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Jackson v Tolkien: Would Tolkien have written that?

Eledhwen

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Time to put on your intellectual thinking caps (you know, the ones with the black square and the dangly bit), because I want some solid reasoned arguments here, as I ask WOULD TOLKIEN HAVE WRITTEN THAT?

The screenwriters used much of Tolkien's writing, and not always in the place Tolkien wrote it (and this is covered in other threads). But what I'm interested in, for the purposes of this thread, is the stuff they added themselves.

Did you, like me, hear bits of script and think "Tolkien would never have written that!"? Well, here's the place to write that bit of script and explain why you think Tolkien would not have written it. Please don't just say "Tolkien would never have written this!" - I want REASONS WHY he would never have written it. There are other, more glaring examples (in my opinion!), but this was the one I was pondering when I decided to start this thread:

Theoden says, at Theodred's tomb: "A parent should never have to bury their own child" (or words to that effect). I don't think Tolkien would have written this line of a king of men in the Third Age. Death was part of life; especially the death of young men in battle. Orcs were abroad and death of both young and old alike, was always 'on the cards'. If the sentiment had been expressed at all it would, I think, have been less general and more an expression of his personal regret at what he had to do.

Of course, this doesn't just apply to words spoken by the cast, but also actions and decisions made; though I would be grateful if we could steer away from Jackson's interpretation of entire characters (eg: reluctant Aragorn) which have been meatily discussed elsewhere.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Eledhwen said:
...what I'm interested in, for the purposes of this thread, is the stuff they added themselves.

Did you, like me, hear bits of script and think "Tolkien would never have written that!"? Well, here's the place to write that bit of script and explain why you think Tolkien would not have written it.
Thank you for starting this thread for mortarboard-and-tassle type minds to chew on! :D

Theoden says, at Theodred's tomb: "A parent should never have to bury their own child" (or words to that effect). I don't think Tolkien would have written this line of a king of men in the Third Age. Death was part of life; especially the death of young men in battle.
Humans haven't changed in the last 100,000 years, and some human reactions — especially those concerned with deaths of loved ones — transcend and trump time, culture and place. That sentence ("No parent should have to bury their child") especially resonated with me as a father, and I KNOW that it resonated with millions of people around the world who saw that movie. It especially resonated with me because my own daughter lost her first child, a girl, in utero and had a stillbirth. You can't imagine the grief all of us went through. Indeed: no parent should have to bury their child. The statement is an eternal truth as far as I'm concerned, in all times, places and cultures. I believe Tolkien would certainly have felt fine with the statement. It certainly showed Theoden's humanity. He'd lost not only his only son, but his wife before that. He'd lost his entire immediate family, for God's sakes! He had much to grieve. Don't tell me that the nature of his culture was such that it left no room for a father's (and a husband's) grief! (And consider this: he'd been under Saruman's spell with a clouded mind for who-knows-how long. And to come out of that, and then, with a still partially-clouded mind to suddenly think, "Where is my son? Where is Theodred???" Just imagine the shock...) And yes, death is a part of life. In fact Hinduism says "Death comes disguised as life."

The only part that actually enraged me was the "Go home" nonsense: this was a total breach of character from the way Tolkien created Frodo. He never would have written that or allowed it into the screenplay, and I believe would have initiated legal action had he been alive.

And he never would have made Gimli into a low-comedy buffoon, because, as with Frodo, it was a total breach of character. Changing the nature of a character's character is IMO grossest insult to the author.

Barley
 
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Morohtar

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Barliman Butterbur said:
And he never would have made Gimli into a low-comedy buffoon, because, as with Frodo, it was a total breach of character.
I agree with our esteemed Innkeeper on this one. While I can understand that Peter Jackson thought it necessary to have some comic relief in a movie that is generally pretty heavy stuff, I think that having Merry and Pippin alone providing comedic comments and situation would have been sufficient. When reading the books I thought Gimli to be a strong and honourable character, as shown in his friendship with Legolas and actions both on and off the battlefield. I think Jackson might have misinterpreted certain comments and actions of Gimli's, such as his distrust of the elves when they first arrive in Lothlorien, as a lacking of character, and as such used him as a comedic character.

