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Old 04-11-2009, 10:05 AM   #241
davem
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Well, I return to this thread not to continue it - sadly personal commitments intervened & I wasn't able to continue running things & no-one else was able to take over. I'm back now just to point out that the latest issue of SFX magazine http://www.sfx.co.uk/page/sfx?entry=latest_issue has a very nice four-page spread on the series with at least one pic I haven't seen previously, showing the actors playing Merry, Legolas, Treebeard, Gimli & (I think) Pippin. Very positive review, but I'm not sure it includes any new info (well not new to readers of this thread & Brian's brilliant article on his site. Still, for fans of the series its a nice memento.
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Old 04-11-2009, 02:47 PM   #242
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It also has a picture of Ian Holm looking younger and uncannily like Martin Freeman, which is most interesting seeing as I'm still lobbying for him to do Bilbo in The Hobbit, when they get around to casting the film.

Oh, and a review of a book which may infuriate fellow haters of Tolkien-rip-off-writers
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Old 04-17-2009, 10:42 AM   #243
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Ah well I have listerned ot Mount Doom about 5 times this week so.... I should really do something about this ...
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Old 05-11-2009, 07:29 AM   #244
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The BBC radio adaptation is the definitive version of the story for me, this has been a very interesting thread to read so far, I hope it continues.
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Old 06-16-2009, 06:42 AM   #245
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I've recently been listening to the BBC recordings with a completely different aspect in mind. Those who know me won't be surprised that it involves the use of music - music as a narrative element, more specifically. I first listened to the whole German radio play, which uses music completely differently and has a style that is totally divergent from that of the English version.

I really like Stephen Oliver's compositions for the play. He manages to use instrumental music quite sparingly, mostly for introductions and transitions, and keeps it brief there. It rarely underlies narrative and dialogue, leaving the words to work their magic on their own. Most importantly, the melodies he wrote for numerous poems are frequently memorable and enjoyable to sing along, an aspect that is sadly missing in the German version, which has rather nondescript melodies.

For those interested in this aspect, there will be a chapter on the music of the BBC dramatisation in the upcoming book on music in Middle-earth, written by a musician who knows it well, having performed in the Cambridge Society's production of it.
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Old 11-01-2009, 05:35 AM   #246
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A few posts back I mentioned an article about the series in the magazine SFX - checking Brian's blog I find a link to the actual article, scans with pix - http://briansibleytheworks.blogspot....fadden-on.html .
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:38 PM   #247
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Praise Them With Great Praise!

I would just like to say a huge thank you to the people who took part in this thread, which I have just spent a massively enjoyable few hours reading. In particular Davem who began it and of course Brian Sibley for taking part in it. I have been a fan of the radio production since I first heard it when it was first re-broadcast in hour long episodes, and it led me to read the books, and other Tolkien works. I couldn't believe it when I got to the point where Brian started posting on it!

I had many favourite scenes from the series, but my particular favourite was in the episode 'The Breaking Of The Fellowship' when the three hunters, Aragorn, Legolas & Gimli, meet Eomer and his eored who have destroyed Saruman's orcs. The scene is brilliantly played by Robert Stephens, Douglas Livingstone and Anthony Hyde. Inevitably, all the dialogue from the book cannot be used but the selection of that which is used is perfect in getting the scene across. You can feel Aragorn growing in stature as he delivers the lines 'I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the elf-stone.....' and I particularly love the way the riders of Rohan burst into derisive laughter when Gimli says 'you have have heard them called halflings!'. I looked forward immensely to seeing the portrayal of that scene in the movie trilogy, but what a disappointment was in store!

Don't get me started on the movie trilogy though..all I will say is, what an opportunity missed...
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Old 03-01-2010, 12:28 PM   #248
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Thank you.. Now that is some encouragement to finish the job and maybe it will encourage some more participation.
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:18 AM   #249
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:54 AM   #250
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Stop making me feel bad you guys! "davem the silly hobbit started this affair, and davem had better finish it, or himself "...

We'd got to Episode 11, right? Two to go. I'll try for Saturday or Sunday.
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:24 AM   #251
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No I should have done more. Have really free loaded on this but have so enjoyed the ride.

What I find so amazing is that it stands so much relistening and that I keep hearing new things - thanks to a better player I have realised that the death of the fell beast is more gruesome in its sploshiness than any visual special effects!

Also, in contrast to so many contemporary programmes it assumes a certain intelligence and attention span on the part of the listener - there is very little extra explaining which is remarkable given it was designed to last half a year with no Iplayer to catch up on.

I have just treated myself to the 1967 adaptation of "The Forsyte Saga" - I have long loved the books and have always been told how wonderful the TV adaptation was. The modern one isn't in the same league - modern audiences must be spoonfed it seems...
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:01 PM   #252
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'Mount Doom'

Well, here we go at last with the penultimate episode: "Mount Doom" http://www.tolkienradio.com/mountdoom.html

Now, I will apologise firstly - this discussion will be divided up into sections, following the tracks on the cd. Please feel free to join in as we go, or wait till I've gotten around to posting on all seven tracks.

