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Re: [mythsoc] Are Hobbits white?

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  • Darrell A. Martin
    ... David: Inserted and indented. ... That they were somewhat darker of skin than other Hobbits. After that it gets fuzzy [wry grin]. ... Apart from
    Message 1 of 26 , Dec 9, 2010
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      On 12/8/2010 11:57 AM, David Bratman wrote *IN PART*:
      > [in response to what] Darrell A. Martin wrote *IN PART*:

      David:

      Inserted and indented.

      >> Tolkien
      >> describes his Hobbits as if they were certain kinds of English folk.
      >> That *ought* to end the discussion, in my opinion.
      >
      > Yet he says some hobbits were "browner". And I asked, what did he mean by
      > that?

      That they were somewhat darker of
      skin than other Hobbits. After
      that it gets fuzzy [wry grin].

      >> Some alteration is unavoidable because of
      >> the differences between the media,
      >
      > So we are constantly told, but aside from condensation, I have yet to see
      > any coherent argument explaining why particular alterations are necessary,
      > nor have I seen any declarations of what is not possible in movies that some
      > movie-maker hasn't violated with impunity.

      "Apart from condensation" is
      a bit like, "Apart from that
      awkward moment with Mr. Booth
      and Mr. Lincoln, the evening at
      Ford's Theater went well." The
      effects of condensation flow
      through every cinematic work.
      Well, maybe not "The Grinch
      Who Stole Christmas" (the
      real *animated* version) but
      the exception proves the rule.

      The primary alteration, though,
      is that a book creates sense
      input through the reader's
      imagination; a movie shows the
      same thing, or pipes it through
      speakers -- the "Grinch", in
      the case of sound, NOT being
      an exception.

      Of course, saying what is not
      possible in movies, these
      days, is pointless. If money
      can be made from it, not only
      *can* it be done, it most
      likely *has* been done. That
      reminds me ... OK, rewatched
      Gollum's acceptance speech
      for MTV's 2003 "Best Virtual
      Performance" award. QED.

      >> My biggest disappointment with "Game of Thrones" ...
      >> is that it can be accused, in my opinion, of the failure
      >> which Le Guin described in her essay, "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie."
      >> That is, that it is too much like a modern international political
      >> thriller, just with swords and a dash of supernaturalism thrown in, for
      >> my taste.
      >
      > Yet the amoral thriller aspect seems to be just what the book's fans like,
      > and the actors and movie-makers in the promo film actually praise the story
      > for having characters who are completely unpredictable. The appeal of this
      > eludes me.

      But for those who like that sort
      of thing, this may be just the
      sort of thing they will like....

      I find the amoral aspect of
      GoT means I am forced to, say,
      "suspend dislike"; but there is
      enough creativity to keep me
      interested. It is not, however,
      a book that I will reread at
      least once a year for the rest
      of my life, like LoTR.

      Darrell
    • David Bratman
      In this context, it s worth remembering that the Telmarines in the _Prince Caspian_ film were played by experienced Italian and Spanish-language actors. They
      Message 2 of 26 , Dec 9, 2010
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        In this context, it's worth remembering that the Telmarines in the _Prince
        Caspian_ film were played by experienced Italian and Spanish-language
        actors. They were not only darker-complexioned than the English children,
        they were also _much_ better actors, which did tend to tamper with my
        sympathies for the characters.

        DB

        "not_thou" <emptyD@...> wrote:

        > Minor clarification: while their stories may have followed many Hollywood
        > conventions and they often featured minor American actors in the leading
        > roles, Spaghetti Westerns were thus named because they were produced or
        > co-produced by Italian companies in Europe, usually in Spain, and thus
        > quite understandably with a supporting cast of Italian and Spanish actors.
        > It is, however, quite true that genuine Hollywood productions would often
        > employ darker-complexioned actors of any ethnicity to portray Native
        > Americans.
      • David Bratman
        ... I profoundly disagree. Not that you re wrong about your main point: condensation does indeed, as you say, affect the entirety of any cinematic adaptation.
        Message 3 of 26 , Dec 10, 2010
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          "Darrell A. Martin" <darrellm@...> wrote:

          >> So we are constantly told, but aside from condensation, I have yet to see
          >> any coherent argument explaining why particular alterations are
          >> necessary,
          >> nor have I seen any declarations of what is not possible in movies that
          >> some
          >> movie-maker hasn't violated with impunity.
          >
          > "Apart from condensation" is
          > a bit like, "Apart from that
          > awkward moment with Mr. Booth
          > and Mr. Lincoln, the evening at
          > Ford's Theater went well." The
          > effects of condensation flow
          > through every cinematic work.

