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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion:
A map for the tv show relaesed
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2ndBreffest
Lorien


Feb 17, 2:11pm

Post #51 of 85 (1401 views)
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Purely speculation... [In reply to] Can't Post

based upon the fact that the series can ultimately aspire to be nothing more than a big-budget fan-fic. I envision all of the non-Tolkien elements of PJ's movies times ten.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 17, 2:16pm

Post #52 of 85 (1402 views)
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The Orocarni [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I was trying to think why that version of the map would ever have been made. The films' map and manuscript artist Daniel Reeve doesn't feature it in his website, probably because the right side is (ahem) made up, along the lines of "neo-geography".

And as someone else may have already pointed out, the reason for the invented 'Mountains of the East' here is certainly to center the 'growing power of Mordor' animated effect in a wide-screen composition. I wonder if they didn't try to set up the shot with one of Reeve's masterful copies of the actual Tolkien map, discovered it didn't look right, and ask him for another with more filler on the right side?


The Mountains of the East are canonical to The Silmarillion, though their precise location can be debated. Also called the Orocarni, their positioning on Reeve's and Amazon's maps makes Middle-earth seem smaller than I imagine it to be.

"I reject your reality and substitute my own." - Adam Savage


MoreMorgoth
Bree

Feb 17, 2:28pm

Post #53 of 85 (1396 views)
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where does the quality judgment come in? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
based upon the fact that the series can ultimately aspire to be nothing more than a big-budget fan-fic. I envision all of the non-Tolkien elements of PJ's movies times ten.


But where does that translate into a judgment of the eventual quality?

Is it not possible the series could be excellent or at least very good?


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 17, 2:29pm

Post #54 of 85 (1395 views)
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Exactly [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd wait until I see marketing material to see whether or not I think I'll like the show or not.

Having said that, if marketing will give me the impression that its not for my sensibilities, I'll just not watch it, and I suggest that others do the same.

Its much better to recognize when something just isn't for you and not watch it, rather than watching it with the sole intention of becoming aggrevated and ranting on it.

For instance, I love Steven Spielberg. But the aesthetic of his Ready Player One was - so evidentally from the trailer - something that couldn't possibly glean any enjoyment from.

So, did I go watch it and made a forty-minute youtube rant of it? No, I just skipped and saved myself and everyone else a whole lot of negativity.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 17, 2:49pm

Post #55 of 85 (1388 views)
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Easterling Tribes [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Learn more about the easterlings? There's nothing written about the easterlings. Are we just casually gonna accept anything amazon makes up and slots into this world?


Not so; Tolkien wrote of at least two Easterling tribes under specific names: Wainriders and Balchoth. And we learn of bearded, axe-wielding Easterlings, even though we don't get insights into their culture.

"I reject your reality and substitute my own." - Adam Savage


squire
Half-elven


Feb 17, 3:03pm

Post #56 of 85 (1385 views)
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It's not about Middle-earth, it's about framing one camera shot. [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't say what the new producers have in mind, but there's no reason to take Reeve's addition of some generic "Mountains of the East" to the traditional map as canon, or as reflecting whatever it means to say their mention in The Silmarillion is canon. As you say, from Tolkien's sketches in HoME he conceived of them as being on the far eastern shore of the Great Lands supercontinent. He also didn't care where they were in relation to his Third Age map, because they are not mentioned in his Third Age tales. (In contrast, of course, to the Blue Mountains in the West, and their eventual use as a linking device between Beleriand and Eriador.)

One thing to remember about HoME is that quite a lot of it has no relation to The Lord of the Rings at all, in the author's imagination. He did go back and rewrite the relevant sections of the Quenta Silmarillion, just as he did The Hobbit, where he saw the need after completing The Lord of the Rings. But he certainly didn't go back to his early whole-world maps, etc. which are mostly found in HoME IV.

It's Karen Fonstad in her Atlas of Middle-earth who did some compelling work trying to pull the two disparate geographies together. As much as I admire her work, it's always bothered me that she solidifies aspects of Tolkien's thought into consistent compositions that just don't reflect his own decisions or lack of decisions.



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Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 17, 3:11pm

Post #57 of 85 (1382 views)
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Easterlings [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Not so; Tolkien wrote of at least two Easterling tribes under specific names: Wainriders and Balchoth. And we learn of bearded, axe-wielding Easterlings, even though we don't get insights into their culture.


