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Old 02-24-2008, 02:27 PM   #41
Hookbill the Goomba
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Pipe

Episode Three is one of mt favorites from the early parts of the book. This is where a lot of action begins to happen. We also get a good insight into Strider. I do think they chose the right voice actor for Aragorn; his account of Beren and Luthien seems quite heart felt.

Butterbur is dreadfully amusing in this episode. His voice has always stuck with me when reading the books, especially at these points, with the selling of the Pony and the discussions with Strider. But is it just me or does Strider say "We shall see" an awful lot?

On the road to Weathertop we get Sam's rendition of Gilgalad's poem, me absolute favorite version. The tune fits well and the lines are rendered almost hauntingly, especially with the sound effects in the background from birds etc.

When they get to Weathertop we get a clear sense of the place from Merry's description;

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And very cheerless and uninviting it looks! There is no water and no shelter. And no sign of Gandalf. Mind you, I don't blame him for not waiting, if he ever came here.
A larger description of Weathertop would probably have been out of place, but this brief description from a disapointed Hobbit says it all. Which is something I liked about this production; the descriptions didn't seem to take up too much space, we get a great sense of the area from the sound effects and the dialogue. This is a good sign of a well produced transition from book to radio. It is so easy for long and enjoyable pieces of prose to be given to a Narator, or, slightly more foolishly, to a character. This does not always work, in my opinion. The Narator is a tool best used scarecely.

The Nazgul are scary! The Lord of the Nazgul has an amusingly British voice, I noticed. As if he spends his time, when not hunting Hobbits, sat at home with a cup of tea and a pipe.

Glorfindel isn't great, I have to admit. Something about him in this version makes him seem constantly worried. But given the situation they are supposed to be in, I think I can forgive them this, however, because he never appears again, it's hard to know if this is supposed to be the character or simply a reaction.

When we come to the Council of Elrond I think we have a dreadfully well crafted arrangement. There is so much material in that scene it would be nigh impossible to record it all in a dramatised format without it seeming dull. With the Dwarves story we have a good idea; inter-cut with dialogue from the messenger of Mordor. This works well and gives an indication as to how they must have felt with such a messenger with seemingly kind words.
Then there is Boromir. No Sean Bean, but still a good performance, especially here. The 'Seek for the Sword' poem hurts my ears, though.

The episode ends at the right place. Frodo accepting the Ring bourdain. After all the talk and discussion, this one decision is, I think, a monumental point in the narrative. Making it a 'cliff hanger' was the right decision, I think, to make it stand out as such.
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Old 02-24-2008, 02:49 PM   #42
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(davem scans his posts nervously to make sure he hasn't said anything bad......)

And in case anyone is uncertain, this is the real Brian Sibley. As I noted earlier I emailed Mr Sibley
Yes, davem, this is about as real as it gets!

What is intriguing is to read people writing about the radio series having heard it for the very first time! Anyway, here are a couple of responses/answers/amplifications...

Not surprisingly, many people commented on what they see (or hear) as being weak or ineffectual sound-effects but, of course, 27 years ago (before digital radio and THX sound) they sounded a lot better...

That is not an excuse - just a fact! It is like watching an old black and white movie and saying that it's not as good because it isn't in colour or that the back projection effects weren't very convincing... Any work of art (and I think the radio LOTR is that, wherever and however flawed) has to be viewed - or heard - with some regard to when it was created...

(But, for what it's worth, I never liked the eagle wings!! )

On the use of material from sources other than LOTR: these were all copyright-cleared with the Tolkien estate and included 'The Hobbit', 'Unfinished Tales' and 'Bilbo's Last Song'.

Maybe it was a mistake to include The Hunt for the Ring; I wonder whether people feel the same about the Gandalf/Saruman/Gwaihir scenes that (in the book) are not revealed until the Council of Elrond at Rivendell?

Appropriateness of voices: this is interesting - even in 1981, people wrote to me to say that actor 'X' sounded absolutely like So-and-so, whereas actor 'Y' was completely wrong! How much harder it is since the films which are now so strongly imprinted on everyone's mind that a lot of the Tolkien fan-art that I see is simply a version of the characters as seen in the Jackson movies.

On the question of whether Jackson could have told the story more fully: the answer is, surely, yes! It wasn't that Jackson had less time (he had almost as much as the radio production and many things can be shown quicker on film than in dialogue and spoken exposition); but he made choices - just as we did on radio - and his choices included long battles (over-long some might say!) and many invented scenes to develop the emotional/romantic relationships (the Arwen/Aragorn/Eowyn love-triangle) or to build suspense (like the warg attack and the faux Aragorn death); I think that some of those choices served PJ's story better than they did Tolkien's...

Anyway, thanks for all the new perspectives and apologies for whatever gaffs and errors you uncover - many of which I have lived with and longed to put right in the subsequent two-and-a-half decades!!

