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Sacred paper #3

Timbo_mbadil
Rivendell


Apr 1 2007, 9:09am

Post #1 of 15 (268 views)
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Sacred paper #3 Can't Post

Nope, I’m not gone, and our paper on Spaces in FOTR is still to be written. And as always, all your opinions are not only welcome, but most helpful. Especially if you agree ;-)

Just like Darkstone in his excellent thread (what the films and the book are about), I’ve been thinking.
http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?do%3Dpost_view_flat%3Bsb%3Dpost_time%3Bso%3DDESC%3Bpost%3D5879=View+Flat+Mode#5879

The most painful part will be to come up with a definition of what *we* think the term ‘Sacred Space’ means in/for FOTR, the definitions for ‘Liminal’ and ‘Secular’ will follow quite naturally, I think (as well as the actual content of the paper).

It has been noted that PJ can make a place (especially the Shire) seem sacred in one moment and then turn it ‘non-sacred’. This to me seems a key aspect for our definition. Spaces can change, they do not necessarily have single meanings (if you want to call it thus). What does this mean for the sacredness of the Shire? After all, the Shire and all its loveable and silly inhabitants is the reason why Frodo goes through all the pain and suffering.

Only the ‘altar’ holding Narsil and Lórien remain sacred throughout the film. Interestingly, while the ‘altar’ has an object of reverence, Lórien seems to be sacred in itself. Why (and how) is that? Btw, I tend to disagree that the Mirror of Galadriel is a Sacred Space. Isn’t the mirror just a tool such as Elrond’s library or his looking glass?

Cheers
t

Otherness represents that which bourgeois ideology cannot recognize or accept but must deal with (…)
Robin Wood 2003, p. 49. "Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan – and beyond". Columbia University Press, New York, Chichester, West Sussex.


mae govannen
Tol Eressea

Apr 3 2007, 9:13am

Post #2 of 15 (98 views)
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A problem with the WIDTH of your post, for some reason!??? [In reply to] Can't Post

Any idea why your post would consistently appear much wider than my screen can accommodate?
I am very interested in the topic, so it is quite frustrating for me not to be able to read your post properly! Unsure

'Is everything sad going to come untrue?'
(Sam, 'The Field of Cormallen', in 'The Return of the King'.)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 3 2007, 11:43am

Post #3 of 15 (119 views)
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I wonder if [In reply to] Can't Post

the very long web address that's included is forcing the text box to be too wide for your screen? In my browser, the web address is wrapped to the next line, but perhaps not in yours? This does look like an interesting topic, doesn't it?

Just in case you still haven't been able to read timbo_mbadil's post, here it is with that long web address turned into a link:

--------------

Nope, I’m not gone, and our paper on Spaces in FOTR is still to be written. And as always, all your opinions are not only welcome, but most helpful. Especially if you agree ;-)

Just like Darkstone in his excellent thread (what the films and the book are about), I’ve been thinking.

The most painful part will be to come up with a definition of what *we* think the term ‘Sacred Space’ means in/for FOTR, the definitions for ‘Liminal’ and ‘Secular’ will follow quite naturally, I think (as well as the actual content of the paper).

It has been noted that PJ can make a place (especially the Shire) seem sacred in one moment and then turn it ‘non-sacred’. This to me seems a key aspect for our definition. Spaces can change, they do not necessarily have single meanings (if you want to call it thus). What does this mean for the sacredness of the Shire? After all, the Shire and all its loveable and silly inhabitants is the reason why Frodo goes through all the pain and suffering.

Only the ‘altar’ holding Narsil and Lórien remain sacred throughout the film. Interestingly, while the ‘altar’ has an object of reverence, Lórien seems to be sacred in itself. Why (and how) is that? Btw, I tend to disagree that the Mirror of Galadriel is a Sacred Space. Isn’t the mirror just a tool such as Elrond’s library or his looking glass?

Cheers
t


-----------
P.S. to timbo_mbadil: I remember we discussed this before, but I can't recall the details. Do you have a link to the earlier threads - on the old boards, I assume?

...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.


mae govannen
Tol Eressea

Apr 3 2007, 12:37pm

Post #4 of 15 (83 views)
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Thank you so much for your immediate help, FFH!... :-) [In reply to] Can't Post

And I will check what you say about the very long address too; but at least now I have already been able to read that post normally!!!
If there is indeed a link to another thread on the same topic, I will be most interested in that as well, of course... Smile

'Is everything sad going to come untrue?'
(Sam, 'The Field of Cormallen', in 'The Return of the King'.)


