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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Hobbit article in TLS

mandel
Rivendell


Jan 3 2013, 10:55pm

Post #1 of 19 (776 views)
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Hobbit article in TLS Can't Post

The December 12&28 issue of the Times Literary has an article by Tom Shippey on AUJ and several books about "The Hobbit," entitled "Not Back Yet."

Fantasy has really been getting some serious attention from TLS lately. A few weeks ago, there was an article on C.S. Lewis by Shippey, and then there was the article on Mary Fairburn's Tolkien-inspired art in September. Two articles on a single author in the span of a few months is not very common in the TLS: they're really stepping up to the plate...


burrahobbit
Rohan


Jan 3 2013, 11:29pm

Post #2 of 19 (376 views)
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Here's a link... [In reply to] Can't Post

To the Mary Fairburn article online-
http://www.the-tls.co.uk/...c/article1124187.ece

Certainly interesting how her illustration style changed Tolkien's mind in terms of the potential of illustration to enhance the story. I like to think Tolkien would have also enjoyed the work of artists like Alan Lee, who also share that subtle quality of encouraging the reader's imagination without overpowering it.


mandel
Rivendell


Jan 3 2013, 11:29pm

Post #3 of 19 (360 views)
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Okay, just read it... [In reply to] Can't Post

...and Shippey gives AUJ a pretty mixed review. Unlike other critics with negative things to say, though, Shippey of course knows what he's talking about.

At least, he knows what he's talking about when he's talking about Tolkien's books. Some of his criticisms of the film, though, don't demonstrate much understanding of cinema.

For example, he criticizes PJ for 'externalizing' Bilbo's character development, which in the novel takes place largely internally. But of course, what else is one to do in a film? Voice-overs representing a character's stream of consciousness are notoriously difficult: Terrence Malick can pull it off, but even great directors like David Lynch have failed colossally using this technique (yes, I love "Dune," but in spite of, not because, of the many kinds of cinematic awfulness on display in it).

But many of his other criticisms are just as expected. He thinks PJ takes too many opportunities to make scenes that are modest in the novel into blockbuster special effects sequences. He thinks PJ inserts a bit too much scatological humor. And so on...


Bombadil
Half-elven


Jan 4 2013, 1:00am

Post #4 of 19 (287 views)
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Mandel thanks..but this Thread was Buried on about page four by now. [In reply to] Can't Post

ChatRoom-type Nit Picking
now...that TH has aired
crowds out much.

Hang inthere..
Things like
This
maybe
should go to ...Main

TH... NitDiss...ing
Rule here.Evil


Chainsaw Charlie
Bree


Jan 4 2013, 5:18am

Post #5 of 19 (260 views)
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Pythonesque [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
He thinks PJ inserts a bit too much scatological humor. And so on...


I've seen/read/heard this criticism several times, and perhaps the experts are right. Nevertheless, I was reminded of some of these scenes earlier today when I read some famous Tolkien quotes listed at Huff Post. Here's a pair...

TOLKIEN: "I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size.) ... I have a very simple sense of humor (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); ..."

...and...

TOLKIEN: "I loved (Hobbits) myself since I love the vulgar and simple as dearly as the noble."

Ergo, I don't see the scatological humour as being entirely inappropriate - at all. I believe Jackson is displaying a nice delicate balancing act and possibly even deference to the author. It has always seemed perfectly obvious to me throughout Jackson's career that he has been inspired by the "simple" and "vulgar" absurd lunacy of Monty Python - which has defined British humour for the past 40 years more than anything in comedy - and that arc perfectly duplicates Jackson's life. He's been connected to this idiosyncratic Brit comedic sensibility his entire life, it's a part of who he is. And it's hardly an aberration in this canon, either. I think of hilarious little disgusting splatter-fest moments in the LOTR series, like the flying sausage intestine in TTT when "meat was back on the menu." Brilliant stuff. Total Python. I love it - knowing full well there will always be humourless prudes tut-tutting and bah-humbugging disapprovingly.


(This post was edited by Chainsaw Charlie on Jan 4 2013, 5:22am)


Arannir
Valinor

Jan 4 2013, 10:13am

Post #6 of 19 (191 views)
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Agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

It always puzzeled me why some Tolkien-"fans" think the only way to do the professor honor is to declare him the most high-art, lyrical, everything-has-a-purpose-and-can-be-interpreted-in-100000-ways author of the 20th century.

