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  #11  
Old 12-17-2012, 03:28 AM
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I faintly remember that the last section of the Silmarillion dealt with the Third Age in a dozen of pages or so and this text neatly illustrates what you just pointed out, the difference between the "canvas sizes" of the epic LotR and the mythological Silmarillion.
Overall I like this very pattern you already described, how everything was larger in the First Age (lamps - trees - silmarils - White Tree of Gondor in the case of light or creatures like the spiders) and how stories get repeated, i.e. after Morgoth came his little brother Sauron and after Beren and Luthien came Aragorn and Arwen. Perhaps I like it because Tolkien doesn't it make feel cyclical (although it is) or forced.
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Old 12-17-2012, 03:51 AM
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Another criticism of the movie is the tangents. I wouldn't call them that, it's misleading. I will respect the criticism that it seems like they're doing to The Hobbit what they did with Iron-Man 2: a movie that could have been an awesome film if they didn't dedicate half of it to setting up for "The Avengers".

The difference between "Iron-Man 2" and "The Hobbit" (films) is that IM2, a shorter film than "Unexpected Journey", seemed confused about which plot to dedicate its time to. And thus far "The Hobbit" (films) is using the obligation of making longer, multiple films to include both the full content of "The Hobbit" books and still concentrate on material that makes the movies prequel setups to LotR.

I wouldn't go so far as to say Jackson is just taking ALL the Tolkien side stories and appendices and throwing them at the films whether relevant or not. When the film isn't dealing with "The Hobbit" plot it's dealing with the prequel setup for LotR and mostly using Gandalf and his frequent exits from the group to do so.

He's inventing a lot of scenes and dialogue but thankfully sticking to Tolkien's style while doing so. Unless you include the nitpick of naming a hedgehog Sebastian (which is another nitpick that I'll probably comment on at a later post).
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  #13  
Old 12-19-2012, 03:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MigueldaRican View Post
Some questions.

It's been about 2 decades since I've read the book, so there are some things I am not sure about.

1.) I don't remember there being some head (one armed) Orc with a score to settle between him and Thorin. Was this legit? Or did they do to the Orcs, what First Contact did to the Borg: have some main boss bad guy that the audience can identify with, and heighten the drama by adding in some personal vendetta between two principal leads.

2.) More about the second movie, I hear Cumberbatch (spelling) is supposed to voice Smaug. I don't remember Smaug having a speaking part.

Again I may be way, way off. I haven't read the book in a long, long time. I do know that Jackson is known for the changes between book and screen. However, I'm not a Purist. I really don't have a problem with changes in film adaptations as long as they don't detract from the main plot and theme of the book. And thus far, the adaptation is superb.
Your First Contact reference was exactly the comparison that came to mind when I saw this bit. The only difference being that Azog is actually a character mentioned in the book. But he's mentioned because Thorin's cousin Dáin chopped his head off some two-hundred years previously, and although he himself did kill an important dwarf, it was Dáin's father not Thorin's grandfather. So that was the only part of the film that annoyed me. And really more because Azog was shouting clichéd Hollywood villain lines the whole time. Only made slightly cooler by the fact that they were in Orkish.

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Originally Posted by MigueldaRican View Post
That might have been another change then. I think in the Hobbit movie, they were called Orcs. By looks that's what they seemed as well. I think back and vaguely remember I was confused about the difference between orc and goblin. The movies seemed to have define them differently. The goblins were short, hunched, jumpy creatures that reminds one more of monkeys, and dwelt mostly in the caves. The orcs are the next step, walk upright, originally Elves who were "tortured and mutilated" (as indicated by Saruman) into a new race.

...

I feel supremely geeky for having this conversation.
They were referred to both as orcs and goblins. Very roughly, orcs are more dangerous. The ones under the mountains are still goblins, I think.

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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
Goblin is just another word for orc, it doesn't imply in any way small orc (kinda like goblin < orc < uruk or something like that). Goblin doesn't sound as nasty as orc so that's why Tolkien probably chose it for a novel more suited to children than his second novel.
In the Hobbit's introduction he said that orc was the Hobbitish word for goblin, but definitely later on he more or less dropped goblins. So the only set of orcs we know to be goblins are the ones under the Misty mountains which may or may not include the orcs in Moria.

