien hardly knew his father but was raised with love by the parish priest. For people to believe that Denethor was a cruel father - I think would have been unthinkable to Tollers. He had to cut so much of his book and never ever would have thought, when he took out the few lines below, that people would assume otherwise. I feel IMHO that Tolkien's Denethor was a good and loving father (Please see quote below)
JRRT on pg. 328 of the hardcover copy of The War of the Ring from the Siege of Gondor chapter....
"My son, your father is old, but he is not yet a dotard. I can see and hear as is my wont, and not much of what you have left unsaid or half said is now hidden. I know the answer to the riddling words and to other riddles besides. Now I understand the ...? of Boromir and his (death).
"If you (are)angry, father," said Faramir, "tell me what other courses you would have had me take."
"You have done as I should have expected, for I know you well," said Denethor. "Ever your desire is to be lordly and generous as a king of old - gracious and gentle. And that well befits men of high lineage who sit in power amid peace. But in these black hours gentleness may be bought with death."
"So be it," said Faramir.
"So be it," said Denethor; "but not by your death only. The death also of your father and of all your people whom it will be your part to rule ere long - now Boromir is no more." He paused, clutching his (wand).
"Do you wish then," said Faramir, "that our places had been exchanged?"
"Yes, I wish that indeed," said Denethor. "Or no," and then he shook his head; and rising suddenly laid his hand on his son's shoulder. "Do not judge me harshly, my son," he said, "or think that I am harsh. Love is not blind. I knew your brother also. I would wish only that he had been in your place, if I were sure of one thing."
"And what is that, my father?"
"That he was as strong in heart as you, and as trustworthy. That taking this thing he had brought it to me, and not fallen under thraldom.
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