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thoughts on Tom Bombadil

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  • Kimberly
    This is a message I posted in another group, and I thought that I would share it here as well. The set-up: a couple of people wrote how disappointed they were
    Message 1 of 53 , Dec 3, 2002
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      This is a message I posted in another group, and I thought that I
      would share it here as well. The set-up: a couple of people wrote how
      disappointed they were that Tom Bombadil was left out of the film. I
      chimed in- I theorized that Bombadil was left out for public safety
      reasons... as the inclusion of "a singing yokel bounding around the
      forest in big yellow boots" would cause a stampede for the exits,
      causing the crushing death of small children. I received this angry
      reply, and wrote the following response:

      --- In lord_of_the_rings_middle_earth@y..., "Kerry Theriot"
      <cryingshadesofblue@y...> wrote:
      > Ahem, Bomadil was a Maiar, one of the gods who helped in the
      > creation of the earth and is older than time itself. He wasn't a
      > yokel, he was the expression of pure and carless joy, and only
      > someone who has experianced such joy would understand. He was even
      > stronger that Sauron, for he wasn't tempted by the ring at all.
      > I supose it helps, when you're teacher has a docorate in english
      > and has read the most of Tolkiens books some forty times are so.

      Nobody living, not even your English teacher, can say for certain
      what Tom Bombadil was. Many people seem to think he was a Maiar. I
      don't think that stands up to logic:

      -Bombadil was impartial to the Ring and the conflict between good
      and evil. He was above it and beyond it. None of the other Maiar that
      Tolkien names (the Balrogs, Gandalf, Sauron, Saruman, Melian...) are
      capable of being impartial.
      -the dialog at the Council of Elrond makes it clear that Bombadil
      answers to no-one. All of the Maiar answer to someone, even Sauron
      (though his master was exiled.)
      -some of the statements made about Bombadil:
      "Oldest and Fatherless."
      "He IS."
      Tolkien doesn't drop stuff like that *lightly*. Tolkien doesn't use
      strong language like that to describe any of the Maiar.
      -Tom's statements about himself: he claims to have arrived in Arda
      before the rivers and trees were made- that would make him one of the
      Valar, wouldn't it? In fact Tom claims to have arrived in Arda even
      before Melkor! No way is this guy just a Maiar.

      Here is a very good essay that argues why Tom Bombadil and Goldberry
      are probably Aule and Yavanna:
      Even that has some problems, as the Silmarillion explicitly states
      that Melkor arrived in Arda before the other Ainur.

      HOWEVER, even if Tom Bombadil is a huge figure in Tolkien's
      *mythology*, he is still an unimportant figure in "The Lord of the
      Rings". The link I provided quotes Tolkien *himself* saying "Tom
      Bombadil is not an important person- to the narrative. I suppose he
      has some importance as a 'comment'." Ok, so even Tolkien himself
      didn't feel Bombadil was important to the story itself. I have read
      that Tolkien planned to remove Tom Bombadil, and decided to leave him
      in for sentimental reasons. He is at best an editorial comment by
      Tolkien, or a remembrance Tolkien included for personal reasons.
      Either way, Tolkien himself tells us that Bombadil is extraneous to
      the story.

      So imagine you're Peter Jackson and you're trying to figure out how
      to make a 500-page epic into a 3-hour movie. What do you cut? Well,
      cutting the character that Tolkien himself says is "unimportant to
      the narrative" would be a pretty obvious place to start. If Tolkien
      had an extra 20 minutes to put in the film, how about more
      Lothlorien? And if he had 20 more minutes, how about the Barrow
      Downs? See what I'm getting at? There's a lot of stuff that *would*
      have added to the movie that was left out before we even get to

      And suppose Tom Bombadil *had* made it into the film. I can't imagine
      any way that could have worked out well for a movie. I think that
      pretty much any interpretation of Tom Bombadil would have worked out
      *badly* on film. I can't imagine any way they could have done that
      without being *painful* to watch. It would have left 95% of the
      audience scratching their heads, and 99% of the audience wishing they
      hadn't wasted 20 minutes with the singing fruit-cake in the forest.
      That's not something you want to happen when you're making a movie.
    • SanKni2313@aol.com
      In a message dated 12/5/02 7:53:28 PM Central Standard Time, ... All excellent points! I am also especially recommending the above suggestion. After not
      Message 53 of 53 , Dec 6, 2002
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        In a message dated 12/5/02 7:53:28 PM Central Standard Time, itzsharon@... writes:

        2. Quoting the specific portion of the message that you are
        responding to is highly recommended. Not doing so invites confusion,
        because we don't all have photographic memories. Also, in an active
        thread like this one, there may be several people posting back and
        forth at the same time, and it's not always easy to follow the
        sequence of the comments.

        All excellent points!  I am also especially recommending the above suggestion.  After not having the time to get to my email all week, and having to wade through some 800+ posts (between several lists), it can be very confusing and frustrating to try to follow a discussion when it is not clear which post is being responded to.  Some comments make no sense at all when taken out of context, which is what happens when the message being responded to is not included...especially for people who are constantly having to play catch up with their email.  :o)

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