I hope people won't be too outraged when I say I was very surprised to discover that the radio series was on YouTube and, whilst I love the fact that people are still discovering this series, I am sorry that it is out there is a form that disregards the copyright interests of a lot of people including the Tolkien estate, the dramatists, composer, musicians and actors or their estates.

Still, thanks for a nice welcome and I'll try to comment from time to time when I've anything useful to say and if and when I can remember anything...
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:09 PM   #43
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Wow...Brian Sibley...

Thank you, Mr. Sibley, for making the radio series such a faithful, spirited adaptation. It's outstanding.
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:11 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hookbill the Goomba View Post
On the road to Weathertop we get Sam's rendition of Gilgalad's poem, me absolute favorite version. The tune fits well and the lines are rendered almost hauntingly, especially with the sound effects in the background from birds etc.

Probably my favorite part of the entire series.
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:15 PM   #45
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Butterbur is dreadfully amusing in this episode. His voice has always stuck with me when reading the books, especially at these points, with the selling of the Pony and the discussions with Strider. But is it just me or does Strider say "We shall see" an awful lot?
I've always loved James Grout's turn as Butterbur - he never seems to get much of a mention in reviews, but his performance is wonderful - especially in the final episode where Gandalf & the Hobbits return to the Pony on their way home.
Quote:
On the road to Weathertop we get Sam's rendition of Gilgalad's poem, me absolute favorite version. The tune fits well and the lines are rendered almost hauntingly, especially with the sound effects in the background from birds etc.
This is something I was going to bring up too - whenever I read the book I always hear Stephen Oliver's settings for the songs.

Quote:
Glorfindel isn't great, I have to admit. Something about him in this version makes him seem constantly worried. But given the situation they are supposed to be in, I think I can forgive them this, however, because he never appears again, it's hard to know if this is supposed to be the character or simply a reaction
Its obviously difficult to introduce a character, have him appear for a few minutes, & then disappear for good. I suppose its easier to omit them altogether. At this point you have to introduce a new character - Bakshi went for an early intro of Legolas, Jackson chose Arwen, the adaptors of this production went for Glorfindel, & I'm glad he got a name check in at least one adaptation! I wonder if his sounding constantly worried was the actor's choice, the director's or the adaptors'?

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Originally Posted by Brian Sibley
Not surprisingly, many people commented on what they see (or hear) as being weak or ineffectual sound-effects but, of course, 27 years ago (before digital radio and THX sound) they sounded a lot better...

That is not an excuse - just a fact! It is like watching an old black and white movie and saying that it's not as good because it isn't in colour or that the back projection effects weren't very convincing... Any work of art (and I think the radio LOTR is that, wherever and however flawed) has to be viewed - or heard - with some regard to when it was created...
I wonder if that's why I don't really have a problem with the sound effects - I heard this series back when it was first broadcast & so they sounded pretty much 'state of the art' to me. I think in a way when you listen to a radio series over & over you always kind of go back mentally to the first time you heard it.
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I hope people won't be too outraged when I say I was very surprised to discover that the radio series was on YouTube and, whilst I love the fact that people are still discovering this series, I am sorry that it is out there is a form that disregards the copyright interests of a lot of people including the Tolkien estate, the dramatists, composer, musicians and actors or their estates.
As I was the one who originally posted the links to the You Tube LotR section I feel a bit guilty - though as I said I did it in all innocence & removed the links as soon as their illegality was pointed up. I can only say that I my own copies are perfectly legal, on both cassette & CD (the BBC CD set in the black & gold 'book' format is probably the nicest edition - if anyone's interested)
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:24 PM   #46
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I've seen that version in processing at the Wade Center and coveted it once or twice, mainly for the 14th CD. I own the boxed CD version with the Grey Havens illustration, which isn't quite as nice as the gold and black.
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:18 PM   #47
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I've always loved James Grout's turn as Butterbur - he never seems to get much of a mention in reviews, but his performance is wonderful - especially in the final episode where Gandalf & the Hobbits return to the Pony on their way home.
I so agree. Of the smaller roles, my personal favourites are James Grout as Butterbur, John Bott as Farmer Maggot, Stephen Thorne as Treebeard and Peter Howell as Saruman. Obviously Saruman is not as 'developed' as in the films, but then we didn't make up quite so much stuff about him -- and we killed him off!!

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As I was the one who originally posted the links to the You Tube LotR section I feel a bit guilty - though as I said I did it in all innocence & removed the links as soon as their illegality was pointed up. I can only say that I my own copies are perfectly legal, on both cassette & CD (the BBC CD set in the black & gold 'book' format is probably the nicest edition - if anyone's interested)
Nothing to feel guilty about! You behaved quite properly. As to the best set: I think it is the last one produced - digitally re-mastered and with the new prologues and epilogues with Ian Holm. BTW, as a trivia note for anyone with this version: the closing credits are read by --- me!

