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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion:
Is there a "Tolkien Cinematic Universe"?

squire
Half-elven


Dec 3 2017, 6:55pm

Post #1 of 16 (3621 views)
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Is there a "Tolkien Cinematic Universe"? Can't Post

I have seen references to this before, with fans making a direct comparison between the Jackson films of Tolkien's books, and the extensive filmed story franchises coming out of the Marvel and DC comics, the Star Trek TV shows, and the Star Wars movies, to name some prominent examples. These fans' conclusions seem to that Tolkien's, or more exactly Jackson's, Middle-earth should, of course, be available as a setting for future productions in almost any direction that makes a good entertaining story. Many people have already said they just assume that the Amazon series must follow Jackson's designs, story modifications, and even casting, a la the Marvel or Star Wars films for example.

This always makes me uncomfortable, since Tolkien was a single author whose undoubted fantasy universe remained firmly in his own head and under his own control throughout its creation. A 'cinematic universe', if I understand the idea, maintains back-story and design consistency throughout an endless series of filmed stories written by licensed committees authorized by the original creative team (Lee, Lucas, etc.). In the case of Tolkien, would J. R. R. Tolkien still be the "original creative team", or wouldn't it be Peter Jackson? The idea of a 'cinematic universe' only seems to make sense if the answer is, Jackson.

Shouldn't we then speak of a "Jackson cinematic universe", when arguing about whether Amazon is obligated to work within it, omitting Tolkien's name completely out of courtesy to a no-longer living author?



squire online:
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InTheChair
Rivendell

Dec 3 2017, 7:16pm

Post #2 of 16 (3545 views)
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Perhaps the Middle-earth cinematic universe to take a middle road [In reply to] Can't Post

Though with six full movies from Jackson, and no involvement of the Tolkien Estate, except as guardians of the rights, it would have to build on Jackson movies to create such a thing.

I think the reason so many expect the series to take some basis in Jacksons movies is that it would make the most economic sense. If the shareholders wish to go with something tried and tested, that is Jackson.

If Amazon wish to go with something more avant garde, then perhaps they will look more to the books.


(This post was edited by InTheChair on Dec 3 2017, 7:17pm)


MedTolkien Eruhin
Registered User

Dec 3 2017, 8:47pm

Post #3 of 16 (3527 views)
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"Universe" doesn't mean anything at all. [In reply to] Can't Post

You're thinking as Middle-earth is some sort of a intellectual product of multimedia and nerd's culture, that defines the word "universe" as a narrative context more or less extended to include more stories, but only in terms of a brand, or its selling skills to be passed from one to another, as long as it remains in a specific market of entertainment.

In narratology this concept does not exist. To be precise, this doesn't means anything at all, since it depends only on effects on purchasers.

Nor in literature it has ever existed. The great novels of Dostoevskij takes place in the same time in Russia, we could have the impression that the protagonists may meet each other, but that doesn't define a "universe". The context is given, and it is not less given to a Russian reader of the 2nd half of 18th century than to an nowadays American, even if he has no knowledge of that particular time in Russia.

When you read Ariosto's Orlando after Boiardo's you may perceive or not it is its sequel, as Ariosto meant it be: they have a fantastic pattern shared in some measure, but however they contain fantastic elements, they don't take place in any "universe" different from the one their authors are living.

The narrative context in literary invention (or fiction) isn't a universe, no matter how many stories are interconnected and by how many authors. You can define a Canon for Sherlock Holmes, but not a universe. The universe of Sherlock Holmes is our own.

The same is for Middle-earth and Tolkien stories herein settled. Tolkien has said in any way he could that Middle-earth is our own in an imaginary (mythic) past [Letters], and so his its universe. You may see it with clarity in his later attempts to make his cosmology agree with modern (physic) cosmology [Morgoth's Ring]. What is changing here is the way you narrate the story, through mythical mode.

So, is there a Tolkien Universe? No. Or, better, it's ours, no matter how successful the adaption is. Jackson had this notion clear in his mind when he started to conceptualize his adaptions, saying something like:

Quote
We're not going to film a fantasy movie, but a realistic one.

