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Concerning Christopher - An Essay on Tolkien's Son's Decision to Not Allow Further Cinematic Licensing of His Work
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News from Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Jan 7 2013, 11:46am

Post #1 of 28 (614 views)
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Concerning Christopher - An Essay on Tolkien's Son's Decision to Not Allow Further Cinematic Licensing of His Work Can't Post

[caption id="attachment_68176" align="alignright" width="222"] Christopher Tolkien[/caption]

Often, when a lengthy discussion of the Hobbit films takes place, someone asks "What about the other books? What about material from The Silmarillion, or Unfinished Tales? Will these be adapted to the big screen?"

The answer to this question is a simple one. As it stands, the literary executor of J.R.R. Tolkien's work, his son, Christopher Tolkien, has refused to consider any further licensing of his father's work for cinematic purposes.

Many fans are quite frustrated by this state of affairs. They know there is interesting material contained in these other sources, such as the well-known "Quest for Erebor". That one short work alone would illuminate in key ways the motivations and decisions of principal characters in the films. (For the curious, the Quest for Erebor may be found in a shortened form in "Unfinished Tales", and in a fuller form in the revised edition of Douglas Anderson's "Annotated Hobbit.")

None of this material is available to Peter Jackson's production crew. Indeed, they must be quite careful to avoid any reference to these works, lest they are accused of using material that is beyond their access. One could even consider Gandalf's scripted comment concerning the names of the two blue wizards as a nod to this 'forbidden knowledge' - in the film, Gandalf says their names are lost to him, when Tolkien knew the answers, and provided them in Unfinished Tales (Alatar and Pallando).

Movie buffs want to see the best possible Hobbit films, and they feel this untouchable material would have been valuable to the production. Further, they wish to one day experience part or all of The Silmarillion on the silver screen. In their eyes, this could all happen if Christopher Tolkien would just let up, and sell the rights.

Of courses, wishes aren't horses in the world of intellectual property and copyright law. Christopher is the literary executor, and his decision stands. We have no legal right to complain.

But as fans, we don't stop there! We want to know if Christopher is making the correct decision; we want know if it one we can or should support as the best decision; and we want to even voice an opinion as to whether we think Christopher has the ethical right to make the call (even though he, again, has full legal right.)

[caption id="attachment_68175" align="alignleft" width="222"] J.R.R Tolkien and son Christopher Tolkien[/caption]

Let's first ask: Is Christopher fit to be deciding the fate of his father's work? Did his father make the right choice in naming him the executor?

Absolutely, the answer is yes. With the possible exception of Rayner Unwin, who enabled the publication of The Hobbit, and supported Tolkien's work and maintained a friendship with him from the age of ten until his death, there has been no bigger fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's work than his son Christopher. The son's name is known to us primarily because he has provided many more pages of his father's writing than anyone else. We would not have The Quest for Erebor or The Silmarillion as something we want filmed if it weren't for Christopher's efforts at getting these posthumous works published in the first place. He also brought us Unfinished Tales, allowed the publication of his father's letters, gave us the twelve volume History of Middle-earth, the Children of Hurin, and so much more. It's impossible to overstate the importance of Christopher's contributions to the world of Tolkien. So J.R.R. Tolkien clearly chose the correct literary executor; he couldn't have asked for a better steward of his work.

Now that we've established Christopher as a true fan, can we trust him to know his father's wishes in this matter? After all, many children do not maintain closeness to their father. How about Christopher?

Tolkien's letters show us that father and son maintained a close relationship throughout their shared Earthly existence. Christopher loved his father's writings. As a young child, he sat with his father, who would read his writings to him. In the military, he read and reviewed chapters of the then-in-progress Lord of the Rings. He made many versions of the Middle-earth maps we love so well. We can see he loves his father's work, and supported it. It's extremely unlikely that he is not aware of whether or not his father wanted films to be made of his work. Christopher may not be honoring those wishes, but it's difficult to believe that he has no inkling of his father's wishes in this matter, as it came up during his lifetime.

That's settled, so next, do we have any independent evidence ourselves as to what the father would have wanted done with his work?

