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Tolkien vs. Jackson

MirielCelebel
Cabin Boy


Mar 15 2014, 6:14pm

Post #1 of 16 (785 views)
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Tolkien vs. Jackson Can't Post

I love the discussions on this site. I love the interaction between so many people who have so many conflicting and opposing ideas. I have a question for anyone willing to answer: Would you be willing to read a book devoted to the sole purpose of analyzing Tolkien's LOTR and Hobbit and Peter Jackson's adaptations as companions?

I'm talking to people who love Tolkien and either love Jackson or hate him, I don't care. If there was a book comprehensive enough to discuss the beauty of Tolkien's created world and by using his own words subsequently defend or at least justify MOST of Jackson's cinematic decisions, would you read it?

There are great discussions on here about why Jackson did this, or why he didn't do that but if you could find, in one place, all the criticisms made about the movies and a Tolkienian justification for them, would you be interested? Specifically what would you want covered in such an analysis?

Thanks for the input.

"The Road goes ever on..."


Magpie
Captain


Mar 15 2014, 6:44pm

Post #2 of 16 (432 views)
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I probably wouldn't [In reply to] Can't Post

I mostly like PJ's version of LOTR and mostly don't like his version of the Hobbit.

Given the opportunity to pick up a book, I'd probably pick up LOTR again before I'd spend much time on what I already know I like or what I don't like. But then, I've had the opportunity to sort over a lot of LOTR : Tolkien and Jackson ... in the last 10+ years. The mileage of others might differ.


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Eruvandi
Sailing Master


Mar 15 2014, 7:09pm

Post #3 of 16 (392 views)
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Yeah, sure. [In reply to] Can't Post

A book devoted to the sole purpose of analyzing Tolkien's LOTR/TH and PJ's adaptations as companions, and possibly even find Tolkienian justification for most of PJ's cinematic decisions huh? Sounds like an interesting concept to me. If such a book were written (and it would need to be well written) I would probably read it. (If you don't mind my asking) Why do you ask?

Specifically what would I want covered in such an analysis? Hmmm...There's so much material to chose from...Well, I know one pretty hot topic has been the ROTK EE scene where Aragorn beheads the Mouth of Sauron. The invention and inclusion of Tauriel in TH is another thing that gets debated a lot along with the "love triangle" between her, Kili and Legolas. Some people also question the need to expand Legolas' role from just a cameo to a larger role that investigates how he went from being like his father, indifferent about the outside world, to being an elf that would be willing to become part of The Fellowship.

That's all I'm thinking of right off the top of my head but I know there's plenty more. Hopefully some other people will respond and give you more input.

ETA: I just want to note that I generally like PJ's LOTR and TH pretty equally and don't have a problem with the majority of the changes in either one. I just think it would be interesting to see such an analysis, hence the reason I would read the book.

"So fare thee well, my own true love
I'll think of you night and day
A place in my mind, you will surely find
Although I am so far away
And when I'm alone, far away from home
I'll think of the good times once more
Until I can make it back someday here
To Paddy's green shamrock shore"
--The High Kings


(This post was edited by Eruvandi on Mar 15 2014, 7:18pm)


Aragorn the Elfstone
Boatswain


Mar 15 2014, 7:27pm

Post #4 of 16 (386 views)
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Not the thing for me... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sure such a book would probably be of interest to many people - so I think it's definitely worth musing about. But for myself, it wouldn't be at the top of my reading list.

People who've read what I have to say about the films can probably attest to the fact that I have a very clear line of separation between the books and the films. Even The Lord of the Rings films, which I consider to be spectacular adaptations - I prefer to evaluate on their own terms, as cinematic achievements.

In all honesty, I've had my fill of book-to-film comparisons and critiquing by reading these boards over the past 12+ years. So I don't really think it would be my cup of tea.

