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RE: [mythsoc] For your amazement and/or aggravation (hi there, Carl, Pat!)

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  • Mari Dole
    Tolkien was a very fine a very fine artist, as the enduring popularity of his books testifies. But he was not as fine an artist as Peter Jackson is. No way!
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 8, 2004
      Tolkien was a very fine a very fine artist, as the enduring popularity
      of his
      books testifies. But he was not as fine an artist as Peter Jackson is.

      No way! I've held off giving my opinion about the movies until now, but
      this statement finally pushed me over the edge. As a saying has it:
      "Never judge a book by its movie." I love the book, and I haven't yet
      heard (as I'm blind, it makes no sense to say seen) an adaptation which
      truly satisfies. A book, any book, asks one to use the imagination and
      is an active collaboration between the author and the reader. But this
      book, touching as it does the deepest mythic imagination, asks more than
      any film or radio drama could. No film compares, in my opinion, to the
      majesty and delight of the images conjured in the mind of the reader by
      a skilled author like Tolkien. Even the BBC radio production, which I
      love, left much to be desired, and that desire, is for me, only
      satisfied by reading and rereading the book.

      Yes, I have attended all three films, and I did not run screaming out of
      the theater (though I came close to it after the second one), but they
      will never replace the book in artistry! I'll calm down now and go
      reread a few favorite passages.

      Mari Dole

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Stolzi@... [mailto:Stolzi@...]
      Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2004 1:54 PM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [mythsoc] For your amazement and/or aggravation (hi there,
      Carl, Pat!)

      Hand-typed by an Irish friend from Kevin Myers' column in the
      only) IRISH TIMES:

      An Irishman's Diary.

      Kevin Myers

      There tends to be a fierce snobbery in artistic circles against epic
      films. Many artists who have had little else in common would unite to
      deny that a
      blockbuster film can be true art, because it is essentially
      co-operative; and
      true art they would maintain, is the singular expression of a single

      If that is so, the Cistine Chapel is not 'art', nor, indeed, are many
      the great sculptures down the ages, on which apprentices toiled under
      the eye of
      the master. And, of course, cathedrals and great palaces are definitely
      excluded, because they are not merely co-operative enterprises, but they
      are also
      cumulative, the work of many generations of people with no single all

      But 'the single all-embracing' interpretation of art turns into a
      political tract, a word perfect manifesto. That's a very egotistical and
      definition of art, A more useful one is that art is something that is
      human beings, which speaks-as intended-through the senses to the
      and continues to do so far beyond the time in which it was created.

      Only in this final sense does the film trilogy The Lord of the Rings
      (yet) qualify as a work of art. But in time, I believe it will come to
      regarded as a very great work of art; actually I regard it as one of
      the greatest
      ever triumphs of the human imagination, and though it sounds absurd, I
      seriously maintain that the only artistic works with which to compare it
      are the
      greatest masterpieces in the world-Chartres, Beethoven's Ninth, Mozart's

      Requiem, Hamlet, the Brandenberg concertos.

      To be sure, unlike these examples(with the exception of Chartres) it is
      finished product and not just in the text; and moreover, comparing a
      film with
      any other art form is like comparing a colour with a sound, a poem with

      But there are benchmarks which all creative works must meet before they
      be called art, and the primary ones are these: Does it ravish the soul?
      Does it
      cause you to ask previously unpondered questions? Does it take you into

      another realm, far beyond the creative powers of your own imagination?
      By these
      definitions, the director Peter Jackson has created a true work of art;
      and in
      the final part of the trilogy, The Return of the King, he has made an
      perfect filmic masterpiece. I would go so far as to say it is one of the

      greatest ever triumphs of the human imagination.

      In part this is because it has woven so many genres seamlessly together.

      Computer generated special effect, which were born in Kubrick's 2001:A
      Odyssey and acquired genre status with Star Wars, have here been
      harnessed to
      liberate more classic narrative forms from the limitations of resource,
      and geography. In a word, these different narrative traditions- the
      western, the
      road movie, the love story, the sagas, the Tales of the Arthurian round
      table, of good versus evil -are otherwise known as- ''myths''. Tolkien
      was a conscious legender. He drew on myth and added to it; moreover,
      he also wrote parables. The enchanting precursor to the Lord of the
      Rings, The
      Hobbit was written in 1937, as the shadows fell. His far darker trilogy
      appeared in the mid-1950's, after the shadows had fallen. The world now
      knew about
      evil. It had journeyed to Mordor; and nothing in the artistic
      imagination had
      foreseen the abyss to which the second World War was to take the human

      Mordor remains real. Mordor was Cambodia in the 1970's, Iraq in the
      Bosnia in the 1990's. The allegories which Tolkien used within his
      tales precisely half a century ago told us of what happens when evil is
      opposed. The world was warned, but of course, as always, paid no

      Tolkien was a very fine a very fine artist, as the enduring popularity
      of his
      books testifies. But he was not as fine an artist as Peter Jackson is.
      films are mightier by far than the books; indeed they stand as the
      achievement in the history of cinema. In their moral complexity, in
      narrative lucidity, in the breadth of their vision and ambition, in the
      majesty and
      detail of their execution, in the strength of their chacacterisation and
      their technical mastery, they have set unprecedented standards, ones
      which might
      never be emulated.
      If there is any justice at the Oscars-and their usually isn't- it was
      made in
      New Zealand- and Hollywood tends to be miserly when it comes to
      apparently 'foreign' movies(though Harvey Weinstein is a co-produces).
      That two
      of the male leads Elijah Wood and Sir Ian McKellan, have not even been
      nominated for Oscars is quire scandalous. The former is an American who
      can really
      speak English and he is quite stunning as Frodo; subtle, complex,
      beguiling, and
      also impossibly beautiful. And Sir Ian is utterly majestic and
      magisterial in
      every scene in which he appears.

      But there's hardly a category for which the film doesn't merit an Oscar.

      Certainly if Peter Jackson doesn't get an Oscar for best director, and
      his wife
      Frances Walsh get one for best screenplay, then I'm changing sides over
      the war
      in Iraq.

      A final word. Do not -DO NOT wait to see the film in video or DVD. This
      is a
      cinematic masterpiece, the greatest of all time. PLEASE. See it in a

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

      The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
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