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The Marquis de Leech

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I know I've posted this before, in fact I'm pretty sure it was in this actual thread, but Samwise Gamgee is the absolute greatest.

I was having a chat with a friend about why they should read the LOTR (our friendship is considered on hiatus until this gaping flaw is rectified) and I always come back to Sam.

A humble gardener lacking anything much by way of bravery, strength or intelligence, through nothing more than resilience and determination carries his friend to the fires of Mt Doom. My favourite part of the entire saga is when he sneaks into Mordor, completely petrified, while wearing the ring, looking for Frodo.

It's always hilarious when he mutters about how his old gaffer would go nuts to see this, that or the other thing. And the moment where he essentially resigns himself to never surviving the ordeal but persisting anyway is heartbreaking.

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Posted (edited)

Sam is a genuine pleasure to read in Lord of the Rings. When I re-read the sections with Shelob, all I could think of was, "Holy crap, like a year ago this guy was just pulling weeds and tending flowers in Bilbo Baggins' garden, and now he's hundreds of miles away fighting an almost unimaginable nightmare spider".

Edited by Fall Bass

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Is anyone familiar enough with Beowulf to know if Tolkien's translation of it is worth a read? I assume everything he writes is top-notch, obviously. I saw it in a shop but didn't buy it, as I already have it. Just not his translation.

From what I gather, he wasn't entirely pleased with his translation and opted not to publish it. But I've read some of his lectures on it, and he is pretty much a great authority on it.

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I haven't read the translation, primarily because I hate the price gouging on the posthumous works, but from what I gather, it wasn't a translation meant to be read (for Tolkien, anything but the original was heresy), but rather as an academic exercise.

If you haven't already, I would recommend The Monsters and the Critics, still probably the most important academic article on Beowulf ever written. 

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I absolutely love that lecture! It's what I was thinking of when I saw the book.

And yeah, I always assumed he had a reason for not wanting it released. And Tolkien would turn in his grave to know that I have several versions of Beowulf, including a graphic novel. :P

Then again, when I go to church and say it all in English, not Latin. :lol: 

Still... maybe I'll borrow it from the library. I'm curious to read his version.

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Posted (edited)

RSWD annoys me. It wouldn't have been any harder to do a more literal adaptation of the book scene (which is much better), and I honestly prefer having Saruman stuck up in the tower with Wormtongue because of his pride and fear of treachery to having him get stabbed in the back and die. 

I liked Electric Galadriel, but that's one of those things where the Jackson films struggled to translate symbolic and colorful description into something that could be shown on screen. It was always going to be kind of weird (and it's better than some of their other such translations - as John Garth has pointed out, Jackson tended to try and capture majestic and powerful descriptions in the books by making stuff really big). 

Faramir and Osgiliath is something I greatly disliked when I saw it in the film. Not because I had any particular attachment to Faramir's storyline from the books (it had been a long time since I'd read them, and don't think I remembered anything at the time about how it went), but because it just felt like padding (they did it presumably because they wanted to save Shelob for the final film for some reason). 

Edited by Fall Bass

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Fall Bass said:

RSWD annoys me. It wouldn't have been any harder to do a more literal adaptation of the book scene (which is much better), and I honestly prefer having Saruman stuck up in the tower with Wormtongue because of his pride and fear of treachery to having him get stabbed in the back and die. 

I liked Electric Galadriel, but that's one of those things where the Jackson films struggled to translate symbolic and colorful description into something that could be shown on screen. It was always going to be kind of weird (and it's better than some of their other such translations - as John Garth has pointed out, Jackson tended to try and capture majestic and powerful descriptions in the books by making stuff really big). 

Faramir and Osgiliath is something I greatly disliked when I saw it in the film. Not because I had any particular attachment to Faramir's storyline from the books (it had been a long time since I'd read them, and don't think I remembered anything at the time about how it went), but because it just felt like padding (they did it presumably because they wanted to save Shelob for the final film for some reason). 