Timbo_mbadil
Rivendell


Apr 3 2007, 2:19pm

Post #5 of 15 (89 views)
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Links to previous threads [In reply to] Can't Post

*in a TV presenter's voice* "Last week on TOR.n…"
First thread on main (crosspost)
Thread 1a
First thread on movie (crosspost)
Thread 1b
The second thread
Thread 2

Cool, I finally made the link stuff work :)


Otherness represents that which bourgeois ideology cannot recognize or accept but must deal with (…)
Robin Wood 2003, p. 49. "Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan – and beyond". Columbia University Press, New York, Chichester, West Sussex.


Timbo_mbadil
Rivendell


Apr 3 2007, 2:21pm

Post #6 of 15 (71 views)
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Thanks for making my post readable :) /nt [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Otherness represents that which bourgeois ideology cannot recognize or accept but must deal with (…)
Robin Wood 2003, p. 49. "Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan – and beyond". Columbia University Press, New York, Chichester, West Sussex.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 3 2007, 4:22pm

Post #7 of 15 (88 views)
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Defining Sacred [In reply to] Can't Post

is really going to be the tough part, isn't it?

Is unspoiled nature sacred? If so, we can think of the mountains and the forests as sacred - and they are often shot with reverence, to suggest a kind of sacredness. So Saruman burning down the forests is a desecration of a sacred place, just as much as Denethor burning himself and Faramir to death in the Tombs is. I think it was Weaver who pointed out that the mountaintops, as seen in the Lighting of the Beacons, are a sacred space too.

Then there are places that seem to make visual reference to sacred (i.e. religious) places in the real world - the arches in the trees of Lothlorien that remind us of a cathedral, or the great hall of Minas Tirith that is modelled on a real-world chapel. If you think of the great hall as a sacred place, then Denethor's meal is a desecration too, counterbalanced by Pippin's "hymn", that echoes in the hall like a sacred song sung in a church.

We've discussed before the scenes that seem to be deliberately referencing sacred imagery - Arwen's vision of her son, Frodo's vision of Galadriel, Frodo borne by the Eagle, perhaps Elrond's foreseeing of Aragorn's death in TTT. There's also something sacred about that brief shot of Gandalf waiting patiently in a courtyard of Minas Tirith as Faramir rides to his doom. I think all these scenes, and probably others too, have their sense of sacredness reinforced by the hymn-like music that accompanies them.

Re-reading the old threads, I was surprised to see that no-one really took on Curious over his claim that the movies don't have a sense of the sacred ("I find Jackson's abandonment of the sacred disconcerting, but perhaps he was so concerned about making the fantasy feel real that he judged that he needed to abandon much of Tolkien's spiritual subtext.") I can only assume that he hasn't watched the movies with the same care that he has given to the book. Perhaps he's simply noted that the classic sacred scenes from the book - Cerin Amroth, Amon Hen, etc. - aren't in the movie as such. Certainly doing an inventory of book "sacred places" and checking for them in the movies is going to make the movies look as if they have lost most of the sacredness. But I think you can find plenty of sacredness in the movies if you look in the right place.

I said in one of the old threads that I think the sacredness of the Shire is mostly in its landscape - the woods, trees, little rivers. I think perhaps it's also in its children - the kids begging for fireworks, listening to stories, being entertained by Gandalf at the Party - and it's echoed by Sam coming home to his kids at the end of the trilogy. That's what makes ordinary life sacred, in a way, isn't it? That last shot of Sam going into his humble home with his family, with the green world all around, sums up the ordinary, everyday sacredness of the Shire, for me.

...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.


Darkstone
Immortal


Apr 3 2007, 4:53pm

Post #8 of 15 (85 views)
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Book versus movie [In reply to] Can't Post

Or Moviemaking 101: "Show versus tell" The films sanctify with action whereas the book sactifies with words.

Which is more potent? I'm reminded of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

"We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

I met a Balrog on the stair
He had some wings that weren't there.
They weren't there again today.
I wish he would just fly away.


Morwen
Rohan


Apr 3 2007, 5:44pm

Post #9 of 15 (92 views)
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Children [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I said in one of the old threads that I think the sacredness of the Shire is mostly in its landscape - the woods, trees, little rivers. I think perhaps it's also in its children - the kids begging for fireworks, listening to stories, being entertained by Gandalf at the Party - and it's echoed by Sam coming home to his kids at the end of the trilogy. That's what makes ordinary life sacred, in a way, isn't it? That last shot of Sam going into his humble home with his family, with the green world all around, sums up the ordinary, everyday sacredness of the Shire, for me.