Sorry, I'm sure that isn't the type of input you're probably looking for. Blush

"The danger with any movie that does as well as this one does is that the amount of money it's making and the number of awards that it's got becomes almost more important than the movie itself in people's minds. I look at that as, in a sense, being very much like the Ring, and its effect on people. You know, you can kind of forget what we were doing, if you get too wrapped up in that."
- Viggo Mortensen


MirielCelebel
Cabin Boy


Mar 15 2014, 7:58pm

Post #5 of 16 (363 views)
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Responses thusfar [In reply to] Can't Post

Aragorn- That was EXACTLY the type of response I needed. Negative or positive because Eruvandi- The reason, as you have asked for, is because I have been working on such an idea but I need a platform. I figured I would start by asking my fellow Tolkien nerds if they would even be interested. I personally have been looking for a book that does this and have been unsuccessful. A few books discuss Tolkien's books and few others talk about the movies but when they do a side by side comparison you get just that, comparing and contrasting. Well anyone can do that! When I look at this subject I look deeper into the particular themes Tolkien wrote down and which ones got translated onto the screen and why, or if not, why not. Specifically I too looked into the inclusion of Tauriel as well as the ROTK EE scene where Saruman is defeated and the entire lack of the Scouring of the Shire and Tom Bombadil, stuff that really seemed to get people hacked off. Looking at the books and movies as two different forms of art, and therefore justifying, or at least explaining, some of these topics would there be an audience for such a concept. Thank you all to your responses, I really value them.

"The Road goes ever on..."


geordie
Sailing Master

Mar 15 2014, 10:01pm

Post #6 of 16 (337 views)
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Let's see - [In reply to] Can't Post

- in response to:

"If there was a book comprehensive enough to discuss the beauty of Tolkien's created world and by using his own words subsequently defend or at least justify MOST of Jackson's cinematic decisions, would you read it? "

- I wonder where this is coming from? um.. if one were to take Tolkien's words and move them around to appear as if they justified jackson's decisions, where would this leave us? I'm confuzzled. Sounds to me like a Jackson fan wishing to make it look as if JRR would approve from beyond the grave?

Unimpressed

- no, I wouldn't read it.
.


(This post was edited by geordie on Mar 15 2014, 10:02pm)


Kilidoescartwheels
Rigger

Mar 15 2014, 10:54pm

Post #7 of 16 (324 views)
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Tolkien or Jackson's words [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
- in response to:

"If there was a book comprehensive enough to discuss the beauty of Tolkien's created world and by using his own words subsequently defend or at least justify MOST of Jackson's cinematic decisions, would you read it? "

- I wonder where this is coming from? um.. if one were to take Tolkien's words and move them around to appear as if they justified jackson's decisions, where would this leave us? I'm confuzzled. Sounds to me like a Jackson fan wishing to make it look as if JRR would approve from beyond the grave?

Unimpressed

- no, I wouldn't read it.

.


Well I could be wrong, but I don't think that's what the OP meant - I think he meant Jackson's own words to explain the changes. How could Tolkien possibly comment on the films - all I've ever read is that he expected others would come along and expand on his universe. But Jackson has made many comments explaining why he did this and that, so I'm pretty sure that's what the OP is referring to.

Having said that, I'm not sure I'd read it either. To be honest, I'm far less familiar with the books than the movies, and I LOVE the movies. Although, come to think of it, such a book could be a way to introduce movie fans to the book, so maybe you shouldn't limit yourself to Tolkien fans. I'd bet alot of movie fans have never read the books. I encourage you to start writing and approach publishers with your idea. GO FOR IT, and GOOD LUCK!!!


MirielCelebel
Cabin Boy


Mar 15 2014, 11:16pm

Post #8 of 16 (298 views)
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Keep the comments coming! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm very glad to hear such a positive response from a movie fan because my goal would be to reach both Tolkien and Jackson fans alike. As for my own affiliation, I am first and foremost a Tolkien purist. There were things about this latest trilogy that absolutely appalled me before seeing the films but as a film student I can understand why Jackson made the decisions he made. And when I say "Tolkien's words" I mean his Letters. In 1957 Tolkien himself annotated a script for a film version of LOTR written by a guy named Zimmerman. So while he might not be around now to criticize or praise Peter Jackson, we can paint a pretty relevant comparison to his opinions on a generic film adaptation of his work. I am quite enjoying the responses here though. Keep them coming :)

