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Researching THE FRODO FRANCHISE: Part 1, Off to Wellington without a Handkerchief
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Lurker in the Dark
The Shire

Aug 7 2012, 5:24am

Post #26 of 33 (528 views)
Messed with? [In reply to] Can't Post

When does 'inspired by' become plagiarism? And what might JRRT have regarded as 'messing with' his ideas rather than building on them?

Sounds as if you think JRRT would not have enjoyed my "Forgotten History of the Shire' which includes the Peasant's Revolt of SR 1165 - put down with extreme prejudice by the Big Six Hobbit Land-owners supported by mercenary 'peace-keepers' from outside, the Buckland Clearances of SR1208 when the Brandybucks enclosed all their estates forcing almost all their Hobbit tenants to migrate to the abortive attempt to found a Hobbit colony on the north shore of Lake Evendun (few survived the mid-winter treck remembered as the Great Dying, and fewer still the starvation, disease and constant dwarf raids of the Colony's short existence) or the horrors of the Dire Famine of SR 1347-9 resulting from the arrival of potato blight, when many of the "well-to-do" Hobbits including the Sackville-Bagginses chose to sell the corn grown on their estates to an almost equally desperate Dale at extortionate prices rather than make it available to the Shire's food kitchens for destitute hobbits.

Lurker in the Dark
The Shire

Aug 7 2012, 5:57am

Post #27 of 33 (509 views)
A most important book [In reply to] Can't Post

Kristin, thanks for your extensive replies.

I think a book is important as I agree with the view expressed on this site:


and would go futher - I think the future of cinema itself (or whatever you call them in the States) depends on the success of the Hobbit. If 'The Hobbit' fails Hollywood and its ilk will be increasingly reduced to producing films for TV, with all its limitations as to production finance, format, picture-size, advertising links and sponsorship, generic direction and circumscribed running time - and who is going to pay to see such a film in a cinema when they can see it for free at home.

Here in New Zealand few small towns now have cinemas, although their shells can be still be seen in main streets containing bingo halls or the occasional amateur theatrical production. Even the moderate-sized town closest to me with its struggling multiplex I know is having to very carefully weigh up the economics of upgrading to the gear needed to show 'The Hobbit' as Peter Jackson intended. That it is even considering the cost is a result of the success of 'The Lord of the Rings' and what it knows will be a local demand to see 'The Hobbit'. But what then?

If 'The Hobbit' works, not as a fantasy story of a quest in a magical realm but as a high-definition 3-D cinematic experience as amazing as being able to actually hear the actors speak and things blow up, it will create a demand for more of the same TV cannot match, and 'going to the cinema' will again become as special and unique an experience as going to a live opera, orchestral concert or play. LotR has merely prepared the ground for giving this throw of the dice a chance by making more people want to see a film, and need to go back to the cinema after an absence of perhaps of years in order to do so. If PJ fails to leverage that experience to make the film-going public thirst for more of the same I fear 'cinema' as an experience to equal the performance of a live orchestra as opposed to playing a CD at home, will be gone.

Succeed or fail, 'The Hobbit' will become a matter for film history even more so than 'Rings', and needs documenting accordingly.

Kristin Thompson

Aug 7 2012, 3:46pm

Post #28 of 33 (514 views)
I'm afraid I have to disagree [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think the future of the cinema rests on whether The Hobbit succeeds. The future of high frame rates rests on it to some extent, though if Cameron carries through with shooting the Avatar sequels at 60fps, that could make the technology a success even if The Hobbit fails. It's quite interesting that the film will be available in six different formats, though I'm sure in most towns there will only be one or two available. But people will be "voting" on 48fps and 3D by buying tickets. For most 3D films this year and last, the proportion of tickets sold for 3D screenings has continued to dwindle. That's especially true for children's and family films, and The Hobbit falls into the latter category. I don't know if the theaters plan to charge extra for 48fps 2D screenings. I'd bet not many people would choose that option if so.

I should say that there is virtually no chance that The Hobbit will fail. If Warner Bros. didn't have absolute confidence in it, they would not have OKed a third film before the first one is released. I personally think that with the huge publicity the film has gotten and will continue to get, plus the quality we've seen in the trailer and preview footage, there's no reason it should fail. (Did anyone who saw the trailers for John Carter really think it would succeed?)

But even with no guarantee that The Hobbit will be a success, Hollywood studios are behaving as usual. Universal is planning sequels to Snow White and the Huntsman, Ted, and the recent American Pie reboot. Fox plans a Prometheus sequel. A sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man is due from Sony in May, 2014. Sony also plans another Men in Black film. Disney has five Marvel-comics-based superhero films in the pipelines. There is current consideration of a Magic Mike sequel. No Brave sequel has been announced, but the sequel to Monsters, Inc. comes out next summer.

If 48fps proves very popular, some of these films may be done using that technology. But Hollywood is not poised, holding its collective breath to see if The Hobbit succeeds before plunging ahead. They can't. It takes years to make the big, effects-heavy films, and they've got films in the pipeline now that will be coming out when the third Hobbit film does.