Unfortunately, we don't have much available to us to answer this question. In 1981's "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien", in letter 202 he states "Stanley U(nwin) and I have agreed on our policy: Art or Cash. Either very profitable terms indeed; or absolute author's veto on objectionable features or alteration." This shows a balanced viewpoint: He loves his work, but he knows it can be a tool to provide income, and he is willing to use that tool. However, letter 207 provides a hint of regret that this trade-off must be considered. "I feel very unhappy about the extreme silliness and incompetence of Z(immerman) and his complete lack of respect for the original... But I need, and shall soon need very much indeed, money... so that I shall endeavor to restrain myself, and avoid all avoidable offence."

We are left uncertain. Tolkien is willing to have his work filmed, but perhaps he was only willing to consider this because he desperately needed the money. So we can't decide this for ourselves. We are left right at the beginning - still wondering if Christopher is doing the right thing. Well, let’s finally hear what he has to say! What does he have to say about the world of Tolkien?

In an interview given in Le Monde on July 9, 2012 (translated), he makes his views clear. He commented on the films themselves, but a more general quote on the legacy of commercialization is more pertinent to our inquiry:
"Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time. The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away."

He is hardly mincing words, and some, even many (including myself), would say his words go too far. In an attempt to paint a single-toned picture, create a fully consistent view, he loses any subtlety and with it, a bit of validity. I would never have discovered the world of Tolkien without that 'monster' crossing my path in a 1973 holiday display at a local bookstore. This website, first made for the production of the films, has places devoted to discussing Tolkien's work, and has created a community for discussion of the books that would not have existed but for this 'cultural monster'.

So where does this leave us? After all this, we are still right at the beginning - wondering if Christopher is doing the right thing. This is why debate on this topic has continued to rage, instead of quickly settling. Many of us want more Tolkien on film. We aren't going to get more, because Christopher won't let us have any, and we aren't sure what J.R.R. Tolkien would have done. Christopher has the legal right to make the call, is a good choice to be the one making the call, knows his father's wishes better than anyone, but can we and should we support the decision?

Let's do a thought experiment and try to guess why Christopher might have made the decision he has made, and see if we can empathize with it, and from that, support it. To do this, we can only look at his words and actions; we don't know his intent. His words show his concern is over popular culture "reducing the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing", and his actions show he has devoted his life to exposing his father's written word to the world.
It's clear to us that Christopher thinks his father's work conveys something vital. He wants us to see what's so inspiring about those words. I believe, that to his viewpoint, based on his experience over the decades, the more that work is filtered through the imperfect lens of adaptation, and becomes fodder for the grist-mill of popular culture, the further it gets from the purity of its source material. To Christopher, that's a shame - he must "turn his head away". When people get their Tolkien only from the films, or plays, or role-playing games, or other adaptations, they are missing the true value of his father's work. Christopher has devoted much of his life to combating this problem. To quote Galadriel, "Through the ages of the world we have fought the long defeat." That's what I think Christopher is doing - fighting what he sees as the long defeat - wherever he can, not only publishing as much of his father's work as he can, but preventing further erosion of his father's written word by simply not allowing further adaptations to take place. All this is speculation, but to me it's reasonable.

At the end of the day, I do not know, but believe, that Christopher simply wants others to read what his father wrote.

By keeping much of what was written from the movie theater, if you want to read about Gandalf's origins - you have to go to your bookshelf, you can't fast forward to that on a DVD. If you want to find out just who Morgoth was, and why all of Middle-earth was considered his ring, you will have to go to your local library and check out some of the History of Middle-earth; you can't skip to that chapter on Netflix. And with that bit of effort, borne out of wanting to find out more, you will transform yourself from a movie-watcher to someone who has directly discovered the true joy and depth of Tolkien's world that only his writing can provide. Maybe there will be a day in the future when Tolkien is regularly taught in schools, so everyone knows what he has provided to us. But "it is not this day." This day, it helps to keep having reasons to go to the books; to have some parts of Tolkien's world beyond the reach of any adaptation at all. Christopher is uniquely empowered to force us to go to the books, and, while I want more Tolkien on film, I can empathize with his. In addition, because I love the books so much, I find myself supporting his decision. (For the most part, as I think Quest for Erebor could have been licensed.). I hope, after reading all this, that you can support his decision as well.

