Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Some things that I can't know about Middle-earth
First page Previous page 1 2 Next page Last page  View All

noWizardme
Half-elven


Aug 12, 9:19am

Post #26 of 34 (781 views)
Shortcut
Seems reasonable - large birds are a hazard to rock musicians [In reply to] Can't Post

Just look at what happened to Peter Green after 'Albatross'.
Back to the eagles - I'm glad you enjoyed the result of my mind being infinitely twisted. Haven't managed the Mercedes-Benz yet.Smile

~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


noWizardme
Half-elven


Aug 12, 9:48am

Post #27 of 34 (779 views)
Shortcut
Uh-oh: from The Eagles to The Doors (what, more Californian rock bands?) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
So when I see the movie-Nazgul attacking Minas Tirith during the siege, I wonder why they don't just land and open the front door. I never thought that in the books, even when the book-Witch-king took to the air to meet the charge of Rohan, I never thought, "He's going to kill Theoden, then fly back to the city and open the gates on every level instead of messing around with Grond."


That's a brilliant one and I love it (and of course hate it too Laugh.) No, I agree, I can't think of any logical reason why the Nazgul can't try to land inside Minas Tirith and open the gates - or at least ,no reason that I can't then rebut or insist we don't' have the data to rule out (in the usual way of playing the plot hole game).

But I think logic and nazgul don't really mix all that well. I think the Book I Black Riders (BRs) work really well. But their goal is clear and the way they're trying to get it is mysterious. First we only have our reader inference that they've come for Frodo (and the Ring presumably). From Bee to Rivendell we learn more, but the BRs come and go unpredictably - which I think Tolkien exploits fully for effect. We're never sure when they're going to be sighted next, or what they'll do. It's not that they are badly thought-out and random. But if I try to apply logic to them (e.g. imagining them as military units in a wargame I'm playing) I start wondering why they don't sack the whole of Bree until the Ring is found, or push home their Weathertop attack regardless of possible casualties. I note that Tolkien had a go at that kind of question in Unfinished Tales, but to my mind he raises more new questions than he answers.
Similarly, I often enough see people wondering why the apparent big boss battle of Gandalf versus the Witch King is aborted after all that build-up. It would absolutely go ahead and be a highlight in other kinds of stories. But instead Tolkien subverts that expectation, and the Witch King's big showdown is with the apparently weak but stout-hearted and public-spirited. I don't doubt he has a point there, and so prefers it to the clash of the superheroes. (Wait, what are The Clash doing in here - I thought this thread was all rock and disco? Smile)

I do also want to respond to your points about the movie, Curious, but I'm currently thinking about which of your posts would be the best place to put that reply....

~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


noWizardme
Half-elven


Aug 12, 10:39am

Post #28 of 34 (783 views)
Shortcut
movie versus book and audience management [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you're right CG about movies being visual and so often more concrete - we can see that something is just so, rather than having to imagine it. I expect movies can use ambiguity ( a film buff would be able to think of lots of examples, I expect) but I can't think the PJ movies often do. What I remember is films that provide a lot of spectacle and excitement, and perhaps while the audience is enjoying that are busy and they need to have a fairly easy time following what is happening. So for example Tolkien has the Fellowship talk round and round in circles about who (if anyone) is opposing their crossing of Caradhras, but Jackson et al. make it clear it's Saruman. The movie then misses out the exciting attack by wolves (or werewolves - we're never sure, I think).


Length must also be a problem for the script-writer, as you say. And additionally, until the film is released to video or streamed etc. a viewer can't stop and go back to check something that confused them, or flick ahead to check that this boring bit won't last long (or skim the nature description, like I used to do before I found I liked it). Audiences coming out of the cinema going 'huh?' are probably pretty fatal to the word of mouth recommendations that films must generate to succeed, I think.

Moreover, action movies are ghastly-expensive, are financed by people who want to turn a profit and so have an eye on what worked in other successful movies. That causes pressures. Here's a transcript of Tom Shippey speaking about that point:

Quote

So it cost Tolkien nothing to write The Lord of the Rings, which meant he could do what he liked. But Jackson, with the bill rising all the time and pressure on his back actually from the money men back in Los Angeles. He had got to think about making a return on the investment, and as a result I think there was on him a strong sense of what I call reverse audience pressure. He got to try to figure out how he was gonna sell this movie and he got to start doing things, which he thought would appeal to the target audience. And the target audience was teenagers. Well as a result, it's quite clear that much of the movie has been teenagerd. Mary and Pippin are much brattier than they are in the original. We have that, well I mean there are some things where you just have to hide your eyes and pretend you weren't there.