I am sure HE would certainly not like the snobbish attitude of some who who screem murder whenever this "high-artistic" level is seemingly attacked by dangerous PJ ;)


imin
Valinor


Jan 4 2013, 1:39pm

Post #7 of 19 (164 views)
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''fans'' [In reply to] Can't Post

So people who go see the film and dont love PJ's interpretation are now not real Tolkien fans? Ha, how elitist.

Sorry some people just think parts that tried to be funny just weren't - this doesnt make them humourless just means they have a different sense of humour to PJ's - though i think a lot of the out right humour in this film was aimed at children - they have to have something in their for them after all the beheading and violence!


Arannir
Valinor

Jan 4 2013, 1:57pm

Post #8 of 19 (154 views)
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That... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
So people who go see the film and dont love PJ's interpretation are now not real Tolkien fans? Ha, how elitist.



... is not at all what I said or was trying to imply.

Of course one can dislike the humour in the movie and still like the book. Or the other way round.

But I think those quotes quoted above by Tolkien should make at least some people think whether they might not put everything by Tolkien on a podium, while sometimes it was maybe just meant in a much simplier, vulgar or whatever way.

And I think that is a good thing - actually, I admire Tolkien for the courage (especially in those times) to stay away from any elitistic literature-writing whenever he felt he needed or wanted something else, even if it was fuel for the critics.

People who do like the movie will probably say that PJ and Tolkien might have this in common. But, before I offend you again, of course I know that someone disliking PJ's interpretation will hardly agree with it.

Still don't get how you came to your interpretation of my earlier post though.


imin
Valinor


Jan 4 2013, 2:08pm

Post #9 of 19 (149 views)
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the fact you had fans as 'fans' [In reply to] Can't Post

implies you dont consider them fans. Meaning to be a fan of Tolkien you have to love PJ's interpretation.

I was not offended at all though dont worry, i just felt what you were trying to prove about some people, you ended up doing yourself.

I do think people put Tolkien on a podium i also think on this forum in particular PJ is placed on a podium also. Where people have to make up reasons as to why he actually is like Tolkien.

PJ is very happy to deviate away from Tolkien whenever he feels it will make something more funny or give it more action. This is his right as the director.

For myself i dont dislike PJ's interpretation - some parts are right, others are not and he went away from the book for mass appeal - completely understandable as the film has to make money at the end of the day not just please Tolkien fans.

Finally i think Tolkien's crude and vulgar would have been different to what is considered crude and vulgar today or by PJ but it is what it is. Also funny how British humour has been reduced down to monty python - we are much more than that, great though i found it.


Arannir
Valinor

Jan 4 2013, 2:17pm

Post #10 of 19 (142 views)
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Well... [In reply to] Can't Post

... I was speaking of "some Tolkien-'fans'"

Therefore, certainly not implying I mean all Tolkien fans but SOME of those you tend to do what I described afterwards. Mistaking fandom with fanatism. Being more elitistic than Tolkien himself ever seemed to be about his works.

This means NOT that one cannot dislike the humour still and remain a fan. I want to make that absolutely clear, because "elitistic" is really a term I find to be immensely inaccurate when it comes to my feeling towards both Tolkien and Jackson.



I was not reffering to anyone specifically here btw with my first post. I just thought those were good quotes to look at them for a while and think about them, especially for those who so easily seem to be quick in judging what is in Tolkien's spirit and what isn't (this is meant not necessarily in the context of the humour of AUJ alone, but in general in the conext of discussing Tolkien and interpretations of his work).


burrahobbit
Rohan


Jan 4 2013, 2:18pm

Post #11 of 19 (160 views)
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Pythonesque usually... [In reply to] Can't Post

means absurd, surreal, satirising authority ect. The Pythons were sometimes vulgar, but never simple. I think PJ's early Braindead era films have some of the Python's crazy DIY energy, but surely that's far from what he aimed for in LotR.

The Python films were explicitly about mocking cinema epics- historical epics in Holy Grail, and religious epics in Life of Brian. The only time I've heard PJ mention the Pythons was in saying if FotR felt at all like Holy Grail, then it would have failed, as it would have meant he'd failed to create a serious fantasy epic.

