Discussion Masterpieces to Touch the Heart, Stir the Soul - Tolkien-centered Thread

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Nyota's Heart, Jul 6, 2014.

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  1. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    The Peter Jackson films got me interested in Tolkien, but when I tried to read A Long Expected Party for the first time, I just couldn't get into The Lord of the Rings. Then when I got to high school, I gave it another try and end up reading the whole thing, which led me to start having problems with the Jackson films, especially with the Galadhrim being at Helm's Deep.
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  2. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Welcome to the lively discussion @Zeta1127 @};-


    :eek: Sounds like a fingernail on chalkboard experience for sure! :rolleyes: They really needed to keep a tighter rein on canon compliance. You don't have the excuse that they sorta did in SW with too many authors/cooks in the kitchen with the ladle. :p
  3. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    Don't get me wrong, I will forever view the Jackson films as an amazing cinematic experience, but as adaptions I can't really enjoy them quite as much as Tolkien's work.
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  4. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    In complete heart-agreement there! He is the epitome of the mythological and fantasy genre. @};-
  5. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Can I just give that statement two thumbs up? I completely agree. While the movies are breathtaking and stunning, there is something about reading Tolkien's work that really doesn't quite compare. [face_love]

    And I second Deb's welcome. It's great to see a new face here! [:D]
  6. Viridian-Maiden Jedi Master

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    I think the Jackson films, at least in my mind, have to be given some credit for presenting an incredible adaptation. To me, it was all quite well matched to my own imagination. But not nearly as vivid and I admit, I'm also less satisfied with them as time goes on. It truly can never match. Also, there were some questionable decisions in terms of taking things out, I think. I felt the beginning was sped up so the viewer was catapulted into action a little faster. But this is one complaint I've also heard about LotR that I've never shared. So many of my friends seem to find Fellowship boring. I can't for the life of me understand why. I guess we're all different that way but still...it seems to be a common complaint.

    I guess I like reading about things like estate planning and birthday parties. But I'm also a culture junkie and there's a lot in there about every day life so maybe that's part of it. :)

    As for Gollum, I've always pitied him. It's interesting to think about how the story might have been different if he hadn't found the ring at all. Yes, he did kill his cousin and I agree with Mira that Frodo likely might not have been able to go through with it if Gollum hadn't made it easier in the end. But also, the fact that he was so obsessed with deep things may have otherwise kept the ring safe. The ring wanted to get home...but it also seems to have been protected until it fell into the hands of someone who was strong enough and incorruptible enough (not totally incorruptible mind you, but just pure enough) to carry the burden and attempt to destroy it. At least, that seems like another way of looking at it. I don't know. I haven't thought too much about it. But I always pitied him.
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  7. Cael-Fenton Force Ghost

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    Sméagol! @};-

    I can't emphasise enough the enormous influence his character arc, and how other characters react to him, has had on shaping my views about ethics, moral philosophy and politics. He was and remains a major element in the childhood literature that formed my outlook in life.

    This began with the moment just before Bilbo leaps over him rather than stabs him. I was only eight the first time I read this, and I wasn't immediately struck by its precise significance, but I sensed that it was important.

    And of course it was. Not only in narrative terms, because the Ring could not have been destroyed without Gollum, and Bilbo would have been less able to ultimately free himself if not for that moment of mercy; but also thematically. I've already mentioned that Gandalf's little speech about this is one of my favourite bits.
    And also this:
    And to me, it would be so even if in the end Gollum hadn't been so directly instrumental to the Ring's destruction. I find the idea of mercy which is both undeserved and unrewarded very beautiful, precious and important. And it was Tolkien's portrayal of Gollum which opened my eyes to it and drove it home. He doesn't shy away from showing how genuinely rotten, corrupted and deceitful Gollum is, yet he makes him truly, intensely pitiable. A lesser writer would have made him more one or the other. And it's not a matter of *balancing* between 'repulsive' and 'pitiable', as though Gollum was a *little* of both, or one or the other by turns. Instead he is *completely* repulsive and *totally* pitiable at the same time. That not only required writerly skill, but demonstrates real empathy and compassion on Tolkien's part for real-life Gollums. I think he couldn't have pulled it off otherwise. It's the most deeply Catholic element of LotR, despite (or perhaps because of) being far less obvious than the blatant symbolism of things like lembas, Frodo's phial or the prayer to Elbereth.

