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There and Back Again: One Year of Tolkien Book/Film Discussion

MacGuffin

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I meant to make this thread at the beginning of the year, but I got lazy.

In December of this year Peter Jackson will be releasing part one of his adaptation of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I really enjoyed his adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, so I'm excited for these two movies.

This forum didn't exist back then, so I/we missed out on major geeking out for the movies. I thought about starting a thread on the Hobbit when I saw the trailer, but we got months to go.

So then I thought, why not take advantage of the next 11 months? It's been a long time since I watched the trilogy, and even longer since I read any Tolkien. I want to revisit the whole thing.

So I'm going to be leading discussion over the months leading up to the release of the movie on the LOTR and The Hobbit. Read along, contribute, or ignore this thread if you wish. Even if it's only me, I'll enjoy the journey. I'm going to read each book and then watch the DVD of the film (extended version of course).

Since I'm running it, I'm going to put up a schedule because I don't have the time to blast through everything in a few weeks. Three months for each book and film.

Last week of March: discussion of The Fellowship of the Ring book/film.
Last week of June: discussion of The Two Towers book/film.
Last week of September: discussion of The Return of the King book/film.
December: discussion of The Hobbit book/film.

Hope you participate.

 

Qlip

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I'll try. I've got a lot of other things going on, but this sounds worthy.
 

INTP

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Its the only fictional book i have ever read and the first book i read.

It was pretty good, but only read it because i was bored in civilian service. Dunno what else i should talk about it, propably wont be watching the movie, but who knows..
 

Xyk

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I watched the entire LotR extended edition last week while stoned. It took three days and like a gram and a half, but it was FANTASTIC.
 

bluestripes

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i was sorely disappointed when i read the english original of LOTR. there was a very amateur-ish quality to the structure of the individual sentences and the narrative as a whole - the sort that can be found in some fanfiction (and then i've read fan fiction that does not feel this way). i would have said the style was more academic than literary - except most if not all academic papers i've encountered feel like a natural, cohesive whole, despite having their own distinct register and vocabulary. LOTR does not. it doesn't flow. while i was reading it, i felt as if i were trying make my way through a rocky terrain in the dark - every other sentence made me stumble. i suppose "awkward" could be the adjective i am looking for.

the overall feeling i was left with was boredom. the writing is the same everywhere. the characters seem to speak in a near-identical manner, with little to no individual variety. there are none of those little moments where the wording itself gives one an emotional jolt. whatever is moving in the story i had to deduce intellectually, which took a long time and felt confusing and forced. the greatest disillusionment came with the two scenes i had found the most touching in the russian version - the one where shelob stings frodo and sam, thinking him dead, bids him farewell, takes the ring and attacks shelob, and the one where frodo can no longer move with exhaustion and sam carries him on his back up the slope of mount doom, feeling a sudden surge of strength. in the translated russian text, they made me cry, but with tolkien's original i felt nothing whatsoever, not a single internal stir, just a vague memory of how those moments could be imagined.

i used to think that the LOTR movies were dampened and that there were too many battle scenes and special effects, but compared to this, i would rather have the movies.
 

MacGuffin

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i was sorely disappointed when i read the english original of LOTR. there was a very amateur-ish quality to the structure of the individual sentences and the narrative as a whole - the sort that can be found in some fanfiction (and then i've read fan fiction that does not feel this way). i would have said the style was more academic than literary - except most if not all academic papers i've encountered feel like a natural, cohesive whole, despite having their own distinct register and vocabulary. LOTR does not. it doesn't flow. while i was reading it, i felt as if i were trying make my way through a rocky terrain in the dark - every other sentence made me stumble. i suppose "awkward" could be the adjective i am looking for.

the overall feeling i was left with was boredom. the writing is the same everywhere. the characters seem to speak in a near-identical manner, with little to no individual variety. there are none of those little moments where the wording itself gives one an emotional jolt. whatever is moving in the story i had to deduce intellectually, which took a long time and felt confusing and forced. the greatest disillusionment came with the two scenes i had found the most touching in the russian version - the one where shelob stings frodo and sam, thinking him dead, bids him farewell, takes the ring and attacks shelob, and the one where frodo can no longer move with exhaustion and sam carries him on his back up the slope of mount doom, feeling a sudden surge of strength. in the translated russian text, they made me cry, but with tolkien's original i felt nothing whatsoever, not a single internal stir, just a vague memory of how those moments could be imagined.

i used to think that the LOTR movies were dampened and that there were too many battle scenes and special effects, but compared to this, i would rather have the movies.