With Frodo, I think the reason for most of the changes that have irked so many of us is to show more obviously the effect the ring was having on Frodo. I think that Jackson tried to show it as a more forceful entity, rather than what I thought of as a kind of addiction, where up until the moment of truth one can never really know if they can break free of it. I think that in cutting so much out of the movies, and making the movies shorter than would have been required to show the slow degradation of Frodo's will, Jackson had to make it more obvious the effect the ring had on Frodo.

*removes thinking cap*
 

Majimaune

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Ahhhh..... Some of the line Merry and Pippin say would never be writen by Tolkien ie "I feel like I'm back at the Green Dragon after a hard days work" says Pippin. And then Merry says "Only you've never done a hard days work". Now I personally think if I read the book right it says something along the lines of 'Hobbits are hard working people'. Now I think that it was just a bit out of character.
 

YayGollum

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I wouldn't call it an out of character thing for those two to be discussing, though, since they were at least halfway lighthearted. It seems to me to be that you are only noticing something about the personalities of those particular characters, not a truth about an entire race. :rolleyes:

Anyways, sure, even though I have the ability to understand why some might not think of the Theoden dude crying and uttering lines similar to ---> "No parent should outlive their kids." as uncharacteristic, but I muchly disagree. In addition to the point that the Eledhwen person was making, the Theoden dude just didn't seem like the type to show such emotional weakness in front of anyone, especially the evil torturer Gandalf character, who he wasn't always such a large fan of. I am not writing that the Theoden dude probably wasn't sad. That doesn't make much sense to me. I am writing that it was uncharacteristic for the guy to cry and talk like that, in that situation.

So, I see no large reason for why the Tolkien dude wouldn't have written that humorous bit about the nasssty hobbitses, but I do happen to think that the guy would have stuck to the personality that he had already assigned to the Theoden character.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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YayGollum said:
... the Theoden dude just didn't seem like the type to show such emotional weakness in front of anyone...
"Emotional weakness," eh? I will chalk that assessment up to your young age and to the great likelihood that you have not yet experienced overwhelming grief. May you never have to, although I fear it's in the cards for you — as it is for all of us — somewhere down the line.

Barley
 

Eledhwen

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Yessss! These are the sort of responses I was hoping for.

Here's a scenery point. I think that the representative art, including depictions of battles, statues and so on (eg: in LotR, the painting depicting Sauron's defeat, and the statue bearing the sword that was broken), would not be found in elven domains like Rivendell and Lothlorien. My reason for thinking this is that Elves have memories so vivid that they are like the present, and a storytelling ability that makes others feel like they are there, as do their songs. I could find no reference to effigies or paintings of people in such places in Tolkien's writings, though the halls of men are full of such things. Leaves, and patterns on the theme of nature would be more likely; or perhaps others know different?
 

YayGollum

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I saw nothing especially strange about the examples that you mention, Eledhwen person. Sure, I understand your reasoning, but then, from what that Tolkien dude wrote about how artsy the elf types are, I wouldn't think that painting and sculpting are too out of character for them. I doubt that their ways of honoring heroism were not limited to singing and storytelling. While most elves probably could remember such events well enough for them to shudder, then stop thinking about them, one or two could have been wishing to show off their talents while dedicating their products to lost comrades. But then, I don't worry overly much about the sickeningly popular elf frames of brain. :rolleyes:
 

Aldanil

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Would Tolkien have written that? Ha'e ye gon' quite daft?

OR, Our Favorite Innkeeper's Had A Few Too Many



Barliman Butterbur said:
Indeed: no parent should have to bury their child. The statement is an eternal truth as far as I'm concerned, in all times, places and cultures. I believe Tolkien would certainly have felt fine with the statement.

The only part that actually enraged me was the "Go home" nonsense: this was a total breach of character from the way Tolkien created Frodo. He never would have written that or allowed it into the screenplay, and I believe would have initiated legal action had he been alive.

Changing the nature of a character's character is IMO grossest insult to the author.



O it pains me a little, jus' a wee tiny bit, to return to our beloved Forum for the first time in many revolutions of the Moon, and discover that the occasion compels my dropping one of those Monty Python 16-ton weights down square on the balding pate of me old friend Barliman; yet so I must.

