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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
back for the main course


Jan 28 2011, 5:31am

Views: 406
back for the main course [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien had a conversation with Lewis in which they both express the frustration that they couldn’t pick up and read the kind of stories they liked to read. Both of them came to the conclusion that they were going to have to write the books if they wanted to read them.

-Has there been a moment in your life were you felt just like them?

Not with writing, but with a lot of other things. I tend to find myself in situations where there is a need, but nothing in place to meet it, and I end up being part of a group that gets together to take care of it. Like right now, there are lots of budget cuts at our schools, so I am working to set up a parent group to advocate for keeping our music program intact. So I can understand the sense that you have to create the thing that doesn't exist to achieve a certain end.

Tolkien and Lewis were very different people and it almost seems strange that they became friends. The differences include build, voice, and beliefs. -If they were so different, why do you think they became friends? -Was it their mutual love for writing that kept them close?

Well, I have a good work-friend who is very different from me in many ways -- opposite side of the political spectrum, at times sexist, occasionally crude, etc. But when it comes to our attitudes about the work we do, and its importance, we are on the same page. And we both appreciate the first three Star Wars films in the same way. So I can understand that you can be very close with someone who is very different than you, if you feel very much the same on some selective things that you really enjoy or which there are few people you can talk to about. I think Tolkien and Lewis connected very strongly on some things that were deeply important to them both, and that offset the things that they approached very differently.

Tom Shippey stated how he thought that because they had been through the War and had many terrible things happen to them needed a new definition of the word “Evil” and they hadn‘t got one.

-Do you agree with that statement?

Pretty much. I can see where fantasy was good therapy for both of them.

Christopher Lee believes there is no question that the Dead Marshes are an out pouring of what Tolkien had seen of people lying dead all around him in the War. John Rhys-Davies states that you cannot go through those experiences without asking the fundamental questions like “What am I fighting for?” and “Is there a God?”. Tom Shippey called them Traumatized Authors, they are all authors who have been severely traumatized in one way or another and now they are writing about what evil is. And for the most part they can’t do it in a reality. Fantasy is the best explanation.

-What are your personal opinions about these ideas?

I really liked this part of this feature -- it was interesting to see that Lee and JRD were in tune with Shippey on this issue. I don't think Trauma is all encompassing for Tolkien and Lewis-- they were also capable of much fun, and in tune with the spiritual side of life. I think they were kindred spirits in a lot of ways, including how they processed the dark things they went through.

What do you think it would have been like to be Tolkien’s publisher reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time?

Well, it's just good he was with that publisher, who was open minded enough and tolerant enough to work with someone like Tolkien. I suspect there would be publishers not as willing to embrace his kind of talent.

*Here comes the part I don’t care forMad.* Everyone talks about how Tolkien did it all wrong. How they would love to take a blue pen to the Council of Elrond. There are long parts “where nothing really happens” “As a writer it fills me with horror.” “A professional author wouldn’t have done it like that.” *And here’s the part that bugs me the mostFrown* Then they go on to say that it’s better that way because it’s a sense of realism. *It‘s like they can‘t argue with how well it‘s done or what an amazing read it is but, that‘s not how we do it and therefore it‘s “bad” but, it‘s not you see because it has realism. GRRRRRRPirate.*

-What are you thoughts on this section? -Am I the only one who finds this part contradictory?

I agree, it's a bit contradictory -- they are criticizing and praising at the same time. It reminds me of an old Star Trek episode, where Spock was puzzled because Kirk and McCoy were admiring someone they also despised (Kahn). I guess the message is you can respect someone who breaks the rules without agreeing that breaking the rules makes sense.

What are your thoughts on the name titles?

In some ways, it's like the reception the films have received, or the story of the Three Bears. For a lot of people, ROTK is too soft, TTT is too hard, and FOTR is just right. For me, I am so used to those titles that they really don't impact me one way or another.

-What Two Towers do you believe are THE Two Towers? Or at least what do you picture when you hear The Two Towers?

I've always thought it was Isengard and Barad-dur. Though, like in Shakespeare's plays, you can argue that Minas Morgal and Minas Tirith are the supporting couple that back-up the main romance.

Tolkien created at least five languages. Do you think that helps make the books more unique?

