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Old 07-14-2002, 03:31 PM   #1
Child of the 7th Age
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Sting Before and after the movie

Before the movie came out, many people in the "Tolkien community" were concerned about its impact. Some expressed concern about the influence it might have on the way the world viewed Tolkien, or the type and level of discussions that would take place on boards like these. Some charged that, after the movie, there would be little reasonable discussion of Tolkien as an author, since everything would be focused on the movie itself rather than the writings. Others countered these pessimistic charges, contending that many new fans would be led to read Tolkien for the first time.

We have had threads which addressed specific questions like how Frodo's image differed in book and movie, but I believe these wider issues haven't been directly discussed.

Almost seven months have passed since we first saw the movie. Were these original fears and criticisms justified? Has this board itself changed in any way? Most importantly, has there been any change in the level or type of discussion of Tolkien and Middle-earth that is going on here(for better or for worse)?

And, on a personal level, what did seeing the movie do for you? Were you a first time fan who might never have looked at Tolkien's books if it weren't for the movie, or someone who had known and loved Middle-earth long before Peter Jackson?

I will post my own thoughts on this later, but would like to hear what others say, both those with the perspective of new fans as well as those who've been around on this board much longer than I.

sharon, the 7th age hobbit

[ July 14, 2002: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 07-14-2002, 07:20 PM   #2
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I had read the hobbit, Lord of the Rings, the Sil, and several other books multiple times before watching the movie, but did not find the sites such as this until after watching the Movie, and even then, i didn't get registered until this month.

As you can see, most people, more than half of the registered people, did not register until after the movies came out. However most people dont post much unless they have read the books. I dont think that the quality of the discussions has gone down a lot. I don't think that very many people will go out and read the books now when there are movies to watch, but in the months leading up to last december, the hobbit and the LotR all were on the top ten for sales, so there were many people at least buying the books. Just my two cents worth
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Old 07-14-2002, 07:21 PM   #3
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Another of your questions, Sharon, which sets one thinking. Where do you get them from? [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

I’ve been around for a couple of months only, and I had never before really discussed Tolkien with anyone, though I’ve been the admirer of his works for just under 20 years. I don’t think I can be correct and objective about general tendencies. That’s just what I think.
I don’t believe that the film did any harm to Tolkien as the writer or to people who has read or is reading the books. Serious readers (I believe) will stay true to the books, whether they like the film or scold it. But one thing I’m certain of – the film has attracted (or I’d better say ‘revived&#8217 [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] interest in Tolkien. At least I know that many students in my school have got the books to read, and a few even attempt it in English. Now everything will depend on their inclinations and intelligence. If some will perceive Tolkien as just one more craze – well, it’s no worse than other crazes.

For me personally the film allowed to start discussing questions that had interested me for quite a time. I used to think that Tolkien wasn’t of great interest to people (at least judging by all my nearest and dearest). Or he was, but I just didn’t know where to look for them. The film sort of opened the doors. I had a discussion with my pupils (nothing too deep really) and the cause for it was that I brought the movie guide to class. A couple of girls didn’t go further than ‘Ooooh, Legolas!’ but you know, they never do. But some of my class expressed quite serious ideas both about the book/film and life in general.

Returning to this board. I can’t judge what has changed here since the film was released, but I find the discussions here deep and thought-provoking. I somehow feel that the ‘Movie” board is more light-minded than ‘The Books’, but cinematography as art is generally so. (If I’m not right here, I’m sorry. No offence ment to anybody) .

To cut this long and scrambled story short, I believe that the film is just (one more) door to the world of Middle-Earth. And everyone is able to decide whether to enter this door and in which room of the enormous house to dwell. Or to find some other door. Is it bad see a chance and to have a choice?
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Old 07-14-2002, 07:38 PM   #4
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Tolkien

The movie was like an intensely awesome candy on top of a wonderful cake.

The cake's the point, after all. It's what the most work went into, and it's the bulk, and it's what you're eating. The candy's garnish, but damn if I don't love it.
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Old 07-14-2002, 07:45 PM   #5
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i like the analogy
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Old 07-14-2002, 09:26 PM   #6
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For me... it was the movie that made me pick up the books and read them.
For quite a while I was not reading anything because I wasn't inspired to read anything (sad, I know). I had heard of The Lord of the Rings and I have always loved fantasy, but I never considered tackling such a large undertaking. My friends all love it (those who have read it all the way through), so I had heard about it (but sadly, I didn't even know what a Hobbit was [img]smilies/frown.gif[/img] )
I went to see the movie because of my love of movies in that genre, but I got more than I expected. I got a fantasy adventure with true emotions (something you don't get very often)... and it is these emotions that lead me to the books. I was so upset at the end of the movie (particularly because I wanted to know what would happen to Merry and Pippin) that I had to go get the books to find out what happened...