I believe you can find the exact quote in the special features of the Extended The Fellowship of the Ring

If you try to understand Tolkien with the poor categories of comics, cine-comics, modern fantasy and sci-fi publishing or videogames storyselling (which started to talk about "universe" and "multiverse" in the moment they misunderstood interpretation of Quantum Physics), what you'll understand is not Tolkien, nor anything Tolkien-related.


Lissuin
Tol Eressea


Dec 4 2017, 3:05am

Post #4 of 16 (3482 views)
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You mean like a Shakespearean cinematic universe? [In reply to] Can't Post

No, based on what's happened to Shakespeare's work over the centuries, I don't think there can be just one Tolkien cinematic universe. There are already several different views of Middle-earth. A few centuries from now when all the copyrights have run out, Tolkien's worlds will no doubt look as varied as Shakespeare's. The Professor's written universe won't change, but there's no script set in stone, only dialog and story. Each writer/director will use what they will of those, and some viewers will cheer and some will boo whatever version comes out.

Just look at one play among the many of Shakespeare's that have been put to film. Even though Romeo and Juliet doesn't change on the page, what would Will make of the plethora of filmed versions? Zeffirelli's is beautiful and touted for being the most faithful because the stars looked as young as the originals, but at the time some cringed when the two young newlyweds were shown in bed together - naked! Shocked; in 1936 they didn't even get to see the kisses of the 30- and 40-year old stars. I'm soooo not looking forward to the potential of a GOT-style OTT sex and violence for Tolkien, but then my Jackson quibbles are the BOFA maimed troll and TTT Faramir allowing Gollum to be beaten, and why wasn't the lovely Houses of Healing scene with Eowyn and Faramir in the theatrical release! None of us will get exactly what's in our heads. Isn't that neat? Evil

Or think of the "based on" very silly versions Gnomeo and Juliet or Chicken Wars? Will any future film versions of LOTR be as irreverent as "Bored of the Rings"?

Outside the UK, other cultures have found the story of star-crossed lovers from warring families just as relevant to them, and they've added contemporary settings, song and dance, altered endings according to the director's vision. And so it goes.

According to Cliff Notes,

Quote
Adaptations of Shakespeare's plays and other works have been featured in nearly 500 films and/or videos world-wide. That makes Shakespeare the most filmed playwright of all time!

I've had an at home day today and no RL pressing issues, so I've had an amusing YouTube time watching bits of old favourites and new discoveries. I found the cinematic history of the two lovers of fair Verona interesting when compared to the OP question about Middle-earth. Did I end up too off topic? Smile
Enjoy.

Romeo and Juliet film trailers from different decades:

1936 George Cukor
https://www.youtube.com/...7yPxjlfwV-_zU8HKwiMm
1954 Renato Castellani
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdtDsndAwng
1968 Franco Zeffirelli
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvCpDknV6Ps
1996 Baz Luhrmann
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AftvENnn37w
2013 Carlo Carlei
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXvufMqcWQA

And then there are the many "based on" versions trailers and scenes:

1961 West Side Story - USA - New York street gangs, musical drama
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IakulTGwc0U
1961 Romanoff and Juliet - USA - Cold War romantic comedy
1988 Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (English: From Doom till Doom) - India - musical drama https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWqjZpBtcxc
2000 Chicken Rice War - Singapore - competing chicken rice vendors, romantic comedy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS0c0JIs7L4
2002 Amar te duele - Mexico - social class war, modern film drama (note: some graphic violence) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzHUQEBepng
2007 Romeo x Juliet - Japan - anime TV series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQmLbQm2EOI
2011 Gnomeo and Juliet - UK/USA - computer animated garden gnomes, really. Laugh
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6avpvkoZQtk
2015 Arshinagar - India - Bengali land mafia, modern musical film drama (note: some graphic violence)
http://www.imdb.com/...837337?ref_=tt_ov_vi

Oh, yeah, and Taylor Swift, 2008. Wink
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xg3vE8Ie_E


Darkstone
Immortal


Dec 4 2017, 7:33pm

Post #5 of 16 (3375 views)
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My favorite R&J film is... [In reply to] Can't Post

..."Shakespeare in Love" (1998) directed by John Madden who just coincidentally was Harvey Weinstein's choice to direct LOTR after Jackson quit over Miramax deciding to go with just one film.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”




Darkstone
Immortal


Dec 4 2017, 8:54pm

Post #6 of 16 (3352 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

The crucial element of a Cinematic Universe is continuity. Marvel and Star Wars CUs have excellent continuity. In contrast Fox’s X-Men continuity is a joke.