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Originally Posted by MigueldaRican View Post
The biggest change of course is the one a lot of people have trouble getting over:

The Hobbit is a book that was meant for kids. A short book.

But let's be real. I know what these movies are. It's not really "The Hobbit". It is, I mean Peter Jackson still does a good job of keeping the main story intact. But the reason why the story has been stretched, why its content is still for the same mature enough audiences as LotR, why it seems like between a third to a half of the films aren't about "The Hobbit" but seem to act more like a setup for the Lord of the Rings movies. They're prequels. Yeah, "The Hobbit" itself is a prequel, it's just the first book. But the movies are prequels in every sense of the word. They're trying to blend into a smooth transition into LotR the way "The Hobbit" book didn't.

I'm not going to flame anyone for not being on board with that. But I am. I'm actually pretty excited about how they're going to do it. I know what I'm expecting from Peter Jackson. I actually liked his changes. I've already come to the conclusion that with regards to the LotR films, they were actually better in many ways than the books.

Are they doing this for max profit? Yeah, probably. But if they want the max profit they're gonna have to give us max quality. With the first film out, seeing it as it is, whether you like it or not, I doubt you can say, "They're just trying to make a quick buck."

So far I like what they've done. I do kind of feel like the one-armed orc is a little too "bad @$$" for this this story. But everything else seems to outshine it.
Well, actually, having read the book recently, I can tell you that although it is a thin book, it is by no means small.There are about 17 chapters, and something huge happens in each one. Some of them have action sequences which are given very little description and this means that anyone making this into a film would have to devote more time to those bits - let alone Peter Jackson, as we all know how much he loves his action sequences!

And yes, they are making The Hobbit into prequels, after a fashion. But so far they have barely expanded upon what Tolkien himself wrote to fill in the gaps between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. If you look in the Lost Tales book as well as the LotR Appendices you find bits on Thorin's background and how he came to meet Gandalf and why Gandalf was interested in the Dwarves' quest (funnily enough it is what he said to Saruman in the film), and bits and pieces about Dol Guldúr and where Gandalf went while the Dwarves were in Mirkwood.

I also believe that Peter Jackson is not doing it for the money, but he convinced the film companies to do it by saying: "Look, money!"

The only bit that annoys me about this (other than Azog) is the compression of the timeline. But I can see why they'd do it, and they made a really good film (aside from Azog), so I can forgive them.
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  #14  
Old 12-19-2012, 03:47 AM
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Originally Posted by martok2112 View Post
Well, like I may have said before, they might not only be doing this just for big bucks and profit, but as I recall, it's been probably about some 10 years since RotK graced the big screen...and now, with this new movie, this prequel, PJ and company are probably thinking: "The fans have waited ten years for only one movie? That would seem like an injustice to them. Let's give them a substantial reward for their patience."

My roommate, who is a big time fan of the LotR books, and all others associated with them (The Hobbit, The Cimarillion....sp?) seems to think that one way Jackson could stretch out The Hobbit into a fairly decent trilogy is to utilize elements of The Cimarillion as backstory woven into scenes in The Hobbit. The Cimarillion, as I understand it, is not so much a novel to be read, but a source book of history and back story for Middle Earth.
Less the Silmarillion, more the Appendices of LotR and the Book of Lost Tales. Although they use the Silmarillion to flavour bits of the film, like where Radagast mentions that the giant spiders must be "the spawn of Ungoliant!" Ungoliant being the mother of all giant spiders, literally and figuratively. And also from the backstory of the Witch King of Angmar, whom they discuss when peering at the "Morgul blade".

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Originally Posted by samwiseb View Post
Well he seems to be doing a pretty impressive job with it so far.

Re the Silmarillion, I suppose you could think of it as a very distant prequel to the trilogy (unlike The Hobbit, which technically isn't a prequel having come first). However it's painted on such a broad multi-generational canvas that most of the time you can't really deal with it in visual terms. The size of it almost makes the second darkness of Suaron seem like a mere footnote by comparison (in fact the final chapter essentially covers the material that was prologue to the movie trilogy).