Don't know about anyone else but jumping into the series again at this point after such a long break was not a problem for me - I've listened to this series so many times over the years. The opening scenes, Frodo & Sam's escape from the Orcs (one gets such a strong sense that these Orcs are less the kind of monster depicted in the films & more the 'poor bloody infantry', driven, beaten, de'humanised' (if I can put it that way!). Sam's desperate attempts to lift Frodo's spirits,
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Never say die, Mr. Frodo, sir. That's what my old Gaffer would say, if he were here.
are heartbreaking because they are couched in such cliche - that's all he can manage. When we then get to eavesdrop on his real thoughts its almost too much (particularly when voiced by such a brilliant performer
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It looks every step of fifty miles, and that'll take a week, if it takes a day, with Mr. Frodo as he is. Well, it's got to be faced, Sam Gamgee. We'll never come back. At best our food will take us to our goal, and when we get there, w - we'll be alone, houseless, foodless, and in the middle of a terrible desert. That was the job I felt I had to do when I started: to help Mr. Frodo to the last step, and then die with him. Well, i - if that is the job, then I must do it. I wish Gandalf hadn't fallen in Moria! He would have done something.
. Sam's doing 'the job' now because that's what he has vowed to do - even though when he made the vow he didn't know what he was signing up for. And you can't help wondering how much of that desperate little speech Frodo actually heard. You get the sense that even if he didn't hear all of it he heard enough. Both of them know what the 'job will entail, & they don't have to say the words. Frodo makes a joke about Sam talking to himself.

Then we cut to another pair of suffering souls, equally bereft of hope. Don't know how the actors felt about this scene, but its a difficult one - as in the books it kind of comes out of the blue: suddenly there's romance in the air. Of course, we're in the final days (or hours), as it seems, of a hopeless war. The end is coming. Faramir simply tells Eowyn that he wants to spend the little time he has left with her because she is 'beautiful'. Now, that little episode handled badly would just be naff. In this case, the writers & the actors get it, & it works. The scene ends with a glimmer of hope, And that's vital at this point. Cutting away briefly from the darkness, the hopelessness, of Frodo & Sam's trek through Mordor to give our spirits a little lift before plunging us back into the Black Land is pure 'Tolkien'. And again, so much more in the spirit of the work than Jackson's effort - where (if I recall correctly) at this point we get the 'Captains of the West' planning 'A Diversion!' Jackson at this point offers his audience the 'hope' of seeing yet another big battle, while the adaptors here give us hope of something beyond. Its like Sam's glimpsing of the star in Mordor, or the scene at the cross-roads - 'They cannot conquer forever!'
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Old 03-14-2010, 06:57 AM   #253
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cont...

Tracks 2&3 take us to the halfway point of the episode. Frodo & Sam's trek through Mordor has come to its end & they have reached the Mountain. Gandalf, Aragorn & the Captains of the West have confronted the Mouth of Sauron. Again the 'limitations' of the medium have actually worked in favour of the story. We focus on the sufferings of Sam & Frodo, Sam's inner struggles against his own despair - which has become a desire to simply give in, & Frodo's focus on getting to the Mountain, even though he knows that if he actually gets there it will prove impossible to do the deed.

The Meeting with the Mouth is, again, far superior to the movie version. Jackson's focus on visuals to tell the story means that the tension of the confrontation is lost, the hopelessness of the West's cause is brought home & we see the mind & plans of Sauron clearly through the words & attitudes of the 'Herald'.

Finally, we have the return of Gollum, & all the pieces are in place. The Lords of the West are at the point of ultimate defeat as the hordes of Mordor surge forth, & Frodo, Sam & Gollum are at the entrance to the Sammath Naur.
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Old 03-14-2010, 03:24 PM   #254
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concluded...

The Ring is Mine..... Indeed. Now, I don't know how well others feel the climax at the Sammah Naur is done. Frodo seems completely intoxicated by the Ring once he has claimed it fro his own, so that he does nothing to fight Gollum - even when Gollum actually tells him he is going to bite his (Frodo's) finger off:

Quote:
Frodo: So now the Eye can see me.

Gollum: Give us the Precious, hobbit. The Precious. We wantss it.

Frodo: No.

Gollum: Yesss! Yes, we will have it.

[Frodo laughs quietly]

Gollum: Where's its handses? Got it!

[He hisses]

Gollum: Now, give us the Preciouss.

Frodo: No, Sméagol. It is mine!

[Gollum hisses and laughs]

Gollum: Well, if it won't give it usss, then we'll bites it and takeses it.

[Gollum bites down and Frodo screams]

Gollum: Lost its finger, has it, hm? Silly hobbit! Now, we've got the Precious! Precious, precious! My Precious!
I'm not sure about it - but it must have been an impossibly difficult scene to write & to perform. If you aren't going to have the Narrator describe the events (which would kill the dramatic impact of the events) how do you depict the events with voices alone? It doesn't work as well as in the book, obviously, but it is far, far superior to the silliness of the movie. I also think that Peter Woodthorpe's magnificent performance of Gollum's exultation at finally winning the Ring back is so powerful that any slight sense of 'awkwardness' one might have felt at the lead up to it is forgotten. This is Gollum's moment & he should have the glory of that scene. Ian Holm's performance is superlative, once you accept his/the writer's decision that Frodo is so drunk with his surrender that he is incapable of registering what is happening. What follows, with Sam's amazement at the achievement of the Quest, & the sudden magical resurgence of hope - Bill Nighy plays that so well - Sam's sudden belief that they may make it out of there after all, that he may see the Shire again.