(And since I must, and since "that's gotta hurt", and since the present occasion of contestation is provided by the open-minded kindness of Eledhwen the Fair, let me hasten to counterpose to such a seemingly hostile declaration of pedantic intent my utter concurrence with the esteemed Master Butterbur's indignation at that fetid and fatuous hognog on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol, surely one of the most repellent examples in a screenplay replete with them of what happens when an overworked B-movie auteur, his significant other, and her write-in girlfriend affect to substitute their own pallid, preposterous, and pustulent invention for the nuance and narrative craftmanship of the author's original. Not least among the losses entailed by that particularly rancid, implausible, and "unforced" error is what our beloved mortarboard-and-tassel Oxford don considered the saddest moment in the entire story, when Gollum the weary and time-wrung old hobbit reaches out a hand for a moment to touch his sleeping master -- but hey! You want subtlety and emotional impact through understatement? The Kiwi Kaiser and his Krewe of Krones can't handle subtlety and emotional understatement! "That's Not Our Job!")


This matter of our absolute agreement aside, however -- and don't even get me started on such tinny-eared touchstones of malodorous tripe as "Let's hunt some orc!" or "Nobody tosses a dwarf!", which have quite properly and at greater intensity elsewhere been heaped with the opprobrium their ham-handedness deserves, and demands -- the fact remains and the point must be made that movie-Theoden's teary declaration of parental regret is completely "out of line" with the character that Tolkien created. The son of Thengel is an old king in a long line of warrior-kings, ruler of a fell and war-like people; Theodred's death in battle is a matter for grief and great honor both, and not to be wept over as either unnatural or unbearable. The old English general Siward in Macbeth says it most succinctly, in a scene that John Ronald knew quite well as a schoolboy.

ROSS
Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt.
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirmed
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.

SIWARD
Then he is dead?

ROSS
Ay, and brought off the field. Your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end.

SIWARD
Had he his hurts before?

ROSS
Ay, on the front.

SIWARD
Why then, God's soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death;
And so his knell is knolled.


MALCOLM
He's worth more sorrow,
And that I'll spend for him.

SIWARD
He's worth no more.
They say he parted well and paid his score;
And so God be with him!


True indeed, Theoden has not the comfort of Iluvatar to rely upon (twice), but that "fact" only reinforces the sterner mode of Northern heroism which Tolkien wished to embody in this old King of Rohan. Lest mere Shakespeare prove insufficient to convince you, let me offer for perusal more persuasive the reply of September 1955 unsent to Hugh Brogan (another schoolboy) which constitutes #171 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. The draft discourses at rather greater length than I have now either the energy or the inclination to transcribe, but addresses itself directly to the matter and the manner of how Theoden speaks, and therefore thinks (and feels).




As one can plainly see when Terry Jones, for example, falls under it, in the "self-defense against fresh fruit" sketch, that enormous black 16-ton weight is way hollow anyway, and hence dear Barliman is even at the moment (or once he's read will be) not sadly squashed flat but squatting placidly beneath its ponderous, scholarly, grim and irrefutable emphasis, properly chastened but otherwise quite unharmed. "And so Eru be with him!"
 
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Shireman D

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Re: Would Tolkien have written that? Ha'e ye gon' quite daft?

Aldanil said:
... an overworked B-movie auteur, his significant other, and her write-in girlfriend affect to substitute their own ...invention for the nuance and narrative craftmanship of the author's original.
In the case of the line 'No parent should have to bury a child' the EE documentary film makes clear that it was written by the actor playing Theoden as his instinctive reaction from with in the part and drawing on his own life experiences. I thought it a very moving moment.

But what do I (or he) know?
 

Aldanil

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Re: Whomever May or May Not Ha'e Gon' Daft

Shireman D said:
the EE documentary film makes clear that it was written by the actor playing Theoden as his instinctive reaction from with in the part and drawing on his own life experiences. I thought it a very moving moment.

But what do I (or he) know?

A very good question, as always; what do we know?

At least a half dozen things, as it would seem: in your case 1) a great deal more than I do about the EE documentary, far more than I've been able to inflict upon myself in perusing said EE, although I own the trio, so Mrs. Maggott-like is my dissatisfaction with the wretched excesses and shortfall of PJ the KK, and 2) what your heart responds to as true; in the case of Bernard Hill 1) what his player's heart concocted as true on the spur of the moment, and 2) what his player's art required to reproduce and convey that emotion; and in my own case 1) that the ambitious writer/director of this gargantuan adaptation was letting his actors make up their own lines, and 2) that the gifted thespian entrusted with creating this particular bit of the script did not, shall we say, put the author's conception of Theoden's character uppermost in his "process", preferring instead to rely, with the screenwriters' encouragement, on his own "instinctive reactions from within the part" and "his own life experiences."