The book lead me to another world with even more that I never expected. I fell in love with them right away. I was mad at myself for not reading them before, but at the same time I may not have appreciated them as much...
It was my lack of knowledge about a lot of things in the book that lead me to these sites and this message board. I wanted to learn more and find out as much as possible.
I am now collecting every Tolkien book I can get my hands on (& that I can afford) and I am trying to learn as much as possible about this great author and his creations.

In short, if it wasn't for the movie, I probably wouldn't be here (that sounds terrible)... but it is the dedication and knowledge at this board that keeps me coming back to learn more, and I am even more excited when I can help someone out who is new and has some of the same questions that I once did.
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Old 07-14-2002, 10:01 PM   #7
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Good question C7A! I do believe that the movie has attracted (and revived, as akhtene said) more fans. Those who have been "revived" and those who have been drawn to Tolkien because of the movie both have one thing in common. Their love of Tolkien. However you get there makes no difference. They're just two paths of the same road.

I don't know if this board has changed at all, because I wasn't here before the movie came out. Before it came out, I had only read the Hobbit, but could never find LOTR anywhere to read! (All the libraries in my city had the books backed up for months...I was impatient) Then again, I didn't even draw the connection between LOTR and the Hobbit until I saw the movie trailers and recognized Gandalf. But, though I haven't been here long enough to give an honest comparison, I, like so many others, find the discussions both thought provoking (like this one! kudos! [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]) and fun. I think we have the BW and the moderators to thank for keeping this forum "true" to the works of Tolkien.

Seeing the movie I must say was a three hour escape into this world I had dreamed about for a month after I started reading the books (I had read them before the movie). Seeing the characters onscreen made them really come to life for me, even more so than before. PJ was giving life to a dream most of us had shared, to go to Middle-Earth, to share in this journey beyond the limits of our subconscious. I thank him for that.
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Old 07-14-2002, 10:38 PM   #8
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Sting

I drew up a thread from about 16 months ago where people made predictions what impact the movies would have. Take a look. It's intriguing. See "What Effect Will the Movie Have? Some Predictions" Sorry, can't put a link in.

sharon, the 7th age hobbit
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Old 07-14-2002, 11:15 PM   #9
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Sting

Another good one, Child.

Not to go off topic, but your question got me wondering how many other movies have inspired people to not only seek out the book, but to look for web sites devoted to the author as well.

I'm sure there were some movies out there that lead me to a book,(Raymond Chandler comes to mind), though I've read so much through the years it would be hard to name others. I usually think I seek out a film if I liked the book it was based on.

But the fairly new phenomenon of the World Wide Web has added a whole 'nother element. There are plenty of other authors that I'm as passionate about as Tolkien, but I have yet to seek out a forum devoted to their works.

There's just sumthin' about them Hobbits...
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Old 07-15-2002, 12:31 AM   #10
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Sting

Here's the Link to that thread:

Effects
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Old 07-15-2002, 01:12 PM   #11
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Since I began this thread, it's only fair that I add my thoughts.

On a personal level, how did the movie affect me as a Tolkien fan?

I read the Hobbit in the early 60s and LotR in the mid 60s, just before I left for college. A number of people during my undergraduate years shared my love of Tolkien. It was central to my interests and identity. Then I trudged off to graduate school, and became involved in medieval history and heavy, heavy workloads. I continued to read fantasy, but sporadically and lightly.

I have read Tolkien on and off since then. Sometimes it's been central to my life and sometimes less so, but it's always been there to draw upon.

The movie did relight my interest and led me first to e-bay (now I am broke!) and then to the Downs. Without the movie, I wouldn't have found this board or now own twelve volumes of HoMe! I think I've always had a pretty good understanding of LotR. What's different this time is that I'm looking at Middle-earth much more closely through Silm and HoMe, posting on a computer board, and writing fanfiction and RPGs. Those things just weren't around when I first read the books. So, for me, though a long-time reader, the movie did have an impact.

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Old 07-15-2002, 03:03 PM   #12
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Sting

I myself is one who read the books before the movie. However, the movie led me to the Barrow-Downs.

It's funny how the world- or at least the US- takes so much of their interpretaion of the world from the culture. It's like there's a large, gauzy veil over the truth that they have put on. It is only after you delve under it, and experience and know the information *behind* the interpretaion, that you really see it.

I found the old TV Guide report on the movie under a bunch of old school reports in my closet when I was cleaning out. "Elves, dwarves, wizards and hobbits!" They proclaim. It's funny to see the difference- To me, those words hold so much meaning, to my brother, they seem... fake, sterotypical. A D&D set.

So yes, things have changed- and no. There are a lot more people out there reading the books. People I didn't even think *read* talking about Tom's true existance. Tolkien is now a more wide spread and excepted thing, rather than a nerdy RPG bible. There are the 'commerical wights', who have just seen the movie and know little, and toddy old proffesors who smoke and know so much. And us. So really, it's stil the same ol' ME, just a bit better known.

