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Old 02-28-2009, 08:22 PM   #1
Mnemosyne
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Ring You, my brown-eyed Frodo

As someone who read fan-fiction voraciously before ever dreaming of becoming active on the Web, I became aware very early of how the characters "looked" in most fanauthors' eyes: Frodo had "dark brown," if not "dark" hair and these gorgeous luminous blue eyes that made you want to get lost in his impending tragedy; Pippin had green eyes and sometimes even a ridiculous Scots accent (written in!); Sam sometimes had brown eyes but always had lighter hair than the rest. It didn't matter how strictly book-verse it was, or how well the author wrote (though the better writers only gave Pippin a set of bagpipes); the hobbits at least always resembled their counterparts in the Jackson films.

It was a self-perpetuating meme, and I didn't really question it until I reread the books and suddenly recalled that there was little to no evidence of how the hobbits looked! Sam is said to have had brown eyes twice; the mat Nob places on the bed in the Prancing Pony to look like Mr. Underhill's head is just plain "brown," not "dark brown" and certainly not "dark." And considering how little movie!Frodo, at least, acts like his book counterpart, I began to get very irritated whenever an act of sub-sub-creation described him as looking like that weak, pathetic victim.

Consequently, on that reread I began to focus on those parts of the books that have no counterpart in the films and try to figure out how exactly Frodo looked to me then, and was pleased to find a rather stouter, somewhat redder about the cheek, and thoroughly brown-eyed fellow in my mind's eye. Discovering other adaptations out there, especially the BBC Radio 4 version, did not hurt, and soon I was able to come up with a set of characters that was descriptive enough that I could keep them distinct from their filmic versions. Now the only problem came when I looked at other fanauthors and fanartists who did not do the same (I found the back button helped here immensely).

Some characters were easier to distinguish than others. Faramir was a piece of cake, since he's described as nothing like David Wenham and David Wenham acts nothing like him. Aragorn just needed a bit more weatherbeating and a stronger nose. Saruman I kept around because Christopher Lee is awesome.

Now, the most interesting thing to me out of all of this is that, before the movies came out (so far as I can remember), the characters were nothing more than fuzzy dark blobs with a few vague characteristics (e.g. Gandalf's bushy brows). Now I have something concrete and rather anti-filmic (which means that they've been influenced by the movies, just not in a positive fashion).

What I was curious about was how, if at all, the films and/or other media affected your perception of the physical appearance of the characters. Specifically:

1). If you read the books before the movies, what (if anything) did the characters look like to you?

2). After the movies came out, did this change?

3). If your answer to 2 is yes, have you tried to recover your previous mental pictures and/or create new ones in response to the films? If so, how?

4). Have any of your mental associations with characters been otherwise influenced by other sources (i.e. illustrations, fanart, other adaptations)?

and 5). Have you ever engaged in any sort of sub-sub-creative effort that draws upon any of these mental pictures (i.e. RPGs, fan fiction, fanart)?
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Old 02-28-2009, 10:06 PM   #2
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Aragorn in the books is actually very close to the Aragorn I saw in the movies. Any time Sam acts heroic instead of just stubborn or anger-driven is also similar to my Sam. And the Gimli in the films is a huuuuuuge disappointment... ah well.
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Old 02-28-2009, 10:46 PM   #3
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I read the books before the movies came out, but due to the amount of obsessing I did over the movie hype, the last time I read LotR I was stunned to realize how my perception of the characters had changed. I vowed not to read it again until I could banish a certain actor from my subconscious. (...and haven't picked it back up again.)

The only characters that came out of my movie obsession unsullied were Faramir and Aragorn, mostly because I found nothing in Viggo or Wenham to admire. 'Cuz you know, the knights in shining armor are only in your imagination...

But I saw the Bakshai cartoons way, way before that - in that at least I take the basic idea for the Hobbits. And Boromir also, come to think of it, horned helm and all. But most of the formative atmosphere came from the covers of the books themselves - The Hobbit, TTT and RotK were mossy and tan from the Tolkien illustrations, and FotR was the unique Ballantine treefrog in a plum tree with the Riders streaming out of the ford of Bruinen.

Things were a lot more haunting in those days.

All but the first two of my parodies are populated exclusively by Jackson's visions. Sad, as my first two are my favorite.

