Discussion in 'Community' started by -Courtney-, Nov 25, 2006.
He forgot the nipple piercing part? Oh well, can't have complete accuracy.
But Tolkien never hand-waves any of the 13 dwarves away in the Hobbit. Each of them plays some vital part in the story, and their actions are united to their individual personae. For every critic opining that there are too many dwarves you have 900 diehard adherents of the source material worldwide defending their inclusion. If you have a problem with the book, that's fine of course, but this is a close adaptation of the book and any flaws you perceive in it are likely to make it onto the screen. Others will disagree with you that multiple characters is somehow a flaw, regardless of what some semi-pro, non-award-winning workshop instructor typed into his syllabus.
Far be it from me to defend that suit, but I think there's been worse.
And this one has to be runner-up (he should have just gotten the right collar and some black gloves and gone full Dr. No):
hmm, both of those guys are really tall.
I guess more of my point is that it is harder to balance that many major characters on screen than it is in a book, and it looks like the word is that it's not always properly balanced. Also, I don't get how their being more "diehard adherents of the source material" is really a worthwhile avenue for pursuing an argument.
Also, way to diminish academic fiction writing workshops, dude. It's not like they're actually highly participatory environments where honest and well-thought discussion of how well a story is working happens on an individual basis without regard for any arbitrary set of standards. And, I really don't like to be Mr. "Look who I know" but since you're throwing around characterizations about professors, why not. My last fiction professor won the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction, and the one before that is one of the most acclaimed and prolific American novelists of the twentieth century and has won, amongst other things, the Pen/Faulkner Award and the Prix Medicis Etranger. What the hell. He's this guy.
But if we're gonna snark, let's snark. Shall we start with the post where you spent about four hundred words saying "critics are humans who are fickle and falible, so the opinion that I hold, also being human and thus fickle and fallible but also a great fan of the material, is more objective and valid because I am a fan and not a critic"?
Anyway, it's not that multiple characters are a flaw, it's just that they're difficult to balance, and sometimes it doesn't work as well as it should.
Black Saber, nice to see your ongoing crusade to fail with every post is still going on after so many years.
My main point is that "the word" is tied to current modes of thought which look neither forward (to the Hobbit trilogy as a whole) nor back (to films of yesteryear which had considerably slower pacing). A secondary and related point is that, because critics so often eschew fandom, they close their minds to the meaning of certain plot or character elements, and to the reasons behind certain creative choices. We diehard adherents of the source material know a given work better than those who dismiss such fare as childish or unimportant, and so we are in a better position to assess what belongs in an adaptation, and what merits deletion. We tend to take the long view which critics in their shortsightedness cannot or will not perceive.
I applaud Mr. Boyle's achievements, and admire the talent and dedication it takes to be where he is. However (you had to see that word coming), the guidelines and constraints often applied to fledgeling writers in such workshops (which I agree are, or can be, helpful) do not necessarily apply to seasoned professionals, who may opt to ignore certain rules. It's hard to argue with success, and Tolkien achieved something global and massive and perennial with his rule-breaking, un-workshopped, non-group-participatory The Hobbit. You're well within your rights to criticize the author's decision to include 15 major characters in his book, but that's how the story stands, indelible in the literary consciousness of the West since 1937. Take it or leave it.
My opinion derives from a deeper understanding of the material than that of critics, who tend to eschew Tolkien's writing and so are missing key elements that might explain the filmmaker's choices with regard to the pacing. Certainly we're all fickle and fallible, but to various degrees and measures. Specifically, critics tend to be short-sighted, dismissive of children's fantasy and dismissive of fans of such material, which leads to their misapprehension of film adaptations of that kind of work. My own fickleness and fallibility lies in areas other than the matter under discussion, leaving me well qualified to address this particular form of fickleness and fallibility.
If my words are too many you can skip them altogether. No one has a sword to your throat forcing you to read them.
Agreed. It works splendidly in the book The Hobbit. This coming Friday I'll see for myself how well it works in the film, and in the interim I certainly won't take the word of unreliable, jaded, short-sighted critics.
Did the LOTR marathon yesterday. God I love these film. I am so pumped for Thursday.
