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tolkien studies review of tolkien on film

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  • saraciborski
    I was somewhat taken aback by the rather negative review, just read yesterday, of Tolkien on Film in the new Tolkien Studies vol.3. The reviewer, Kristin
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 12, 2006
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      I was somewhat taken aback by the rather negative review, just read
      yesterday, of "Tolkien on Film" in the new Tolkien Studies vol.3. The
      reviewer, Kristin Thompson, is especially critical of Bratman and Croft
      for allegedly failing to understand the critical importance (financial,
      that is) of making the films appeal to modern audiences--this being the
      rationale for most of Jackson's changes in character and plot. On this
      point (of several that I would argue with) she makes the unquestioned,
      unstated assumption that the films would NOT have appealed to modern
      audiences had the characters had the heroic stature intended and
      portrayed by Tolkien. We'll never know.

      Has anyone else a reaction to this review?

      Sara Ciborski
    • Croft, Janet B.
      Well, I of course thought it was terrible... :) I think she was very clearly operating from a certain critical standpoint (what I m beginning to think of as
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 13, 2006
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        Well, I of course thought it was terrible... :)

        I think she was very clearly operating from a certain critical
        standpoint (what I'm beginning to think of as Film is God, Who Cares
        About the Source) and totally missed the point of what we were all
        trying to do. If I had a chance to rewrite the books's introduction, I
        would spell it out in words of one syllable that these are scholars of
        the book considering primarily questions of adaptation but with broader
        considerations about what changes from the original text imply -- but I
        thought that was pretty clear already. She's wrong about no serious
        scholars working in adaptation studies anymore, though -- I see it all
        the time in Pop Culture presentations, particularly in the science
        fiction and Shakespeare areas. And her charge of opportunism is rather
        annoying. Jackson said the theatrical releases were definitive (and
        supposed to be a faithful adaptation, refuting another of the reviewer's
        charges) and the extended versions were "for the fans" so there's no
        reason we should have waited for the extended ROTK, given the purpose of
        our anthology. I've seen several reviews of _Tolkien on Film_ written by
        film studies folks, and they generally do not get the point (often
        because they think Jackson can Do No Wrong) -- it would be better to
        have scholars in literature or pop culture review this title.

        There are many other problems with this review, and ending with the
        tired old argument that the movies helped the sale of the books doesn't
        make her conclusions any more convincing to me.


        Janet Brennan Croft
        Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html
        Committee Chair, Mythcon37, http://www.mythsoc.org/mythcon37.html and
        http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/C/Janet.B.Croft-1/ProgressReport1.htm





        ________________________________

        From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
        Of saraciborski
        Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 8:50 AM
        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [mythsoc] tolkien studies review of tolkien on film



        I was somewhat taken aback by the rather negative review, just read
        yesterday, of "Tolkien on Film" in the new Tolkien Studies vol.3. The
        reviewer, Kristin Thompson, is especially critical of Bratman and Croft
        for allegedly failing to understand the critical importance (financial,
        that is) of making the films appeal to modern audiences--this being the
        rationale for most of Jackson's changes in character and plot. On this
        point (of several that I would argue with) she makes the unquestioned,
        unstated assumption that the films would NOT have appealed to modern
        audiences had the characters had the heroic stature intended and
        portrayed by Tolkien. We'll never know.

        Has anyone else a reaction to this review?

        Sara Ciborski






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Berni Phillips
        From: saraciborski ... Uh, isn t Tolkien s entire audience modern? After all, it s not exactly 16th century literature. I suppose
        Message 3 of 5 , Jun 13, 2006
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          From: "saraciborski" <saraciborski@...>


          >I was somewhat taken aback by the rather negative review, just read
          > yesterday, of "Tolkien on Film" in the new Tolkien Studies vol.3. The
          > reviewer, Kristin Thompson, is especially critical of Bratman and Croft
          > for allegedly failing to understand the critical importance (financial,
          > that is) of making the films appeal to modern audiences--this being the
          > rationale for most of Jackson's changes in character and plot. On this
          > point (of several that I would argue with) she makes the unquestioned,
          > unstated assumption that the films would NOT have appealed to modern
          > audiences had the characters had the heroic stature intended and
          > portrayed by Tolkien. We'll never know.

          Uh, isn't Tolkien's entire audience modern? After all, it's not exactly
          16th century literature.

          I suppose we're supposed to read "modern" as "under 25 years of age" or
          something like that. And yeah, true heroes are definitely passe. Let's
          turn them into shallow, immature jerks -- the target audience.

          Berni
        • David Bratman
          Even Tom Shippey tried to justify Jackson s spurious additions by claiming they were intended to appeal to female viewers and the teenage market. To this I
          Message 4 of 5 , Jun 13, 2006
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            Even Tom Shippey tried to justify Jackson's spurious additions by claiming
            they were intended to appeal to "female viewers" and "the teenage market."
            To this I wrote:

            The premises are false, anyway. The book's supposed lack of "moment[s] for
            female viewers to place themselves in the story" have not prevented
            millions of women of all ages from loving it, and the book so strongly
            appeals to "the teenage market" that some of Tolkien's hostile critics have
            accused it of not appealing to anything else. Saying that films have to
            appeal to more people than books begs the question of whether a film
            actually resembling Tolkien's book would so appeal -- all the evidence
            leans towards the conclusion that it would.

            And I wrote that in the book under review itself, on page 35.

            Really. To the spectacle of a reviewer jumping up and down whining that
            it's not _fair_ to criticize her favorite movie, and to her spurious
            charges that a negative critique of these popular films should have no
            audience (are all the reviewers of "The Da Vinci Code" wasting their time,
            Kristin?) and that it's illegitimate to critique the film before the
            extended edition of RK came out (tell that to all the people who _praised_
            the sequence before the extended edition came out, Kristin; and tell it to
            Peter Jackson, who's repeatedly insisted that the theatrical releases are
            the real movies and that he's willing to be judged by them; and tell it to
            the authors and editors of not one but TWO collections of highly
            complimentary essays on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" that appeared before
            that show left the air), and to the reviewer's mindboggling assertion that
            the films were assured beforehand to be a success (bolstered by a quote
            from a film executive made a year AFTER the first film had succeeded - and
            all he meant was that they were certain to open well), we can add these
            silly assumptions replied to by the book itself before the reviewer ever
            made them.

            - David Bratman
          • John D Rateliff
            The current issue of THE NEW YORKER has a lead article called The Injustice Collector: The James Joyce estate vs. everyone else . Well worth reading for
            Message 5 of 5 , Jun 19, 2006
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              The current issue of THE NEW YORKER has a lead article called "The
              Injustice Collector: The James Joyce estate vs. everyone else". Well
              worth reading for anyone interested in the role, malign or
              beneficial, that literary estates play in helping or hindering
              scholarship. Hard to read it without being grateful that the Tolkien
              Estate was put in the hands of Christopher Tolkien rather than
              falling under the control of a Stephen Joyce. And even the most rabid
              critic of Fr. Hooper would, I think, agree that his stewardship of
              the Lewis estate was preferable to what S.J. has done to the
              Joyceans. I was not aware that the "fair use" doctrine does not exist
              in Europe, nor is it clearly defined (e.g., permissible wordcount) in
              U.S. law. All in all, a thoughtful glimpse into a worst-case scenario
              we'll all lucky not to have to deal with.

              --JDR
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