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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Let’s talk about directors. Or not.
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Glorfindela
Valinor


Jul 16 2013, 10:41pm

Post #51 of 90 (414 views)
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Tell me about it. [In reply to] Can't Post

I work in publishing (in Britain) and when talking to literary types (and others) in that world, in general I do not even raise my head above the parapet to admit that I like Tolkien's work. I'm afraid that fantasy, including Tolkien's LOTR, and science fiction are rather 'looked down on' by 'intellectuals', with the exception, perhaps, of authors such as Neil Gaiman and Ian M. Banks. That's always been the case in literary circles.


In Reply To
The books are all immensely popular. But as far as I can tell there still is only limited and grudging acceptance in intellectual circles, despite the Tolkien experts teaching Tolkien courses in universities around the world. I suspect that in some circles there is little distinction between LotR and Twilight.



Bumblingidiot
Rohan

Jul 16 2013, 11:28pm

Post #52 of 90 (403 views)
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Not an insult; a misrepresentation. [In reply to] Can't Post

I was just pointing out that the books aren't 'the epitome of geek literature', as was suggested. Books aren't defined by a tiny sub-group of the readership, based mostly in one country, especially when that readership is massive, global and spans all types - from intellectuals, to people who are into 'fantasy' and role playing, with the vast bulk being those who would not define themselves as either. I know people like to put things in boxes, but if you want to categorise Tolkien's literature, you're going to need a bigger box.


In Reply To
I fell in love with LotR some 45 years ago and it has remained my favourite book ever since, along with Tolkien’s other Middle Earth books.

Gazillions of other people have read and loved the books too and I remember when LotR was named book of the century or something in Britain. The books are all immensely popular. But as far as I can tell there still is only limited and grudging acceptance in intellectual circles, despite the Tolkien experts teaching Tolkien courses in universities around the world. My impression is that Middle Earth is considered rather passé and juvenile in hipster or cool circles; but I have no firsthand knowledge of that , thankfully never having been cool in my life. I suspect that in some circles there is little distinction between LotR and Twilight.



Bombadil
Half-elven


Jul 16 2013, 11:45pm

Post #53 of 90 (405 views)
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HOW can it be Geeky?... if Other than the King James [In reply to] Can't Post

BIBLE

Tolkien is the most read
in the 20th Century!

How far do
we have to go
to be... Mainstream?

A Bewildered Bomby


Bumblingidiot
Rohan

Jul 17 2013, 12:37am

Post #54 of 90 (393 views)
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You may be right. [In reply to] Can't Post

I personally find it hard to separate the tone and atmosphere from the disneyfied elements. I will watch it again and reassess in the spirit of open-mindedness, although I will have to put my mind on Cruise-control in order to get through parts of it unscathed.


In Reply To
atmosphere and tone which is not quite like saying I want Bilbo to kiss Unicorns and have Gollum wear glittery underpants is it?



Salmacis81
Tol Eressea


Jul 17 2013, 1:12am

Post #55 of 90 (388 views)
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When did he say anything like this? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
The attempt by certain sections of American society to claim them as their own is one of the things that frustrates Christopher Tolkien.


I've heard him complain that the books were turned into "action-films for 15-25 year olds", and I've read a comment he made about his belief that Jackson's films have "reduced the literary aesthetic to nothing" and that his father's work "has been absorbed into the absurdities of our times" (or something to that effect), but I've never heard anything about Christopher Tolkien singling out these "certain sections of American society" that you're speaking of. It would seem to me that Jackson's films are a world-wide thing, not just geared toward us Americans.


Bumblingidiot
Rohan

Jul 17 2013, 1:28am

Post #56 of 90 (381 views)
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I was referring to the books, - as per the original comment. [In reply to] Can't Post

If I remember correctly, he was not happy about the stuff that went on in the 60s/70s when LOTR became popular on American campuses - and got absorbed somehow into the flower power scene. I believe that he thought - as did JRR himself - that many readers were focussing on the wrong aspects of the writing - or at least were missing some of the fundamental aspects of it. There have been some documentaries covering this sort of stuff, but I'm afraid I can't remember which ones. Can't remember if the Humphrey Carpenter biography of Tolkien goes into this - I haven't read it for years.


Salmacis81
Tol Eressea


Jul 17 2013, 1:57am

Post #57 of 90 (377 views)
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I do remember reading... [In reply to] Can't Post

that JRR Tolkien was not at all happy with the hippies co-opting his stories (which is why I'm convinced he would have loathed Jackson's portrayal of Radagast). I'm sure he would have been just as unhappy with Led Zeppelin and many of the English progressive rock bands also co-opting his stories, but he probably didn't live to see that happen.