    So I've always had a very special place in my heart for poor Sméagol.

    Don't get me started on that :(
    I found the things *added* to the story at least equally frustrating. Maybe narrative pacing (I do recognise that films of the franchise's nature are very different from meandering, leisurely epic literature) and cost *might* sort of justify cutting out the build-up, and amazing characters like Glorfindel and Tom Bombadil. But I cannot bring myself to forgive the movies' portrayal of Arwen and all the superfluous extra scenes she had. @Zeta1127 yeah Helm's Deep and the ridiculous drama of Haldir's death made me :rolleyes: although I'm more prepared to give it a pass than the Arwen thing. And the Legolas/Gimli banter...I just cringe.
    Okay, enough of that *end rant*

    Incidentally, while I found the "good Sméagol"/"bad Gollum" thing in the PJ movies a bit overdone and kind of bludgeoning the viewer over the head (I don't think the distinction was as clear-cut and obvious as all that, but probably the filmmakers did not much esteem the intelligence of their target audience), that was one of the better-handled elements of the film adaptation, IMO. Serkis was justly lauded for his performance.

    edit: my use of the word 'precious' above just struck me. No irony was intended :p
    Last edited by Cael-Fenton, Jul 29, 2014
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  8. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Well-spoken Cael. :eek: No Tom Bombadil. He and Goldberry will definitely show up in future discussions. :cool: [face_love]
  9. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    My other big gripe was how Aragorn and Andúril were handled the Jackson films. Instead of being reforged before the Fellowship set out from Imladris, Narsil was only reforged into Andúril and brought to Dunharrow by Elrond during The Return of the King. Aragorn was less noble than in the book, though I still believe Viggo Mortensen does a fine job as Aragorn.
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  10. Cael-Fenton Force Ghost

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    I look forward to it!

    Agreed. Movie Aragorn was far more angsty, which I honestly found more teenagerish than noble (but I think it was the direction and general approach of the film attempting to make Aragorn more human or relatable or whatever, rather than Mortensen's acting). I love angst, but book Aragorn (as I see him) was confident and sure in his own skin in a quiet, inimitably Aragorn way, not tormented about his destiny.
  11. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    That I completely agree with. Most of the Arwen and Aragorn scenes felt lost and pointless - and I am saying that as a major fan of the pairing. The whole 'will she go West or won't she' and her 'fading' frustrated me so very much, and Aragorn thinking her gone took away a huge reason of inspiration and focus for him on his quest. (I am just glad that they cut out Arwen leading the elven forces to Helm's Deep instead of Haldir . . . that would have been too much. I understand why Jackson would want some elvish hands in that battle - especially since he couldn't show all of the individual battles occurring around Lórien and Mirkwood in the constraints of a movie. So, while Haldir's inclusion made me scratch my head, it didn't frustrate me as much as the Arwen and Aragorn scenes did.) I think that my biggest issue with Jackson is that he cuts very important things, but then adds in superfluous material that could have been forgone in order to include more of the original plot. He did not explain once, Arwen's heritage or why she could make her Choice - instead, it almost felt like something unnatural she was choosing - and Elrond's moments of witchiness about the matter certainly did not help that vibe. (As a huuuuuge Elrond fangirl, that bothered me something fierce. [face_not_talking] ) Basically, what I think that I am trying to say, is that the drama Jackson tried to create didn't strike as true as the source materiel he chose to ignore. (That said, when Aragorn sees Arwen at the end of RoTK is one of my favourite 'looks' between a couple in movie history. So, while I can gripe all I want, I will still rewatch them a dozen more times and enjoy them in spite of my throbbing cannon-bone. [face_blush][face_laugh])