And then Frodo tells him he can;t manage to go any further, dashing Sam's hopes...Frodo has given up (Tolkien stated in one of the letters that Frodo had expected to die at the end of the Quest, & Ian Holm captures this perfectly - you almost feel that he is not interested in going on now.

But then the Eagles come & it is Sam's wish that is granted, not Frodo's . The appearance of the eagles is not accounted for, & we are not told what happened at the Black Gates. I still don't know whether this is a lack. But its not really important - at least the Lighthouse was absent!

I love how the Field of Cormallen was handled, Sam's joy, the merry meetings, the praise of the Ringbearer & his servant. Stephen Oliver's struggles with the Ambrosian Singers have been alluded to at the beginning of this discussion, but he succeeded admirably, & the whole scene captures the power & joy of the event perfectly.

The Eagle's song, intercut with Faramir & Eowyn's pledging their love for one another, the crowning, & marriage of Aragorn & Arwen & the discovery of the White Tree in the snows of Mindolluin is beautifully done, tying up many loose ends, & closing off that part of the tale, & setting up the final scenes - Frodo receiving the White Jewel from Arwen, with the mention of Bilbo & his final journey. We are being prepared for the ending of the long tale. The Hobbits are going home, via Rohan & then on to Rivendell (Oh, & let's not forget that unfinished business at Isengard!)
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Old 03-15-2010, 02:52 AM   #255
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I like the way the Eagle's Song was expanded to tie up loose story ends here - a great idea! I also very much like the use of the countertenor voice for the Eagle to convey otherworldliness.
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Old 03-15-2010, 03:52 AM   #256
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Originally Posted by davem View Post
The Ring is Mine..... Indeed. Now, I don't know how well others feel the climax at the Sammah Naur is done. Frodo seems completely intoxicated by the Ring once he has claimed it fro his own, so that he does nothing to fight Gollum - even when Gollum actually tells him he is going to bite his (Frodo's) finger off...

I'm not sure about it - but it must have been an impossibly difficult scene to write & to perform. If you aren't going to have the Narrator describe the events (which would kill the dramatic impact of the events) how do you depict the events with voices alone? It doesn't work as well as in the book, obviously, but it is far, far superior to the silliness of the movie.
I'm not sure about it, either, and I think I wrote that episode!

As Dave says, it was an impossible scene to write aurally. I think worse options would have been Frodo saying: "Aaaaggghhhhh! He's bitten off my finger!" Or Sam saying: "Deary me! Nasty Slinker's bitten off poor Master's finger!" It is a scene that needs to be read not described by the participants in the action.

Quote:
I also think that Peter Woodthorpe's magnificent performance of Gollum's exultation at finally winning the Ring back is so powerful that any slight sense of 'awkwardness' one might have felt at the lead up to it is forgotten. This is Gollum's moment & he should have the glory of that scene. Ian Holm's performance is superlative, once you accept his/the writer's decision that Frodo is so drunk with his surrender that he is incapable of registering what is happening.
I agree: Woodthorpe played his final moment superbly well.

During the recordings, Ian and director, Jane Morgan, got irritated by Peter's tendency to (how can I put it?) 'luxuriate' in his lines! Partly because the many ssssss that he added to words somewhat lengthened the running time (!) and, in Ian's case, quite often 'underscored' his own lines!

Personally, I always thought that Peter was thoroughly immersed in the character and, if (as he obviously did at times) he p***ed off one or two of his fellow actors that was very much 'in character'!

Ian's 'intoxication with the ring' was, I think, his interpretation and there was a moment where he almost became Woodthorpe's Gollum.

I remember the recording of this scene very vividly: two actors standing at a microphone, holding scripts and wearing ordinary clothes and specs. Suddenly, when it came to THAT line, Peter seized Ian's hand and forced it into his mouth. Fantastic! So when I hear those lines, that's what I see in my mind's eye!!

Glad you're finishing off this epic! Well done!!!

PS: Unlike Estelyn, I could have done without counter-tenor for eagles!!
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Old 03-15-2010, 02:53 PM   #257
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I remember the recording of this scene very vividly: two actors standing at a microphone, holding scripts and wearing ordinary clothes and specs. Suddenly, when it came to THAT line, Peter seized Ian's hand and forced it into his mouth. Fantastic! So when I hear those lines, that's what I see in my mind's eye!!
Oh my gosh... thanks so much for this tidbit, as I'm never going to get that out of my head...

Quote:
Glad you're finishing off this epic! Well done!!!
Actually, davem, thanks for the delay, as if you had finished this on time I would never have been able to jump on board.

I also like the track division, as the copy I finally managed to buy is the 2003 recut version (after all this is over, might we go back and discuss the extra narrational bits recorded to tie the new cuts all together?) and I'm pretty sure the tracks line up. Unfortunately, I can't check, as this week I lent out my copy to a friend who's never heard it before. Which is a great reason to not contribute aside from reactions based on memory, but still.

Quote:
PS: Unlike Estelyn, I could have done without counter-tenor for eagles!!
Oh, good... I thought it was my youth and/or Americanism that made that so off-putting for me. The notion of a singing eagle is already difficult to dramatize without it sounding silly, but the notion of his being a counter-tenor (and I'm imagining the bells attached to his talons, too) just kills my secondary belief with one hit.

