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Old 01-23-2008, 12:22 PM   #1
Sauron the White
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Think about it. Please.

Something to think about that may spur an interesting discussion.

I am not trying to be controversial or provoking anyone or causing trouble. I am trying to get at what I think is a very central fact about the Barrows-Downs as a place of discussion.

I wonder... if you took any film(s) which is/are based on a well known and well loved book such as LOTR... and that book had a significant following of intelligent people such as the folks here with LOTR ... and they could have years to watch and rewatch the film(s) over and over and over again .... and if they could read the thoughts, writings, articles, journal entries, musings and books of others on the subject of adapting the books into film(s) .... and many of those same people had some sort of axe to grind, some sort of personal antagonism towards the film(s) ....... and many of those same people are considered experts in that field and have spent decades honing their knowledge and espertise...

I wonder if any film or set of films could stand up to that sort of examination for that length of time in that sort of detail under those conditions?

I mention this because it often strikes me as a very unusual dynamic that exists here. It is obvious beyond debate that the LOTR films were wildly successful in terms of making money, professional critical reviews and industry awards. It looks like some 500 million people truly enjoyed those films. And that does not even count the DVD sales or those who did not buy but have seen them either on TV or through others copies. But the opinion of the public, the opinion of the critics, the opinion of industry professionals as expressed in awards of excellence,
... all that combined seems to not even make a dent in the collective opinion of the Purist community. In fact, when I or others bring up these facts, they are treated like so much flotsam and jetsam. Its like "the world can go to blazes for all I care and I do not care one iota if almost everyone stands against me".

Everyone has a right to their own opinion. No problem there.

But this situation brings up the old story about the proud mother who went to see her son playing in the marching band in a holiday parade. As the band came by, her son was the sole member marching out of step with every single other member of the band. A few people around here noticed and commented on it. But before they could say a word to her, she puffed out her proud chest and remarked loudly "everyone is out of step but my Johnny".

Do you think she was correct?
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Old 01-23-2008, 12:42 PM   #2
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I think that I stated my reasons for being nitpicky regarding the movies, my observations regarding the Downs' culture and other wonderous wit and wisdom can be found here, and so will be lazy and point all there.

That all said, you also have to factor in the boredom factor. It's definitely more fun to post here than in the Books (at least to me). And with you objecting, I can post even more, thereby avoiding even more work. If the movies were never made, I would have targeted something else, maybe in Mirth, but as we have the Movies...

And the question regarding Johnny is relative. When you drive down the road, are you moving or are the trees/houses? Depends on your point of view. Isn't there another story about an elephant walking by a fence with a hole in it, and being observed at different angles by different persons? Each was right, but not seeing the whole, none could not understand the others' observations. Another favorite is two friends on opposite sides of a street, arguing to the point of violence regarding the color of a pedestrian's hat - one said "Green!" while the other said, "Red!". It's not until the person turns 180 degrees do the friends realize that the hat was red on one side and green on the other. Both were right but didn't consider that the other's point of view may be equality valid for a reason yet discovered.

Hope we can do that.
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:16 PM   #3
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alatar - thanks for responding.... I did go to the link and found that you said this in response to another question from me months ago

Quote:
A certain set of all the posting members here do not like the Jackson films. So? A set of the same do not like going to the cinema, would rather be along with a book than at a pub, and can type much faster in a nonnative language than I can in my own. Is that not their right to be thus?
That I get. Clearly. But what mystifies me is why would someone who does not like movies, prefers books, etc. even come to the Movies section here and bother posting? With you its killing hours off work. At least thats what you humorously claim. And I am all in favor of putting it to the boss. Is that what is happening here? Lot of people getting paid to one job but goofing off having a fun time of it? Its got to be more than that. I hope. Or maybe western civilization is indeed a lot worse off than we thought.

Using myself as an example. I am not a video gamer. Have never played any of them and have zero interest in ever doing so. Thats probably because I am old and they did not have them when we were being chased by the neighborhood dinosaurs. But I do not go to game sections of boards and pick fights with people and rant and rave about how empty or meaningless their lives are or criticize their entertainment of choice. That would make no sense to me to do that.

What is so unique about the books/movies crowd here that the dynamic is so totally different? People seem to enjoy rattling the others trees to see what shakes out.
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:40 PM   #4
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That I get. Clearly. But what mystifies me is why would someone who does not like movies, prefers books, etc. even come to the Movies section here and bother posting?
That does sound insane. Don't know if these people truly 'hate' the movies. Maybe they do and feel it their duty to let the world know. As below, when you mention game sites, I've read a few posts on said forums (to help my son) and it seems there much time is wasted telling people how wonderfully tough one is. Surely if someone studied this, they'd find that some need is being met (obviously).

Quote:
With you its killing hours off work. At least thats what you humorously claim. And I am all in favor of putting it to the boss. Is that what is happening here? Lot of people getting paid to one job but goofing off having a fun time of it? Its got to be more than that. I hope. Or maybe western civilization is indeed a lot worse off than we thought.
Okay, so I may be fibbing regarding that reason. Could it be that my posts in the Books section go unanswered? Do others observe the same, and so, knowing that the movies, being a different and visual medium, produce a more visceral experience, and so attract more rabid posters like myself, which then at least gets some response? If a post falls in the woods...