Perhaps the best caveat for Amazon is DC. DC had a great continuity in its CW universe, but tossed all that out to go “darker and edgier” in the movies. Similarly Amazon could preserve continuity with the Jackson films, or else go darker and edgier with, say, a pilot episode of “Gandalf v Aragorn: Dawn of Fellowship”. (Or perhaps go more heroic and fey, but somehow I doubt it.)

In any case Jackson’s films are going to end up being the oliphaunts in the room for both Amazon and the fans.

Then again “Star Trek” (2009) also dumped all of Roddenberry’s optimistic future continuity in Abrams’ darker and edgier reboot and the STCU seems to be doing well enough. I wouldn’t call it Star Trek, though.

BTW, the Hasbro Cinematic Universe is expanding to feature M.A.S.K., Micronauts, Rom, and Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light. Writers signed for the project include John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein ("Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017)) and Nicole Perlman ("Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)). Director D. J. Caruso (CW's "Smallville" (2001-2011)) says the first crossover will be a Transformers meet G.I. Joe film. If "My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic" is eventually included I'll be over the moon!!

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”




(This post was edited by Darkstone on Dec 4 2017, 8:55pm)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Dec 4 2017, 10:14pm

Post #7 of 16 (3330 views)
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We produced the play this year. [In reply to] Can't Post

Shakespeare in Love, that is, not Romeo & Juliet. Adapted from the film and nearly as entertaining. Christopher Marlowe is more prominent than in the movie.

There are four lights.

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squire
Half-elven


Dec 4 2017, 10:39pm

Post #8 of 16 (3324 views)
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How often does that happen? [In reply to] Can't Post

I can see how "Shakespeare in Love" could be a great play. Glad to know it worked out.

But how often is an original film screenplay adapted backwards (so to speak - against convention, really) into a play? The only other examples I can think of are Disney's Broadway vehicles for their animated musical films, but those are hardly serious dramatic ventures.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Dec 5 2017, 9:29pm

Post #9 of 16 (3231 views)
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"A Christmas Story" is another example. [In reply to] Can't Post

Not too often, and fairly seldom for "serious dramatic ventures", but a prominent example would be our annual holiday show (a straight play but there is also a musical version), which is based more on the movie than on the book the movie was adapted from.

More often, a play will be adapted from a book that was already adapted into a film.

In the past 15 years of so, that would include, for instance, War Horse, The Kite Runner, Tuesdays with Morrie, Enchanted April, Pride and Prejudice, Freaky Friday, and The 39 Steps. Most of those played in multiple professional regional theaters or even on Broadway.

And The Lord of the Rings in Toronto and London.

There are four lights.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


dormouse
Half-elven


Dec 6 2017, 10:09am

Post #10 of 16 (3049 views)
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No.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien wasn't a film director or screenwriter. He didn't even write with the idea that his books might be filmed, as many novelists seem to do today. Far from it - he believed they were unfilmable. I think it's just one of those phrases that was used once by someone and someone else picked it up without pausing to analyse because they knew what they meant by it, and so it spread.

And yes, you're right, in a sense. 'Jackson cinematic universe'; would be nearer the mark - although wouldn't that imply that he had never made films about anything but the Ring saga, and that said Ring saga was his original creation? So I'd say forget 'universe' and try 'Jackson version of Tolkien' - or 'of Tolkien's books'. Because it seems to me that the idea of someone else coming in and appropriating the cinematic vision Peter Jackson conceived for his Rings films to use in their own version is as wrong as Peter Jackson being credited with the ownership of Tolkien's stories. It's another layer of the creative onion.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


Dunadan of North Arnor
The Shire

Dec 11 2017, 5:58am

Post #11 of 16 (2901 views)
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Um, no... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I think it's just one of those phrases that was used once by someone and someone else picked it up without pausing to analyse because they knew what they meant by it, and so it spread.


