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Tolkien, l'anneau de la discorde
July 31, 2012 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Last May, Christopher Tolkien, a resident of the South of France since 1975, granted a rare interview to Le Monde. Naturally, the interview and article are in French. For those of us who don't read French, American ex-pat Sedulia Scott provides an English translation.
Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? "They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people 15 to 25," Christopher says regretfully. "And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film."

The divorce is systematically reactivated by the movies. "Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time," Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. "The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has gone too far for me. Such commercialisation has reduced the esthetic and philosophical impact of this creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: turning my head away."
posted by ob1quixote (131 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Arrêtez traire l'héritage de votre père, s'il vous plaît.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:07 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


QLF?
posted by hal9k at 1:15 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have always wondered what kind of personality it would take to devote your entire life to your late father's creative work. I've read some of Christopher Tolkien's work, and it's an extraordinary piece of scholarship, but the focus is so narrow. I hesitate to take his opinions about something like the movies seriously, because his sense of perspective is so far off from anyone else's in the world. (And I am including the people who speak fluent Quenya in that.)
posted by restless_nomad at 1:17 PM on July 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


'Ai! ai!' wailed Legolas. 'A Balrog is come!'

Peter Jackson did your old man a favor, punk.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:18 PM on July 31, 2012 [26 favorites]


Apparently Christopher Tolkien is one source for this story:
Drafts of Lord of the Rings were read aloud to Oxford's "Inklings" literary group, including Lewis and Charles Williams. Once, as Tolkien began a chapter, a mutter was heard from the back of the room: "Oh God, not another fucking elf."
Apparently the speaker was in fact Hugo Dyson, not C S Lewis as the story is sometimes told.
posted by iotic at 1:19 PM on July 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'll grant him, or anyone for that matter, their full right of opinion about the matter but the criticism seems harsh. I have my own particular gripes about Jackson's interpretation but the sales of the LoTR book have been phenomenal since the release of his films. I suspect many who chose to read it were delighted by the "beauty and seriousness of the work" and wondered how Jackson pulled it off as well as he did. It is a seriously hard piece to put to film.

Besides, if you want to rail against visual interpretations lets start with that silly song that Leanard Nimoy did about Bilbo Baggins and that so-bad-its-almost-good animated thing from the 70s. By contrast, Jackson is a saint.
posted by dgran at 1:19 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Naturally, the interview and article are in French.

I was expecting Sindarin.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:20 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


He's bitter about the movies but I bet he doesn't have any problem cashing those monthly checks from book sales.
posted by mrbill at 1:22 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Peter Jackson did your old man a favor, punk.

Wait, do people really think that?

Because.....wow.
posted by mediareport at 1:22 PM on July 31, 2012 [23 favorites]


Peter Jackson's The Hobbit to be extended to three films
posted by homunculus at 1:25 PM on July 31, 2012


The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has gone too far for me.

With all due respect to Christopher Tolkien, that chasm opened long before Peter Jackson's films.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:27 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


that so-bad-its-almost-good animated thing from the 70s

You take that back!
posted by Pistache at 1:28 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Love the books, always will, and feel like I really understand them (in the philosophical and aesthetic sense I think C. Tolkien is talking about), and--with a few caveats, and with the understanding that they're adaptations--loved the films and can't wait to love on The Hobbit here in a few months. (There are these video 'blog things Peter Jackson has done and it looks really fun.)

His disdain for the current status/perceived legacy of the Estate must be a generational and cultural thing--I'm a young American man. The commercialization and "coolness" of the "franchise" is sort of second-nature and inevitable to me: that's just something that happens to neat things.
posted by resurrexit at 1:29 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


his sense of perspective is so far off from anyone else's in the world

This.

I'm glad the movies are out there. I liked the Hobbit, but found the Rings Trilogy and subsequent books difficult to get through. Actually, to reference back to the article, I got on with the first one or two Potter books alright, but the rest just dragged. Not my style of writing for reading, and utterly inaccessible. But the movies? Accessible.

I've got a pretty decent trove of 'older' sci fi books that are the same way; I can barely stand the style of writing and the rampant misogyny, but as stories apart from that, they could be well retold, stripped of their original prose.
posted by tilde at 1:29 PM on July 31, 2012


To be fair, Tolkien's reaction isn't much different than the reactions of thousands of fans who shudder to see their favorite band or author become hugely popular. And in Tolkien's case it's a reaction complicated by Middle Earth being a family property, literally. I think I'd be more surprised if he was a fan of the movies.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:29 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Or, um, yeah: what dgran said.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:30 PM on July 31, 2012


Peter Jackson's The Hobbit to be extended to three films: Jackson said that given the richness of the story ...

The richness of my fortune of money made out of treasure and wealth is more like it. (Can't blame him.)
posted by resurrexit at 1:30 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


~that so-bad-its-almost-good animated thing from the 70s
~You take that back!


The "so bad" part or the "almost good" part?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:30 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bilbo Baggins may be celebrated in song as the bravest little hobbit of them all, but I believe Samwise takes the cake.
posted by tilde at 1:34 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had an English prof who studied under Tolkien, and for reasons he would not reveal, didn't think too much of him. The closest he got was to ildy muse to us about an academic paper he wanted to write comparing Tolkien's writing for his children, whom Tolkien clearly loved, and A.A. Milne's writing for his, whom Milne hated. Central to his paper were the two messed up sons Christopher.

He never wrote that paper. Pity. I'm not sure of how much academic worth it would have been, but the man had a real gift for expressing his bitterness.

I miss him so much. Even when you were the target of his attack, it was such a thing of beauty that you could only stand up and applaud.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:35 PM on July 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


Uncanny. George R.R. Martin has a crusty tube sock with the same gripe about the HBO series.
posted by R. Schlock at 1:36 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Lord of the Rings is an epic book for boys aged 12-17, so I don't see what his problem is.
posted by Fnarf at 1:36 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


The richness of my fortune of money made out of treasure and wealth is more like it.