Yep. That adds a level of realism and authenticity that other fantasies lack. It's one of the main things that elevates LOTR above other fantastical works, IMHO.

Tolkien loved trees and thought they were very important. There is a hint that while Tolkien was writing Treebeard he was actually hearing Lewis’ voice and used that as how he was going to make the ancient Ent sound. The interesting thing is, even though Tolkien loved trees so much, he’s pretty ambiguous about them. There are sinister trees like Old Man Willow. But, he also used them to fulfill his desire to have the one scene in Macbeth completed.

There are two world views clashing in a sub plot of The Lord of the Rings. One that is green, organic, alive and one that is of wheels, gears, leavers.

I think that Tolkien could see both the good and bad in nature is part of the power of the books. It's that sense that the natural world has its own rules, culture, etc. and that it may not jive with ours that makes the world of Middle Earth so intriguing. Tolkien admires the natural world, but he doesn't ignore it's dark side, I guess.

Saruman changes from being Saruman The White to Saruman The Many Colored. For this he is reproached by Gandalf. But, Saruman doesn’t get his power from his genius or knowledge, it’s his voice. He is willing to use people to his advantage and this is the sign of his decline from Saruman The White to Saruman the Tool of Mordor.

I was a Public Relations person for part of my career, so Saruman's voice is a thing I can relate to. Communication can be a weapon, and I have seen it used for good and ill in the PR field, first hand.

The Lord of the Rings is complex in it’s narrative and in it’s style but, it’s heart is the relationship between Frodo and Sam. It’s relationship is equivalent to an Officer and his batman. One of the first things Peter told Sean was that his was a sacred relationship between the batman and the officer which was understood especially by Tolkien. The batman was characterized by their unfailing loyalty to the officer whom they served. But, on the other hand they didn’t want to cast Frodo as a pampered officer. It wasn’t so much that they changed Sam’s roots as they showed the side of Frodo that comes out in the books that needed Sam as well. Frodo needs Sam to lean on but, in the same light Sam needs Frodo because he is his motivation. Out of this comes their true relationship.

-Do you think the decision Peter and Co. made with Frodo and Sam’s relationship was a good one?

Yes. It rang true, and I think they succeeded in making it the heart of the films. I liked the way they looked linked Aragorn's story with Frodo's in the films as well. It would have been easy to make Aragorn the focus of the story, but they rightly understood that it was secondary to Frodo's, and so the relationship between Frodo and Sam gets more play than Aragorn/Arwen. Wood/Astin deserve a lot of credit as well, for how they played the roles -- they may not have had the trappings of the book characters, but they definitely had their spirit, IMHO.

In many ways Gollum is the tragic hero of The Lord of the Rings. He started out as a simple Hobbit and by the corruption of The Ring he is now a starved creature. “It is not his fault that he lost himself to The Ring’s evil influence.”

-What is your opinion of the above quote? Do you agree with it or think there is more to it than that?

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a principal of a school in a troubled community -- when I arrived to meet with her, a kid was just leaving her office. As he left, she looked rather wistfully at him and said "He's a nice kid, but he's headed for trouble, and there's nothing I can do about it." That's kind of my take on Gollum. Circumstances sort of dictated his fate, and while he always had the ability to change things, the odds that he would were very slim. So, it's tragic in the sense of what might have been,combined with the realization that it as very, very unlikely that anything would have prevented things from going the way they did.

Any other comments?

I'm out of time to reply -- I'll have to save your last 2 questions for dessert!


Subject User Time
***TTT-EE Appendices Discussion: JRR Tolkien- Origins of Middle Earth** Gimli'sBox Send a private message to Gimli'sBox Jan 24 2011, 10:18am
    So much to pick from! weaver Send a private message to weaver Jan 24 2011, 3:58pm
    a few thoughts... batik Send a private message to batik Jan 25 2011, 1:42am
    I aspire to Tolkien's writing style... One Ringer Send a private message to One Ringer Jan 25 2011, 2:25am
    Thanks for this! FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jan 25 2011, 1:25pm
        rule breaking Arwen Skywalker Send a private message to Arwen Skywalker Jan 26 2011, 5:53am
            Creative writing courses FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jan 26 2011, 3:26pm
    Good versus Great Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jan 26 2011, 6:08pm
    back for the main course weaver Send a private message to weaver Jan 28 2011, 5:31am


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