The LOTR Movie Site
January 8, 2001

The Worry of a Tolkien Movie
Mark A.

I am looking forward to this forthcoming film with caution and reservations; curiosity as to any interpretations of these stories is generally present in anyone who has spent many years enjoying and thinking about the books concerned; but whereas collections of pictures such as some of those that have been published can meet with individual approval or otherwise - they depend on the stories and not vice-versa - something as large as a modern, large-budget film will overshadow the texts; in the public consciousness a film will be the greater entity.

However, I do allow for the fact that  these stories which Mr. Tolkien has written have become so 'large' that such reworking, or inspiration they prompt to make something new, arising from the original, is inevitable, and not necessarily a bad thing (indeed, there are several surviving statements to this effect from the author, and his own creations spung from a pre-existing soil). It is in the large and overblown nature of a modern movie that the danger lies. A comparison can perhaps be drawn in what many detect in the Disney obliterations of folktales; where the interpretations were deliberately created to be superimposed over and forever replace their sources in the public imagination. Good things can certainly arise from the ideas that one artist derives from another, and nothing stands wholly independant of course, so these processes are entirely natural (and a philosophy or creed which deeply considers these matters is centrally involved in the history of the 'Middle Earth'.)

Mr. Alan Lee's work is the preferable kind of thing we might hope for, and his involvement in the project in hand is heartening. Personally, though, I find Mr. John Howe's (also, apparently, involved in the film) Tolkien-related art poor; all 'flash and colour' with no proper awareness of the work from which it has sprung, characterisations and scenes wholly grounded on twentieth century misconcptions, and belonging more to the world of 'Conan the Barbarian' comic than the rich heritage of North-western history, myth and literature (which Mr. Tolkien's work not only arises from, but also gives a new shape to, much in the manner of the achievement that Tolkien himself decided that the Beowulf author had reached from his 'sources'; discussed in the matter of the 'tower' in 'the Monsters & the Critics'). On a promotional clip for the movie there was a spoken blurb to the effect of ''only now is film technology capable creating a 'Lord of the Rings' movie...'' This credo, if it does underly the director's thinking, means we may expect modern spectacle (which ages quickly and has become tiresome and commonplace in proportion to its' incresing use and scope) as the means the movie-makers have adopted to convey the 'epic' in Tolkien's tale.

And can models-turned-actresses, however pretty, possibly be used to portray the indefinably 'otherness' of the people of the elves ? In short, 'The Lord o!
f the Rings' is not 'Star Wars,' and certainly not dungeons & dragons or its' ilk, and it would be a great and regettable shame if the behemoth which the movie will undoubtedly become casts the shadow of these these elements upon the books. Whether or not you think I have spoken a load of pooh, I would welcome any feedback on this (to, cheers !