Both film and book have brought so many joy. I believe we should celebrate the existence of both. Thank you, Peter Jackson, for creating the films, introducing so many to Tolkien's world. And thank you, Christopher Tolkien, for making sure all of us still have plenty of reasons to go back to the books, where a deeper joy awaits.

- JPB

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

JPB is a computer programmer who likes Tolkien - how rare is that! He has been a fan of the Professor's work since having a boxed set recommended to him by a clerk at a bookstore he was visiting with his mother at age 12. He wishes he could somehow thank that clerk, and also the person who put Tolkien's artwork on the box, as his mother agreed to the purchase largely because the Elvish heraldic devices against the red background 'looked so nice.'

(This post was edited by entmaiden on Jan 7 2013, 6:32pm)


Escapist
Gondor


Jan 7 2013, 5:06pm

Post #2 of 28 (403 views)
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I am not the least bit surprised or scandalized by this letter. [In reply to] Can't Post

I can support this point of view completely. There are other tales to be told, after all and the tales of the Sil are readily available to those who love them.


Empedocles
Rivendell


Jan 7 2013, 6:00pm

Post #3 of 28 (395 views)
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I can totally understand where he's coming from... [In reply to] Can't Post

and I cannot express how grateful I am for his work. I probably wouldn't be a Tolkien fan if it weren't for Christopher's work.

Leaving that aside for a moment, I truly believe that his decision not to sell the movie rights to The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, etc. is such a loss to the entire literary and cinematic world.

It really pains me that we won't be able to see The Darkening of Valinor, The Exile of the Noldor, The Kinslaying at Alqualonde, The Crossing of the Helcaraxe, the Burning At Losgar, the Dragor Bragollach, the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Fall of Gondolin, the Ruin of Doriath, Beren and Luthien, The Children of Húrin, etc, etc.

We all know that movies are made to make money, and that's alright, that is not, in any way, detrimental to their artistic value, and, more importantly, to the profound effect they have in future artists, writers, etc.

We could argue endlessly about whether it's a selfish decision or not, but I think we can all agree that a world in which Howard Shore gets to orchestrate the First Age of the world, or in which you can see John Howe/Alan Lee depiction of Nargothrond, Gondolin, etc., or a 2-hour rendition by Peter Jackson of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, is a much better world that one without all that.

Think about Guillermo del Toro directing Beren and Luthien, about 1 Middle-Earth related movie every two year with corresponding EE just before Christmas, about John How/Alan Lee's concept art books, etc.

These things provide so much moments of joy and happiness to so many people around the world that it's really a shame that Christopher Tolkien can't see that.

Please, give us back Glorfindel!!!


Elthir
Gondor

Jan 7 2013, 7:06pm

Post #4 of 28 (375 views)
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Out of the blue [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
One could even consider Gandalf's scripted comment concerning the names of the two blue wizards as a nod to this 'forbidden knowledge' - in the film, Gandalf says their names are lost to him, when Tolkien knew the answers, and provided them in Unfinished Tales (Alatar and Pallando).




The term Blue Wizards itself was off limits, and Janet Croft even advised the filmmakers against using it.

And strangely, Tolkien himself arguably forgot the names Alatar and Pallando (this is hinted at, at least, in one of his own late notes) -> at the later point when he invented Morinehtar and Romestamo (or Romestar) anyway, for the same 'other two'.

Tolkien seems to have revised this 'blue' detail, or at least forgotten and re-thought the matter perhaps, as in one of his letters he doubted the other two had distinctive colours. If in fact this represents the 'latest' reference.


As for Tolkien's history with earlier filmmakers, I hope you won't mind me adding a bit more here. I found it on the web but have permission to gather it all up here. Thus the follwing 'I' is not Elthir:

Certainly money was involved. If interested, here's what I dug up so far: at first Tolkien was willing, if not enthusiastic, to allow a proposed animated motion-picture of The Lord of the Rings to go forward. In 1957 he wrote:


Quote
'As far as I am concerned personally, I should welcome the idea of an animated motion picture, with all the risk of vulgarization; and that quite apart from the glint of money, though on the brink of retirement that is not an unpleasant possibility. I think I should find vulgarization less painful than the sillification achieved by the B.B.C.'