I actually don't think the money is a major part of Christopher Tolkien's worldview. (Certainly can't speak for the rest of the family, or the law firm they retain.) I think that he has absorbed the entire Middle-Earth universe as his own personal creative work, and he wants absolute control over it. That's not a particularly uncommon or unhealthy view among creative types, but it's unusual in his case because, despite the tremendous amount of work he's put into it, it isn't actually his in any sense but the legal one.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:36 PM on July 31, 2012


Since Christopher Tolkien didn't write any of these books, what makes his opinion of the resulting movies even remotely notable?
He's just another trust fund kid, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by rocket88 at 1:37 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


*sigh*

I can see this being the purview and viewpoint of a son of a world renowned/fantastically famous author or artist. It's sad that he can't take the good, of which I account the Peter Jackson interpretation of the books along with The Hobbit cartoon movie, with the bad, like the Fellowship/LOTR cartoon movies of which I've heard such awful things.

Of course things will not be perfect or exactly as you or your father may have intended, but what can you do if you don't own the rights? I think by turning his head rather than commenting and advocating for his father's legacy in the media he's actually doing less good than he otherwise could. Maybe I'm being naive, it's a touch situation I admit...
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:37 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagine the Jackson films, but with all the songs included. Yeesh.
posted by thelonius at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Blech, typo: touch situation? It's a 'tough' situation.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:39 PM on July 31, 2012


Peter Jackson's The Hobbit to be extended to three films

Yeah, I'm not seeing this at all, personally. I thought LOTR should've been four movies, but I have no idea how you turn one book into three hour-and-a-half-ish/two hour movies. Hope the scenery is pretty.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:45 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just want Peter Jackson to finish the damn thing, so he can get on with the adaptation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind that I want him to make.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:47 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Please please please, people. Read the article; I think the part about Standard Hollywood Accounting begins to explain a lot:

The frenzy pushed the Tolkien family's lawyers to take another look at their contract, which stipulated that the Tolkien Estate must receive a percentage of the profits if the films were profitable. With the incredible box office, the lawyers for the family shook the dust off the contract and demanded their share of the pie from New Line, the American producer of the films, who had bought the movie rights for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. And surprise! Cathleen Blackburn, lawyer for the Tolkien Estate in Oxford, recounts ironically, "These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime."

Can you believe that shit? Also, this part was fascinating:

However, the Tolkien Estate cannot do anything about the way New Line adapts the books. In the future Hobbit movie, for example, the audience will discover characters Tolkien never put in, especially women. The same is true for the merchandise, which ranges from tea towels to boxes of nuggets, with an infinite variety of toys, stationery, t-shirts, games, etc. Not only the titles of the books themselves, but also the names of their characters have been copyrighted.

This is a neat, provocative piece, ob1quixote; thanks for posting it.
posted by mediareport at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


restless_nomad: I have always wondered what kind of personality it would take to devote your entire life to your late father's creative work.

I think the article goes a long way toward explaining that:

But he did not forget about The Silmarillion, nor did his son. Christopher Tolkien's oldest memories were attached to the story of the beginnings, which his father would share with the children. "As strange as it may seem, I grew up in the world he created," he explains. "For me, the cities of The Silmarillion are more real than Babylon."

On a shelf in the living room, not far from the handsome wooden armchair in which Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings, there is a small footstool covered in worn needlepoint. This is where Christopher sat, age 6 or 7, to listen to his father's stories. "My father could not afford to pay a secretary," he says. "I was the one who typed and drew the maps after he did the sketches."

Little by little, starting in the late 1930s, The Lord of the Rings took shape. Enlisted in the Royal Air Force, Christopher left in 1943 for a South African air base, where every week he received a long letter from his father, as well as the episodes of the novel that was under way. "I was a fighter pilot. When I landed, I would read a chapter," he says, amused, showing a letter in which his father asks his advice on the formation of a proper noun.

The first thing he remembers feeling after the death of his father was a sense of heavy responsibility.

posted by mediareport at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


I enjoyed the books, and reasonably enjoyed the movies (though The Two Towers was relatively boring in both), but come now, "beauty and seriousness of the work"? The prose and imagery is good, but waxing about it is out of line. And seriousness? That really misses the mark. It is a simplified black and white version of the world with limited nuance and simple themes. It is, after all, a book targeted at younger persons. The Hunger Games is more serious, really.

Of course, my favorite book from him is The Hobbit because I think the lighter nature fits the characters and writing better so feel free to think I am nuts. The 'darkness' of the trilogy always seemed forced and contrived to me. These characters are not self aware, dark people.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:49 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


For the Tolkien fans, I think the darkness arises from the background of the world he depicts Bovine Love. It's a world who's greatness lies in the past & and who's future consists at best of a slow winding down towards ordinariness. The heroes fight to prevent a worse outcome, not to protect some glorious future.
posted by pharm at 1:57 PM on July 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


Since Christopher Tolkien didn't write any of these books, what makes his opinion of the resulting movies even remotely notable?
He's just another trust fund kid, as far as I'm concerned.


Well Christopher Tolkien did draw the original maps for The Lord of the Rings, if that counts for anything. And as the article points out, he has been editing and analyzing J. R. R. Tolkien's unpublished work for decades. On The Lord of the Rings alone he published a four volume set of books detailing exactly how the story evolved from draft to draft. I think his perspective is pretty skewed from how most fans of his father's work feel about it, but he is probably more of an expert about The Lord of the Rings than anyone else is.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:00 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


"he frenzy pushed the Tolkien family's lawyers to take another look at their contract, which stipulated that the Tolkien Estate must receive a percentage of the profits if the films were profitable. With the incredible box office, the lawyers for the family shook the dust off the contract and demanded their share of the pie from New Line, the American producer of the films, who had bought the movie rights for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. And surprise! Cathleen Blackburn, lawyer for the Tolkien Estate in Oxford, recounts ironically, "These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime"

This is the oldest trick in the book, and any lawyer who let it slip by should be disbarred.

Take your share of gross revenue, from any and all sources, including future undefined sources. You get it up front. You get a minimum guarantee, so that if the product grosses less than what they agree to, you still get paid. You have a schedule of payment, you get paid x amount on y dates, so if production stops, you still get paid.

When you hold the cards, you agree to no less.

Agreeing to a cut of the profits? Stupid. All the studio execs get bonuses and new cars! Oh, look, sorry, no profits.
posted by Xoebe at 2:00 PM on July 31, 2012 [19 favorites]


On the one hand, it really is an underhand, asshole move.