I think there is a mix of good comedy and misjudged comedy in AUJ- the burping dwarves and snotting trolls are only a minor issue! Wink More problematic was Radagast and the Great Goblin, where the comedy fell flat for me and jarred with the story. Tolkien's comedy, whether vulgar or otherwise, is always in character and consistent with his world.


frodolives
Lorien

Jan 4 2013, 3:20pm

Post #12 of 19 (147 views)
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Is the Shippey review available? [In reply to] Can't Post

Where can one read his review?


Chainsaw Charlie
Bree


Jan 4 2013, 3:50pm

Post #13 of 19 (155 views)
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"Upper Class Twits of the Year" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
means absurd, surreal, satirising authority ect. The Pythons were sometimes vulgar, but never simple. ... The Python films were explicitly about mocking cinema epics- historical epics in Holy Grail, and religious epics in Life of Brian.


"Explicitly"...? Simply not so. Python has long been compared to The Beatles in their impact, and pigeonholing their comedic sensibility into some sort of specious policy is, well, absurd, at least as easily absurd as reducing The Beatles music to Little Richard covers and walruses.

Besides, the Python crew did more than just a few films - they also did years of TV episodes where the comedy was often wordplay that had a genius satirical subtext, but it also included a LOT of simple vulgar slapstick comedy and violence. Even a child of 5 years could laugh at the "Upper Class Twit of the Year" contest, or the "Ministry of Silly Walks," or "Mr. Gumby," or the "Fish-Slapping Dance," or "Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days." I know, because I was one of them. Didn't know a thing about the satire - it was purely visual comedic slapstick and absurd sight-gags.

I also suspect Gandalf's line "That'll be the door" was cribbed directly from John Clarke (Fred Dagg).


(This post was edited by Chainsaw Charlie on Jan 4 2013, 3:57pm)


Chainsaw Charlie
Bree


Jan 4 2013, 4:02pm

Post #14 of 19 (118 views)
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Re: "That'll be the door" . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

 
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Dagg


In Reply To
I also suspect Gandalf's line "That'll be the door" was cribbed directly from John Clarke (Fred Dagg).


(It was more likely an inside-joke homage.)


(This post was edited by Chainsaw Charlie on Jan 4 2013, 4:11pm)


EyeRock
Bree


Jan 4 2013, 4:08pm

Post #15 of 19 (107 views)
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It was Dwalin who said that :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf said "He's here".


(This post was edited by EyeRock on Jan 4 2013, 4:08pm)


Chainsaw Charlie
Bree


Jan 4 2013, 4:12pm

Post #16 of 19 (103 views)
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Good catch. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Gandalf said "He's here".


Yessir, I stand corrected, my mistake.


(This post was edited by Chainsaw Charlie on Jan 4 2013, 4:14pm)


Chainsaw Charlie
Bree


Jan 4 2013, 4:27pm

Post #17 of 19 (95 views)
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Another one that stands out... [In reply to] Can't Post

Goblin-King gets his guts slashed and says, "That'll do it." Many critics hate that. Me - I laughed out loud. The expression on his face - the timing of the delivery and tone - I thought it was hilarious and was pinching myself to remind I was watching a children' adventure film. It was cheeky and amusing to me, but I accept that not everybody is going to think that funny. Not everybody laughs at every joke in Marx Brothers, Woody Allen and/or Adam Sandler movies, because people have varying degrees and senses of humour and taste. Comedy is hard, and audiences need to accept that not every joke is going to work on every person. If the joke works, you laugh. If it flops, groan and move right along.


burrahobbit
Rohan


Jan 4 2013, 4:48pm

Post #18 of 19 (92 views)
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I've seen their tv shows [In reply to] Can't Post

and I enjoyed them a lot. And sure, they could do plenty of slap-stick humour when it suited them. I don't wish to pidgeon hole their talents, especially when each member of the team had such different abilities. But I still think it's the surreal and absurd elements that made their comedy unique and Pythonesque. They were influenced by things like the Goon Show, and in turn influenced loads of comedy like Blackadder, Reeves & Mortimer and Terry Pratchett.

I do love the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch, and yes it is very funny both as physical comedy in a Mr Bean style, and as having a dig at Britain's ridiculous bureaucracy. Also Eric Idle's songs were always great.

I wonder if Terry Gilliam was ever considered as a director for LotR? Maybe in some parallel universe there is a very Pythonesque version of LotR out there...


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 4 2013, 5:57pm

Post #19 of 19 (106 views)
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Not without a subscription. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have heard that the TLS makes articles available for free only after enough time has passed. It hasn't yet for Shippey's review.

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