View Single Post
Old 03-29-2008, 03:42 PM   #182
Pilgrim Soul
Mithalwen's Avatar
Join Date: May 2004
Location: watching the wonga-wonga birds circle...
Posts: 9,752
Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Before the discussion moves on without me tomorrow, there are a couple of things I would like to add. Firstly that while Treebeard's first song is part of the plot, his second "When spring unfolds the beechen leaf" gives a hint of an unexplored vista as far as the adaptation is concerned. Very clever to please the book devotees by acknowledging the Entwives without slowing the action by talking about them. The hobbit / treebeard scenes also give great proof of what can be done with the voice alone. I don't know whether any "magic" was worked but it is just so clear that Treebeard is vastly older and bigger than the hobbits - who sound much more boyish by comparison (whereas their voices sound merely young with the other hobbits).

To go back to the death and funeral of Boromir, I don't want to start an argument but given that Tolkien was both a devout Catholic and extremely proud of his Viking heritage (ref Donald Swann's intro to "The Road goes ever on" we should not be suprised that it is possible to identify elements of both.

Boromir has the opportunity to make a "good death", he confesses and asks for forgiveness - and is reassured by Aragorn. I believe the Catholic church prefers burial to other methods of disposal of bodies but the English are a seafaring nation and sea burial has often been a necessity and is still a choice and perfectly acceptable to the Anglican church (one of the designated sea burial grounds is off the Isle Wight and you can see them leave, robed vicar and all, from our local jetty). Many others have their ashes scattered on the water so I would contest that it is not part of the Christian tradition. However Boromir's funeral is clearly Viking.

Much of Tolkiens creation can be seen as an attempt to reconcile his Catholic beliefs with his personal and professional interest in Norse culture and mythology. Aspects of both can be found; those with a particular interest will pick up o their side more, as someone at Oxonmoot 06 said that the Catholics saw hints of the final victory, pagans the long defeat. Neither side is going to get a knockout blow and trying for a points victory can be tiresome for the disinterested (nb I use disinterested NOT uninterested).

Before I digress totally in to something that belongs in books, I do think the manner of Boromir's death and funeral is significant because we will have the later contrasts of Theoden and Denethor's. The latter is specifically described as heathen in the books, whereas the former is another semi-Viking style since the interment in a barrow is not so far from a ship burial.

Boromir is also in his own way "taking ship" and passing into the west. The sea is so important to the stories of ME and to Tolkien (I think I have a thread coming on) that this can not be without significance. Think of Aragorn's words "Boromir has taken his road" a road may be on sea as well as land (cf the Straight Road).
The elements also have significance I think - dwarves lay their dead in stone, the orcs are consigned to ashes, elves go west .. not unfitting that one of good Numenorean blood is returned to the sea.

Finally the funeral boat is a practical solution. There are several references to disposing differently of friend and foe in the books and one in this episode - the burning of the orcs. There is the strong and recognisable desire to give a comrade a "decent" if not Christian ) burial. This was not possible so they commend him to the water - a routine practice til recently for those who died at sea too far from land.

Ramble over...
I see dead people.
Mithalwen is offline   Reply With Quote