I think that holds especially true when you contrast the carefree, innocent children of the Shire with the children in Rohan--the terrified children at Helm's Deep and the two children sent alone to Edoras to warn the King. The happy children fearlessly begging Gandalf for fireworks show the Shire to be a sanctuary in a violent world.

Beautiful post, btw.

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I wish you could have been there
When she opened up the door
And looked me in the face
Like she never did before
I felt about as welcome
As a Wal-Mart Superstore--John Prine


weaver
Half-elven

Apr 3 2007, 7:51pm

Post #10 of 15 (78 views)
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a few more thoughts... [In reply to] Can't Post

It strikes me that in the books, the sacred is to be found in nature, particularly in nature that has been respected and lovingly cared for by elves or hobbits or men in some way, or in structures that have been built with reverence for the environment around them.

I think Curious was lamenting the lack of that type of sacred association with the settings in the films -- Ithilien doesn't have any goodness associated with it, there's no commentary by the characters about Lorien's qualities, etc.

The books also have their "negative-sacred" spaces -- lands that have been defiled by the ill will and works of those who have fallen. The Barrow and Mordor come to mind. Nature has "intent" and a will of its own in Tolkien -- Carahdras fights the Fellowship, Old Man Willow rules the forest. Whether or not they are in league with forces of evil is ambiguous. They act for their own purpose.

The films leave all of this out. Nature in the films is neutral, rather than an independent entity. Saruman calls down the avalanche, rather than Caradhras acting on its own. And while we do get some focus on the environmental themes of the books, is more associated with the Ent storyline, and not developed fully throughout the story as it was in the text. That message though, is more connected with the folly of destroying nature, and there's not connection to the thought that nature is a means by which we can connect with the sacred as there is in the books.

For a reader particularly in tune with that aspect of LOTR, I could see where they would find the films "lacking" in a sacred sense, even though it's there in other ways on screen. The Rivendell chapel, though a "constructed" rather than natural place, is one, as pointed out in this thread. Certainly, the music carries much of a scared tone, as FarFromHome points out in referencing the choral music used so often as "hymns". I'd also reinforce my point here that in the films, it's more that the sacred places are sacred spaces -- characters momentarily connect with something that is on a higher plane. There is much of that in the books as well -- all of those "seeming" and "as if" moments. In both book and film, these seem to be indicators of the higher powers at work, or at least of a character sensing the higher purpose or bigger picture of which they are a part.

So I think the spiritual aspect of Tolkien comes through loud and clear in the films. What's eliminated is the connecting to it, for good or ill, through the natural world.

Unless you consider that "all" of Middle Earth in the films is a sacred environment. I do come away from the films as a whole with a sense that the world they engage me in is consistently closer, as a whole, to what I'd call the"sacred", certainly more so than how I feel about the real world I live in. The films feel as if they "open up" to me when Gandalf and Frodo ride into the Shire, and from then until the time the door shuts on us at the end, the settings are all places in which the sacred is very much present and encountered.

Hope this makes some sense...a lot of rambling here!

Oh, and I do love the observations in this thread about the children in the film. Particularly since three of the times we see kids they are the Jackson kids, they could be seen as kind of chorus -- first as innocents, then as victims, and finally as observers (if you count in the Gondor scene) who provide a perspective on the story. Those aren't the only kids shown, of course. It would be interesting to discuss the different times they chose to show children in the films and how that contributed to the story.

I'm also wondering about how much our attitudes toward nature have changed from Tolkien's time until today -- he was ahead of the curve, and fighting against the current, by taking the side of nature against progress at the time he wrote the books. In our global warming era, is it more a "given" that nature is something to be respected and valued, which it's wrong to harm? Perhaps the films didn't need to build a case for that so much because it's something taken for granted as a basic thing in life, even if we don't always put that belief into action.

I wonder, too, how much filming in New Zealand by New Zealanders has to do with the way nature played out in the films. From the photos I've seen, nature seems to be so much more "present" in the New Zealand area than it is where I live. If you live in a more natural environment like that, it would make sense to me that you wouldn't even consider giving nature an individual spotlight in the films -- it would just be ever present, with a light always on it, if that makes sense.

Thanks for a nice break from work!

Weaver


Timbo_mbadil
Rivendell


Apr 4 2007, 7:01am

Post #11 of 15 (75 views)
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Just a quick reply (fuzzy, I just woke up) [In reply to] Can't Post

before I can take the time to digest all the excellent ideas in these posts.
Nature in NZ films – you might be right. Nature does play a role in all NZ films I know, even if it doesn't necessarily take an active part in the plot.