I'd also consider ease of access. Some may be put off by the Books, but everyone has watched movies, and so may feel more comfortable posting here, especially if you can find something that at least a few others find contentious. Could it be age related? As more and more of the world is video (i.e. YouTube), do our younger members find more interest in the movies, as that's what they live with 24/7?

I'd hate to blow my cover, but I spend more time reading the books than critiquing the movies.

Quote:
Using myself as an example. I am not a video gamer. Have never played any of them and have zero interest in ever doing so. Thats probably because I am old and they did not have them when we were being chased by the neighborhood dinosaurs. But I do not go to game sections of boards and pick fights with people and rant and rave about how empty or meaningless their lives are or criticize their entertainment of choice. That would make no sense to me to do that.
Sense? What sense does anything make?

Quote:
What is so unique about the books/movies crowd here that the dynamic is so totally different? People seem to enjoy rattling the others trees to see what shakes out.
Must be the medium. Hmmm...
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
What is so unique about the books/movies crowd here that the dynamic is so totally different? People seem to enjoy rattling the others trees to see what shakes out.
Well otherwise you'd have some very boring discussions. If everyone agreed with each other you'd have a thread that went like this:

"Don't you think the way PJ altered Gimli's character was brilliant?"
"Yeah."
"Oh absolutely."
"For sure!"

And yes of course that's an exaggeration but still, it would be far less interesting than when you get people with completely opposing points of view trying to get their opinions across. Sometimes that can get a little rowdy as we have seen before. Sometimes because it is admittedly fun to throw out a comment you know will make someone else explode, but mostly just because people are so impassioned about a particular point.

You compare the situation to that of getting involved in video game discussions when you have no interest in video games, but that's not an accurate analogy. Fans of the books have a vested interest in the films because if they were good there would be another medium the story was presented in for them to enjoy. They are interested to see how the story has been translated across media and then they are interested in they whys and hows of why that translation did or did not work.
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:53 PM   #6
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Sauron,

I have said this before, and I will say it again, I am a fan of the movies. I own all three of them, and I look forward to seeing The Hobbit once it gets released. But I was a fan of Tolkien and the books long before the movies were made. My gripe has always been and always will be with the tampering of the characters that were created by Tolkien that was committed by Jackson and crew. None of it was necessary. I have no doubt in my mind that had they remained true to the characters that they would not have lost one single audience member or award. In fact, I know of some book fans that did NOT go and see the second and third movies BECAUSE of the change in character they saw in the first installment, so there is at least anecdotal evidence that they actually lost some viewers by not sticking to the characters as envisioned by Tolkien. And lest we forget, it was BECAUSE of the tremendous support of the fans of the books that got the rest of the world so excited and willing to part with their money and time to see the movies in the first place.

Merry
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Old 01-23-2008, 02:00 PM   #7
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In my opinion, the biggest factor is that almost everyone who posts here has both read the books and seen the movies. If one had done only the one or the other, it would be boring to post about it, as there would be no comparison.

The other reason is psychological - the level of satisfaction or disappointment with any given event is directly connected to the level of expectation. You see, for the many of us who read the books long before the movies came out, the hype was extremely great - jacked up by the media and those interested in getting us all into the theaters. So expectations ran very high.

If the movies had been only poor, there would have been little to discuss. (After all, you don't see many people posting about the rather subpar animated movies - they are mentioned only very occasionally here.) But there was much that was wonderful about PJ's products, especially visually and as concerns the music. The dichotomy between wonderful aspects and inappropriate changes often shows up with repeated watching for some people; others are disappointed with the changes at first, then get used to some.

At any rate, anyone here at the Downs is welcome to discuss both movies and books positively or negatively - or both all mixed up. If we all had the same opinion, it would be boring! Two things are important in our discussions - give good reasons for your opinion, then you may encourage those who think differently to think more deeply. But if they stick to their own opinion, let it go. We are all here for fun - don't take yourself too seriously.

After all, we are not in an army - all of you Johnnies and Janes can march any way you want to! Just don't try to trip the others...
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Old 01-23-2008, 02:02 PM   #8
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I'm not sure the video game analogy works because while you might never play video games, everyone watches films.

But that kind of illustrates the point following on now...

Tolkien fans, myself included, are Nerds (or Geeks or whatever is correct these days). And nerds are probably the biggest pedants you are ever likely to meet. Nothing is quite so enjoyable as proving your mastery of utterly trivial facts or winning an inconsequential argument about Balrog wings. It's also very important to make sure all the other fans know just how cool you are by making a big noise about dissing all the right things to diss and having all the right editions and not opening the packaging and so on and so forth. Rather like Comic Book Guy off The Simpsons.

It's something shared not just by Tolkien fans but also by fans of a hundred and one other things e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, and so on...

And I say that with complete honesty, thinking about the hours I've wasted on Facebook doing the Lord of the Rings trivia challenge, the vast amounts of cash I've splurged on Tolkien stuff and the way I secretly hope someone will see my Tolkien Society badge when I'm haunting the sci-fi section in Waterstones...



We do it because it's fun and it's just part of the territory of being a nerdy fan. I do it even though I enjoyed the films so much I bought around 100 of the action figures.

"Worst episode ever..."
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Old 01-23-2008, 02:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sauron the White View Post
What is so unique about the books/movies crowd here that the dynamic is so totally different? People seem to enjoy rattling the others trees to see what shakes out.
Perhaps we, both book and movie fans, are desperately hopeful of finding the entwives and believe they can be found if we could only tease out the right leaf or blossom, never while really thinking that they can be found?
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Old 01-23-2008, 03:01 PM   #10
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A heartfelt thank you to all here who posted their thoughts and feelings. It does help me understand.