As I recall (it's been a long time since I've heard the episode in its one-hour context) this entire episode just exuded awesome. Even though I know it's coming, I can never fail to get chills whenever Ian Holm lets out the Evil Chuckle (in case we hadn't yet gotten the picture that he was completely gone at this point). Good stuff--limited only, I think, by the fact that it's really difficult to adapt the last moments of the Sammath Naur for audio.
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Old 03-15-2010, 03:42 PM   #258
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I like the eagle! Honestly, the way the song intercuts the action is perfect as far as I'm concerned. I love the whole episode, & its a perfect example of how radio drama, done right, is a true art form. Actually I've just come across a book (searching on Amazon) Life on Air: A History of Radio Four by David Hendy http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Air-His...687902&sr=1-14
which speaks of the
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'fanfare of publicity for Radio Four's new serialisation of The Lord of the Rings, adapted by Brian Sibley & Michael Bakewell, directed by Jane Morgan, & starring Ian Holm as Frodo, John Le Mesurier as Bilbo Baggins, Bill Nighy as Sam Gamgee, & Michael Hordern as Gandalf.....there were twenty-six episodes, original music - & plenty of coverage in the press. Like Vivat Rex, this was a production on the epic scale. But equally satisfying for many inside Broadcasting House was that The Lord of the Rings played it straight. It was sumptuous but not flash, & satisfied the Tolkien aficionados as well as those new to the work. Crucially, the calibre of the acting had spoken for itself. As one senior editor suggested, the impact of their performances 'would raise the morale of the whole directorate'. And, indeed, it was now in the early 1980's, that critics wrote more insistently of acting on Radio Four being 'infinitely' better than ever before, & about a self-confidence having returned to Radio Drama.
Found that on the search inside option, btw, so don't ask me who the 'senior editor' was, but I'd have to agree - & with the passage as a whole. We won't ever see the like of this series again, & thank God we were so blest in the team that brought it together. Its one of the jewels in the BBC's crown.

Mnemosyne You can lead the discussion on the 'extra' narration - I haven't heard it! I'm curious - is there a lot of it?
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Old 03-15-2010, 04:07 PM   #259
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Mnemosyne You can lead the discussion on the 'extra' narration - I haven't heard it! I'm curious - is there a lot of it?
Ehh... not more than a couple minutes at the beginning and end of each "Book" (except for the last one since the rest are all set in Frodo's study as he's trying to compose everything). They are, by and large, excellent mini fanfics--especially the one that brings up the potential plot hole of Frodo and Sam not hearing Boromir's horn! What I find most fascinating about it, honestly, is that you really can't tell that over 20 years have elapsed between the narrations and the drama.

Anyway, the recut is worth listening to at least once... I love the bonus narrations, but it's a lot harder finding four-hour chunks to listen to each "book" and you don't get all the fun mini-cliffhangers that basically created the original format. (Well, you get them, but then they're immediately spoiled.) But that was what Barnes and Noble had, and since they had it, I had to buy it. Previously I'd used interlibrary loan for the thirteen-hour sets and you could probably do the same pretty easily with the recut.
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Old 03-15-2010, 04:31 PM   #260
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Anyway, the recut is worth listening to at least once... I love the bonus narrations, but it's a lot harder finding four-hour chunks to listen to each "book" and you don't get all the fun mini-cliffhangers that basically created the original format.
The best way to experience the series if to set aside a full day & listen to it right the way through (which I've done twice), setting out with the Hobbits in the morning, & returning to Bag End with Sam as the day ends. If anyone hasn't done that I'd recommend they try that at least once - you'll be amazed at how powerful the experience is. (I find the existence of three different versions of the series quite intriguing. Bit like the books, in a way - we have the First Edition, the slightly different Second Edition & then the new 50th, with its 300-400 changes authorised by CT. )
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Old 03-16-2010, 05:12 AM   #261
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The different versions of the radio play do make in difficult to join in specific discussions. Mine is on 10 CDs, cut differently than the one davem is using. I'm fortunate to be able to get it in English here in Germany, but it's published by a German audio publisher, and the original episodes are hard to locate.
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Old 03-16-2010, 12:21 PM   #262
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Oh, good... I thought it was my youth and/or Americanism that made that so off-putting for me. The notion of a singing eagle is already difficult to dramatize without it sounding silly, but the notion of his being a counter-tenor (and I'm imagining the bells attached to his talons, too) just kills my secondary belief with one hit.
I love the countertenor voice and David James is one of the best but this isn't my favourite piece of music - the other counter tenor tracks were a revelation and turned me into a bit of a "falsetto fancier" . I think singing eagles were always going to be difficult but there is an operatic convention of using the voice for supernatural and otherworldly characters (eg Oberon and Voice of the mask in Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream and Death in Venice) or the alienated Refugee in Jonathan Dove's "Flight" .

