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I would be greatful for some feedback

Sr. Staff

Mar 25 2007, 6:21am

Post #1 of 18 (488 views)
I would be greatful for some feedback Can't Post

In a review of "The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide" by Christina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond I wrote the following:

Scull and Hammond write, “Heavily promoted, Peter Jackson’s motion picture helped temporarily to increase sales of Tolkien’s works to extraordinary levels, though it is arguable whether it inspired many new readers to become enthusiasts of Tolkien’s book rather than devotees of the film.”

While it is hard to have a quibble when the phrase “though it is arguable” is used as a safeguard, personal experience with fans of book and film has presented me sufficient evidence (for myself) that indeed “many” have used the films as a gateway to the literary LOTR and from there to the extended Tolkien library. I even suspect that a number of eventual buyers of the ‘Companion and Guide’ were introduced to Middle-earth by way of Jackson’s films, but such minutiae are mentioned not as a criticism but only as a point of interest to this specific audience (readers of TORn).

I feel comfortable with what I have said because it is my experience and opinion, of which I am the world's leading expert. Tongue I wonder though if my opinion is shared or contradicted by others. Is it indeed rare for a movie-firster to become interested in the source material and become "enthusiasts of Tolkien's book"?

If we live in trying times, we must be the ones who try. If the future is looking dark, we must be the ones who shine.


Mar 25 2007, 9:53am

Post #2 of 18 (365 views)
I have no personal experience [In reply to] Can't Post

with movie-firsters who became book-readers, mainly because most of the people I know seem to have been familiar with the book long before the movies came out.

But I did notice a change in tone in some of the literary papers I read, especially the Guardian Review which is the one I read most regularly. Before the movies, LotR was rarely mentioned without a condescending tone creeping into the article. During and after, it's much more common to see it referred to straight-faced as a standard work of literature. Whether this means more critics have now read the book, or whether the movies just persuaded them to approach it more seriously, I don't know.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.

(This post was edited by FarFromHome on Mar 25 2007, 9:54am)


Mar 25 2007, 10:52am

Post #3 of 18 (352 views)
I am a movie-firster [In reply to] Can't Post

but I don't think I would classify myself as the norm. I was an Army Brat with very conservative parents who were not impressed with the hippie movement and I have heard and read that the books were labeled as belonging to the Hippie culture back in the 60's and 70's when I attended school which may explain why I had never heard of the books until right before the movies came out. I was never in one school or in one location, which included Germany, Thailand, and Hawaii for more than 2 years either.

I fell really hard for the Fellowship after viewing it on DVD at my son's request. I felt as if Jackson and Tolkien had crawled inside my head, taken my thoughts and created a world just for me. I then proceeded to purchase every Tolkien or movie book Barnes and Noble or Books a Million carried in their stores over the next few years as finances would permit. I saw TTT 12, and ROTK 14 times in the Theatre never tiring of them and enjoyed both the book and the film versions equally. I feel most stories as they are handed down are embellished by each story teller's individual personality and I enjoyed Peter Jackson's interpretation despite the variances.

I started to read the Trilogy right after viewing the Fellowship, have finished it, and have started on the Silmarillion. I have studied the Elvish Dictionary, The Atlas, and I have various books on the Philosophy of the LOTR and so on. I have a bad habit of reading multiple books at once depending on my mood and I save Tolkien for bedtime to help put me to sleep at night, it helps with the insomnia. I can be having an anxiety attack and put the film on even if only in the background and it is like morphine to me - an instant calm and the movie can lull me to sleep also. I suppose my amygdala associates the story with solving life's problems and that every thing through perseverance will eventually be alright and have a positive ending even though my neocortex knows otherwise, but the neo is willing to be quiet as long as I hear those voices, the music or think the thoughts.

I find Tolkien fascinating and I do not understand why the books are not on a top 100 suggested reading list that my son just got off of the Internet when the Harry Potter books are included on it. It may be because Tolkien may be too complicated for the average reader from what I have gathered. I have come across quite a few people who have told me that they had started the books but that they just "Don't get it". I have also been told how "Deep" I am because of the the movies I see and the topics I am interested in by some of the women I know and they have said that they don't have the attention span or the tolerance for the violence to get through the movie never mind the books.