(Okay, sorry for the long rant, that was just my two cents!)
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Old 07-15-2002, 07:13 PM   #13
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I had read the LoTR and parts of UT and the Sil when the movie was released (I saw it twice opening day, and I had school!). I knew that no matter what for me the books would come out unscathed. For example, I read Battlefield Earth (it took me most of a summer) and loved it. Then the movie bombed, very badly and everyone kind of joked about it. The worst thing that happened was those people who weren't going to read the book before the movie still didn't read the book.
But with FoTR the movie things were different. Most of my friends (and remember I was in high school, where people stay away, far away from books...nasty little buggers) wanted to read at least the Fellowship before the movies came out and everyone ended up finishing the entire book. One of my friends finished it in a week! The movie had a positive impact over the broad spectrum, but did not affect the way I saw the book. In fact much of PJ's interpretation is not far off of my own, so that helped.
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Old 07-15-2002, 08:31 PM   #14
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I'll be honest....I did register because of the movie but that's not to say that I did not read the books first. I did in fact read them years and years ago as a child. But as you grow into adulthood I sort of put the books away and got busy in everyday life. When the movie come out it was like bringing my childhood back to me...I could pick up the books that I loved as a child and read them and remember...It was great to remember. I think I put them down because I let others around me influence me that loving that particuliar author and story was unhealthy. Note that I came from a very religious family who condemned the story as devilry....I never did think that and I don't to this day. Frodo has become a part of my heart that I don't think will ever go away. I see alot of myself in him and I've been burdened down so many ways in my life that made me just look to Frodo......I totally believe the saying "FRODO LIVES"...because he does, live in us all....THat's totally not what the topic is about but the truth nonetheless. I think that the movie coming out was a really positive thing in my life....because I got to see all my favorite characters come to life on screen....IT was amazing and I remember the first time I was in the theatre watching it. My eyes never left the screen, I was in awe! THe most amazing experience ever! I think its alright for people to register after the movie because so many people have their own personal reasons for joining. It's never to late to start a love for Tolkiens work and even teenagers of this generation can too and I believe they have. We will always have people that just love the entertainment part but then again, we will get alot of new lovers of Tolkien. I think it can go both ways....Either it helps or it doesn't. It's totally up to the individual I guess.....Thanx Sharon for starting the topic. I was am amazed when I read your posts..you are great..i love coming here and hope that I am welcome.....

[ July 15, 2002: Message edited by: Airedae ]
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Old 07-16-2002, 10:45 AM   #15
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The changes to the Downs have been brought on not by a movie, I think, but by time. When the board started every topic was new and fresh, unless you had done other boards and other places. Even if you had, though, it was still fun to talk about it here for the first time. One of the first threads was about Balrog wings, another was about Tom Bombadil. The popular questions are popular for a reason. New people come and they ask the popular questions. I have my own answers, but I don't want to say them again every day. What the movie did was bring more people to the Downs. There are more stupid questions than before, yes, but there are also a lot more stupid people. Some of the older people become frustrated by the dumb posts while there are still loads more good threads than at the start.

I'm in sort of a unique position. I came here on day one, literally. Only BW and I can say that. I used to be one of the top posters, you can find an old thread that talks a bit about how I had something like a third of the total posts. That was more than two years ago. More than one year ago I stopped coming at all. I returned in April of this year. I was around before and after, but not during. The differences, such as they are, were thrown into a sharp relief for me. Some people bemoan the current state of the Downs, say that all of the newbies are ruining it for the serious posters, but I don't see that problem at all. The real problem is that the Downs isn't new anymore, and that it will never be new again.

The chat room is a bit different, though. Generally, it was never the place for serious discussion. I would say that the chat room is the same as ever, just three times more popular and always full.

The movie hasn't changed me personally in any way.
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Old 07-16-2002, 11:06 AM   #16
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Tolkien

Well, to tell you the truth I really wasn't interested in LOTR until the movie came out. I didn't even know there were any other stories besides the Hobbit. {I know, kinda stupid of me.} [img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img]

Anyway, my friend at school was reading FOTR and I started talking to him about the upcoming movie and different stuff like that. I sort of "hinted" toward my mom near Christmas if she could get me the book FOTR as a present. And, what do you know, she did!!

I started reading it that day and when I was done with that book, I was so eager to read the second one my mom took me to Barns n Nobles that afternoon to get it for me. On the other hand, I had to wait a whole MONTH after I read TTT until I could get ROTK. I really didn't see the movie itself until April.

But I guess it was kinda the movie that got me interested in Tolkien. But in my opinion, the movie was good and all, it just didn't match up with Tolkien's story. I think they could have done a little better in writing the script. But I think the movie coming out has changed me a little in how much I liked the story. It definitly changed my descision on who I liked best out of the story. But I think the movie really did get more people interrested in the story and in the world of ME. I certainly am now. In fact, I'm trying to own a collection of all Tolkien's works on ME.

But I've only been at the downs for a few months, so I can't really tell on how the movie changed the type of discussion here.