[edit]

Woah...I just realized how similar Faramir and Boromir are in my imagination...considering how different they were, and how they never interacted on the page, and how I didn't really associate them with each other at the time.
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Old 03-01-2009, 05:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Sixth Wizard View Post
Aragorn in the books is actually very close to the Aragorn I saw in the movies.
Viggo's a bit short for Aragorn.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:35 PM   #5
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Silmaril

Interesting thread...

When I read the books for real (I tried unsuccessfully once...it's a long story that I've told eslewhere on this site before), it was about a month before the movie came out. So I think that my preceptions were slightly colored by the trailer, though they're more different from the movie than they are like it.

My own imaginings are pretty difficult to describe since they are so deeply internal. The closest I can come is to say that my imagination must have taken the path of least resistance--that is, blended certain elements that I liked from the movies with a basic picture that was my own from the books. Sometimes, Middle-earth and its inhabitants look and sound similar to how they do in the movies, and sometimes they don't.

I find Frodo to have been the most deeply affected by the trailer. He still doesn't look the way he does in the movies, but his coloring and facial structure is similar at least. What can I say? I was 13 years old and I found him attractive. Of course that was going to color my imaginings a bit.

The Hobbits don't have those accents in my mind. In fact, generally they don't have accents at all, since I can't passibly replicate any accent other than my own, more's the pity, and I'm too lazy to try to imagine accents anyway. They don't "sound" american, per se, but they sure don't sound like they're out of the English countryside or Scotland or what have you. To describe their looks would be difficult, but they all are roughly the size and shape of Movie!Sam in my head, though that's perhaps still trimmer than Tolkien intended.

I find that there are fault lines in my imagination, though, between movie and book, and when there is a departure from the book, my imagination shifts. The Old Forest looks pretty much the same now as it did in November 2001...and the Hobbits all look a little...different when they're in there. It's consequently one of my favorite parts to read now.

Something similar is true of Faramir. He doesn't look much like his movie self (even though I like David Wenham and think he's a good actor who did the best he could with a faulty script--not so much the departure from the book, even, as that they seem to have treated Faramir with a Denethoresque level of neglect and carelessness). Faramir is taller in my imagination and resembles Aragorn more than he does Boromir.

As for who's closest in terms of book and movie? Ian McKellen's Gandalf looks about the same as my own did. Movie!Aragorn is also fairly similar to my imagination.
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:42 AM   #6
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I think it's brilliant how fantasy dwarves have Scots accents. I actually go further and imagine most of Tolkien's characters with such voices. Dwarves have rough west-coast tones; Elves more refined reekie types; the Shire-folk of course have (Aberdeen)Shire voices, a more rural yet bright accent. As for wizards, goodness:

"Saruman! Hemmin, Saruman! Fit ye dein? We're nae feart o yi, ye grippit nyaff. In fact, go'n gie us a scoof o yer accursed moonshine!"

*Gandalf does obscene gesture, Aragorn et al laugh heartily*

Saruman grumbles back: "Awa n bile yer heid, yi radge..."

If I was to write fan-fiction it would be little other than Frodo and pals getting chasies fae the bobbies amid mindless drunken property destruction. Oh man, that would be great.

What were we talking about again? Oh yes. To answer the question, my images of the characters are gained almost entirely from whisky-fuelled discussion down the pub. Films had no effect.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim
my images of the characters are gained almost entirely from whisky-fuelled discussion down the pub.
This is, of course, the only valid way to form an opinion on anything these days.
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Old 03-02-2009, 02:42 PM   #8
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I read the books long before the movies came out, and had very "solid" images of the characters and places in my mind (I even made some attempts at reproducing these images with paint or colored pencils). A.J. (after Jackson), those images were, to some degree, lost, and I have to struggle to recover them. Some of Jackson's vision matched mine so closely that I had a sense of recognition (the Shire, Gandalf), while Frodo and Aragorn were clearly "wrong", but in every case, I think, my original images have been obscured. It's a sad thing, really.

The voices I originally heard have also faded from my memory, but it seems that the hobbits had at least a somewhat English sound to them, and Frodo's voice was considerably older sounding than movie-Frodo's.
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Old 03-02-2009, 03:35 PM   #9
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Hi all,

Also read the books long before the movies, though find that the movie casting has affected my 'internal image' for some but not all characters.