    Actually, the cutting of classic plot points for PJ's own material was one of my huge issues with Desolation of Smaug. For example - Tauriel herself did not make me angry - actually, I think her character had potential if handled better by the writers - but her having so much screentime when Beorn's scenes, for instance, and so much of Bilbo's awesomeness was pared down to almost nothing. I was finally seeing Mirkwood on the big screen, and all I got from Jackson were two lines of Legolas and Thranduil interacting - and not at all in a father/son way, but a snotty-monarch/frustrated-captain kind of way . . . but then, in one of Thranduil's three scenes, he is fully interacting with Tauriel with many lines Legolas could have delivered instead (and that scene was written just to further her character, might I add), and then how many scenes were devoted to developing her character further with her CGI-d fighting skills and her relationship with Kili?? It frustrated me. :( (Don't cut plot for Orc battles! I feel like Jackson should have that memo stapled to his forehead. [face_laugh]:oops:)

    I also agree about the teenagerish Aragorn - while I love Viggo's portrayal, I do like book!Aragorn's knowing exactly who he is and exactly what he wanted to accomplish. [face_love] Aragorn resolved his inner debates about his destiny quite early in the books - so I can sort of see Jackson wanting to show that debate later in life to further his character development in the context of the movies, perhaps, but it did make him seem a bit emo at times. :p

    Don't get me wrong, I love the original LoTR trilogy for the wonderful adaptations they are. I still enjoyed the first Hobbit movie, but the second one moved me to frustration like nothing else. Here's to hoping for the third one . . . [face_praying] (Which the trailer just came out for yesterday. It gave me not only a few feelings, and also a fair dose of trepidation. I soooo want this to be as awesome as it can be. [face_worried])

    Oh, and wonderful thoughts on Sméagol/Gollum, @Cael-Fenton. That was beautiful to read. [face_love]=D=
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Jul 29, 2014
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  12. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    If you could be a part /member of one of the Races, or live in a particular region, what would that be?

    I would love to visit the Shire just for the down-home feel, but for the scope of history and serenity, one of the Elven bastions: from Doriath, all the way to Rivendell and you know it, to Lothlorien.

    [face_love]
  13. Viridian-Maiden Jedi Master

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    I'm totally with Cael and Mira on this! I pretty much hated Arwen's portrayal. It did not fit at all, in my opinion.

    Arwen has very little "screen-time" in the book, and the rest of her story we get from the Appendix. But I don't think that means her character comes across as anything less impressionable, and I at least always got the impression that she was a much quieter, more graceful figure.

    It's not just that she didn't really come across that way to me in the film. It's also something that's sortof a pet peeve of mine when it comes to female characters in film these days. By adding her part nabbing Frodo right from the hands of the Black Riders and the whole "If you want him come and claim him" line it's as though they wanted to show her physical strength and turn her into something of a warrior. There's nothing wrong with female warrior type characters. I watch them. I like them.

    But also, there are a myriad of ways that people generally, and certainly women, can be strong and I don't think it helps portray a more balanced or complex picture of women for every heroine to be a jiujitsu proficient. I feel sometimes that in trying to get away from the "princess waiting in the tower" paradigm the pendulum has swung to the other side too much.

    And at least when it comes to LotR, there certainly could be more females in the work generally but I don't think you can chalk Arwen's quiet grace either up to Tolkein's following mid-century attitudes about women OR a lack of imagination on his part. In fact, we get quite a good range of different kinds and personalities of strength among the women he does portray. The story has a warrior woman, for one. That's Eowyn. And Galadriel is obviously graceful but also a strong leader. (There is also Goldberry! It's true @Nyota's Heart, we can't forget them!) And who else? Once again I'm not as up as all of you on the Silmarillion but I feel like there were a lot more females mentioned there too and I'm sure they were also of various kinds.

    To me, quiet grace and internal strengths are often underestimated. And Arwen is strong. She's not a princess waiting in a tower for Aragorn to come rescue her. But she's not a warrior either. I just don't see that.
    Last edited by Viridian-Maiden, Jul 29, 2014
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  14. Viridian-Maiden Jedi Master

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    Well this deserves a FAR longer answer than I can give now.

