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RE: [mythsoc] Re: My own RotK review

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  • darancgrissom@sbcglobal.net
    In my mind I always imagined Shelob being more Black-Widowish. Less hairy and more light absorbing chitin. This is probably more in my imagination than any
    Message 1 of 23 , Jan 1, 2004
      In my mind I always imagined Shelob being more Black-Widowish. Less hairy
      and more light absorbing chitin. This is probably more in my imagination
      than any description Tolkien gave. I have little problem with Tarantula's
      but I hate 'Widows
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Stolzi@... [mailto:Stolzi@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2003 3:23 PM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: My own RotK review



      I'd always thought Shelob bigger than that; though I suppose a spider past
      a
      certain size wd hardly be killable by a hobbit-blade.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Carl F. Hostetter
      ... I ve been thinking about this statement for days, and even with Michael s further explanation it still boggles my mind. If _Tolkien_ could be faithful to
      Message 2 of 23 , Jan 2, 2004
        On Dec 30, 2003, at 10:00 AM, Michael Martinez wrote:

        > I never expected the movies to be faithful to the book. I have long
        > maintained that Peter wasn't legally able to be completely faithful to
        > Tolkien because he would have had to use material from many other
        > books to be so.

        I've been thinking about this statement for days, and even with
        Michael's further explanation it still boggles my mind. If _Tolkien_
        could be faithful to Tolkien using only the material he put into his
        book -- and how else is faithfulness to be measured? -- then how can it
        be that one could possibly need material not in the book to be faithful
        to it?
      • David Bratman
        ... Michael s further explanation clarified it for me. Jackson wanted to know what these things should look like. An author is free to be vague or incomplete
        Message 3 of 23 , Jan 2, 2004
          At 02:11 PM 1/2/2004 -0500, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
          >
          >On Dec 30, 2003, at 10:00 AM, Michael Martinez wrote:
          >
          >> I never expected the movies to be faithful to the book. I have long
          >> maintained that Peter wasn't legally able to be completely faithful to
          >> Tolkien because he would have had to use material from many other
          >> books to be so.
          >
          >I've been thinking about this statement for days, and even with
          >Michael's further explanation it still boggles my mind. If _Tolkien_
          >could be faithful to Tolkien using only the material he put into his
          >book -- and how else is faithfulness to be measured? -- then how can it
          >be that one could possibly need material not in the book to be faithful
          >to it?

          Michael's further explanation clarified it for me. Jackson wanted to know
          what these things should look like. An author is free to be vague or
          incomplete in physical descriptions of persons, places, and things; a
          film-maker doesn't have that option. In such cases, additional source
          material, if it exists and is specific, may help one be faithful, not
          strictly to the book, but to the author's intent in writing the book.
          There are of course some glaring exceptions, but I thought Jackson did
          pretty well in depicting physical appearances. It was his script that sucked.

          - David Bratman
        • Carl F. Hostetter
          ... A film-maker would have just as much of an option to fill in the blanks as a reader does, in places where Tolkien provides no description in the book. So
          Message 4 of 23 , Jan 2, 2004
            On Jan 2, 2004, at 10:13 PM, David Bratman wrote:

            > An author is free to be vague or incomplete in physical descriptions
            > of persons, places, and things; a film-maker doesn't have that option.

            A film-maker would have just as much of an option to "fill in the
            blanks" as a reader does, in places where Tolkien provides no
            description in the book. So again, I fail to see how one could possibly
            need information not in the book in order to be faithful to the book.

            > It was his script that sucked.

            Boy howdy.
          • David Bratman
            ... That s why I wrote, additional source material may help one be faithful, not strictly to the book, but to the author s intent in writing the book. Forget
            Message 5 of 23 , Jan 2, 2004
              At 10:50 PM 1/2/2004 -0500, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
              >
              >On Jan 2, 2004, at 10:13 PM, David Bratman wrote:
              >
              >> An author is free to be vague or incomplete in physical descriptions
              >> of persons, places, and things; a film-maker doesn't have that option.
              >
              >A film-maker would have just as much of an option to "fill in the
              >blanks" as a reader does, in places where Tolkien provides no
              >description in the book. So again, I fail to see how one could possibly
              >need information not in the book in order to be faithful to the book.

              That's why I wrote, "additional source material may help one be faithful,
              not strictly to the book, but to the author's intent in writing the book."
              Forget about films: as a reader I'm grateful for any additional information
              I can get that will help me fill in the blanks in a way consistent with the
              author's intent. And Tolkien thought so too, or else he wouldn't have
              written all those letters explaining things.

