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Rings of Power: Three Threads for the Elven Lords (book spoilers)


Werthead
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To pay an unexpectedly heavy tax bill. If that hadn't happened, he may never have sold the rights at all, not finding any offers for "cash" sufficient to overwhelm his desire for "art". 

Yes, I've seen this claim resurface as well in the last few months, based on a dubious 2002 article in The Telegraph. Although the issue was not nonexistent, it does feel that they blew it out of proportion.

Tolkien encountered a major tax bill in 1959 after the explosive growth in LotR book sales (propelled by the 1957 BBC Radio adaptation) and declared that income tax was becoming a "very serious problem." This problem was alleviated by the growth simply going continuing through the 1960s and entered a massive growth phase again during and after the Ace Books pirate edition controversy of 1966-67. However, by 1969 the problem was not as pressing (although not nonexistent). Tolkien was indulging "the grosser forms of literary success" (buying very expensive, fancy waistcoats, books and even, despite his own Luddite reputation, a fast motor car) and decided to sell the film rights primarily to secure the financial security and education of his grandchildren. Tolkien should have also been advised that after his passing the Estate could be set up as a private company and charitable enterprise to alleviate the issue further. Carpenter claims that Tolkien had little sense of his own mortality and would have not been thinking that far ahead, which I find highly dubious after a whole string of Tolkien's close friends and then his wife Edith all passed away within a short space of time.

In addition, British tax rates were cut significantly in 1971, dramatically increasing Tolkien's income. This cut was discussed and debated for some time prior to implementation, although it is possible that Tolkien would have pessimistically predicted Labour would win the 1970 election so the cuts would not be implemented. But then he would have had no issues waiting to see.

Tax was an issue Tolkien constantly moaned about during his latter years, but it was also very much a "good problem to have." Nothing was going on in 1969 to force him to sell the film rights that hadn't been going on, and much more pressingly, ten years earlier. He could have also generated additional income without risking someone making a hash of an adaptation, by finishing and publishing The Silmarillion and chose not to do that.

Also, selling the film rights also simply generated another big tax bill to be paid off. Saying he sold the film rights solely to pay a tax bill is like suggesting someone poured water laced with petrol on a petrol fire to try to put it out.

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You will never convince me that the carpet chewing moron who replaced the actual character of Denethor in the LOTR films was an improvement.  Denethor was a legitimately “grey” character who did everything he thought he could to defend his nation up to sacrificing his son (not in the suicidal and stupid charge into fortified positions in broad daylight portrayed in the films) to gain time for help to arrive to attempt to beat a foe he knew to be unbeatable.  

I think that is a reasonable point, but it also goes both ways. Jackson improved on Tolkien in several key respects, including superior characterisation for Boromir (it still baffles me why he made Boromir a more complex, three-dimensional figure and simultaneously simplified and lessened Faramir and Denethor), eliminating the non-sequitur 17-year narrative gap between Chapters 1 and 2, showing more important off-screen events on-screen, giving Arwen more to do so people give a shit about her (or know she even exists, she's virtually invisible in the novel)

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10 minutes ago, Spockydog said:

But only if he does it as Lazlo Bombadil. "Come over here, Goldberry. Time for a bit of ring a dong."

He also needs an Ent-friend called Clem Fandango, whom he occasionally yells at through the trees.

"Yes, I can hear you Clem Fandango! And your stupid made-up name!"

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1 hour ago, Werthead said:

I think that is a reasonable point, but it also goes both ways. Jackson improved on Tolkien in several key respects, including superior characterisation for Boromir (it still baffles me why he made Boromir a more complex, three-dimensional figure and simultaneously simplified and lessened Faramir and Denethor), eliminating the non-sequitur 17-year narrative gap between Chapters 1 and 2, showing more important off-screen events on-screen, giving Arwen more to do so people give a shit about her (or know she even exists, she's virtually invisible in the novel)

I will concede that you make a fair point.  Boromir is an improvement and Sean Bean did an incredible job making him menacing and sympathetic at the same time.

Film Denethor irritates me to this day.  I was looking forward to seeing that character expecting something interesting… we got the tomato muncher and the flaming 5K.  And for the record it wasn’t the actor… it was the writting and direction of that character.

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6 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I will concede that you make a fair point.  Boromir is an improvement and Sean Bean did an incredible job making him menacing and sympathetic at the same time.

Film Denethor irritates me to this day.  I was looking forward to seeing that character expecting something interesting… we got the tomato muncher and the flaming 5K.  And for the record it wasn’t the actor… it was the writting and direction of that character.

 

R o TK was the weakest of the three films, IMHO.  Cowardly, moronic, Denethor was a big part of that, along with the green soap bubbles of death wiping out the army of Mordor and making the Ride of the Rohirrim pointless.  

 

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6 minutes ago, SeanF said:

 

R o TK was the weakest of the three films, IMHO.  Cowardly, moronic, Denethor was a big part of that, along with the green soap bubbles of death wiping out the army of Mordor and making the Ride of the Rohirrim pointless.  

 

The scrubbing bubbles of death are very… irritating.