    But in short, I second Lothlorien.
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  15. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    @Viridian-Maiden - I too envision Arwen as demonstrating a quiet strength. I think when a writer portrays a person with subtlety and nuances and then that gets transferred to the visual type media like film, the writers decide to sacrifice that for physical brute action when none is called for. :rolleyes:

    :D on your place selection :cool:
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  16. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    I have only gotten to see An Unexpected Journey so far, I liked it well enough, though I know I am going to hate the Jackson version of the Black Arrow.
  17. Cael-Fenton Force Ghost

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    Well said! That's exactly what I was less eloquently getting at. (*I'm not going to start ranting about fakeplasticcheesedrama. I. Am. Not.*)

    I hadn't known that they'd considered putting Arwen leading the troops at Helm's Deep [face_sick] How much "pandering to fanboys" can you get??! At least now if I ever watch the trilogy again, I'll be able to chant to myself during the Arwen scenes, "Hang in there, just remember, it could have been worse."

    And you've made me glad I missed Desolation of Smaug :p

    Absolutely. I actually think the Xena stereotype is deeply unfeminist, maybe even misogynistic. Men remaking women in their own pissing-contest image, and all too often it just so happens that the warrior princess looks really sexy (physically) while doing her Xena thing. It doesn't flatter women at all to squeeze them into the narrow box which is fanboys' idea of what a strong and admirable character should be.

    And ughhh, that line! After the first horrified time I saw that whole scene, I always skipped through it on the few occasions I watched FotR again. I'd almost managed to block the trauma of it from my memory until you reminded me :p

    My initial response was "A hobbit, and the Shire, of course!" I really can't see myself as an Elf, and while the Elven kingdoms would be amazing to visit and maybe even stay for an extended period, I think I'm too "mortal" to enjoy living for good in somewhere like Lothlórien. The Elves' melancholy for the passing of Arda's ages and their Sea-longing (which I'm sure takes hold even amongst the Sindar and Silvan) would really start to get to me. For comparable reasons, I don't think I'd feel comfortable amongst the Dúnedain, with their longing for their glorious past. And I like horses well enough, but I think I'd be too clumsy to be much good on them, so not Rohan! I get claustrophobic, so no to Dwarves either.

    But then I thought I'd want to be one of the Onodrim. I love trees and forests. Having a long life to just...contemplate them, befriend them (as a kid, I always wished I could talk to plants as well as animals) and hear their stories would be blissful. Some of the trees in Fangorn's forest are probably as old as he himself is.
    Last edited by Cael-Fenton, Jul 29, 2014
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  18. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Ooooh yeah. For pieceing together rumors and screencaps, it looks like they filmed some sort of all out argument between Arwen and Elrond, her then running of to Lothlórien, Galadriel and Celeborn getting involved when Elrond followed, and Arwen eventually taking Haldir's place in leading the Galadrim. Actually, you can still see Arwen in the background of some of the Helms Deep shots on the extended edition. (And, when Legolas returns to Aragorn the Elessar, and Eowyn watches, it was originally Arwen in that scene, and they refilmed it with Legolas - so that makes the look of utter defeat on her face make more sense. :p)

    Aaaand, I am going to say something that may get me a few dirty looks here. As much as I missed Glorfindel - and I really, really do. Arwen's scenes in FoTR did not bother me as much as they did in the following two films. I understand that it would have been another thread in an already very long and character heavy movie to include Glorfindel, and that Jackson thought that he was killing two birds with one stone in having Arwen take his place - thus introducing her character and establishing her bond with Aragorn earlier. As for Arwen's character, I too prefer a sort of quiet grace about her - and I think they tried to capture that, but the whole 'fading' combined with the teenage-esque drama in the following two films put a damper on that. With the Nazghul, she only ever fled from them - she never fought them, and only challenged them when she was safely within Rivendell, where Vilya's magic would protect her. Tolkien said that female elves were all taught at least the basics of fighting, and I could see her knowing enough to give a few taunting words to draw them into the river - where Elrond and Gandalf took care of the rest. Now, if that would have been a full-blown fight scene showcasing her mad Xena skills, I would have been annoyed. If she was the military commander she almost was in TTT, then I would have been downright angry. And yet, I personally thought that was just enough to show her courage and bravery, but anything more would have been over-done. :)

    Oooh - that is one of the things that I love about Tolkien's world. Even though there is a huge slanting between the number of male and female characters, the women who were in his work had a great diversity and showed strength in differing ways. [face_love]