What about the idea that I put forth that no film or series of films could stand the continual and longterm scrutiny that is given by the Tolkien community to the LOTR films? Is that valid? Is there truth to it?

Here is how I put it in my opening post:

I wonder... if you took any film(s) which is/are based on a well known and well loved book such as LOTR... and that book had a significant following of intelligent people such as the folks here with LOTR ... and they could have years to watch and rewatch the film(s) over and over and over again .... and if they could read the thoughts, writings, articles, journal entries, musings and books of others on the subject of adapting the books into film(s) .... and many of those same people had some sort of axe to grind, some sort of personal antagonism towards the film(s) ....... and many of those same people are considered experts in that field and have spent decades honing their knowledge and espertise...

I wonder if any film or set of films could stand up to that sort of examination for that length of time in that sort of detail under those conditions?
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Old 01-23-2008, 03:15 PM   #11
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Well, those who have looked into other forums - Harry Potter, for example - will notice the fanatic attention given to details there. And of course there is discussion of various film versions of Jane Austen's novels, to mention other literary adaptions of well-loved books. I have participated in discussions of the latter, and they go into character changes for better or for worse - though they tend to be rather more civilized than the discussions I've looked into briefly on Potter forums. Then, that could be simply a matter of age and maturity...

Perhaps some of you who know Potter forums can share your experiences there?
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Old 01-23-2008, 03:41 PM   #12
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Estelyn... I am not a Potter fan but is not a huge difference the fact that the movies were made with the support and input of the author J. K. Rowling? And would not her participation in the movies somewhat mitigate the level of criticism directed at the movies?

I wonder about other beloved books that were made like LOTR - without the input of the author.

Are there OZ people who are huge fans of the books but who are somewhere still complaining about how Judy Garland was just too old for Dorothy..... the addition of those songs which were not in the book ..... the change of color from silver to red for the all important slippers ..... or how they changed the essential character of one character or another .... and lets not forget about all the stuff they left out like the Winkies ... or even worse added that was not in the book.

I wonder if when the OZ people talk with each other or get together do they still complain about those things?

I wonder if there are Margaret Mitchell fans who love the book but find fault with the film GONE WITH THE WIND? I don't think she wrote the screenplay.

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Old 01-23-2008, 04:03 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sauron the White View Post
I wonder if any film or set of films could stand up to that sort of examination for that length of time in that sort of detail under those conditions?

I mention this because it often strikes me as a very unusual dynamic that exists here. It is obvious beyond debate that the LOTR films were wildly successful in terms of making money, professional critical reviews and industry awards. It looks like some 500 million people truly enjoyed those films. And that does not even count the DVD sales or those who did not buy but have seen them either on TV or through others copies. But the opinion of the public, the opinion of the critics, the opinion of industry professionals as expressed in awards of excellence,
... all that combined seems to not even make a dent in the collective opinion of the Purist community. In fact, when I or others bring up these facts, they are treated like so much flotsam and jetsam. Its like "the world can go to blazes for all I care and I do not care one iota if almost everyone stands against me".

Everyone has a right to their own opinion. No problem there.

But this situation brings up the old story about the proud mother who went to see her son playing in the marching band in a holiday parade. As the band came by, her son was the sole member marching out of step with every single other member of the band. A few people around here noticed and commented on it. But before they could say a word to her, she puffed out her proud chest and remarked loudly "everyone is out of step but my Johnny".

Do you think she was correct?

Well...I'd say that Johnny's mother was quite wrong. If she really loved her Johnny, she'd be willing to see his faults and exhort him to do better next time. She'd criticize him, not out of spite or venom, but out of her love for him, and her steadfast belief in his true potential.

I find fault with the movies because I love them. And because I can't hurt their feelings (if only because movies don't HAVE feelings).
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:56 AM   #14
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(After all, you don't see many people posting about the rather subpar animated movies - they are mentioned only very occasionally here.)
Don't get me started...

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Originally Posted by Gwathagor
Well...I'd say that Johnny's mother was quite wrong. If she really loved her Johnny, she'd be willing to see his faults and exhort him to do better next time. She'd criticize him, not out of spite or venom, but out of her love for him, and her steadfast belief in his true potential.
Not sure that I agree. My kids eventually will conform to the world; one day, the clothes that they wear to school will become super-important, and Dad will be embarrassing them when he steps out to get the paper in shorts and long black socks.

Conformity. Sure, when you're in the band, your job is to march to the beat. But when you're not 'on the job,' hopefully you feel free enough choose your own steps. "Me too," is boring.

Another point: My feelings regarding the movies haven't changed since I've watched the EE DVDs the second time. With all of my quibbling and nitpicking, I like them no more or less, regardless of the number of faults that I find with PJ's works.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:43 AM   #15
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Whoa...I'm not preaching slavish conformity to the world. Not by a long shot. No sir.
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Old 01-24-2008, 12:49 PM   #16
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It's hard to believe, but there are other books made into movies out there. Yes, I too was shocked when I learned this, and have started to consider that there just might be a world outside Tolkien...maybe one day I even go there.

This article bears somewhat on our books versus movies discussion. There's more here as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A somewhat relevant quote
Why do people melt down when their favorite book becomes a movie? David Shumway, the director of the Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University, has a theory.