On the other, it's been around forever. To have a lawyer whose job involves drawing up media-licensing contracts talking about a studio pulling the so-sorry-the-movie-lost-money trick as if nobody could see it coming, and they were powerless to resist these sorts of dirty tricks...is she still employed? I hope she's not still employed. Because that's dumb.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:05 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


The movies are great in that they make Tolkien's work accessible to people who were never able to get past Tom Bombadil. (Everyone that I know that has never been able to finish the book cashes out around that point.)

Sure, there are a lot of points in the film where I say "That didn't go that way," or "The motivation here is completely opposite of what's in the book." Or, "Wait a minute, why the hell is Arwen taking Glorfindel's role there at the crossing of the ford?" But the films are probably not made for me--somebody who used to play the Middle-Earth play-by-mail game and would love a 12-part Simarillion series. (Sauron ain't got nothing on Morgoth.)

Movie accounting is the bistromath of our world, sad to hear that he was bitten by it. I think Titanic may actually make a profit a couple hundred years from now.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:06 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is a simplified black and white version of the world with limited nuance and simple themes. It is, after all, a book targeted at younger persons.

Tolkien certainly believed in the absolute difference between good and bad, but his characters are more complex moral beings than I think you realise. The themes of Lord of the Rings are mainly those of love and sacrifice, but I don't think that they are particularly simple, for all that they are obvious. What is interesting to me is that Tolkien, for all his 'cordial dislike' of allegory, wrote echoes of the Christ story over and over again in the organic develoment of the book. It is fascinating to see a mind entirely captured and shaped by a spirituality and aesthetic one does not share. Tolkien seems to have taken his Christianity with a terrifying seriousness, despite all the fucking elves.

The book was not aimed at a younger audience.
posted by howfar at 2:08 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


I thought everybody from the greeter at Wal-Mart to the CEO of Paramount knows that you never, ever, ever agree to a cut of the net, only the gross. No film in the history of Hollywood has ever made a "profit", and they employ teams of very talented accountants to make sure it stays that way.
posted by Fnarf at 2:08 PM on July 31, 2012


To have a lawyer whose job involves drawing up media-licensing contracts talking about a studio pulling the so-sorry-the-movie-lost-money trick as if nobody could see it coming, and they were powerless to resist these sorts of dirty tricks...is she still employed? I hope she's not still employed. Because that's dumb.

The rights were originally sold in 1968, so the lawyer in question may not even be alive anymore.
posted by grouse at 2:11 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


One wonders how many times the expense of an accounting team was the difference between profit and break-even.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:11 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


People really need to do research before chastising people they don't know on the internet.

A lot of prominent people who worked on the film had to sue to get their negotiated cut of the *gross* receipts, as stated in the contracts they signed. The briefest look at the history of the films would show this. I doubt every single lawyer involved was so utterly incompetent to not have anticipated monkey business -- it's fairly obvious that newline invented some new monkey business to screw people over.
posted by smidgen at 2:15 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tolkien seems to have taken his Christianity with a terrifying seriousness, despite all the fucking elves.

This is a hilarious sentence given that the elves were, in many ways, Tolkien's ideal Catholics.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but the article specifies that the Tolkien estate was owed "a percentage of the profits if the films were profitable," which translates to "nothing" with any common Hollywood-to-English dictionary.

Although if these terms were negotiated when the rights were originally sold in '68, and not when New Line specifically acquired them, then yes, different circumstances, different rules of thumb.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:17 PM on July 31, 2012


Peter Jackson's The Hobbit to be extended to three films

Yeah, I'm not seeing this at all, personally.


The problem, as Peter Jackson has no doubt discovered, is that making these Tolkien movies is hobbit forming.
posted by Flashman at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2012 [27 favorites]


Fnarf: "I thought everybody from the greeter at Wal-Mart to the CEO of Paramount knows that you never, ever, ever agree to a cut of the net, only the gross. No film in the history of Hollywood has ever made a "profit", and they employ teams of very talented accountants to make sure it stays that way"

As I understand it, getting gross points in Hollywood is hard. Only the biggest stars can demand it, most others are offered net points, which everyone agrees are worth somewhere between almost nothing and nothing. People like Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg are in a position to demand gross points, I have no idea if the Tolkien estate would be, they might now for any new rights, I'm sure they weren't back in the sixties.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2012


Okay, upon closer reading: Tolkien sold the film rights to LOTR in 1968. After a series of re-sales, the rights ended up with Tolkien Enterprises, a division of a larger agency which manages film rights to novels. It is Tolkien Enterprises that agreed to net points when it licensed the film to New Line (and which eventually sued New Line to recoup money from that agreement; they settled and sealed the agreement), well after '68.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:27 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a hilarious sentence given that the elves were, in many ways, Tolkien's ideal Catholics.

I should say fucking (in loving union with the overall aim of procreation) elves.

More broadly, the sentence was intended to convey exactly what you point out. Tolkien's apparently fantastic themes were actually implied by and integral to a Weltanschauung which seems bizarre to many of us in ways that have nothing to do with pointy ears.
posted by howfar at 2:28 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is Tolkien Enterprises that agreed to net points when it licensed the film to New Line (and which eventually sued New Line to recoup money from that agreement; they settled and sealed the agreement), well after '68.

Meanwhile this article claims that Tolkien Enterprises was not even involved in the lawsuit and that the lawsuit was in fact over the terms of the original UA contract. Anyway as with the vast majority of IP cases they settled out of court so the exact details don't really matter anymore.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:30 PM on July 31, 2012


I hated the movies. There was so much of the original material that they botched I'd have preferred it that they'd never been made, though they did show off how awesome New Zealand is. Oddly enough, I just bumped into a liveblog of having watched the movies... hilarious and it does a great job of pointing out some of Jackson's most egregious failures. Be warned though, I found it painful to be reminded of some of his rewrites, which had blissfully faded from memory.

The movies were trying to be more popular, and in doing so demonstrated that they missed the point of the works completely.
posted by emmet at 2:37 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


The frenzy pushed the Tolkien family's lawyers to take another look at their contract, which stipulated that the Tolkien Estate must receive a percentage of the profits if the films were profitable.

I suspect Christopher is not upset about their being eviscerated action movies as much as his failure to get a share of the loot.

the audience will discover characters Tolkien never put in, especially women

Women! A horror to chill the blood of any proper English gentleman.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:44 PM on July 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


I hated the movies. There was so much of the original material that they botched I'd have preferred it that they'd never been made, though they did show off how awesome New Zealand is. Oddly enough, I just bumped into a liveblog of having watched the movies... hilarious and it does a great job of pointing out some of Jackson's most egregious failures. Be warned though, I found it painful to be reminded of some of his rewrites, which had blissfully faded from memory.

