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Ser Scot A Ellison

Tolkien 4.0 (A dark and hungry sea lion arises)

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I agree with Sauron's post-Ring shadow being a missed opportunity, but it is honestly a minor point. There are much, much bigger issues with the Third Movie.

(His point about Gandalf's description of Death can be rationalised away as Gandalf trying to console Pippin. And it is clearly designed to tie-in with the Grey Havens).

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The Nature of Middle-earth is edited by Tolkien language expert Carl F. Hostetter, which makes it the first Middle-earth volume not to be primarily edited by Christopher Tolkien, who edited The Silmarillion together after his father's death and oversaw the literary estate until his own death earlier this year.

As Mandos would say, "not the first."

(John Rateliff's History of the Hobbit beats it by over a decade). 

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14 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I agree with Sauron's post-Ring shadow being a missed opportunity, but it is honestly a minor point. There are much, much bigger issues with the Third Movie.

(His point about Gandalf's description of Death can be rationalised away as Gandalf trying to console Pippin. And it is clearly designed to tie-in with the Grey Havens).

I admit I miss the Shadow-Sauron image as well. Also the apocalyptic darkness Sauron sets during the assault on Minas Tirith. The film sort of 'includes' it, at least in the extended cut Gandalf references it as an unnatural dark of the enemy's design, but whether due to limited budget or technology it mostly just looks like a rainy day. 

That said, if I were to pick an image in the ROTK adaptation to reallt grumble about, it'd be the offensive image of Denethor running a good mile whilst on fire and jumping from the top of Minas Tirith. It's goofy enough to belong on an episode of The Simpsons and reeks of tastelessness given that this is supposed to be a grief-stricken suicidal man's death. I get Jackson portrays him as more of a pantomime baddie than a nuanced character, but still.  (Especially since we lose the haunting one of him laying himself, defeated, on the pyre and clasping onto the palantir as the flames engulf him).

 

Edited by Ser Drewy
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18 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I agree with Sauron's post-Ring shadow being a missed opportunity, but it is honestly a minor point. There are much, much bigger issues with the Third Movie.

Of course, I just referenced that because I happen to share Hostetter's view on that.

But I'd say that the depiction of Sauron in general is a joke in the movie, starting with the walking armor, but continuing especially with spirit-form and, especially, the Red Eye bedside lamp.

18 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

(His point about Gandalf's description of Death can be rationalised away as Gandalf trying to console Pippin. And it is clearly designed to tie-in with the Grey Havens).

One shouldn't rationalize this if one cares about the source material to a point. It is a distortion for the reason Hostetter laid out ... and it isn't even a tie-in to the Grey Havens because (1) the guys there don't die, not really, and (2) we don't see the lands in the West unlike in the novel. If we saw Frodo arrive at a place looking the way Gandalf earlier described it, then the audience could make the connection.

But the way it is you have to have read the novel to realize Tolkien's word were used (out of context) there.

4 hours ago, Ser Drewy said:

I admit I miss the Shadow-Sauron image as well. Also the apocalyptic darkness Sauron sets during the assault on Minas Tirith. The film sort of 'includes' it, at least in the extended cut Gandalf references it as an unnatural dark of the enemy's design, but whether due to limited budget or technology it mostly just looks like a rainy day.

Yes, the entire battle sequence sucks because one cannot take it seriously and it doesn't use any kind of symbolism or creates a - let's say - serious non-video game atmosphere.

But I have to agree with you specifically that the lack of the darkness cloud is a huge letdown.

4 hours ago, Ser Drewy said:

That said, if I were to pick an image in the ROTK adaptation to reallt grumble about, it'd be the offensive image of Denethor running a good mile whilst on fire and jumping from the top of Minas Tirith. It's goofy enough to belong on an episode of The Simpsons and reeks of tastelessness given that this is supposed to be a grief-stricken suicidal man's death. I get Jackson portrays him as more of a pantomime baddie than a nuanced character, but still.  (Especially since we lose the haunting one of him laying himself, defeated, on the pyre and clasping onto the palantir as the flames engulf him).