"People freak out because they become emotionally invested in the experience of reading the book," he says. "At best, people deeply attached to a book are likely to feel good about the film if it helps them to relive their reading experience.... At worst, the movie will feel like a travesty of the book because its interpretation is different or because it leaves out (and all movies of books have to leave much out) what the reader likes best about the book."
Maybe it's not just us Downers?
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Old 01-24-2008, 12:53 PM   #17
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alatar - I am sure you and the article you cited is correct. Which is why I asked yesterday about the OZ people. Do you think they still are complaining about that 1939 film which aged Dorothy by at least six years, changed the color of the slippers from silver to red, left out the Winkies, and added all the songs and other stuff which was not in the book?

We know that five years is not enough time to let the water pass under the bridge but is seventy years long enough?
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Old 01-24-2008, 01:31 PM   #18
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alatar - I am sure you and the article you cited is correct. Which is why I asked yesterday about the OZ people. Do you think they still are complaining about that 1939 film which aged Dorothy by at least six years, changed the color of the slippers from silver to red, left out the Winkies, and added all the songs and other stuff which was not in the book?
Different times. Today any knight, knave or fool (like me) with a keyboard and internet access can expound ad infinitum about topics both great and small. Guessing if 'Oz' were released today, you'd get similar (maybe not the same) carping. Books, like their readers, are individuals, and so may garner individual responses when made into movies.

Quote:
We know that five years is not enough time to let the water pass under the bridge but is seventy years long enough?
Not for me, not until seven times seventy...

Aren't people still criticizing ancient religious texts? People still believe in astrology, even though the inverse-square law of gravitation has been around for 300+ years.

Guess some things just take time to get out of our systems. Maybe in a decade or two when the new movies are made, I'll give up my complaints and move on to fresh meat.
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Old 01-24-2008, 01:34 PM   #19
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Maybe it's not just us Downers?
Noes! You means we Downers isn't as unique and witty and clevers as we thinks we is?
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Old 01-24-2008, 01:59 PM   #20
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alatar, thank you for those interesting links! I read the articles with great enjoyment, especially the comments on the Pride and Prejudice movie, as I'm one of the enthusiastic readers who watches the film versions very closely. (They mentioned only the Hollywood movie, not the one and only visual interpretation - the BBC series.) And of course the book is better!! After all, the readers' taste in men is different - I can imagine Mr. Darcy to look exactly as I want him to!

Oh, and any article that manages to use "persnickety" - one of my favorite words! - has my full approval.

I do not agree with the author of the second linked article on the subject of the LotR movie being better than the book, but there's no accounting for tastes, as my old Gaffer would say...
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Old 01-24-2008, 02:09 PM   #21
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I do not agree with the author of the second linked article on the subject of the LotR movie being better than the book, but there's no accounting for tastes, as my old Gaffer would say...
Agreed. Like stated, watch LotR with the sound off. You tend not to get as choked up. Can you read LotR (or any book) with the 'sound off?' Is this the difference?
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Old 01-24-2008, 02:25 PM   #22
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Wouldn't watching LOTR without the sound be a bit like trying to read the books with one eye closed wearing very dark sunglasses? Its just not the same complete experience.

I did read the second linked article where the author says the book LOTR was not as good as the film. Again, you cannot compare apples and cinderblocks so I do not join here on that. I will say that I once read the book FOREST GUMP and then saw the movie. No comparison. The book was racist and offensive in places. The film was uplifting and life affirming.

So there is something to all of this.................


I just am not sure what it is.
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Old 01-24-2008, 03:27 PM   #23
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The best learning occurs when you bring people who have different opinions, personalities, morals...etc together and get them discussing about a topic.

"Group work" is something that is used in a lot of classrooms (at least in the States, I don't want to speak for others). The groups that create the best products are not the ones that all agree and say what a great idea this is. They might all get along and play nicely but they most likely won't have the best finished product, because of the lack of diverse opinions. Where if you put a group together where the people are almost completely opposite (as far as opinions, morals...etc) they might not be best buddies, but they will have a finished product that tells the full story, not just one side of it.

I don't know why either, and maybe it's just a human thing, why we obsess with getting a clear, correct answer. It would probably make me live longer if everyone would just agree with me ( ), but not everything needs one "correct" answer, one "correct" definition. The great thing about interpretting literature, movies, or even history, is it's all about personal taste. Some are going to like it, some are not. Tolkien had his fair share of critics, I disagree with them, but there have been several who I think make good supportive arguments for feeling the way they do (I might get hung for saying this but The Silmarillion is giant bore to me). Personally, I enjoyed all the movies (and yes I mean that), but I will be blunt, I don't care if 500 million people and film critics thought these were the best things since sliced bread. If I don't like something with the movies, I'll say it.

In this forum, we have people from around the entire world, and I'm sure I can find one thing I disagree on with every member. Raynor, Mith, Matthew, davem, Lal, Nogrod, Thinlo, Sauce...the list goes on of fellow members I've had little disagreements with. However, just because we all disagree, does not mean we can't play nicely.
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Old 01-25-2008, 03:27 PM   #24
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In searching for other information, I came across three articles in The Encyclopedia of Arda. They compare the movies to the book, doing so not because they disapprove of the movies, but to help those who saw them without being familiar with Tolkien's books.