          I profoundly disagree. Not that you're wrong about your main point:
          condensation does indeed, as you say, affect the entirety of any cinematic
          adaptation.

          Yet it is possible to discuss the causes and effects of other changes
          independently of those of condensation. For instance, in Jackson's LOTR's
          case, the changes of the characters of Denethor and Faramir were not driven
          by the need to condense the story; indeed, they hardly were condensed
          relative to the rest of the story at all, and indeed were expanded in
          relative importance somewhat, with new material invented by the
          screenwriters added.

          It is also necessary to make that distinction, if one wishes to criticize
          movie adapations in any form other than sweeping condemnation of the entire
          idea. The comparison with Lincoln's assassination suggests that you believe
          that condensation in adaptations is so poisonous that there's no point in
          discussing them further. I disagree. I believe it is possible to make a
          good movie adaption of at least some literary works, and that this has
          occasionally happened.

          I further find that, when I'm discussing Jackson with his defenders, that no
          matter how often I explain that I'm looking for something that conveys
          Tolkien's tone and spirit, not the entirety of his story, and that longer
          movies would not have been better - indeed, I think Jackson's films would
          have been superior had they been shorter - I have to keep fending off claims
          that the only kind of adapation that would satisfy us "book fans" is
          something 70 hours long with Bombadil in it, and that since that's obviously
          impossible we're just being unreasonable.

          No, that's not what I want at all, and I don't think it's what others who
          agree with me want, but comments like yours, comparing condensing a book
          with interrupting a play by assassinating the President, don't help.

          DB
        • Darrell A. Martin
          ... David: The Lincoln comparison was not an allegory. I used it to make one point, and one point only, that one *cannot* set aside condensation as a factor in
          Message 4 of 26 , Dec 10, 2010
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            On 12/10/2010 2:05 AM, David Bratman wrote:
            > "Darrell A. Martin"<darrellm@...> wrote:
            >
            >>> So we are constantly told, but aside from condensation, I have yet to see
            >>> any coherent argument explaining why particular alterations are
            >>> necessary,
            >>> nor have I seen any declarations of what is not possible in movies that
            >>> some
            >>> movie-maker hasn't violated with impunity.
            >>
            >> "Apart from condensation" is
            >> a bit like, "Apart from that
            >> awkward moment with Mr. Booth
            >> and Mr. Lincoln, the evening at
            >> Ford's Theater went well." The
            >> effects of condensation flow
            >> through every cinematic work.
            >
            > I profoundly disagree. Not that you're wrong about your main point:
            > condensation does indeed, as you say, affect the entirety of any cinematic
            > adaptation.
            >
            > Yet it is possible to discuss the causes and effects of other changes
            > independently of those of condensation. For instance, in Jackson's LOTR's
            > case, the changes of the characters of Denethor and Faramir were not driven
            > by the need to condense the story; indeed, they hardly were condensed
            > relative to the rest of the story at all, and indeed were expanded in
            > relative importance somewhat, with new material invented by the
            > screenwriters added.
            >
            > It is also necessary to make that distinction, if one wishes to criticize
            > movie adapations in any form other than sweeping condemnation of the entire
            > idea. The comparison with Lincoln's assassination suggests that you believe
            > that condensation in adaptations is so poisonous that there's no point in
            > discussing them further. I disagree. I believe it is possible to make a
            > good movie adaption of at least some literary works, and that this has
            > occasionally happened.
            >
            > I further find that, when I'm discussing Jackson with his defenders, that no
            > matter how often I explain that I'm looking for something that conveys
            > Tolkien's tone and spirit, not the entirety of his story, and that longer
            > movies would not have been better - indeed, I think Jackson's films would
            > have been superior had they been shorter - I have to keep fending off claims
            > that the only kind of adapation that would satisfy us "book fans" is
            > something 70 hours long with Bombadil in it, and that since that's obviously
            > impossible we're just being unreasonable.
            >
            > No, that's not what I want at all, and I don't think it's what others who
            > agree with me want, but comments like yours, comparing condensing a book
            > with interrupting a play by assassinating the President, don't help.
            >
            > DB

