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Saruman, I am the snake about to strike!
August 8, 2013 10:46 PM   Subscribe

John Boorman's Lord Of The Rings "Perhaps the most provocative change occurs in Lothlorien where, before gazing into Galadriel’s mirror, Frodo must become intimate with her."
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants (77 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have difficulty believing this is not a joke. I am delighted no matter the truth of it.
posted by mwhybark at 11:02 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So crazy. Boorman roughly IDs "Zardoz" as a direct descendant of the effort. Amazing.
posted by mwhybark at 11:08 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I honestly wouldn't mind this, especially as a companion piece to Jodorowsky's Dune. The problem is, though, that Tolkien didn't really traffic in the highly abstract mythopoetic imagery that Boorman did.

Zardoz is much less weird if you read lots of 70s sci-fi.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:12 PM on August 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


As wack as the freestyle rap battle he proposes between Gandalf and Saruman is, it still would have been better than the breakdance duel in Jackson's version.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:15 PM on August 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is completely insane. And pretty entertaining.

I have read a really pretty staggering quantity of 70s SF. Zardoz: Still weird.
posted by brennen at 11:15 PM on August 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


My dad was thrown out of Zardoz in the cinema for laughing too loud.
posted by w0mbat at 11:20 PM on August 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


I'm quite sure I would have hated it, unless it did feature the Beatles, which would have taken it from apostasy into pure weirdness. Zardoz is awesome.

And this line of Pallenberg's also seems spot on: "I still have this feeling that the dazzle can take away from the fundamental drama."
posted by emmet at 11:22 PM on August 8, 2013


It sounds like it would have been a hoot, aged hilariously badly, and at best might have led to a Rocky Horror style party movie following, but in all seriousness, auteurism really isn't called for in adapting Tolkien. People really wanted a faithful adaptation, and Boorman clearly wasn't artistically disposed to give it to them.

I'm not saying Jackson's was faithful, but it was faithful-ish... in a sort of cartoony, crowdpleaser way.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:27 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]



As wack as the freestyle rap battle he proposes between Gandalf and Saruman is, it still would have been better than the breakdance duel in Jackson's version.


What's 'wack' about it? It's the same transformation battle that we see in Disney's The Sword and the Stone and the battle between Dream and the demon in an early issue of Sandman, which leads me to believe that either it was in the original Arthurian tales or its a form of a common mythic motif.

It makes more sense than a TK battle.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:30 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]



I'm not saying Jackson's was faithful, but it was faithful-ish... in a sort of cartoony, crowdpleaser way.


It was faithful in the most staid way possible.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:31 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Do you like what you doth see . . . ?" said the voluptuous elf-maiden as she he provocatively parted the folds of her robe to reveal the rounded, shadowy glories within. Frito's throat was dry, though his head reeled with desire and ale.

She slipped off the flimsy garment and strode toward the fascinated boggie unashamed of her nakedness. She ran a perfect hand along his hairy toes, and he helplessly watched them curl with the fierce insistent wanting of her.

"Let me make thee more comfortable," she whispered hoarsely, fiddling with the clasps of his jerkin, loosening his sword belt with a laugh. "Touch me, oh _touch me_," she crooned.

Frito's hand, as though of its own will, reached out and traced the delicate swelling of her elf-breast, while the other slowly crept around her tiny, flawless waist, crushing her to his barrel chest.

"Toes, I _love_ hairy toes," she moaned, forcing him down on the silvered carpet. Her tiny, pink toes caressed the luxuriant fur of his instep while Frito's nose sought out the warmth of her precious elf-navel.

"But I'm so small and hairy, and . . . and you're so _beautiful_," Frito whimpered, slipping clumsily out of his crossed garters.

The elf-maiden said nothing, but only sighed deep in her throat and held him more firmly to her faunlike body. "There is one thing you must do for me first," she whispered into one tufted ear.

"Anything," sobbed Frito, growing frantic with his need. "Anything!"

She closed her eyes and then opened them to the ceiling. "The Ring," she said. "I must have your Ring."

Frito's whole body tensed. "Oh no," he cried, "not that! Anything but . . . that."

Bored of the Rings, Harvard Lampoon
posted by mph at 11:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


It was faithful in the most staid way possible.

Spiggott: I am the mouse-click that favourites in agreement!
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:34 PM on August 8, 2013


Oh god. The line about the rainbow.