Frodo- I didn't have a clear picture of, seemed like an 'everyhobbit' charcter, so it was easy to accept the movie Frodo

Sam- I never thought of him as 'heavier' than the other hobbits, always as slighter but wiry physique, so movie Sam wasn't right for me

Merry and Pippin - Movie depiction OK, thought the 'Irishness' was a bit odd at first but it did work out OK

Aragorn - thought Viggo did OK, but imagined Aragorn as older and more weatherbeaten, in a 70s Clint Eastwood sort of way.

Gandalf- Obi-Wan, Merlin, archetype, was surprised that they cast McKellan but thought he got it spot on

Boromir and Faramir - totally wrong in the movies, both dark-haired and brooding in my head with Boromir heavier, Faramir younger and slighter.

Legolas - found the hairstyle a bit odd

Gimli - not bad but not 100%, strange mix of Scots and Welsh idiom!
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Old 03-02-2009, 03:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rikae
The voices I originally heard have also faded from my memory, but it seems that the hobbits had at least a somewhat English sound to them, and Frodo's voice was considerably older sounding than movie-Frodo's.
The radio helped me "recover" somewhat of what I think my original Frodo-voice sounded like (I honestly don't remember, but Ian Holm as Frodo generally sounds older, more mature, and more competent than Elijah Wood. Even without having a better script).
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Old 03-16-2009, 09:11 AM   #11
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Incidentally, in a note to The Bladorthin Typescript (ii Bladorthin, note 14, Mr. Baggins), John Rateliff describes an essay written circa 1970 and now in the Bodleian Library (Tolkien Papers A61 a, fol. 1-31). Mr. Rateliff quotes a description of Gandalf from this essay (which includes 'Which should make him a short man even in modern England, especially with the reduction of a bent back' for example), noting also that it was written in response to Pauline Baynes' art for the poster-map of Middle-earth -- which included the Fellowship and Bill, and certain evil types too.

In note 8 to Gollum this is referred to again: '... in which he describes each member of the Fellowship of the Ring as he pictured them -- an invaluable aid to any future illustrator of his work.' JDR then quotes another bit concerning Gollum and describes the essay as from 'Bodleian, Department of Western Manuscripts,' and etc. (as above).

Parts or snippets from this work have already been published by CJRT and Hammond and Scull, but to date, not the whole thing. I've no idea how detailed the full version gets concerning the Hobbits and I assume the questions of Legolas' hair colour and ear shape are not answered, as H&S likely would have cited that much for their companion to The Lord of the Rings.

But that's an assumption about what they 'likely' would have done
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:31 PM   #12
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I was hugely affected by Pauline Baynes' illustration that was published below her map of Middle-Earth, and of The Hobbit. Since I first 'met' Pauline Baynes during Narnia, and later enjoyed her Smith of Wooten Major and the Tom Bombadil collection etc, and Tolkien himself was pleased with her work, I am mostly content with that.

That said, I was also influenced by other art, and still am. The picture of the redhaired, rosy-cheeked Frodo (taller than most) recovering in Elrond's guest bed with Gandalf seated by his side, remains my portrait for Frodo. Aragorn was perhaps somewhat influenced by Bakshi. (I know.) But then slightly dissatisfied with that, I went back and reread some descriptions... and didn't find TOO much to change.

I used to draw my own pictures specifically for Aragorn, Boromir and Faramir. My favorite drawing of my own was Boromir. It's long gone. Too bad.
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Old 05-09-2010, 10:07 PM   #13
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1). If you read the books before the movies, what (if anything) did the characters look like to you?

I rarely create mental pictures of characters. Sometimes, if an author is very specific in their description, I'll make a basic Barbie and stick the proper features on it, but never anything more personalized.

2). After the movies came out, did this change?

Yeah, I borrow images from movies all the time. LotR, Narnia, pretty much everything. It's a bit of a lazy tick.

3). If your answer to 2 is yes, have you tried to recover your previous mental pictures and/or create new ones in response to the films? If so, how?

Nah. That sounds quite a bit like work.

4). Have any of your mental associations with characters been otherwise influenced by other sources (i.e. illustrations, fanart, other adaptations)?

Some of the Sil characters, definately.

5). Have you ever engaged in any sort of sub-sub-creative effort that draws upon any of these mental pictures (i.e. RPGs, fan fiction, fanart)?