Really? If there's one thing Prof. Tolkien cared about a lot was the language. I don't find the writing to be the greatest ever, but nowhere close to fanfic.
 

bluestripes

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Really? If there's one thing Prof. Tolkien cared about a lot was the language. I don't find the writing to be the greatest ever, but nowhere close to fanfic.

there is fanfiction and fanfiction. some is written by people who hold degrees and may or may not go on to publish their own original work (been in correspondence with one of them for a short while). and yes, some of that does have a better internal flow than LOTR.

i don't think anyone would deny that tolkien's technical use of language, as in grammatical regularity and extensive vocabulary, is excellent. but this in itself does not automatically make one's writing good. there has to be something else as well. LOTR reads as if the author were not quite there, not fully invested into the text, for lack of any better description - which usually happens when one is brainstorming and writes down a rough draft that is still to be refined, or when one writes fanfiction (as one does not usually return to the text to make improvements). this has nothing to do with one's knowledge or use of language and much more with one's intuitive sense of the text, the capacity to make it sound as if it were coming straight from one's deepest being. which, as paradoxical as it might sound, tends to require an inordinate amount of hard work.

i have no idea how tolkien managed to spend so many years writing the trilogy and ended up with this result. perhaps he was satisfied with the writing and was more dedicated to developing the plot and the details of his imagined universe.

to me his constructed languages are far more interesting. they are extremely well-formed and it's fairly obvious that conlanging was his greatest strength. i wish he had devoted more time to that - some of his languages that were unique and promising (e.g. entish) were left unfinished and it feels like a huge loss.
 

Totenkindly

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Fanfic? Seriously?

...I think we've got a serious disconnect in today's culture, along the lines as the same sort of thought that forgets that twenty years ago the Internet had to be accessed through AOL (if AOL was even around yet). Or that pocket-sized cell phones and texting were magical escapades of the scifi variety.

I'll write more later, but maybe it would help if we'd actually consider the time period, the constraints, the nature of the fantasy publishing industry (i.e., there wasn't really such a thing), etc., at the time in which Tolkien was writing, and that the stories started out as tales for his children + a private pursuit of his.
 

bluestripes

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I'll write more later, but maybe it would help if we'd actually consider the time period, the constraints, the nature of the fantasy publishing industry (i.e., there wasn't really such a thing), etc., at the time in which Tolkien was writing, and that the stories started out as tales for his children + a private pursuit of his.

that's all true. what i wanted to say is that i don't feel comfortable with his style of writing - to me, it feels lacking in some fundamental way and does not affect me emotionally, though the translated version does. so do joyce, woolf, byatt and a variety of other writers who would be considered "minor" literary figures in comparison. but not tolkien. period. it's a matter of personal opinion. perhaps he feels very different to someone else.
 

Totenkindly

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that's all true. what i wanted to say is that i don't feel comfortable with his style of writing - to me, it feels lacking in some fundamental way and does not affect me emotionally, though the translated version does. so do joyce, woolf, byatt and a variety of other writers who would be considered "minor" literary figures in comparison. but not tolkien. period. it's a matter of personal opinion. perhaps he feels very different to someone else.

I would actually agree with that assessment; overall, certain passages affect me immensely, while other passages bore me more than anything else I've ever read. He's more of a myth recorder and a historian than he is necessarily a writer; he doesn't necessarily know how to edit a story to improve the dramatic arc, so you'll get large pieces of text that he is basically including in order to "collect facts/history" but it's very mind-numbing to read. For the purpose of the story, he should have cut the passages; but to him it was very important to track all the threads and maintain the historical detail.

I always found his collection of letters in interesting, but it's the same earnest, straightforward style as his fiction. He really likes to explain things more than he necessarily liked to create emotional arc, and what emotions he does create tend to be the sort of emotions that appear in the telling of archetypical myth (that kind of lofty epic language, rather than emotional nuance).

what i wanted to say is that i don't feel comfortable with his style of writing - to me, it feels lacking in some fundamental way and does not affect me emotionally, though the translated version does.