The Galadriel freak-out was probably the most disappointing thing in FotR for me.  I love the temptation of Galadriel in the books.  This was just nothing like how I imagined that scene.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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On 5/30/2018 at 2:20 PM, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

I also ended up following a link to another of your articles from this, on five moments where Tolkien wasn't at his best in LOTR. I really don't like Tom Bombadil, perhaps due to the sickening implications of the lines:

"But one day Tom he went and caught the river daughter...

He caught her, held her fast! Water-rats went scuttering
reeds hissed, herons cried, and her heart was fluttering.
Said Tom Bombadil: ‘Here’s my pretty maiden!
You shall come home with me! The table is all laden"

It really feels close to kidnap and rape in the way that it is characterised. It holds true to how you lament Arwen's lack of characterisation and near trophy status, compared to other women in the book.

To get back to your original post, though, I think that the movies did a good job of the adaptation. In some ways, if a film uses the original source as nothing more than a script then it's not especially creative. Sometimes decisions should be to acknowledge the different strengths of each medium. I also don't mind the elves in Helm's Deep, although Haldur's death seems to lack real gravity. It's framed in a way that the audience is meant to recognise the significance that he is dead, without having devoted enough time to telling them why they should care.

Galadriel's scene is utter garbage because the poor special effects suddenly break the scene. It feels overacted and escalates too quickly. Just as the audience recovers from laughing, the moment ends and she says, "I pass the test." And everyone turns to each other and asks, "Wait... what just happened?"

It's a moment that would have been better served being slower and toning down the special effects.

The biggest pity is that the same film already demonstrated a different way where the ring's evil influence was shown in a much more subtle and effective manner. Bilbo's sudden demonic face only last a brief moment. Then it cut away to Frodo's reaction and it was just quick enough to be startling and terrifying. The impact was what it should have been.

But it was made more unsettling by the fact that the scenery around Bilbo remained mostly homely, so he seemed out of place.

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13 hours ago, Yukle said:

I also ended up following a link to another of your articles from this, on five moments where Tolkien wasn't at his best in LOTR. I really don't like Tom Bombadil, perhaps due to the sickening implications of the lines:

"But one day Tom he went and caught the river daughter...

He caught her, held her fast! Water-rats went scuttering
reeds hissed, herons cried, and her heart was fluttering.
Said Tom Bombadil: ‘Here’s my pretty maiden!
You shall come home with me! The table is all laden"

It really feels close to kidnap and rape in the way that it is characterised. It holds true to how you lament Arwen's lack of characterisation and near trophy status, compared to other women in the book.

To be fair, Predator!Bombadil isn't in LOTR, it's in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, a collection of "Shire" poetry, which most people don't read (or know about). But yes, even allowing for the folklore element, this might be one of the most... problematic... scenes Tolkien ever wrote.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

To be fair, Predator!Bombadil isn't in LOTR, it's in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, a collection of "Shire" poetry, which most people don't read (or know about). But yes, even allowing for the folklore element, this might be one of the most... problematic... scenes Tolkien ever wrote.

I got the book with my birthday money once, along with the absolutely enchanting Father Christmas Letters. Now, only one of those books is among those I read to my children.

I think it's always worth mentioning with the seemingly superfluous elements to LOTR's narrative, it was written in a time when reading was an even more common past time. Like TV shows today, much of the story details information purely for the interest of the audience and not every single thing is part of the main narrative.

Also, @Fall Bass, weirdly enough I liked Faramir's death scene, and enjoyed the contrast that it showed to have Denethor crumbling at the same time. It was well framed, I think. The problem I had is that Faramir's significance as a contrast to his brother was absent. He would never have tried to take the Ring once he realised what it was. The tragedy of his death is made more significant because I think he must be a character for whom violence is not glorious.

Also, the scene itself I like, but not what it implies. Denethor was not an evil man, for all of his faults. It was Faramir's decision to remain in Osgiliath in order to save those retreating across Pelennor. I know that sometimes the narrative has to be changed for artistic reasons, but Denethor's collapse into an evil sulk robbed the correct emotion that he felt to thinking Faramir had died. His grumpy cry, "My line has ended!" was the wrong reaction again, making it seem as though Denethor only cared about himself.