More interesting I think is his use of a countertenor for Galadriel's song. I wonder if it were for practical reasons or for the purer timbre. The range may be the same as a mezzo but even going easy on the vibrato the tone isn't.
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Old 03-16-2010, 03:33 PM   #263
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In Music in Middle-earth, Paul Smith (himself a counter-tenor) writes of Galadriel's song:
Quote:
...it is interesting that this solo is assigned to a counter-tenor rather than a contralto; perhaps, since the music plays in the background of the narration, an evocation of other-worldliness associated with the male alto voice was considered to be more important.
Smith also assumes that the counter-tenor voice is used for Gwaihir
Quote:
...to evoke the otherness of the Eagle.
and goes on to say:
Quote:
Dramaturgically, the short episodes of the aria move the action forward by framing the discovery of the sapling on Mindolluin and the acclamation of Aragorn as Elessar.
That is interesting - normally, it is the recitative in an opera, not the aria, which moves the story forward!
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Old 11-26-2011, 04:57 PM   #264
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Sting On this Thread

Yeah, I've just been reading this thread. Pretty good stuff. So yeah, I listened to the radio series on YouTube, although recently it's been taken off but...oh well. I thought it was pretty good.
Yep.
That's all I have to say, really.
I thought it was brilliantly adapted, though I admit I was saddened by the loss of Tom Bombadil but the rest of it, and the fact that the Scouring of the Shire, one of the most important parts of the book, was included felt like quick and efficient painkillers given for a wound rather than rubbing salt on it. I loved the acting and...
Yeah.
I can't really think of anything else to say.
It feels strange to be answering a thread that really hasn't been answered for such a long while.
But yeah, for me so far, this was the best adaptation of The Lord of the Rings that I have heard so far.
Though one day...
I really hope to actually do it and do some kind of adaptation, radio or TV series, where I can include as much as I can-Tom Bombadil, Scouring, and all-and stay true to the spirit of Tolkien.
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Old 01-29-2012, 01:26 PM   #265
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HI-ing for Pervinca!
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:29 PM   #266
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Thanks, Mithalwen! Am I correct in deducing that the last chapter of all, "The Grey Havens," was never discussed in this thread, or at least, not in its entirety?

IIRC, the episode called "Mount Doom" ends with Hordern's Gandalf saying "Though I am uneasy as to what we shall find, when we come to the tower of Saruman," or something like that.

I have to say that I loved this line:

"The first and second-born of the races of Middle-earth salute you!"
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:50 PM   #267
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Yes... though I remember listening to Mount Doom and being startled that for years I had missed a short but significant section of the destruction of the ring because I had flipped the tape too soon - either that or I was listening to a superior cassette player in teh car I might have said more but looking at the dates it is about the time RL meant I was largely absent from the Downs for several months. It would be nice to complete. I am long due a relisten and I need to reread whole thread,
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:51 PM   #268
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I am very fortunate to have found this old thread. As I mentioned elsewhere, I got the box CDs of the BBC Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit) for Christmas. I have been listening as I drive to and from work every day. Though incomplete, I shall be using this thread as extra helpful material. I am currently in part two of Volume Two which is The Two Towers (the episode title escapes me at the moment.)

Wow the real honest to goodness Brian Sibley! Here! This is indeed a treat!
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:40 PM   #269
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I can't do it instantly, (i.e. not before the weekend), but if there's no objection (don't want to tread on anyone's toes), I'd be very happy to type up a summary for the last chapter, as has been done for the previous ones.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:53 AM   #270
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I think all toes are up for treading given the timescale and I am delighted that interest has revived.

While the Episode by Episode thing is a useful excercise I hope there will be scope for discussion even after - perhaps more freeranging and the thread like the Road will go on.

I am only too happy that the series I have loved since childhood is still gaining admirers. Dilletante, I think the CD sets follow the books whereas the Cassettes (and original broadcast was chrononlogical so you may be out synch at times..

And of course The Grey Havens has the almost unbearably poignancy of John Le Mesurier's voice fading into the treble in Bilbo's last song *gulp*...
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:14 PM   #271
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It's everything about that parting, for me ... especially the sung verse and the words spoken by all at the Haven. I think I'd almost forgotten that it's Bilbo's Last Song, because it makes me think of The Sea-Bell as well - although of course it's much less despairing. Not too sacrilegious of me, I hope, all such things being slightly subjective. I find much else in the final chapter poignant, too.

I played the first of the tapes today for the first time in years, and it came across with a lot of background noise - not crackle, more like the sound an aged tape makes. Well, they're about 24 years old!

I agree that it would be lovely to discuss the earlier chapters more as well. Will be great if you and Dilettante would both like to post about/discuss them as well as the last one.

I'll type up a summary of The Grey Havens (episode 13) at the weekend.

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Old 02-04-2012, 07:20 PM   #272
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Well, I tried listening to my tape of Episode 13 (for the first time in I don’t care to remember how many years!), but my prehistoric tape-recorder plays too slowly and distorts the voices. This reminded me of how I sometimes used to listen to the LOTR tapes on my Walkman back in the 80’s (when I was supposed to have gone to sleep), and the batteries would weaken and cause the characters to talk in very low and slow voices as well. So I used the tape just to ascertain where the episode starts, and then transferred to the last CD from the repackaged version. I just needed to remind myself of the sequence of events.

EPISODE 13: THE GREY HAVENS

Even though this episode contains the scouring and healing of the Shire, in many ways it deals mainly with partings (although the parting from Eomer, Faramir and Eowyn - and a previous parting of Frodo and Arwen - together with Theoden's funeral - took place towards the end of Episode 12, which I can remember ending with “Yes, we will come to Isengard, though I am uneasy as to what we shall find when we come to the tower of Saruman” (or something very close to that) from Gandalf).