Here's a passage that fits into this discussion:
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From viewers who have never read the original books, the response seems to be almost universally positive. For those of us who know Tolkien's tales well, though, while we can certainly enjoy the movie on its own level too, it's probably true to say that there's a general sense of discomfort at its distance from the original work. It's beyond the aims of this article to try to judge the rights and wrongs of such changes, but they've generated such a response that it would be remiss not to comment on them, however briefly.

At one extreme of this argument is the view that sees the movie of The Two Towers purely as a work by Peter Jackson and his colleagues. This view was succinctly expressed by the commentator Mark Lawson in his column for The Guardian newspaper. Writing of negative responses to The Fellowship of the Ring, he expressed the view that 'This hostility to interpretation is anti-cinematic. The point of movies is to rip up the words and reassemble them as pictures which may - which should - differ in key details.' It has to be said that - at least in a general sense - he is absolutely right about this. One recent popular example of this is the adaptation of Ted Hughes' wonderful fable The Iron Man, which was turned into an animated feature film, The Iron Giant, in 1999. That film jettisoned almost every character and situation from the original book, deleted its entire second half, relocated the action in time and in space: in fact, it fundamentally modified the original in almost every way, and yet the result was a charming and engaging tale in its own right (to the extent that visitors to the Internet Movie Database consider it the 198th best movie ever made, at least at the time of writing). So, there clearly isn't anything intrinsically 'wrong' about making radical changes like this.

But this freedom of interpretation must surely be valid only up to a point. If we were to see a film version of Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending, say, it's hard to imagine the critics accepting that 'reassembly' in a positive light. When Thomas Bowdler attempted to revise and adapt Shakespeare's works to his contemporary (early nineteenth century) audience, his reward was to be immortalised by the scornful word 'bowdlerise'. So, there is a line beyond which an adapter strays at their peril, at least for some exceptional works.

Of course it would be preposterous to compare Tolkien to Shakespeare (or Peter Jackson to Thomas Bowdler!), but it can be argued that his work has a particular exceptional quality of its own. Tolkien is unique in that his stories take place in a fully realised universe, and one that (to a great extent) pre-existed the stories themselves. The Lord of the Rings is an historical novel, and the trivial fact that its history is a fictional one is really beside the point. Its consistent adherence to its own underlying reality is a key (perhaps the key) strength of the book. Even the tiniest of changes within the story can potentially have profound effects on the fabric of its universe, and it's that universe, as much as the stories he set in it, that is Tolkien's true legacy. Perhaps that consideration can help define what's a reasonable change to the original story - the extent to which it enhances or diminishes the broader tapestry into which the story is woven.
For those who would like to read the comparisons, here are the links: A Movie-goer's Guide: FotR, TTT, RotK
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:00 PM   #25
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We had a discussion a while back on a decision the makers of the Middle Earth on-line game had made, to allow 'interracial' marriage & gay relationships in their Middle-earth, & whether there was line which shouldn't be crossed as regards what should & should not be allowed - or rather what could be allowed in to any manifestation of Tolkien's world, if it was to remain in any way faithful to the original.

http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?t=13903

Can an adaptor of a secondary world into another form/media do just anything they want, or should they stay within the limits set by the creator? If Jackson had introduced aeroplanes or guns into 'his' Middle-earth, would that have been acceptable 'because books & movies are different things', or should there have been a line drawn somewhere to keep the movies 'in the spirit' of Tolkien? And if you believe that there should have been such a line (wherever you'd have drawn it) aren't you inviting a comparison between the book & film & admitting that the book in some way determines what the film can & cannot depict?
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:28 PM   #26
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.... and many of those same people had some sort of axe to grind, some sort of personal antagonism towards the film(s)
There you're being unfair. I had no axe to grind about the movies: I anticipated them eagerly, and nobody wanted them to succeed artistically more than I. I was even prepared to discount the rumors that leaked from the set like Wizard-fu and the Round Spiked Wheelie Dealie. I really, really looked forward to them: and I was let down. I realize you are one of those who want to detach film adaptations from the originals, to stand completely on their own (although there are elements where the films fail by themselves without external reference); but for me they always were and are a derivative extension of the books, and cannot be (in my mind) separated from them any more than a finger from a hand.

I love movies, and I have (I think) pretty good standards of judgment. Again, PJ disappointed me: for all his admitted logistical brilliance in putting it together, as a writer and director he proved to be hamhanded, unsubtle, excessive, and self-indulgent. A second-rate Spielberg.

Consider for a moment how, say, Kurosawa would have done it! Or John Ford. Or even Coppola Or or or.


(BTW, GWTW was an improvement on the book because, face it, Mitchell's novel was a potboiler. If written today it would have Fabio on the cover).
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Old 01-26-2008, 09:14 AM   #27
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from the link privided by Estelyn

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This view was succinctly expressed by the commentator Mark Lawson in his column for The Guardian newspaper. Writing of negative responses to The Fellowship of the Ring, he expressed the view that 'This hostility to interpretation is anti-cinematic. The point of movies is to rip up the words and reassemble them as pictures which may - which should - differ in key details.' It has to be said that - at least in a general sense - he is absolutely right about this.
I agree with the statement from Mr. Lawson. That should surprise nobody here. Many here will attempt to take the air out of such a charge claiming that they love movies and are not anti-cinematic but at the same time they then take the approach often expressed here - and most lately by WCHicklin as follows

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I realize you are one of those who want to detach film adaptations from the originals, to stand completely on their own (although there are elements where the films fail by themselves without external reference); but for me they always were and are a derivative extension of the books, and cannot be (in my mind) separated from them any more than a finger from a hand.
I am afraid that this is like being a little bit pregnant or partly dead. It either is or it is not. Either you can separate the two and treat them differently or you cannot. To attempt to apply the rules, characteristics, and qualities of a book to the cinema - something that is clearly not a book - is indeed anti-cinematic because it denies the essence of what that medium is. I am not saying this is a prejudice or bias or something evil, merely a state of mind that dominates the persons opinions.