    To name a few rather quickly -

    Adanel and Andreth - Human wise-women of the First Age who were counted as Wise even by the Elves.
    Aredhel - Daughter of Fingolfin, who was the original 'free spirit', I guess you could say. Could hunt and fight with the boys, yet insisted on always wearing white dresses while doing so. :p
    Lúthien - Though not a 'Xena' type, she helped steal a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown to marry the mortal man Beren, using magic and friendships to help her along the way. She even challenged Death himself for the right to live as a mortal with her human love. (Arwen's predecessor in all ways. [face_love])
    Melian - The Maia (like Gandalf and Sauron) who fell in love with an Elven-king, and lived in a form of flesh to stay as his wife and Queen. A great might, the mother of Lúthien and the mentor of Galadriel.
    Idril - The elven Princess of Gondolin, blessed with great foresight and empathy, who married the mortal man Tuor. Hers too was a quiet strength and dignity. (And she was also Arwen's great-grandmother.)
    Elenwë - The Vanyar (The First House of the Elves, who rarely left Aman for their devotion of the Valar) wife of Turgon, gentle and soft hearted. Even so, Elenwë was one of the only wives to follow her husband to Middle-earth, no matter the warnings of her people. In this she showed a beautiful strength of spirit and determination born through love.
    Haleth - The human woman who led the Second House of Men after the death of her father and brother in Orc-raids. Perhaps a bit more Xena-ish in her character, she was a very, very strong personality and a force to be reckoned with.
    Tar-Míriel - The last Queen of Númenor, who tried to remain faithful and lead the people she could after her cousin forced her into marriage and usurped her throne . . . and welcomed Sauron into their midst and followed him in all ways. :(
    Morwen - The epitome of standing tall under trial, this human woman opposed the Easterling's invasion of her land, and held her family together the best she could when Melkor set to destroying her family as a way to answer her husband Húrin's insult to his power.
    Elwing - She is proof that many of Tolkien's characters are far from perfect, and not all motives can clearly be labeled as black and white. After the massacre of her family in the Second Kinslaying, she was the bearer of Lúthien's Silmaril, and fled with the gem after the Third Kinslaying, which enabled her husband to find the way West and ask the Valar for aid against Melkor.
    Nimrodel - Even more fey than Elwing, she was a spirit of nature in every sense, with as tragic a tale as they come.
    Nerdanel - A common born artist, who married the crown-prince of the Noldor in Aman. She remained one of the few things that ever brought Fëanor peace and soothed his tempers until Melkor's taint corrupted him completely.
    Indis - The Vanyar woman who survived the Great Journey, and bore through ridicule and scorn to marry Finwë. She is the original ancestress of many of our heroes.
    Míriel - Finwë's first wife, who gave so much of her spirit to her son that she faded soon after his birth.
    Dís - The mother of Kíli and Fíli, sister to Thorin. She is the only Dwarf woman ever named in the text, but we can assume her a strong sort that helped hold her people together after the loss of Erebor.
    Varda and Yavanna - Queens amongst the Valar, who lit the stars and created all of the plant-life in Arda, respectively. You do not get any more awesome than that. [face_love]

    Just to name a few. :p



    As for places that I would like to live in . . . (And what a great question, @Nyota's Heart! =D=) I find myself echoing @Cael-Fenton with my thoughts. I would love to visit the great Elven realms, but to live there I am not quite so sure. Imladris, I think I could, for the beauty of the location and the emphasis put on stories there. Oh yeah, I could kick back and write forever there. But the Onodrim! I would love to see Fangorne at the height of its glory. Talk about a place where you would love to get lost in. [face_love]

    I would love to see Moria and Erebor at the hey day of their power, too - what a sight they must have been. Or Nan Elmoth while Melian's powers were enchanting it. Oh! I would also want to hitch a ride with Eärendil just once. Imagine what a glorious experience that would be! [face_love]
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Jul 30, 2014
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  19. Cael-Fenton Force Ghost

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    Oh, it wasn't so much the exclusion of Glorfindel I was objecting to. I'd love to see him there, but I do understand that film adaptations often require merging characters. And I recognise that it *was* economical to introduce Arwen at that juncture: like you said, it establishes her relationship with Aragorn, in an "unchaperoned"/incognito setting (outside her father's turf), and it makes sense since she's the daughter of the guy who controls the river. I just really, really didn't like "If you want him, come and get him." It just sounds so...so...cartoon-ish. A mark of good screenwriting is knowing when to let the actors to do the talking with their eyes. It would have worked much better, I think, if she had simply thrown them a challenging look, with all the fire of her grandmother's youth. But I gather PJ doesn't really do subtle :p

    Khazad-dum and Maia woods [face_love]
    Oh yesss, Vingilote! (And her captain's not too bad, either) You'd probably need some kind of spacesuit though :p
  20. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Mira Love, love that list!