Oh, yes. I most write parodies, so my chars end up being movie-verse plus some. My Frodos are even more pathetic, my Pippins are even more clueless, my Legolases are even more "perfect", etc. So I take the profiles given to the other chars and I make them "even more so". Fan-art, for me, focuses more on obscure Sil chars than LotR chars, so the movies don't really have an effect.
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Old 05-11-2010, 04:48 AM   #14
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1. Frodo: Whatever it was, I certainly did NOT imagine him with those huge blue eyes and the dark hair. I imagined him to have sandy coloured hair (it's mentioned he has fairer hair than most), with brown eyes, since Tolkien never really gave us a description of him, but he gave a general description of hobbits.

Sam: Brown hair, brown eyes. Apparel very much like the Ralph Bakshi adaptation. And I expected him to have darker skin in the movies, since Tolkien mentions at least twice that Sam has brown skin.

Pippin and Merry: I imagined these two to be very much alike, though I admit I thought Pippin would have lighter hair.

Legolas: I think this guy was the clearest out of all the characters I had in mind, along with Gimli. I imagined him to have shoulder-length wavy blonde hair and dark blue eyes, wearing green and brown, just like in the books.

Gimli: I believe John-Rhys Davies hit it on the spot here. I imagined Gimli to look EXACTLY as he did in the movies. I only felt he should have looked a bit more menacing. The Gimli in the movie was a shameful, insulting charicature.

Gandalf: Again, Ian McKellen nailed it. I just imagined a sharper nose, and blacker eyes.

Strider: Very foggy. Most vague character I came across.

2. Yeah, changed a lot. But I think Boromir and Faramir looked quite good. I actually liked the look of Boromir better in the movies than in the books. Aragorn looked good, but somehow he didn't look authentic enough for my taste. I'm going to deviate a bit from here by saying that PJ really killed some of the characters. The movie was awesome, but Frodo looked and acted like a pansy, Arwen was TOTALLY out of character, Pippin, Merry and Gimli just made me laugh, Legolas practically had no role, Gandalf looked far too weak, and Aragorn was just a total Gary Sue.

3. Yeah, actually. I designed some clothes and faces in a little black notebook that I keep exclusively for LotR

4. Yeah, definitely. Alan Lee and John Howe. I think they really nailed the feel of the books. The painting of Legolas and Gimli at Helm's Deep by John Howe really influenced my thinking. So did the painting of Gandalf walking with his staff (John Howe again). The Silmarillion characters were always a bit hazy for me, so looking at illustrations by Alan Lee helped. Turin looked EXACTLY how I thought he would

5. I've written some fanfiction where the characters are totally true to their appearances and characters in the book.

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Old 05-14-2010, 03:52 PM   #15
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I have to admit my only exposure to the movies comes from YouTube. Now that you know that, I also have to admit I didn't really have a good picture of the characters in my head. I was shocked, however, to see blond and/or blue-eyed Hobbits.

Frodo, in my head, was just a little thinner than the others, more refined, I guess the term would be.

Sam was sturdy, brown hair/eyes, tanned from being outside so much.

Merry and Pippin didn't really have mental images, just generic Hobbits slightly taller than normal, especially Merry.

I have to admit what I've seen of movie!Aragorn looks pretty good to me.

Gimli doesn't look gruff? earthy? enough.

Gandalf and Saruman are pretty much spot on.
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Old 05-16-2010, 11:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
an essay written circa 1970 and now in the Bodleian Library (Tolkien Papers A61 a, fol. 1-31). Mr. Rateliff quotes a description of Gandalf from this essay (which includes 'Which should make him a short man even in modern England, especially with the reduction of a bent back' for example), noting also that it was written in response to Pauline Baynes' art for the poster-map of Middle-earth -- which included the Fellowship and Bill, and certain evil types too.
I want to read that essay! I've got membership of the British Library but not the Bodleian...curses.
Anyway, as far as the films were concerned, eye colour didn't worry me too much but Frodo should have looked both older and more English. Elijah looked very American as well as of course being much too young, as everyone has said. Merry was wrong too but I can't put my finger on how...I think it was more the acting. Boromir I always saw as a hearty, bluff, soldier type with a big barrel chest. Got a shock with Sean Bean's tortured intellectual.
Best/most accurate visualisations for me were Gandalf and Eomer.
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Old 05-16-2010, 12:26 PM   #17
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My images of most of the characters were fairly well-defined before Jackson's movies came out and, in the long run, I don't think they were much affected by them. I say 'in the long run' because as I think back, it seems to me that in the immediate aftermath of those films, I did tend to picture the characters a bit more like those in the movies; but I think that now those images have largely reverted to what they were before.