It's always interesting to me how fantasy stories allude to an even more magical or dangerous past then whatever is seen in the present story. I mean it's almost like "Well, okay, then why are you telling us this story instead of that one?" In the trilogy, things like the Balrog and Shelob are leftover relics from a time that predates even the War of the Ring. The implication being that Gandalf and his companions wouldn't even stand a chance of victory in a world where such things were actually commonplace. Well The Silmarillion is that larger world. Any one of its chapters could almost make a movie unto itself, if perhaps a made-for-TV movie at that. But I don't even think it's possible to adapt the whole thing. There are way too many characters, and very few speaking parts within the prose. There isn't even really a spectator's point of view; you're mostly dealing with maps and family tree diagrams just to keep yourself oriented. I've read the bloody thing twice and both times I've forgotten most of the characters and details. Maybe it's like reading all the compiled Greek myths as a history text compressed into one book. Turin Turambar is my favorite chapter, I think just because his character appeals to the devil's advocate side of my own personality.
Definitely couldn't adapt the whole thing, but there are definitely a good number of the stories that could have dramatised versions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MigueldaRican View Post
Another criticism of the movie is the tangents. I wouldn't call them that, it's misleading. I will respect the criticism that it seems like they're doing to The Hobbit what they did with Iron-Man 2: a movie that could have been an awesome film if they didn't dedicate half of it to setting up for "The Avengers".

The difference between "Iron-Man 2" and "The Hobbit" (films) is that IM2, a shorter film than "Unexpected Journey", seemed confused about which plot to dedicate its time to. And thus far "The Hobbit" (films) is using the obligation of making longer, multiple films to include both the full content of "The Hobbit" books and still concentrate on material that makes the movies prequel setups to LotR.

I wouldn't go so far as to say Jackson is just taking ALL the Tolkien side stories and appendices and throwing them at the films whether relevant or not. When the film isn't dealing with "The Hobbit" plot it's dealing with the prequel setup for LotR and mostly using Gandalf and his frequent exits from the group to do so.

He's inventing a lot of scenes and dialogue but thankfully sticking to Tolkien's style while doing so. Unless you include the nitpick of naming a hedgehog Sebastian (which is another nitpick that I'll probably comment on at a later post).
He's invented scenes, but thankfully used mostly stuff that Tolkien had written after the Hobbit and LotR to do so. So I can forgive that.

The problem with the name Sebastien is that it is of Greek origin, and Tolkien mentions in the Appendices that he specifically avoided names of Greek or Latin origin because in Middle Earth the equivalent of Greek and Latin influences come from Elvish. (He broke this rule for some Hobbit names, which were mentioned only in a diminutive form - but he did stuff like changing "Sam" from a shortening of the Hebraic "Samuel" to a shortening of the decidedly more Anglo-Saxon "Samwise".) Sorry, I nitpicked on your behalf.
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  #15  
Old 12-19-2012, 04:52 AM
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The problem with the name Sebastien is that it is of Greek origin, and Tolkien mentions in the Appendices that he specifically avoided names of Greek or Latin origin because in Middle Earth the equivalent of Greek and Latin influences come from Elvish. (He broke this rule for some Hobbit names, which were mentioned only in a diminutive form - but he did stuff like changing "Sam" from a shortening of the Hebraic "Samuel" to a shortening of the decidedly more Anglo-Saxon "Samwise".) Sorry, I nitpicked on your behalf.
That's a little more detailed than the criticisms I've read. On theonering.com's "list of changes" website, the criticism was that Sebastian seemed too contemporary. They acknowledged the fact that Tolkien used contemporary (rather fratboyish sounding) names for the Orcs, but said that Tolkien regretted that. My first response to that is, "Too bad." It's published.

But even if that's the case, the nitpicker's response would be: well at least the Orcs are more forgettable characters individually. Fair enough. But that doesn't exempt other characters of the books: Tom Bombadil, Rose (Rosie), Bill. And let's not forget the name Fatty.