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Consider for a moment how, say, Kurosawa would have done it! Or John Ford. Or even Coppola Or or or.
Regarding Kurosawa - I have seen maybe eight or ten films of his and am not an expert so I cannot specualte upon this. As for John Ford, I think I have seen nearly all of his talkies, some of his silents, and have read at least four books on his career. Perhaps you know more about John Ford and film than I do but I have absolutely no idea under the stars how he would have handled LOTR. None at all. Do you? And what would you base it on.

Same with Coppola.

And what about William Wyler? D.W. Griffith? Fritz Lang? Frank Capra? Victor Fleming? David Lean? Charles Chaplin? George Cukor? Sidney Lumet? Mike Nichols? Walter Hill? Clint Eastwood?

You might as well print the directory to the Directors Guild and start speculating.

Such a statement might provoke a far different interesting discussion but is meaningless as far as shedding any light on the discussion at hand.

The most important line in the article from the Encyclopedia of Arda is the following

Quote:
From viewers who have never read the original books, the response seems to be almost universally positive.


If JRRT sold 40 to 45 million books before the films came out, that represents one of ten who bought tickets to the films. Thats a ratio of nine out of ten who probably saw the films cold without reading the books. "Almost universally positive" for 9 out of 10 viewers is about as good as it is ever gets.

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Old 01-26-2008, 11:09 AM   #28
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Stray thoughts....

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If JRRT sold 40 to 45 million books before the films came out, that represents one of ten who bought tickets to the films. Thats a ratio of nine out of ten who probably saw the films cold without reading the books. "Almost universally positive" for 9 out of 10 viewers is about as good as it is ever gets.
Interesting statistics, but another question concerning numbers intrigues me even more. Of those 9 viewers who were not previously familiar with the books, how many then went on to purchase and read Lord of the Rings and/or others of Tolkien's works? How many of those filmgoers just read the work, perhaps not even finishing it, and tossed it to the side? How many, in contrast, gave the book a serious read and then went on to study other works by Tolkien, perhaps joining Mythopoeia, soberly posting on message boards like these, even deciding to go back to the "sources" that inspired Tolkien, in effect becoming what even Davem and Mister Hickli would call a "serious" reader of the books.

I really don't care how much money the movies made. Sometimes I get tired of hearing all the pros and cons of books versus films and the hot air it engenders, especially since I am somewhere in the middle of that divide. But I would love to understand the impact the films had (and will have) in terms of leading people back to the books. Whether we like the films or detest them, how do we judge that influence in terms of the future? Could tomorrow's Flieger or Shippey or even the next medievalist who comes out with an amazing idea be someone who first got hooked on Tolkien because they sat in a theater and watched PJ's films? Perhaps such questions are totally irrelevant in judging the ultimate impact of the movies. But as someone who's been a Tolkien "bookie" for over forty years, and has seen a lot of ups and downs in the group of people who read the books, I think what has happened these past few years needs to be taken into account when judging exactly what PJ's "legacy" might be in terms of the Tolkien community.
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Old 01-26-2008, 11:38 AM   #29
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7th Age ..... You bring up an excellent point about the films bringing in new readers. Based on the sales figures for the four year period when the films were hot, it look like the number of copies of LOTR that were sold were four to five fold over the previous four years when there were no films around. That is indeed a whole slew of new readers.

I have a six year old grandson who watches these films with me whenever he comes over for weekends. He loves them and now asks more questions about them and the characters than can just be answered in the films. He is learning how to read and his main goal in that is to read the LOTR. He has already told me "Papa, the books are always better". Where he got that I have no idea. So maybe he will be in the next wave of JRRT academics twenty or thirty years from now.
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Old 01-26-2008, 04:33 PM   #30
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I am afraid that this is like being a little bit pregnant or partly dead. It either is or it is not. Either you can separate the two and treat them differently or you cannot.
A false dichotomy. Palpably false in this case since there is enormous commonality between the two: to wit, the story. To the extent there is commonality, they can be compared.

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To attempt to apply the rules, characteristics, and qualities of a book to the cinema - something that is clearly not a book - is indeed anti-cinematic because it denies the essence of what that medium is.
Not so. Your rule applies only to those qualities of film which are different from prose. But so long as both are narrative media there is considerable overlap. The distinction is this: film uses different techiniques, for example, to establish a character than prose fiction does. But nothing about the cinematic art mandates that the character so established be a different character! Similarly, nothing about the different means of telling a story necessitates telling a different story.
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Old 01-26-2008, 05:25 PM   #31
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WCH - its been a long time since I took afreshman course in Logic and learned all those names like Appeal to Authority, and False Dichotomy and all the other stuff that nobody in the real world uses outside of professors and attorneys. Thank you for reminding me that such arcane knowledge still exists.