Tolkien wrote that he was in need of money in 1958, and in any case, he did mind the film treatment he was offered at the time ('Z' is Morton Grady Zimmerman, who did the synopsis of the proposed film of The Lord of the Rings).


Quote
'I am very unhappy about the extreme silliness and incompetence of Z and his complete lack of respect for the original (it seems wilfully wrong without discernable technical reasons at nearly every point). But I need, and shall soon need very much indeed, money, and I am conscious of your rights and interests; so that I shall endeavour to restrain myself, and avoid all avoidable offence.' JRRT, 1958 to Rayner Unwin



In 1957 Tolkien had also written:


Quote
'Stanley U. and I have agreed on our policy: Art or Cash. Either very profitable terms indeed; or absolute author's veto on objectionable features or alterations.'



Of course this film was not made. But that got the ball rolling it seems, and the Unwins (Tolkien's publishers) were obviously involved. In 1961 Rayner reminded Tolkien of the policy he had agreed to with Stanley Unwin: cash or Kudos (source Hammond and Scull) when Rembrandt Films became interested in cartoon films of The Hobbit. Tolkien left it to Rayner, stating:




Quote


'I clearly understand that one must either turn the matter down or put up with many objectionable things that they are sure to perpetrate in their production. I am sure advice or argument would be quite unavailing (except to make them throw the whole thing up) and I have no time for either. In any case I do not feel so deeply about The Hobbit; and anyway I am now mainly dependent for my support on my earnings as an author I feel justified in sinking my feelings in return for cash.'





In August 1964 Tolkien wrote in a letter to Miss Ward (this letter came up for auction).



Quote
'I am delighted to hear of your great enjoyment of my book. As for Television, however, I am personally averse to dramatizations of my work, especially The Lord of the Rings, which is too long for reproduction without severe cutting and editing; in my view destructive, or at best severely damaging to a complicated but closely-woven story. But in such matters the inerests of my publishers must be considered. They are in any case primarily concerned in all questions of reproduction by any process (vide the copyright notice).'




In September 1967 Rayner Unwin sent Tolkien various letters from their American agent, a Mr. Swanson:


'Swanson has also written about an offer for film rights of the Lord of the Rings.' (H&S). In November, Rayner, having just returned from the United States, writes to Tolkien, stating that he thinks 'agreement is close with United Artists for the Lord of the Rings film rights.'

In 1969 (rumors of a Tolkien-based film had surfaced, in connection with the Beatles) Rayner Unwin again reminded Tolkien of their agreement (Hammond and Scull): that if a film brings cash, they will waive any kudos. He points out to Tolkien that whatever the film is like: 'the book remains inviolable and that is the main thing. What they do with the property in other media will, I regret to say, be entirely their responsibility from an aesthetic point of view, will only vary in degrees between bad at best and execrable at the worst.'



Probably in June 1969 Tolkien wrote a letter about a proposed film, quoted by Joy Hill:



Quote

'No film nor any 'version' in another medium could appear satisfactory to any devoted and attentive reader. On the other hand some of the greater pictorial and dramatic scenes could, with modern resources, be a moving experience. All possible precautions have been taken that the story should be presented without serious mutilation and without alteration or alterations.'

JRRT, Hammond and Scull




I have no idea what JRRT means with respect to any precautions here. It does appear that JRRT sold the film rights in 1969. Then there is the tax bill issue: I could not find this mentioned in a source I was very confident in, but recently I asked William Hicklin about it, and his answer appears below. First, it might be noted that the original agreement of 1969 is said to be a notoriously difficult document. Rayner Unwin, in reference to this, wrote in his memoirs: 'A negotiation of nearly two years’ duration [i.e., 1967-69] that was eventually consummated in a fifty-page contract, the complexities and uncertainties of which have dogged the publishers and the author’s estate ever since.'