              Just as one example, many fantasy writers who don't include pronunciation
              guides in their novels often wish they had. There is in fact nothing in
              the text of LOTR, though there is in the appendices (whether those are part
              of LOTR or not depends on definition and circumstance) to instruct you to
              say "Keleborn" instead of "Seleborn". And many people who haven't read the
              appendices, or haven't read them closely enough, do say it with an S. But
              no matter how independent the pronunciation guide is from the story, that
              doesn't make it equally OK to say it with an S.

              - David Bratman
            • Michael Martinez
              ... Tolkien wasn t making movies. Quite a few of the questions I was asked could have easily been answered by looking at details provided only in THE LETTERS
              Message 6 of 23 , Jan 4, 2004
                --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Carl F. Hostetter <Aelfwine@e...>
                wrote:
                >
                > On Dec 30, 2003, at 10:00 AM, Michael Martinez wrote:
                >
                > > I never expected the movies to be faithful to the book. I have
                > > long maintained that Peter wasn't legally able to be completely
                > > faithful to Tolkien because he would have had to use material
                > > from many other books to be so.
                >
                > I've been thinking about this statement for days, and even with
                > Michael's further explanation it still boggles my mind. If
                > _Tolkien_ could be faithful to Tolkien using only the material
                > he put into his book -- and how else is faithfulness to be
                > measured? -- then how can it be that one could possibly need
                > material not in the book to be faithful to it?

                Tolkien wasn't making movies.

                Quite a few of the questions I was asked could have easily been
                answered by looking at details provided only in THE LETTERS OF J.R.R.
                TOLKIEN. Some of the questions could have been better answered by
                looking at THE HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH.

                For example, at one point, they wanted to know how the Elves would
                have rendered numbers. The only example I could find was in
                Aragorn's letter to Samwise. Oops. Can't use it.

                On another occasion, I mentioned the three page replicas Tolkien made
                for the Book of Mazarbul. Oops! Can't use them.

                Could they have been more faithful to Tolkien's descriptions in THE
                LORD OF THE RINGS? Sure. When I first saw a picture of Bree, I was
                disappointed and told them so. I said, "This looks medieval. Why?
                Tolkien's description of Bree is detailed enough to show that this
                concept is wrong." I received a nice reply and some reassurance that
                it would look cool at night in the rain (and I thought it did). But
                it still wasn't Tolkien's Bree, or really anything like his Bree.

                Still, how many people would know the difference? How many people
                here, for instance, know what material was used to construct Bree's
                houses (without checking the book)? And the Prancing Pony layout was
                done wrong, too. And Hobbiton was done wrong. And...and...

                Sure, I can nit-pick them to death in terms of their lack of
                faithfulness to Tolkien's detail, but there were also many points
                where they had to make up stuff. For example, what does a Middle-
                earth cart look like? I have no idea. But Peter wanted to have
                Gandalf come rumbling down the road in a cart for Bilbo's birthday
                party.

                What did the glowing lamps of the Elves look like? No idea. Tolkien
                never really described them, except for one brief mention in a
                Feanoric essay. Too brief to be of use, in my opinion, but there
                were plenty of cool Elvish lamps in the first two movies.

                What material was Gandalf's robe/cloak made of? How was it woven?
                Who made it? How expensive and tattered did it look?

                What did the tomb of the Gondorian kings look like? No idea. It
                was "Gondorian", whatever that means.

                How many branches should the White Tree have had? No idea.

                How high is the wall of Minas Tirith? No idea. (Of course, they got
                the color wrong anyway, but none of the Tolkien purists seem to have
                cared about so small a detail.)

                How do Elves dress? No idea, really.

                What does a Hobbit tea-kettle look like? No idea. I would assume
                something like a modern tea-kettle, if for no other reason than that
                I regard it as one of Tolkien's cute anacronisms (and if I recall
                correctly, someone on this list complained that they INCLUDED a tea-
                kettle in "The Fellowship of the Ring").

                Where was Bilbo's garden? No idea.

                So, when it comes to VISUALIZING Tolkien's Middle-earth, I think
                Peter deserves a little slack on the details, even if he DID put
                plate-armor on the soldiers of Gondor and make the whole thing look
                medieval. It was still HIS movie (or set of movies) to make. It's
                not like Tolkien attached explicit instructions on what to do/not to
                do when he sold the movie rights.

                He may have wanted Art, but in the end he opted for Cash.
              • Carl F. Hostetter
                ... First, this sort of thing is not at all what I consider important in terms of faithfulness to Tolkien or the book. The new reader of Tolkien s novel knows
                Message 7 of 23 , Jan 4, 2004
                  On Jan 4, 2004, at 8:46 PM, Michael Martinez wrote:

                  > For example, at one point, they wanted to know how the Elves would
                  > have rendered numbers. The only example I could find was in Aragorn's
                  > letter to Samwise. Oops. Can't use it.