    Great views on places etc.
    =D=




    Speaking of Fangorn, how cool is that? The entire Ent moot and Ent-Wives thing. Any thoughts on how the Mighty Ones viewed the travails and choices of the Races? [face_thinking]

    I am especially intrigued by their sense of time and 'urgency' [face_laugh] in making a decision. ;)
    Last edited by Nyota's Heart, Jul 30, 2014
  21. Viridian-Maiden Jedi Master

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    It's interesting how the answer to that question works out.

    I always assume, because I'm obviously clearly projecting, that everyone wants to be elvish and live in Rivendell or Lothlorien. But when you take the entirety of the universe together along with its more theological-type aspects, it isn't really that clear that being an immortal is what everyone would want to be.

    I also always enjoyed thinking about where I'd place other people. A good friend and I had this conversation years ago. It was pretty clear to me -- he'd be human but he'd live in Bree. It just seemed to fit. I couldn't see him as a hobbit, but I could also see him dealing with hobbits and very close to "hobbitsy" things. Being in a place where there are two races/cultures in that close of proximity also really fit his personality. Plus, he has round and rosey cheeks and that could only remind me of Butterbur. He said he'd never given it much thought but a few minutes later accepted the notion with alacrity.

    As for the elves' melancholy - it's certainly there, but to me the melancholy is actually the flipside of the other things they have and it's not unacceptable for that reason. It comes, for example, as a natural counterpart to wisdom over the course of living immortally. And they're not unhappy, after all. No more than anyone else, I suppose. They long a great deal, but not necessarily without reason or unnecessarily.

    Now, supposing I were an elf, the question is...where would I be? Rivendell will always have a very special place in my heart and is in so many ways (I know it's going to sound weird) is something like a geographical embodiment of everything I, as a person, would like to be. But I think these days the film's portrayal gets in the way a little bit (not as close to other locales to what I imagined) and I also feel naturally more drawn to woods than I do to mountains, I think. So Mirkwood...well, we didn't get to see a lot of Mirkwood in The Hobbit so it's hard to say although I suppose it could be a possibility.

    But Lothlorien...there will never in all of literature ever be written a place like Lothlorien. Not for me.

    I think I could be Dunedain though. Maybe even just as easily. But not from the South. It would have to be the North. I've already said, I'm drawn to the wild but noble. That's a very interesting combination, and it's one I'd like to think suits me. ;)
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  22. Space_Wolf Force Ghost

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    I remember watching the animated Lord of the Rings adaption when I was a child. That was my first immersion into it, but I don't remember much about it now and I do not have a copy of the film. When I was reading Star Wars novels in my teens, I came across a reference to Lord of the Rings in one of the Tales of anthologies and when I was doing A-level Biology, I found a copy of it in the library and checked it out. I also read the Hobbit around the same time (can't remember now which one I read first - I bought a copy of the Hobbit but didn't buy a copy of Lord of the Rings until sometime later because the book was too expensive for me in those days. I now have several editions of it because I like the book that much. The one I look at now mainly is an hardback version, because it is easier for me to look things up in. I do have a copy of the Illustrated edition which I've never dared to read because it was quite expensive!) In those days, I only looked up on it as fantasy and that was it. Now that I have learnt more about Norse Mythology I appreciate it a lot better and I think Tolkien was attempting to create a world which was based on Norse Mythology but which also had its own unique flavour. I've also come to the conclusion that to fully appreciate either, you need to take the time to study both of them and not look at them in isolation.
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  23. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    On Tom Bombadil and Goldberry




    I loved his rescue in LoTR of Frodo and friends. :cool: I was tickled by his jolly rhymes and the lovely Goldberry "Daughter of the River." Completely intrigued by that particular expression and always! wanted to know their back-story. [face_batting]
  24. Cael-Fenton Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2006
    star 2
    What's always fascinated me about Tom is the question that Frodo asks him and that has also, I'm sure, preoccupied generations of far cleverer Tolkien fans and scholars: what/who exactly is he?

