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Unfilmable

Pazeer
Rivendell


Nov 22 2013, 7:55pm

Post #1 of 14 (421 views)
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Unfilmable Can't Post

This question goes to those who have spent more years than me reading the books of Tolkien, and have a better knowledge.

Most of the reviews I've seen of the Lord of the Rings movies always seem to mention that it was always believed to be unfilmable.

Can someone explain why, or what it is with the books that make them unfilmable? I'm just wondering if anyone has any specifically thing with them, or if there ever Tolkien has named a reason for why they would be concidered unfilmable?

Thanks Smile


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Nov 22 2013, 8:37pm

Post #2 of 14 (250 views)
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I think that it's a matter of the sheer scope of the project [In reply to] Can't Post

The Lord of the Rings is such a long and complex narrative that it never seemed possible to adapt it to film without seriously compromising the story and characters. Ralph Bakshi made a valiant attempt, but his adaptation never got beyond the half-way point in the story since the intended second part never got made.

Then again, the aspect of the required special effects in a big-budget, live-action adaptation was surely another factor.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Nov 22 2013, 8:38pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Nov 22 2013, 9:01pm

Post #3 of 14 (251 views)
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Great question Pazeer! [In reply to] Can't Post

Otaku-Sempai makes an excellent point about the sheer complexity of the effort.

I think there were various reasons for JRRT's thoughts here, but ultimately I don't believe he thought it *completely* unfilmable. Plus we need to delineate animated film versus Live Action film. Certainly I think as far as our contemporary thought of 'film' goes: ie Live Action - I think the technological limits of the time would have been the biggest hurdle in his mind; animation seemed to be the best alternative at the time. Also, in his lifetime the correct scripts never did appear - for example, discussion of Zimmerman's synopsis in 1958 which he addresses with its plethora of problems at length in Letter #207.

In June 1957 the idea was broached of an animated film adaptation. He wrote to Rayner Unwin "As far as I am concerned personally, I should welcome the idea of an animated motion picture, with all the risk of vulgarization; and that quite apart from the glint of money, though on the brink of retirement that is not an unpleasant possibility. I think I should find vulgarization less painful than the sillification achieved by the BBC." (# 198)

He certainly never wanted his work "Disnified", a studio whose approach he held in contempt ... note that when scouted location photos were brought to him in 1957, he said, "A back-wash from the (Fifteenth World Science) Convention was a visit from an American film-agent (one of the adjudicating panel) who drove out all the way in a taxi from London to see me last week, filling 76 S[andfeld] with strange men and stranger women - I thought the taxi would never stop disgorging."

(A bit off topic but I simply adore his humor so I had to include that bit. Anyway...)

"But this Mr. Ackerman brought some astonishingly good pictures (Rackham rather than Disney) and some remarkable colour photographs. They have apparently toured America shooting mountain and desert scenes that seem to fit the story. The Story Line or Scenario was, however, on a lower level. In fact bad. But it looks as if business might be done. Stanley U. and I have agreed on our policy: Art or Cash. Either very profitable terms indeed; or absolute author's veto on objectionable features or alterations."
(#202, Sept. 1957)

Prior to receving the synopsis of the film version, he said:

"An abridgement by selection with some good picture-work would be pleasant, & perhaps worth a good deal in publicity; but the present script is rather a compression with resultant over-crowding and confusion, blurring of climaxes, and a general degradation: a pull-back towards more conventional 'fairy-stories'. People gallop about on Eagles at the least provocation; Lorien becomes a fairy-castle with 'delicate minarets', and all that sort of thing.
"But I am quite prepared to play ball, if they are open to advice - and if you (Rayner Unwin) decide that the thing is genuine, and worthwhile." (#201, Sept. 1957)

Granted these ideas were in the late 1950's. The rights were still in his possession (and would remain so until 1967.) It seems much of the lighter statements made above, like 'Art or Cash', went by the wayside when an impossible-to-accept synopsis was presented to him (1958). In addition, Letters contain his impressions of some of the potential audeince not being able to truly grasp the complexity of his work.

Nor, as O-S and I both stated, could he contemplate a technical climate in which such notions and beings of fantasy could be represented.

So I see a dichotomy here: the artist, who would like both not to starve (per se) nor be unknown and obscure; and yet have his work respected in the finer and broader sense of its literary value (despite lighter statements, perhaps not as highly valued as the rejection of sub-par material).

I did not know the man, nor do I have any access to unpublished material (as others here do.) But I am always struck by both his bravery in contemplating the idea of 'filming' his literary child while being hesitant to subject it to degradation by its presentation - so I don't think he thought it impossible. Ultimately though? I often wonder myself how how would react to the current climate and works. In another thread I said I hoped I was not a "self-serving Adaptist" - but that jury is still out too!

Just my two (*looking up at wall of words*) well, TEN cents.Smile

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





(This post was edited by Brethil on Nov 22 2013, 9:08pm)


Darkstone
Immortal


Nov 22 2013, 9:37pm

Post #4 of 14 (237 views)
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It was Stanley Kubrick who said that. [In reply to] Can't Post

Back when The Beatles were interested in starring in LOTR they asked Stanley Kubrick to direct. He turned them down saying the book was "unfilmable". The reason he gave was because it was too complex. (And one would think he should know since all his films, except for the first two and 2001, were adaptations of novels. (2001 was adapted from a short story.)) However, I think rather that LOTR would be unfilmable *in Kubrick’s style*. In adapting a story for film he looked for five or six dramatic “chunks”, then he strung them together with threads taken from the novel. Needless to say LOTR has quite a few more dramatic “chunks” than most novels.