Though I wish I had read the books some 30 years before I actually did I am very thankful that the making of the films did give me the opportunity to discover them. LOTR has been a life altering experience and I am thankful that I at least I have the people on this web site to share it with.

(This post was edited by Shadowfaxfan on Mar 25 2007, 10:59am)


Mar 25 2007, 1:51pm

Post #4 of 18 (342 views)
my kids and their friends [In reply to] Can't Post

are not only "movie-firsters" they are "movie-onlys" (uh, how do you make a plural of "movie-only"??) That is, they love the movies and have watched them several times each. But they have yet to crack the books.

This has been a sore point with me even before the movies came out: my daughters don't love LOTR, and have never made it all the way through the book.

I still love them, though. Laugh They are pretty great daughters, even if they don't read Tolkien.


I don't know if it's an age thing, since my POV is skewed (I only know young people who repeatedly watch the movies but don't read the books).


"an seileachan"

Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you rest in the arms of the Savior if sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're coming back in a garden, bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
~~~~Iris DeMent

Registered User

Mar 25 2007, 2:42pm

Post #5 of 18 (350 views)
movies making readers [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I started back in 65 or thereabouts reading the Hobbit, moved on to LOTR and the Sil and have been a book fan since. I do love the Fantasy and SciFi genre. :) During the mid 70's my life took the turn of getting married and starting a family and LOTR fell away for several years. When the movies were started, I went back and reread all the books that I loved so as a teenager and had a much greater appreciation for them. Over the years since the movies started being released, I was thrilled that it brought so many young people to the world of Middleearth and started them on a great journey of discovery. Some have become great scholars on the subject of all things Tolkien, others have never moved past the movies, but I appreciate both kinds of folks. Let's not get into the fangirl facination with Orli here.. :) But, as a parent and a Tolkien fan, it always makes me smile when I hear of someone that has never read a book from cover to cover develop and grow and learn to love the written word. Sure, the furor of the movies is not what it was a few short years ago, but that's ok. Those folks that truly love LOTR are still there and we don't have to deal with the squeeing of the fangirls nearly as much anymore and that sits just fine here. The Tolkien community is settling down to a comfortable place now and isn't the wild and crazy place it was during the heydays of the movies. Of course, if the Hobbit eve gets made, it'll probably flare up again and there is another chance for all of us to get these new fans to actually settle in with the books and become scholars of Tolkien. We shall see.

"He is surer of finding the way home in a blind night than the cats of Queen Berúthiel."


Mar 25 2007, 3:24pm

Post #6 of 18 (319 views)
I read the books just before the movies. [In reply to] Can't Post

I read the books because I heard they were being made into movies. And I always want to read a book before I see the movie. And then I of course developed an unhealthy fixation and read the books over and over and... Well, you know how it goes.

But I think you're right. Though I didn't see the movies first, I may not have read the books if not for the films. And I believe my mom read the books after she saw the first movie. So yes, I think the movies have indeed served as a gateway to the literary works.


Mar 25 2007, 5:35pm

Post #7 of 18 (343 views)
The films brought me *back* to the books after many years [In reply to] Can't Post

of neglect, and because of this forum introduced me to a whole new level of reading the books. So I am very grateful to the movies for that.

I've seen a number of people on this forum who came to the books by way of the Bakshi and Rankin-Bass productions of The Hobbit and LotR, believe it or not. I'm a firm believer that any publicity is good publicity. For example, I have read that the number of children named "Katrina" spiked considerably after the disastrous hurricane of that name, because the number of people who liked it and wouldn't have thought of it otherwise far outnumbered those who were put off by any connection with the disaster. And Jackson's movies are not disasters.

But I will be interested in the response to your informal survey.


Mar 25 2007, 5:44pm

Post #8 of 18 (325 views)
Tolerance for violence is not needed for the books, of course. [In reply to] Can't Post

