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RE: [mythsoc] Jackson Films

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  • David Bratman
    The essay by Tom Shippey to which I was referring was the one in Zimbardo and Isaacs Understanding The Lord of the RIngs . Perhaps lukewarm was not the
    Message 1 of 108 , Sep 2, 2007
      The essay by Tom Shippey to which I was referring was the one in Zimbardo
      and Isaacs' "Understanding The Lord of the RIngs". Perhaps "lukewarm" was
      not the best word to describe Shippey's approach: "apologetic" might be
      more like it.

      So far as I know, Shippey is the only scholar to maintain that Tolkien's
      Council of Elrond is a badly-chaired committee meeting. What on earth is
      he talking about? Yes, it's long, but that's because it's really more a
      conference than a meeting. And it's a very logically organized conference.
      It begins with background papers by the chairman and Messrs. B. Baggins
      and G. Mithrandir, among others, followed by a fairly brief (8 pages out of
      41 in the abridged transcript, Ballantine ed.) discussion session that's
      very much to the point of the decision that has to be made, and it's
      concluded by a final action statement ("I will take the Ring"). Jackson's
      version of the meeting is the one that's badly-chaired, with all that
      squabbling that doesn't exist in Tolkien.

      I wrote that I agreed with John Rateliff's proposition that there are good
      things in parts of the Jackson films, including some of the things he
      itemized. But I certainly don't endorse all of them. Wendell Wagner is
      right: the transformations of Bilbo and Galadriel are entirely ridiculous.
      This is because they have entirely missed Tolkien's spirit. Look at what
      Tolkien actually writes.

      Frodo looking at Bilbo: "a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and
      through it he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry
      face and bony groping hands." Frodo is having a vision of Bilbo as he
      would become if he kept the Ring, and it's clearly marked as a vision
      ("eyeing" him "through" the "shadow"). Unlike in Jackson, Bilbo does not
      actually transform, either in Frodo's eyes or in reality (so badly does
      Jackson handle this that the latter is a possible interpretation), and
      though he's reaching towards the Ring he doesn't jump out at Frodo like a
      horror-film monster, as he does in Jackson.

      And Galadriel: "She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement,
      and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful." First, that's
      just one short sentence of description; it doesn't go on and on elaborately
      like Jackson's transformation does. Second, she has _already finished_
      speaking; she doesn't recite her lines through an SFX filter. Third,
      "seeming"; again, it's a vision, not Jackson's physical transformation. If
      Jackson doesn't know how to convey the difference he's a hopeless twit of a
      film director. Last, look at those adjectives. Jackson has based his
      Galadriel only on "terrible", and he doesn't even know what that word
      means; surely nobody would argue that his transformed Galadriel is remotely
      either beautiful or worshipful.

      Here we have the problem that dogs Jackson throughout the parts of the film
      where he thinks he's keeping to Tolkien. There's a superficial adherence
      to the plot (Frodo grasps how horrible it would be if Bilbo or Galadriel
      had the Ring, OK, we get that), but a complete, total, and utter failure to
      understand the spirit, and indeed the letter, of the book he's supposedly
      keeping on hand for constant reference. And the result looks ridiculous.
      This is an endemic problem, even in most of the places where Jackson mostly
      gets it right. His own storytelling spirit keeps dominating the film. And
      that's not surprising; it's his film. The problem is how completely alien
      his spirit is to Tolkien's. Denying that difference won't make it go away.

      Jackson can do awesome. Galadriel speaking the film's opening lines in
      darkness: that's awesome. The rising, sweeping panorama of the Tol Brandir
      country as the Fellowship comes to it on the river: that's awesome. But
      there ain't much like it.
    • aveeris523@aol.com
      ... appropriate. ************************************** Check out AOL s list of 2007 s hottest products.
      Message 108 of 108 , Dec 7, 2007
        In a message dated 12/7/07 9:41:39 AM, dbratman@... writes:

        > Very much the opposite opinion here. I don't recall anything harmful being
        > done to the text, but the image was definitely a problem. Tolkien says she was
        > "beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful." The only word in this
        > that Jackson seems to have followed was "terrible" - and he seems to be using
        > it in the sense of "scary and terrifying," rather than "eliciting awe" which
        > is what Tolkien presumably meant.
        > Good point David! Beautiful and Terrible like an angel would have been more

        Check out AOL's list of 2007's hottest


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