==================

"I’m a minute twenty-two in, and I’m already disgruntled. I remember how much I was looking forward to The Fellowship of the Ring when it came out. I even flew all the way from Beijing to Hong Kong to watch it on opening weekend. But I also remember being pissed off as soon as I heard the movies were being made. Why didn’t Jackson start with The Hobbit? The Hobbit is and always will be my favorite of the books. It just seemed to be the best starting point. Then we wouldn’t need this voice over introduction to the ring at the start of the movie. We’d already know, because we started at the beginning."

The Hobbit has almost nothing to do with that voiceover apart from the word 'ring'.

30 seconds in and I'm already disgruntled by this liveblog.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:52 PM on July 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Guys. From TFA:
The affair lasted from 2003 to 2006, and then things became more poisonous. The lawyers for the Tolkien Estate, those of the Tolkien Trust, and Tolkien's publisher HarperCollins demanded 150 million dollars in damages, as well as observers' rights on the next adaptations of Tolkien's work. A lawsuit was necessary before agreement was reached in 2009. The producers paid 7.5 % of their profits to the Tolkien Estate, but the lawyer, who refuses to give a number, adds that "it is too early to say how much that will be in the future."
posted by likeso at 2:52 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


When you realize that these works are Tolkien's "legendarium," a series of mythic tales that Christopher has been steeped in his entire life, it certainly makes sense to me why he is protective, perhaps overprotective, of his father's works. I read The Hobbit at 8, Lord of the Rings at 11, and The Silmarillion at 13, so they have become part of my "mythic background" as well, as real to me in some ways as the Greek myths or the stories in the Bible. And I am just a reader, personally not related to Tolkien in any way.

I generally liked the movies, but it troubled me how virtually every character in the movies was a lesser version of that same character in the books. I understand how some of what people object to in the books is how perfect everyone is, but that is part of the high fantasy/ legendary mode. Aragorn goes from kingly, confident 90-year-old warrior to faltering, unsure upstart. Faramir loses the wisdom and Numenorean will he showed in the books to become tempted by the ring. Merry, Pippin, Denethor, etc. all become shadows of their book complexity. And even Frodo, for crying out loud, comes to doubt Samwise in the movies. Oy. It was this "denobleing" of the characters in the movies that bothered me far more than any big plot changes or fight scenes.
posted by Palquito at 2:52 PM on July 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Peter Jackson's The Hobbit to be extended to three films

From the article ...

However, the Tolkien Estate cannot do anything about the way New Line adapts the books. In the future Hobbit movie, for example, the audience will discover characters Tolkien never put in,

No limits now, I guess.
posted by philip-random at 2:53 PM on July 31, 2012


The same is true for the merchandise, which ranges from tea towels to boxes of nuggets, with an infinite variety of toys, stationery, t-shirts, games, etc.

what
posted by elizardbits at 2:57 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I just. Hobbit nuggets? I need more information.
posted by elizardbits at 2:58 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Women! A horror to chill the blood of any proper English gentleman."

Just wanted to mention, when I first read the Lord of the Rings, at quite a young age, I thought that Merry and Pippin were women.

I didn't realize my mistake until I reread the books as a teenager, hit the part where everyone takes a bath together, went "Wait ... really?", and double-checked the pronouns.

To this day, I am convinced that my original reading is a better-written story.
posted by kyrademon at 2:58 PM on July 31, 2012 [24 favorites]


No limits now, I guess.

Jackson wanted a hobbit with attitude. He'd edgy, he's "in your face".
posted by Egg Shen at 3:04 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Bilbo needs to be louder, angrier, and have access to a time machine. Whenever Bilbo's not on screen, all the other characters should be asking "Where's Bilbo?"
posted by kyrademon at 3:08 PM on July 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


The Hobbit has almost nothing to do with that voiceover apart from the word 'ring'.

30 seconds in and I'm already disgruntled by this liveblog.


agreed ...

though some of Mr. Jackson's immediate choices at the beginning of Fellowship did bug me big time. All that prologue was not necessary (the origins of the ring, Isildur etc) as it all gets explained nicely soon enough (the Shadow from the Past chapter from the book).

So what we lost was a HUGE story starting very small (a bunch of small folk getting all bothered and/or excited about a long expected party), and then growing inexorably from there. Which for me is a big part of the genius of the story -- the most ordinary of circumstances leading to the most extraordinary.
posted by philip-random at 3:09 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have half a mind to make "Hobbit vs. Predator" just to see Tolkien's reaction.
posted by Renoroc at 3:10 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Hobbit could easily still be two movies instead of three if someone in the editing bay would just keep Peter Jackson's hand away from the slo-mo button.
posted by thecjm at 3:11 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Remember, even Jackson had to sue the producers for money so it's not like they only screwed the Tolkiens.

Regarding the de-nobleing of the characters in the films, I actually thought it was a good thing. Some of those characters, especially Aragorn, were so noble and pure they were practically inhuman, or at least one-dimensional. Any writer will tell you that characters cannot be perfect, there has to be doubts, faults, temptations. And any modern audience needs that to relate to the characters.
posted by Ber at 3:12 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the Tolkien fans, I think the darkness arises from the background of the world he depicts Bovine Love.

Good lord that sentence really needed one more comma.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:14 PM on July 31, 2012 [28 favorites]


Which for me is a big part of the genius of the story -- the most ordinary of circumstances leading to the most extraordinary.

I like how it starts with Smeagol and Deagol at the fishin' hole as if they were Bo and Luke Duke - fell out the darn boat, yuk yuk - and suddenly here's Infinite Evil that heralds the end of the world.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Peter Jackson's The Hobbit to be extended to three films

As long as this doesn't delay the third season of "Sherlock" he can do whatever the fun he wants.
posted by KMB at 3:20 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ber: Any writer will tell you that characters cannot be perfect

Not a writer of legends and myths. They have different rules than literary fiction, and Tolkien knew that very well.
posted by gilrain at 3:26 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


As long as this doesn't delay the third season of "Sherlock" he can do whatever the fun he wants.

Seconded. I'm torn between worry that reshoots will push Sherlock's air date back, and hope that this means more scenes with Bilbo and Smaug.