Yeah and oranges and orange juice have a lot of overlap also. But they are not the same thing. They do not have the same qualities. The norms that you apply to judge one do not apply to the other. And there are hundreds of more examples just like that.

It is what it is. And it is not what it is not.

You simply do not want to stop comparing the books to the movies and use the criteria of what makes the books great in doing it.

Your complaint about the films should be directed to the afterlife in care of JRRT himself. None of this would come up and be discussed had he not sold those rights of his own free will and completely and totally gave up any involvement, input or control of any kind. If Peter Jackson desecrated the book LOTR then it was JRRT that gave him all the ungodly weapons to perform that unholy function.

Different scenes - different characters - a change of ones character - change in plot - changes in narrative - changes in anything you want to mention.... it was all given to New Line by JRRT himself.

Reminds me of what my father used to tell me when I blamed others for my troubles. "When you point the finger of blame at sombody else, there are three of your own fingers pointing right back at you. "
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Old 01-26-2008, 05:41 PM   #32
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Yeah and oranges and orange juice have a lot of overlap also. But they are not the same thing.
I still expect my orange juice to taste like it came from an orange, not from a grapefruit.
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Old 01-26-2008, 10:20 PM   #33
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If you buy an award winning orange juice that is #1 in the marketplace but you do not like the taste .... I wonder where the problem really lies?
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Old 01-26-2008, 10:32 PM   #34
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If you buy an award winning orange juice that is #1 in the marketplace but you do not like the taste .... I wonder where the problem really lies?
Certainly not with the individual who has his/her own personal tastes. I don't like wedding soup, and you can give me the opinions of 500 million people who adore wedding soup (among them several of the world's most prestigious taste testers), I still wouldn't like wedding soup...simple as that.

What you are essentially suggesting is a slave like obedience, and worship, of Peter Jackson because he directed 3 movies that millions adored and it won a lot of awards. Might as well start making robots of us all.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:33 AM   #35
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If you buy an award winning orange juice that is #1 in the marketplace but you do not like the taste .... I wonder where the problem really lies?

the reply from Boromir88

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Certainly not with the individual who has his/her own personal tastes. I don't like wedding soup, and you can give me the opinions of 500 million people who adore wedding soup (among them several of the world's most prestigious taste testers), I still wouldn't like wedding soup...simple as that.
Oh really? The problem lies with what then? Certainly not the maker of the juice which pleases an extremely wide audience and is very profitiable for that company. Certainly not with the orange juice experts who praise it and bestow their highest awards upon it.

Of course you have a right to like or not like anything you decide to and need not justify it or explain it. Films, juice and soup included.

But then lets not pretend that everyone else is marching out of step and you are not the exception to the rule.


Quote:
What you are essentially suggesting is a slave like obedience, and worship, of Peter Jackson because he directed 3 movies that millions adored and it won a lot of awards. Might as well start making robots of us all.
Not al all. Everyone is free to like or not like what they want to.

But again, look at the article that Estelyn quoted from Encyclopedia of Arda on the publics love of the movies and some book critics loathing of it:

Quote:
From viewers who have never read the original books, the response seems to be almost universally positive. For those of us who know Tolkien's tales well, though, while we can certainly enjoy the movie on its own level too, it's probably true to say that there's a general sense of discomfort at its distance from the original work.
You mention wedding soup. Fine - I understand that. Allow me my comparison - Coca cola soft drink. I hate the stuff. From my first taste as a little kid all the way through my mid life, I have abhored the stuff as swill. But I do accept a few undeniable facts of reality in this world.

Coke is the most popular soft drink on the planet selling more of its product than any other in countries all aroudn the world.
It is so popular that it is the single most recognizable brand name on the planet and its logo alone is valued at several billion dollars.
This soft drink which I find terrible tasting, is loved by hundreds of millions of people who have made the company that makes it a very rich one and its stockholders very happy with their investments.

But I still do not like it.

But I accept that I am the odd duck here. I accept that I am the one marching badly out of step. I accept that my tastes in this matter are different and out of sync with the vast majority of this world.

I do not attempt to rail against the Coca cola company and their product. I do not attempt to convert anyone to my anti-coke tastes. I do not go on any crusade to destroy their good name. I do not put forth my opinions on coke centered message boards and argue with its fans about the product.

I accept reality and acknowledge my that my tastes in this matter are the thing that prevents me from enjoying a product that so very many more people love.

But alas, this is this. This is not something else. This is the movies section of a Middle-earth discussion board. Not orange juice... not wedding soup... not soft drinks. So here is the on topic question that is at the heart of all this.

Is in depth knowledge about the actual writings of JRRT a help or a handicap in appreciating the movies of Peter Jackson? There is something to ponder.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:59 AM   #36
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Same old, same old, still going in circles. How many threads do I have to close before this topic is finally dead?

William, Sauron, I am closing this thread temporarily to prevent further hijacking. Take your differences to PM - you are monopolizing this discussion, thereby preventing others from posting. A lot of members prefer to avoid such animosity, and I would like to see others given a chance to post their opinions.

This could be an interesting thread - it started off well enough, but now it's in the same old rut again. I will open it within a day, and I expect the two of you to keep off it until at least ten other people have posted!!

You may not turn the Downs into your private playground - you are welcome to start a forum of your own where you can make the rules and post about your topics as much as you want! [end rant]
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Old 01-29-2008, 09:01 AM   #37
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Oh really? The problem lies with what then?~Sauron the White
You just answered my point.