The real challenge is not for the production companies but, as you suggest from your own local experience in New Zealand, for the theaters. There's no question that a significant number of theaters have gone out of business as a result of not being able to switch over to digital projection, and more will do so as distributors finally stop making 35mm prints available altogether. If small theaters pay to upgrade to 48fps and 3D and then don't do good business with The Hobbit, some of them may well have to give up. That, however, won't have much impact on the production side, since Hollywood studios for the most part don't own theaters.

Tol Eressea

Aug 7 2012, 5:26pm

Post #29 of 33 (522 views)
Yes, that's the sort of stuff I mean - [In reply to] Can't Post

Smile -- just kiddin'.

But seriously - while no-one can say for certain what JRR might have felt about fan fiction, we can take an educated guess at his probable reactions to extensions of his writings by others by looking at examples from his letters.

Take for instance one which he wrote to Allen and Unwin, enclosing a letter from a fan who wanted to write a sequel to LotR. He called the person 'a young idiot', IIRC, and asked his publishers to deal with it because one time he got a similar letter 'from a young woman couched in the most obsequious tones, and when I replied in the negative got a vituperative response'. (paraphrase, from memory)

I know most fan-fiction isn't meant for commercial purposes - the wicked ol' Estate recognise this - see their FAQ page.


As I said, Tolkien was very careful in matters pertaining to his copyright, and also the rights of his publishers. I recall some company wrote to tell him they were pleased to inform him that they were going to reprint his essay 'On Fairy-Stories'. He was not pleased - he enquired as to what rights they had to do so, and whether they'd asked permission from his publisher (in this case, the Oxford University Press).

And not everything has to do with copyright - he was also anxious that his words - esp. names - were not messed with, even (or especially) when they were reproduced legitimately. He was very vexed when Puffin Books 'corrected' his spelling when they published The Hobbit; changing 'Dwarves' to 'Dwarfs' and 'Elven' to 'Elfin'. They said they were following the Oxford English Dictionary, so there!

Tolkien growled, 'I wrote the Oxford English Dictionary'.

Tolkien was also vexed when translators of his works messed around with his made-up names. He wrote a translation guide for his publishers to send out to publishers in foreign countries. He was especially vexed with the Swedish translator Ohlmarks, who not only took liberties with Tolkien's prose but made up some 'biographical' notes to go in the front of the book. Tolkien erupted - the man was making stuff up.

Times don't change - just a couple of months ago, in an attempt to create a link between Tolkien and pJ a newspaper in NZ ran a story about how pJ's grandad's regiment was relieved by Tolkien's on the Somme in 1916. (or possibly the other way round). The report was totally wrong - Tolkien was in the 11th Lancashire Fusiliers, not the 1st. I think they got the name of Jackson senior's regiment wrong, too. This type of reporting - changing historical facts in order to fit their story - is not respectful to either of the two men.

I don't go in for fan fiction much, myself. (I've never found any I like). Maybe that's why I'm not keen on pJ's movies.


Aug 8 2012, 2:24am

Post #30 of 33 (506 views)
Sick burn! [In reply to] Can't Post

'I wrote the Oxford English Dictionary.' In the history of comebacks, that has to be a one off...


... and there is no finer dictionary than the OED. Geordie is Tolkien credited in any editions that you are aware of? I saw a pocket edition from around the '50s the other day and might just have to pick it up now.

aside -
Our Kristin Thompson would have a great comeback too if anyone tried to argue with her about the art of film... she could say "I wrote the book on Film Art." (Who can say that?!?) Not that she would, I'm sure.

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Aug 8 2012, 2:26am)

Kristin Thompson

Aug 9 2012, 1:18am

Post #31 of 33 (495 views)
Thanks, SirDennisC! [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course, I would never say I wrote the book on Film Art. If sufficiently provoked, I might say "I co-wrote the book on Film Art" (along with my husband, David Bordwell). We also co-wrote the book on Film History, so we've got all bases covered!

Have you read Peter Gilliver et al., The Ring of Words: Tolkien and The Oxford English Dictionary? It might sound deadly dull, but it's actually a charming and readable (and short) book on Tolkien's work on the Dictionary. Also on its influence on some of his word choices in his fictional writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Makes you want to go and read his entry on "walrus"!


Aug 9 2012, 8:05am

Post #32 of 33 (487 views)
... and thank you for the book suggestion! // [In reply to] Can't Post


Tol Eressea

Aug 9 2012, 5:35pm

Post #33 of 33 (576 views)
Um.. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to -

' is Tolkien credited in any editions that you are aware of?'

Not directly, as far as I know - that is, apart from the Supplement published by Robert Burchfield, where Tolkien is credited under the word 'hobbit'.

That being said; in 'The Ring of Words', the authors mention the Prefatory notes in the OED fascicle W-Wash in 1921. The words walnut, walrus and wampum were among the very few entries singled out as containing 'etymological facts or or suggestions not given in other dictionaries'. (Ring of Words, p.23)
High praise indeed! - though I don't think Tolkien's name is actually mentioned...

Take a look at the OED's webpage -


- it's fascinating.


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