Hmm...actually you're right about something here, but backwards about a lot of others. Yes, critics don't take the long view, because it is not in their purview to assume what may or may not happen later, it's their job to assess each film on their plate on its own merits, regardless or what it's based on where it lies in the series. As for the rest, I'm glad they eschew fandom, because "fan" derives from "fanatic," that is to say, someone who shows an irrational level of devotion to something. You're still arguing that having an obsessive focus and deep emotional investment in property makes you assessment more objective? How can you be sure you're not forgving flaws based on knowledge you are bringing into the film rather than what is in the film itself? Stop setting yourself up as a martyr over this thing, it's the Lord of the Rings, no one in their right mind dismisses it as childish or unimportant anymore. It's a big thing that a lot of people enjoy.
Ok, so throw condescension (and you're not even condescending to me but to someone who isn't even here, classy) onto the pile with the snark. You seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that I am talking about rules. I have never been talking about rules. No writing class in its right mind worries about rules at the advanced level, . What happens is discussion, discussion about what is working in each individual story and what needs work. No arbitrary rules. Now, I already said that, but since you apparently didn't see that (or were so intent on attacking the straw man version of me instead of my real points) I've written it again.
I wasn't saying that Tolkien wrote the Hobbit "wrong" or that the Hobbit didn't work, i was simply saying, and all put this in ALL CAPS, IF PETER JACKSON'S ADAPTATION OF THE HOBBIT MAYBE DOESN'T UTILIZE ALL THE CHARACTERS AS WELL AS HE SHOULD IN THE FILM THENN THAT IS A COMPLETELY VALID CRITICISM TO MAKE OF IT, REGARDLESS OF THE SOURCE MATERIAL, BECAUSE HAVING A BUNCH OF CHARACTERS THAT DON'T SERVE A STRONG PURPOSE CAN CREATE A SENSE OF BLOAT.
I haven't seen the film, so I don't know that the film is that way. I'm not saying the film IS that way. I was only saying that if a critic perceived that to be the case in the film, then he is well within his rights to make that point, and I provided an example of why his point might be valid. That's all I was trying to say before we got dragged into this pissing match.
It's not a critics job to use knowledge of source material to explain shortcomings in a film. It's their job to explain what they did and didn't like about a film, and what they think it says in terms of theme subtext. However (and you can be damn sure this was coming) it is the job of a filmmaker to make a film that works as a film, on its own terms. A movie is not a concordance, or a highlight reel of a book made for true believers. It is a film, and should work as such. If critics and audiences think it does not work as a film, that is their right, and it has nothing to do with being short-sighted or dismissive of children's fantasy. I understand how much you love Tolkien but it's not as if anyone who's critical of the Hobbit is attacking you. Hell, the movie isn't even be savaged, it's getting pretty strong reviews from most sources, and they all say that for the most part the movie works in spite of its various flaws. So what are you so upset about? Where is this ire coming from?
What I don't get, and I've been trying, is to figure out how you can't see that your diehard devotion to Tolkien doesn't give you as much of a bias as the critics in the other other direction. Clearly you can't see the thing objectively anymore.
My comment about word count wasn't to say that your posts are too long, far from it, it was just an attempt to point out that you spend a decent number of words writing an argument that isn't so much a logical pretzel as it a Mobeian Oroborous Pretzel. That is to say, in logical terms, it disappears as soon as you finish making, because, unless you are God, you cannot invoke the blanket fallibility of all human beings and then argue that you're opinion is somehow objective.
But then again, your saying that you know exactly where YOUR fickleness and infallibility lie, and that this allows you to comment on the fickleness and infallibility of others with clarity suggests a level of self-knowledge so advanced that it's either the most arrogant and conceited statement I've seen on this message board, or evidence that you're a Zen Master, or possibly that the Pope did accept the invitation to the board and and just never bothered to tell anybody.
Here, it's this right here. This last sentence. This is what ticks me off. It's arrogant, it's anti-intellectual, it's extremely privileged in that annoying way that doesn't realize it's privileged and in fact thinks it's anti-privilege. Quite frankly, it's also stupid, because the blanket dismissal of criticism pulls you out of the larger conversation and keeps you from participating in the kind of discussion that advances deeper understanding and leaves you with only your own opinion and that of people who think exactly like you. I don't know why so many people are so upset by critics these days, maybe it's some kind of radical individualism, maybe it's a conflation of our taste and opinions with ourselves. I don't know.
I want to say a couple of more things before I back away from this discussion.
I am not anti-Hobbit. I love Tolkien. I've been reading him since I first read the Hobbit in elementary school. I love that book. I love the Lord of the Rings, I've read it cover to cover at least four times. I'm not coming in here to crap all over the movie. I think it looks exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing and enjoying it.