    My pet theory, which is based on what we know of Tolkien's religious beliefs, is that Tom isn't meant as a character that "factually" fits within the ontological universe of Arda. His interactions with the other characters are instances of the collision of different levels of storytelling language, in the sense that all the rest are "within" a world that can be read symbolically (either as a whole or in its elements) from an "external" viewpoint, but is nevertheless self-contained, in a factually causal/explanatory sense. I think Tom is not part of the factual fabric of Arda, unlike Ents, Hobbits, Elves, Powers or even Eru Himself. So I disagree with the theories that he is a Maia who wandered off from Valinor, or somehow an incarnation of Eru. (I also think the "Maia" theory doesn't gel with how even Gandalf is tempted by the Ring but Tom isn't.)

    Rather, he is a personification of unfallen humanity, and by extension, the unfallen world. Adam (and Eve) before the Fall of Man, if you like. Look at how Tom describes himself, and his words and actions. He is "Eldest", and he is the "Master", but he does not "own" the living things in "his" bit of forest. This seems to reflect the view in Genesis that humanity was appointed steward and "master" of Creation, but to care for it, and not to own/possess/exploit it. Plants and animals obey Tom, but he is clear that they are each their own, not "his".

    The Ring, the embodiment of evil's power and temptation in LotR, has no power over him. And it is not as though he fights and overcomes that power (unlike Aragorn, Galadriel or even Gandalf --- and all our other heroes). He is able to play with it, admire its physical prettiness (perhaps its only "good" quality), without falling under its spell. Quite unlike the others, who often refuse to even take possession of it because its very presence is a powerful temptation, Tom doesn't seem to be affected by it at all, though he does appear to recognise the gravity of its power over others. That is, perhaps, an anthropomorphic picture of Arda Unmarred: so pure and innocent that it may touch evil and come away completely unaffected.

    Tom's main way of exercising power, or his "mastery", over the natural world, is singing. By singing, he commands Old Man Willow, banishes the Wight, calls the ponies, etc. There seems to be a continuation there of the theme in Ainulindalë that Creation was by means of song. Tolkien was fascinated by the idea of human beings' power as "sub-creators", that we have the divine-like power to create worlds in stories and myth. Likewise, Tom's singing is like a version of the Music of the Ainur. He has the power to change (ie, re-form, re-create) the world, albeit in small, subsidiary ways that respect the individuality of each living thing. And this power is portrayed as innocent, joyous and wholesome, very different from the Dark Lords' desire for ownership of and control and dominion over all other creatures en masse, to subordinate all things to their will.

    Like Adam in Genesis, Tom is also a namer. And again, this power to give things their "true" names is exercised in song. Singing, he gives the hobbits' ponies names to which they respond immediately and for ever after.

    Even Tom's association with Goldberry seems to be a symbolic picture of an unfallen world, and humanity's place within it. The image of Goldberry which FotR's description conjures up (dressed in green, adorned with natural things rather than jewellery) is clearly intended to be reminiscent of various cultures' nature-spirits. I think, more than being simply, literally "the River's daughter", she is meant to be an embodiment of the natural world. And Tom's marriage to her represents the harmonious, easy union between humanity in its unfallen state and the rest of Creation. That original relationship is implied in Genesis, where Adam and Eve are punished not only by being exiled from the Garden (nature in its original state as the gently nurturing womb of humanity) but also by having to labour and toil (ie struggle against the forces of the natural world) in order to eat, which they did not previously have to do.

    It may be too religious for some, but I think it's consistent with Tolkien's views, so I'm sticking to my version of Tom and Goldberry :p
    Last edited by Cael-Fenton, Aug 1, 2014
  25. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
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    @Cael-Fenton - that was beautiful and very thought provoking! I never thought of it that way, but that explanation gives me happy chills, and I'll stick to it, too. =D= @};- [:D]
    Last edited by Nyota's Heart, Aug 2, 2014
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