On the other hand, I think the Bakshi animated movie (which I saw when I was rather young and not long after first reading the books) did influence my images of some of the characters quite a bit. I tend to picture the hobbits, with the exception of Sam, rather as they were in the Bakshi film. Boromir too (though without the infamous viking helmet). My image of Gimli tends to be close to the Bakshi version as well, though John Rhys-Davies isn't that far off either (except for the accent).

Cate Blanchett's Galadriel is very much the way I imagine her, though I think this is more an instance of Jackson hitting the nail on the head than of my image of her being influenced by the films. In any case, I never found her portrayal by Bakshi particularly convincing. Eowyn is another case where my mental image is very close to Jackson's version, and in this case it may well be due to the influence of the films.

There are a few characters of whom I have fairly definite mental pictures that are not at all like either the Bakshi or the Jackson version. Sam, for example. I never pictured him as particularly fat - perhaps a little on the stout side when the journey begins (actually I imagine Frodo to be a little stout at the outset as well). And neither Sean Astin's somewhat featureless face nor the near-caricature in the animated version is quite right if you ask me. Aragorn, too, in my mind looks nothing like either the animated version or like Viggo Mortensen.

Now that I think about it, another strong influence on the way I picture the characters is from various illustrators, particularly the Hildebrandt brothers. Bilbo, for example, looks rather like this for me, though without the glasses. The Dwarves in the The Hobbit I picture more or less like this. And while much of the Fellowship in this picture looks completely wrong, I think it may be the source for my image of Sam.
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Old 05-17-2010, 02:12 PM   #18
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I've been thinking about it, and movie!Boromir looks nothing like mental!Boromir. Mental!B. is tall and very solidly built with rather long (below-shoulder), slightly wavy hair that's dark enough brown to be a couple shades lighter than black. He has grey eyes and a dominating, powerful attitude about him.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:43 PM   #19
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Well...

Well- since I only got into the book after I saw a bit of the movie it's a bit hard to get rid of the imagery of the movie. I think the thing is, a movie image can become 'the' version of characters even for people who read or watched its source before. Unless this isn't really related..
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Old 06-09-2010, 11:07 AM   #20
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'The' version?

Quote:
Originally Posted by morwen edhelwen View Post
Well- since I only got into the book after I saw a bit of the movie it's a bit hard to get rid of the imagery of the movie. I think the thing is, a movie image can become 'the' version of characters even for people who read or watched its source before. Unless this isn't really related..
-Morwen
It's exactly what the original post was about.

But some people can get rid of movie imagery, especially for characters (e.g. Faramir) whose physical appearance and inner character differed largely from book to film.

The problem with the whole issue is that even focusing on one physical appearance inherently delimits a character who, at least on the physical level, is only 'sketched' by the author (as most of Tolkien's characters are). And since the characters in the film often differ in other ways as well, it's easy to associate that single physical interpretation with a single personality interpretation--which is something I run into all the time with book fan fiction that relies on movie interpretations for the physical imagery. I love being introduced to different interpretations, but when everyone is giving me the same one then they aren't really exploring the characters in a creative fashion anymore.

That's why recovery or reconstruction of characters that are not 'the' version that Jackson gave us is so important to me, and why I was curious if and how people on the much more bookishly-minded Barrow-downs viewed the characters' physical appearance differently.
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Old 06-09-2010, 02:29 PM   #21
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I first read LotR about twenty years before the movies, so for a long time my inner images of the characters were more influenced by illustrations (most notably those in David Day's notorious Tolkien Bestiary, which, although freighted with non-canonical interpretations, had lots of beautiful artwork) and the Bakshi cartoon, but some characters remained rather hazy for me, because none of the visual representations I came across quite hit the nail on the head.

In the meantime, I've sort of adopted some of the movie characters, because they more or less fit what was in my head anyway and added detail to my preexisting image; others not so much.

The hobbits : have always been the least well-defined in my imagination, I'm afraid. Sean Astin's Sam works very well for me, Merry and Pippin sort offish, and Frodolijah not at all. Frodo should look several years older (and wiser and more elf-friendish, if you get my meaning), Pippin the reverse (he was the youngest of the four, not even of age yet - a teenager, if he was a Man).

