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Old 01-21-2004, 07:48 AM   #1
zb
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Sting Worldview changes

We've discussed many of the changes in detail involved in PJ's interpretation of LotR, but what about the basic world view: the 'underlying assumptions', if you like?<P>I'll start with the obvious. Tolkien was a Roman Catholic (possibly the most meaningless and least specific description ever... ); as far as I know, Jackson isn't 'religious'. Of course there's going to be something of a shift here. I don't think I've ever seen someone accurately capture the nuances of someone else's religious influences, and LotR is fairly 'Catholic' according to JRRT himself. Indeed:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:<HR>Asked how much interest he had in fleshing out the Christian themes in the story, Jackson replied "Not an ounce." (<A HREF="http://www.razormouth.com/archives/00000292.htm" TARGET=_blank>source, scroll down somewhat</A>)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>There's also the concept of honour. Although I have seen reviewers use the word 'honour' in relation to the LotR movies, I can't see it there. Again, this is perhaps a fairly obvious point and I won't discuss it in depth (I have to get to bed at some stage tonight!), but <A HREF="http://glosses.net/archives/000241.php" TARGET=_blank>this</A> is good, and points to indo-european epic rather than Xianity:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:<HR>In the book, Eomer makes his decision despite "the letter of the law", based on his judgement of Aragorn; Faramir does not hesitate for a second, faced with the temptation of the ring; Aragorn stays loyal to Arwen throughout the books - however tempted he is by Eowyn, he does not flirt with her, hug her, or give her false hope. And Merry and Pippin's resistance and courage...Gimli... the Ents.. all gone comic relief. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Another aspect is the end of the world. (Probably due to his Xian beliefs) Tolkien seemed to have had quite a strong sense of the fact that this world shall pass. This can be seen in <A HREF="http://forum.barrowdowns.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=003918" TARGET=_blank>"The Great End"</A>. It can also be seen in RotK as a book-movie contrast. In the book, Pippin's oath is:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:<HR>...from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, <I>or the world end</I>. (my italics)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>In the movie, as we all know, the italicised part is dropped. This makes sense within the movie worldview, as the end of the world is just a far-off event which can be ignored entirely, but death taking me is an immediate possibility and a dramatic climax. But within the worldview of the book, the world ending remains the ultimate climax regardless of what happens now.<P>Another obvious difference can be seen in Gandalf's movie conversation with Pippin about how death ain't so bad after all. Although some have said that the lines which have been transposed from Frodo's dream and the Grey Havens scene in the book point to a Christian belief in the afterlife, I disagree. In their context, they point more to a vague sort of belief that if you die, and you were a nice enough person, It's All Good (tm). This is quite far removed from Tolkien's own beliefs, and does seem to indicate a basic difference in ideas of death.<P>One final point before I say 'go forth and discuss' and go and have a shower: does anyone else think that Tolkien's themes of quiet existence in 'harmony' with nature are ironically undermined by the fact that we all watch the LotR movies in huge cinemas, drinking soft drink from disposable cups, and ooh and aah over computer-generated scenes? <p>[ 8:49 AM January 21, 2004: Message edited by: zb ]
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Old 01-21-2004, 10:10 PM   #2
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Wow. Exellent topic, and very well written. I'm surprised no one else has replied yet! <P>My take on this is that although Tolkien was Roman Catholic (and by all acounts, an extremely devout one), he created LotR as a mythological story, comparable to Beowulf or the Nibelung saga. LotR has examples of morality, such as the fidelity of Aragorn to Arwen. These may well have been because of Tolkien's Catholic background, but then again, it could have just been his, and society's views on what was good in humanity.<P>I think Peter Jackson did quite well with what he was given. Unfortunatly, the majority of movie-goers do not live by Socrates' maxim : <I>the unexamined life is not worth living</I>, so he had to work with potentially bored audience members if his movie was going to make any sort of material profit at all. (Sad, really, but money makes the world tick.) So I think Jackson severely dumbed down the philosophical messages in the book to make a marginly deep movie. <P>Well, I hope I made some sort of point, and didn't ramble on for ten minutes. But that's my two cents.
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Old 01-22-2004, 02:54 AM   #3
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Sting