Anyway.

I'm not saying Jackson's was faithful, but it was faithful-ish... in a sort of cartoony, crowdpleaser way.

I think this gives Jackson & co. short shrift. Yes, it was a little cartoonish here and there. Yes, the effects got a tiny bit too CGI towards the end. Yes, it treated Gimli as comic relief. Yes, it glossed over some important details and missed a couple of beats. But in the main, it was an extraordinarily faithful, and extraordinarily good, piece of work. Partially because it wasn't afraid to be every bit as crowd-pleasingly earnest as the man himself, I suspect.
posted by brennen at 11:40 PM on August 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


It was faithful in the most staid way possible.

I'll bet you like the David Lynch Dune, don't you.
posted by brennen at 11:44 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]



I'll bet you like the David Lynch Dune, don't you.


I like that it exists; I like outsized works of art big capital-A artists. I'd prefer Jodrowsky's Dune. The LOTR movies were fun, and good for what they were, but I'm not a fan of Tolkien. He seems to have sucked much of the fantastic out of 'fantasy'. A more fanciful adaptation would have been interesting to see.

And honestly, the transforming wizards battle is one of my favorite fantasy tropes, and it would have been better than the Sauron/Saruman battle that we got.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:51 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would love to see Boorman's version, but only if the Beatles wrote and performed the soundtrack as well as starring. George Martin could've helped out with the orchestrations. Yoko could've played... a really out-there Galadriel? Tiny Tim could've been Tom Bombadil. Oh, man...
posted by misterbee at 11:54 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Fellowship of the Ring should have been made by David Cronenberg. The Two Towers should have been made by Clive Barker. And Return of the King should have been made by John Waters.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:58 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Shouldn't it have been called LORRINGS, where somebody's thumb covered up the D and "of the"?
posted by Metro Gnome at 11:59 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I bet they would have got Tom Bombadil in there. Probably deflowering the other hobbits.

This reads like a cornucopia of madness.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:59 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've read lots of 70s sci-fi. Zardoz is still weird.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:02 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tom Bombadil was a merry fellow.
Bright blue his jacket was,
And his pants were down around his ankles
Releasing his enormous
Broad sword.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:03 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: This reads like a cornucopia of madness.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:13 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was an advocate of eliminating all flying creatures.

Are giant floating stone heads which spit out guns considered flying creatures?
posted by Metro Gnome at 12:18 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The weirdness is a component of the awesome in Zardoz. Also some guy wrote it really good background music.
posted by Segundus at 12:20 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zardoz is much less weird if you read lots of 70s sci-fi.

And take lots of 70s drugs.
posted by GoingToShopping at 12:39 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zardoz is okay, but it's no Excalibur.
posted by Artw at 12:41 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Shadowfax pulling a plough as a symbol of reconstruction? That idea lives at some weird intersection where both Tolkien and Orwell would barf.
posted by bleep-blop at 1:08 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Somebody rang?
posted by zardoz at 2:05 AM on August 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


New material for the dwarf Gimli came from Pallenberg’s fondness for the character. “I remember liking him a lot. I knew quite a bit about Wagner’s operas and the German literature. I was sympathetic to him, and I tried to work him in wherever I could. I believe it was I who came up with idea where they bury Gimli in a hole, throw a cape on him, and beat him up to utter exhaustion to retrieve his unconscious ancestral memory.” This ancient knowlege allows Gimli to know the word for entering Moria, and to find insights about the ancient dwarf kingdom.


Hahahah oh god this would have been fantastic
posted by Sebmojo at 2:51 AM on August 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


which leads me to believe that either it was in the original Arthurian tales or its a form of a common mythic motif.

Indeed:
One is "The Story of Calicoin", the story of a powerful witch called Ceridwen who wished to make her son Avagddu a powerful potion that would make him a wizard. She ordered her servant-boy Gwion to brew it for a year and one day, but on the last day he accidentally spilled three drops on his finger. When he put his finger in his mouth to cool it, he swallowed these drops and instantly became a wizard.