A producer's job is to create a product that consumer's will like, will purchase, they're ultimate goal is to make a profit. If the producer has the #1 selling orange juice (or in this case makes 3 extremely successful movies), the producer has done his/her job.

But if a certain consumer does not like the orange juice, whatever their reasons be, then wouldn't the consumer have the right to say "Hey, I don't like this?" Is the producer going to care? Most likely not, if the producer is making a profit. Is the consumer going to care that he/she doesn't like the #1 selling orange juice? Most likely not, I would hope the consumer would get the orange juice they like.

Who is at fault? No one. The producers did their job. And if the consumers don't like it (even if it be one person) they're free to keep it to themselves, or share that displeasure with others...hence one purpose of a forum.
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Old 01-29-2008, 09:17 AM   #38
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But if a certain consumer does not like the orange juice, whatever their reasons be, then wouldn't the consumer have the right to say "Hey, I don't like this?"
Indeed they do have a right to say that.

However, what would happen if complaining once wasn`t good enough for them and they decided to repeat the complaint over and over again for the next seven years?

I`m guessing that they would end up in a padded cell.
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:41 PM   #39
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However, what would happen if complaining once wasn`t good enough for them and they decided to repeat the complaint over and over again for the next seven years?~Sir Crashalot
touchee...

But a little more seriously (or getting back to orange juice that is), if consumers for 7 years praise how great the best-selling orange juice is, than I would expect to see people complaining about it for 7 years. And if people gripe for 7 years, I expect to see others praising it for the same amount of time.

As one of my professor's liked to say "Opinions are like a circle, I call it 'The circle of opinions.' Someone says their opinion, anyone opposed to that opinion, should make their own opinion known. Based upon how well the 2nd person argues their opinion, the first person will change, adjust, or restate his/her opinion...and the circle continues. Do you now all see why I call it 'The circle of opinions'?"

I love your name by the way.
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Old 01-29-2008, 02:57 PM   #40
Mithalwen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Crashalot View Post
However, what would happen if complaining once wasn`t good enough for them and they decided to repeat the complaint over and over again for the next seven years?
But if people keep expecting you to like it and refuse to accept your complaint and continue to shove the stuff down your throat then you will complain again ... a simple preference will develop a mild aversion could turn in to loathing. Until recently I remembered quite likeing the films albeit with reservations now I have started to really dislike them... just shows how easily one can be turned in to a fundamentalist.... If you keep prodding the lion (with a stick with an 'orses 'ead 'andle) don't be suprised if it keeps waking up and roaring.

And I don't dislike films ... some of my favourite books have been turned in to fine films (eg The Age of Innocence) and some books have been really brought to life by intelligent television and film adaptations - I have just bought Cranford on the back of the superb tv adaptation and they did a sterling job of injecting drama series of mildly amusing anecdotes on smalltown life into a gloriously cast and enchanting series.

However The Lord of the Rings is not Cranford - a work that I, as a Lit graduate had heard of but not before read. The Lord of the Rings was voted book of the century in the UK before the films came out so I doubt that it being voted the nation's favourite book was due to the films alone - so why are the book people represented as a tiny minority "out of step".

The comparison is so manifestly unjust and disproportionate that it is bound to antagonise people and make their opinions extreme. This is not one person against the rest of the world.

I am pretty certain that more people went through the cinema doors becasue they were fans of Tolkien than becasue they were fans of the oeuvre of Peter Jackson. If people love the films well good luck to them.

I liked most of the costumes, and sets and props which were clearly made by people who loved middle earth, some of the cast I felt interpreted their characters well and there were some memorable moments - but as Rossini said of Wagner there were some terrible quarters of an hour. I know someone who slept for half an hour in the cinema and woke up for weather top. Noone I knew who saw the films without reading the books understood fully what was going on. Personally I found the CGI unconvincing and certainly unscary - my cousin and I laughed hysterically during the Shelob episodes (and she is usually terrified of spiders). I bought the Extended editions to see the cut scenes but I don't think I ever got round to watching them through .....not been motivated to get them back from the person I lent them through. When I have seen bits on TV they seem already a little dated.

They are better certainly than the animated version but I don't see why I have to be grateful to Peter Jackson, why he is the person through whose eyes I have to see Middle Earth? I have been seeing my own vision of Middle Eath in my mind's eye for over twenty years now. Peter Jackson has done ok out of it - I have spent my money on tickets and DVDs and well if it isn't universally liked, I am sure he is crying all the way to the bank.

I would like to have seen Boorman's version, I loved the radio version and really enjoyed London version of the musical. In twenty years no doubt someone else will make another film version ... maybe I will like that better (if I am still alive to see it) maybe not... It always strikes me that when something is really popular and loved and well known directors feel they have to hack around with it to make their mark. As a result what are among the worlds greatest plays and operas (I am thinking Mozart and Shakespeare) suffer some pretty bizarre treatments, which people go to because they love the language and the music and if htat means Tamino is turned into an asylum seeker so be it. Fortuanately Shakespeare and Mozart are greater than the directors and they survive the bad but are enhanced by the good interpretations. Tolkien I think is great enough to survive to and can take more than one interpretation.

People keep banging on about film being different, well fine but you can't have it both ways - if it is separate and different why do book lovers have to pay attention to something that is really peripheral to them?
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