The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is an official term specifically designated to differentiate Marvel Studios’ Avengers movies (going on 20 now) from Fox’s X-Men/Fantastic4 movies, and Sony’s Spider-Man movies. It’s brainchild is one Kevin Feige, and as we know here, we like to have one genius at the helm at a time. (Stan Lee, Marvel’s previous All-father, being the only one able to cut Thor’s hair, yet more brilliance from by Feige). This is the the smarts, and appreciation of long-term fans, that ultimately brings in billions of dollars!

To bring this back on topic, and properly make a comparison, there exists now no Tolkien Cinematic Universe, but to attempt one, Amazon should immediately differentiate itself from Jackson by bringing in a SINGULAR GENIUS who can craft a SMART and FAITHFUL long-term adaptation of the source material that can be appreciated and beloved by TODAY’S audience.

Marvel Studios and Disney have done it. Follow their example, or flounder, like D.C./Warner Brothers...


dormouse
Half-elven


Dec 11 2017, 10:09am

Post #12 of 16 (2881 views)
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Sorry, my mistake..... [In reply to] Can't Post

I know nothing whatever about the Marvel cinematic universe.

But I was talking about the phrase 'Tolkien cinematic universe' and I stick with what I said about that - save for the fact that instead of someone coining the phrase, they've borrowed it and adapted it to their own use in a context to which it doesn't really apply. .

There is no Tolkien cinematic universe and to my mind there never will be. I'm assuming from your various block capitals that you don't like Peter Jackson's films - which is fair enough. But a lot of us (still living and breathing today, and still part of today's audience) do like them. Anyone would think from your post that Peter Jackson's films were made before anyone here was even born - remember Amazon will have essentially the SAME audience, just a bit older!

His are still very successful and popular films and no later version can take that achievement from them. But then, it doesn't have to. Different adaptations of classic stories can exist side-by-side and it's OK to like more than one. Whatever Amazon does isn't in competition with Peter Jackson's version of Middle-earth because the success of that is already achieved - it's up to Amazon to create their own success, in whatever way they wish.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


InTheChair
Rivendell

Dec 11 2017, 10:48pm

Post #13 of 16 (2813 views)
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Seems like it either already has an established universe, or they'd have to go their own way. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
by bringing in a SINGULAR GENIUS who can craft a SMART and FAITHFUL long-term adaptation of the source material that can be appreciated and beloved by TODAY’S audience.


If they can pull that feat off, I'd say they really have found a singular genius.

I think the only way to craft something like a Tolkien Cinematic Universe, or a Middle-Earth Cinematic Universe is to connect to the Jackson movies, or if they don't wish that to write their own things.

The books in their way already have an established universe and sticking too true to them. There's probably a reason no one talks about the Harry Potter Cinematic Universe.

Don't know if it makes a whole lot of difference though.


(This post was edited by InTheChair on Dec 11 2017, 10:51pm)


Dunadan of North Arnor
The Shire

Dec 12 2017, 6:35am

Post #14 of 16 (2773 views)
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TCU [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I know nothing whatever about the Marvel cinematic universe.

But I was talking about the phrase 'Tolkien cinematic universe' and I stick with what I said about that - save for the fact that instead of someone coining the phrase, they've borrowed it and adapted it to their own use in a context to which it doesn't really apply..


Thanks for your acknowledgements dormouse.

Your statement about “someone coining the phrase” is clearly directed to squire, so be it. You are also incorrect in your presumption that I disliked the Jackson movies and thus am pursuing an agenda. I liked them, even loved the first, but increasingly did dislike them, especially the Hobbit trilogy. But that’s beside the point.

My block letters were simply accentuating the success of the MCU in relation to the subject of this thread, not pursuing any agenda.

All the best! Smile


dormouse
Half-elven


Dec 12 2017, 9:21am

Post #15 of 16 (2752 views)
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OK, sorry.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I read a tone of voice into your capitals that wasn't meant to be there. All too easily done when you can't see or hear the speaker - my apologies!

As for the Amazon series, we wait and see - hoping it might be something special, preparing for the fact that it might not be!

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


Welsh hero
Gondor


Apr 6, 4:05pm

Post #16 of 16 (459 views)
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There is a film canon and a book canon [In reply to] Can't Post

but not a cinematic universe in the vain of marvel

-Irfon

Twitter: @IrfonPennant
middle earth timeline FB: https://www.facebook.com/MiddleEarth1

 
 

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