This version was also issued, for a while, in a round ring-shaped tin and had with it a bonus disc with a 70+ minute documentary entitled 'Microphones in Middle-earth' - written and presented by myself with Michael Bakewell, Jane Morgan, Bill Nighy, John McAndrew, Marion Diamond and several Rings fans.

What I wish was available is the original 26 episode version which truly reflects how I structured the series and how Michael Bakewell I dramatised it. I have it on personal cassettes, but the original masters were edited to make the 13 hour version and so no longer exist.
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:32 PM   #48
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A quick question for you, Mr Brian; were you involved in the BBC Radio adaptation of Tales from the Perilous Realm? I enjoyed those and felt that Bombadill was portrayed as well as could be expected, the voice did fit, I felt, and the performance was good. The Farmer Giles one still makes me laugh, especially Garm.

But, back to The Lord of the Rings...

Where the Radio version gets interesting is in the feeling of the surroundings. You apologised earlier for the sound effects, but I felt they worked perfectly. I assume it was the Radio phonix workshop or some such, but it seemed that the background noises was exquisitely executed. Although, the only criticism I ever bring is the Nazgul's horses sound a bit weird, not sure why.
The greatest achievement of the Radio production is how faithful it is. I suppose I am comparing it to the recent films (and the not so recent films), but still. I think a serial is the only way to do The Lord of the Rings justice, really. Too much material for a truly faithful film.
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:33 PM   #49
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As to the best set: I think it is the last one produced - digitally re-mastered and with the new prologues and epilogues with Ian Holm. BTW, as a trivia note for anyone with this version: the closing credits are read by --- me!

This version was also issued, for a while, in a round ring-shaped tin and had with it a bonus disc with a 70+ minute documentary entitled 'Microphones in Middle-earth' - written and presented by myself with Michael Bakewell, Jane Morgan, Bill Nighy, John McAndrew, Marion Diamond and several Rings fans.
I didn't know about that documentary Actually, I'd only just bought the gold & black set (for Ł80!!)) when that one came out, so I swallowed my disappointment & have now convinced myself that I have the best version..... Bet its not available seperately though, is it? i do have your 'Audio Portrait' set, & a tape of the Fired by the Ring documentary (with a bit of Oz Clarke's singing missing in the middle due to having to turn the tape over.....

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What I wish was available is the original 26 episode version which truly reflects how I structured the series and how Michael Bakewell I dramatised it. I have it on personal cassettes, but the original masters were edited to make the 13 hour version and so no longer exist.
That's the version I'd like to have actually - I still half hear it while listening to the re-edited versions - at the 'cliff-hangers' - if you see what I mean. I can't believe they edited the originaltapes
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:51 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Hookbill the Goomba View Post
A quick question for you, Mr Brian; were you involved in the BBC Radio adaptation of Tales from the Perilous Realm? I enjoyed those and felt that Bombadill was portrayed as well as could be expected, the voice did fit, I felt, and the performance was good. The Farmer Giles one still makes me laugh, especially Garm.
Yes, I dramatised the six episodes (2 'Farmer Giles'; 2 'Bombadil'; 1 each, 'Smith of Wootton Major' and 'Leaf by Niggle'); in fact I also played the Giant in Farmer Giles and the dragon was played by Stephen (Treebeard) Thorne. The series was narrated by Michael (Gandalf) Hordern. It is available on cassette and CD.

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But, back to The Lord of the Rings...

Where the Radio version gets interesting is in the feeling of the surroundings. You apologised earlier for the sound effects, but I felt they worked perfectly. I assume it was the Radio phonix workshop or some such, but it seemed that the background noises was exquisitely executed. Although, the only criticism I ever bring is the Nazgul's horses sound a bit weird, not sure why.
The greatest achievement of the Radio production is how faithful it is. I suppose I am comparing it to the recent films (and the not so recent films), but still. I think a serial is the only way to do The Lord of the Rings justice, really. Too much material for a truly faithful film.
I do hope that the fact that I'm reading this thread won't inhibit contributors too much, because I'm genuinely interested to read people's honest - uncensored! - thoughts and comments...
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:56 PM   #51
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Yes, I dramatised the six episodes (2 'Farmer Giles'; 2 'Bombadil'; 1 each, 'Smith of Wootton Major' and 'Leaf by Niggle'); in fact I also played the Giant in Farmer Giles and the dragon was played by Stephen (Treebeard) Thorne. The series was narrated by Michael (Gandalf) Hordern. It is available on cassette and CD.
Yes, I've just found my long lost copy.