Ceridwen found out and began to chase Gwion. Gwion first changed into a hare, and Ceridwen changed into a greyhound.
The boy became a fish, and the woman an otter.
He turned into a dove, she turned into a hawk.
Finally Gwion transformed into a tiny grain of wheat, hiding with many other grains on a barn floor. Ceridwen transformed into a black hen and pecked up all the grains, including Gwion.
posted by Phersu at 3:00 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Merlin was The Doctor.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:13 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"rap battles" are a part of the ancient celtic tradition - robert graves spent a good part of the white goddess discussing a poem in this tradition as well as the tale of ceridwen and gwion

he, after being gobbled up, was born again to ceridwen

i think this version of lotr would have been a travesty - i can't imagine tolkien being happy with it
posted by pyramid termite at 4:37 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]



Say what you like but I would have paid to see Lee Marvin playing Gandalf.
One badass wizard, probably would have stared down the Balrog.
posted by Lung the Younger at 5:18 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The script ends with Gandalf, Frodo, Bilbo, Galadriel, Arwen, and Elrond leaving Middle-earth on a sailing ship. A rainbow arcs over the vessel. Legolas, who is watching from shore with Gimli, says, “Look! Only seven colors. Indeed, the world is failing.”

That's actually amazing. A hilarious inversion of the usual symbolism of a rainbow. Now I want to see this film.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:22 AM on August 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


which leads me to believe that either it was in the original Arthurian tales or its a form of a common mythic motif

The battle between Merlin and the soceress Mim was in the original TH White novel "The Sword and the Stone" (1938). This was the source material for the Disney film, in the early 1960s. Disney adapted White, but didn't change a great deal.
posted by bonehead at 5:48 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


SARUMAN: I am the sun!
GANDALF: You are moon!
SARUMAN: I am the words!
GANDALF: You are the tune!
TOGETHER: Plaaaaay me!
posted by jquinby at 5:58 AM on August 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'll bet you like the David Lynch Dune, don't you.

I'd take Lynch's Dune (ambitious but flawed as an adaptation and in other ways as well) over say the godawful Sci-Fi miniseries any day.
posted by kmz at 6:44 AM on August 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've watched a lot - A LOT - of bad movies, and Zardoz is still the biggest gut-punch WTF I've ever experienced on home video (also, hilarious).
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:12 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


PersonallyI blame Obama for the Lord of the Rings movie, The Hobbit, and the Syfi Dune miniseries. I'm sure that when he was elected he said crap like that wasn't going to happen, but it's just another broken promise.
posted by happyroach at 7:12 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've read lots of 70s sci-fi. Zardoz is still weird.

What makes Zardoz less weird is having read lots of 90s/00s SF about the singularity and posthumans. Oodles of MacLeod and Stross helps a lot. But even then, Zardoz is a kind of ahead of its time story... wrapped up in goofy 70s-hippie visuals and leather manties.

I'd take Lynch's Dune (ambitious but flawed as an adaptation and in other ways as well) over say the godawful Sci-Fi miniseries any day

I'll bet if I come to your house I'll find the toilet paper installed so it dispenses underhand.

I'm just glad they never made Jodoworsky's version. You wanna make a goofy acid-trip movie, fine. Don't ruin Dune to do it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:15 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


While we're on the subject, behold the glory of the guestbook on my old Geocities Zardoz page.

GO FORTH...AND ENJOY
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:18 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's a full synopsis posted here. "Cornucopia of madness" about covers it.
posted by Iridic at 7:20 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dischism

The unwitting intrusion of the author’s physical surroundings, or the author’s own mental state, into the text of the story. Authors who smoke or drink while writing often drown or choke their characters with an endless supply of booze and cigs...“Dischism” is named after the critic who diagnosed this syndrome. (Attr. Thomas M Disch)


"On this spring day the Hobbits merrily walk through an apple orchard full of swirling apple blossoms. Then they come to a field of mushrooms, which they pick and eat as fast as they can. They start giggling and laughing, and their feet become unsteady. They lurch into a field of buttercups, naked children running amidst the flowers. Then the four Hobbits run past a flock of sheep, and then past fifty scarecrows with nasty faces."
posted by Iridic at 7:21 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love Lynch's Dune with a fierce passion, but kind of wish the insane Metabarons style Jodorworsky version had been made. Would they have even gotten to Arrakis? He didn't seem particularly interested in it.

