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Re: Gripes about LOTR films

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  • ftl_publications
    ... have to ... campaign, ... nobody ... I feel this is, in part, a case where Jackson and Jackson s defenders are apologizing (that s not apologizing as in
    Message 1 of 8 , Nov 9, 2003
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      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@e...>
      wrote:
      >Certainly there are
      > parts of LOTR which could stand literary improvement, and you don't
      have to
      > be a good writer yourself to say so; but I see this as part of a
      campaign,
      > which I've noted here before ("Re: TTT review, startling statement",
      > 1/12/03), to claim that Jackson has improved a lousy old book that
      nobody
      > ever really liked much anyway.

      I feel this is, in part, a case where Jackson and Jackson's defenders
      are apologizing (that's not "apologizing" as in "regret,"
      that's "apologizing" as in "defending") for the wholesale departures
      from Tolkien's text.

      I also see 2 other factors at work here:

      Factor 1: Contemporary screenwriting is very forumlaic. In
      screenwriting courses, there is a very strict dramatic line that
      students are encouraged to adhere to, and departures from that
      formula are given as examples of "bad" (or in the text referred
      to, "amateur") writing. It is interesting to note that those who are
      making the comments ARE connected to the screenwriting community
      rather than the literary community.

      Factor 2: There are people who never were able to get through Lord of
      the Rings (it certainly took me several tries, and I was an
      enthusiast of The Hobbit!), and therefore have memories of the LotR
      text being ponderous and boring. We may disagree (I certainly do),
      but they're out there. I wouldn't be surprised if such people are
      among those who say that they prefer Jackson's version (finding it
      an "improvement" over Tolkien's text), and would agree with an
      assessment that Tolkien's writing wasn't very good.

      (Now, just to make clear where I'm coming from, although I found much
      to enjoy in Jackson's movies, I do not find them preferable to
      Tolkien's original text, and I do believe that Tolkien's LotR is a
      literary masterpiece. I would characterize JRRT's text
      as "brilliant.")

      Joan Marie Verba
      verba001@...
    • David S. Bratman
      ... Maybe in part, but I don t see why it s necessary to bash Tolkien in order to defend Jackson. Jackson himself has done no Tolkien-bashing of this kind.
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 10, 2003
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        At 09:19 AM 11/9/2003 , Joan Marie Verba wrote:

        >I feel this is, in part, a case where Jackson and Jackson's defenders
        >are apologizing (that's not "apologizing" as in "regret,"
        >that's "apologizing" as in "defending") for the wholesale departures
        >from Tolkien's text.

        Maybe in part, but I don't see why it's necessary to bash Tolkien in order
        to defend Jackson. Jackson himself has done no Tolkien-bashing of this
        kind. There are places where he's justified his changes with the
        implication that he knows story-telling better than Tolkien does, but he's
        never said so directly, and he's never sweepingly criticized LOTR as a bad
        book, which the defenders I'm referring to have done.


        >Factor 1: Contemporary screenwriting is very forumlaic. In
        >screenwriting courses, there is a very strict dramatic line that
        >students are encouraged to adhere to, and departures from that
        >formula are given as examples of "bad" (or in the text referred
        >to, "amateur") writing. It is interesting to note that those who are
        >making the comments ARE connected to the screenwriting community
        >rather than the literary community.

        Screenwriting (not just contemporary) indeed tends towards the formulaic,
        which is why there are so many bad and wearisomely predictable films out
        there. It doesn't have to be so. The best films aren't that way, and
        they're not unsuccessful. I think of the film "Memento" which broke more
        screenwriting conventions than you could shake a stick at, and worked
        splendidly. And I recently saw a film about two people who, despite every
        opportunity and a clear inclination, do NOT commit adultery. I could
        hardly believe it.

        Before Jackson's LOTR was released, I was on a convention panel speculating
        about the films (this was not the one at Mythcon), which was dominated by
        an audience member who insisted that, as if it were a law of nature, that
        Jackson MUST maul the structure of the book to fit it into the standard
        structure which all screenplays must follow. As it turned out, Jackson did
        nothing of the sort. Such changes as he made in general structure were
        much less drastic than this man insisted on, and were not to fit it into
        that mold.


        >Factor 2: There are people who never were able to get through Lord of
        >the Rings (it certainly took me several tries, and I was an
        >enthusiast of The Hobbit!), and therefore have memories of the LotR
        >text being ponderous and boring. We may disagree (I certainly do),
        >but they're out there. I wouldn't be surprised if such people are
        >among those who say that they prefer Jackson's version (finding it
        >an "improvement" over Tolkien's text), and would agree with an
        >assessment that Tolkien's writing wasn't very good.

        Anybody who wants to say that they personally prefer the book to the movie,
        that's their personal taste and they're welcome to it. But the people I
        was referring to said things like "Frodo ... eventually loses the sympathy
        of MOST readers" and that "NOBODY ever read Tolkien for the writing,"
        emphases added. As Shippey said about some other examples, "they insist
        perversely in making statements not about literary merit, where their
        opinions could rest undisprovable, but about popular appeal, where they can
        be shown up beyond all possibility of doubt."

        For the fact is that no matter how many people out there found LOTR
        difficult - and there's no novel ever written that appeals to everybody -
        it has overall been the most popular and lasting of its century. This
        suggests that whatever its literary merit - and people like Harold Bloom
        most eager to attack that probably wouldn't care for the movies either -
        Tolkien did know something about story-telling and popular appeal. And
        thus any changes to his story made by film-makers, unless their grasp of
        these things is more profound than his, are liable to be for the worse.

        - David Bratman
      • David S. Bratman
        ... *sigh* I meant people who prefer the movie to the book, of course. _Both_ parties are welcome to their personal taste. I m in the prefer the book to
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 10, 2003
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          At 07:25 AM 11/10/2003 , I wrote:

          >Anybody who wants to say that they personally prefer the book to the movie,
          >that's their personal taste and they're welcome to it.

          *sigh* I meant people who "prefer the movie to the book," of course.
          _Both_ parties are welcome to their personal taste. I'm in the "prefer the
          book to the movie" camp myself, of course.

          - David Bratman
        • aveeris523@aol.com
          A friend of mine has an excellent T-shirt bearing the words: Never judge a book by it s movie. Steve Gaddis [Non-text portions of this message have been
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 10, 2003
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            A friend of mine has an excellent T-shirt bearing the words: "Never judge a
            book by it's movie."
            Steve Gaddis


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • dianejoy@earthlink.net
            Where can I get one of those in 3x? ---djb ... From: aveeris523@aol.com Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 23:16:45 EST To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re:
            Message 5 of 8 , Nov 11, 2003
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              Where can I get one of those in 3x? ---djb

              Original Message:
              -----------------
              From: aveeris523@...
              Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 23:16:45 EST
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Gripes about LOTR films


              A friend of mine has an excellent T-shirt bearing the words: "Never judge a
              book by it's movie."
              Steve Gaddis


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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            • SusanPal@aol.com
              Where can I get one of those that knows the difference between the possessive form of it and the contraction for it is ? Susan (feeling grouchy and pedantic
              Message 6 of 8 , Nov 11, 2003
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                Where can I get one of those that knows the difference between the possessive
                form of "it" and the contraction for "it is"?

                Susan (feeling grouchy and pedantic after grading freshman-comp papers)


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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