Also, I guess I missed the announcement that Orlando Bloom would be in the Hobbit? The Guardian lists him as being in the movie(s), but Legolas isn't in the book. So either Legolas takes over the bit part originally given to (I'm assuming) his father, the king, or they've significantly expanded the part of the story that takes place in Mirkwood. Or both. Which I guess could explain part of how you turn 310 pages in three movies.
posted by Grafix at 3:33 PM on July 31, 2012


> No limits now, I guess.
> posted by philip-random at 5:53 PM on July 31 [+] [!]

I Have A Bad Feeling About This.

I really hope I am wrong, because I love all the books and because the LOTR movies (though they don't exactly precisely match up with the movie that plays in my head as I read--no, Peter, Treebeard does NOT have branches!) were better than I ever dreamed I would live to see. But a Hobbit blown up to three movies reminds me of nothing so much as that not-a-doctor person they arrested recently for giving people's boobs and butts silicone injections with Home Depot silicone and Fix-A-Flat.

A guy who can get three movies out of The Hobbit will be able to release another Silmarillion installment every couple of years for the rest of his life.
posted by jfuller at 3:35 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think Peter Jackson must have some kind of Dorian Gray thing going on, whereby he gets thinner as his films get more bloated. It's the only explanation for why a talented director would ever want to make a three hour long adaptation of King Kong.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:37 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


> or they've significantly expanded the part of the story that takes place in Mirkwood. Or
> both. Which I guess could explain part of how you turn 310 pages in three movies.

One thing I've heard is that they are actually going to film Gandalf sneaking into the Necromancer's fortress and smoking him out as Sauron.
posted by jfuller at 3:38 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought Merry was a girl too the first time I read the books too. My neighbor was named Merry; I'm only human.
posted by gerryblog at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2012


So there's exactly two people I think of when I think of people who are famous for being descendants of 20th century writers, and I am always getting them mixed up. As such, every single time I read the name "Christopher Tolkien," I think "oh, I HATE that jerkbag -- I can't BELIEVE he doesn't let academics quote from Ulysses!"

And then, about five seconds later, I think "wait, that can't be right..."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've decided to conduct an experiment on my niece, who's turning 1 in a few weeks. Somehow I'm going to lay hands on an electronic copy of the LotR trilogy and change the pronouns as necessary to make Frodo a girl. Then I'll print and bind it for her to read and she won't know the difference until afterward (like the Folgers crystals switcheroo). How will it be different for her, I wonder?
posted by orrnyereg at 3:45 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Peter Jackson's The Hobbit to be extended to three films

Yeah, I'm not seeing this at all, personally.


While the three films will fall under the name The Hobbit, he's including significant portions of other Middle-earth texts, so that the experience will include scenes that, while they are not in the novel itself, occur at the same time (e.g. we will see the Second White Council, which is where Gandalf is when he's not with the Dwarfs and Bilbo), and get a bigger picture of everything that was happening *around* "There and Back Again."
posted by tzikeh at 3:52 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, SHIT, that's a spoiler. I'm sorry -- Mods, delete?
posted by tzikeh at 3:54 PM on July 31, 2012


Is that really a spoiler? I figure most people seriously debating Christopher Tolkien have read at least the Appendices, but maybe not.
posted by gilrain at 3:57 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


How will it be different for her, I wonder?

It's only the relationship with Sam that will be radically changed, I'd suggest. From loyal batman to hopeless love interest?
posted by howfar at 3:58 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not much of a spoiler, let it stand sez I
posted by jfuller at 3:58 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


An exciting story about Tolkien! This is my kind of topic!

I take the time to read the fucking article! It is interesting!

Come to the discussion thread to see what folks are saying, and maybe jump in!

.....


Thanks to mediareport for trying to rerail this discussion back to the world of reality, but really folks? Blech.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:00 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's only the relationship with Sam that will be radically changed, I'd suggest. From loyal batman to hopeless love interest?

According to the fanfic I've seen, that's not much of a change at all.
posted by happyroach at 4:02 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some of that stuff was not really in The Hobbit, but explained later in LOTR no?

Let's say they are 2:30 each, I could shit through seven+ hours of the hobbit. God knows how many hours I've sat through of Pawn Stars and that show isn't even good.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:03 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I could shit through seven+ hours of the hobbit

Goddamn you iPad, magical indeed.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:06 PM on July 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


Mods: please don't change that either.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:07 PM on July 31, 2012 [18 favorites]


I could shit through seven+ hours of the hobbit

Goddamn you iPad, magical indeed.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:06 PM on July 31 [+] [!]


Mods: please don't change that either.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:07 PM on July 31 [+] [!]


Is there a way you can favorite two comments as one?
posted by Mojojojo at 4:10 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, I guess I missed the announcement that Orlando Bloom would be in the Hobbit?

Yeah, I think he's just doing a walk-on as himself, though.
posted by Aquaman at 4:10 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think he's just doing a walk-on as himself, though.

"Hi, everybody! It's me, Orlando Bloom! No, don't get up, I'm not staying."
posted by orrnyereg at 4:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


I just. Hobbit nuggets? I need more information.

You wanna get 'em with the BBQ & Honey-Mustard sauces. Too gamey for Ranch or Sweet'n'Sour.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:18 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Christopher's bibiliography on Tolkien Gateway. Busy fellow.
posted by BWA at 4:20 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I meant it's a spoiler that it's going to be included in the movies, but then I suppose anyone reading this thread is probably keeping up on the news coming out of Weta, so.
posted by tzikeh at 4:21 PM on July 31, 2012


> So there's exactly two people I think of when I think of people who are famous for being
> descendants of 20th century writers, and I am always getting them mixed up.

Toss Dmitri Nabokov into the stew. He translated many of his father's novels from Russian (working closely with Nabokov père in doing so), was executor of V. Nabokov's literary estate, and was the one who had to decide whether to burn the (unfinished) ms. of The Original of Laura per his father's wishes or not. Maybe not quite as curatorial as Christopher Tolkein has been, but still closely and heavily involved.
posted by jfuller at 4:32 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which I guess could explain part of how you turn 310 pages in three movies.

Given Jackson turned the 20-page Battle of the Hornburg in to the thirty~forty minute Battle of Helm's Deep, I don't doubt his ability to pad things out as required.