The perpetrators caught dead to rights confessing on video, sounds like to me: case closed!

Would Tolkien Have Written This? I Do Not Think So. . .
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Ah, Aldanil, me vinegar-tongued polysyllabic and alliterative old friend, you've popped up again! Have a pint o' beer on the house! It's been so long since you've been around that I gave up in disgust and scratched out your 3-foot-long tab at the Prancing Pony (wouldn't surprise me if you planned it that way).

Since you have dragged The Bard from his grave to bolster your opinion about what/how King Theoden should have been, I am regretfully bound to bring up the fact that, as I understand the matter, Tolkien cordially despised Shakespeare, so I think I will not accept his opinions of what Olde Kinges should be like. And in no part of #171's discussions of archaisms vs. modernisms do I see anything that would contradict Tolkien's opinion of Shakespeare and his use of language, especially a modern author's attempt to "flavor" modern English with faux ancientry.

And next time old friend, pay up yer tab, or I'll be forced to publish yer pecuniary shortcomings far and wide, starting with Bree and spreading to Rohan and all points west and south as a public service warning for the benefit and protection of me fellow publicans...

But as for Theoden — for me, the line in question rings as true as a newly-cast bronze bell. NOW the case is closed! :)

Barley
 
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Aldanil

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Doh Re: Me Purported Pub-Tab & Master BB's Misunderestimations

OR, Yeah, He Thinks The Case Is Closed NOW Because HE Drank All Twenty-Four!


And with that emphatic consumption now clearly in mind, next consider the brazen beermonger's hand outstretched, presenting me unbidden a preposterous bar-bill, and further his sheer brass effrontery in presuming me some conniving deadbeat, too cash-strapped to be able to fill up his gilded brandy-snifter with tip-nickels and half-pence; and then -- this from a guy who's famed in the Tale for not being able to remember to deliver one letter, from a Wizard no less -- comes his blood-curdling threat to blacken my credit throughout drear Enedwaith and among the savage Dunlendings, by systematic word of mouth apparently, or perhaps the Prancing Pony Express!



Barliman Butterbur said:
Have a pint o' beer on the house! It's been so long since you've been around

A most hospitable welcome, and much appreciated, although a pint of Strongbow Cider would be nearer my liking; little preparation for what follows.


gave up in disgust and scratched out your 3-foot-long tab

Inappropriate comment removed. -- Ithrynluin



(wouldn't surprise me if you planned it that way).

Although it would come as a considerable shock to me, old fellow, who have always kept my head wreathed in pipe-smoke, sitting back in that corner of your commons where one can sometimes talk and share a toasty bowl with a Ranger (if ya know what I mean); and further have never run a tab at the Prancing Pony, nor any other tavern from Fornost to Pelargir, preferring to pay in silver isils from the little leather pouch filled with whatever my Uncle in April leaves me.




Tolkien cordially despised Shakespeare, so I think I will not accept his opinions of what Olde Kinges should be like.

I think that cordially is the key word here, and the notion that our author "despised" Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford needs to be carefully qualified (see how blithely I've inserted another roiling academical controversy into our present thread?); Tolkien's avowed distaste for the Bard stems chiefly from his disapproval of Elves being degraded and downsized into fairies with names like Peaseblossom and Mustardseed, and further from his dismay, attested to in the essay "On Fairy-stories", at the excessive generic influence of drama on English literature, the preferred medium of our greatest poet being privileged over other forms of tale-telling. John Ronald's scornful dissatisfaction as a schoolboy with "Great Birnam wood come to high Dunsinane hill" and Shakespeare's sad squandering of the opportunity for trees to really go to war stayed with him for years. This long-hoarded grievance notwithstanding, however, the result decades later was the march of the Ents on Isengard; and the father's fondness for the plays of the Swan of Avon can be seen, among other places, in the letter to his son Christopher of 7-8 November 1944 which relates an anecdote from a performance of Gielgud's "Hamlet" (at the very end of #89).