William Hicklin wrote:


Quote
'The tax bill story has been repeated often in the press- and although the press is notoriously unreliable on these things, I believe the tax bill line appeared in the very accurate story printed in 2001 in The Financial Times, which for the first time (TMK) gave the correct cash consideration and the fact that there were residuals. The problem which afflicted Tolkien in the late 1960's was that the Ballantine paperbacks and ensuing Tolkien Craze generated royalties vastly beyond anything he had anticipated even in 1962- and *suddenly* exposed him to Surtax. (The Inland Revenue, at least back then, had a nasty habit of 'surprising' you with a bill- calculated on an accrual, not a cash, basis).'




Mr. Hicklin is a lawyer (not for the Tolkien Estate). I am not at all knowledgeable enough in the matter to do more than present his answer here.


(This post was edited by Elthir on Jan 7 2013, 7:14pm)


Timdalf
Rivendell


Jan 7 2013, 8:23pm

Post #5 of 28 (343 views)
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There is another alternative... [In reply to] Can't Post

On the one hand, CT has a very special relationship to the works. He made the maps, he was the first recipient and with his feedback helped shaped them to some extent. So they simply mean more to him than just their literary or philosophical value. Not to mention his personal emotional attachments to them.

But on the other hand, there is a third alternative to categorical rejection or complete "sell out". If he (or the Estate) were to retain a position as executive producer and expert consultant it could be stipulated that he has veto rights over any particular and particpatory rights in creation. This would not be comfortable to almost anyone who would then take on further "artistic" efforts (films - script, music, effects, etc - or theme parks or theatrical productions). Creativity simply does not usually work under such limitations. But, as we all know, this is exactly how almost any film production gets done: the history of tensions between directors, producers, writers, actors, even technical crews, etc. are facts of legendary yore!! But to be honest, I gather from all that I have read about this issue, CT simply is not capable of the give and take it would require... and for many honourable reasons. But if he (or the controlling members of the Estate) were ever to seriously realize that they could have a beneficial impact on the future image of Tolkien's works, he/they might be able to reconsider. After all, the 1977 Silmarillion is in fact just such an extrapolation of JRRT's original work by CT himself. Now, it is true, he came to consider its edited form a mistake and this impelled him into the 12 volume History of M-e! So he may have arrived at the resolute conclusion that only a literary form is possible given the state of the manuscripts. And since there is now, apparently, no need for a choice between "cash and kudos" it remains a debatable point if JRRT would disagree with the categorical rejection by CT.

Yet there is a significant warning in a parallel to be seen in the present handling of the works of Wagner. Here we have witnessed the most exploitative, sensationalist distortion of his intent by the very place he himself built and established to maintain the highest standards in presenting his works: the Bayreuth Festival. There the worst possible degradation of the works themselves has been taking place at the hands of his own descendants, all in the name of "relevance"! This would be as if JRRT's works were to be made available by the Estate in a comic book form and publication of the originals were to cease. The irony is that his works are being better and more responsibly handled by places other than Bayreuth recently. When the Met Opera produced the first Parsifal outside Bayreuth in the early 20th century the retaliation of Bayreuth was horrific against any involved. But the last Ring production at the Met under Schenk and Schneider-Siemsson was the most faithful to Wagner's original conception. So this becomes the almost diametrical opposite of the Tolkien case.

However, in the end, it remains in my view unfortunate that any possible compromise remains off the table for the foreseeable future. I have my gripes with some important particulars of the 4 films, but I think the sincerity and general faithfulness to the original literary works should give CT and the Estate some reason to pause and reconsider. They might have been able, had they had some artistic participation, to keeping some of the most important elements of the originals: like Crickhollow, the Barrow Downs, or especially the Scouring. Amd they might have prevented the worst distortions, like that of the moral character of Faramir. But perhaps the conflicting values of highbudget productions and strict literary faithfulness are simply too opposed... would they ever have countenanced the Arwen substitution for Glorfindel?