Well, using Tolkien's own shorthand (without ever referring to his work as an allegory, of course) to help decipher his vision for the different Easterling tribes. In the Battle of Pelennor fields, Tolkien describes two or three factions of the people of the East and South:

He describes short, bearded easterlings, which to my mind recall Turkic tribes, which would have invaded and harrassed Byzantium in much the same way that the Easterlings harassed Gondor.

He names Variags. The name has drawn parallels to the Varangian guard of the Byzantine Emperor. But being that Tolkien's westlands encompass the parallels of the Byzantine sphere-of-influence and of the Norse people (from which the Varangians were drawn), I think it'll be more beneificial to look at Middle-Eastern parallels of the Varangians, such as the Ghilman, Mameluk and YeniÁeri guards of the Abbassid Caliphate and underlying sultanates of the Middle Ages.

He also identifies some Southron tribes (mocked as Half-Trolls) which seem to me to be black albinos. Indeed, albinism is significantly more prevalent in trans-saharan (i.e. Far-Harad) people.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 17, 3:13pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 17, 3:21pm

Post #58 of 85 (1377 views)
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Speculation? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It's not about Middle-earth, it's about framing one camera shot.


So you've stated. Do you have a source for that assertion or is it just your own speculation? My own point was that the Mountains of the East are rooted in Tolkien's legendarium--they have not been invented out of whole cloth. At least some remnant of the range would have probably survived into the Third Age, though that is also speculative. As you say, Tolkien never addressed the issue.

"I reject your reality and substitute my own." - Adam Savage


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 17, 3:26pm

Post #59 of 85 (1371 views)
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Albinos? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
He also identifies some Southron tribes (mocked as Half-Trolls) which seem to me to be black albinos. Indeed, albinism is significantly more prevalent in trans-saharan (i.e. Far-Harad) people.


I can't think of any part of Tolkien's description of the Southrons that evokes the idea of an albino.

"I reject your reality and substitute my own." - Adam Savage


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 17, 3:37pm

Post #60 of 85 (1363 views)
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White Eyes [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I can't think of any part of Tolkien's description of the Southrons that evokes the idea of an albino.


Something about his description of white eyes and bright-red tongues (if I recall correctly) took me to that direction.

African albinos (which are, again, more prevalent) look quite different to Caucasian albinos; which would explain why its not an immediate association for everyone.

In analyzing his works, one must keep in mind that Tolkien was an Oxford professor and therefore an extremely knowledgable man.


In Reply To
Do you have a source for that assertion or is it just your own speculation? My own point was that the Mountains of the East are rooted in Tolkien's legendarium--they have not been invented out of whole cloth. At least some remnant of the range would have probably survived into the Third Age, though that is also speculative. As you say, Tolkien never addressed the issue.


Not to speak Squire's case for him, but his intention was that the mountains were drawn such that the shot of the map (which I linked to earlier in the thread) in The Fellowship of the Ring would form a balanced composition as a photograph. Seems about right, to me.

And while Tolkien did intend to reconcile his construction of the First Age (and, by extension, its geography) with that of the Third Age, he died with that part of his work only very partially complete. Therefore, we can never be too sure of the canonicity of the Red Mountains in the Third Age.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 17, 3:50pm)


2ndBreffest
Lorien


Feb 17, 3:43pm

Post #61 of 85 (1363 views)
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well... [In reply to] Can't Post

my speculation on the likely quality of this series I base upon current year societal trends in entertainment. I believe it is possible to do a decent job of it, but I doubt Amazon is willing to take that risk. Either way its still fan-fic....but there's tolerable fan-fic and stomach churning cringe fan-fic.


squire
Half-elven


Feb 17, 3:59pm

Post #62 of 85 (1359 views)
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Yes, it's my speculation [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sorry if I continued my thoughts into the second post as if they were definitive.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that Daniel Reeve invented a "Mountains of the East" label from his own imagination. As you say, they have an existence in Tolkien's imagination and early papers.

But at the risk of repeating another recent post, I don't wholly agree with the idea that Tolkien's legendarium exists as a consistent construct. If said mountains were discussed in notes from the early 1930s in the context of the legendary framing of the Great Lands by the Valar, as we know from HoME IV, it needn't follow at all that "some remnant of the range would probably have survived into the Third Age" as if the geology of the mountains were real rock that was busily eroding away between 1932 and 1948.



squire online:
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Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Rohan

Feb 17, 5:05pm

Post #63 of 85 (1333 views)
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I guess this too [In reply to] Can't Post

I hope that we get the second line of the Ring-verse (accompanied maybe by a map with labels!) in a few days?