What is the "translated" version you speak of?
 

bluestripes

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He's more of a myth recorder and a historian than he is necessarily a writer; he doesn't necessarily know how to edit a story to improve the dramatic arc, so you'll get large pieces of text that he is basically including in order to "collect facts/history" but it's very mind-numbing to read. For the purpose of the story, he should have cut the passages; but to him it was very important to track all the threads and maintain the historical detail.

i know what you mean. those passages were similar to tolstoy's extensive "philosophical/lyrical digressions" which i would skip because they felt deadening.

What is the "translated" version you speak of?

actually, there were two, both into russian. i had borrowed the first from a university classmate and didn't care to remember the translator's name (if you wish, i can try and find out, but this was over ten years ago and i wouldn't be sure that i could locate the exact one); the second is by v. s. muravyev. each feels much more engaging and emotionally involving than the original and i think both translators did great.
 
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Totenkindly

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i know what you mean. those passages gave me a similar feeling to tolstoy's extensive "philosophical/lyrical digressions" which i would skip because they felt deadening.

This is one reason why I still stick with typing him as more INTP than INFP, btw. He's got that annoying quality of needing to be informative AND thorough AND covering all the bases as part of accurately describing everything; it's prioritized over the emotional impact on the reader. He's more concerned with getting everything accurately described and recorded.

actually, there were two, both into russian. i had borrowed the first one from a university classmate and didn't care to remember the translator's name (if you wish, i can try and find out, but this was over ten years ago and i wouldn't be sure that i could locate the exact one); the second is by v. s. muravyev. each feels much more engaging and emotionally involving than the original and i think both translators did great.

Wow. I mean, I only read and speak English; it would be fascinating to be able to read translations and compare the texts, but unfortunately it's not an option for me. With a translation, I guess it's almost like having the book rewritten by someone else to make it more emotionally engaging.
 

bluestripes

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With a translation, I guess it's almost like having the book rewritten by someone else to make it more emotionally engaging.

it is. it can feel like a whole other book. and it's even more evident with poetry - the translator has to be (at least something of) a poet, because the poem has to be rewritten anew and becomes, in effect, a separate creation in its own right.

this is one reason why i'm not sure i would agree to translate fiction even if i had the opportunity. i don't think i have the talent necessary for that.
 

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Writing about this epic tale is both easy and difficult. Easy because so many have written on the subject before, difficult because there is little new left to say. So I’m not really going to try, this is more for fun and to ramp up to the release of The Hobbit movie in December.

I’m not going to rehash the entire plot and characters either. I’ll point out some differences between the flims (extended versions) and the books, but I will assume one has either read or seen the movies (hopefully both).

Let’s begin.

I love looking at maps of Middle Earth. Tolkien does a good job describing the layout of the lands and the distances involved, but I enjoy getting a visual overview of all the places involved in the story. I can see where they are going, where they’ve been, and where other places they don’t visit but talk about are located. Most places have alternate names with the different languages, so sometimes an online wiki can help when one gets confused about just which river is mentioned in the books.

We start off in the Shire, home of the Hobbits. They are a homely lot, and fairly ignorant of the world beyond their borders (something I’ll come back to in The Two Towers). They value friendship, pints at the pub, gardens, food, and a bit of pipeweed now and again. I imagine this is the idealized vision of English village life before the Industrial Revolution gets really going (another subject I’ll come back to again in The Return of the King). The Shire is home, a place where the Hobbits and readers hope to return by the end of the tale.

Much of the early part of this novel takes place in the Shire, everyone (even Gandalf) doesn’t seem too concerned about securing the Ring in a safer place. That’s the first time I think the movies did a better job at the story (waits for the Tolkien purists to gasp). The other subject the movies did better was giving the women more to do. It’s Arwen that spirits Frodo away from the Ringwraiths in the movie instead being helped by some Elf that was so generic I have forgotten his name. Any movie that uses Liv Tyler so effectively is impressive indeed.

I always made fun of Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind by calling it the Walking Game. It seems they took inspiration from TFOTR because they barely get any horses before they lose them in Bree. Surely there were other opportunities in Middle Earth to find horses? They’d have to abandon them at the Misty Mountains, but at least they wouldn’t be walking for days and days and allow the Ringwraiths to nearly finish the quest before it began. Dramatic license I suppose. The movies don’t really give a sense of just how long the journey actually takes. What took weeks to reach Rivendell only seems to take a few days in the movie.