Timdalf

(This post was edited by Timdalf on Jan 7 2013, 8:28pm)


elostirion74
Rohan

Jan 7 2013, 8:39pm

Post #6 of 28 (334 views)
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I think CT made the right decision [In reply to] Can't Post

Besides more personal reasons, like disdain for commercialization or wanting to protect his and his family's privacy, there are several reasons why it's a good idea not to allow further cinematic adaptations based on his father's work. First thing most of Tolkien's other works outside the hobbit-centric stories like LoTR and TH are not suitable for cinematic adaptation. The Silmarillion is more like a cycle of stories and out of these stories only some very few are individual stories that would be good material for a cinematic adaptation, like "The Children of Húrin".

Second thing, there are several other forms of art and entertainment that could be used to adapt Tolkien's works other than film. I think it would be much more interesting to see stories from The Silmarillion made into theatre plays or even perhaps operas; these are art form where the more stylized and grand drama and characters of the Silmarillion would seem more natural than in a film adaptation, especially within theatre, where tragedy is a well-known genre. It's not difficult to imagine new musical works being inspired by Tolkien's works either.


Eruonen
Tol Eressea


Jan 7 2013, 10:35pm

Post #7 of 28 (327 views)
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However, time will tell as the reins are passed to other [In reply to] Can't Post

caretakers of the estate. There is still hope.

CT may think his son or whoever will be in charge will
hold true but as in picking judges or other appointees sometimes they end up making decisions you could not foresee. Plus, the need or lure of cash will always be present when holding such a valuable asset.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jan 7 2013, 10:37pm)


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 7 2013, 11:59pm

Post #8 of 28 (297 views)
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I think otherwise [In reply to] Can't Post

- no surprise there, I know - Smile - I honestly believe that money is not a motivation in these matters, as far as the family is concerned. Not everything is for sale.
.


Eruonen
Tol Eressea


Jan 8 2013, 5:18am

Post #9 of 28 (288 views)
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Future generations of the family will have less and less [In reply to] Can't Post

ties to JRRT personally as they were either very young or not born by the time of his death. I suspect we may see more film rights in the probably distant future if Christopher's son maintains the same stance. Not all of the family were against the films and Royd even participated. I agree that nothing will happen in near future and maybe not in my lifetime. It will depend on Christopher's son and then the next administrator.


Eruonen
Tol Eressea


Jan 8 2013, 5:38am

Post #10 of 28 (282 views)
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Note, currently in the US a work goes into the public domain [In reply to] Can't Post

Depending on the type of work....95 years or so after publication date. Well, I would be over 100 years old and might be still alive but very unlikely. The Silmarillion won't be up until 2072 or so.

http://copyright.cornell.edu/...ces/publicdomain.cfm


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jan 8 2013, 5:46am)


Escapist
Gondor


Jan 8 2013, 1:47pm

Post #11 of 28 (272 views)
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One line caught my eye ... very sad ... [In reply to] Can't Post

 ... feel justified in sinking my feelings in return for cash ...

Well - I guess that if JRRT needed money, it wasn't only for himself that he needed it. He had quite a large family to be responsible for! He couldn't so easily scrape a living on a shoe-string budget in that case.


Rostron2
Gondor


Jan 8 2013, 4:44pm

Post #12 of 28 (249 views)
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In the end [In reply to] Can't Post

Not everything ought to be for sale, IMHO


Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 8 2013, 7:01pm

Post #13 of 28 (229 views)
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Is there any way to find out [In reply to] Can't Post

if sales of Tolkien's books increased after the films were released?


Kassandros
Rohan


Jan 8 2013, 7:40pm

Post #14 of 28 (239 views)
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It's been reported that book sales increased by orders of magnitude. [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps in the La Monde article? I forget exactly where, but Lord of the Rings book sales increased by something like 1000% (off the top of my head) after the movies came out. The Tolkien Estate made a lot of money off the movies indirectly, and many, many people have read the books after seeing the movies.

Hopefully someone will have more exact figures. I just remember being awestruck by them. I do know that Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling and most-read books of all time.

all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us...


Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 8 2013, 9:32pm

Post #15 of 28 (218 views)
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Thank you, Kassandros [In reply to] Can't Post

That's always been what's puzzled me about this. Even with the books being so immensely popular and beloved beforehand, the films were for me and many other people, the reason they decided to seek out and read the books for the first time. And many of those people, just like me, became devoted fans of the books. I don't understand how that can be a bad thing.