The way Tolkien glosses over the violence is one of the major differences between the books and the movies. And if those who just don't get it like other kinds of fantasy or historical fiction, perhaps they get stuck in the Bombadil chapters. At any rate, I would be interested in your impressions of the books reading them for the first time as mature adult and parent. That's the audience for whom Tolkien intended it, but I rarely talk with anyone who waited that long to read it.

It's ironic that your parents may have considered LotR too hippyish, considering Tolkien's own conservatism. LotR truly is all things to all people! Which was by design of the author, who deliberately avoided any topical references, and delighted in ambiguity.

Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea

Mar 25 2007, 6:07pm

Post #9 of 18 (334 views)
I am sorry to say [In reply to] Can't Post

That I don't know any movie-firsters who went on to become book-enthusiasts. My brother -- no, my friends -- no, not even my comic-book loving co-worker who made a valiant attempt to read the books, but I don't think he ever got through it.

Where's Frodo?


Mar 25 2007, 6:55pm

Post #10 of 18 (348 views)
I suspect many came back to the books because of the films [In reply to] Can't Post

I know many who read LOTR years, including one who was an anthro grad student who read it in the late 60s, without knowing anything much about it, and threw it aside saying "he's stolen from the sagas and the Kalevala (I finally convinced her that that was the point!!!). I don't know many pure movie-firsters outside of TORN, but I suspect the films have brought more to the books. There might not be a large number of book enthusiasts in that group, but it has certainly given Tolkien book sales a boost. I dare say all the new publications, including the Children of Hurin, would most likely have had a harder time seeing the light of day if it had not been for the films.

What will be interesting is to see how the films relate the books versus other book/film pairs such as The Wizard of Oz (how many have read Baum, all of the Oz books, aside from Aunt Dora and Reera the Red???). I suspect there is a healthy Baum enthusiast scene, and today I bet no one comes to Baum without having seen Judy Garland and Margaret Hamilton first! (I just finished the novel Wicked and really loved its revisionist political history of Oz and the Witch as a counter-revolutionary freedom fighter!)

(Formerly drogo of the two names!)

(This post was edited by drogo on Mar 25 2007, 6:58pm)


Mar 25 2007, 7:57pm

Post #11 of 18 (331 views)
Most encouraging. [In reply to] Can't Post

You think the movies might have caused critics to take the movies more seriously? My fears were of the opposit. That is most encouraging!


Mar 26 2007, 6:53am

Post #12 of 18 (296 views)
My feedback [In reply to] Can't Post

In my case the movies were a gateway, or perhaps a better description for me is a "foundation" to becoming a Tolkien enthusiast. The Lord of the Rings films helped fuel my interest in Tolkien's mythology, but it was my own interest in discovering the books that has kept the fire alive, and kept me reading and discovering more.

I started reading LotR before the first film. So a seed of interest was planted before the films caught my attention, but it was the films that helped pull me in deeper to the mythology. Which is probably a rare thing among Tolkien enthusiasts.
I think that is what separates those who enjoy the books and those who were only interested in the movies. There must be another motivator for a "film-first-er" to read the books and become enthusiasts besides the films themselves.

On the other hand, I don't think it is rare for new devotees of Tolkien's works to appear during first release of the films. There may be an element of the film trilogy that sparks an interest in a fan who then moves on to becoming an enthusiast of Tolkien's mythology. The rise in sales of Tolkien's books are proof that there is something inspiring people to become enthusiasts. It would be more rare to say that there is a sudden rise of people gaining interest in The Lord of the Rings without outside influences.


Mar 27 2007, 1:57am

Post #13 of 18 (291 views)
Reading LOTR [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that many people have come to Tolkien via the movies. I think many scholars have an axe to grind when it comes to the movies. Hammond and Scull were certainly politic but you can tell they are rather condesending the movies.

My experience for what it's worth: I was introduced to LOTR as a pre-teen by my parents. I was unable to get through Fellowship. My sister on the other hand, read our paperbacks to pieces. In 2001, prior to the realease of FOTR, my mother asked me if I had read the books. I was embarrassed to admit that I hadn't though I have read plenty of sf and fantasy over the years. She sent me copies and I devoured them in a days. I kicked myself for not discovering this story earlier. Then I got curious and my mom gave me second hand copies of BoLTs Vol 1 and 2 which I read, not realizing that The Sil was the "official" version of the First Age. So, I plowed through that. I have been pretty much obssessed since then. I'm also crazy enough to get up and talk about the First Age in public. Crazy