Still even at that, those characters aren't exactly main characters, though (at least in the books) Tom's part is bigger. But it's not like they were the principles of the books. Imagine if one of the Nine were just named Jackson or Brian. The thing about Sebastian is that he's thankfully a very minor, forgettable character.
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Old 12-19-2012, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by MigueldaRican View Post
That's a little more detailed than the criticisms I've read. On theonering.com's "list of changes" website, the criticism was that Sebastian seemed too contemporary. They acknowledged the fact that Tolkien used contemporary (rather fratboyish sounding) names for the Orcs, but said that Tolkien regretted that. My first response to that is, "Too bad." It's published.

But even if that's the case, the nitpicker's response would be: well at least the Orcs are more forgettable characters individually. Fair enough. But that doesn't exempt other characters of the books: Tom Bombadil, Rose (Rosie), Bill. And let's not forget the name Fatty.

Still even at that, those characters aren't exactly main characters, though (at least in the books) Tom's part is bigger. But it's not like they were the principles of the books. Imagine if one of the Nine were just named Jackson or Brian. The thing about Sebastian is that he's thankfully a very minor, forgettable character.
Sebastien is not a modern name. (I think they meant "modern" rather than "contemporary", as that would imply it fitted in with the era of the setting very well.) But nevertheless, it is out of place.

On the Orc-names, the only ones I can recall were simply in English, so presumably in-Universe it is simply something in the common tongue but they seemed to suit the characters quite well. What he regretted was making everything about them seem irredeemably evil.

You have to remember that Tolkien was a linguist, and liked making up languages and sounds, but also felt that it wouldn't do to overload his audience with his own musings. So some names are supposed to be translations into English from whichever language (Westron or Hobbitish or what have you)Tolkien used, to fit with the specific cultural feeling he had decided upon.

But of the four other examples that you picked, only one is inexcusable: Tom Bombadil, "Tom" being Aramaic/Hebraic is not a valid origin for a name as laid out by Tolkien's own rules. However, he is excused by the fact that he was actually a character from stories entirely unrelated to LotR which Tolkien wrote before, and then decided just to stick Tom in there.

The other three you picked: Rosie, Bill and Fatty. I don't see what the problem is with Rose - if you call someone after an actual noun in your native tongue, you expect it to sound consistent with the rest of it. In the Shire, they would name girls after flowers in their own tongue, so naturally in English this would be translated. Otherwise we'd have random, harsh sounding names in amongst the English (Tolkien devised a little of the language for Hobbits, thus any noun-names he might give characters would remain in English). Hobbits are meant to sound "Englishy" and Englishy they sound.

Thus it is with Bill and Fatty. Bill being the diminutive of William, being derived from Wilhelm, is decidedly Germanic, thus in-Universe exists as a completely different sounding name which happens to have similar origins to William. Fatty is a nickname, just like any other nickname, I don't see a problem here either. I'm sure the even Ancient Greek civilisation had a derisive term of endearment for those with girth problems. But I'll go further, by reminding you that Fatty's actual name was Fredegar, which is another Germanic name, thus it falls under the branch of "names Tolkien used to fit with the specific cultural feeling he had decided upon".

In both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings we start off in the Shire. That is "home", and should feel familiar. Thus we get names that you might find in our world. As you leave the Shire you get further from home and the setting altogether less familiar(this is more pronounced in The Lord of The Rings). Thus you start off meeting Tom Bombadil or a troll named Bill, but then you meet a cave-dweller named Gollum or a Ranger named Aragorn and home feels further away.
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  #17  
Old 12-22-2012, 02:38 AM
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I think the movie matches the quality of Jackson's LotR adaptions, the actors are terrific and as compared to LotR the material is not stretched but extended the movie feels more relaxed and contemplative despite the numerous action scenes.
Despite of some changes it is very faithful to Tolkien. Radagast is not merely a great character who helps to narrativize typical first person narrator material, here the dangers that lurk in the East in Mirkwood, but also embodies together with the other two wizards the idea put forward in Tolkien's writings about the Istari (I merely read the fragments from the Unfinished Tales) that they matched the qualities of the Valar that sent them (Gandalf - Manwë - wise ruling; Saruman - Aulë - control; Radagast - Yavanna - nature). This is not trivial but rather essential as the idea that evil goes hand in hand with exerting control is a key idea in Tolkien's work. *
Gandalf's motivation to join the quest which he mentions in Rivendell is also not taken from the novel (Unfinished Tales - The Quest of Erebor).
All this helped to get rid of the stupid children novel aspects of The Hobbit (especially the elves are horrible in it) and when some have been maintained like the storm-giants it did not feel childish at all. Furthermore it weaves The Hobbit into the Third Age in general, i.e. the fight for Erebor is just one of many skirmished before the War of the Ring, which makes sense in-universe wise (the commercial real-world reason, to connect these films to the LotR adaption, is obvious).