About that thing we should not even talk. Denethor is just the most glaring twisted character in the movies. But if you cut things down then pretty much no character aside from, perhaps, Sam and Frodo are the same. Even Gandalf is some kind of stupid defeatist instead of the angelic being and leader of the alliance against Sauron he is the books.

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17 hours ago, Ser Drewy said:

I admit I miss the Shadow-Sauron image as well. Also the apocalyptic darkness Sauron sets during the assault on Minas Tirith. The film sort of 'includes' it, at least in the extended cut Gandalf references it as an unnatural dark of the enemy's design, but whether due to limited budget or technology it mostly just looks like a rainy day. 

Oooh yes. The Dawnless Day turns into the Mildly Cloudy Afternoon With a Chance of Showers Later.

(And, yes, Denethor is the cardinal sin of the third movie).

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13 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

But I'd say that the depiction of Sauron in general is a joke in the movie, starting with the walking armor, but continuing especially with spirit-form and, especially, the Red Eye bedside lamp.

I think of him as a Lighthouse myself - though I do giggle at the Giant Flaming Vagina analogy.

Hopefully the Amazon Series serves up a more interesting visual depiction of Sauron.

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6 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Oooh yes. The Dawnless Day turns into the Mildly Cloudy Afternoon With a Chance of Showers Later.

(And, yes, Denethor is the cardinal sin of the third movie).

Yup. Orcs are actually pretty okay with sunlight in the film adaptation.

 

6 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I think of him as a Lighthouse myself - though I do giggle at the Giant Flaming Vagina analogy.

Hopefully the Amazon Series serves up a more interesting visual depiction of Sauron.

The worst part of the literal Eye is seeing it on top of the tower moving around like an actual light house.

I wonder if the Amazon show will play around with his shapeshifting abilities. At the very least, I assume, we'll see a Usual Sauron and his Annatar form (unless Annatar becomes his regular form). 

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On 11/20/2020 at 3:43 AM, The Marquis de Leech said:

Yeah, I've seen some people assessing that this is a collection of obscure Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon material, put together in a more user-friendly format. Even if it is... it'd be great (I myself have read the entire HOME, but have never read VT or PE). Hopefully the length of the volume also implies new stuff too.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this announcement this week . This sounds awesome. Osanwe Kenta was the one thing that came to mind as a great unpublished piece but its very clear from the description that there is apparently a lot more work that was never published. I knew I always had a feeling that there were various essays that never made it into HoME but it seems it's more than just a few as the book is listed at 400 pages and speaks to " numerous"  unpublished works. Besides the Osanwe Kenta is only like 8 pages. There seems to be a lot of stuff on the lands and beasts of Numenor, and that stuff about Elvish incarnation/imoortality is not covered by the Osanwe Kenta I recall so that must be another separate essay. Similarly, Powers of the Valar. It really makes me wonder why this stuff was not included. But then CT even mentioned that something like Beacon Hills of Gondor was not included in People of Middle Earth for space reasons. Whats interesting to me is that it is specifically mentioned that these are all late writings that were not published yet, thats just fascinating.

Some more info, this from the press release:

 

In a press release from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Publisher and VP Deb Brody says that the book will cover a range of topics:

“The writings in The Nature of Middle-earth reveal the journeys that he took as he sought to better understand his unique creation. From sweeping themes as profound as Elvish immortality and reincarnation, and the Powers of the Valar, to the more earth-bound subjects of the lands and beasts of Númenor, the geography of the Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor, and even who had beards!

Then this when the book was announced at Frankfurt book fair 2019:

Quote

The first ever publication of J. R. R. Tolkien’s final writings on Middle-earth, covering a wide-range of subjects, and the perfect next read for those who have enjoyed Unfinished Tales and the History of Middle-earth series and are hungry for more.