"beauty and seriousness of the work"

Although a separate entity to the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enteprises (now Middle Earth Enterprises) has shown flashes of protectiveness of the legendarium despite the pushes for LOTR slot machines and hobbit-nuggets as described in the article. Some time ago, I helped run a tiny, free-to-play, non-profit online game set in Middle Earth, that was threatened with legal action by Tolk-Ent in the lead up to the release of the Lord of the Rings MMO. At the time, I was baffled by their actions, but with the benefit of hindsight I can see why what would become a flaming wreck of an MMO might feel threatened by my mighty playerbase of a couple of hundred of freeloaders.

As part of the deal we made to be allowed to continue running the game, we agreed to portray nice, positive image of Middle Earth. At the time, I was running a brutal deconstruction of the lands of Mordor, involving much squick and nastiness. My response was more squick and more nastiness, introducing the Haradrim flesh trade, Orkish cults of self mutilation, and much, much more.
posted by kithrater at 4:34 PM on July 31, 2012


"It's only the relationship with Sam that will be radically changed, I'd suggest ..."

Actually, having inadvertantly read a partially gender-switched version of the books (and I'm fascinated to find out I wasn't the only one who did that) -- no, it won't be.

In retrospect, one of the most interesting things about my Original Version, which is how I think of it, is that romance wasn't really a factor. My preadolescent self wasn't looking for it, and never noticed that it wasn't there. Merry and Pippin were just off on the adventure with everyone else.

I never felt there was a hole in the story because Pippin never declared her love for Frodo or whatever the hell. It never crossed my mind that perhaps Merry should be making cow eyes at Gandalf. Why would they? None of the other main characters were dealing with any of that except maybe Aragorn, and it's not like he spent loads of time worrying about it. They were all too busy trying to survive and fight evil and save the world and all that.

I sometimes wonder if reading the Original Version is why I am now highly suspicious of the fact that romance seems to be an inevitable part of the story for principle female characters in a fantasy setting. I'm hard-pressed to think of any where it doesn't happen off the top of my head, even in classic high fantasy save the world books where the personal relationships of the characters aren't really foregrounded. And I read a LOT of fantasy. I haven't seen Brave (it hasn't reached my neck of the woods in an undubbed, original language version yet), but that kind of thing is more revolutionary than you might think ... and it STILL, from what I hear, has an avoidance-of-marriage plot rather than it simply not being a factor.

And yeah sure, romance can be a factor for men in a fantasy setting too, but it isn't *inevitable*. Look at, oh, the Lord of the Rings. It's not the part of the story that matters the most. Not everyone needs to be neatly hooked up. Not every story is about that. Unless, apparently, you put a woman in it.

The best, profoundest, most important thing about Merry and Pippin being women when I read it was that NO ONE CARED AND IT DIDN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO THE STORY AT ALL.

Which ended up, in retrospect, being a huge difference to *me*.
posted by kyrademon at 4:35 PM on July 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


> I'm hard-pressed to think of any where it doesn't happen off the top of my head

Oz. Which has remained High Fantasy for me all of my adult life. (Also--fuller tugs forelock to your user handle--The Golden Compass et seq.)
posted by jfuller at 4:50 PM on July 31, 2012


Ya'll are nuts. The sheer improbability of pulling off a live action filmed adaptation of LOTR that succeeds whatsoever in simeltaneously capturing both the immense scope and even 1/5th of the tiny emotional interactions between dozens of characters makes Peter Jackson's adaptation an abaolute cinematic triumph, no matter how many pig piles, dwarf tosses, time shifted Warg attacks, or Faramir miscues it contains. You know how thin novellas often make the best adaptations? There is a reason for that. What the LOTR team did was spectacularly, preposterously difficult and unlikely. For Christ sake, think about the Dune adaptations.

The being said, 6+ hours of The Hobbit sounds like a stretch.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:53 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Shit, not to mention The Golden Compass. Just think about that folks.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:53 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people 15 to 25,"

I'm a little curious about this statement, since the LotR books are after all a quest fantasy, and thus have their fair share of action and adventure. It's been a while since I've read the books, but I don't recall Peter Jackson adding any significant action that wasn't already there. The Battle of Helms Deep, the Battle on the fields of Pelennor, Moria, the flight from the Nazgul...they were all there in the books too, and they were pivotal moments there as in the films. Granted, they weren't awarded a proportional amount of screentime to pagetime, but I'd argue that's a necessary evil of the change in medium. The change in medium obviously makes such moments seem more action-packed, but it'd be a poor movie indeed that glossed over those battles in favor of Tom Bombadil of all things.

I suspect the exclusion of Tom Bombadil and the songs, dear god the songs, are the kind of thing Christopher Tolkien is talking about. In which case, sorry Christopher Tolkien, but including those things would have dragged down the films terribly. There's a reason so many readers either bail at Bombadil or skim/skip past those parts. I know why they're in the novels, but they kill momentum enough as it is. Such a loss of narrative momentum would probably be disastrous in a movie. Now, if LotR was adapted into a miniseries or a cartoon along the lines of Avatar: the Last Airbender, I think you could get away with a Bombadil episode and the inclusion of more of these bits of "beauty and seriousness."

Also, I just can't get up in arms about the inclusion of *gasp* female characters. It was a good choice to give Arwen more to do than get married to Aragorn in the LotR films, and I'll venture to say it's a good choice to add a female character other than Galadriel to the Hobbit films, non-canonical or not. Adding some ladies to sausage fest that is the books isn't going to diminish their beauty or seriousness.
posted by yasaman at 5:04 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oz definitely, yes. I'm not so sure Golden Compass and sequels counts, by the end of the story. But I can also think of other examples of preadolescent girls who don't have a romance plot, ranging from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Dorothy is supposed to be somewhere around 11, I believe.

However, I think all this means is that I need to amend my statement from "principle female characters" to "adult principle female characters". I'd argue that preadolescents get exempted from the rule, which is certainly great but not the full story.
posted by kyrademon at 5:07 PM on July 31, 2012


Actually, having inadvertantly read a partially gender-switched version of the books (and I'm fascinated to find out I wasn't the only one who did that) -- no, it won't be.

But not gender switched for Sam and Frodo, I would point out, which rather undermines your assumed authority on the matter. I don't think your point is terribly well thought out, actually. I'm not sure how closely you were reading if you missed not only key pronouns repeatedly in a thousand page text (and I've no idea how you made sense of the stuff with Bergil and Pippin in Minas Tirith), but also the fact that the most important story in the book is that of the love between Frodo and Sam.

