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General Tolkien Discussion (books, movies & TV)

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Yeesh, I forgot all about it. Will put on my calendar for this weekend!

Y'know, it's interesting, I don't think of LOTR as being full of battles, necessarily. I'm more prone to remember things like Lothlorien and the Ents. But when I read your remark, Carol, it reminded me that my brother complained that Book 2 was nothing but battles. I still don't remember it that way, but apparently other people -- including filmmakers -- do?

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Okay, I won't be seeing it this weekend … I just got slammed with house stuff. Ugh. 

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Don't put it off too long -- Alex and I were the only two people at our showing.  Admittedly that was at 4:30 on a Wednesday, but still .... I doubt it'll be in the theaters much longer.

We're thinking of getting the DVD, though, so you could come over and watch it at our house, next time you're in Indiana.

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Well, oddly enough, there were only a handful of showings this week (and none today!) but next week it's on a "regular" schedule. Hopefully Wednesday.....

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My local theater only has one showing per day now, in the morning.  I probably won't make it.  :(

 

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Okay, finally! I got to see it! Had to drive out of town to the "artsy" theater, but hey.... I really liked it. Thought it was well done and enjoyed all the allusions to events and images in LOTR. Was afraid it would be a bit mushy, but it wasn't. Wasn't bothered by the battle scenes either, thought they paced it rather nicely. The only thing that threw me off a little was the ending; it's been told many times how Tolkien penned "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" on the back of a blank exam sheet one of his students turned in. But I guess we could imagine that's what he was writing on. Anyway, pretty good, glad I took the trouble to see it.

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What did you think of the cinematography?  And the style of story-telling?  Both struck me as your cuppa, just wondering whether they struck you the same way.

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Awwwww I'm so bummed I didn't get to see it.  :(

 

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I would expect it to come out on DVD fairly soon.  Hang in there!

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On ‎5‎/‎28‎/‎2019 at 3:41 AM, Carol the Dabbler said:

What did you think of the cinematography?  And the style of story-telling?  Both struck me as your cuppa, just wondering whether they struck you the same way.

I liked the cross-cutting from past to present, if that's what you mean. It threw me the first time but after that I found it interesting … a bit like Imitation Game, which had a similar construction.

The cinematography didn't stand out, but I don't think it was that kind of movie. It was appropriate to the mood and style of the story, I thought. All in all, I thought it was a good, solid piece of storytelling … not Oscar material or anything like that, just … quietly satisfying. 

I think where it failed to achieve "greatness" is that it never attempted to say why Tolkien mattered.  Why was his story worthy of a $20 million movie? His fans know why, but the movie itself never explained it. But not every movie needs to be great … some of my favorites were quiet little pieces that simply left me with a good feeling and not much else. (The main one that comes to mind is an obscure little pic call "Git!" Anyone else ever even heard of it? It was utterly charming.)

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On 6/2/2019 at 9:57 AM, Arcadia said:

some of my favorites were quiet little pieces that simply left me with a good feeling and not much else. (The main one that comes to mind is an obscure little pic call "Git!" Anyone else ever even heard of it?

Yes -- you've mentioned it before.  :D  Must really be one of your favorites!

One part of Tolkien that I thought you might like was the sort of surrealistic battlefield.

And now that you mention it, yeah, it would have been nice if the movie had ended with a little postscript about Tolkien's later life and works.  That might have incurred The Estate's official wrath, though.  They were nasty enough about the movie as it was:

The family of J.R.R. Tolkien and the Tolkien Estate are aware of the Fox Searchlight motion picture entitled Tolkien that is due for release in May 2019.
 
The family and the Estate wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorize, or participate in the making of the film. They do not endorse it or its content in any way.

(Not that they could do a damn thing about it, since JRRT was undeniably a public figure.)

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Yes, the battlefield scenes worked for me. The surrealistic bits were not overdone, which they easily could have been.

I wonder what the estate has against the film. Maybe they were just preparing for a worst case scenario. Surely in its basics it was fairly accurate, although I don't think Tolkien's "body man" was really called Sam, was he? I read a bio years and years ago, the details are a bit dim, but you'd think I'd remember something like that. All I remember is that Tolkien admired their pluck, and they were obviously the model for Sam.

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Good heavens, he was called Sam in the movie and I didn't even notice?!

Maybe you don't recall what his name actually was because the bio that you read didn't mention it?

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12 hours ago, Arcadia said:

I wonder what the estate has against the film.

I’d like to know that too.  I heard that the film doesn’t address his religious beliefs very much or its influence on his work.  Maybe that has something to do with it?

 

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I suspect they may be simply making it perfectly clear that they were not involved, so that no one thinks any of it represents their view of the man or the events -- in other words, that it's not an authorized or official biography.

The estate has been very careful about copyright issues regarding JRRT's novels, but the makers of this movie were equally careful not to tread on that territory.  He was clearly a public figure, so anyone can write or film his biography without anyone's permission.  And their use of one short sentence from one of his books would surely fall under the "fair use" clause of copyright law.  So what the estate has said about the movie is about all that they can say.

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12 hours ago, Artemis said:

I’d like to know that too.  I heard that the film doesn’t address his religious beliefs very much or its influence on his work.  Maybe that has something to do with it?

 

I don't know, but you're right … the film doesn't mention his religious beliefs. Probably just as well, given how short a film is, but it is an interesting aspect of his work. Not being Catholic myself, I don't understand it all, but I find it fascinating nonetheless. 

