I was talking to a friend soon after the movie came out who had like me and several of you grew up with The Hobbit and the Lord Of The Rings. She stated that why she was was really disapointed about the ommission of Tom Bombadil was that his house was the ONLY place in the entire trilogy were a feeling of absolute saftey was felt. Nothing had power over the man, not the good, the bad, or the ugly, and the hobbits were under his protection. The rest of the book has at least a impending sense of dread or doom, which builds up steadilly, even in hobbiton, and rivendale. But during their time with Tom, that underlying dread is not there. This makes the dread that they will be facing in the near future all that more dreadful. Also this experiance demonstrates more then anything what will be lost if the ring is not destroyed. All the races in LOTR have some strong negative qualities (see Silmarillion for details) as well as positive ones, the Elves have the whole Silmaril (Doom Of... Mehedros?) epsiode haughnting them still, the men of Noldor really messed up when they listened to Sauron and got their island sunk and had to move back to middle earth, not to mention Isiludar not getting rid of the ring when he had the chance. Suramaun, the best wizard falls into evil which means the others are capable of it too. The dwarfs are generally stuborn confrontational isolationist, and hobbits (in the books) are bull headed, nieve, and generally foolish. But Tom is none of these things, he is seemingly above them. He goes around his forest and dales, singing, laughing, and making sure everyone plays nice and correcting the ones that dont such as old man willow... there is no possible remotely justifiable reason to destroy him. The very thought of destroying such a man as Tom Bombidill is inherantly evil. He, unlike every other character in the stories, is guiltless, completely good, untemptable, incorruptable! But if the ring were not destroyed he would have been destroyed sooner or later, he is not invincible just incorruptable he might be able to keep the ring, but not protect it. Ninty percent of all the power of evil in Tolkiens world is psychological which Tom is immune too, but that still leaves ten percent to kill him with. In my mind, Tom is indirectly central to the plot of LOTR, he is the foil to Gladreils mirrior, of what was, what is and what could be... sorry for rambling... the only reason they really got by with ommitting Tom in the moive was by making the hobbits less disagreeable and more "innocent" in the first part of the fellowship. It is not enough is such a story to be fighting against somthing overwellmingly evil, but to be fighting for somthing good... Tom Bombadil was that good, and in case you havent noticed, his ommision from the movie was sorely felt.
Rob, a english major who likes folk music, LOTR and has too much time on his hands... please excuse the spelling and grammer... ;)