Christopher did live to see that, so I'm not sure why he'd single out Americans when there were fellow Englishmen of his doing the same thing, unless he was just unaware.


(This post was edited by Salmacis81 on Jul 17 2013, 1:58am)


Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Jul 17 2013, 2:35am

Post #58 of 90 (366 views)
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More personal comments removed - thread in danger of being locked [In reply to] Can't Post

A moderator has already asked that comments steer clear of getting personal. Now TWO moderators have asked. The thread will be locked if people can't stick to comments about the topic, and not comments about people making the comments. Crazy


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase





Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 17 2013, 2:44am

Post #59 of 90 (400 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

In America, especially, Tolkien words are creeping into everyday usage; for example, mathom, meaning an article one saves but doesn't use. A senior girl at the Bronx High School of Science says: "I wrote my notes in Elvish. Even now, I doodle in Elvish. It's my means of expression."

What does Tolkien think of that? Does he like Americans? "I don't like anyone very much in that sense. I'm against generalizations." One persists. Does he like Americans? "Art moves them and they don't know what they've been moved by and they get quite drunk on it," Tolkien says. "Many young Americans are involved in the stories in a way that I am not."

"But they do use this sometimes as a means against some abomination. There was one campus, I forget which, where the council of the university pulled down a very pleasant little grove of trees to make way for what they called a 'Culture Center' out of some sort of concrete blocks. The students were outraged. They wrote 'another bit of Mordor' on it."

-Interview with Tolkien by Philip Norman of The Sunday Times, London, as published in the NYTimes, January 15, 1967

What some of you may not know though is that the success of these books sadly led to another kind of overshadowing; the shadow cast by unthinking elements in the worldwide fans of the author's work. Although compared to some more recent excesses in the world of celebrity stalkers or intellectual property theft, these incidents of middle of the night phone calls, trampled roses, or dragging Gandalf and hobbit pipe-weed into illegal drug-taking might seem small beer. But they upset Tolkien and his comments on a 'deplorable cultus' have been used against his fans of all stripes over the years. In late 1968 various people began talking about forming a British Tolkien Society (there was already one in America) in part to counter the use of Tolkien's works by the extremes of hippiedom and the author Vera Chapman advertised in December 1969's issue of New Statesman the conception of The Tolkien Society, thus it is now in its fortieth year.
-Ian Collier, Festval in the Shire, Issue #2.

Then again:

Being a cult figure in one's own lifetime I am afraid is not at all pleasant. However I do not find that it tends to puff one up; in my case at any rate it makes me feel extremely small and inadequate. But even the nose of a very modest idol (younger than Chu-Bu and not much older than Sheemish) cannot remain entirely untickled by the sweet smell of incense!
-Letter #336

******************************************
Revenge is a dish best served with pinto beans and muffins.


angelclaw
Bree

Jul 17 2013, 3:16am

Post #60 of 90 (346 views)
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I had forgotten about that :( [In reply to] Can't Post

...but I love your suggestion of Walken as Gollum, especially with Lynch directing. Talk about insanity. Is Toto still around to record the soundtrack? Tongue


Bumblingidiot
Rohan

Jul 17 2013, 3:42am

Post #61 of 90 (347 views)
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I doubt we'll get a chance to ask him (CT) [In reply to] Can't Post

but I wasn't implying that either CT or JRR had a specific problem with American readers, but with some of the manifestations - if that's the right word - of sections of the readership. The original comment was about Tolkien being a 'geek' thing - ie. co-opted by a specific US sub-culture and I was pointing out that when this had happened in the past, (the flower power stuff), the Tolkiens had been unhappy with it. I'm sure there are many similar things - including Led Zep or the Beatles' intended film of LOTR that would (or did) make CT put his head in his hands in despair.



In Reply To
that JRR Tolkien was not at all happy with the hippies co-opting his stories (which is why I'm convinced he would have loathed Jackson's portrayal of Radagast). I'm sure he would have been just as unhappy with Led Zeppelin and many of the English progressive rock bands also co-opting his stories, but he probably didn't live to see that happen.

Christopher did live to see that, so I'm not sure why he'd single out Americans when there were fellow Englishmen of his doing the same thing, unless he was just unaware.