Anyway, we got Alien out of the deal.
posted by Artw at 7:21 AM on August 9, 2013


What makes Zardoz less weird is having read lots of 90s/00s SF about the singularity and posthumans. Oodles of MacLeod and Stross helps a lot. But even then, Zardoz is a kind of ahead of its time story... wrapped up in goofy 70s-hippie visuals and leather manties.

The thing that sort of normalizes Zardoz for me is reading a lot of Jack Kirby Fourth World comics. There's so much visual overlap that I'd bet good money that there were a bunch of copies of The New Gods laying around on set. If you look closely, you can probably see a rolled-up copy sticking out of the back of Zed's manties.
posted by COBRA! at 7:22 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, if that Lords of Light film hadn't been a fake...
posted by Artw at 7:24 AM on August 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't get directors wanting to "adapt" books by making them radically different from the source. If they want to do acid trips, or hot elf/hobbit sex there's plenty of room to do that with their own original settings. What is the appeal of taking someone else's work and changing it beyond recognition? Is it an ego thing, sort of I'm so great I can make what Tolkein **should** have done?

I know sometimes a studio will tack on a famous name to an unrelated script for more money (the films Starship Troopers and Lawnmower Man for example). But these guys started with the famous thing and decidexcto "improve" it beyond recognition. Like a fanfic reboot or something. And that puzzles me.
posted by sotonohito at 7:25 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Artw: Lord of Light, singular. And I both am glad and disappointed that it wasn't made. Kirby's trademark Really Stupid Hats and Absurd Machinery would have been comedy gold, but I also rather liked Lord of Light and am rather glad it wasn't turned into a Zardoz-esque mockery of the book.
posted by sotonohito at 7:29 AM on August 9, 2013


For those unfamiliar, Lord of Light is a pretty good book ifyou can get past Roger Zelazney's three standard failings.

The first is his love of smoking. He was a devoted smoker and until his own health issues forced him to quit every book he wrote had an ode to smoking every fifty pages or so where a character would get a long, loving, sometimes two or more page long, almost sexual smoking scene.

The second is his unrelenting sexism. There isn't a single female character Zelazney ever wrote who was not evil, useless, or both. For him the image of woman as victim or prize was not a problem,but rather a goal.

And the final Zelazney problem is that he had the persistent delusion that he was able to write interesting fight scenes. He was not. In fact I'd argue part of his problem is that he actually was, in real life, a fairly accomplished martial artist and fencer. So his fight scenes are drawn out pages long slogs through jargony descriptions of every thrustvqnd parry.

But if you get past that, Lord of Light is a great book with nifty ideas and a new take on many tropes. And Sam does not deserve to have a Kirby hat inflicted on him.
posted by sotonohito at 7:41 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I believe, in situations like this, the conventional phrase used amongst Internet cognoscenti is "lol wut".
posted by sourcequench at 7:42 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've read lots of 70s sci-fi. Zardoz is still weird.

If you've watched enough Tom Baker era Doctor Who, you expect the Tardis sound to start wwwrawnking in during Zardoz. It's not that weird.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:07 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sotonohito, why do they "adapt" books this way? In this case, the studio owned the property. It was a popular book with a built-in fan base. But obviously you can't make a faithful LOTR into a 3-hour movie (even Jackson's 10-hour version was only relatively faithful to the text). So you get someone who can hopefully translate words and ideas into pictures in a compelling way.

Also, only true fans care about faithfulness. For someone who loved Carl Sagan's "Contact," the film version would be sacrilege. I thought the book was a huge sign that Sagan should stick to nonfiction, and the movie was a great way of taking the ideas of the book and shuffling them into something really screenworthy. I can see someone making a similar case for Tolkein. His prose leaves something to be desired for most readers. I'd argue, though, that film is the wrong medium for expressing Tolkein's ideas. A series of hand-woven tapestries, maybe.

Other books are just so packed with details and incidents and conversations that making a movie just destroys the pace and cuts away all the juiciness. The Harry Potter books would work far better, I think, as a long-running anime series, an episode per chapter, more or less.