Take The Locals for example, a wonderful unpretentious Horror flick. The horror begins, when the two main characters leave their home city of Auckland and get stranded in the countryside. Nature itself, though, doesn't play an active part.

Also, when I had the chance to visit NZ a few years ago, I thought nature didn't only look differently, but felt different to the nature we have in Europe (and we do have some really breathtaking spots). For a NZ film-maker, this would certainly be an influence.

Sorry, fuzzy ramblings.


Otherness represents that which bourgeois ideology cannot recognize or accept but must deal with (…)
Robin Wood 2003, p. 49. "Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan – and beyond". Columbia University Press, New York, Chichester, West Sussex.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 5 2007, 8:16am

Post #12 of 15 (84 views)
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We also see frightened children in Rohan [In reply to] Can't Post

being armed for battle - and that's shown intercut with Theoden's "Where is the horse and rider?" verse, where he's shown bathed in brilliant sunlight from a doorway as he's receiving his own armour. That arming of Theoden scene is shot like a sacred ritual, as Theoden recalls the ancient values of his people. But it's intercut with those images of the children in the terrible present. I'm starting to think that the movie tends to show moments of the sacred in sharp contrast to the terrible reality of the moment, which is quite different from the approach in the book, where there are sacred places that act as shelters or havens for a while, as the story takes breaks from the action.

...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.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 5 2007, 8:26am

Post #13 of 15 (79 views)
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The children of Gondor [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Particularly since three of the times we see kids they are the Jackson kids, they could be seen as kind of chorus -- first as innocents, then as victims, and finally as observers (if you count in the Gondor scene) who provide a perspective on the story.

The children of Gondor seem to me to be sad and wise beyond their years. Not just the children (including Billy and Katie Jackson) watching Faramir set out, but also the child Eldarion in Arwen's vision. The sadness and understanding in his eyes is stunning.

...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.


weaver
Half-elven

Apr 5 2007, 3:15pm

Post #14 of 15 (73 views)
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what the kids represent... [In reply to] Can't Post

...to me, Arwen's son represents a "challenge" to her -- "are you really willing to turn your back on me, to not let me be born -- think, take charge, don't let yourself be pulled along into something you really don't want and know is wrong." Especially since she's sort of just dreamingly going along with the elves at that point. Her son is a wake-up call to her. It's her inner wisdom calling to her, I suppose, in a form that got her attention.

That look from the future is what empowers Arwen to turn back, and stand up to Elrond's well-intended by misguided efforts to direct her fate. Once Elrond recognizes that "his will" can't control things, it then frees him to take the right path, also -- and to take the critical action he does in terms of reforging Narsil, which enables Aragorn to command the dead, and earn the right of kingship for Gondor. It's a really great sequence of events, in terms of bringing all the paths that Arwen, Elrond and Aragorn are on together.

But I digress! Sorry! Back to kids!

The Gondor kids, by contrast, seem to me to be not so much heralds of wisdom, but more representative of "collateral damage" if I can use that phrase. They are there, in that crowd, but almost overlooked. Contrast this to Helm's Deep where over and over again we are shown shots of the women and children that represent the future, that represent life, as representative of what Theoden and his men fight for. Gondor is not fighting for its future, which is standing there along the sidelines, represented by those kids, who only seem to be there as a formality, not because they are valued or important. Billy Jackson's character even looks away at some point, as if he's not even watching the procession. To me, this symbolically demonstrates that Gondor is focused only on its past, and on its ending, on death, not life. And the kids contribute to it by their sort of small and unimportant presence in what's going on.

Like the kids, the use of flowers in both Rohan and Gondor is striking. Flowers are also symbolic of life and growth. In Rohan, the white flowers grow from the graves of the dead. In Gondor, living flowers are tossed on the path of men that are going out to die. Sons are also sacrificed in both places, in the form of Theodred and Faramir. Ironically, the death of Theodred is what saves Theoden, and the saving of Faramir from certain death at the pyre is what gives Denethor his one moment of reconcilliation before his death.

Hmm..I think we need a new thread on this one...too much life and death to talk about!

Thanks for your reply, though, which got me thinking more about this!

Weaver



weaver
Half-elven

Apr 5 2007, 3:17pm

Post #15 of 15 (103 views)
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oh, ho! [In reply to] Can't Post

Good thoughts here! I need to come back to this one...I think you are on to something...

Weaver


 
 

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