But there's Legolas skateboarding down the steps. There's unfortunate jokes about dwarf tossing and things like that. Then I think it could go on, Gimli I slightly regret this, has been turned into a kind of grumpy old dad image. For people to laugh at, as you made more of a figure of fun. We got other things like, [inaudible 00:09:53] Being written out and Éowyn being written back in, because somebody at some point said we've got to build that character up. Okay, okay, okay. There's half a dozen things like that, and as I say you just have to let them go by. One other thing is it's pretty clear I think that the model they had in mind was Star Wars. They wanted to outdo Star Wars in terms of special FX. That was something that they were dead set on doing. They also realized I think early on, that because of the teenage market and having looked at Star Wars. They didn't need to spend a lot of money on well known actors. Because their target audience was not going to be particular impressed by well known actors. So they could save a good bit of budget there. So the money thing meant that there was a different attitude to the audience and Jackson did not have the free hand, the entirely free hand that Tolkien did.

“Tolkien Book to Jackson Script: the Medium and the Message” a lecture by Prof Tom Shippey to an audience at Swathmore College, PA, USA [I'm not sure when]


Another point Shippey makes in the same talk is rather scattered about in the transcript and so hard to quote. But Shippey starts wit quoting Tolkien being cross about the Zimmerman script squire quoted earlier in this discussion. Tolkien said "The canons of narrative art in any medium, cannot be wholly different." Very well, perhaps, but Shippey then goes on to give some examples where Tolkien doesn't obey what you might think are 'The canons of narrative art' himself (Long and apparently disorganized committee meeting in Council of Elrond; the storming of Isengard or the Paths of the Dead told not shown, and so on). Shippey then goes on to make a point that I think I've already quoted in the Reading Room - that Tolkien has a point to make about characters not knowing what is going on but having to manage anyway. Hence (Shippey says) ambiguities, late-breaking information and other things that Jackson et al. were probably wise not to do in the movies.
All in all I can now see several reasons why the movies eschewed the mystery and ambiguity the book has, and why that might lead to people coming from movie to book with expectations about the book that don't work out.

~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


Roverandom
Bree


Aug 12, 4:32pm

Post #29 of 34 (770 views)
Shortcut
On Fairy Stories (and Their Heroes) [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been enjoying following along on this discussion, and I have some thoughts that Curious G sparked with his point about how we view the real world and a fantasy world differently. I'd like to have a specific go at the notion of heroes.

In real life, our heroes are completely, utterly, and therefore frustratingly human. They are, like every other one of the 7.8 billion rest of us, flawed. This is why concerned parents admonish their children to avoid hero-worship, especially when it comes to pop culture, athletics, etc. My favorite baseball player drank himself to an early death. Rockers whose music provided the soundtrack to my life have O.D,'d, cheated on wives, abandoned families. We in the U.S. are currently going through a period of reexamining every important historical life for flaws of any kind. So to all of our "Why didn't?" and "Why can't?" questions, the answer is painfully obvious: we are human beings, and we are really good at messing up. In these current times of pandemic disease and wide-spread, often violent civil unrest, I find myself describing humanity as too stupid to survive.

Which is one reason that I choose to read about places like Earthsea, Trantor, and (in particular) Middle-Earth. I want to put my mind to problems that might have a reachable solution, for a change. I want Ged to restore the Balance, for Hari Seldon to work out the plan for the rebirth of galactic civilization, and for Frodo to find a way to the Fire. I think that in reading The Lord of the Rings, we are hoping to turn our minds and hearts over to something that makes sense all on its own, without our having to do anything about it.

This brings me back to the idea of heroes. Heroes in fairy tales are not terribly complicated. They are cut from standard cloth and follow familiar paths. They are low-born, usually orphaned, but rise by tale's end to pull swords from stones, save and/or marry royalty, and live happily ever after. A dragon or a Death Star sometimes needs to die, but c'est la vie. Some of them even return home just in time to save their silver spoons from auction.