                  First, this sort of thing is not at all what I consider important in
                  terms of faithfulness to Tolkien or the book. The new reader of
                  Tolkien's novel knows no more than what Tolkien put into the book; a
                  filmmaker needs no more than what Tolkien put into the book to be
                  faithful to it. The sort of faithfulness that concerns me, and that
                  Jackson and Boyens had no concern for (or, perhaps, awareness of)
                  whatsoever, can be gleaned from my movie review of earlier today.

                  Second, if this sort of reasoning were of any concern to the
                  filmmakers, they have violated their legal limits repeatedly: for
                  example, most of the pseudo-Sindarin dialogue fabricated for the movie
                  utilizes information found only in the _Etymologies_, which was
                  published in _The Lost Road_. Apparently, the filmmakers had no qualms
                  with using such unlicensed sources.
                • Michael Martinez
                  ... I would regard it as extremely important to being faithful to TOLKIEN. In fact, when they asked me how I thought they should render the signs, I suggested
                  Message 8 of 23 , Jan 4, 2004
                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Carl F. Hostetter <Aelfwine@e...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    > On Jan 4, 2004, at 8:46 PM, Michael Martinez wrote:
                    >
                    > > For example, at one point, they wanted to know how the Elves
                    > > would have rendered numbers. The only example I could find was
                    > > in Aragorn's letter to Samwise. Oops. Can't use it.
                    >
                    > First, this sort of thing is not at all what I consider important
                    > in terms of faithfulness to Tolkien or the book...

                    I would regard it as extremely important to being faithful to
                    TOLKIEN. In fact, when they asked me how I thought they should
                    render the signs, I suggested they use Tengwar or Cirth as seemed
                    appropriate, and then fade to English translations (as was common in
                    movies in the 1940s). They instead opted for that cutesy-looking
                    English-Tengwar blend which elicited many comments two years ago (in
                    particular, I recall many people asking why the Tehtar were necessary
                    for an "a").

                    > ...The new reader of Tolkien's novel knows no more than what
                    > Tolkien put into the book;

                    [snip]

                    Which is all the more reason why one SHOULD be faithful to the
                    author's vision. Millions of people did not read the book (or return
                    to finish reading it) until after they saw the movies. The movies
                    had a tremendous impact upon the visualizations new readers have
                    formed.

                    Being faithful to the smallest details could have enhanced the new
                    reader's experience tremendously. Instead, it has forever created a
                    rift between those who read the books first (and thus formed their
                    own visualizations) and those who read the books second.

                    Now, it can reasonably be said that any such rift would have been
                    inevitable, and that is true. Millions of readers argue about the
                    details of Tolkien's vision all the time. Nonetheless, the imagery
                    provided by the movies is riveting and will stay with people for a
                    very long time.

                    Instead of seeing Middle-earth caressed by Tengwar, cradled by Cirth,
                    they see it draped with "Happy Birthday Bilbo".

                    I have spent way too much time arguing with self-proclaimed Tolkien
                    purists who haven't bothered to read the books in ten years. And in
                    my old adage, I have come to regret speaking out so harshly about
                    David Day's books, not because I have changed my mind about their
                    valuelessness, but because every time I open my mouth, I spoil a
                    treasured experience for someone.

                    Now I find myself in the bizarre position of liking/disliking the
                    movies and having to defend/criticize them at the same time. I am a
                    man of two minds, but I am (unlike those who have seen the movies
                    first and not yet read the books) cursed by the knowledge of just how
                    different Peter's Middle-earth really is from Tolkien's.

                    There are insensibilities which the general Tolkien community has yet
                    to dwell upon (and perhaps would be better off never recognizing).

                    > Second, if this sort of reasoning were of any concern to the
                    > filmmakers, they have violated their legal limits repeatedly: for
                    > example, most of the pseudo-Sindarin dialogue fabricated for the
                    > movie utilizes information found only in the _Etymologies_, which
                    > was published in _The Lost Road_. Apparently, the filmmakers had
                    > no qualms with using such unlicensed sources.

                    Ah, but all they did was hire a Tolkien linguist to fabricate
                    dialogue for them. If they knew Sindarin to begin with, they
                    wouldn't have had to turn elsewhere for help, would they?

                    Perhaps they were only blowing me off politely and intended to pick
                    and choose among the details as they saw fit.

                    In which case, I am grateful they did not rob Morton Grady
                    Zimmerman's script.
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