The Nature of Middle-earth will comprise numerous late (c. 1959-73) and previously unpublished writings by J.R.R. Tolkien on the “nature” of Middle-earth, in both chief senses of that word: both metaphysical and natural/historical.

For Tolkien fans, readers, and scholars interested in learning more about Tolkien’s own views on Middle-earth. It will appeal in particular to those readers who enjoyed Unfinished Tales, and some of the later volumes of the History of Middle-earth. Indeed, many of the texts to be included are closely associated with materials published in those places, and were sent to Hostetter, specifically, in photocopy by Christopher Tolkien for potential publication.

Much as Unfinished Tales forms an unofficial thirteenth volume of the History of Middle-earth, this new book will sit very nicely alongside as an unofficial 14th volume. Of particular note, given the impending Amazon series, are several texts detailing the lands, flora, and fauna of Númenor, and the lives of Númenóreans.

 

Edited by Calibandar

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Words from Hostetter himself:

 

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I cannot yet speak to the contents in specifics, but let me dispel this speculation now. It is true that The Nature of Middle-earth will contain some primary material that was previously published in specialist journals; but the vast majority of the material is previously unpublished. (That's why I've been at work on this in earnest and as my schedule permits for some years now.)

So basically all new work for most of us.

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Yes, for a book big enough to be published there must be significant more material than just the rivers and beacon-hills piece or the Ósanwe-kenta.

More information on the Ainur incarnation thing would be rather interesting. Especially in regards to the Istari, Melian, the Valar and Maiar themselves, and the evil guys. How things went with Balrogs and the early dragons (Glaurung seems to have been some kind of Ainu spirit, too, being called a daemon at one point) could be rather interesting. It would also be great if there were more on those Boldog spirits which were supposed to be spirits in Orc-form which commanded the Orcs in the early days.

To give you a little treat there, the Ósanwe-kenta establishes in a footnote that Sauron first lost his bodily form when being confronted by Huan and Lúthien, contrary to the Lay of Leithian account. There might be other surprises like this one in those texts.

This is also a kind of good retcon, in my opinion, helping to explain why Sauron doesn't really involve himself in the War of Wrath or commands any armies after his confrontation with Lúthien, the action passing from Sauron to Balrogs and dragons. He may have been without a proper body, only taking on one when he yielded to Eonwe at the end of the war.

I think this was rather significant for people who thought Sauron could only return from 'death' multiple times because he had the Ring as an anchor. But if his body was destroyed once before he even made the Ring that's off the table.

But then, it also seems Manwe himself slew Balrogs back during the Battle of the Powers, and one imagines they came back later again, at least once (in light of the fact that there were very few Balrogs in existence in the final version of the mythology), so even the lesser evil spirits seem to be able to return from death at least once.

On 11/21/2020 at 10:34 PM, Ser Drewy said:

The worst part of the literal Eye is seeing it on top of the tower moving around like an actual light house.

Of course, because it is such an impotent and pitiful image. Sauron looks like a lamp, a tool, not like a powerful being. Especially in the moment the Dark Tower is destroyed.

The image of the Red Eye used in FOTR was a good idea, symbolizing Sauron's searching mind and even the evil of the Ring as such, since that's completely in accordance with the book. But Sauron himself is a physical being in a physical body in a physical tower.

On 11/21/2020 at 10:34 PM, Ser Drewy said:

I wonder if the Amazon show will play around with his shapeshifting abilities. At the very least, I assume, we'll see a Usual Sauron and his Annatar form (unless Annatar becomes his regular form). 

If they go by Tolkien's metaphysical concepts then Sauron would have to be shapeshifter at that time. It is told that, after the fall of Númenor, he could no longer appear fair ... but even while he was Annatar he was also the Dark Lord, and surrounded his seat with fire, etc. So one imagines that he is going to look differently in Mordor when overlooking the building of Barad-dûr or forging the One Ring than he does when he seduces Celebrimbor or, later, the future Nazgûl, hands out the rings to the dwarves, etc.