            David:

            The Lincoln comparison was not an allegory. I used it to make one point,
            and one point only, that one *cannot* set aside condensation as a factor
            in adapting books to film, any more than one could discuss activities at
            Ford's Theater the evening of 14 April 1865, and ignore the historical
            event which took place. It will not bear a heavier load than that.

            You said, "The comparison with Lincoln's assassination suggests that you
            believe that condensation in adaptations is so poisonous that there's no
            point in discussing them further." I meant to suggest no such thing, and
            I don't believe it. It was a figure of speech with limited application.
            I could have said "condensation is the 800 pound gorilla in the
            book-to-cinema room" and I would not have been alerting anyone to danger
            from large primates. I made no "sweeping condemnation of the entire
            idea" of condensation because I do not condemn it at all. It is simply a
            crucial fact about the process of adaptation.

            My Lincoln reference may not have been the best choice -- I have made
            that mistake before and am unfortunately likely to do so again,
            especially when attempting humor -- but even so I do not think it
            supports your characterization of it.

            In fact, I agree that Jackson's films *could* have been superior had
            they been shorter, depending on what was cut. Not only superior as
            artistic efforts in their own right, but possibly superior *adaptations*.
            - Why so much time spent on the Birthday Party, if there is to be no
            Scouring of the Shire?
            - I think Arwen is superfluous in the books (in the main narrative),
            but in her minor role she does not get in the way. In the films her role
            is expanded to the point of intrusion.
            - Bilbo could have been off visiting Bombadil with no damage done.
            - We waste time watching Saruman grow his Uruk-hai (wrong in many ways).
            - Where did Aragorn-over-the-cliff come from? What does it add to the
            story?
            - The journey of Frodo to Mordor bored me nearly to literal tears, it
            dragged so; to a lesser extent, same for the Entmoot.
            - Faramir, one of my favorite characters in LoTR, could have been
            dispensed with, perhaps.
            - Etc.

            I also agree with you that Jackson made alterations that profoundly
            departed from Tolkien's concepts, with no seeming rationale.
            - His Orcs are way too fearsome individually, and worst of all way too
            inhuman.
            - Gimli is unrecognizable comic relief, a Tolkien Dwarf in height and
            beard only. "Toss me. But don't tell the Elf." Gack!
            - The Rivendell Robot Drill Squad that joins Aragorn at Helm's Deep
            resembles neither Elves nor the Dunedain.
            - Denethor somehow acquired a quivering lower lip. Mad? Obviously. A
            weakling? Hardly.
            - Etc.

            My greatest disappointment is that the two events with the most
            emotional impact for me are butchered, and they are in the same part of
            the story. The Ride of the Rohirrim is not about the Riders, but about
            squadrons of Oliphaunts, and Legolas preparing his Olympic gymnastic
            routine. And the arrival of the black ships, instead of the end of all
            hope turned suddenly and gloriously to victory with the unfurling of
            Aragorn's banner, is merely the end of a ferry ride for the Army of the
            Dead.

            There is plenty to like about Jackson's LoTR. I was particularly
            impressed by the scenes at Bree, by the drowning of Isengard, by Merry
            and Pippen at the gate afterward, and by Gandalf vs the Balrog. Both
            Gollum and Sauron are fiendishly good, as is Wormtongue (illustrating
            Jackson's greater success in portraying evil as opposed to good). And I
            do love the New Zealand scenery, even when it does not look at all like
            Middle-earth, especially in Rohan.

            Last but not least, Peter Jackson is not Ralph Bakshi, a huge point in
            his favor.