The film needed more nuance here, to show that first and foremost Denethor was a father above all other things. Just as Theoden was moved to grief to know he'd outlive his son, Denethor was likewise utterly broken by the thought that his children wouldn't survive. Until that moment, he'd been using the palantir, even though it left him frail and aged, in an effort to keep Gondor safe. Losing his children was too much to bear; the message of parents outliving children who die in war was a poignant recurring theme in LOTR and one the film missed.

Edited by Yukle

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Posted (edited)

So I've seen this recently: 
 

Quote

The camp is attacked by night by five Riders; but they are driven off by Aragorn; and withdraw after wounding Frodo. The Witch-King now knows who is the Bearer, and is greatly puzzled that it should be a small creature, and not Aragorn, who seems to be a great power though apparently 'only a Ranger'. But the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he thinks) cannot last more than a day or two.

It is a strange thing that the camp was not watched while darkness lasted of the night Oct. 6-7, and the crossing of the Road into the southward lands seems not to have been observed, so that the Witch-king again lost track of the Ring. For this there were probably several reasons, the least to be expected being the most important, namely that [the Witch-King], the great captain, was actually dismayed. He had been shaken by the fire of Gandalf, and began to perceive that the mission on which Sauron had sent him was one of great peril to himself both by the way, and on his return to his Master (if unsuccessful); and he had been doing ill, so far achieving nothing save rousing the power of the Wise and directing them to the Ring. But above all the timid and terrified Bearer had resisted him, had dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies long ago for his destruction. Narrowly it has missed him. How he had come by it - save in the Barrows of Cardolan. Then he was in some way mightier than the Barrow-Wight; and he called on Elbereth, a name of terror to the Nazgûl. He was the in league with the High Elves of the Havens.

Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife to Frodo (as was proved in the end) he withdrew and hid for a while, out of doubt and fear both of Aragorn and especially of Frodo. But fear of Sauron, and the forces of Sauron's will was the stronger.

It's ostensibly some of Tolkien's own commentary on the scene in question, but the person cited "The Hunt for the Ring" as its source. I looked at that part of the Unfinished Tales book and found none of this there. Anyone know the source or if this is real at all?

 

EDIT: Apparently it's from "The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion"

Edited by AlpenglowMemories

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On 5/30/2018 at 5:20 AM, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

Pretty reasonable points. I think ASoIaF into GoT is a different situation, partially because there's so much stuff that was always going to have to be so much more left out but I think mainly because of a much bigger, core problem: Benioff and Weiss are not tremendous writers in their own right (apart from Benioff's The 25th Hour, they have almost exclusively worked on adaptations of other people's work, whilst Team Jackson had several of their own movies own at that point, written from scratch) and they have missed a lot of the core thematic elements of GRRM's work. They don't seem to have a good handle on power vs responsibility, as shown by the constant whitewashing of Tyrion and Daenerys, and their constant assignment to Arya of motivations solely related to murder is ridiculous.

Team Jackson I think had a much stronger grip on Tolkien's themes and the problems emerged more from trying to do them justice in a limited screen time and scope. For example, they cut the Scouring simply because it was unfeasible to fit it in (it's a good thing they did kill off Saruman and Wormtongue, otherwise we'd no doubt right now have an additional sequel trilogy based on the Scouring alone), but made sure they paid homage to it and especially landed the ending of the story (with the Grey Havens and Sam having the exact same last line) pretty well.

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12 hours ago, AlpenglowMemories said:

So I've seen this recently: 
 

It's ostensibly some of Tolkien's own commentary on the scene in question, but the person cited "The Hunt for the Ring" as its source. I looked at that part of the Unfinished Tales book and found none of this there. Anyone know the source or if this is real at all?