In contrast, David Lean had no such compunctions when The Beatles approached him. He had agreed to talk about working on the film after he had completed Ryan's Daughter, but by the time he had finished the movie the deal (along with The Beatles) was dead.

******************************************
“Indeed if fish had fish-lore and Wise-fish it is probable that the business of anglers would be very little hindered.”
-JRR Tolkien


AjaxMinoan
Registered User

Nov 22 2013, 10:46pm

Post #5 of 14 (203 views)
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The Chinese Proverb is wrong. [In reply to] Can't Post

  I find it interesting that the Chinese proverb "A picture is worth 10,000 words" is so obviously discredited just by the very idea of unfilmable books. How many pictures are even in a movie? not to mention the audio.
With all the CGI and special effects wizardry, I still think it's possible to write an unfilmable novel.


Brethil
Half-elven


Nov 22 2013, 11:08pm

Post #6 of 14 (203 views)
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Thank you, Darkstone [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Back when The Beatles were interested in starring in LOTR they asked Stanley Kubrick to direct. He turned them down saying the book was "unfilmable". The reason he gave was because it was too complex. (And one would think he should know since all his films, except for the first two and 2001, were adaptations of novels. (2001 was adapted from a short story.)) However, I think rather that LOTR would be unfilmable *in Kubrick’s style*. In adapting a story for film he looked for five or six dramatic “chunks”, then he strung them together with threads taken from the novel. Needless to say LOTR has quite a few more dramatic “chunks” than most novels.

In contrast, David Lean had no such compunctions when The Beatles approached him. He had agreed to talk about working on the film after he had completed Ryan's Daughter, but by the time he had finished the movie the deal (along with The Beatles) was dead.

Very interesting info in here.

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





Pazeer
Rivendell


Nov 23 2013, 1:09pm

Post #7 of 14 (156 views)
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Wow! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you very much for the long and detailed answer, I really appreciate it! Smile


elaen32
Gondor


Nov 23 2013, 3:39pm

Post #8 of 14 (159 views)
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The Beatles in LOTR?! Now that brings up all sorts of possibilities!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Picture the opening scene- John Lennon as Bilbo, sits writing his book singing "Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup....."
Later, Paul McCartney, as Frodo, is seen leaving Bag End on his journey singing "The Long & Winding Road- that leads from my door...."

Other possibilities- "She loves you" playing out over Aragorn and Arwen's love tryst
The Lothlorien elves singing "We all live on a platform in a tree, platform in a tree, platform in a tree...."
Eowyn's theme "She's got a warhorse to ride, and she don't care"

I'm sure there are quite a few other scenarios out thereSmile


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



Brethil
Half-elven


Nov 23 2013, 5:38pm

Post #9 of 14 (140 views)
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Enjoyed the question Pazeer, you are quite welcome! [In reply to] Can't Post

Its something I think on a lot. Smile

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





Brethil
Half-elven


Nov 23 2013, 5:40pm

Post #10 of 14 (141 views)
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"Platform in a tree.." Well done!!!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

That's more catchy than the original lyrics! Laugh

We need Furincurunir here to keep the ball rolling. He has endless creativity with this sort of thing.

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





(This post was edited by Brethil on Nov 23 2013, 5:40pm)


Eruvandi
Tol Eressea


Nov 24 2013, 9:00pm

Post #11 of 14 (98 views)
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That's awesome! [In reply to] Can't Post

The first time I heard that the Beatles had wanted to star in a LotR movie adaptation I think I felt my brain shatter like a glass windowpane!Crazy I'm so grateful they were turned down, but your ideas still made me Lol! Laugh


elaen32
Gondor


Nov 24 2013, 10:30pm

Post #12 of 14 (98 views)
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Thanks Eruvandi [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm certainly glad the Beatles never got to appear in LOTR too. Fun thinking of appropriate lyrics thoughWink- I'm sure there must be more- but inspiration escapes me at the momentCrazy


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



Eruvandi
Tol Eressea


Nov 24 2013, 11:09pm

Post #13 of 14 (107 views)
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I'm not very familiar with Beatle's songs but... [In reply to] Can't Post

...There are two songs that I can think of that could work well for Gollum if taken out of context. If you take the songs "Baby It's You" and "You Really Got a Hold on Me" replace every instance of the word "Baby" with "Precious" and have Gollum sing them, I think they work quite well! You don't even have to change the rest of the lyrics!Wink

The only other thing I can think of is in TTT just as Théoden and Aragorn are about to make the decision to ride out of Helm's Deep to meet the enemy, Gimli says "The sun is rising." In the Beatles' version they could have started singing "Here Comes the Sun" at that moment and it would fit really well. Smile

Would anyone else like to take a whack at this? It's fun!

Lyrics:

Baby It's You
http://www.sing365.com/...138048256BC200102966

You Really Got a Hold on Me
http://www.azlyrics.com/...llygotaholdonme.html

Here Comes the Sun
http://www.azlyrics.com/...herecomesthesun.html


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


Nov 25 2013, 9:01am

Post #14 of 14 (79 views)
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Filmable....yes, viable only perhaps. [In reply to] Can't Post

We now have the technology to realise all visual aspects which would have been a huge hurdle when JRRT made these comments.

People now accept protracted series of films (LOTR, Harry Potter) so to canonically translate LOTR may take 8+ movies but ardent fans would be happy with that.

Lastly I read in another thread here JRRT said narrative storytelling did not translate well to drama. I simply disagree with this. Maybe unconventional means may have to be employed but it could be done by the suitably skilled, and such great source material would trasnscend any apparent shortcomings in translation between mediums.

 
 

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