There is a new version of fantasy fiction which turns this idea on its ear. In these stories, the heroes are more reminiscent of those found in the real world. While noble and brave and all that, they frequently mess up just as badly as their real-world counterparts. Taken to the extreme of George R.R, Martin, they don't survive much past the page where you first start to think "Ah! So X is going to be the hero that puts all this right." The have those classic "tragic flaws". Robb Stark is the heir to Achilles, Duke Leto Atrides, and pretty much every Shakespearean character whose name is in the title of the play.

The interesting thing about Tolkien, and quite probably one of the reasons we are all here in this discussion, is that his heroes are a little of both. Frodo, an orphan, comes from the middle of nowhere, in the grand scheme of things. He is a pleasant enough chap, if a bit odd for his society, but soon rises to "shake the towers and counsels of the Great". Aragorn hides himself from his enemies with disguise, in the best tradition of Edgar in King Lear. Oh, and he just happens to have a magic sword, too! Unlike the prototype hero of a fairy tale, however, Tolkien's heroes have real-world problems. Aragorn doubts himself and can be awfully indecisive, a la Hamlet. They make mistakes, even Gandalf, although he rarely admits it. And, worst of all, they fail, as Frodo does on Mount Doom.

I don't see this as a failing on the part of the author, however, or --- ultimately --- of Frodo. Tolkien may have been the first fantasy writer to make his heroes human, with human flaws and human weaknesses. In doing so, he created something new, a mature, grown-up fairy tale, one in which characters fail because of their flaws or overcome them. Is that not more heroic than having the luck of a widow's son and finding some magic beans?

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the threshold of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Aug 13, 9:42am

Post #30 of 34 (732 views)
Shortcut
The One Ring as 'Hero Machine' [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for that interesting contribution, Roverandom! Nice to know you're with us on this thread.

I certainly agree. People don't always choose their heroes wisely, giving a dangerous energy to people who abuse it, can't handle it, or never should have been allowed anywhere near it.

I can read LOTR as being relevant to this. About to try and take the Ring, Boromir fantasizes about how men will flock to his banner and how he will drive the hosts of Mordor like a proper warrior hero. I bet he would too. But we know it would go horribly wrong, as would Sam's Ring-wearing fantasy of being the green hero restoring the lands of Mordor. Nor are we to think there's much hope in Saruman's plan to either moderate Sauron or to replace him as a more benign Dark Lord. But I can understand how he's worked himself into believing it's his duty to be the Adult in the Room, heroically (in his own mind) trying salvage just something from an irremediably ruined Third Age. Nobody can use the Ring for good, though the temptation to do so is near-universal and heroism lies in rejecting it rather than trying it.

As this sort of licence to do whatever you like is so fatal, maybe it's not surprising that the heroes of Middle-earth (in the sense of characters we are evidently to admire) retain a sense of modesty and proportion and self-doubt?

And why might we get this theme published by this man at this time? Well one speculation would be that it is a little to do with this:

Quote
“Anyway, I have in this War a burning private grudge–which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler (for the odd thing about demonic inspiration and impetus is that it in no way enhances the purely intellectual stature: it chiefly affects the mere will). Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light.”
Tolkien, Letter 45, to Michael Tolkien in 1941


~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


CuriousG
Half-elven


Aug 13, 5:40pm

Post #31 of 34 (714 views)
Shortcut
What a heroic post, Rover! [In reply to] Can't Post

I like the nuances you bring out in heroes and our expectations of them. Anti-heroes are all the rage now in books and films, and if you don't have a bad-boy hero as your star, then you've apparently done something wrong. I am even wondering if Luke Skywalker was too squeaky clean in the first Star Wars movie in the 1970s. It seemed like the fan favorite was always Han Solo, the bad boy on the side of good. Those earnest, idealistic types like Luke are, I'm afraid, too boring to top the charts, and the more flaws, the better. Another example: I was surprised to see on fan sites for The Expanse that the two biggest idealists, Holden and Naomi, were not the favorite characters, but instead people loved the messed up ones (Amos and Miller).