I have always had a great fondness for the dramatised versions. Probably because they were the only audio version I had for many years while I was still not such a great reader. This doesn't mean there aren't bits that annoy me (the Eagle's song in Return of the King is one thing I always skip), but I think I'll have to give them another good listen if I can find my old tapes...
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:01 PM   #52
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Yes, I've just found my long lost copy.

I have always had a great fondness for the dramatised versions... This doesn't mean there aren't bits that annoy me (the Eagle's song in Return of the King is one thing I always skip)...
Yes...... I know what you mean!! Counter-tenor eagles... Strange! Maybe Jackson was right not to do talking birds; still, if he does have an involvement with 'The Hobbit'...
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:22 PM   #53
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One reason the BBC version is so successful for me is its willingness to make use of Tolkien's original text to as great an extent as practicable. Tolkien's prose is a significant factor in the spell he weaves, and it irks me no end that the scripts for the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, of all books, should have been written by people with such manifestly tin ears for Language.

Hmmmm- BTW, do you think we should invite Sauron the White to this thread, just to show him there's a 'cinderblock' we Purists do like?
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Old 02-24-2008, 09:09 PM   #54
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But we're having a perfectly good party without him. Maybe we can show it to him after the fact?
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Old 02-24-2008, 09:16 PM   #55
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Listening starting tomorrow to Disc 1

Well I am going to start listening to disc 1 tomorrow on my way to and from work. Then I'll post up what I have enjoyed, and why. I guess this thread has helped me to boost up my time table on listening to these again (though it doesn't take much prompting).

I have to agree with the singing eagle, that part I usually skip. I also enjoy listening to Treebeard on these as well as the Witch King. The part where the Nazgul are searching for the ring and news of the Shired, and come across Grima is one example of why I really like this series.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:39 AM   #56
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The part where the Nazgul are searching for the ring and news of the Shire, and come across Grima is one example of why I really like this series.
This is another scene drawn from Tolkien's 'Unfinished Tales'.

Generally, wherever possible, I tried to dramatise events that, in the book, were only reported by someone else.
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:04 AM   #57
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Yes...... I know what you mean!! Counter-tenor eagles... Strange! Maybe Jackson was right not to do talking birds; still, if he does have an involvement with 'The Hobbit'...
No! I think that scene worked perfectly - inter-cutting the Eagle's song with Eowyn & Faramir, & then going straight into the Coronation.

Of course, the problem, again, is what, exactly, would an Eagle's voice sound like? Its fine to read the words on the page - you can accept a speaking/singing Eagle as easily as you accept a talking tree, but creating a convincing voice must be a real difficulty. I wonder if this isn't exactly the kind of thing Tolkien was thinking of when he said that the book was 'unsuitable for dramatic representation' - that there are things in the book which, given auditory or visual form, will not work - well, not for everybody.
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Old 02-25-2008, 03:25 AM   #58
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I spent a lot of time last year listening to the minor works dramatizations, and my favourite was definitely the Farmer Giles story - I thought the voices were absolutely perfect, enjoyed the accents very much, and still like to hear it, even after so many times. My least favourite was the Smith version - for some reason, I wasn't enthused about Smith's monologues, nor of the voice that spoke the part. I think they made the whole story seem too mundane to me.

I have heard (twice) a version of the BBC LotR dramatization that I enjoyed greatly - the Cambridge Society did parts of it (they had done the whole thing, with permission) in Birmingham at "Tolkien 2005" and at Oxonmoot last year. Both times, I was greatly moved by the performance, which used sound effects from the radio recording; the counter-tenor sang the Eagle's song live, quite effectively to my mind. Not all of the Cambridge voices were as good as the original, but quality can take an adaptation without significant loss.
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Old 02-25-2008, 03:32 AM   #59
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My least favourite was the Smith version - for some reason, I wasn't enthused about Smith's monologues, nor of the voice that spoke the part. I think they made the whole story seem too mundane to me.
I think this is the problem faced by dramatising Tolkien's work. Because they are so full of prose and description it is hard to transfer that over to radio. I do get annoyed at any radio production where you have a character spending a long time describing the place they have walked into. It works better with two characters in dialogue talking about how they feel about the room, but with one character it is hard to find a way of doing it right. Farmer Giles was good (Brian 'Should be Thorin' Blessed was excellent), but Garm annoyed me at the beginning.

The episode in discussion at the moment is in a good place. You have a lot of character who can discuss the surroundings. Good Tolkien phrases can be interspursed between the appropriate characters. Sometimes when you have a good piece of description or whatever, it's tempting to give it all to one character, but I think it works better distributed. Sounds more natural.
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Old 02-25-2008, 04:19 AM   #60
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I have heard (twice) a version of the BBC LotR dramatization that I enjoyed greatly - the Cambridge Society did parts of it (they had done the whole thing, with permission) in Birmingham at "Tolkien 2005" and at Oxonmoot last year. Both times, I was greatly moved by the performance, which used sound effects from the radio recording; the counter-tenor sang the Eagle's song live, quite effectively to my mind. Not all of the Cambridge voices were as good as the original, but quality can take an adaptation without significant loss.
They did it first, I think, in Cambridge and I attended the event for part of the day and played Elrond in several scenes. I totally agree that the experience was very moving - it was like a tale-telling around the fire in a long hall... I really wish I could have attended and taken part in one of the later readings...

