Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tolk-a-mentalists vs Fundamentalists.

Nick is back and commenting under the "Political Leaders Make Poor Teachers" post. I'm sure most are missing our lively conversation which is fine. There are bits and pieces that would probably only interest Nick and myself. But I did want to bring to the forefront and interesting parallel that he has pointed out.

"The thing about Tolkien die-hards not liking the films is an interesting one. You're right; inevitably, Jackson had to take certain liberties to make it work cinematically. Also, the characterisation and sub-plots are subject to interpretation. But people get stuck on their own interpretations of Tolkien, and hey presto: Tolkien fundamentalism. There are those who seem to forget that he only wrote it as a story, and Middle Earth is only pretend! I think Jackson did a decent job, personally. Essentially, he told us: this is what I think Tolkien's Middle Earth would be like to live in. There are differences, but he certainly produced an amazing spectacle. 

All of which kind of brings us back on topic. Tolkien is dead, and Tolk-a-mentalists are free to argue ad nauseum about who has the correct interpretation of his work. But the Holy Spirit is not dead."
Again, thanks Nick for tools and insights for helping us understand the things we deal with.


rach.h.davis said...

*puts on nerd glasses and gives more of a response than you were probably looking for*

For the most part I agree with you and Nick. I would say that most of the changes made within the movie were necessary to fit the movie format, and didn't necessarily destroy anything important. We don't have some obligation to Tolkien to keep everything just as it was in every second of the movie!

I do have to add one qualifier though :) As a writer myself, I have thought long and hard about the transition from book to movie (this long process of thinking has led me to be much more accepting of movie changes than I used to be). I feel that, while directors are certainly free to make changes that are necessary to make the jump from book to movie genre, they still have a responsibility to stick to basic plot, basic theme, and basic characterization of the major points/characters. Otherwise, why are they writing the story, right? :)

Most of the complaints about Lord of the Rings were rather frivolous under this definition, but a couple were valid--such as the fact that much of the tension in the third movie revolved around Sam fighting to save his friend from the new ally (Gollum) who is really hoodwinking/using Frodo. I don't know about you, but I've seen the "Character A sees that Character C is bad, but Character B is fooled" type of conflict so much in movies that it's a cliche, and it really has very little to do with how things actually played out in the book--the conflict in the book (Frodo and Sam both know that Gollum is probably treacherous, but have no choice but to follow him, and have to live within that tension) is way more interesting to me because it's less black-and-white and is more indicative of the basic characterization that was present in the book.

All that is to say that I'm no Tolkien purist, but I still feel free to critique the movie where I think it made slips.

Despite any slips, though, Return of the King is still my favorite movie, followed closely by Fellowship :)

And really, if a Tolkien purist is upset about the movie....don't watch it, LOL!

Mara Reid said...

Good points rach.h.davis and thanks for stopping by. I loved the Two Towers the most, but then I loved the Riders of Rohan (and their music theme). I also loved Gandolf battling that evil thing in the beginning and Treebeard and the Last March of the Ents at the end.

I didn't like the ending of the Fellowship. My actual response was something along the lines of, "That's it? You leave me here? I need far more closure than this!"
And Return had too many closure/endings.

I guess I suffer from, "needs to be tied up in a (one) big bow a the end" syndrome so there may be a problem with me.

rach.h.davis said...

I escaped the frustration you speak of....I was reading the books for the first time when I saw the movies. I was JUST barely ahead of that part in the plot when I saw Fellowship, and so to me, it was like I went home and "continued" the movie when I picked up the book.

I was a little concerned that Fellowship was confusing to audiences who hadn't read the books, though. My parents heard some uninformed person in front of them say "That's it? Huh. Maybe they're making a sequel or something."


Mara Reid said...

Well, at least I knew there was more. I wasn't that LOTR ignorant.

It just felt like a terrible stopping point at the time.
However, looking at the three together, I'm not sure where else they could have stopped it.

Are you looking forward to the Hobbit coming out?

Nick Bulbeck said...

Hi, people - ever had one of those moments where, after typing a load of stuff over an extended part of the morning, the system times out on you and your work disappears? Sigh... probably my fault for taking too long. Anyway, here's my second attempt to join this one!

I agree, Rach, that Frodo "firing" Sam both lacks credibility and plays to a very tired movie trope. And speaking of bits that lack credibility, I did like the last line of Part 1: "Let's hunt some orc". They should have gone the whole way with that one: "Let's, like, totally kick some Isengard butt, dudes". I don't think Elrond's bitterness towards Aragorn, nor Aragorn's self-doubt and reluctance to assume the mantle of kingship, really fitted the book either - I think they were more of a nod to present-day storytelling tradition.

But some changes do work. Gimli's long-delayed acknowledgement that he and Legolas have forged a very strong friendship is different from the book, but if anything, is better. The thing I most like about the films, though, is rather harder to put my finger on. It's the whole atmosphere that the music and cinematography create, especially on a big screen. You really get the idea that you're drawn into a magical war zone, where both wonderful and terrible things are possible.

I am definitely looking forward to The Hobbit - it might even be the first film we go to see as a family.

Mara Reid said...

You know what I do when I know a comment is going to be long? I go ahead and type it into a document on my computer. Then when I'm done, I copy and paste it into the comment section.

Now, Nick, I'm going to attempt to do a link in the comment section using your previous instructions. It is to my other post that talks about Lord of the Rings and something I like about it that applies brothers and sisters in the church.

<a href=">> houses of healing </a>

If my link doesn't work, just copy and paste this link in to browser:

Oh, and once I saw the towers and return, "Let's hunt some orc" stood out a bit more so that I could appreciate it better.

Mara Reid said...

Shucks. It didn't work, Nick. I guess I need further instructions on how to make links work in my comments.

Nick Bulbeck said...

I do know the "write it up in textedit" beforehand dodge, but I wasn't expecting that post to be very long!

You were very close with the embedded link; there are just two mistakes. The first is the second angular bracket - i.e., the one just before "http" - which shouldn't be there. Secondly, you just needed to close the quote by adding a quotation mark after ...houses-of-healing.html . If you do that, it works:

houses of healing

Mara Reid said...

I tried again and failed again so removed that comment but have run out of time so I'm going to have to try again later