The final episode begins with the words “The Ents have certainly changed this place,” (Pippin’s words, I think). Treebeard and Gandalf converse, and Gandalf comes across as very frustrated that Treebeard has let Saruman go.

Legolas and Gimli confirm that they are about to set off to explore Fangorn on their way home. Aragorn says it is the final parting of the Fellowship. Then come Legolas’s words about how he and Gimli will return and his land will be blessed: “For a while, a month, a hundred years of men.” (In the book, I think this is at some point before the actual parting, and leads Legolas into his song: "To the Sea!") Then another famous line: “We will send word when we may, and some of us may yet meet at times, but I fear that we will not all be gathered together ever again.” Douglas Livingstone's Gimli was definitive, in my opinion, and the warmth in his farewell to Merry and Pippin is the perfect final expression of this: "You should come safe to your own homes now, and I shall not be kept awake for fear of your peril."

These are parting words that I found very moving when I first heard this episode: “Namarie! Nai hiruvalye Valimar! Nai elye hiruva. Namarie!” I think Legolas calls this as he rides off with Gimli, although it sounds as if others are calling the words with him. The others call back "Namarie" to them, in farewell. Just these few words say so much, and so poignantly, about the choices remaining to the Ringbearers. This line was a masterstroke. I can't remember if it's in the book or not at this point - I think it's only at the end of Galadriel's song. Speaking of which, I don't think the dramatisation includes Galadriel at this point (which doesn't really matter, especially as the BBC omit the scene on the way home when they encounter Saruman as a beggar in the wilderness, along with Grima Wormtongue).

Treebeard bids them farewell. Elrond: “When the lands that lie under the earth are lifted up again …. We may meet in the spring.” Treebeard strides off, saying “Hoom hoom,” etc.

Pippin mentions the Palantir, and wishes they could have a stone to see all their friends in; Aragorn says he would not want to see what the stone used by Denethor would show him, and he is keeping the other one. Aragorn’s farewell to each person remaining, with his farewell to Frodo last of all.

Narration from Gerard Murphy. Aragorn holds up the Elfstone. Aragorn’s theme.

***
Arrival at the Last Homely House. We hear the elven-hymn “A Elbereth!” again as they approach. Sam says there is something of everything in Rivendell. Frodo says yes, there is, except the Sea. This comes as they are deciding to leave Rivendell in the book, rather than as they approach it.

They go to see Bilbo and tell him about their adventures.

A fortnight passes; Frodo sees there has been a frost in the night and knows that he must go. He speaks with Elrond. He has worked out – or been told - that Elrond bears one of the Three. He says goodbye to Bilbo, who gives gifts to the four hobbits. Bilbo falls asleep after giving pipes to Merry and Pippin and saying “I don’t smoke now,” then wakes up again and asks Frodo what has become of the Ring. He asks Frodo if he will take all his notes and his diary and finish the story in the Red Book.

This is the point where Frodo becomes tearful. I remember thinking that this is because he realises how old Bilbo is and worries that he will never see him again. He must have felt this anyway – hence his determination to see Bilbo again at all costs before returning to the Shire – but – he doesn’t smoke now, he says as he falls asleep (already, back in October, he didn’t go to feasts any more) – and now he’s handing over all his writings, confirming what Sam said when he thought Bilbo was asleep – that he’ll never write their story now. I remember mentioning this to someone once, who opined that what’s really upset Frodo is that he can see what the Ring has done to Bilbo (following on from Arwen's "He is ancient in years now, according to his kind" from the previous chapter). I don't think Frodo shows this much emotion here in the book, which would be why I was startled when I first heard this scene, but it makes perfect sense to play it this way dramatically, especially since we are edging towards Frodo's departure, or realisation that he can't be happy in Middle-earth any more.

Anyway, Frodo tells Bilbo that he’ll come back soon, and Elrond says that maybe he will not need to: “Look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire. I shall be with him.”

***

They depart, and ride to the Ford. The others can tell that Frodo is in pain, and then comes his acknowledgement that “There is no real going back.”

They arrive at the Prancing Pony. Nob opens the door/gate. Barliman tells them what has been going on in Bree, and they tell him all about Strider becoming King. (Actually, where’s Bob, I wonder? Come to think of it, does Bob actually appear when they arrive at Bree on the way to Rivendell, or is it just that Barliman shouts at Nob to go and find him?) Eventually Barliman remembers Sam’s pony, Bill. Sam is delighted, and says "Where is he? There's no bed for me until I've seen him."

Another goodbye! Barliman tells them all’s not well in The Shire either. Gandalf tells them he isn’t coming with them. They follow the East Road, and then part – but not for the last time. Then another haunting and telling interchange, again, straight from the book (as is almost everything in this dramatisation, of course):

Merry: Well, here we are again: just the four of us who set out together. It feels almost like a dream that has slowly faded.
Frodo: Not to me. To me, it feels more like falling asleep again.

Return to Hobbiton. The four travellers react in horror and sorrow to the devastation. Ted Sandyman and his new mill. Merry blows the horn of Rohan. “Come out, hobbits of the Shire! Frodo Baggins has returned!” I’ve just realised – H.O.M.E. hadn’t even been published at the time, so this probably isn’t a reference to the earlier drafts of the story, where Frodo still took a more combative part in the Battle of Bywater. It probably just seemed like a logical scripting choice.