The last time he would have taken the shape of Annatar would have been when he prepared to seduced Pharazôn.

What I don't think Sauron can be in the SA is completely cast aside his body like Valar and Maiar can do when they are not fully incarnate. Most definitely not after he made the Ring, but even before he should have lost too much of his original power since he already lost his body once before.

And I'd expect that he can only modify his man-like body, making it fairer, nicer, more handsome, and dial up the Dark Lord characteristics (what little we know of the Sauron Elendil and Gil-galad faced makes it likely the body was somewhat resembling a Balrog, considering the Ring was that hot when Isildur took it and Gil-galad was apparently burned to death by Sauron's touch).

But they could also go with Sauron just having the Annatar body, and the Dark Lord persona being created by acting and special effects without there actually being a physical transformation or a different actor entirely. Technically the Sauron Dark Lord persona could also rule like some kind of handsome fallen angel kind of character, without feeling the need to change his body. That is left ambiguous to a point in the books.

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8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Yes, for a book big enough to be published there must be significant more material than just the rivers and beacon-hills piece or the Ósanwe-kenta.

More information on the Ainur incarnation thing would be rather interesting. Especially in regards to the Istari, Melian, the Valar and Maiar themselves, and the evil guys. How things went with Balrogs and the early dragons (Glaurung seems to have been some kind of Ainu spirit, too, being called a daemon at one point) could be rather interesting. It would also be great if there were more on those Boldog spirits which were supposed to be spirits in Orc-form which commanded the Orcs in the early days.

To give you a little treat there, the Ósanwe-kenta establishes in a footnote that Sauron first lost his bodily form when being confronted by Huan and Lúthien, contrary to the Lay of Leithian account. There might be other surprises like this one in those texts.

This is also a kind of good retcon, in my opinion, helping to explain why Sauron doesn't really involve himself in the War of Wrath or commands any armies after his confrontation with Lúthien, the action passing from Sauron to Balrogs and dragons. He may have been without a proper body, only taking on one when he yielded to Eonwe at the end of the war.

I think this was rather significant for people who thought Sauron could only return from 'death' multiple times because he had the Ring as an anchor. But if his body was destroyed once before he even made the Ring that's off the table.

But then, it also seems Manwe himself slew Balrogs back during the Battle of the Powers, and one imagines they came back later again, at least once (in light of the fact that there were very few Balrogs in existence in the final version of the mythology), so even the lesser evil spirits seem to be able to return from death at least once.

Of course, because it is such an impotent and pitiful image. Sauron looks like a lamp, a tool, not like a powerful being. Especially in the moment the Dark Tower is destroyed.

The image of the Red Eye used in FOTR was a good idea, symbolizing Sauron's searching mind and even the evil of the Ring as such, since that's completely in accordance with the book. But Sauron himself is a physical being in a physical body in a physical tower.

If they go by Tolkien's metaphysical concepts then Sauron would have to be shapeshifter at that time. It is told that, after the fall of Númenor, he could no longer appear fair ... but even while he was Annatar he was also the Dark Lord, and surrounded his seat with fire, etc. So one imagines that he is going to look differently in Mordor when overlooking the building of Barad-dûr or forging the One Ring than he does when he seduces Celebrimbor or, later, the future Nazgûl, hands out the rings to the dwarves, etc.

The last time he would have taken the shape of Annatar would have been when he prepared to seduced Pharazôn.

What I don't think Sauron can be in the SA is completely cast aside his body like Valar and Maiar can do when they are not fully incarnate. Most definitely not after he made the Ring, but even before he should have lost too much of his original power since he already lost his body once before.