            What I think we are both saying is that Jackson could have done better,
            and that does *NOT* mean that every last word Tolkien wrote, and not a
            letter more, had to be slavishly duplicated on film. (At $375 per set,
            the DVDs would have sold like Picassos.)

            Darrell
          • David Bratman
            Darrell - I understand what figurative comparisons are, so you need not insult my intelligence by suggesting that I don t. I did not imagine that you were
            Message 5 of 26 , Dec 10, 2010
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              Darrell -

              I understand what figurative comparisons are, so you need not insult my intelligence by suggesting that I don't. I did not imagine that you were saying that anyone actually gets shot in the making of a movie adaptation, nor that Jackson trashing LOTR is as objectively bad for the world as the assassination of Lincoln.

              I would agree, too, that you cannot discuss the changes made for a movie adaptation without considering that condensation is the most important factor.

              But that is not what I was disputing. What I _am_ saying is that, in the course of a detailed discussion of the merits or demerits, success or failure, of that adaptation, you can take the necessity for condensation as a given, and consider other changes, not directly related to the need for condensation, by themselves. This gives you the opportunity of saying how the adaptation could have been better or worse, more or less faithful, than it was, while still remaining in the realm of what could realistically be done.

              Your assassination comparison opposes any argument of the sort. It says that you consider condensation itself to be a crime against the work so massive as to render any further discussion ridiculously bathetic. Either it means that or it means nothing at all.