* - Tolkien has been an anarchic monarchist (My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning the abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy.) which sounds strange but means that free people live together and are merely bound by traditions while their king is not some tyrannical absolute ruler but rather an ordinary guy who finds himself on a throne by the accident of birth. Of course he can misuse his power like any man and there are plenty of examples in the work of Tolkien but if he is a good king he is basically becoming implicitly elected, i.e. he knows that he is just an ordinary guy and only made king (in terms of content, not form) because his people trust him so he works hard to retain their trust.
The scene in the movie where Balin tells about how he joined Thorin after the Battle of Azanulbizar or Aragorn bowing to the hobbits in The Return of the King neatly illustrate this.
The trick of all this is that there is no real dominating boss but rather some form of conservative anarchism; people are free and merely committed to follow their traditions and a king is just one among these free people bound by tradition. Back to the examples of Thorin or Aragorn, you can clearly see how deeply committed they are to the duties they inherited.

One doesn't have to agree with Tolkien on these issues (I certainly don't) but I think it is essential to keep them in mind in order understand his work and his view upon evil.

Last edited by horatio : 12-22-2012 at 02:43 AM.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:46 AM
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I think the movie matches the quality of Jackson's LotR adaptions, the actors are terrific and as compared to LotR the material is not stretched but extended the movie feels more relaxed and contemplative despite the numerous action scenes.
Despite of some changes it is very faithful to Tolkien. Radagast is not merely a great character who helps to narrativize typical first person narrator material, here the dangers that lurk in the East in Mirkwood, but also embodies together with the other two wizards the idea put forward in Tolkien's writings about the Istari (I merely read the fragments from the Unfinished Tales) that they matched the qualities of the Valar that sent them (Gandalf - Manwë - wise ruling; Saruman - Aulë - control; Radagast - Yavanna - nature). This is not trivial but rather essential as the idea that evil goes hand in hand with exerting control is a key idea in Tolkien's work. *
Gandalf's motivation to join the quest which he mentions in Rivendell is also not taken from the novel (Unfinished Tales - The Quest of Erebor).
All this helped to get rid of the stupid children novel aspects of The Hobbit (especially the elves are horrible in it) and when some have been maintained like the storm-giants it did not feel childish at all. Furthermore it weaves The Hobbit into the Third Age in general, i.e. the fight for Erebor is just one of many skirmished before the War of the Ring, which makes sense in-universe wise (the commercial real-world reason, to connect these films to the LotR adaption, is obvious).


* - Tolkien has been an anarchic monarchist (My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning the abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy.) which sounds strange but means that free people live together and are merely bound by traditions while their king is not some tyrannical absolute ruler but rather an ordinary guy who finds himself on a throne by the accident of birth. Of course he can misuse his power like any man and there are plenty of examples in the work of Tolkien but if he is a good king he is basically becoming implicitly elected, i.e. he knows that he is just an ordinary guy and only made king (in terms of content, not form) because his people trust him so he works hard to retain their trust.
The scene in the movie where Balin tells about how he joined Thorin after the Battle of Azanulbizar or Aragorn bowing to the hobbits in The Return of the King neatly illustrate this.
The trick of all this is that there is no real dominating boss but rather some form of conservative anarchism; people are free and merely committed to follow their traditions and a king is just one among these free people bound by tradition. Back to the examples of Thorin or Aragorn, you can clearly see how deeply committed they are to the duties they inherited.

One doesn't have to agree with Tolkien on these issues (I certainly don't) but I think it is essential to keep them in mind in order understand his work and his view upon evil.
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