Kassandros
Rohan


Jan 8 2013, 9:48pm

Post #16 of 28 (245 views)
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Check out this article about Christopher Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

This is the article about Christopher Tolkien I was talking about: http://www.worldcrunch.com/...s10299/#.UMCVFpPjnfY

And in addition to talking about why Christopher Tolkien hates the movies, it also does indeed say that book sales in the UK went up 1000%. So I did remember that correctly, at least.

all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us...


imin
Valinor


Jan 8 2013, 11:35pm

Post #17 of 28 (196 views)
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sold 25 million copies from 2001-2003 [In reply to] Can't Post

Going off Wiki (yeah i know its not the best place but meh) - it says the lord of the rings has sold 150 million approx copies between 1954/1955-2007.

This accounts for 1/6 the sales in 3 years over a period of 52/53 years. Incredible really.

I do believe though that nowadays books if pushed will sell in great numbers - look at twiligt, 50 shades of grey, hunger games, harry potter - all sold phenomenally well and in a very short space of time, things seem to be different in that way than when LOTR was published.

Taking nothing away though, clearly the films had a massive impact on total sales of the book as im sure they did for the hobbit indirectly, which has sold approx 100 million 1937-2008 (wiki so could be wrong).


Fredeghar Wayfarer
Lorien


Jan 8 2013, 11:44pm

Post #18 of 28 (201 views)
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I understand Christopher's position [In reply to] Can't Post

Though it pains me that we'll never see The Silmarillion or The Children of Hurin on the big screen or as an HBO miniseries, I understand where Christopher Tolkien is coming from. The Silmarillion, in particular, is a very complex book written in a distinctive style. There's no central character, there are multiple interlocking stories, the language is archaic, there are no everyman Hobbit characters, it has little humor, etc. It would need to be drastically changed to work as a film for a modern audience and that's what Christopher is trying to avoid. Ultimately, it may be for the better that Hollywood can't turn this epic chronicle of Elvish lore into an over-the-top action movie. A film might very well lessen or alter the story.

I do kind of wish Christopher would relent on some of the supplemental material though. The Quest of Erebor has direct bearing on The Hobbit. And it's often frustrating that the films or games like Lord of the Rings Online are legally barred from even referencing certain characters or aspects of Middle-earth. Surely there could be a clause in the contract that says whole films based on the material are off limits but dialogue references are okay.


Loresilme
Valinor


Jan 9 2013, 1:01am

Post #19 of 28 (184 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

After reading that one, I followed a few links and ended up at this earlier interview, also a good one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=0J1JSLzja7E


Bombadil
Half-elven


Jan 9 2013, 2:40am

Post #20 of 28 (212 views)
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It has been said iin late November or December of 1999... [In reply to] Can't Post

Amazon.com the largest bookseller in the world....
Polled their customers.
.." what was your favorite books written by a 20th century author?"
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit won....... hands down
Second and third place "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Catcher in the Rye"

so our professor can go down in history as the most popular author of the 20th century.

The only other book read more? in the 20th century
the King James Bible.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 9 2013, 10:18am

Post #21 of 28 (170 views)
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yes, and what's more - [In reply to] Can't Post

- in 1997 'The Lord of the Rings' came top in three UK polls: first, the retailer Waterstones held a poll across its 105 high street shops, all around the country, for the best book of the 20th century. LotR topped the poll with 5,000 out of 25,000 votes. Gerorge Orwell's 1984 came second. The news was treated with scorn in some quarters - some critics said that the Tolkien Society must have been getting together a campaign of some sort (we weren't). Smile
The Daily Telegraph said they'd jolly well see who really was the UK's top author of the 20th century - and they held their own poll, asking their readers the same question. Their readers voted LotR top, and Orwell's book second.

