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Hollywood! Adapt This: The Life of J.R.R. Tolkien-thought provoking/painful article


Aug 19 2013, 9:15pm

Post #1 of 13 (502 views)
Hollywood! Adapt This: The Life of J.R.R. Tolkien-thought provoking/painful article Can't Post


A rather poorly written article it may be, but it got me thinking would you like to see a dramatised biography of Tolkien's life on screen, or would such an idea seem like a cheap shot to cash in on the sucess of his books and the films? Who would make a good Professor Tolkien?

Personally I find the idea intriguing and alarming in equal measure (not to mention morbidly hillarious-Imagine Tolkie's face when the 'deplorable cultus' made his life into an epic feature film), it would certainly be a rich rewarding tale (I can totally see a BBC TV film), but there is rather alot to tell and I'm not sure how you'd tell it...

And the idea seems somehow a little in poor taste, making Tolkien seem like just another celebrity rather than the simple man with a regular job (and rather imaginative storytelling) he preffered to live as.

Thoughts? (Beyond 'Why, Why, Why!)

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.

Na Vedui

Aug 19 2013, 9:39pm

Post #2 of 13 (285 views)
Intriguing and alarming indeed! [In reply to] Can't Post

And probably acutely painful for the surviving Tolkien descendants. It would have to be very sensitively done not to hurt; and there's also a real dramatic problem which Humphrey Carpenter flagged up in his bio with a phrase something like "and after that, nothing happened" - i.e. most of the more striking events bunch early in his life (parent's deaths, courtship of Edith in the face of difficulties, First World War etc). I think a skilful writer *could* deal with that, and make the middle and later years interesting to watch, but it certainly wouldn't sit well with the formulae for a big-screen film and the thought of what might be done to "up the ante" in that direction is pretty scary.

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Aug 19 2013, 9:56pm

Post #3 of 13 (271 views)
I have thought about this before, and I imagined something like The Princess Bride [In reply to] Can't Post

 mixing the real world with some of his crucial moments on his life. Or having him writing about them wheninspiration came. Specially concerning Edith,and the tale of Beren and Luthien. For me an adaptation of Tolkienīs life, or an adaptation of Luthienīs tale would have ended the same way, with a hot of Tokienīs andEdithīs real graves with the names of Beren and Luthien.

Obviously in my mind but Iīmnot sure it would be respectful to put this into the spotlight. Also I feel that Hollywood is not prepared to show the religious side of Tolkien, and without that I couldnīt like that sort of biopic

The flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true!


Aug 19 2013, 10:29pm

Post #4 of 13 (262 views)
I read on another forum a really, really weird but brillaint idea [In reply to] Can't Post

Dramatising Tolkien's life partially retold via the Lost Road (Tolkien's abadoned time travel story-the lead characters are none to subtle copies of him and christopher) i.e mixing drama intercut with documetary style reconstructions of the books-there was a framing device as Professor Tolkien and co set sail over the sea looking not for Valinor, but the completed conherent mythology Tolkien was looking for, Tolkien would narrate chapters of his own life intercut with the stories i.e The Fall of Gondolin and The Battle of the Somme.

Sounded nuts but great when I read it, even more so when I write it out...totally uncommercial yet something like that could be bold enough to make the project worthwhile, and it would be the cloesest we'd get to the silmarillion being adapted.

But as pointed out above, even today all these volumes later much of Tolkien's life remains a bit of a blank...

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.

Aunt Dora Baggins

Aug 19 2013, 10:42pm

Post #5 of 13 (257 views)
Most bio-pics only address part of a person's life. [In reply to] Can't Post

So it could be about the exciting early years and be a pretty good story.

"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com


Aug 20 2013, 1:47am

Post #6 of 13 (239 views)
Not opposed to the idea [In reply to] Can't Post

in theory, though the thought does fill me with dread, Tolkien being one of my personal heroes and all. The only thing I am dead set against is any incorporation of fantasy elements or framed narrative, out of fear of trivialization. (Already too common in biopics as it is.) He was, after all, a real person not a character in a story

"In the beginning the Universe was created.This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Aug 20 2013, 4:20am

Post #7 of 13 (246 views)
Is Yahoo Serious available? [In reply to] Can't Post

Otherwise, I'd go for a level or two of separation, like from the viewpoint of Tolkien's batman, or one of his college students, or maybe a young colleague.