And I'd expect that he can only modify his man-like body, making it fairer, nicer, more handsome, and dial up the Dark Lord characteristics (what little we know of the Sauron Elendil and Gil-galad faced makes it likely the body was somewhat resembling a Balrog, considering the Ring was that hot when Isildur took it and Gil-galad was apparently burned to death by Sauron's touch).

But they could also go with Sauron just having the Annatar body, and the Dark Lord persona being created by acting and special effects without there actually being a physical transformation or a different actor entirely. Technically the Sauron Dark Lord persona could also rule like some kind of handsome fallen angel kind of character, without feeling the need to change his body. That is left ambiguous to a point in the books.

I imagine that most angelic beings could use a glamour to make themselves look fair to mortals.

WRT the films, I enjoyed the first two a lot,  I enjoyed the third for about half of it.   Obviously, there are things to quibble over (such as skateboarding Legolas, Frodo dismissing Sam, Gimli being played for laughs, the absence of Frodo's vision of a world at war) but overall, I liked them.

But, the third film became very silly, with the green soap bubbles of death, the daft tactics at the Battle of Morannon, the cut and paste job of Frodo and Sam's journey through Mordor - and of course, the horrid portrayal of Denethor.  

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But, the third film became very silly, with the green soap bubbles of death, the daft tactics at the Battle of Morannon, the cut and paste job of Frodo and Sam's journey through Mordor - and of course, the horrid portrayal of Denethor.  

The battles in the films tend to get a bit silly when thought about. I think the Hornburg narrative suffers from the framing of the Fellowship as in the Right when Jackson has them urge open battle against going to the fortress (which, the film notes, has never fallen). Especially when they don't even know how strong Isengard is, and the revealed numbers would result in a slaughter even with Eomer's aid. 

 

Also, given that this new book is coming out, do you think we'll ever see more of Tolkien's unpublished works and lectures being available somewhere down the line? I was disappointed the Fall of Gondolin book didn't contain the Lay version. I'm also curious about his notes/lectures/essays on stuff like the Eagles and Ents or his lecture on the Goths. Plus, his essay on James Joyce could be fascinating. 

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I mean...possibly. There is certainly a trend. But I think this Nature of Middle Earth book is going to cover a vast amount of unpublished material as it is, certainly it seems that whatever essays left that are worthwhile, apparently all from later years, are covered in it. The German translation is listed at 600 pages, the UK version at 400, so it seems to be a large volume at least.

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10 hours ago, Calibandar said:

I mean...possibly. There is certainly a trend. But I think this Nature of Middle Earth book is going to cover a vast amount of unpublished material as it is, certainly it seems that whatever essays left that are worthwhile, apparently all from later years, are covered in it. The German translation is listed at 600 pages, the UK version at 400, so it seems to be a large volume at least.

Good point. It could be there's a lot of delicious new Middle-Earth material in there, possibly. I wonder if we'll get the one about Gollum's appearance?

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Tolkien's house at Northmoor Road, Oxford, where he wrote The Hobbit and the bulk of The Lord of the Ringsis back on the market. A Tolkien fan group are trying to buy it to turn it into a centre for Tolkien studies and is looking for contributions.

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20 hours ago, Werthead said:

Tolkien's house at Northmoor Road, Oxford, where he wrote The Hobbit and the bulk of The Lord of the Ringsis back on the market. A Tolkien fan group are trying to buy it to turn it into a centre for Tolkien studies and is looking for contributions.

Further investigation suggests that they're really just trying to set up a general culture centre, with well-meaning people thinking they're getting a Tolkien Museum:

https://www.tolkienguide.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=3893

The Estate has no part in this.

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This is the website of the project and fundraiser to preserve Tolkien’s house and keep it as a... thing. Not sure what they want to do with it exactly. I donated anyway. 

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But here's the thing... they are not trying to save it. It's a Grade II Listed Property of historical special interest, so it is going nowhere. It basically looks like they want to establish some sort of Christian-orientated retreat, while getting well-meaning people to buy the house for them, under the impression that it will be a Tolkien Museum.

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