As always, the short answer is "money."
posted by rikschell at 8:07 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


One is "The Story of Calicoin",

Ah, I guess this is also the germ of the children's book "The Runaway Bunny".
posted by cell divide at 8:13 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


As this would be an epic series of films, it would have Alec Guinness, Rutger Hauer, Jack Palance and Klaus Kinski in it. Klaus is forbidden firearms, but still threatens to stab half the make-up crew to death in their sleep because "they're making it worse." No one knows what that means, but his wine supply is spiked with barbituates every other day, and that seems to calm him a bit. McQueen was asked but he hasn't replied, but he'll come around, trust me. Udo Keir would've been asked to audition, but has turned it down due to prior commitments in Warhol's unnamed Italian production (right - more like the Italian boys in an Italian production, but that's Udo). Not-so-strangely enough, it'd have Christopher Lee in it as well.

It would also have Helen Mirren, Charlotte Rampling and Jenny Agutter. Mmm, yeah, I know. Ann-Margret is Boorman's latest obsession they say, I dunno, so she's in it and he's the director, so we'll leave that like that because what do you do. Sophia Loren would be in it because her agent said it'd be good for her. She doesn't have a large part so she doesn't do much, just show cleavage which is fine because Sophia's thinking "this really isn't Sophia's scene" and anyway, Palance is a little too friendly and there's rumours that Fellini's casting in Florence. It would also have Catherine Deneuve in it because you can't really go wrong with Deneuve.
posted by Zack_Replica at 9:13 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Runaway Bunny

Creepy as fuck.
posted by Artw at 9:15 AM on August 9, 2013


In 1964 he told an interviewer that he wouldn't like to see the trilogy made into a movie, pointing out that, "you can't cramp narrative into dramatic form. It would be easier to film The Odessey, much less happens in it — only a few storms." — The Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle-Earth, Daniel Grotta, pg. 143
posted by ob1quixote at 9:33 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


After reading Iridic's link, I think that would actually make a much better version than Peter Jackson's. It certainly would've satisfied the 6th grade D&D-playing me (circa 1982), though I was as hardline a Tolkein completist as they came at the time (naked elves on VHS covering any number of sins).
posted by rikschell at 10:00 AM on August 9, 2013


GO FORTH...AND ENJOY

Oh my god, my eyes!
posted by arcticseal at 11:07 AM on August 9, 2013


There isn't a single female character Zelazney ever wrote who was not evil, useless, or both. For him the image of woman as victim or prize was not a problem,but rather a goal.

I thought some of his characters were a bit more complicated in the Amber books- for example Fiona is pretty ambiguous and not, per say, evil. A lot is said about her being a "bitch" in the first books, but by that series end and the Merlin books she was a useful support character. He also suffers from writing people who are utter jerk faces, especially to the shadows who weren't real people to them. and has an amazing track record of character forgiveness- I don't, for example, get the impression you were supposed to condone all of Oberon's choices and the few characters I can think of with clean hands didn't get much done- basically it really is evil or useless for everyone.

The female body swapping Ty'iga in the Merlin series was neither evil, nor useless. She's written as the only thing keeping blindingly naive Merlin alive at some points of him stumbling around.

On the other hand, I know I like this series, so I will admit I may be guilty of pardon by fandom. I also give it a half pass in a scene that requires sex to wake someone up is matched with a demand from the person to be doing the sexing that they need the person to be aware or it would be icky.
posted by Phalene at 11:32 AM on August 9, 2013


but kind of wish the insane Metabarons style Jodorowsky version had been made.

Yes, yes, yes! It might have been too great to come to fruition though.


By the way can someone explain the appeal of Zelazny? Maybe you had to be there, but after reading the first Amber book I wasn't really interested in continuing apart from a slight curiosity about the plot. Wasn't too intrigued by the writing style or the characters although the setting was interesting at times.
posted by ersatz at 12:32 PM on August 9, 2013


Despite being fantasy, Amber is actually one of his more literal, explicit and prosaic works. He definitely has some poetic passages in there "...and that was Lorraine" but as Zelazny novels go it's relatively workmanlike. Rather than try to say why one likes him -- which is a bit like explaining a joke -- you could give something else a try. Lord of Light is less conventionally structured and gives him scope for more than one style.

I can't sum him up but one thing I like is that he writes fantasy for grownups -- people do things for reasons, not just to be evil, and he rarely if ever has a simplistic villain who just wants to rule the world in so many words. To the extent that he has good and bad guys they often aren't irreconcilably far apart and usually understand each other extremely well. In one of his best novels the protagonist is in no way the good guy, a fact that dawns on you only slowly, if at all, and that's not the important thing about the book anyway.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:17 PM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


people do things for reasons, not just to be evil, and he rarely if ever has a simplistic villain who just wants to rule the world in so many words.