Oh, did I forget to mention the poems and songs? They do add a depth and background to the tale, but they seem to occur far too often and go on too long for my taste. I end up skimming them, and I don’t think I’ve missed anything important. I realize this is their form of entertainment and oral history wrapped in one, but it’s a snoozer for me.

I suppose I am required to mention that Tolkien invented several languages for use in LOTR. I’ll tip my hat to his attention to detail and the astonishing breadth of the world he created, but so many have pointed it out that the point is very dull by now.

The center point of the novel and movie is the trip through the Mines of Moria and the climatic battle at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. The line in the movie that became a meme online ("You shall not pass!") is actually different in the novel ("You cannot pass."). Interesting to see how the form of the Balrog is depicted onscreen as the book is kind of vague. Go read the debates on whether the Balrog has wings or not at some LOTR forums to see how people love to pick over every detail of these stories.

One of the bigger changes to the story by the movies was the character Aragorn. In the novel he’s a bit one-dimensional, a stoic, quiet leader. The only time he seems to doubt his actions is whether to lead the fellowship to Minas Tirith (the white city Boromir hails from) or on to Mordor after the "death" of Gandalf. Surprisingly, the movie has Aragorn much more decisive to NOT lead them to the white city, despite the fact he is filled with doubt about whether to claim his heritage as the king of the men of Middle Earth. In the books, he never shirked from this destiny, just waited for the right time (Why? Why not before the threat of Sauron? I don’t know.).

The end of the movie, Boromir’s death and battle with the orcs, actually takes place at the beginning of the novel The Two Towers, but Jackson and the writers moved it to the end of the first movie. I again think this was a good idea, as you truly get a sense the fellowship is broken and Sam and Frodo are on their own. Also the downfall and then heroic redemption of Boromir gives the ending some real emotional weight I feel gets a bit wasted at the beginning of TTT.

We end the movie with my favorite line in the entire series: "Let’s hunt some orc."

My next post will be about a character and section of the book that didn’t make it into the movie: Tom Bombaldi.

Hmm, I seem to think the movies did a better job at telling the story of the quest to destroy the One Ring better than the actual books. I did not expect that. Let’s hear what you think.
 

Southern Kross

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

...
Nice points. I agree with much that was said. And I also think many of the changes that were made for the films were for the better (as much as I liked the books). :)

One thing I will say, I think the smartest thing the filmmakers did was hiring Alan Lee and John Howe as concept designers for the creatures and structures etc. It meant that the integrity and spirit of the book was honoured, which kept the fans happy and prevented any of that ridiculous Hollywood predilection for nonsensical and idiotic changes from seeping in.

Being a New Zealander, I'm curious about what you thought of the film's depiction of the landscapes. Were they what you imagined or not? If not, were the changes for the good or the better (I know some purists hated Pelennor Fields in the films, for example, but we're not up to that bit yet anyway ;) ) ? And what did you think of the use of landscape in the films: the atmosphere they created; the prevalence of it in the storytelling? Also did you find it unusual or unexpected approach to the use of them? The reason I mention this, is that LOTR is such a NZ-esque approach to landscape: making it like a living breathing creature; like a character in the story. I sometimes wonder how much people register this. They certainly do unconsciously anyway because tourism practically doubled here after FOTR came out :D And I genuinely wonder whether the landscape element is what sold the films to people: it elevated the story and made it believable, tangible - a lack of which, one could argue, was the downfall of other films, such as the recent Star Wars trilogy.
 

Totenkindly

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It’s Arwen that spirits Frodo away from the Ringwraiths in the movie instead being helped by some Elf that was so generic I have forgotten his name. Any movie that uses Liv Tyler so effectively is impressive indeed.

The elf's name was Glorfindel, and he is rumored to be the same Glorfindel that died killing a balrog at the fall of Goldolin in the prior age.

(what can I say? i'm a tolkien geek. Sigh.)


It seems they took inspiration from TFOTR because they barely get any horses before they lose them in Bree. Surely there were other opportunities in Middle Earth to find horses? They’d have to abandon them at the Misty Mountains, but at least they wouldn’t be walking for days and days and allow the Ringwraiths to nearly finish the quest before it began.

I'm not sure hobbits used horses, typically, did they? So they could only get them from men?