I love The Hobbit. Always will.


Ataahua
Superuser


Feb 17, 6:05pm

Post #64 of 85 (1321 views)
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I remember being worried about the quality of the pending LOTR films. [In reply to] Can't Post

But then the black and white character photos of the Fellowship were released. The detail and real-world feel of the costumes, plus the actors themselves, so embodied each character that I was confident we were in for something extraordinarily special.

So yeah, while I have concerns I'm waiting to see what Amazon delivers for the look-and-feel (to start with).


In Reply To
I'd wait until I see marketing material to see whether or not I think I'll like the show or not.


I wish I have saved copies of those B&W pics.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


squire
Half-elven


Feb 17, 6:54pm

Post #65 of 85 (1312 views)
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I can't find any suggestion of albinism in Tolkien's description [In reply to] Can't Post

"...out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues." (LR V.6)

The primary descriptor is black, in agreement with the idea that Far Harad is a calque for equatorial Africa, where people are very dark-skinned and have long been called black.

The white eyes and red tongues make for a bold color contrast with the skin, interesting and shocking to northern European sensibilities. The tongue thing is probably there just to get red, the color of blood, into the description; I doubt we are supposed to imagine that these warriors fought with their tongues hanging out!

The entire description, written to arouse fear and loathing of bestial barbarians, closely approaches the standard European/American racist cartoon of blacks in Tolkien's time (and later; cf. the current blackface controversy in the US). As you may know, it has long been exhibit no. 1 in Tolkien's critics' case that his work is deeply racist.

In any case, if we look up images of black Africans with albinism, caused by a deficiency in melanin production (that is, the pigment that colors all human skin to a greater or lesser extent), we see that they are, like albinos of other racial groups, extremely pale in appearance while still distinctly African in facial features. From a distance on a battlefield, they would appear to be "white", not "black".



squire online:
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kzer_za
Lorien

Feb 17, 7:45pm

Post #66 of 85 (1298 views)
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The "half-trolls" are not one of Tolkien's finest moments [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien and race is a contentious topic, and probably some fans are defensive of this because many critiques are uninformed, oversimplified, and/or clearly just axe-grinding.

Nevertheless I don't think he's absolutely above criticism in this regard, even if he was not doing it intentionally. The "men like half-trolls" (it's ambigous whether they are half trolls or merely resemble them) is one of the more uncomfortable parts of LotR for me. I would put Bill Ferny's squint-eyed southerner friend in the same category, which echoes the "weaselly Asian" stereotype a little too closely.

Of course there is a difference between making some mistakes with race and writing a fundamentally racist work. Any broad look at Tolkien and race also needs to account for things like the Druedain, the kin-strife, and his regrets on the orcs - It is complicated.


(This post was edited by kzer_za on Feb 17, 7:54pm)


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 17, 8:09pm

Post #67 of 85 (1291 views)
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Meh [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien was a linguist, but he was also a historian in no small part, and when he wrote in racial shorthand, he did so from a medieval point of view.

For instance, he modelled his Orcs after "the least-lovely Mongol type", not as a racist 20th century man, but looking through a 14th century lens: as if he were a European subjected to the invasions of Attila and Ogedei. Surely, there's nothing racist about calling Genghis Khan's murderous hordes "least lovely."


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 17, 8:11pm)


squire
Half-elven


Feb 17, 8:44pm

Post #68 of 85 (1277 views)
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I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

That is the best approach to understanding his writings on what we call "race". We might say the same about his treatment of sex and femininity, and of the politics of class and rule by right of blood. He is bringing essential aspects of the medieval world-view, into a form of modern literature. It's a studied and artistic attempt to make that world-view's positive aspects appealing to a jaded modern world, while glossing over as best he can the negative aspects that are deservedly despised or forgotten.

However, it's harder and harder to get casual readers to follow that line of thinking, when so much effort is put into adaptations of his work to make them more "timely", "relevant", or "commercially viable".



squire online:
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Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 17, 9:12pm

Post #69 of 85 (1267 views)
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"timely"? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
it's harder and harder to get casual readers to follow that line of thinking, when so much effort is put into adaptations of his work to make them more "timely", "relevant", or "commercially viable".