That same year, the Folio Society conducted a poll of its own members - fifty thousand of them - asking them to name their favourite book of any century. Ten thousand responded, of whom 3,270 voted for LotR. (incidentally, the only reason I joined the Folio Society was to get their lovely copies of Tolkien's works). Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was second this time, with Dickens' David Copperfield third. So, LotR was confirmed as Britain's favourite book. Some astute commentators observed that many voter's top ten choices were mainly made up of books found on the school curriculum; hence the heavy presence of Orwell's 1984 in the results. The conclusion is that people voted for their favourite book - whether Austen, or Tolkien, or whoever - and then sort of dutifully put in books they thought they were expected to have read. (facts and figures fom 'Tolkien; Man and Myth' by Joseph Pearce, 1998)

And by the way - Tolkien is not on the UK school curriculum.

In 2003, the BBC ran a series of TV programmes featuring great British writers over the centuries, and invited the British public to vote for their favourite book. Celebrities were asked to say which were their favourites and why; and it was interesting to me to see that some celebrities spent almost as much of their airtime in putting down Tolkien, his books and his fans as they spent promoting their own favourite author. LotR came in first again; several tens of thousands of votes ahead of Jane Austen. Some detractors said that some books were only popular because movies had been made of them, like LotR and Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This false claim was also put about by the Austen faction - amusing, considering how many times Pride and Prejudice has been screened over the years, on film, and on the BBC itself.

Wink


(This post was edited by geordie on Jan 9 2013, 10:26am)


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 9 2013, 10:36am

Post #22 of 28 (163 views)
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just to add (my prev. post had timed out) [In reply to] Can't Post

- according to Pearce, The Hobbit was the most popular audio book for children in 1997, despite costing twice as much as its nearest rivals.

Also, isn't that a lovely picture of JRR and Christopher in the original post? That was taken in the garden of no.22 Northmoor Rd. Oxford, where the Tolkiens had lived since 1925. They moved into the house in the background - that is, no.20 - in 1930. They took down one of the fence panels and just moved furniture etc through one garden into the next. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, and much of LotR, in his downstairs study in that house.


(This post was edited by geordie on Jan 9 2013, 10:37am)


Captain Salt
Tol Eressea


Jan 9 2013, 9:48pm

Post #23 of 28 (136 views)
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Tolkien's writing belongs to the world, [In reply to] Can't Post

not just Christopher Tolkien or the Tolkien Estate. There's protective and there's "possessive".

Wasn't CT ALWAYS against the PJ adaptations, even before they made? Then how can he have rejected them for being bad action movies, when he despised them before he'd seen them? For all the great works based upon JRR's writings CT has crafted, why does he feel he's the only person on Earth who can do so?

Yet he collaborated with the BBC radio adaptation? True, that was closer to the books, but there was addition and alteration there as well. I don't remember Wormtounge and the Witch-King having a nice stop-and-chat while Frodo was on his way out of the Shire. Of course, that was a British adaptation, and not the work of some slob from the colonies and a big, bad, money-grubbing American studio. EvilAngelic

I agree with the above statement that ideally the Tolkien Estate would supervise further media or works of entertainment in ME, but without declaring all said works mere bastardizations of the novels. Afterall, the films exposed a lot of first-time readers to Tolkien, and they'll always be there regardless of whatever "knock-offs" may emerge.

My Top 5 Wish List for "The Hobbit"
5. Legolas will surf down Smaug's neck
4. Bilbo will be revealed to a Robot
3. Naked PJ cameo as Ghan-Buri-Ghan
2. Use of not only 3D, but smell-o-vision, plus the inclusion of axes coming out of the seats and poking the audience when appropriate
1. Not only keep the claim that Thorin & Co. ran amok in Mirkwood "molesting people", but depict said incident in vivid detail!!!!!


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 9 2013, 11:24pm

Post #24 of 28 (121 views)
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That bit about Wormtongue and the Witch-king comes from Unfinished Tales.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jan 11 2013, 12:05am

Post #25 of 28 (91 views)
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After everything Professor and Christopher Tolkien have given to us [In reply to] Can't Post

I really do support CT's wishes; the hope and desire to experience more of Middle-earth's stories is not something I can ignore. BUT any films adaptations for those stories really must be made by people who will honour the work the way Jackson's filmic family has.

There will always be opinions pro and con on something like this. In a perfect world, I would give every story a chance to see life from the screen.


gramma's The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey Line Party Report & Review
and first draught of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List



sample

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!



TORn's Observations Lists
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