Elenorflower
Gondor


Jul 17 2013, 10:58am

Post #62 of 90 (333 views)
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I would be interested in hearing your opinion [In reply to] Can't Post

its always worth while to watch in hindsight. Some films I dismissed in the past as cheese, now look pretty good. Legend captures the essense of Faerie in some ways, because Faerie is a beautiful but dangerous realm. Its also visually ravishing.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 17 2013, 1:58pm

Post #63 of 90 (303 views)
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Sure he did... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
that JRR Tolkien was not at all happy with the hippies co-opting his stories (which is why I'm convinced he would have loathed Jackson's portrayal of Radagast). I'm sure he would have been just as unhappy with Led Zeppelin and many of the English progressive rock bands also co-opting his stories, but he probably didn't live to see that happen.



J.R.R. Tolkien passed away in 1973; the album Led Zeppelin IV (with "Stairway to Heaven" and "Misty Mountain Hop") came out in 1971. What I don't know is whether he ever listened to the album or what he would have thought of it.

The bands Shadowfax and Cirith Ungol both debuted in 1972.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 17 2013, 2:01pm)


unexpectedvisitor
Rohan

Jul 17 2013, 2:02pm

Post #64 of 90 (342 views)
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some weird comments in this thread [In reply to] Can't Post

i will try to refrain from making it personal. there's a lot of "shoulda, woulda, coulda" hypothesizing, which i get can be a fun way to kill some time, like "oh, i wonder what David Lynch's Hobbit would have been like, etc.," but some of you are getting pretty intense about it...and, frankly, what's the point of that?

most film buffs, critics, and even us persnickety Tolkien fans recognize PJ's LotR as one of the great film trilogies and one of the best examples of epic adventure filmmaking. to act like it was just some fluke or that there are a lot of directors who would have done better at making LotR something that was successful on multiple levels (as action, as epic, as adventure, as drama, with heart and scope and integrity towards its characters, with both grandeur and warmth and humor and yet frightening, imposing villains and an appreciation for the mythic beauty Tolkien built into his lore, as critical success, as commercial success, as a cultural phenom, etc.) is a huge disservice to what PJ and his team accomplished. you don't have to like everything about it or even like it, in general, but let's not act like there are just a ton of directors out there that, 1) would have poured their heart and soul and all their passion into making these movies, which is what was required to pull them off and what PJ and co. did, AND 2) been able to hit as many or more marks as PJ was able to. some very accomplished directors would have made a more artful LotR and Hobbit perhaps. some would have made it even more lighthearted and perhaps even ironic for the sake of "entertainment." when considering the typical big-budget Hollywood standard for adaptation, PJ and his team have actually been pretty gosh darn faithful to Tolkien's work, but i suppose there are some directors out there that could have delivered films that would make some of the purists happier (that is, if such a project could have secured the necessary funding, of which i am dubious). but very few directors out there were as uniquely suited to making these movies as PJ was, in terms of making movies that would work for a LOT of people and be both commercial and critical successes.

in regards to some of the names and movies mentioned: Legend is gorgeous, sure, and I enjoy it--but it really is style over substance. Ridley Scott is not someone i'd pick to helm a project that 1) has a huge existing fanbase to please, 2) has to work on a lot of different levels outside of one or two given genres, and 3) contains a story with a lot of narrative and a lot of characters with which the audience needs to emotionally connect. he is an aesthete auteur who is at his best when he's dealing with something relatively simple in plot that can flourish through his execution of it, i.e. Legend, Alien, Blade Runner. outside of being fantasy, Legend and LotR are two completely different beasts and i don't really understand the point in comparing the two or even Legend and AUJ (and, btw, i think AUJ is the better film, by a good margin).

i like Malick a lot, but adapting a popular fantasy novel is not who he is as an artist. he would NEVER have done LotR and even if he had, i can't imagine it working half as well as PJ's does. or, more to the point, i can't even imagine it. because that is not what Malick does as a filmmaker. he has a singular vision and i don't think he could have connected enough with Tolkien's singular vision to ever mount a successful adaptation.