But I've gone on way to long here. So I'm stopping. {I really don't know if I even made any sense in what I said.} [img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img] Anyway, that's my thoughts. Bye.

[ July 16, 2002: Message edited by: Eruwen ]
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Old 07-16-2002, 11:19 AM   #17
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Sting

Airedae, I can relate. I had read the trilogy nine times, and it was part of the fabric of my life's tapestry. I have struggled intensely over thirty years trying to determine how Tolkien's stories and my own religious life could somehow -- at least-- get along. They were at odds for a long time. I set Tolkien aside-- or tried to-- for the past ten years. It wouldn't stay set aside! It kept resurfacing.

When the movie came out it resurfaced for good.

Tolkien intentionally created a myth, a huge, pervasive, encompassingly thorough myth. And I have just begun to realise that in my case-- it WORKED. I began to view reality in terms, and in the language and framework, of the myth that Tolkien created. That was his intention, for those who could receive it.

I think part of my ability to recieve it is improved by my recent studies and renewed interest in catholicism, especially catholic mysticism (I'm an ex-catholic evangelical) and this helps me understand, and recieve, Tolkien's mysticism.

My definitions of heroism, courage, self-sacrifice, immortality and death and suffering and numerous other concepts are hugely influenced by how Tolkien's characters lived and died. My definitions of holiness and purity are hugely influenced by Tokien's stories.

The fun thing is, that now, after the movie, not only am I (suddenly!) free, by my own choice and growth, to reintegrate Tolkien's stories with my faith-- but now these boards and sites (esp. the Downs) have become easily locate-able, and there are LOTS more people to talk to about it.

I had written fanfiction twenty-plus years before, but since then, I had burned it. Don't be upset-- it wasn't any good anyway! But now I am writing fanfiction again.

And I had read Tolkien-literary-analysis before. Now I participate in it, and it has a big impact on how I see things, and even on how I pray...

Am I grateful for the movie? Heck, yeah. Frodolijah pales beside BookFrodo-- but it was Frodolijah that made me look harder at BookFrodo and see what I had set aside. Have the Downs changed? I can't say, but I guess they must have; some threads seem to be getting rehashed endlessly; but there have been some threads that have, in large and small ways, changed my life.
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Old 07-16-2002, 11:34 AM   #18
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I had read the books some 4 times before the movie had come out, and since the first time i wondered how if it were to be made into a film, all the characters would be percieved. I can't say that the movies has brought the quality of posts down as i only registered in Feb, although i did haunt from Nov last year until then, but i suppose that the films did bring a lot of new members to the downs, for good or bad i do not know.
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Old 07-16-2002, 11:35 AM   #19
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I had read the books some 4 times before the movie had come out, and since the first time i wondered how if it were to be made into a film, all the characters would be percieved. I can't say that the movies has brought the quality of posts down as i only registered in Feb, although i did haunt from Nov last year until then, but i suppose that the films did bring a lot of new members to the downs, for good or bad i do not know.
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Old 07-16-2002, 01:12 PM   #20
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First, thanks to everyone who has posted on this thread so far. Your ideas and stories are interesting.

Burrahobbit -- Thanks for the post. I especially appreciate your perspective because you can look at things from a much longer view than many of us. One of the things that has interested me in this thread is the fact that so many of us who joined after the movie, and who do "serious" posts (whatever that is!), had actually been Tolkien fans for quite a while. It just took the movie to relight the fire and stumble around and find this place on the internet, so in that sense I am grateful for PJ. After ranting and raving against him for a while, I've come to realize that he did a great "fanfiction", a personal statement about how he saw the book, but not the book itself.

From looking at the earliest posts, I got the feeling that another thing that has been lost is the sense of intimacy. Because the site was smaller and it tended to attract the "truly dedicated" back then, I think there would have been more closeness. I also got the feeling from looking at the earlier posts that the board was a bit more "male" and just a tad older then (but not too much so) and a little more oriented to the history of Middle-earth rather than the LotR itself. But my assessment could be wrong as this was just feelings that came from sifting through old friends.

Personally, that is the main change that the board has meant for me. It's gotten me into HoMe and the Legendarium as a whole rather than focusing more narrowly on Hobbit and LotR. I've always read tons of Tolkien criticism (I have quite a collection!) so that really hasn't changed.

Helen - That is an awesome statement. This morning I posted on another thread, about rereading Tolkien and tried to explain some of those more personal things. You might want to look at that if you haven't. It's also an interesting thread.

sharon, the 7th age hobbit
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Old 07-16-2002, 02:21 PM   #21
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Quote:
I also got the feeling from looking at the earlier posts that the board was a bit more "male" and just a tad older then
Quam was 13 and I was 16. Balin999 is only slightly older than me, and Kate was 16 too. There were always plenty of young people, but the mostly male part is fairly spot on.
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Old 07-16-2002, 07:48 PM   #22
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really? I've gotten the impression that the bulk of the fans are female, but that may be related to the actors who played Legolas and Aragorn in the movie.