Or if they do, world owning/destroying is part of what everyone is doing.
posted by Phalene at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2013


ersatz: taste is hard to explain. I liked the Amber series well enough but I'll also agree with George that it was workmanlike and I'll add that straightforward plot and writing are not really his strong suits. Lord of Light is better than the whole Amber series. Mostly I read the Amber series because I was introduced to the Amber diceless rpg and I liked the multiverse idea he had.

But. At his best Zelazney is a bit like a coherent acid trip, and he is massively into metaphor, poetry, and florid descriptions. This is not a taste everyone shares. Lord of Light involves a nested backwards narrative and an SF setting presented in the style of a mythic heroic saga, with a con man introducing Buddhism to raise up resistence to physical Hindu gods as a subplot. I love the book, but direct and easily accessable it isn't.
posted by sotonohito at 1:54 PM on August 9, 2013


The best Zelazny, in my opinion, is in his shorter works. A Rose for Ecclesiastes/Four for Tomorrow or The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth, and Other Stories are great introductions to what he could do. Lord of Light is possibly his best novel, though I've always had a soft spot for his take on Egyptian mythology too: Creatures of Light and Darkness which is a bit more experimental.

Like Gene Wolfe, who draws from many of the same places, Zelazny was very interested in language and style. He experimented in structure and in poetics, his characters are frequently unreliable narrators. I don't think he was as successful as Wolfe became, but Zelazny has some very good moments.
posted by bonehead at 1:57 PM on August 9, 2013


I'm not a fan of Zelazney, but I quite liked Lord of Light, and I think it would make a swell epic SF movie. The story has a few stylistic and existential twists, but it all just leads up to a bomb-tastic mega-battle where everything blows up. The kids would love it, well the ending anyway.
posted by ovvl at 2:17 PM on August 9, 2013


Also, only true fans care about faithfulness. For someone who loved Carl Sagan's "Contact," the film version would be sacrilege. I thought the book was a huge sign that Sagan should stick to nonfiction, and the movie was a great way of taking the ideas of the book and shuffling them into something really screenworthy.

I'm not sure Contact is the best example here. For one thing, it was actually conceived of as a movie first, and Sagan only fell back to publishing it as a book when that got mired down. So it started life as a story to be told on screen, which probably contributed to it being well-adaptable.

But more importantly, I think it's false to say that true fans are about slavish faithfulness to the material they encounter first -- I think that they mostly care about the character of the story and whether it retains the important bits they're most invested in. Or, if it really changes, if the replaced bits are equally resonant.

Contact the film kept what was important about its first incarnation beautifully. There's some good things from the book that are missing (and poor execution that the movie exceeded), but what is left in is essentially the same, and the key human questions, answers, and themes are all there. Given that Sagan was involved in the production of the movie when it did finally happen (despite being pretty sick with the disease that was going to kill him), maybe that's not such a surprise.

It's also kindof the exception that proves the rule. There seem to be an awful lot of people who hide an apparently missing understanding of significant bits of story behind the truth that telling a story on-screen has different constraints than telling it in print -- or who are fundamentally more interested in original transformation than faithful retelling. Boorman's seems like it would have been one of those.
posted by weston at 5:06 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


odd derail, but I'll ride it.

All of the Zelazny stuff that has literary qualities which relate his work to writers we think of as ambitious and groundbreaking (such as Wolfe) are written before the Amber books. The core Amber books (not the late period books, which I haven't ever been able to get through) seem nearly to be written by a different hand.

In thinking about this, I have concluded that he must have made a conscious effort to simplify the style, to concentrate on plot and character while using direct descriptive language, in order to literally humanize the persons he was writing about. The reconceptualization of the ideas of godhood, the philosophical heritage of the concept of the ideal and the real, and his joy in remixing elements of European history into those books appear to me to be where he intended his fireworks to be seen.

I guess it worked. The books were very successful in terms of sales and so forth, and they were massively accessible, really requiring zero pre-existing knowledge of the material he was drawing on to be graspable.

I agree that they have not aged as well for me as the earlier work, but there was a time when I could smell those cards and feel their cold, slippery surface.