There's little in the adaptation to make them "timely". Commercially viable? sure. But timely?

I think to make Tolkien "timely" or "relevant" would entail treating their themes as allegorical to specific political and social intrigues, relevant to the time of the adaptation.

Neither The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit hadn't a whiff of that. They maintain Tolkien's themes without interperating them as allegories.

The closest to that would be infusing characters like Boromir and Thorin with 20th century patriotic motivations - notions which would not exist in a pre-modern setting such as Tolkien's.

As far as those ideas getting across to readers. Well, it all depends on one's knowledge base, doesn't it? Again, Tolkien was a professor and all his base of knowledge was required to write something like The Lord of the Rings. Obviously, it would take at least a fraction of that intellect to truly delve into his work. Otherwise, you end of with faux-academics like Lindsay Ellis grossly mis-interperating Tolkien's intent by "least lovely Mongol-types."


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 17, 9:15pm)


kzer_za
Lorien

Feb 17, 10:21pm

Post #70 of 85 (1234 views)
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I agree with you and Squire to an extent, but Tolkien's relationship with modernity is complicated [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a highly literary friend who has said mostly-seriously that Tolkien was a "modernist", because reaching back into the past to address the problems of the present was in fact part of the modernist literary trend! Frodo's arc makes him a character who fits very well into twentieth-century literature, (though in a more Christian mold than most). LotR shifts back and forth between a mythic epic and a more contemporary novelistic feel, which is part of its appeal. Tolkien also enjoyed reading a fairly wide spread of contemporary literature.

So while I agree that Tolkien did not think primarily in modern racial terms (and indeed, very much disliked the British Empire), he could still have been influenced by contemporary ideas on race to a certain degree. We are all products of our time.

It says a lot, I think, that LotR's first big revival of popularity after its publication was with hippies, including Joni Mitchell. Shows how broad the themes of the book are.


(This post was edited by kzer_za on Feb 17, 10:21pm)


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 17, 10:30pm

Post #71 of 85 (1223 views)
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Oh, surely [In reply to] Can't Post

Modernity is so deeply woven into our society and our world-view, that we can never shake it off entirely. So of course there were modernistic touches in The Lord of the Rings. The kind of patriotism that Jackson attaches to characters like Boromir and Thorin certainly has its traces in Tolkien's writings.

But when he speaks about Orcs being modelled around Mongols, it seems very clear to me that he speaks of the Mongols of the (highly destructive) medieval invasions.

Its kind of a similar case with the Haradrim and Easterlings, where he's never racist because he never claims that they serve Sauron and fight Gondor out of natural impulses related to their ethnicity. Rather, its the result of being geography under Sauron's sphere-of-influence that resulted in this.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Feb 17, 11:28pm

Post #72 of 85 (1206 views)
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Oh, but I have always wondered [In reply to] Can't Post

What happened to Isengar Took!


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Rohan

Feb 18, 3:19am

Post #73 of 85 (1188 views)
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If I remember correctly, then according to Christopher Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

squint-eyed in that case is meant to literally convey someone with a squint, rather than anything racist. And, of course, I can't find the quote: I thought it was in Return of the Shadow or Treason of Isengard, but it doesn't seem to be in either of those. If someone could find the quote, I'd be very appreciative!

I love The Hobbit. Always will.


Ataahua
Superuser


Feb 18, 3:47am

Post #74 of 85 (1181 views)
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There's this from the Tolkien Gateway: [In reply to] Can't Post

"Just what my father meant to convey by the 'squint-eyed Southerner' at Bree I'm not sure. I don't think that he can possibly have meant that the man had 'slit-eyes' (goblin-like). He may have meant that he actually had a squint (optical disorder), but that seems unnecessarily particular. So the likeliest meaning, I think, is that the man didn't look straight, but obliquely, watchfully, sideways, suggesting craftiness and crookedness."

http://tolkiengateway.net/...uint-eyed_Southerner

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Feb 18, 3:50am

Post #75 of 85 (1186 views)
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Verlyn Flieger, Tom Shippey, and Brian Rosebury... [In reply to] Can't Post

all mistake that for J.R.R. Tolkien's work at one point or another. As I was tickeled to be able to note in an essay a few years ago.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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