              DB
              -----Original Message-----
              >From: "Darrell A. Martin" <darrellm@...>
              >Sent: Dec 10, 2010 3:34 AM
              >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              >Subject: [mythsoc] How Jackson's LoTR could have been better
              >
              >On 12/10/2010 2:05 AM, David Bratman wrote:
              >> "Darrell A. Martin"<darrellm@...> wrote:
              >>
              >>>> So we are constantly told, but aside from condensation, I have yet to see
              >>>> any coherent argument explaining why particular alterations are
              >>>> necessary,
              >>>> nor have I seen any declarations of what is not possible in movies that
              >>>> some
              >>>> movie-maker hasn't violated with impunity.
              >>>
              >>> "Apart from condensation" is
              >>> a bit like, "Apart from that
              >>> awkward moment with Mr. Booth
              >>> and Mr. Lincoln, the evening at
              >>> Ford's Theater went well." The
              >>> effects of condensation flow
              >>> through every cinematic work.
              >>
              >> I profoundly disagree. Not that you're wrong about your main point:
              >> condensation does indeed, as you say, affect the entirety of any cinematic
              >> adaptation.
              >>
              >> Yet it is possible to discuss the causes and effects of other changes
              >> independently of those of condensation. For instance, in Jackson's LOTR's
              >> case, the changes of the characters of Denethor and Faramir were not driven
              >> by the need to condense the story; indeed, they hardly were condensed
              >> relative to the rest of the story at all, and indeed were expanded in
              >> relative importance somewhat, with new material invented by the
              >> screenwriters added.
              >>
              >> It is also necessary to make that distinction, if one wishes to criticize
              >> movie adapations in any form other than sweeping condemnation of the entire
              >> idea. The comparison with Lincoln's assassination suggests that you believe
              >> that condensation in adaptations is so poisonous that there's no point in
              >> discussing them further. I disagree. I believe it is possible to make a
              >> good movie adaption of at least some literary works, and that this has
              >> occasionally happened.
              >>
              >> I further find that, when I'm discussing Jackson with his defenders, that no
              >> matter how often I explain that I'm looking for something that conveys
              >> Tolkien's tone and spirit, not the entirety of his story, and that longer
              >> movies would not have been better - indeed, I think Jackson's films would
              >> have been superior had they been shorter - I have to keep fending off claims
              >> that the only kind of adapation that would satisfy us "book fans" is
              >> something 70 hours long with Bombadil in it, and that since that's obviously
              >> impossible we're just being unreasonable.
              >>
              >> No, that's not what I want at all, and I don't think it's what others who
              >> agree with me want, but comments like yours, comparing condensing a book
              >> with interrupting a play by assassinating the President, don't help.
              >>
              >> DB
              >
              >David:
              >
              >The Lincoln comparison was not an allegory. I used it to make one point,
              >and one point only, that one *cannot* set aside condensation as a factor
              >in adapting books to film, any more than one could discuss activities at
              >Ford's Theater the evening of 14 April 1865, and ignore the historical
              >event which took place. It will not bear a heavier load than that.
              >
              >You said, "The comparison with Lincoln's assassination suggests that you
              >believe that condensation in adaptations is so poisonous that there's no
              >point in discussing them further." I meant to suggest no such thing, and
              >I don't believe it. It was a figure of speech with limited application.
              >I could have said "condensation is the 800 pound gorilla in the
              >book-to-cinema room" and I would not have been alerting anyone to danger
              >from large primates. I made no "sweeping condemnation of the entire
              >idea" of condensation because I do not condemn it at all. It is simply a
              >crucial fact about the process of adaptation.
              >
              >My Lincoln reference may not have been the best choice -- I have made
              >that mistake before and am unfortunately likely to do so again,
              >especially when attempting humor -- but even so I do not think it
              >supports your characterization of it.
              >
              >In fact, I agree that Jackson's films *could* have been superior had
              >they been shorter, depending on what was cut. Not only superior as
              >artistic efforts in their own right, but possibly superior *adaptations*.
              > - Why so much time spent on the Birthday Party, if there is to be no
              >Scouring of the Shire?
              > - I think Arwen is superfluous in the books (in the main narrative),
              >but in her minor role she does not get in the way. In the films her role
              >is expanded to the point of intrusion.
              > - Bilbo could have been off visiting Bombadil with no damage done.
              > - We waste time watching Saruman grow his Uruk-hai (wrong in many ways).
              > - Where did Aragorn-over-the-cliff come from? What does it add to the
              >story?
              > - The journey of Frodo to Mordor bored me nearly to literal tears, it
              >dragged so; to a lesser extent, same for the Entmoot.
              > - Faramir, one of my favorite characters in LoTR, could have been
              >dispensed with, perhaps.
              > - Etc.
              >
              >I also agree with you that Jackson made alterations that profoundly
              >departed from Tolkien's concepts, with no seeming rationale.
              > - His Orcs are way too fearsome individually, and worst of all way too
              >inhuman.
              > - Gimli is unrecognizable comic relief, a Tolkien Dwarf in height and
              >beard only. "Toss me. But don't tell the Elf." Gack!
              > - The Rivendell Robot Drill Squad that joins Aragorn at Helm's Deep
              >resembles neither Elves nor the Dunedain.
              > - Denethor somehow acquired a quivering lower lip. Mad? Obviously. A
              >weakling? Hardly.
              > - Etc.
              >
              >My greatest disappointment is that the two events with the most
              >emotional impact for me are butchered, and they are in the same part of
              >the story. The Ride of the Rohirrim is not about the Riders, but about
              >squadrons of Oliphaunts, and Legolas preparing his Olympic gymnastic
              >routine. And the arrival of the black ships, instead of the end of all
              >hope turned suddenly and gloriously to victory with the unfurling of
              >Aragorn's banner, is merely the end of a ferry ride for the Army of the
              >Dead.
              >
              >There is plenty to like about Jackson's LoTR. I was particularly
              >impressed by the scenes at Bree, by the drowning of Isengard, by Merry
              >and Pippen at the gate afterward, and by Gandalf vs the Balrog. Both
              >Gollum and Sauron are fiendishly good, as is Wormtongue (illustrating
              >Jackson's greater success in portraying evil as opposed to good). And I
              >do love the New Zealand scenery, even when it does not look at all like
              >Middle-earth, especially in Rohan.
              >
              >Last but not least, Peter Jackson is not Ralph Bakshi, a huge point in
              >his favor.
              >
              >What I think we are both saying is that Jackson could have done better,
              >and that does *NOT* mean that every last word Tolkien wrote, and not a
              >letter more, had to be slavishly duplicated on film. (At $375 per set,
              >the DVDs would have sold like Picassos.)
              >
              >Darrell
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >------------------------------------
              >
              >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
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