"The Road goes ever on..."


geordie
Sailing Master

Mar 15 2014, 11:43pm

Post #9 of 16 (329 views)
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Tolkien - [In reply to] Can't Post

- in reply to:

"How could Tolkien possibly comment on the films - all I've ever read is that he expected others would come along and expand on his universe. "

Actually, that's not what Tolkien wrote.
.


demnation
Rigger

Mar 16 2014, 6:09am

Post #10 of 16 (270 views)
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I have to be honest and say no [In reply to] Can't Post

Such discussions seem to have dominated Tolkien fandom for almost a decade and a half now. I've only been involved in fandom for about a year and I'm already sick to death of such debates. The Hobbit board is dominated by Tolkien Vs. Jackson (and even Jackson vs. Jackson) and thus I tend to avoid that board. While such a book would probably be of interest to a great many people, I am not one of them. I'm certainly ready to move beyond Tolkien vs. Jackson and discuss each (but for me, mostly Tolkien) on their own merits. Anyway, that's my two cents.

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


Kristin Thompson
Rigger


Mar 16 2014, 10:11am

Post #11 of 16 (261 views)
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Some cautions and comments [In reply to] Can't Post

As someone who has some experience in writing on this topic, I thought I should weigh in. I would suggestion being considering long and hard about the prospects of writing such a book. I think the readership would be fairly limited.

Yes, there are some people who will buy nearly any book related to Tolkien and/or Peter Jackson's films that appears, but it's a fairly small number. I learned that from the sales of my The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood. Although fans enjoy my book, at least to judge from the reviews and from the kind comments I have received here on TORn, it didn't sell all that well.

Moreover, your topic is much more limited, essentially an attempt to convince Tolkien purists that Peter Jackson's films are true to the spirit of the books if not to the letter. (I oversimplify, of course, but I think that's your basic point.) But there's a snag involved. People who dislike Jackson's films will not be likely to read a book designed to persuade them to like them. Would you read a book trying to persuade you to like something you don't already like?

The first book that came out on the subject, Tolkien on Film, was written mainly by literary scholars, and about two-thirds of its content was negative concerning the films as adaptations. I would suggest that you read my review of that collection in Tolkien Studies 3 (2006), pp. 222-28. (If you have access to a library that subscribes to Project Muse, you should be able to read it online.) There I suggest further why such a book has poor prospects for a significant readership.

Since you say that you have searched for books comparing the novels and films, I suspect that you are familiar with Picturing Tolkien. I would like to think that my opening chapter there goes a little beyond the compare-and-contrast approach. My intent was to defend the LOTR films to some extent, saying that although the film was uneven and the filmmakers made some questionable decisions, in some parts they came up with highly elegant solutions to adaptation problems. Some of these solutions even bettered Tolkien's original scenes or devices. That essay was written based more on my own opinions about some of the best things in the film rather than on defending it against the most common charges leveled against it (e. g., Elves at Helm's Deep).

I have written one other essay that to some extent defends the LOTR film, though it may be of only tangential interest in relation to your possible project, a piece analyzing the Beacons sequence in the anthology Film Moments.

As for me, I would probably feel obliged to at least skim your book. I did the entry on Jackson's LOTR films for Oxford University Press's online bibliographies series. (Available through subscription only; your local library may provide access.) That has gone online now, but I'm obligated to update it, so I have to keep up with the literature. I frankly wouldn't relish the prospect, though, unless it were very well done and original. But as has been pointed out already, this debate has been going on since 1999, a decade and a half now, and I have seen the same ground retrod many times.