Gandalf : McKellen was perfect as Gandalf the Grey, not quite so perfect as the White (but that's more a makeup issue - are we to suppose that his hair & beard were singed off in the fight with the Balrog, or why were they trimmed?).

Aragorn : now he may be the one I saw most clearly with my inner eye before the movies, and Viggo never came close for me. I've always pictured him as a sort of Leatherstocking figure, at least in his guise as Strider the Ranger; to be more specific, my Aragorn is Hellmut Lange, the actor who played Natty Bumppo in a late 60s German TV adaptation of Cooper's Tales which I saw as a child. Some pics:

Imagine him with longer hair, add a cloak and replace rifle with Andril - that's my Strider!
On the Anduin:
http://www.bamby.de/1969/Leder-1a.jpg
With Hasufel:
http://www.tv-nostalgie.de/Bilder%20Lederstrumpf/2h.JPG
Bakshi's Aragorn wasn't too bad either (but give the poor guy some pants!)

Boromir : I like what Sean Bean did with the role, but both Boro- and Faramir should be dark haired, and Fara could do with a little more edge.

Legolas : should have darker hair (could be a darker blonde, auburn or any shade of brown, I don't care which), lose the fancy hairdo and cut it a little shorter (imagine him moving in the thickets of Mirkwood with those tresses - ouch!).

Gimli : John Rhys-Davies minus the comic relief would do nicely, but he should wear a hood instead of helmet prior to Helm's Deep.

Elrond : I found Bakshi's Elrond lacking in elvishness, but he's still better than "You've been leading two lives, Mr Aragorn...".

Galadriel : Cate Blanchett did a very nice job, but I imagine the Lady with a slightly more, er... motherly figure, and her hair a more reddish-like blonde, to contrast better with Celeborn's silver.

Saruman : see Gandalf above, only without reservations.

Thoden : should look a little older than Bernard Hill; long white hair & beard.

omer & owyn : more or less as in the movies; owyn maybe a litte sterner and cooler.

Denethor : movie-Denethor was a disgrace, both visually and as a character. My Steward is a much more ascetic figure ("...lest with age the body should grow soft and timid"!): lean and haughty, with an aquiline nose, whitening hair and a neatly trimmed greying beard. (No idea where the latter comes from - it's not essential, but that's how I picture him. And no, he doesn't munch cocktail tomatoes, thank you very much.)

That's more or less my somewhat unsystematic response to questions 1.-4. As for 5.: yes, I've tried to draw some of the characters the way I see them, but being the perfectionist I am, I'm not quite satisfied with the results.
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Old 06-09-2010, 02:30 PM   #22
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And since the characters in the film often differ in other ways as well, it's easy to associate that single physical interpretation with a single personality interpretation--which is something I run into all the time with book fan fiction that relies on movie interpretations for the physical imagery. I love being introduced to different interpretations, but when everyone is giving me the same one then they aren't really exploring the characters in a creative fashion.
Ah, fanon. I have much the same problem with it (not to mention a personal dislike for the liberal use of Elvish where Tolkien himself didn't use it, i.e. using "atar" in place of "father" in a phrase that was otherwise not in Elvish). Drives me bats, sometimes.

As far as my personal vision of the characters, I formed them decades before Jackson, when I aspired to turn my art toward illustration (I was all of 12 at the time). It took some time before the images settled down, but they've remained the same ever since. While most of the actors were acceptable for movie purposes and some were very close to my interpretations, none were so remarkable that they have replaced my old visions. My brain tends to keep them in distinctly separate categories, and if I ever find movie-isms creeping in, I can pull out my old illustrations or portrait drawings and reestablish my original visions.
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Old 06-13-2010, 09:40 PM   #23
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I just finished watching the movies Friday, and I have to admit they have affected my mental images of the characters. It's not constant, though. Sometimes I'll read a line and hear the actor's voice in my head, it's so movie!character. Other times it's a firmer, slightly movie-influenced image I'd come up with before watching the films. Other times I can't see the actor in my head at all, it's pure mental!character.

I'm almost embarrassed to confess I like the Bakshi Merry and Pip just as well, and in some ways better than, PJ's Hobbits. Boromir is slightly closer to mental!Boromir as well.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:48 AM   #24
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It's exactly what the original post was about.