I saw the teaser trailer for the movie in feb. 2001, and that's what got me interested in the movie. I work in a theater, so i got to watch it several times. It just shows the Fellowship coming over a hill just after leaving Rivendell, with the theme music blaring. The first time i saw it i wasn't really impressed; i kinda though, um, okay- bunch of guys coming over a hill-real exciting, and the music wasn't doing anything for me. It was really quite a good teaser though: people who HAD read the books were forewarned, and people who hadn't wondered how in the world this trilogy had gotten so popular and picked up the books. I read the hobbit first, since my dad, who was really into the books as a kid and has a 1st edition hardcover copy of the silmarilien, told my that it would make more sense that way. (My older sister ignored this advice, and therefore believes that dragons are friendly and always willing to help.) it took me about two days to get through the hobbit. When i started the trilogy i was about iffy about it; 'a long-expected party' wasn't quite what i was expcting at first, but as soon as i got a coupla pages into it i couldn't tear myself away. Took me three weeks to get through the whole trilogy. by december i was a hardcore Tolkien fan.

My point is that i would have probably not have gotten around to reading the books for several more years if i had not heard about a movie. Alot of really good books tend to be made into really bad movies (like the animated LOTR, It, etc, etc), and i wanted to see what the real story was like. A good friend of mine read LOTR: FOTR just so that she would know what would happen in the movie. And alot of people started reading (this is partially true for me too) because hardcore Tolkien fans told other people that that would understand the movie so much better if they had at least read the books.
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Old 07-16-2002, 08:37 PM   #23
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I think that the movie's impact was more positive then negative.

I had the books prior to the movie's release and was expecting what was going to happen in it. My friends, whom I went with, had no clue. Lets just say that they are hooked now. The moment we exited the theater that first time we went they were all buzzing about how they did not have the patience to wait for ttt and went home begging their mothers and fathers for the trilogy. It was funny how my friends reacted to it though because I was sure that the moment we came out of the movie they were going to all babble about how hot Legolas, Frodo, Aragorn, etc were but instead they were all pounding me with questions about what happens next [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] It really freaked me out about how literary minded they had become in a matter of three hours.
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Old 07-16-2002, 09:31 PM   #24
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I, being a new member of the forums, but not of the site, have seen a lot of great discussions on this board. This thread, however, stimulates my curiousity with Child of the 7th Age's insight.

I've loved Lord of the Rings ever since I received the books for my birthday in 1994. I was only 10 years old, but I loved the vivid descriptions and plot of the Lord of the Rings. I do understand the story better now.

Not much changed for me when the movie came out. It only helped me get a better sense of what the characters look like. Now, when I read the books, I picture the characters from the movie. The way I imagined the characters before the movie was quite the same except that I saw almost all elves with grey eyes and Legolas with dark hair.

However, for others, the movie changed the way they look at the world. My cousin, who is 12, saw the movie and immediately asked to borrow my books to read them. Sometimes I think she knows more than I do now!

Over all, I think the movie did the world of Middle Earth some good. It attracted new fans to Tolkien and more people are reading the books. It's also helped the role playing world. I've been rping in Middle Earth since I first finished reading the books. There are a lot more new places to rp now and more members.
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Old 07-16-2002, 10:32 PM   #25
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Laureloth --

Are you in RPGs here, or on other sites as well?

sharon, the 7th age hobbit

[ July 17, 2002: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 07-17-2002, 12:08 AM   #26
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I'd just like to clarify what I said earlier. None of that applies to Novices & Newcomers. That part didn't exist for most of the time that I was around before. I've only ever looked at the list of topics a few times. Quite frankly, I didn't like what I saw. I fear that if I ever really read a topic there that I will break in half and die. None of what I said in my other posts applies to N&N.
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Old 07-19-2002, 10:18 AM   #27
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The movie impacted me more as a mother than as a LOTR fan. I've reread the Hobbit and the trilogy about once a year for the past twenty four years because I enjoy them and get something new from them each time.

Because of the movie my kids became LOTR fans, the little one even had me redo his room with a sort of Elvin motif. He was not satisfied knowing that there is more in the book than the movie and did not want to wait three years to have the whole story, so I ended up reading the Hobbit and LOTR aloud to this eight-year-old. In answering his questions and also through the perspective of experiencing LOTR as a spoken work, I gained so much insight into Tolkien and truth. Now my child is attempting to read LOTR himself...quite a challenge for someone his age. Meanwhile I've read the Silm and am working my way through HoME. This deeper interest has been inspired by the Barrowdowns. My child was the one who actually found the Barrowdowns when he was searching the net for Gollum riddles. We both enjoy different parts of it. He loves the art.

We both agree that there are different advantages to seeing the movie, hearing the book, and reading the book and that we get different insights from each medium because different senses are impacted.