I had hoped that the BBC and the Tolkien Estate might one day find a way of publishing the scripts - suitably corrected, of course! There was interest at the BBC when the films came out, but none now...

Meanwhile they are, of course, on the net as transcripts - though I haven't checked their accuracy. Curiously, I know that the Cambridge folk did their OWN transcription which was, as far as I know, pretty accurate. Maybe I should try and persuade the BBC to put up a full, accurate transcription, scanned from the scripts...

Trouble is, they wouldn't be prepared to pay anyone involved for the use of the material either! Despite the fact that it was for many years their best-selling audio book... It's hard to even get them concerned about the fact that the series is being uploaded in various forms all over the www... One such site currently reports 5000 downloads, which for working writers and actors represents a lot of potentially lost income.

Of course, not everyone who downloads would otherwise have BOUGHT the work, but I've read many postings on forums saying thank you for saving them the cost of purchasing it... Which is a bit hard to swallow...

You see, I'd love to OWN a Van Gogh but can't AFFORD one - so would that justify my stealing one? Probably not...

End of rant!
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Old 02-25-2008, 04:25 AM   #61
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The episode in discussion at the moment is in a good place. You have a lot of character who can discuss the surroundings. Good Tolkien phrases can be interspursed between the appropriate characters. Sometimes when you have a good piece of description or whatever, it's tempting to give it all to one character, but I think it works better distributed. Sounds more natural.
Well, it's never really natural - we hardly ever say things like "Look at that strange shaped hill over there with what looks like a ruined castle on top..." or whatever, but I know what you mean!

The biggest problem came later in the series when (as in the second half of the third volume, Tolkien recounts things rather than writing them in dialogue. Very difficult. Glad you liked 'Giles' (know what you mean about 'Smith' it really only works in that little book with Pauline Baynes' wonderful little pictures) and trust you enjoyed the performance of the actor playing the giant!!
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:29 AM   #62
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Brian Sibley, are you really THE Brian Sibley, the famous author and writer of the 1980's BBC Adaptation of LOTR as well as recent books on the making of the film trilogy?
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:44 AM   #63
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Brian Sibley, are you really THE Brian Sibley, the famous author and writer of the 1980's BBC Adaptation of LOTR as well as recent books on the making of the film trilogy?
Ha-ha! Yes, of course I am! Except I am not THAT famous!

If you don't believe me, check out my web-site, www.briansibley.com and blog-spot, www.briansibleysblog.blogspot.com. That (and this) is me!
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:49 AM   #64
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'Giles' (know what you mean about 'Smith' it really only works in that little book with Pauline Baynes' wonderful little pictures) and trust you enjoyed the performance of the actor playing the giant!!
I have to admit that Smith is the only one of the four adaptations I don't really get on with. Its not the script, & I like the actors (Paul Copley I've loved since I heard him reading reading from Pilgrim's Progress on tv many years ago, & I think James Grout was also involved as Nokes??), but somehow it just wasn't Smith for me. Of course Pauline Baynes illustrations are integral to the story & thankfully the latest edition, edited by Verlyn Flieger reinstates them. There is an edition of Tolkien's short stories, including Smith, Niggle, Giles, Roverandom & the Bombadil verses out later this year (with a new cover painting by Alan Lee apparently) which I'm hoping will also include the Baynes illustrations.

Just a quick one - the transcripts I'm linking to for the series - are they entirely legal? If not I can remove the links to them too. I'm now ever so slightly paranioid about this stuff....
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:59 AM   #65
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I have to admit that Smith is the only one of the four adaptations I don't really get on with. Its not the script, & I like the actors (Paul Copley I've loved since I heard him reading reading from Pilgrim's Progress on tv many years ago, & I think James Grout was also involved as Nokes??), but somehow it just wasn't Smith for me. Of course Pauline Baynes illustrations are integral to the story & thankfully the latest edition, edited by Verlyn Flieger reinstates them. There is an edition of Tolkien's short stories, including Smith, Niggle, Giles, Roverandom & the Bombadil verses out later this year (with a new cover painting by Alan Lee apparently) which I'm hoping will also include the Baynes illustrations.
I hope so to, there has been an increasing attempt to 'hide' the Baynes illustrations (all the paperback covers are now by other artists) which is stupid because they ARE the picture for the books - just E H Shepard's illustrations to 'Winnie-the-Pooh' are THE only likenesses of Pooh & Co that matter...