Saraphim: I was thinking this morning about PJ and the 'Christian Themes' of LotR and why PJ didn't pick up on them. My conclusions were similar to yours:<P><UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Why should PJ want to promote themes based on a religion which he doesn't belong to, anyway?<BR><LI>In the US, there are probably enough Christians, nominal or otherwise, to support a movie with more blatantly Xian themes. Outside of the US, the case is quite different. So if you want to make a movie which is popular throughout the western world, you stick to humanism.<BR><LI>Even those who say "let's give everything a Christian gloss" would probably be uncomfortable/bored by an actual cinematic rendering of Tolkien's worldview as expressed in LotR.<BR><LI>And since it's all about audience appeal, it has to be all about humanism, wishy-washy niceness, and no real philosophy.<BR></UL><P>Anyvauge, personally, I see indo-european epic as much as Christianity in ME (much like the author of the 2nd link I posted) and would be quite happy for discussion to get beyond the vauge term 'Christian themes'. Despite my 4-point 'why are there no "Christian themes"?' list...
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Old 01-22-2004, 09:43 AM   #4
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It's all because of money. Some people are so bloody insecure about themselves and their beliefs that they can't stand hearing about, seeing, or reading about other beliefs. Why else do you think religion can't officially be taught in public schools? The majority of the movie-going audience is made up of the insecurity-laden, paranoid, hoi polloi, who just can't handle religion.<P>It also has to do with the way our society has been developing. Honor, loyalty, and trust just aren't as important as they once were. Now, life is just about making money, keeping that money, and spending money. Whole livelihoods have sprung up based on that. When you ask someone off the street what their idea of honor or loyalty is, they will rattle off some textbook definition, or some epic definition, without viewing it as related to their own life. It is still possible to live your life with honor, dignity, loyalty, and steadfastness. It is possible. I don't think many people realize, or even understand, that. If the audience has no understanding of a concept, what is the point of giving it to them in a movie? Especially when you're getting rich off of them.<p>[ 10:44 AM January 22, 2004: Message edited by: Finwe ]
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Old 01-22-2004, 05:27 PM   #5
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Sting

(I need to stop posting on my own topic, hey? )<P>I'm wondering if the very-very minor changes from book to movie contain clues as to which assumptions have been taken up by PJ and which haven't. Along the lines of the world ending, here's another I noticed:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:<HR>The way is shut ... It was made by those who are dead, and the dead keep it, <I>until the time comes</I>. The way is shut. (my italics)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>As with Pippin's oath, the italicised bit isn't there in the movie. I'm not entirely sure what this indicates, but I have an idea. I think it's to do with the fact that book-Aragorn is going to be King, it's 'fated', he accepts that fact, and it's a major part of his idenity. And there's never going to be a popular vote about it (and no-one minds in the least). To Tolkien it's quite clear that the rightful king is going to be made king and that's the way the world works.<P>Of course, monarchy being what it is today, to PJ&co such an idea is a bit odd. So Aragorn becomes the reluctant king who must 'become who he is born to be', to sweeten things a bit. I don't even think this is a deliberate money-making thing. It's just PJ trying not to be 'weird'.<P>Any other minor/major changes which seem significant beyond character/appearance change?
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Old 01-22-2004, 05:32 PM   #6
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zb and Finwe, you both make excellent points. I agree with your statements out of experience. After RotK, I had many, many non-book-readers ask me why Frodo had to go into the west. That was one of the only really philosophical parts in the movie that wasn't spelled out, and about half the non-book-readers figured it out, if that!<P>Also, something I forgot to mention in my first post. The scene between Pippin and Gandalf, when Pippin asks about death. I think Jackson was indeed playing on the fact that most of the world believes that a good afterlife exists. He (most likely) based this perception on what <I>his</I> idea of the afterlife is, and thus it becomes Jackson's interpretation of Tolien's message. Tolkien, in his writings, specified that the spirits of humans (and presumably hobbits, as they are most closly related) went into the void, to "dwell with Illuvitar unto the ending of the world". this leaves quite a bit of space for interpretation, and, like I said, Jackson, either by his own person belief system, or by a calculated response to a particular scene in the film, filled that space as best he could.<BR>Thank you for listening to my ramblings again. This is a very thought-provoking discusion.<p>[ 6:34 PM January 22, 2004: Message edited by: Saraphim ]
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Old 01-22-2004, 06:15 PM   #7
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Please pardon me for posting again, but I fanally read that razormouth article that you had linked, <B>zb</B>. It is very enlightening. I realized that the actors she interviewed all had something very important to say, but that it was biased according to the characters they played, especially Orlando Bloom's interview. What he said was directly related to the friendship of Legolas and Gimli.<P>And that sort of ties in with what you just posted, zb. The love between the two characters was shortened and, sort of 'thinned out' if you know what I'm trying to say. Another example of dumbing things down for the audience. <BR>In fact, all the brotherhood of the books was thinned out. Obviously this was to counteract the feared accusations of homosexuality. The love between Frodo and Sam, especially, is considered a bit off-putting to some people who read the book. Yet in the film, Jackson has Frodo give Sam a single kiss on the forehead, and that has sparked cause for alarm. Even on the forums here, I have read people talking about how they were disgusted or confused by it. <BR>This goes along with something else, as well. Gimli and Galadriel. the love Gimli had for her wasn't at all romantic. I like to compare it to the Middle-Age tales and legends, wherein knights and heroes fight and die for the honor of thier Queen or Lady, who might very well be married.<BR>Anyway, I hope i didn't go too much away from the discussion.
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