Cuaron, MAYBE. however, PJ is basically a Hobbit. in his ancestry and in his love for New Zealand, he has some of the sensibilities and locational familiarity he needs to pull off things like Hobbits and The Shire and so on in a way that few directors could. Cuaron would have probably done a few things better than PJ but i think PJ's Hobbity perspective of Middle Earth and his affinity for the things that Tolkien had affinity for give his LotR films and The Hobbit a very appropriate and knowing tone that Cuaron could have only tried to approximate.

the GdT thing has been beaten to death. i'll just say, Pacific Rim gives me no reason to believe that he would have delivered Hobbit movies without any of the supposed weaknesses that i keep seeing AUJ detractors harping on (too much CG, some cheesy dialogue, etc.). GdT has made some great films in the past but, you know, so has PJ, and not just LotR. Braindead is one of THE great zombie flicks and Heavenly Creatures is just a great film, period. PJ has a lot of ability as both a storyteller and as a cinematic artist, which, again, makes him one of the directors most uniquely suited to the material as he can adeptly forge that broad audience connection to the story and characters while at the same time delivering on the scope and the details and the visual inspiration and the technical aspects. there are some areas in which GdT is more the filmic artist and better storyteller, and some areas in both sides where PJ trumps GdT easily. i think GdT IS more suited to a fable-like storytelling, which could have worked great for The Hobbit but not for LotR. the downside of that is the decrease in continuity and congruity, stylistic and otherwise, between The Hobbit and LotR, which would have been somewhat more consistent with the source materials in some regards but not necessarily the most satisfying larger context, especially if The Hobbit movies always kind of had to be made after LotR due to the greater commercial viability of the latter. PJ's traits as a storyteller are much better suited to the LotR than GdT's...so, ultimately, i think these movies happened as they were meant to.


(This post was edited by unexpectedvisitor on Jul 17 2013, 2:08pm)


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 17 2013, 2:10pm

Post #65 of 90 (287 views)
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It is unfair to judge a director from one, single film... [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, Ridley Scott directed Legend. He also directed the first Alien film, Thelma & Louise and Gladiator--among many other films. Scott might very well be capable of directing a perfectly fine adaptation of The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings. However, I would be leery of some of his signature camera tricks (smoke in the air, high-speed action sequences, etc.).

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


unexpectedvisitor
Rohan

Jul 17 2013, 2:18pm

Post #66 of 90 (282 views)
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Heavenly Creatures is very much on par [In reply to] Can't Post

with the Malick films you mentioned, though it is a smaller scale film. personally, my favorite Malick film is Tree of Life...but i like Heavenly Creatures better.

but comparing LotR to Malick films really is apples to oranges. there are numerous reasons that Malick didn't make these films...he would never want to, the studio would never want him to, and after audiences saw a Malickian Fellowship of the Ring or Hobbit, most of the world wouldn't have wanted him to, either. it simply is not a good fit of source material and artist, not nearly as good a fit as PJ with the material. if Malick were to adapt a famous author, it'd much sooner be someone like Hemingway than it would be a writer like Tolkien.


dormouse
Half-elven


Jul 17 2013, 2:23pm

Post #67 of 90 (283 views)
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Oh yes, but I didn't know I was judging him... [In reply to] Can't Post

As I said, I think Legend is a lovely film, especially visually, it's gorgeous, but I don't think the look, or the style or atmosphere would translate particularly well to The Hobbit.

That's not to say Ridley Scott wouldn't be capable of making a good adaptation of The Hobbit. I expect he would be if he wanted to. Gladiator and The Kingdom of Heaven are two of my favourite films.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 17 2013, 2:41pm

Post #68 of 90 (275 views)
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Well, I had to go by the contents of your post... [In reply to] Can't Post

...not what you didn't say in it. It only dealt with Scott as the director of Legend. Sorry if you found me overly critical.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Salmacis81
Tol Eressea


Jul 17 2013, 3:46pm

Post #69 of 90 (257 views)
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True... [In reply to] Can't Post

And LZ II had "Ramble On", and that was released in 1969. So I guess it's just a matter of whether or not he was aware of it.


Bumblingidiot
Rohan

Jul 17 2013, 4:18pm

Post #70 of 90 (250 views)
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But, Glorfindela, if you work in publishing, then you are a literary type [In reply to] Can't Post

and you work in literary circles, so stick your head above the parapet and be proud! Rayner Unwin, who published The Hobbit, was also a literary type.

The problem with literary circles is that they operate in big cities, and are often populated by insecure urbanites who have never sat in a hedgerow, or understood the importance of doing so.


In Reply To
I work in publishing (in Britain) and when talking to literary types (and others) in that world, in general I do not even raise my head above the parapet to admit that I like Tolkien's work. I'm afraid that fantasy, including Tolkien's LOTR, and science fiction are rather 'looked down on' by 'intellectuals', with the exception, perhaps, of authors such as Neil Gaiman and Ian M. Banks. That's always been the case in literary circles.