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Just a quick one - the transcripts I'm linking to for the series - are they entirely legal? If not I can remove the links to them too. I'm now ever so slightly paranioid about this stuff....
They're probably not strictly legal, but it's a rather different situation to the downloads of the actual programmes, since they are not competing with any published book. I don't think anyone is likely to be too bothered - unless someone started printing them out and selling them... So I really wouldn't worry!
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Old 02-25-2008, 10:18 AM   #66
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This one started with more of a fright than episode 2 with the Eagles that sounded a bit like the echo of a Tardis. The Nazgul really are scary in the radio version, I'd forgotten about that! That matches up with Tolkien's way of describing horror in very sparse tones, leaving plenty of gaps around the edges for the imagination to fill in the rest of the details...hearing a horror is so much more effective than seeing a horror in all it's detail.

They scared the cat too.

I was very pleased to hear one of my favourite little details included in Episode 3 - Bilbo chunnering about how the Council has been going on for ages and it's getting dangerously close to his dinnertime - it reminds me of being in boring meetings (although the Council of Elrond wouldn't be boring...surely?) and clock-watching for the tea trolley and plates of sandwiches to appear

Now following the films and the splendid Boromir it's very odd indeed to hear someone different portraying him when I've grown so used to the idea of Sean Bean in the role. In contrast to that, Elrond sounded better (sorry Mithalwen) on the radio. And as the lone person who didn't much care for the portrayal of Rivendell in the films (too girly) I enjoyed being able to imagine it for myself and the crackling fireplaces and Bilbo's words conjour up an idea of a quiet, scholarly place, unchanged for many centuries. After hearing that, I'm beginning to wonder if maybe Tolkien intended Rivendell to be like an alpine Oxford college? Hmmm...

I was also free to imagine Weathertop as a version of Silbury Hill.

Listening to this every Sunday has taken me back to the 80s, as that's when I first heard this, on Radio 4, Sunday afternoons after my dinner. You notice different things too, as you are having to concentrate all your thoughts just on listening rather than being distracted by pictures in a film or jumping ahead in the text when reading. That makes me remember again about how my old boss who was (is!) blind and would read by means of voiced texts had an amazing recall of tiny details - I'm sure a psychologist would be able to say what this phenomena is.
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Old 02-25-2008, 11:19 AM   #67
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Ha-ha! Yes, of course I am! Except I am not THAT famous!

If you don't believe me, check out my web-site, www.briansibley.com and blog-spot, www.briansibleysblog.blogspot.com. That (and this) is me!
Well, then I'm pleased to make your acquantaince. I didn't think High Folk such as yourself would mingle with us common plebians.

I have a question; would you be writing books on the making of the Hobbit film as well? If sopleasr include details on the varous lawsuits that had to be resolved before it finally got made.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:03 PM   #68
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Well, then I'm pleased to make your acquantaince. I didn't think High Folk such as yourself would mingle with us common plebians.

I have a question; would you be writing books on the making of the Hobbit film as well? If so pleas include details on the varous lawsuits that had to be resolved before it finally got made.
I may be, but I'm told there are quite a few writers who want to do the job --- if the film(s) happen. However, I rather doubt that New Line Cinema will be exactly keen on anyone writing about the lawsuits......
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Old 02-25-2008, 05:27 PM   #69
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Michael Graham Cox (another cast member who has passed away - he died in 1995) was born in 1938, so would have been 40 when the Bakshi movie came out, & 43 when the series did.

Again, its a matter of taste & what sounds right to the individual listener. To me he didn't sound 'old', so much as gruff & haughty. As for 40 being 'young', I can only quote Indiana Jones: "Its not the years, its the mileage...."


I suspect most people would seem young to Theoden.
It doesn't matter much, though, that M.G.C. was 43 when the series was created, because Boromir's age cannot be measured by normal man years. Boromir was not "old" by any standards. It is a matter of indiviual opinion, like you said, and M.G.C. just does not fit the bill for me. Boromir's voice, to me, was deep, strong, and clear. M.G.C. does not come across with those qualities in my opinion.

I don't think that comment on Theoden is too fair. He called Boromir young because that was what he was!
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Old 02-25-2008, 07:16 PM   #70
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Pipe Today Gollum, the Nine, Gandalf, Bilbo, PipeWeed and moving on

Ok, did listen to the CD's today, while the first one (I started at the beginning and went from there). Here are my thoughts:

First, the opening prologue was really brief and quick. I think it gave the listener a general concept of the rings, without revealing the secret of the one ring.

Gollum's search for the ring was a nice touch, as was his capture near Mordor and his torture. Sorry, I would have to go back into the booklet that came with the CD's (and that would require a lot of effort right now as they are packed away, while they aren't unpacked yet), so is that the Mouth of Sauron who finds Gollum or the Witch King? I assume it is the Mouth of Sauron since he dispatches the nine later on the CD.