They go to Bag End. Saruman appears, just as Frodo and Sam have said that this is worse than Mordor. Frodo tells him to go; Saruman says he will if they ask the “rats” guarding the door to move aside. The murmurs of “Don’t let him go! Kill him!,” followed by Saruman’s mockery and threats: “If my blood stains the Shire, it shall wither and never again be healed.” Frodo tells them not to believe him.

As he is leaving Bag End with Wormtongue, Saruman tries to stab Frodo, but of course the hidden mithril coat saves him. Sam, enraged, is about to kill Saruman, but Frodo forbids him: "He was great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against. He is fallen now, and his cure is beyond us, but I would still spare him, in the hope that he may find it." Saruman's "You are wise and cruel, Halfling," only slightly paraphrased from the book, follows, and his "foretelling" of Frodo's fate.

Frodo tries to save Wormtongue. I think he appeals to him more than he does in the book: “Let him go, Wormtongue …” – Maybe he doesn’t want him to go the same way he’s seen Gollum go? (Interestingly, he doesn't call him Grima, which is understandable enough: he didn't instantly call Gollum Smeagol). Then Saruman tells him that Wormtongue "is not really nice; you had better leave him to me," and that he murdered Lotho. Then follow Grima's: "You told me to do it!" and Saruman's final mockery. Then, of course, the BBC radio line: “The worm has turned.” Wormtongue kills Saruman.

And just before Wormtongue is killed, Frodo appeals in some distress for “No more killing!” Now, in the book, it says that before Frodo could recover or speak a word, four hobbit-bows twanged and Wormtongue fell dead.

Now – what actual killing had Frodo witnessed, except in Moria? Gollum toppled into the Cracks of Doom rather than being killed by a weapon - unless Frodo thinks he indirectly killed him with his own threat? It was Sam who saw the Southron soldier killed; Frodo had fallen asleep. Could Frodo be thinking of the orcs killing each other in Cirith Ungol? (And the murder of one of their trackers by the other, a few pages later). Were any actually slaughtered in the topmost room where he was held prisoner, or is he remembering the bodies they had to climb over to get out of there? Is he thinking of Boromir, and of all the other people who died fighting Sauron, and feeling guilty that he survived? Or is it that, as Tolkien said, he had changed so much and no longer saw killing as something that would heal anything. I just find it an interesting choice of words. Again, it’s probably just a logical dramatic choice for a writer to make at this point. Or perhaps one could interpret that the killing of Saruman which has just taken place, and the hideous shrivelling of his body (Merry provides the exposition here, describing the folds of skin upon a hideous skull) - and the horror of such an end of the sometime leader of the Istari - is what precipitates this. There are complex layers of emotion in Holm's performance, and it's still possible for survivor guilt to be infused into all that as well - we often feel emotions much more quickly than we can speak them. And - of course, he has just witnessed the killing of hobbits for the first time at the Battle of Bywater - although not, thankfully, by other hobbits (Tolkien said in one of his Letters that Frodo was horrified at the idea of civil war among hobbits).

JUST TO NOTE: that rather rambling paragraph was more thoughts on how we, as Tolkien aficionados, might interpret that line, and what we might personally infer from it. I'm not suggesting that all of it, or necessarily any of it, was intended by the actor or the writers! I was "just thinking out loud," as BBC Sam said.

Clearing up the mess. Sam remembers Galadriel’s box of earth. The healing of the Shire. Similar music to Lothlórien. Sam marries Rose and moves into Bag End.

Frodo’s October illness strikes again, and we hear Gandalf and Arwen’s voices echoing in his mind. He cries out "Where shall I find rest?" in weary anguish, and his voice echoes off the walls, showing his terrible isolation and despair. I am reminded of the book after the crossing of the Ford on the way home: "By the end of the next day the pain and unease had passed, and Frodo was merry again." Holm's Frodo certainly comes across as merry in front of the others, from the moment of waking up again in Ithilien, just before the Field of Cormallen. I think this is one of the very best things about Ian Holm's performance: he really shows that Frodo was just as brave after the quest as he was during it.

The narrator mentions another occurrence of illness next March, but that Frodo with a great effort conceals it. Sam’s first child is born. The naming of Elanor.

Frodo hands over his keys and papers to Sam. They set off. Frodo speaks the Walking Song – but with slightly different words. We hear the Lothlórien music again. Galadriel and Elrond are reciting “A Elbereth.”

Narration from Gerard Murphy, describing the appearance of Elrond and Galadriel and the horses they are riding, and that of Vilya and Nenya, now worn openly on their hands. Bilbo is then mentioned. Murphy’s narration again, leading into Bilbo’s recitation of his Last Song (or rather the first verse of it). They arrive at the Havens, where Gandalf greets them – and Narya is finally revealed. “Merry and Pippin [ride] up in great haste” (to quote Tolkien).

The final parting, and Frodo's words of encouragement to Sam, of how he will be the most famous gardener in all history. They part in tears, but, as Gandalf says, "Not all tears are an evil." Gerard Murphy narrates the embarkation of the Ringbearers and how the ship passes out into the West. The final verse of Bilbo’s Last Song, sung by a choirboy’s voice.