A final and more specific caution. You mention Tolkien's comments on film adaptations as left to us in the form of his reactions to Morton Grady Zimmerman's so-called film project of 1957. The actual background of that "project" has never been accurately presented. It was not a real project at all. (And Tolkien never read a script, since there never was one. What Tolkien read was a treatment, which as a film student you will know is a short prose summary of a proposed film. Tolkien doesn't refer to it as a treatment, since he didn't know the term.) I give the history of that project in my chapter on Tolkien adaptations in the forthcoming A Companion to J. R. R. Tolkien, due out in early June. (That section of the chapter is based on an examination of the surviving correspondence in the Marquette University collections.) I would suggest that you and anyone interested in Tolkien's stated opinions on that treatment read my account, as it reveals that the Zimmerman project was never a viable one and that the treatment was hardly typical of any real proposal that would be made for a film based on Tolkien's work. Hence Tolkien's reactions, though undoubtedly appropriate to what he received from Zimmerman, don't necessarily reflect what he would have thought of a serious, professional project.

If you decide to go ahead with your project, I wish you the best of luck with it and hope that what I've suggested here is of some assistance to you.


grammaboodawg
Captain


Mar 16 2014, 2:31pm

Post #12 of 16 (241 views)
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I'm not a big debater [In reply to] Can't Post

and don't really participate in challenges against why I love/accept things about Tolkien's writings and/or Jackson's films. I claim the freedom to just enjoy something without defending why. For me, it changes it from a personal respite to a more impersonal justification. So reading a book focusing on that would probably just stress me. HOWEVER, I have found more people here at TORn who have the same feelings and sensibilities as I do regarding both than anywhere else about anything else!

I do know that there would be a market for the publication you're considering, but I know it's not something I wouldn't gravitate towards. That said, though... I think if you would find satisfaction investigating these varying opinions... you should definitely go for it! Those who would purchase such a book would be VERY happy to have it. That's the beauty of both Tolkien and Jackson, there are so many people who are passionate about Middle-earth at so many levels and interests, I can't think that any project about it would go unappreciated by your target market regardless of the size :)



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Timdalf
Cabin Boy


Mar 16 2014, 9:16pm

Post #13 of 16 (215 views)
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Preliminary hurdles [In reply to] Can't Post

The main difficulty I would see in such a book is that it would first have to establish in depth just what are the underlying themes Tolkien accomplished in his monumental work and compare them to what the films achieve. Just running through a summary of the characters and plot in both films and books would not be sufficient if one really wants to grasp what Tolkien accomplished. Further, a preliminary study would need to be done in detail of what changes the writers and director of the films went through as they wrote the scripts. That has yet to be done and would presuppose their cooperation in that project. Because understanding their decisions made in that process would really illumine their mind-set and its adjustments, just as understanding Tolkien's LotR and TH requires the extensive studies of his drafts and the changes in them that we find accomplished by Christopher and John Rateliff.

(This post was edited by Timdalf on Mar 16 2014, 9:18pm)


ElendilTheShort
Gunner


Mar 17 2014, 12:22am

Post #14 of 16 (208 views)
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I think this sort of endeavour has merit when the two works have a great deal of similarity or qualities. [In reply to] Can't Post

But even at their best the LOTR movies are a simplified popularisation of the source and not worthy of such an in depth analysis, there simply isn't the subject matter available to examine. The Hobbit even more so due to the nature of the book and the extreme divergence from book to film excluding say the first 40mins of AUJ.


demnation
Rigger

Mar 17 2014, 12:59pm

Post #15 of 16 (185 views)
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I like the movies, but you may have a point [In reply to] Can't Post

I find the movies quite a bit less engaging for the simple reason that they lack quite a bit of the texture of the book. The little stuff in the nooks and crannies, extra character work, and more interesting dialogue. Especially that last one: a lot of Tolkien's greatest (and most important, in relation to the overall themes of his work) lines don't make the cut in the films. On the other hand, this is also the primary reason why I think the two should be studied on their own terms.

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


MirielCelebel
Cabin Boy


Mar 18 2014, 2:19am

Post #16 of 16 (218 views)
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Timdalf [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm so glad you mentioned central themes because that was my original inspiration for this idea. I cover characters and plot in my assessment, obviously but I agree that how the themes are translated onto the screen is paramount. Thanks for your thoughts!

"The Road goes ever on..."

 
 

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