I loved the scene at the Inn with the Gaffer and all the other Hobbits gathered together. I think this scene was done extremely well.

The Last Party was also quick yet effective. I loved that the explosion of Gandalf's firework as Bilbo puts on the ring and wish that Peter Jackson had included that in the film version.
I also like after the confrontation between Bilbo and Gandalf at Bag End about Bilbo leaving Frodo the ring, how Bilbo walks out singing The Road Goes Ever On, and how that refrain continues, but fades slowly, signaling that Bilbo's role in this story has also faded out.
I have to share that when my son was younger and the movies were coming out, and he owned and played with some of the Toy Biz Black Rider toys, that he made that sound that is on the BBC tapes that the Black Riders make whenever they attacked his "good guys." I like how the Black Riders sound.
One last thing is the attention to detail like Frodo offering Gandalf the three types of pipe weed to smoke. In memory of Bilbo Gandalf take the Old Tolby. Very nice touch, and great details. The link between Gandalf and the ring, his warnings and final proof that the ring is evil, and is Sauron's ties nicely back to the prologue. Another example is the sounding of the clippers as Sam works around Bag End. Then they fade and shortly thereafter, Sam is caught! Again, nice attention to details I also have to say with the winter we've had here in Utah, it was nice to have the CD's to bring to my mind an image of a spring day with blue sky, fluffy white clouds, a promise of warmth and gardening! What a great job done in creating visual images.

Overall, I have to say that I loved the strings that represent the beginning and the end of each disc. So much here, yet not enough time to go through it all! I can't wait for my journey tomorrow to and from work!
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Old 02-26-2008, 12:24 PM   #71
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I too finally got around to (re-)listening to the first CD today, and enjoyed it very much. For me, hearing Tolkien's own words so faithfully reproduced is an important aspect. So far, I liked all of the voices used.

I do have one minor dissatisfaction - the melody to the Road poem is in a minor key and sounds rather depressing to me. But then, I haven't heard a melody yet that I really thought appropriate, which resulted in my making up my own. Actually, this is one thing I did like better in PJ's movie version - the melody there is cheerful and simple, which seems right for Hobbits.

I did like the sound effect for the Ring - if I remember correctly, the same effect was used on the Hobbit recordings. Interestingly, I think it sounds similar to what the movie used for Arwen's pendent!
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Old 02-26-2008, 01:19 PM   #72
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For me, hearing Tolkien's own words so faithfully reproduced is an important aspect.
As I've said, I think this is why the series captures the spirit of the book so well. And I think its easy to underestimate what was involved in adapting the work for this reason. You can get the idea that because so much was taken from the book that the adaptors didn't have to do very much. From what I've read/heard about producing this adaptation it was far from easy & there were a number of difficult choices to make. I've mentioned that Brian originally included the encounter with Gildor & omitted the Farmer Maggot scenes, but then changed his mind because he felt that that would work better & was more important.

One thing I wonder about is why the BBC originally went for 26 half-hour episodes, rather than 13 one hour episodes. After all they were pretty quick to edit it into 13 episodes for rebroadcast. I also wonder if Brian & Michael Bakewell would have taken a different approach if they'd been commissioned to do it as 13 hour long episodes in the first place - certainly they'd have needed fewer cliff-hangers ...
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:58 PM   #73
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One thing I wonder about is why the BBC originally went for 26 half-hour episodes, rather than 13 one hour episodes. After all they were pretty quick to edit it into 13 episodes for rebroadcast. I also wonder if Brian & Michael Bakewell would have taken a different approach if they'd been commissioned to do it as 13 hour long episodes in the first place - certainly they'd have needed fewer cliff-hangers ...
The series was originally commissioned for what was a regular 30-minute drama slot. The success prompted the BBC to up-grade to the other regular slot which ran for 60 minutes. I would have certainly approached the division of the material quite differently had it been for hour-long episodes and the cliff-hangers' (many of them phoney or contrived) are now I think a blemish on the 60-minute versions.

Not that it matters after all these years, but the producer found my obsessive attitude towards the material during recording an utter trial (I was almost as defensive of Tolkien's text as Tolkien would have been!) and, as a result, I was not consulted about the amalgamation of the episodes - which I assume was done by the producer with, possibly, the assistance of Michael Bakewell.

This was ironic since I was commissioned to create the original 26 episode structure and was given credit for that work in addition to that for the episodes I dramatised, but the structuring of the 13 hour repeat was carried out without my involvement! The dramatisation as it was originally intended to be heard can, in fact, no longer be heard!!