I love the movies for the visuals and the use of Tolkien's words. They are an adaptation and stand alone in that regard. I love the books as well and return to them constantly. They each have their merits. The movies certainly were the impetus to explore Middle-Earth but the books keep me there. The movies also re-awakened my mother's love of Tolkien that started in 1965.

I will say that LOTR probably resonated with me more as an adult with some life experience than it would have, had I read it as a pre-teen.


Mar 27 2007, 11:39am

Post #14 of 18 (291 views)
It's safe to say... [In reply to] Can't Post

...that the movies are what got me into Tolkien.

I saw FOTR, fell completely and utterly in love, and then devoured all three books before TTT came out. I definitely don't regret this because, terrifyingly enough, I don't know what my connection to Tolkien might be today if I hadn't seen the movies.

Thaaank goooodness Peeeterrr. :]



Mar 27 2007, 11:46am

Post #15 of 18 (303 views)
My experience is "none". [In reply to] Can't Post

Everyone with whom I am acquainted in real-life was either already an enthusiast for the books prior to the movies, or unpersuaded to delve into Tolkien's books by the movies. Sadly, for my friends the movies were little more than an exciting adventure tale presented on the big-screen with lots of action and flashy effects which drowned out any less shallow enjoyment they may have had. It doesn't surprise me, frankly, because I think the movies were a disgrace. But that's a topic for another time and place.

"The grand scheme of God is inscrutable; the object of life is virtue, not pleasure; and obedience, not liberty, is the means of its attainment." ~Russell Kirk


Mar 28 2007, 2:16pm

Post #16 of 18 (282 views)
I knew Tolkien's works thanks to the movies [In reply to] Can't Post

I must thank PJ for his movies, without them I might have never read the Lord of the Rings; thanks to his movies I knew the great world Tolkien created, and since the Return of the King film came out I've read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil almost five times per year...Cool

So, in my opinion, it's not rare at all for a movie-firster to become interested in the source material and become an "enthusiast of Tolkien's books", because that's what happened to me, and to tell you the truth, I can't spend a month without reading something written by J.R.R. Tolkien...Laugh

[SIZE=1]"Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it."


Mar 28 2007, 2:48pm

Post #17 of 18 (288 views)
I'll be the first [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
That I don't know any movie-firsters who went on to become book-enthusiasts. My brother -- no, my friends -- no, not even my comic-book loving co-worker who made a valiant attempt to read the books, but I don't think he ever got through it.

To be honest, I never heard of The LOTR or The Hobbit before seeing The Two Towers on DVD. After seeing all three movies I bought The Hobbit then LOTR, the Silmarillion, LOTR Atlas, and Unfinished Tales and plan to buy Children of Hurin. I have CDs of the 3 movie soundtracks, various other music inspired by Tolkien, and the unabridged versions of The Hobbit and LOTR on audio CD.

I've read the books 3 times each in the past year and I'm currently listening to FOTR on my MP3 player.

Trying hard to get my 12 year old son to read the books.

The Shire

Apr 16 2007, 5:26pm

Post #18 of 18 (302 views)
Mayhap time will tell? [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
I wonder though if my opinion is shared or contradicted by others. Is it indeed rare for a movie-firster to become interested in the source material and become "enthusiasts of Tolkien's book"?

It's my experience that a large part of the movie-firsters I encounter are of an age or maturity level that it may still take some time for them to exhibit any real desire to delve more deeply into the mythology behind them or even be able to digest it.
The movies do stand alone but I think they may serve, in the long run, as a motive to introduce and/or keep them coming back to the books for more or clearer insight... if it strikes that chord which not everyone will have.
I, myself, didn't get into reading anything but The Hobbit (which I did as a teen) until I was in my mid-late 20's. I'd tried as a kid but I guess I just wasn't "ready" yet. I was well through HoME by the time the movies came out but I'm sure if I hadn't read any of them, the movies would have been an incentive to do so.


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