The Sam/Frodo relationship draws on models going back to classical literature, but also on Tolkien's own experiences in WWI. Sam soliloquises on his love of Frodo, is absolutely devoted to him, prepared to die for him. The first thing that Sam does when he finds Frodo awake in Rivendell is grasp his hand and exclaim "it's warm!"; Sam has been sitting by Frodo's bed day and night, holding his hand. If you change the genders, the literary and personal models change also, and no amount of wishing it weren't so is going to stop the reader from inferring a different meaning of Sam's love for his mistress.
posted by howfar at 5:10 PM on July 31, 2012


[I]t troubled me how virtually every character in the movies was a lesser version of that same character in the books. I understand how some of what people object to in the books is how perfect everyone is, but that is part of the high fantasy/ legendary mode....It was this "denobleing" of the characters in the movies that bothered me far more than any big plot changes or fight scenes.

I recently read this books for the first time and you've put your finger on one of the things I most disliked about them...Like, i get that it's supposed to come off as Avatars of Nobility, but to me it just seemed like shallow characterization. Part me thought I might have liked the books better if I'd read them when I was a kid and able to get sucked up in that kind of thing, but the reason I didn't read them then is that we read the Hobbit in my fourth grade class and I loathed it. So then again, maybe not.

As an adult, however....the sort of ersatz Norse saga thing Tolkien's going for just seems forced to me, though I won't belabor the point. But I will say this: I don't think it's really the case that ancient myths are so shallow in their depictions of character. They're often impenetrable, but if you think of the Greeks or the ancient Irish epics or even, indeed, Beowulf, they're full of complicated motives and adult emotions and ironies. Achilles sulking in his tent, the grief of Grendal's mother. Hell, a lot of the Grimm fairy tales aren't so simple if you peep the original versions...
posted by Diablevert at 5:15 PM on July 31, 2012


Not to a preadolescent, which is the reader being discussed for the proposed gender-switch of Frodo.

Plenty of adult readers see romance between Sam and Frodo no matter what their genders.

Kids aren't going to read it that way.

"I'm not sure how closely you were reading if you missed not only key pronouns repeatedly in a thousand page text ..."

Dude I was like six or something.
posted by kyrademon at 5:16 PM on July 31, 2012


How long of a short story was Babbette's Feast? And yet it made a perfectly good, full-length movie.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:16 PM on July 31, 2012


> I bet he doesn't have any problem cashing those monthly checks from book sales.

You betcha. HarperCollins has an entire freakin' Tolkien division, the same as they have a nonfiction, religious or reference division. A decade or so back, it was by far the most profitable in the whole company. It had published nothing substantially new in decades, but banged out reformatted editions monthly that sold in droves. There was the the super-deluxe edition, printed (rather sniffily) by the Religious group on bible paper; leather bound, gilt edged, slip-cased. There was also the seven little volumes (recreating JRRT's original split) printed in slim paperback volumes in a presentation box. In order, the spines spelled TOLKIEN; wee nyaffs that we were at the HCP shop, we'd arrange them to spell NOT LIKE.

The boy protests too much.
posted by scruss at 5:21 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


and that so-bad-its-almost-good animated thing from the 70s.

Are you talking about The Greatest Adventure?!
posted by curious nu at 5:22 PM on July 31, 2012


Kids aren't going to read it that way.

I really wouldn't be so sure. It's very normal for children to be aware of gender-roles, romantic stereotyping and all the rest of the heteronormative garbage that curses our society well before they can read. If childhood were a time of innocent naïveté about gender issues our toyshops wouldn't be clogged with pink princess bullshit and Action Man douchebags.

But we have no data until orrnyereg's dastardly scheme has been carried out, so we must wait a few years yet.
posted by howfar at 5:24 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, it'll be interesting to see if you are right or if I am right, howfar.

From my end, I agree that kids are aware of gender roles pretty young, but I think that's in part *because* they're pretty sensitive to narrative. If a story is intended to be a prince/princess romance plot, they'll pick up on that. But I think if a story is intended to be a loyal stalwart person who is always true to his master and friend plot, they'll pick up on that, too, and won't necessarily layer in the subtext that an adult will.

Orrnyereg, please give us an update in however many years. :)
posted by kyrademon at 5:35 PM on July 31, 2012


I suppose my sense is that it's not really subtext in the case of Sam and Frodo. Sam doesn't seem to me motivated by a simple noble selflessness, but by a passionate love. I think that, in the case of this particular relationship, the only reason to read it not as romantic is the assumption that they're straight males. Of course Tolkien is doing something a bit more interesting than this, but I'd argue it's the non-romantic nature of the relationship that is the subtext, at least once you do away with the "they can't want to fuck" assumption.

I wholeheartedly back the exploitation of children in this piece of sociological research.
posted by howfar at 5:49 PM on July 31, 2012


Since Christopher Tolkien didn't write any of these books, what makes his opinion of the resulting movies even remotely notable?
He's just another trust fund kid, as far as I'm concerned.


You know, he's a guy whose father died. To some degree, he was a participant in the writing of the books. He may feel that, on some level, these books were written for him. Imagine millions of fans scouring the minutia of your familial relationships. I think the level of presumption that a lot of fans show regarding specifically authors of this genre of writing (looking at you, GRRM "fans"), and the coarseness with which they voice their lack of respect, is a little disgusting. Tolkien doesn't owe you anything.
posted by newdaddy at 6:19 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is Tolkien Enterprises that agreed to net points when it licensed the film to New Line (and which eventually sued New Line to recoup money from that agreement; they settled and sealed the agreement), well after '68.

Rookie move, going for net points.

Another rookie move: sleeping with the writer. It's the producer, people!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:27 PM on July 31, 2012


the audience will discover characters Tolkien never put in
I'm happy to see that Figwit will have a couple of lines of Elvish as Lindir.
posted by unliteral at 6:46 PM on July 31, 2012


The frenzy pushed the Tolkien family's lawyers to take another look at their contract, which stipulated that the Tolkien Estate must receive a percentage of the profits if the films were profitable.

This is called "Monkey Points", because only a monkey is fool enough to accept a percentage of net profit from a movie in their contract.