I love Moorcock and Tolkien both, because when I reread their material, I see new things in the works, things the authors put there but which were hidden from me due to inexperience, ignorance, and lack of perception. The last few times I tried to visit Amber, the cards remained cards, never shifting beneath my gaze to show me something new. Which is kind of a drag.
posted by mwhybark at 5:13 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the comments and the recommendations. Taste is personal of course, but seeing what other people love about an author helps me approach his work from another angle on second try.
posted by ersatz at 5:28 PM on August 9, 2013


Great find, Charlemagne In Sweatpants.
posted by homunculus at 5:32 PM on August 9, 2013


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Blu-Ray Scene
posted by homunculus at 5:32 PM on August 9, 2013


When we first meet Aragorn in Boorman and Pallenberg’s script, he uses the two shards of Narsil as twin blades.

THIS IS AWESOME GO ON

On the road to Moria, he has a vision of Arwen, which prompts him to give one shard to Boromir.

NO GO BACK TO THE TWIN BLADES THEY WERE COOL

Later, the three of them kiss the swords and each other.

NO WHY WHY YOU GOTTA DO THIS MAN
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:00 AM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


HA! My fiance read a recap of Boorman's screenplay to me one evening while I was cooking dinner. I kept stopping what I was doing, staring at him, and saying things like, "STOP MAKING THINGS UP," "IT DOESN'T SAY THAT. SHOW ME WHERE IT SAYS THAT." and "KABUKI DANCE?!?!"

It was a great evening.
posted by Aquifer at 8:32 AM on August 10, 2013


When we first meet Aragorn in Boorman and Pallenberg’s script, he uses the two shards of Narsil as twin blades.

WAIT BUT THERES ONLY ONE HILT, HIS HAND WOULD GET ALL CUT UP

On the road to Moria, he has a vision of Arwen, which prompts him to give one shard to Boromir.

SURE YEAH GONDOR BROS, MAKES SENSE

Later, the three of them kiss the swords and each other.

NOW THATS WHAT IM TALKIN ABOUT MAN. COME TO THINK OF IT WHY DIDNT MISTS OF AVALON PUT EXCALIBUR IN THAT ONE SCENE
posted by nicepersonality at 9:01 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]




The script ends with Gandalf, Frodo, Bilbo, Galadriel, Arwen, and Elrond leaving Middle-earth on a sailing ship. A rainbow arcs over the vessel. Legolas, who is watching from shore with Gimli, says, “Look! Only seven colors. Indeed, the world is failing.”

That's actually amazing. A hilarious inversion of the usual symbolism of a rainbow. Now I want to see this film.


Reminds me of how the Scythian hates rainbows in Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.

Anything that makes Tolkien less literal is fine by me. His imagination is so small, so limited; see Moorcock's famous essay for more.


I'm just glad they never made Jodoworsky's version. You wanna make a goofy acid-trip movie, fine. Don't ruin Dune to do it.


It wouldn't have been goofy. It would have been potent with mystical symbolism. I loved the Dune novels, but you can't say there isn't anything weird about all the spice-dreams and worm-transformations.


I don't get directors wanting to "adapt" books by making them radically different from the source. If they want to do acid trips, or hot elf/hobbit sex there's plenty of room to do that with their own original settings. What is the appeal of taking someone else's work and changing it beyond recognition? Is it an ego thing, sort of I'm so great I can make what Tolkein **should** have done?

I know sometimes a studio will tack on a famous name to an unrelated script for more money (the films Starship Troopers and Lawnmower Man for example). But these guys started with the famous thing and decidexcto "improve" it beyond recognition. Like a fanfic reboot or something. And that puzzles me.


They're putting their own spin on it, adapting the core of the work instead of its form. and Jack Kirby's Lord of Light movie would have been PERFECT.

I hate how LITERAL geeks are.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:56 PM on August 11, 2013


It wouldn't have been goofy. It would have been potent with mystical symbolism.

Well, let's face it, probably both.
posted by Artw at 5:10 PM on August 11, 2013


Anything that makes Tolkien less literal is fine by me. His imagination is so small, so limited; see Moorcock's famous essay for more.

I love how Moorcock complains about Tolkien's love of the (petit) bourgeois when some of his most famous heroes are aristocrats who destroy the world around them.
posted by ersatz at 2:27 AM on August 12, 2013


Antiheroes.
posted by Artw at 6:46 AM on August 12, 2013


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