I loved the movie overall and look forward to seeing the other installments.

[ July 19, 2002: Message edited by: greyhavener ]
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Old 07-25-2002, 10:41 AM   #28
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I’ve been sitting back to see if any other old-timers would field this one and have been surprised that no one besides burra has replied. Maybe part of the reason is that many of the folks who were around when the board started and guided it through its infancy are now gone, or else post rarely. You’re right, Cot7A – before the movie, the board was a more intimate place and seemed to have a broader focus on Middle-earth – its arcane trivia, its geographical and historical nuances, its textual history, and especially its extra-LotR details – as opposed to a more narrow focus on LotR. You had to crack open your Sil, UT, and HoME if you really wanted to keep up.

The site’s membership was small but dedicated, and especially dedicated to a certain tone and style of discussion. Other boards used to flame us for being too intellectual and stuffy (though they usually used more colorful adjectives), but when I first visited, I was immediately impressed by the board’s unique mixture of witty good humor and rigorous intelligence.

When I started out, it took me only a few days of lurking to catch up with most of the posts on the site and get into the groove – back then, it seems, you felt like you really had to have something to contribute before you posted. Newbies would frequently express trepidation in their first posts, wondering if they’d be able to keep up with the high bar set by other posters. Not to give you the wrong idea, though – you’ll never meet a more welcoming bunch than the early members. They showed great patience and restraint with some of my more outlandish theories and speculations.

Trolls with little or nothing to contribute were a seldom-encountered curiosity, and usually soon moved on to more fertile ground. It was easy to keep track of virtually every post that was made back then. The downside was that sometimes whole days would go by without a single post being made in any of the threads you were following. On the upside, you didn’t have to scroll through pages of contentless posts to get to some meat.

Traffic started to increase steadily as the movie’s release approached, and the board’s tone was diluted somewhat – as burra mentioned, the addition of Novices and Newcomers was partly an effort to maintain the board’s intellectual flavor but still accommodate new members who were more interested in fun and conversation than in plumbing the depths of, say, Tolkien’s mythological influences, or whether or not the needs of Khazad-dûm could really have been met by the lone eastern bridge from FotR.

Now, several months and a few thousand new members later, the Downs has clearly changed quite a bit, for better and for worse. New board software without the ezBoard popups = good! Having to sift through dozens of “chatter” posts to get to something interesting = bad. I reckon I’ll refrain from getting into too many details, other than to say that there’s inevitably something lost when you go from a sleepy small-town feel to a bustling boom-town atmosphere. You wonder, who are these people and why is a strip mall going up in place of those trees that my front porch used to look out on? I think it’s the reason why you see some old-timers get cranky. Even if every single one of our 3000+ new members post-movie were an articulate, witty, and thoughtful poster (many, in fact, are), that something, that intimacy, that feeling of being an important part of a small, tight-knit community, whatever you want to call it, would still be gone, or at least diminished.

In terms of style and content of discussion, there are some obvious changes and some that are more subtle. I won’t dwell on the obvious differences for, well, obvious reasons. I’ll just observe that the “serious” discussions these days are different in one way that I’ve noticed. There’s a general trend to discuss Tolkien and his works in more general terms against a wider perspective – Frodo’s grief and how it matches or differs from real-world suffering; Tolkien’s achievement in relation to world literature; how Tolkien’s belief system affected his work, etc. – as opposed to the much more detailed textual debates and analysis of famed threads of yore. That isn’t necessarily better or worse... just different.
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Old 07-25-2002, 07:56 PM   #29
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my outlook on the move was about 50% postive and 50% negative positive for the obvious reasons but negative because alot was left out, and mainly, all these people seeing it for the first time and never reading the books and then saying it sucked cause of the end or are wondering whjy this happened or that happened, u know, dumb questions that would be answered in the book but there to lazy to read it so they see it in the movies and complain about it,
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Old 07-26-2002, 02:26 AM   #30
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Ok, here's my story. I first laid my eyes on LOTR 3 years ago, when I borrowed it from the school's English library. However, there were only 2 volumes available, of which I had become painfully aware after I had finished TTT and realized there was more to come. [img]smilies/mad.gif[/img] After a year I finished highschool and went to university in another town - which had a British Council Library. Of, course, one of my first borrowed books was LOTR. Still- even though it is widely held that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, this library also had only the first two volumes! (I still have to figure out why would anyone offer only the first two volumes and keep the third! Maybe because of the appendices)
Fortunately, after another period of frustration, the movie came out, and my fellow compatriots decided to translate the whole trilogy, which I immediately bought and read. However, I have not seen the movie until quite recently (May, to be exact). Why? Simply because I was afraid not to be dissapointed. I already had a clear picture in my mind of the characters, the setting, etc, and it was so wonderful, that I wanted to keep it. Three chances I had of seeing thae movie, and I passed on all of them. Finally, in May, on what appeared to be the final showing of LOTR in theatres, I gave in. My feelings were mixed, and so numerous, that I need not mention here. The most important thing is that I would have regretted not seeing the movie. The movie - though far from perfect- and the books complete each other and make a whole. Not to mention, giving me the opportunity to read TROTK!
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Old 07-26-2002, 07:33 AM   #31
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hello child [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

i've been meaning with what little time i have to post on your thread but haven't really gotten down to it, but now after reading mr. underhill's post i feel really obliged to. notwithstanding the fact that i have been an early though completely passive member of the BD, i understand what mr. underhill meant and share recognition of the experience of change in the BD. members who used to dominate the boards conking out, the shift from the literary to a more existential approach to lotr, the textural add-ins of the movie, etc.,...the BD has certainly grown beyond recognition.