The center point of the novel and movie is the trip through the Mines of Moria and the climatic battle at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. The line in the movie that became a meme online ("You shall not pass!") is actually different in the novel ("You cannot pass."). Interesting to see how the form of the Balrog is depicted onscreen as the book is kind of vague. Go read the debates on whether the Balrog has wings or not at some LOTR forums to see how people love to pick over every detail of these stories.

I disliked the movie balrog, I felt like it was overproduced and I was watching a video game. One thing I had loved about Tolkien was the spiritual symbolism inherent in the books; unlike Lewis, however, who incorporated his faith directly and rather clumsily into his writing (well, blatantly), Tolkien simply was informed by his. So his Istari were rather like angels cloaked in flesh, with inherent power in their BEING... same thing with the Balrogs which were essentially dark angels. Although Tolkien muddies the notion a bit by having special words of power that can be used (like the spell of closing Gandalf casts on the door), essentially their magic was not AD&D magic where wizards cast spells they learn; like the elves, it is magic inherent in their very being. The battle of Gandalf and Durin's Bane is almost like a primal battle between the core nature of two beings, like throwing fire at water and seeing what comes out the victor. Olorin (AKA gandalf), by his wording, forbids the balrog to pass; it's less like a spell from Gandalf and more like telling the balrog it is bound there by its past and its nature and also by Gandalf's nature itself -- and it cannot actually leave or make its way past.

Anyway, the whole Moria sequence, from the lurker in the lake onward to them fleeing into daylight at the far end, is my favorite sequence in the entire trilogy, except for maybe Shelob's Lair. It has wonderful pacing, an ominous build, gollum following them at a distance, and the chamber of mazarbul is inspired, with the horror of the whole butchered diary they find -- the middle earth version of the "discovered tape footage" so popular in today's cinema. "Drums. Drums in the deep. They are coming. We cannot get away. They are coming." I mean, just creepy as hell.

One of the bigger changes to the story by the movies was the character Aragorn. In the novel he’s a bit one-dimensional, a stoic, quiet leader. The only time he seems to doubt his actions is whether to lead the fellowship to Minas Tirith (the white city Boromir hails from) or on to Mordor after the "death" of Gandalf. Surprisingly, the movie has Aragorn much more decisive to NOT lead them to the white city, despite the fact he is filled with doubt about whether to claim his heritage as the king of the men of Middle Earth. In the books, he never shirked from this destiny, just waited for the right time (Why? Why not before the threat of Sauron? I don’t know.).

Your description is accurate, and despite it being a major change in a character, I actually felt like this one was appropriate. In the book, aragorn was more part of a plot device -- this faceless character with no real life but just to become the future king and reinstallation of the lineage of old men of legend. The movie gave Aragorn a face and heart and an actual plot of his own to invest in. he was far more sympathetic, and didn't really have his character tarnished.

The end of the movie, Boromir’s death and battle with the orcs, actually takes place at the beginning of the novel The Two Towers, but Jackson and the writers moved it to the end of the first movie. I again think this was a good idea, as you truly get a sense the fellowship is broken and Sam and Frodo are on their own. Also the downfall and then heroic redemption of Boromir gives the ending some real emotional weight I feel gets a bit wasted at the beginning of TTT.

I agree with your thoughts here; it was another change I found welcome. Tolkien had some wonderful dramatic sections in his writing (like moria) but other places really dropped the ball.. and killing off Boromir at the beginning of the Two Towers really was a dramatic waste. I think this was a great move on Jackson's part as well.


The first movie is easily my favorite of the three, and the only one I can watch nowadays.

Hmm, I seem to think the movies did a better job at telling the story of the quest to destroy the One Ring better than the actual books. I did not expect that. Let’s hear what you think.

I don't really think that. Like I said, I can't even watch movies 2 & 3. So the ring only gets as far as the falls of Rauros for me, in the movies. :alttongue:

I think that much of the Two Towers book sucks, though, in terms of the ALG trio half (lots of boring boring dead space... and oh yes, "we're running, we're running this way now, yes, this way, we're running, running, running... and running some more, oh keep running). However, the passage of the ring south toward Mordor is fine. But we'll save that for the TT discussion.

