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18843RE: [mythsoc] Beowulf film

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  • David Bratman
    Sep 3, 2007
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      At 10:59 AM 9/3/2007 -0500, Mike Foster wrote:

      >First of all, whether better films would've brought more
      >readers to the books is hypothesis contrary to fact. We'll just never
      >know. The films exist. In ways both great and small, they could've
      >been much better. But it's not like the book fell into the Cracks of
      >Doom and was destroyed.

      We can't know absolutely, but we can make pretty good guesses, just like we
      deal with hypotheticals in our daily lives all the time. Imagine that
      instead of Jackson's films we had gotten much worse films, that nobody had
      liked and had bombed at the box office. May we not assume that such films
      would have attracted fewer readers to the book than the actual films did?
      If so, then surely we can assume that films with fewer of Jackson's known
      flaws (and you are not claiming that Jackson is flawless), and which did
      not substitute other flaws in their place, would have done better still
      than the actual films.

      >Secondly, because the Jackson -Lord of the Rings- was
      >released serially, many of the Jackson-incited readers took up the books
      >after -The Fellowship- film because they wanted to know what happened.
      >Thus their first experience of -The Two Towers- and -The Return of the
      >King- was from the text, not the movie. So, for one example, when
      >Gandalf exorcises a psoraisisistic Theoden in the second Jackson film,
      >they would've seen Jackson's infidelity to the text.

      True enough, but I'm not discussing those viewers, but the ones who were
      not moved to pick up Tolkien at all.

      >Are you saying
      >that had you seen the films first, you would never have read the books?
      >Too bad. You would have missed a much more comprehensive and artful
      >version of the story.

      Indeed it would have been too bad. And it is a too bad thing that is
      happening _right now_ in the real world, at the same time as your "felix
      peccatum." We can't prove it, because how can we ever know that a person
      who never reads Tolkien would like him? But we can triangulate from the
      testimony of those who have read Tolkien and know what they would have
      thought from the films alone.

      >Thirdly, isn't it the goal of societies like this one, The
      >Tolkien Society, and Beyond Bree to encourage a wider readership of
      >Tolkien? If Jackson or Bakshi or Rankin-Bass or Leonard Nimoy (highly
      >unlikely) did this, didn't their "sin" have a good effect?

      As I already told you privately, it did. Yet it may also have a bad effect
      even worse. See the recently posting Christine VanSaders, who wrote, "a
      crappy Tolkien inspired work may drive more readers from the book than it
      would ever bring."

      >Of course, the fact that many new readers came to Tolkien does not
      >excuse the imperfections of Jackson's films. The point is that bad
      >actions can have good results: the lesson of Gollum.

      But the imperfections were not the cause of the good result.

      >Fourthly, is there anything to be gained by reiterating this
      >argument? It seems like we're retreading paths we have wended down
      >before.

      If you don't think this argument is worthwhile, why are you pursuing it?
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