i 1st read lotr when i was 12, and sil when i was 18, and for 20 years i've been regurgitating tolkien, but never had i a deeper appreciation of it as a piece of literature until i began reading posts in the BD. the movie has brought forth imagery of ME landscape and characterization my own imagination could scarce have contrived, but that's about it. the books having lived in me for so long still dominate my perception of ME. i guess that carries over to my appreciation for BD, in the way that having been involved in it for so long, whatever growth and change could not alter my first impressions of it. i do just wish the oldies would come back, nevermind if some of them intimidate the hell out of me [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img].
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Old 07-26-2002, 08:31 AM   #32
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Mr. Underhill--

Thanks so very much for taking the time to post on this question. Whenever I read the older threads, I am so blown away with the depth of knowledge shown about the Silm and the general history of Middle-earth. If I were an "old-timer" on these boards, I would miss that level of discussion.

At the same time, however, I know that, in the long run, it has to be good to get more people interested in Tolkien and his writings. I truly believe that these books are good, not just good for the twentieth century or the twenty-first, but good as literature that can and should endure for all time. And that can't and won't happen just because of a few critics or a few fans. It has to happen because there are a significant group of people who, in their hearts, can see and value these writings for what they mean.

So, those of you out there, who've been around on these boards, have patience with us. Some of us at least are trying to larn, and we appreciate the guidance you have given us. Thanks again.

sharon, the 7th age hobbit
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Old 07-26-2002, 09:02 AM   #33
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I had heard of LOTR and a bunch of my friends had read it. They said "Really, you should read the book before seeing the movie!" And I said, "Fine." So it comes out and it all I can't do to not go ahead and see it cause all my friends are squealing about it. They talked about "Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas!" and I thought the were babbling jibberish! But then I read the book ,and finished FotR in six days. My reward- I saw FotR the movie four times before it went out of theatres. I love it, have read all three books and reread them three times since then and its a exciting each time. I think that the movie goers that just saw the movie and didn't read the book are just getting the icing off the cake and don't know what kind of goodies they're mising by not reading the books. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 07-27-2002, 03:35 AM   #34
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Silmaril

Mister Underhill, when I came to the Barrow-Downs at the beginning of this year, I read as many old threads as possible - it was already impossible to catch up then! I must admit, I mourned the fact that I hadn't realized there was a wonderful place like this and wished I'd been around to get the feeling there used to be here! But that is the most significant change the movie made for me - the publicity about the websites introduced me to this one, and it has greatly enriched my life ever since!

I agree that it is more difficult to find one's place in the crowd now - it's triple the size it was even when I came in! Yet I can't help but wonder what would have happened to the Downs without the widening of the scope into general aspects, indeed a strengthening of the feminine point of view which was certainly less in the site's beginnings, IMO.

There is only so much discussion potential in balrog wings, the nature of Tom Bombadil etc. before the topics dry out. Unfortunately, a dead author produces no new material that can be considered. A broadening viewpoint, while containing the peril of dilution, is perhaps inevitably necessary for the continuation of discussions.

Your comparison of the site to a boom-town is quite appropriate; we can no longer keep in touch with everyone in town, but we can build neighborhoods with close contacts and just wave and smile at those we don't know as well. (And we can try to simply ignore those people in the community who irritate us...)

Where will the next two installments of the movie take the Barrow-Downs? Where will they take me? I hope to keep enjoying books, site and movies and I intend to try my best to make this a place I will want to continue to come to!
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Old 07-27-2002, 05:43 AM   #35
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Hullo everyone !

What strikes me, is that apparently everybody here started reading Tolkien as a teenager!
Am I the only one who has discovered Tolkien at a later age? I really wonder now why I haven`t heard about LotR during my stay in England (1971) and in the USA (1973). I read a lot of English books, but none of my friends, teachers etc ever mentioned Tolkien to me...

Only about a year ago, when there was talk about the oncoming movie, my son (16) was recommended "The Hobbit" and LotR by his scout-friends and started reading it (in German).Suddenly I also noticed a large display of Tolkiens works in the English bookshop here in Zürich. So I bought myself the Hobbit and LotR and managed to read FotR before the movie came out. I was immediatly spellbound ,as by hardly any other book before. A whole new world opened up for me! After LotR I read the Silmarillion , a biography and Tolkiens "On Fairie-Stories".