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While searching Amazon for garden edging (specifically for use as tree rings), I came across a number of Gondor flags (you know, white TREE, Lord of the RINGS).  (There are presumably an entire range of Rohan flags as well, and who knows, maybe some Shire flags).

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Cool. Does anyone remember what the seven stars represent?

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On 9/18/2014 at 10:26 PM, Arcadia said:

Fun bit of trivia: Strider was originally a hobbit. The story was half over before Tolkien figured out he wasn't!  Watch the difference in the way Strider speaks before and after we learn who he really is.

 

On 9/19/2014 at 2:06 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

I just ran across an online reference to that yesterday! He was supposed to be a hobbit who for some reason wore wooden shoes, so he was called -- what? Clomper? Stomper? Something like that.

 

On 9/20/2014 at 8:20 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

Trotter!    <-- link to Wikipedia

 

I just came across Trotter's page on Tolkien Gateway.  I had been wondering why any hobbit would wear shoes, wooden or otherwise, but according to this page, even though he appeared to be wearing wooden shoes, he actually "had wooden feet after being tortured in Mordor."  So they were apparently prosthetics rather than footwear.

And anyone who wants to know more about the gradual evolution of Aragorn's character can find it in this blog.

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It's also in The History of Middle-Earth, most of which, believe it or not, I have read. Yes, I am just that much of a Tolkien geek.

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1 hour ago, Arcadia said:

The History of Middle-Earth

I see several books (or sets of books) on Amazon with similar titles, though at least some of them seem to be different books (or sets).  Could you

A}  Link to the one you're talking about; and

B}  Tell us what you think of it?

Thanks!

 

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Yeah, the way it's set up is confusing. If I understand correctly, there's 12 volumes altogether, but they have different subtitles … so the volumes covering the LOTR text is, logically, called the History of LOTR. But I read some (all?) of the ones that came before that, too, which covers a lot of the material in the Silmarillion … can't remember the subtitle for those. And then I think each individual volume has it's own title, relating to whatever chapters it's covering.

The most interesting one -- and to be honest, it might be in a different publication, such as The Annotated Hobbit -- is the one covering the original version of the end of Gollum's riddle game, and the subsequent changes to the text caused when Tolkien decided to make the ring into "The Ring." That, I really enjoyed.

As to the rest of them … it's more like doing research than simple pleasure reading. So if you like that sort of thing … seeing into the creative process, following the evolution of ideas … you might get something out of them. Some of it's pretty repetitive. The most interesting bit to me was the above-mentioned evolution of Trotter, and I believe that's the only volume I actually own. The rest, I checked out of the library.

What Christopher Tolkien did was assemble his dad's rough drafts, in as near to chronological order as he could make them, added some commentary in the gaps between passages, and that's the books. So if you enjoy reading three slightly different versions of how Gandalf met Radagast, or six different versions of Gimli's name, then you might enjoy the History. I found a lot of it dull going, but fascinating nonetheless. I really missed Middle Earth at that point in my life. :smile: 

I'm afraid I can't link to the specific book regarding Trotter right now, because I don't have the book with me (I'm on "vacation") and I can't remember the title.  I just know it's part of the "History of LOTR" group, which is something like six or seven volumes (?) It's been awhile since I read them, and I'm not even sure they were all published at the time. The description of the last couple of volumes doesn't sound familiar to me.

Hope that helps.

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Is there a "History of The Hobbit"?  (I already own the annotated edition and the first-edition facsimile, though I haven't yet read either to any extent.)  I see that somebody named Rateliff has written some books with that main title, one of which appears to have been co-authored by C. Tolkien -- so are those the "official" histories of The Hobbit?

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Well, I don't know, because as I said, I'm thinking the original riddle game may be something I read in a different book than the "History of." And I also saw the title "The History of the Hobbit," but it didn't ring a bell, which is what made me wonder if it was something else that I read. I KNOW I read the Annotated Hobbit, but I can't remember if that's where the original riddle game was or not.

When I get home (in a few days) I'll try to remember to go through my book collection and see if there's anything I own that might solve the mystery. But I suspect I mostly read library books.

I decided, a few years back, to get an "as meant to be published" edition of LOTR … in other words, all in one volume. I finally settled on the larger format paperback, but now I'm sort of wishing I'd sprung the extra bucks for a hardback version. But the ones I was looking at all seemed fancier than they needed to be, or used photos from the movies on the cover, or some such. Anyone have a really great hardback edition to recommend? And is it lightweight enough to actually read, or do you have to have an aide hold it for you? :D 

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I wasn't aware that JRRT had meant to publish LotR as a single volume, having always heard (near as I recall) that he intended it to be seven (well, six plus appendices).  We have a seven-volume hardback edition (in a slipcover) that's about the size of trade paperbacks, so they're quite manageable.  This seems to be volume 1, now being sold individually (as are other volumes) -- apparently out of print, and therefore no longer very affordable, I'm afraid, though there may well be other similar editions.

As for a single-volume edition, all I can suggest is checking with book stores, used-book stores, and Amazon (all of which may take a while!), but as you suspect, the single volume could be pretty massive.  It would be advisable to actually meet the beast before purchasing it.

I know what you mean -- I inherited my father's annotated Holmes, which definitely fails the readability test.  Each of the two volumes is about the size and heft of an encyclopedia volume, and I found that I simply can't enjoy reading the stories as stories from it (partly due to the weight, partly due to the dimensions, and partly due to the annotations).  So I bought a collection of paperbacks -- much more fun to read!

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