What I'm not going to do is operate under the assumption that it's infallible or that all critics have some kind of hyper-biased agenda. It really irks me when I came into a thread and see people crapping all over dissenting opinions.
This conversation started with me merely observing that it was possible for some of the criticisms of the film to be valid. It proceeded with snark and condescension to me and my professors. It ends with frustration and bile.
I've never had a problem with you, Merlin, in fact I've often enjoyed reading your posts. I'm sure we've all said some things we regret.
I don't think I've been condescending or snarky or that I've been crafting straw men. Certainly not intentionally. I've been expressing my thoughts and opinions, which is what discussion forums are for, and to call discussion in this context a "pissing match" is to distinguish your approach to this kind of thing from mine. If you will review what I've written I think you'll find I have not been discourteous or impolite to you in the least, but your latest response feels agitated and employs insult (calling my opinions "stupid" and "arrogant", the inference that I'm "crapping all over dissenting opinions" simply by offering my own) far beyond my mild criticism of writers' workshops. I never insulted you, Darth LowBudget. We have a difference of opinion, and I will stand by my stated observations.
Fun little interview with Ian McKellen in The Guardian. Mentions of Gandalf among other things, and a nice overview of his career and motivations.
Well, having just done my LotR EE marathon, enjoying every second, and feeling like it flew by.... yeah, I don't think I'm going to be bothered by the length It may not be the best general public filmmaking decision but I probably won't care. Not sure how I will feel about so many characters on screen though.
Also no way is it going to be as good as LotR, but who would expect that.
I recently watched all three Extended Editions. Over successive (almost) weekends instead of back to back... but I concluded the length of this film isn't going to bother me either. The four hours of "The Return of the King" flew by. I think I can handle a lengthy recreation of any unexpected party there might be.
Well, most of the FB comments so far seem to agree with my reaction, so... Anyway, I readily admit that the sight of Armitage in a three-piece suit is *ahem* slightly coloured by my perception of the man as John Thornton, cotton mill owner, in the BBC understated jewel of a series called North and South. Showing here:
For all the reviews that say the movie is too long, either pee before you sit down or else get a catheter.
Merlin, since you keep bringing it up, can we get some perspective on where Tolkien stands in literary canon?
Maybe you should hold off on the criticisms of writer's workshops, professional reviewers, and critics in general.
DarthLowBudget and I have taken the film criticism/writing worskhop discussion to PM, and have quite handily hammered out our differences. Surely you don't want to continue that mess here?
As to Tolkien's acceptance among literary critics, you're making my point for me. His work is not vaunted by critics but rather by the global masses of readers who have embraced his work for 75 years and counting.
I've read Dickens. Dude couldn't end a sentence. Semicolons; SEMICOLONS EVERYWHERE. I've read Hawthorne, who jarringly spells out the symbolism for the reader. There are many cases of renowned authors who, in my opinion, really couldn't write exceptionally well. Tolkien couldn't either, but forgive me if I don't take the Nobel Prize in Literature committee seriously in this respect.
The Guardian's mostly positive review of AUJ. The bottom line: HFR, like all new things, might need a little while for us to get used to it, and the impeccable acting helps us get jauntily through a somewhat lengthy epic tale.
Yeah, it's not like the Nobel committee has ever gotten anything wrong.
If you guys have worked it out, that's fine. I was never part of your quarrel nor do I want to be. If you've resolved a better attitude about professional criticism, than that's pleasing and there's not much else to say.
You've missed my point though. It's like there's some sort of persecution complex around this whole issue. The fact that people like Tolkien's work doesn't make it good. As solojones and the Nobel Committee both said with varying degrees of harshness, there are plenty of superior writers. But someone doesn't have to be the best in history to be enjoyable. Tolkien was that, and he had some interesting ideas. I'm not sure why that's not enough for you.
You're right. The fact that it's good is what makes it good.
I haven't resolved a "better", by which I presume you mean closer to your own, attitude about film criticism. We have politely agreed to disagree on the matter. I've allowed that LowBudget has some fair points on the role of critics but I maintain that role is limited, and I stand by my earlier observations.
In addition to Rogue's delightfully pithy response, I will offer the personal, subjective opinion that Tolkien's prose in The Lord of the Rings is masterful, evocative, and deserving of the highest praise. In The Hobbit, not so much, but it's a different voice and, in-universe, is actually a different narrator.
I don't understand your last sentence and why you think it applies to me.
I'm going to have to disagree with you. I think The Hobbit's is good, too.