Meanwhile, my article on the series The Ring Goes Ever On has now got its illustrations back and will be expanded as soon as I have time.
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Old 02-26-2008, 08:09 PM   #74
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Listening for Today

Well, Frodo made it to Crickhollow. I realized how the script was adapted by eliminating the scene with the Elves in Woody End and transitioning after the appearance of the Black Rider the 1st time, to the short-cut and then ending up at Farmer's Maggot. This for me made more sense and I much prefer this adaptation to the one on the movie.

In both versions I miss the running in with the Elves and the conversation that occurs since Gildor sends out messengers that have to run into Aragorn/Dunedain, Elrond at Rivendell. But one cannot have everything one wants.

One of the things that I noticed was the difference between Khamal's voice at Bag End and the Witch King's voice. The voice of Khamal is more along the lines of what I imagine the Black Riders voice to be, whereas the Witch King sounds normal to me. I'd be interested to hear if that was a conscience choice or was it just the way it came out? What do others think of this difference?

Again, I love the use of the UT with the Hunt for the Ring with the Nazgul finding Grima. I also loved in this section today the actor's voice who did Farmer Maggot. I could picture Farmer Maggot in my mind's eye as I listened to him.

Sure made the drive home go by with far more enjoyment! Not sure how my local PBS radio station will like it though as I'll be listening to the adaptation while their drive is going on (I donate at a certain point each year so it won't take away a donation).
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:46 AM   #75
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Meanwhile, my article on the series The Ring Goes Ever On has now got its illustrations back and will be expanded as soon as I have time.
Thanks so much for reinstating the pictures - I especially love the little one from RT about the first episode: seeing that instantly transports me back to March 1981.

Thanks for the link here to the Downs too
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:55 AM   #76
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I have a question on pronunciation - I noticed that Sméagol and Déagol were spoken as "Smeegol" and "Deegol". I was under the impression that the vowels are separated into two syllables, as in the movie - Sme-a-gol, De-a-gol. As I read that Christopher Tolkien had given guidelines for pronunciation, which is correct?

As to Peter Woodthorpe's Gollum voice - it's perfect! I love the way he emphasizes the "g" with a swallowing sound when it's at the beginning of a word.
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:56 AM   #77
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Thanks so much for reinstating the pictures - I especially love the little one from RT about the first episode: seeing that instantly transports me back to March 1981.
As you probably know, Eric Fraser drew 26 little head-pieces for the 'Radio Times' billings during the run of the series, although a couple never appeared due to industrial action which meant that the magazine for those weeks appeared only in a very basic, unillustrated, 'emergency' format.

One or two these pictures (which have something in common with Fraser's LOTR decorations for the Folio Society's 'Hobbit' and 'Rings') were used on/in the cassette/cd packaging for a while, but are largely unknown; and - in the case of the ones never printed - unseen!

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Thanks for the link here to the Downs too
My pleasure. I am really enjoying reliving that journey of so long ago... Just hope my presence on the forum doesn't inhibit free-speech! Believe me, after 27 years, I am beyond taking offence!
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:59 AM   #78
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Just hope my presence on the forum doesn't inhibit free-speech!
Not at all! Actually, I think it may serve as an incentive to really dig into this discussion. After all, it gives us a wonderful "getting-to-know-an-insider" feeling...
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:01 AM   #79
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I have a question on pronunciation - I noticed that Sméagol and Déagol were spoken as "Smeegol" and "Deegol". I was under the impression that the vowels are separated into two syllables, as in the movie - Sme-a-gol, De-a-gol. As I read that Christopher Tolkien had given guidelines for pronunciation, which is correct?

As to Peter Woodthorpe's Gollum voice - it's perfect! I love the way he emphasizes the "g" with a swallowing sound when it's at the beginning of a word.
Not sure which is 'correct'; certainly, we followed Christopher Tolkien's pronunciation at the time...

Yes, Woodthorpe is a marvel! I think one or two members of the cast were seriously worried about being upstaged (!), but he fully embodied Gollum and, despite Andy Serkis' remarkable film performance, Woodthorpe's voice is still the one I hear when I read the book...
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:17 AM   #80
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Not sure which is 'correct'; certainly, we followed Christopher Tolkien's pronunciation at the time...
.
Back on 5th March 1981 (as Brian must remember) there was a bit of an event to launch the series at the Church House Bookshop. I've heard a recording, with Brian, Michael Bakewell, Penny Leicester, Peter Woodthorpe (who did a fantastic live performance of Gollum), David Collings, Stephen Oliver - & I think Raynor Unwin & Eric Fraser were also present....

Anyway, at the event Brian played the first few minutes of the tape Christopher recorded as a pronunciation guide, & Christopher points out there that the correct pronunciation is the one used in the series (& by Tolkien himself) - ie 'Smeegol' & 'Deegol' as opposed to 'Smay-a-gol' & 'Day-a-gol'.
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