But some people can get rid of movie imagery, especially for characters (e.g. Faramir) whose physical appearance and inner character differed largely from book to film.

The problem with the whole issue is that even focusing on one physical appearance inherently delimits a character who, at least on the physical level, is only 'sketched' by the author (as most of Tolkien's characters are). And since the characters in the film often differ in other ways as well, it's easy to associate that single physical interpretation with a single personality interpretation--which is something I run into all the time with book fan fiction that relies on movie interpretations for the physical imagery. I love being introduced to different interpretations, but when everyone is giving me the same one then they aren't really exploring the characters in a creative fashion anymore.

That's why recovery or reconstruction of characters that are not 'the' version that Jackson gave us is so important to me, and why I was curious if and how people on the much more bookishly-minded Barrow-downs viewed the characters' physical appearance differently.
Thanks Mnemosyne! yeah I agree- but if the writer describes their characters elaborately the image can become even more muddled.
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:17 AM   #25
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I did read the books before the movies, and would have to say I pictured them to be similar to the actors/actresses in the movies. They were not dead ringers for them, but they came pretty close to being so. Elijah Wood, even though I love his acting, wasn't my Frodo. Viggo, in my minds eye, was my Strider, but as someone said he could have looked a little more weatherbeaten, and I always pictured my Strider to be a bit more well built; not that Viggo isn't. The elves, however, were perfect for me, all of them were; especially Galadriel.

I'm usually one of them that tends to have problems with my mental images being marred by the movie ones, but if anything, the movies HELPED my mental images; with the exception of Frodo, Faramir and Denethor, even though I love both Elijah and David. My mental images of them are actually similar to Pitchwife's.

In regards to question five, I do a little of all three. Well, more so RPGs than the other two. I truly am afraid to even ATTEMPT to write a fan-fic for Lord of the Rings; I feel that if I do so, I would only end up making a disgrace of myself. My writing is no where NEAR on par with that of Tolkien or any other seasoned writer. I have not yet attempted at drawing any of the characters or landscapes YET, because I usually need something to look at; I'm more of a cartoonist. So I have yet to attempt at drawing them. I usually tend to only like doing very descriptive RPGs so yes, RPing tends to draw upon the mental images quite alot.
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Old 12-25-2010, 02:29 AM   #26
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You know what's funny? I never imagined the characters to look like the people in the movie, but I did imagine their voices to be very similar. Especially Frodo and Sam. Gandalf...in my head he had a somewhat deeper voice, and more cutting.
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:55 PM   #27
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When I read books, very often my "imagined" characters don't have faces. I don't know why, but that's how my imagination works - I picture the personalities rather than the physical appearance. Saying that, my characters have clothes, and height, and hair, and other physical aspects, but I just can't make the "proper face image", even if it's described in the book . Especially in Tolkien's books, where faces (and particularly eyes) reflect the character's inner self.
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Old 01-16-2011, 12:11 AM   #28
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When I read books, very often my "imagined" characters don't have faces. I don't know why, but that's how my imagination works - I picture the personalities rather than the physical appearance. Saying that, my characters have clothes, and height, and hair, and other physical aspects, but I just can't make the "proper face image", even if it's described in the book . Especially in Tolkien's books, where faces (and particularly eyes) reflect the character's inner self.
No, that's quite common. Many people have a hard time conjuring up a face.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:33 PM   #29
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No, that's quite common. Many people have a hard time conjuring up a face.
I remember I heard somewhere that all the faces you dream of or can imagine are made up of real faces you've actually seen in real life, even if subconsciously. Maybe this would explain it? (I also find it hard to do)
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:21 PM   #30
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Me too. I have a general idea of what a character would look like, so I can tell whether a picture is like them or not, but I don't imagine a face so clearly that I'd be able to draw it - I've tried to, but the results always fall short of my inner vision, not because of lack of drawing skills, but because any drawing is too precise compared to what I imagine when reading.