[MENTION=5871]Southern Kross[/MENTION]: I don't remember how the landscape looked in movies 2 & 3. But for the first movie, I was very impressed... I think it was all quite perfect and fit with my imagination for the story, with all that terrain that was covered -- Hobbiton, Bree, Weathertop, whatever bits of Rivendell was real, and the rivers and forests at movie's end. NZ seemed to be a perfect choice.
 

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It's been a long time since I read the books or watched the movies -- but the books literally changed my life. I love the style. It might not be the most 'engaging' style, but it's got that aloof, slightly sad feel to it that I think is absolutely beautiful. I also read it at the right age, I think -- 17, with all the issues about growing up and innocence lost and the books affected me a lot.

The first movie is easily my favorite of the three, and the only one I can watch nowadays.
Me too! Might be true as well for the books. I can read pages and pages and pages of rivers and brooks and fields and mountains and Lothlorien (the movie did NOT do Lothlorien justice!), but I found it extremely difficult to get through the 'journey to Mordor' part with Frodo and Sam in the swamps -- I mean that was horrible.

I've always cared more about atmosphere than plot anyway :blush:
 

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I meant to make this thread at the beginning of the year, but I got lazy.

In December of this year Peter Jackson will be releasing part one of his adaptation of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I really enjoyed his adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, so I'm excited for these two movies.

This forum didn't exist back then, so I/we missed out on major geeking out for the movies. I thought about starting a thread on the Hobbit when I saw the trailer, but we got months to go.

So then I thought, why not take advantage of the next 11 months? It's been a long time since I watched the trilogy, and even longer since I read any Tolkien. I want to revisit the whole thing.

So I'm going to be leading discussion over the months leading up to the release of the movie on the LOTR and The Hobbit. Read along, contribute, or ignore this thread if you wish. Even if it's only me, I'll enjoy the journey. I'm going to read each book and then watch the DVD of the film (extended version of course).

Since I'm running it, I'm going to put up a schedule because I don't have the time to blast through everything in a few weeks. Three months for each book and film.

Last week of March: discussion of The Fellowship of the Ring book/film.
Last week of June: discussion of The Two Towers book/film.
Last week of September: discussion of The Return of the King book/film.
December: discussion of The Hobbit book/film.

Hope you participate.


Oh good! I always liked the Hobbit more than the Lord of the Rings anyway. Didn't know they issued trailers so far in advance of a movie coming out.
 

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It's been a long time since I read the books or watched the movies -- but the books literally changed my life. I love the style. It might not be the most 'engaging' style, but it's got that aloof, slightly sad feel to it that I think is absolutely beautiful. I also read it at the right age, I think -- 17, with all the issues about growing up and innocence lost and the books affected me a lot.

"innocent lost" is an important theme -- Frodo I know was probably the "pure one" in terms of his motivations, but the journey changes him irrevocably, and after a few years of some really bad moments after he gets home, he can't deal with it anymore and needs to move on and leaves to travel over the sea with the other ringbearers. It changes you. he suffered in order to protect his friends/home and give them the ability to enjoy their lives, but he paid a price to do that. Same thing with hobbiton, where the hobbits were more careful and untouched by the outer world, but Saruman/Sharkey devastates their homeland. Tolkien was experiencing this due to the industrialization of his beloved countrysides/homeland.

Me too! Might be true as well for the books. I can read pages and pages and pages of rivers and brooks and fields and mountains and Lothlorien (the movie did NOT do Lothlorien justice!), but I found it extremely difficult to get through the 'journey to Mordor' part with Frodo and Sam in the swamps -- I mean that was horrible.

I guess it would have hit you very hard. I'm actually a big fan of Donaldson, who wrote even more bleak/dark fantasy than Tolkien... so it didn't bother me too much. For some reason, the ache of such ugliness/bleakness resonates with me in some way, it's the dark underbelly of the bright happy overbelly, and both are intermingled. I thought Jackson's treatment of such things tended to be overwrought, though, and even campy. Howveer, in the first movie (which I'll try to keep my comment to at the moment), I think Jackson did fine. The Ringwraiths were nicely done.

I've always cared more about atmosphere than plot anyway :blush:
Atmosphere is big with me. I tend to 'feel things' through tone and space and overall feel; and the movies I watch tend to have great ambiance, even if some of the plot is sketchy. (for example, the American remake of The Ring is sketchy, but the tone is awesome.)
 
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