To my own surprise I liked the movie too- inspite of all the shortcomings it conveys much of the books atmosphere.
I have the impression, (like many others said ) that the movies cause a new interest in Tolkien and many young people (especially in the non English-speaking countries) have their first encounter with Tolkiens world thanks to the film, and ,hopefully, many of them will then read the books.

As for my joining the Barrowdowns, well that was also thanks to my son. (Half a year ago I never even used a computer!!)since I had no one else to discuss this topic with, he showed me how to use the internet and find this wonderful site. I was delighted to meet so many other Tolkien-fans all over the world, and since then I`ve read so many interesting contributions and thought-provoking threads, it really has enriched my life!
Thank you all, and especially the founders of the Barrowdowns!!
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Old 07-27-2002, 06:33 PM   #36
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I had only visited Tolkien sites a couple of times before the film. At that time, the people and their wealth of knowledge were too intimidating for me, so I moved on to other things.

Before the movie, I had set LOTR on the shelf – I had always had a high regard for Tolkien, but outside of occasionally rereading the books and listening to the BBC radio production, I didn’t feel any need to live my life around it. This was the case for a number of years, until word of Jackson’s movie caught my attention. I now have a renewed interest in the story, and have discovered that there are others who are quite willing to discuss, question, and share knowledge on every aspect of Tolkien’s creation.

Although I am new to The Barrow-Downs, I have visited several Tolkien MBs since the release of the film. Judging from the apparent expansion of online Tolkien interest, the FOTR movie - warts and all - has been beneficial in spreading the word (and re-igniting the passion of longtime appreciators) of Tolkien’s great work. True, a lot of these fans are ignorant of the finer points, and in the long run many could prove to be merely bandwagoners, but there are also those who seem to genuinely want to learn more. The latter will be the ones to carry on the torch long after we are gone.

If I have repeated what others have said, pardon the redundancy.

A question – have we reached the point where Tolkien is no longer considered the province of nerds? There’s food for thought – the conflicting attitudes toward LOTR; high cachet literature and target of derision.

[ July 27, 2002: Message edited by: Sweatpea Knotwise ]
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Old 07-27-2002, 07:15 PM   #37
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I have known about LOTR for about 5 years now but I didnt actually read the books until I had seen the movie. I am reading the books now and I actually like the books more than the movie. Even though I've seen the movie when I am reading the books the characters I imagine arent the ones from the movie. I think that the movie helped, if the people only liked the movie they would have given up by now (thats my theory)
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Old 07-27-2002, 09:35 PM   #38
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After I saw previews for FotR, I read the book. When I was finished, I saw the movie. It's a good thing I read the first couple of chapters of TTT, otherwise the movie would have ruined them for me. I actually had read exactly as far in the book as the movie went, and I forgot that I had even started the Two Towers.
After reading LotR, I read The Hobbit, and I just started reading the Silm. It's a little confusing, so I just think of it more as history than a story, although history is a story.
Since I didn't register here until after the movie came out (I didn't even know about the Barrow Downs), I can't really say anything about how the content has changed, but I think it's good that there is are separate sections for movie discussions and book discussions.
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Old 07-28-2002, 05:07 PM   #39
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Although I am a long time Tolkien fan, I only discovered this site a matter of weeks ago, (but then again, its only a couple of months since I started using the web on a regular basis, a bit of a technophobe me, but I'm getting there.) Obviously I can't comment on how the site has changed since the movie, but I can say that I love the serious discussions which are making me think more deeply than ever before, but I also feel that there is a place for the novices and newcomers etc, I could go there and get my feet wet without getting in over my head too soon, as I will only post if I feel I have something valid to add to a discussion.
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Old 07-28-2002, 08:17 PM   #40
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Before the movie came out, I had read The Hobbit and had thought it was pretty good (although I wasn't thinking, "This is exceptional! It's ingenious!"). That was when I thought it was just another pastless/futureless fairy-tale with no complete world to fall back on. Then I saw the movie and realized that it was connected to The Hobbit in a lot of ways, and seeing that there was a history behind the Ring, I became interested and wanted to learn more about it. I found this site in February (though I didn't join the forum till late April) and read the books in March. I just finished the Sil a couple of weeks ago, and I can now declare myself a fan of Tolkien's work [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img].

From what I've seen in the many discussions about, I would have to say that the level of intellect in the discussions has decreased somewhat, although not entirely. Here in the Books forum, I find a lot of good, thoughtful discussions to muse over and learn from. At least the forum has not lowered itself to having 60% of the topics lead down to, "OMG, Legolas is sooooo hot, he'z 2 fine 4U," or anything like that. Also, I've noticed that there must have been a huge inflow of members here because of the popularity of the movie.

Thanks for starting this thread, Child. It gives me a real insight to the changes of this forum over the past time.
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