(Related but slightly off-topic, does it happen to anyone else that you imagine a character e.g. dark-haired because their name somehow sounds/looks dark to you, even though they're clearly described as blond in the text?)
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:33 PM   #31
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(Related but slightly off-topic, does it happen to anyone else that you imagine a character e.g. dark-haired because their name somehow sounds/looks dark to you, even though they're clearly described as blond in the text?)
I've always imagined both Melian and Luthien to have golden hair, and Finrod to be dark.
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:01 PM   #32
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I've always imagined both Melian and Luthien to have golden hair, and Finrod to be dark.
Funny how I always imagined Pippin and Merry to have fair hair, even though Frodo's the one with that colour.
But yeah, Nolofinw was ALWAYS dark-haired in my mind. Celegorm was just blond
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:52 AM   #33
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(Related but slightly off-topic, does it happen to anyone else that you imagine a character e.g. dark-haired because their name somehow sounds/looks dark to you, even though they're clearly described as blond in the text?)
I know the first time I imagined Feanor he had red hair, maybe because of the whole "Spirit of Fire" thing...
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:56 PM   #34
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Celegorm was just blond
Yeah, that too! Celegorm just sounds blond! And if it wasn't repeatedly mentioned that Caranthir is DARK, he'd have flaming red hair!
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Old 01-21-2011, 07:01 AM   #35
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Yeah, that too! Celegorm just sounds blond! And if it wasn't repeatedly mentioned that Caranthir is DARK, he'd have flaming red hair!
Yes! Exactly! And Saeros, too! I ALWAYS imagined him with reddish brown hair.
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Old 01-21-2011, 12:32 PM   #36
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Caranthir Morifinwe was said to be black-haired like his grandfather -- but under mother-names (Shibboleth of Feanor): 'he was dark (brown) haired but had the ruddy complexion of his mother'. Hence his name Caranthir 'red-face' (compare Caradhras 'red horn').

Hmm.

Celegorm was golden-haired actually, or 'was' in an external sense anyway, though not that anyone didn't know that (CJRT edited this out for the 1977 Silmarillion), or the bit about 'Morifinwe'
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:42 PM   #37
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I don't know why, but I see Tuor as a dark-haired guy. Definitely not golden-haired.
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Old 04-24-2011, 01:28 AM   #38
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I resisted seeing the movies for a long time because I knew they would not fit my own imagination and I was already happy with the 1981 BBC radio dramatisation which I regard very highly. I'm actually about to watch the entire extended movies tomorrow, but this time I will think of it as a highschool play rather than anything serious.
First up I am a child of the 80s so that might explain a few of my influences.
For me Willow will always be what Frodo looks like (but sounds like Ian Holm), the hobbits and what I imagine the shire to be like in general are influenced heavily by that movie also. Gandalf IS the Gandalf from the Bakshi cartoon (especially the beginning the part I remember best). I like Pitchwife's idea of Helmutt Lange for Aragorn. I also agree that Boromir and Faramir should have darker hair, and I always had Boromir with a black almost frankish moustache possibly like Sturm from the Dragonlance books (http://images.wikia.com/annex/images...rmAndFlint.jpg). Also agree that Gimli minus the stupid comedy relief was pretty much right. Keith Urban as Eomer is the only actor that I think looks like the character I had in mind.

I'm more interested in the Hobbit movie because its a simpler story and its not one of my favourite books. I wonder if they would butcher Children of Hurin if or when they decide to make it.
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:19 PM   #39
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Caranthir Morifinwe was said to be black-haired like his grandfather -- but under mother-names (Shibboleth of Feanor): 'he was dark (brown) haired but had the ruddy complexion of his mother'. Hence his name Caranthir 'red-face' (compare Caradhras 'red horn').
I thought Tolkien said that no elf had completely black hair
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Old 06-16-2011, 01:42 PM   #40
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I thought Tolkien said that no elf had completely black hair

He did... at one point


Words, Phrases, Passages (p. 155): 'The Noldor were generally hrva or morna' [these Elvish words are noted] 'morna black of hair: hrva 'dark, dark brown'

In another entry JRRT seemed to think absolute black was not the case (same source): 'The predominant colour of Noldorin hair was very dark brown (no Elf had absolute black hair: morna)' I note here that Tolkien used morna, the word used in the previous citation.

But even if this entry is later than the first, it appears possible that JRRT revised that no Elf was black of hair, as in The Shibboleth of Feanor (dated 1968 or later), for example, Finwe has 'black' hair (note 19). Or concerning Urundil (note 61): 'His hair was not as dark or black as was that of most of the Noldor, but brown, and had glints of coppery red in it.'


So it's all very clear... ah, I guess
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