Once Gandalf dreamt he was a moth, a moth flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Gandalf. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Gandalf. But he didn't know if he was Gandalf who had dreamt he was a moth, or a moth dreaming he was Gandalf. Between Gandalf and a moth there must be some distinction! But really, there isn't, because he's actually Olórin dreaming he's both Gandalf *and* a moth!
-From Gandalfi: The Moth Dream


Aug 20 2013, 11:31am

Post #8 of 13 (221 views)
maybe Zeallywood instead of Hollywood... [In reply to] Can't Post

Might be a great project for someone involved with the PJ oragani(s)ation.

As noted above, it might work to have scenes from The Professor's life cutting back and forth with scenes they inspired in his writing. As for his later years lacking in drama, I could imagine a shot of Tolkien closing an old book blurring into a shot of Bilbo closing the Red Book while the voice-over says, "...and he lived happily thereafter to the end of his days", as the music rises.


Aug 20 2013, 3:23pm

Post #9 of 13 (198 views)
Or maybe the UK instead of New Zealand... [In reply to] Can't Post

Personally if a biopic were made I'd want PJ and co to stay well away-Jackson by his own admission is a casual fan-his limited knowledge of, and interest in Tolkien's sources and lifestory and how they relate to his work, wouldn't do the biopic any favours IMO, for all his skill as a filmaker he would bring too much baggage, and to be honest I think his appointement would be rather unlikely and a bit distasteful.

I would rather want a straight 'drama' filmaker at the helm more intrested in the man and his methods rather than his stories and action sequences, with the estate's direct approval-the notion of the guy who ressurected Azog, brought the elves to Helm's Deep, rewrote Faramir and cut out The Scouring of The Shire making a fim of Tolkien's life seems a little in poor taste to me, and I can only imagine how it would annoy Tolkien's family-I'd pictured someone like Richard Attenborough, Ridley Scott, or David Yates at the helm.

I would also want it to be filmed in Tolkien's home country (Ok I know he was born in south africa but he considered himself english), I find it a little annoying how New Zealand and PJ are viewed as the be all and end all merely because they came first 9and I'm not happy how the New Zeland goverment utilisies the movies so heavily to increase tourism-the real middle earth is England), given England and Northern European Mythology and Lanaguage were his primary inspriations for the stories, and his home for 77 of his 81 years it seems sensible to film there.

If there were dramatic reconstructions of the books, Beren and Luthien would certainly be much more important than Bilbo (I still find it very ironic how Tolkien wasn't that fond of hobbits himself, yet the Elves were viewed as Ghastly by several of the Inklings...)...

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.


Aug 20 2013, 3:30pm

Post #10 of 13 (199 views)
Well [In reply to] Can't Post

While JRRT's life may have been uneventful in its later years, he did know and teach some very interesting people. Something could be made of that -- Lewis and Barfield and Williams and Sayers, to name a few. Actually a movie about the Inklings would be very interesting . I could see a movie about Tolkien ending with the publication of LOTR because we all know what happens after. Although the idea of a combination of his romance and marriage and the story of Beren and Luthien is fantastic. The movie could be called "Tollers". Although they would probably call it "Tolkien: Lord of the Ring".


Aug 20 2013, 3:37pm

Post #11 of 13 (197 views)
If PJ/New Line were involved I have a good title [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien The Mickey

(Taking the Mickey...it would be step to far IMO)

An Inklings Miniseries would be cool as well I suppose, I know virtually nothing about CS Lewis or Charles Williams.

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.


Aug 20 2013, 4:11pm

Post #12 of 13 (208 views)
Leave it be [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think there is a solid enough reason to make a movie or mini-series on Tolkien's life. He lived a good quite life and it doesn't need to be twisted like you see with certain biopics.


Aug 23 2013, 2:02pm

Post #13 of 13 (196 views)
If it could be done right.... [In reply to] Can't Post

buuuut... Aside from the problem of the Estate neeeeever giving approval, I think this is a marvellous idea, IF done RIGHT! And the most difficult thing to deal with well (in the sense of illuminating its importance) would be not to make the biopic into a morose, gloomy thing about his early influences, but also his joviality, conviviality and esp. his religious sensitivities that make his work so really attractive, in my never humble opinion. That is my quibble with Verlyn Flieger, who emphasizes his loss of family and friends and his "long defeat" in sustaining Faerie (which has turned into a triumph!), and not his resurrectional optimism and faith in Providence. But a film that covers his early life, his resilience and the Inklings and eventual triumph as a sub-creator, would be thrilling. Something along the lines of Shadowlands (for CS Lewis), and a classy series maybe done by Masterpiece Theater BBC? But forget about getting any of the rights to his works and ideas like The Silmarillion or Beren and Luthien or The Straight Road. The Estate will not even consider it!

Timothy Fisher alias "Timdalf"


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