In Reply To
The books are all immensely popular. But as far as I can tell there still is only limited and grudging acceptance in intellectual circles, despite the Tolkien experts teaching Tolkien courses in universities around the world. I suspect that in some circles there is little distinction between LotR and Twilight.




Glorfindela
Valinor


Jul 17 2013, 5:10pm

Post #71 of 90 (246 views)
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I'm no literary type, and do not wish to be! [In reply to] Can't Post

I work mainly on academic factual books (arts, natural history, etc.), not literary fiction.

I certainly agree with your second paragraph. I'm not sure about 'insecure urbanites', though. I would call them something different – and less complementary…


In Reply To
and you work in literary circles, so stick your head above the parapet and be proud! Rayner Unwin, who published The Hobbit, was also a literary type.

The problem with literary circles is that they operate in big cities, and are often populated by insecure urbanites who have never sat in a hedgerow, or understood the importance of doing so.



Glorfindela
Valinor


Jul 17 2013, 5:17pm

Post #72 of 90 (268 views)
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Just spotted your post, unexpectedvisitor, and I couldn't agree more [In reply to] Can't Post

You obviously know what you're talking about when it comes to directors – and certainly put things so much better than I ever could, or would have time to put down in writing.

So, thank you for the intelligent and interesting post.


Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 17 2013, 5:36pm

Post #73 of 90 (263 views)
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My comments are usually always weird. [In reply to] Can't Post

Great points!

******************************************
Revenge is a dish best served with pinto beans and muffins.


Bumblingidiot
Rohan

Jul 17 2013, 5:43pm

Post #74 of 90 (239 views)
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Well, OK [In reply to] Can't Post

but academic publishing still requires top notch prose and clear, often vibrant and imaginative writing. I work with a lot of academic texts, and the classics - Oliver Rackham's 'Ancient Woodland', for example, is beautifully written. Tolkien spent much of his professional life writing academic texts, so perhaps you are better placed to appreciate his style than the 'literary types', who prefer books which fit their own preconceptions of 'literature'.


In Reply To
I work mainly on academic factual books (arts, natural history, etc.), not literary fiction.

I certainly agree with your second paragraph. I'm not sure about 'insecure urbanites', though. I would call them something different – and less complementary…


In Reply To
and you work in literary circles, so stick your head above the parapet and be proud! Rayner Unwin, who published The Hobbit, was also a literary type.

The problem with literary circles is that they operate in big cities, and are often populated by insecure urbanites who have never sat in a hedgerow, or understood the importance of doing so.




Christine Golden
Registered User

Jul 17 2013, 7:09pm

Post #75 of 90 (250 views)
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I agree completely [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
"Tolkiens books deserve the best, outstanding, most visionary and capable of directors. The likes of David Lean, Malick, Cuaron, Peter Weir...im sure, many other names... Peter Bad Taste Jackson is not suited, imo, for Tolkien.

His very undisciplined and contradictory nature as a filmmaker is a detriment to the adaptations. He can create great scenes worthy of the books, but then he ruins it all with inventions, ott scenes, bad writing, and a taste for the juvenile, the vulgar, melodrama and the predictable...

Lotr and TH should be treated as Lawrence of Arabia, an absolute masterpiece, a classic that would earn the respect and admiration of everyone for its cinematic brilliance.

I like Lotr , specially fellowship, but i easily recognize that they could have been so much better with a greater director at the helm."

----------------------
I could not agree with you more, and apparently, the American Film Institute concurs. Only one of Jackon's LotR movies, Fellowship, is listed on its "top 100 movies of all time" and continues to slide down the list. Time will undoubtedly lead to its eventual removal, unlike the great classics such as Lawrence of Arabia, Ben-Hur, and Bridge on the River Kwai. It truly is amazing what a great director can create when he relies on his own imagination and talent rather than the lastest special effects' bells-and-whistles.'

---------------------
"But a TV adaptation is my dream now. This a golden age of television and it is much easier to do it today than in the past."
---------------------

Coincidentally, Spielberg and Lucas recently gave a joint interview in which they agreed with you. They believe the days of the grand movie complexes are passing and have already begun to plan projects for the small screen instead of the larger one. Lincoln was originally destined for HBO. Perhaps one day, SS will obtain the television rights from Zaentz and we'll see Tolkien's vision of Middle Earth as portrayed in the books instead of the cut-and-paste version now on the market.


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