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1 hour ago, Werthead said:

Yes, I've seen this claim resurface as well in the last few months, based on a dubious 2002 article in The Telegraph. Although the issue was not nonexistent, it does feel that they blew it out of proportion.

Tolkien encountered a major tax bill in 1959 after the explosive growth in LotR book sales (propelled by the 1957 BBC Radio adaptation) and declared that income tax was becoming a "very serious problem." This problem was alleviated by the growth simply going continuing through the 1960s and entered a massive growth phase again during and after the Ace Books pirate edition controversy of 1966-67. However, by 1969 the problem was not as pressing (although not nonexistent). Tolkien was indulging "the grosser forms of literary success" (buying very expensive, fancy waistcoats, books and even, despite his own Luddite reputation, a fast motor car) and decided to sell the film rights primarily to secure the financial security and education of his grandchildren. Tolkien should have also been advised that after his passing the Estate could be set up as a private company and charitable enterprise to alleviate the issue further. Carpenter claims that Tolkien had little sense of his own mortality and would have not been thinking that far ahead, which I find highly dubious after a whole string of Tolkien's close friends and then his wife Edith all passed away within a short space of time.

In addition, British tax rates were cut significantly in 1971, dramatically increasing Tolkien's income. This cut was discussed and debated for some time prior to implementation, although it is possible that Tolkien would have pessimistically predicted Labour would win the 1970 election so the cuts would not be implemented. But then he would have had no issues waiting to see.

Tax was an issue Tolkien constantly moaned about during his latter years, but it was also very much a "good problem to have." Nothing was going on in 1969 to force him to sell the film rights that hadn't been going on, and much more pressingly, ten years earlier. He could have also generated additional income without risking someone making a hash of an adaptation, by finishing and publishing The Silmarillion and chose not to do that.

Also, selling the film rights also simply generated another big tax bill to be paid off. Saying he sold the film rights solely to pay a tax bill is like suggesting someone poured water laced with petrol on a petrol fire to try to put it out.

I think that is a reasonable point, but it also goes both ways. Jackson improved on Tolkien in several key respects, including superior characterisation for Boromir (it still baffles me why he made Boromir a more complex, three-dimensional figure and simultaneously simplified and lessened Faramir and Denethor), eliminating the non-sequitur 17-year narrative gap between Chapters 1 and 2, showing more important off-screen events on-screen, giving Arwen more to do so people give a shit about her (or know she even exists, she's virtually invisible in the novel)

While the really big sales of LOTR lay in the future, I did read that Tolkien's first royalty, in 1956, was £3,500, which is worth £82,000 today, if linked to prices, £217,000 if linked to earnings.  Combined with royalties from The Hobbit, which sold well from the outset, he must have been earning quite a lot.  £100,000 in 1969 is worth £1.8 m today, if you link it to inflation, £3.3 m if you link it earnings.

I'm guessing that Agatha Christie, Denis Wheatley, John Le Carre, were all earning more, but Tolkien must have been among the top twenty biggest earners among British authors in the 1960s.

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Tolkien made a very expensive home purchase and move to Bornemouth in 1969, and was also concerned with inheritance taxes, by all accounts. It seems likely that these two things were major aspects of his decision making. Le Monde interviewed CT in 2012, one of the only interviews he ever did (which is the source of the famous quote in which he stated that Jackson's films "eviscerated" his father's work), and raises the exact same account as to why he sold it as it discusses CT's feelings about it all. It seems to me if the account was wrong, CT would have corrected it then and there, or after publication.

Obviously, making sure his family had the wherewithal to pay the inheritance taxes that were coming would have the effect of helping to secure their future, so that's not untrue. But to my understanding, setting up the trust was for the future of his children and grandchildren. Selling the rights, OTOH, was for tax purposes and perhaps short term financial need reasons.

Edited by Ran
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I'll agree about Denethor being a bit of an adaptation failure (aside from John Noble's excellent performance), but was Faramir, really? If anything, he was more complex in the movies than the books, especially when you add in the excellent Two Towers deleted scene with Boromir and Denethor. Don't get me wrong, as a 13 year old I gritted my teeth in rage in the theatre when Faramir took Frodo and Sam to Osgiliath (THAT'S NOT HOW IT HAPPENS IN THE BOOKS JACKSON, GAWD!!!") but it's an adaptation choice I've really come to like in the decades since. In the books, it feels like a little bit of a cop-out that Faramir can just completely resist the lure of the ring. I like that Faramir in the movies can't resist at first, for all sorts of reasons, but then figures out why he needs to let Frodo and Sam go.

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2 minutes ago, Caligula_K3 said:

I'll agree about Denethor being a bit of an adaptation failure (aside from John Noble's excellent performance), but was Faramir, really? If anything, he was more complex in the movies than the books, especially when you add in the excellent Two Towers deleted scene with Boromir and Denethor. Don't get me wrong, as a 13 year old I gritted my teeth in rage in the theatre when Faramir took Frodo and Sam to Osgiliath (THAT'S NOT HOW IT HAPPENS IN THE BOOKS JACKSON, GAWD!!!") but it's an adaptation choice I've really come to like in the decades since. In the books, it feels like a little bit of a cop-out that Faramir can just completely resist the lure of the ring. I like that Faramir in the movies can't resist at first, for all sorts of reasons, but then figures out why he needs to let Frodo and Sam go.