Jr & the family signed a shitty contract written by better landsharks than they had on retainer.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:14 PM on July 31, 2012


Christopher Tolkien has nothing to worry about. His father's books will live long after we're dead and the movies are forgotten.
posted by deborah at 7:39 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I sit on the floor and pick my nose
and think of dirty things
Of deviant dwarves who suck their toes
and elves who drub their dings.

I sit on the floor and pick my nose
and dream exotic dreams
Of dragons who dress in rubber clothes
and trolls who do it in teams.

I sit on the floor and pick my nose
and wish for a thrill or two
For a goblin who goes in for a few no-nos
Or an orc with a thing about glue.

And all of the while I sit and pick
I think of such jolly things
Of whips and screws and leather slacks
Of frottages and stings.

posted by scalefree at 7:48 PM on July 31, 2012


Also, I guess I missed the announcement that Orlando Bloom would be in the Hobbit?

Yeah, I think he's just doing a walk-on as himself, though.


"Oh we're the elves of the chorus, we hope you like the show-
We know you're rooting for us, but now we have to gooooo!"
posted by happyroach at 8:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


As an adult, however....the sort of ersatz Norse saga thing Tolkien's going for just seems forced to me

If you want to see this done well, I heartily recommend Poul's novel, Broken Sword. The Ragnarok is so fresh it's practically steaming.

Christopher Tolkien has nothing to worry about. His father's books will live long after we're dead and the movies are forgotten.

A passing familiarity with the critical and market fortunes of any number of classics would show how misplaced your confidence is. Moby Dick was a failure until the 20th C; Marie Corelli outsold Conan Doyle; Hall Cain, and Ainsworth, among others all outsold Dickens by a healthy margin back in the day - where are they now in the canon?
posted by smoke at 8:25 PM on July 31, 2012


I spent a good portion of my early childhood pretending to be (female) Pippin. My parents read me a good-parts version of the books when I was in first and second grade; I don't remember if they changed pronouns or if I just interpreted it that way, but it was fairly depressing when I read the books on my own and realized that everyone but Eowyn was male. I'm skeptical of this new woman they're showing in the trailers, but then, I was convinced that replacing Glorfindel with Arwen was heresy and I changed my mind pretty quickly.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:13 PM on July 31, 2012


I'm torn between worry that reshoots will push Sherlock's air date back, and hope that this means more scenes with Bilbo and Smaug.

Middle Earth's Only Consulting Dragon
posted by homunculus at 9:48 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Marie Corelli outsold Conan Doyle; Hall Cain, and Ainsworth, among others all outsold Dickens by a healthy margin back in the day - where are they now in the canon?

Hell, Edward Bulwer-Lytton was a very popular writer in his time. And now look at him.
posted by happyroach at 10:27 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brokeback Mount Doom
posted by XMLicious at 2:01 AM on August 1, 2012


Me: and that so-bad-its-almost-good animated thing from the 70s.

You: Are you talking about The Greatest Adventure?!


The only memorable thing was some song with the lines, "Where there's a whip, there's a way." Several people have confirmed for me that this song (not found in the text) was the best part of the animated version. Sorry, I can't remember more about it but I distinctly remember feeling like it was intentionally done badly.
posted by dgran at 5:27 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't want to go to war today
But the Man with the Lash says Nay Nay Nay

Greaaaaaaaat roadtrip sing along.


the audience will discover characters Tolkien never put in, especially women

Changing times. Starship Troopers was a sight removed from the original but it wasn't that destroyed. Similar story, two different ways of telling it. Original - abridged serial, secondary - pulp fiction, final - the movie. And there's enough in it that they went on to do a televised series as well.

I don't care that they told them one way once upon a time, people wouldn't stand for it now. Just like Leave It To Beaver wouldn't gain much audience now. The audience has changed, media has changed, public life has changed, a whole lotta crap has changed.

I just hope that the addition of women doesn't automatically mean romance, as others have stated.
posted by tilde at 6:07 AM on August 1, 2012


The only memorable thing was some song with the lines, "Where there's a whip, there's a way." Several people have confirmed for me that this song (not found in the text) was the best part of the animated version. Sorry, I can't remember more about it but I distinctly remember feeling like it was intentionally done badly.

Well, then, enjoy!
posted by Palquito at 6:29 AM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


> I'm not so sure Golden Compass and sequels counts, by the end of the story.

Oh damn, you're quite right. I had totally blanked out the tail end of the trilogy. Leave off the "et seq." (If I could, I'd wave my magic wand containing the Chicken Feather of Power and give Pullman another shot at wrapping the story up.)
posted by jfuller at 8:06 AM on August 1, 2012


A passing familiarity with the critical and market fortunes of any number of classics would show how misplaced your confidence is....all outsold Dickens...where are they now in the canon?

But isn't Tolkien's place in the canon already established in a way that the authors you mention never were? Whatever one's opinion of its literary merits, within its thriving genre, Lord of the Rings is a foundational text. As long as there is a fantasy canon, I find it somewhat unlikely that Tolkien will vanish from memory. While geek culture's current mainstream flowering is unlikely to be sustained indefinitely, I suspect it is a firmly enough established subculture to endure into the foreseeable future.
posted by howfar at 8:10 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hell, Edward Bulwer-Lytton was a very popular writer in his time. And now look at him.

Yes, "It was a dark and stormy night" has entered the vernacular as THE bad opening.

Consider this opening, then, written just a few years later:

“It was a fine, sunny, showery day in April.”

Source? Trilby, which is credited as the first literary blockbuster. (More here at moderator approve self link.)
posted by BWA at 8:23 AM on August 1, 2012


But isn't Tolkien's place in the canon already established in a way that the authors you mention never were? Whatever one's opinion of its literary merits, within its thriving genre, Lord of the Rings is a foundational text.

You know, I still disagree; the idea of foundational texts as also changed over time. Books like The Mysteries of Uldolpho or Melmouth The Wanderer are still considered foundational, but very, very few in the genre have read them.
posted by smoke at 4:15 PM on August 1, 2012


Everything Peter Jackson added to The Hobbit — with PROOF!
posted by homunculus at 5:21 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


homunculus: "Peter Jackson's The Hobbit to be extended to three films"

"I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread."
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:29 PM on August 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


The Creepiest LOTR Cosplay
posted by homunculus at 5:26 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Peter Jackson tells us how much of Guillermo Del Toro’s design DNA is in The Hobbit
posted by homunculus at 4:58 PM on August 24, 2012


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