The sounds of the waves, then Sam gets home, to the sound of Elanor crying. One of Frodo's parting lines echoes back to him, but uttered in a quieter way, almost like the voice of one dying: "Don't be too sad, Sam. You have so much to enjoy, and to be, and to do." Rose greets Sam lovingly, and Sam says “Well, I’m back.”

And then Stephen Oliver's music plays again for the last time.
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:12 PM   #273
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Thank you for doing this Pervinca. I had hoped to listen to this again over the weekend but failed. I shall hopefully do so by tomorrow when I shall take a long enough car journey if I can't find a working tape machine in the house! Galadriel is not included in the episode - she does not attend the wedding IIRC so we didn't get Gimli and Eomer settling their account.
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:31 PM   #274
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Thank you for doing this Pervinca. I had hoped to listen to this again over the weekend but failed. I shall hopefully do so by tomorrow when I shall take a long enough car journey if I can't find a working tape machine in the house! Galadriel is not included in the episode - she does not attend the wedding IIRC so we didn't get Gimli and Eomer settling their account.
She doesn't, no. She's in the end of the episode, though, and rides with the Ringbearers to the Havens.

I suppose when they were half-hour episodes, the last half-hour of the production would have consisted of the Scouring and the Havens, and the penultimate one would have been all the partings previous to the Havens. Of course, once Mount Doom is passed, we're back to one thread and the scenes don't alternate between different sets of characters. (EDIT: well, apart from switching to Eowyn and Faramir for a little).
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:57 PM   #275
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Sorry yes of course she is at the havens.. I was going to type she wasn't at the coronation and then (not having listened for a while) wondered if she just not spoke and rephrased and made it more wrong!!!

I think in the book Legolas just says something like "We will come when our own lords allow". You are right that the speech here is transposed from "The field of Cormallen, when he expresses his intent to spend time in Ithilien though the lure of the Sea will be even closer.

Earlier in the discussion Brian Sibley said some scenes were rearranged - I had wrongly assumed that side ends were the original half hour episode ends - they tend to have cliffhangers. But that was in the divided thread phase.
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:19 PM   #276
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I intended to get around to the final episode a long time back on this thread, but so many things interupted me and it never happened :-( . It was one of the best things I've been involved in here-thanks particularly to Brian Sibley's contributions.
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:33 PM   #277
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Brian Sibley is going to be a main speaker at The Return of the Ring according to Amon Hen. It was a great privilege to be able to ask him questions here and hopefully let him know how much the serialisation meant to us.

Looking back I realise it got me into both classical music and Radio 4 at an early age providing sources of joy beyond the serial itself.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:21 PM   #278
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Davem, I've very much enjoyed reading all your summaries, comments and thoughts on this thread. I hope I haven't trodden on your toes by summarising the final chapter.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:40 PM   #279
davem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pervinca Took View Post
Davem, I've very much enjoyed reading all your summaries, comments and thoughts on this thread. I hope I haven't trodden on your toes by summarising the final chapter.
Not at all- in fact I'm grateful that its been done. My plans for the thread fell apart due to having a toddler running around the place.
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:54 PM   #280
Draugohtar
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As my first post, I wanted to comment on the BBC Radio Adaptation.

My Grandmother bought me the boxed set of audio cassettes back in the late 80s (I had already read the hobbit and the 3 books of the trilogy.)

I instantly found that the characterisations and voices were absolutely as I have imagined them prior, it was (and remains) uncanny.

The music is splendid, obviously Bill Nighy's lay of Gil-Galad is remarkable, however for me the musical interpretation of the battle for the Pelennor fields and Theoden's last ride to battle was, and is an utter highlight for me.

You always feel that everyone involved with the production 'gets' Tolkien and his masterwork. It's so thrilling to be part of as the listener.

Whilst it's all too easy to berate PJ, the way this audio adaptation embraced the poetic and implied musical content of the Lord of the Rings books truly demonstrates the blandness and mundanity of the movie work.

I wish to say that I actually enjoy the PJ Lord of the Rings films, but on their own terms, not as adaptations.

--

I read earlier in the thread, from years past, comments regarding the 'realism' that PJ had gone for in comparison to what is possible in an audio adaptation.

I actually feel that Tolkien created a totally coherent, 'real' world in which characters such as Tom Bombadil and an ancient but happy, friendly Elrond can exist. (I enjoyed the Tales from the Perilous realms adaptation of the stay with Tom Bombadil.)

I think the BBC Audio adaptation truly expresses this.

Rather than being limited by an acted realisation of the books, this adaptation shows that it can compliment and add without redaction.

No adaptation with any ambition to show rather than tell the story can convey every word of Tolkien's genius, but then neither can the book sing to us.

The BBC Radio adaptation only loses what it must and gives everything it can. If only PJ could have done the same in 'celluloid.'

I await Hobbit Hyenas with fear, but always have this splendid work to reassure me and fall back upon when in need!

P.S. Robert Stephens is Aragorn to me, and always shall be. I actually think Viggo Mortensen could have been a great Aragorn and is still very good in spite of the strange, and entirely optional changes made to him in that adaptation.

'All that is gold does not glitter ...' rings totally true of Robert Stephens and is wonderful interpretation.

Apologies if I rambled or went off topic at all in my first post!
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