And in no part of #171's discussions of archaisms vs. modernisms do I see anything that would contradict Tolkien's opinion of Shakespeare and his use of language, especially a modern author's attempt to "flavor" modern English with faux ancientry.

pay up yer tab, or I'll be forced to publish yer pecuniary shortcomings far and wide

spreading to Rohan and all points west and south as a public service warning



There's yet more to be said, but it's four in the morning --

And That's Why Eru Invented The Edit.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Oh brother...stepping out of my Barley role:

Watch that totally inappropriate malarkey about your third leg, this is a family-friendly board. You run away with yourself when you imply that you had relations with Butterbur's wife and that he is implied to be cuckolded — especially when he has no wife that I have ever read about. If you keep up such vulgarity, I shall report you to the mods. Get a grip, buddy.

Barley
 

Aldanil

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Sorry We Broke Yer Field, Mister OR Pretty Prickly For A Barkeep

"Inappropriate vulgarity? In a tavern?! Alert the media!!" (Starting with Chaucer. . .)


Gorsh, grampa, didn't mean to ruffle up your family-friendly feathers by too emphatically declining to be scolded for not paying a padded and non-existent bill! As Geoff's friend Harry Bailey (another fine such publican as yerself, if famouser far and less fuddleheaded) says to the Pardoner in the applicatio at the end of his Tale, "Well, if you can't take a joke. . ."


None Among The Wise Wish To Incur The Wrath Of Mod(s).


I do rather wonder at your umbrage, though: if indeed you have no wife, or only an implicit and unattested one, why bridle at inferential comic cuckoldry? And further, old father, whose tender sensitivities precisely are you shielding from the toxic effects of a wee bit of burlesque-hall banter between a tetchy pair of coots who between them have lived only ten dozen years?



Wagging his finger: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman -- Mrs. Butterbur -- not even one time. These charges are false."





I would be most unhappy, Barliman, should any word-drunk drivel or braggadocio of mine lead to hard feelings; indeed I intended no offense.
 

Shireman D

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Re: Whomever May or May Not Ha'e Gon' Daft

Aldanil said:
2) that the gifted thespian entrusted with creating this particular bit of the script did not, shall we say, put the author's conception of Theoden's character uppermost in his "process", preferring instead to rely, with the screenwriters' encouragement, on his own "instinctive reactions from within the part" and "his own life experiences."

.
False deduction and unwarrantable sarcasm.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Re: Sorry We Broke Yer Field, Mister OR Pretty Prickly For A Barkeep

Aldanil said:
Gorsh, grampa, didn't mean to ruffle up your family-friendly feathers ... if you can't take a joke. . ."

None Among The Wise Wish To Incur The Wrath Of Mod(s).

...why bridle at inferential comic cuckoldry? And further, old father, whose tender sensitivities precisely are you shielding from the toxic effects of a wee bit of burlesque-hall banter between a tetchy pair of coots who between them have lived only ten dozen years?

Wagging his finger: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman -- Mrs. Butterbur -- not even one time. These charges are false."

I would be most unhappy, Barliman, should any word-drunk drivel or braggadocio of mine lead to hard feelings; indeed I intended no offense.
Your drivel, as you accurately put it, is offensive and unnecessary. If you intend no offense, then you should consider what you say before you say it. "Can't take a joke" is the usual out pleaded by someone caught in an uncalled-for verbal attack — there is no joke.

Coining a vivid phrase is one thing, being gratuitiously vulgar and hostile is another.

Barley
 

YayGollum

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Ugh. Can't take a joke or just can't take being one-upped in a game that you had no trouble participating in, Barliman Butterbur person? oh well. This Aldanil person offered more "Jackson v Tolkien: Would Tolkien have written that?" type points for you to debate, but you were too offended to notice them, mayhaps? I wouldn't know. It seems to me to be that you two were very entertainingly debating while ribbing each other. The Aldanil person even seems to me to be a bit surprised that you started to get offended and even made a post mostly just to show that he was merely sticking to the game. Nothing wrong with that. Don't join in a game like that if you are unable to receive jokes. Stick with the thread topic, why not?
 

Barliman Butterbur

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YayGollum said:
Ugh. Can't take a joke or just can't take being one-upped ... Don't join in a game like that if you are unable to receive jokes. Stick with the thread topic, why not?
This is not about any of the above. There's no reason for the kind of vulgarity that Aldanin engaged in, and if you can't see that, you better read your mod rulebook again. You're not doing your job.

Barley
 

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