Anyway, back to Tolkien: Turin is too flawed for my tastes, and I'm pretty satisfied to be rid of him. For the Goldilocks measure of "not too bad, not too good, just right," I like most other Tolkien heroes. Frodo, as you point out, isn't perfect, and he has that painful episode of moral compromise with Gollum, where he betrays his trust at the Forbidden Pool to save his life from Faramir. Gollum, living at the mental state of a beast rather than a human, only sees it as betrayal, and Frodo has enough empathy to know that. Anyone who's ever had to trick a child or pet into doing something they didn't like but was good for them knows that sense of gut-wrenching betrayal of someone you care about.

Sam, for all his indomitable loyalty to Frodo, still had a moral failing when he woke from their nap and saw Gollum pawing at Frodo (as he thought), with his harshness spoiling Gollum's slender chance at repentance. And yes, Gandalf made plenty of mistakes too. Then when it comes to Galadriel: I wouldn't find her at all interesting if there wasn't that episode of her illustrating what she'd be like with the Ring on her finger. Otherwise she'd just be another talkative, know-it-all Elf.

Your comments reminded me of a comment someone made years ago in Off-Topic when they compared Game of Thrones to Tolkien, saying something like "GOT is how the real world is, with scheming, back-stabbing, and moral corruption, whereas Middle-earth is how I'd like the world to be." I don't think anyone would call M-earth a utopia, but it is a better world than the one we live in, an aspirational society in current parlance. Aragorn may not be perfect, but think of how he metes out justice once he's on the throne, with a particular nod to Beregond's sentence. I'm no monarchist, but I'd be content with him running my country.

By having no Han Solo heroes, Tolkien can create a world a lot of people would want to live in. (I like Star Wars, but never wanted to live on any of its planets or roam about it on a ship.) I was thinking particularly when the Fellowship is broken and Merry & Pippin are captured by the orcs. Early Han Solo would only chase after them if a reward were involved. Legolas and Gimli haven't known M&P that long and certainly aren't invested in their fate, so why don't they use the opportunity to go back to their own countries? Because almost everyone is a hero in Middle-earth, so of course they do the right thing!

I do think everyone wants the world they find themselves in to be at least a little bit better in some respects. If you pick up Tolkien and pick any page except the Mordor ones, you're going to find that.


InTheChair
Lorien

Aug 15, 2:48pm

Post #32 of 34 (606 views)
Shortcut
Maybe if they were dwarf-gates that opened with a single push from inside. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it would be assumed though, both in the books and the films that there were plenty of defenders around the gate that would have prevented such a move. And the movies versions of the gates also do not give the visual impression that they were gates that could be opened by one man alone (Or do they? Memory is not crystal clear of the movies today.). Even had all nine of them landed at once I doubt it would have been practical. I also do not know about the destruction they do to the city in the movies. (Do they not tear down a couple of towers?). I don't think the book versions would have been capable of that. Their power and usefulness was almost entirely in the fear they generated. (Except for the witch-king who had been infused with some extra demonic powers.)

One the topic of that fear I still wonder how it could be that Bill the Pony did not give Aragorn and the Hobbits an early warning of the approach of the Ringwraiths a weathertop. Unless he was sleeping or had been knocked out by the Witch-King already. Tolkien omits any mention of it. Either by forgetfulness or because it would not fit the realization of the scene.


Soothfast
The Shire

Sep 13, 7:06am

Post #33 of 34 (212 views)
Shortcut
What's beyond the map's borders? [In reply to] Can't Post

What's beyond Rhun? What's south of the equator in Middle-earth? Why is Middle-earth seemingly so underpopulated? Why do only Orcs have large families?

These are questions. Questions that need answering.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 13, 4:26pm

Post #34 of 34 (178 views)
Shortcut
Partial Answers [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
What's beyond Rhun? What's south of the equator in Middle-earth? Why is Middle-earth seemingly so underpopulated? Why do only Orcs have large families?

These are questions. Questions that need answering.


Thanks to Tolkien's sketches (reproduced in The Shaping of Middle-earth) we have a rough idea of what Arda looked like in the First Age.



Keep in mind that population growth in the real world remained fairly slow until the Industrial Revolution. And we don't have a good idea of the size of Mannish populations in the East or South. Populations can only grow to the size that can be supported by the available food supply.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Sep 13, 4:34pm)

First page Previous page 1 2 Next page Last page  View All
 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.