 

EDIT: Apparently it's from "The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion"

I'd never read this before but I find the reasoning plausible.  We know from Frodo and Sam's encounter with Shelob there is indeed virtue in invoking the Valar and High Elvish, per Frodo's use of the Phial of Galadriel (although it makes me jokingly wonder if Legolas's use of "Elbereth" when he saw the Balrog wasn't a bit blasphemous: "Jesus Christ, look at thing!"). That plus the artifacts of the North Kingdom, so long at war with the Witch-King of Angmar, could indeed be deterrents to him in his search for the Ring-bearer.

One thing the author of the analysis could have delved deeper into was the corporeal limitations of the Nazgul.  I disagree that Aragorn and the Hobbits' crossing to the south side of the road went unnoticed; there was a Nazgul cry as they crossed, which I have always interpreted to mean: "The Ring-Bearer is on the move," with the inference that once he quickly succumbs to the Morgul knife he will become a wraith and can thus be more easily tracked in that area. The author is correct in that Frodo's ability to hold out made the difference, and that, plus Aragorn's ranger skills allowed them to remain undetected until they reached the Fords of Bruinen.

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On ‎6‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 12:04 AM, Werthead said:

Pretty reasonable points. I think ASoIaF into GoT is a different situation, partially because there's so much stuff that was always going to have to be so much more left out but I think mainly because of a much bigger, core problem: Benioff and Weiss are not tremendous writers in their own right (apart from Benioff's The 25th Hour, they have almost exclusively worked on adaptations of other people's work, whilst Team Jackson had several of their own movies own at that point, written from scratch) and they have missed a lot of the core thematic elements of GRRM's work. They don't seem to have a good handle on power vs responsibility, as shown by the constant whitewashing of Tyrion and Daenerys, and their constant assignment to Arya of motivations solely related to murder is ridiculous.

Team Jackson I think had a much stronger grip on Tolkien's themes and the problems emerged more from trying to do them justice in a limited screen time and scope. For example, they cut the Scouring simply because it was unfeasible to fit it in (it's a good thing they did kill off Saruman and Wormtongue, otherwise we'd no doubt right now have an additional sequel trilogy based on the Scouring alone), but made sure they paid homage to it and especially landed the ending of the story (with the Grey Havens and Sam having the exact same last line) pretty well.

Tyrion in the series is a completely different character to the one we read.   To a large extent, so is Daenerys, who comes over increasingly as a sociopathic tyrant, rather than as someone who constantly agonises over the morality of her actions.

As it happens, I don't think that the LOTR films handled the theme of power vs responsibility very well either, largely due (IMHO) to the horrible portrayal of Denethor.  Rather than exploring the idea of him being Middle Earth's Richard Nixon ( a really great comparison from Roose Bolton's Pet Leech) - that is someone with great political skills, but also huge flaws -  he's just a mean, selfish, rotten, coward.

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6 hours ago, SeanF said:

Tyrion in the series is a completely different character to the one we read.   To a large extent, so is Daenerys, who comes over increasingly as a sociopathic tyrant, rather than as someone who constantly agonises over the morality of her actions.

As it happens, I don't think that the LOTR films handled the theme of power vs responsibility very well either, largely due (IMHO) to the horrible portrayal of Denethor.  Rather than exploring the idea of him being Middle Earth's Richard Nixon ( a really great comparison from Roose Bolton's Pet Leech) - that is someone with great political skills, but also huge flaws -  he's just a mean, selfish, rotten, coward.

I would agree, although I don't think power versus responsibility is a key theme of Tolkien's. More the corrupting effect of power is more what he was looking at. Of course, the film fails at that as well, as Denethor is shown to be an idiot even before the war comes along (in the Two Towers extended edition flashback sequence).

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On 4/14/2018 at 5:28 PM, A wilding said:

The one that annoys me the most is the scene where the Gondorians are just standing around behind the main gates of Minas Tirith, just waiting for the orcs to finish smashing it in. That is not how mediaeval siege warfare works!

For me (in a film that had already grated,) was The Battle of the Five Armies: The Dwarves form a Shield Wall, and it looks like they might actually use proper tactics, then the Elves just jump over the top of the wall and do all their twirly bullshit. It renders the wall worthless. It was so frustrating because it was so close to being plausible.

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