I simply have a hard time believing Sam and Frodo could make it out of occupied Eastern Osgiliath with the Nazgul present.  

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13 minutes ago, Deadlines? What Deadlines? said:

Who isn't a sucker for a fine waistcoat? Amirite fellas?

TOLKIEN: "I can't help it, it's my indulgence from literary success. What's your's, my friend?"

STEPHEN KING IN THE 1970s: "Erm."

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19 minutes ago, Iskaral Pust said:

The absurd military “tactics” and the huge city of Gondor standing isolated on an empty plain — where does their food come from!? — were the worst parts of ROTK, then followed by the green scouring foam of ghosts and the  de-nuanced Denethor.

The whole point of the “Pelannor Fields” was that they were within the “Rammas Echor” a wall that surrounded the farms and villages of the Pelannor to provide food for the City.  Faramir was sent to lead the defense of the causeway forts of the Rammas Echor.  That’s where he was injured.  Not in a suicidal horse charge into a fortification in broad daylight.

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1 minute ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

The whole point of the “Pelannor Fields” was that they were within the “Rammas Echor” a wall that surrounded the farms and villages of the Pelannor to provide food for the City.  Faramir was sent to lead the defense of the causeway forts of the Rammas Echor.  That’s where he was injured.  Not in a suicidal horse charge into a fortification in broad daylight.

Yes, the book was very clear on this, and then the film adaptation was just so stupid.

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I must confess some amusement reading about the flaws of the original trilogy in a thread dedicated to a show that almost immediately goes full bore and descends past the nadir of stupidity in Jackson's trilogy, plummeting to a depth of mind-boggling idiocy that even Jackson at his worst could only conceive in some stupor of severe brain trauma.

Especially when the overall consensus for the show (including my own) is that it's not the worst thing out there.

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12 minutes ago, IFR said:

I must confess some amusement reading about the flaws of the original trilogy in a thread dedicated to a show that almost immediately goes full bore and descends past the nadir of stupidity in Jackson's trilogy, plummeting to a depth of mind-boggling idiocy that even Jackson at his worst could only conceive in some stupor of severe brain trauma.

RoP has a myriad plethora of weaknesses but one of its widely-acknowledged strengths so far is that it's not as bad as the Hobbit trilogy (well, so far, admittedly it's early doors), where we really see the mind-boggling idiocy Jackson could conceive of. Although admittedly mainly due to the studio holding a gun to his (and New Zealand's) head.

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Pros after 2 episodes:

  • Amazing designs for Lindon, Eregion, Khazad Dum. The shows looks superb.
  • Some of the characters surprised me how well played they are. I like their Gil-Galad, Elrond, Prince Durin. Surprsingly also the Arondir character is not bad at all. Galadriel mixed feelings, I like how fiery she is but dont like her storyline.
  • First Age flashback was all too brief but nice that it was there, for what it is. I note the Balrog from the trailer does not appear in it....and episode 2 seems to reveal either Mithril, or an Arkenstone...
  • I liked the Elrond-Durin dynamic.
  • The Stranger scenes are fascinating. I dont think its Sauron at all. The use of fireflies to me seemed a clear callback to Gandalf speaking to moths. Still they are deliberately making it unclear who he is but surely at this point an Istar or something else is far more likely than Sauron. Nothing about the character says Sauron to me. They are suggesting he literally fell from the sky and is from a different constellation..... that has nothing to do with Sauron.

Cons:

  • I wish the Elves looked more like Elves. Celebrimbor looks like a Hobbit. Who on Earth thought it was a good idea to make some ugly dude the Watchwarden Elf? The short hair does not work and gives it a weird Star Trek vibe looking at some of these Elves. Why dont the Elves in Galadriel's party look more like...Elves? Bad choice.
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39 minutes ago, IFR said:

I must confess some amusement reading about the flaws of the original trilogy in a thread dedicated to a show that almost immediately goes full bore and descends past the nadir of stupidity in Jackson's trilogy, plummeting to a depth of mind-boggling idiocy that even Jackson at his worst could only conceive in some stupor of severe brain trauma.

Especially when the overall consensus for the show (including my own) is that it's not the worst thing out there.

Hey, I love the Jackson trilogy. Fellowship is probably my favourite movie of all time and I think the other two are great. That doesn't mean the trilogy has no flaws and we can't discuss them. I also don't think that the flaws in the Jackson trilogy are "stupid" - a lot of them were adaptation choices, some that worked, some that didn't. These are inevitable in any adaptation of a complex book.

I won't say I love The Rings of Power so far, but I do like it, and I'm not sure I'd use "mind bogling idiocy" to describe it either. Ok, Galadriel's plan to swim across the ocean was pretty dumb, but other than that, what's been that stupid about it? Specifically stupid, rather than boring or not compelling or unenjoyable, in your opinion. There are plenty of flaws in shows/books/movies that aren't stupid.

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