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LotR Review

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  • LotR Review


    Just read Roger Ebert's review of the new LotR film and some of his sentiments on the whole series are very similiar to your own. Thought you might be interested in them:

    I think Ebert's probably the best American film critic, one of the few who really "gets" the SF and Fantasy genres (what other critic would have had the balls to pick Dark City as the best film of the year)? Did you know he had a story published in the same issue of Science Fantasy as one of your original Elrics? At least I think it was Science Fantasy....

    I hope all is well. Happy Holidays all around.

    Nick Parisi.

  • #2
    Pretty good review. The only people it would anger would be the poor buggers who dress up in elf ears to stand in line for the fifteenth time...
    I don't remember the guy from Science Fantasy, but I have a set of them somewhere and will check it out when I get the chance.
    As I've said elsewhere, my chances of seeing it in the near future aren't great. I do feel I should see it just to see what the state of the art's like,
    given that we're moving ahead on the Elric film. We should have a great Melnibone and some other good scenes, already sketched out!
    All best, Nick.

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    • #3
      Cheers, everyone, thought I'd drop by and say hello on the new fora.

      Decent review of Return of the King, I thought too. It's a technically brilliant movie and a gargantuan project, so Jackson does deserve all the awards for Best Direction he can get. I could have done without the unnecessary comic relief, though. There isn't much else, though, deep down it left me cold just like the books. As for Ebert, he has a real talent for providing irrational picks now and then when we least expect it, so I always take his reviews with a pinch of salt. I tend to like Lucius Shepard's reviews better, he appears to have a deeper understanding of genre, esp its literary roots. I don't *always* agree with him either, but at least I can understand his points of view.

      ISFDB lists two stories by Ebert, "After the Last Mass" being the one published in Ted White's FANTASTIC (Feb 1972) alongside "The Sleeping Sorceress" by MM. Would this be it?



      • #4
        I said this in another thread, but am I only the only that thinks Orlando Bloom would be okay as Elric? Use CG to make him albino and alter his eyes and ears, and I think he would be perfect.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Goblin
          ISFDB lists two stories by Ebert, "After the Last Mass" being the one published in Ted White's FANTASTIC (Feb 1972) alongside "The Sleeping Sorceress" by MM. Would this be it?

          Yup, that's the one I was thinking of. I obviously picked up the mag for Mike's story, and was surprised to discover Ebert had written some fiction. I think he's a tremendous writer, in the medium in which he writes anyway.

          I thought his comments about the series not being for anyone looking for a real "adult" emotional investment was right along with what Mike's been saying about Tolkien all along. It's fun, but it ain't literature.

          As for Lucius Shephard, I get a kick out of reading his stuff but I have a hard time getting past the fact that he hates EVERYTHING (or at least it seems he does, which is almost as bad).

          All best, Nick.
          Last edited by David Mosley; 02-13-2007, 03:42 AM. Reason: Fixed quote parsing


          • #7
            Originally posted by AriochRIP
            As for Lucius Shephard, I get a kick out of reading his stuff but I have a hard time getting past the fact that he hates EVERYTHING (or at least it seems he does, which is almost as bad).
            Most of his reviews are negative because most of the movies he reviews are a bit crap anyway. He liked the Spanish movie INTACTO, for example, one of the few reviewers I know who gave that movie any attention.



            • #8
              Just saw The return of the King

              Just saw The return of the King, but a few minutes ago.

              I was very entertained and I think it rekindled my younger adolecent innocence, with thoughts of heroic sacrifice, chivalry and nobility. I felt young again and I believe that a good thing to feel and an achievement for which I am grateful.

              I understand and accept all the criticisms made against LOTR, but I also think that no single creative accomplishment can accomodate everything. Instead a decision must has to be made in what it is going to be and to be as good as it is possible to be at that thing which I have to acknowledge that the LOTR was the best film I have seen to date at that which the LOTR is.

              It has also been 20 years or so since I read the story and I did rush the Two Towers and Return of the King so I am thankful to be able to gain further understanding from the film at what the story was all about.

              One thing I would like to have seen, I wanted to see Saruman dealt with face to face by Gandalf. I dont remember if this was done in the book or not, perhaps he could be corrected and cut down in rank! Also something felt wrong with the sequencing when they held a council and marched all the way to Mordor to distract the eye and his armies, which all happened in the time it took for Frodo to climb down the mountain slope into Mordor.

              I also note that the women in the story had some strong characters and achievements in the LOTR, which I am sure is one thing we all agree is good. Although I was a bit suprised to see the supernatural King of the Nazgul killed by what I believe was a mortal sword.

              Oh well Im off to bedfordshire to dream of Hobbits, Orcs, Elves and Valinor!



              • #9
                LOTR Female Contributions

                I saw a comment that the women did little in the LOTR, well coincidentally I listened to a radio interview a couple of days ago in which a female professor of literature who had a specialisation in the female contributions in the LOTR actually argued the opposite.

                Some of her points were that Galadriel was the strongest Elven character and that in the Silmarilion she committed the crime of fighting other elves or not coming to the aid of other Elves I cant remember which, and by her refusal to accept the Ring she gained the right to return to Valinor.
                Then there is Arwen who sacfriced her immortality for her love of Aragorn and of course Eowyn who slays a dragon and the king of the Wraiths! There may be others, but I thought it needed saying.

                Did anyone notice what happened to that malformed Orc leader in the end? He reminded me somewhat of what I imagined the pig like creatures warped by Chaos would be like in Mike's books!


                • #10
                  LOTR Bigotry?

                  I have read several opinions suggesting that the portayal of a legion of giant African elephants with black skinned riders as being on the side of the bad guys was bigoted and racist. To hold this view though would you not have to assume that Tolkien mean that all blacks were represented by this group not just those who were riding elephants into battle? Perhaps he needed to show that Sauron had many allies from all over earth including a white wizard although not all wizards. Alternatively, if you really wanted to believe he intended malicious bigotry you could argue that since this film which is all about different races eg. Hobbits, Elves, Men, Wizards, Orcs, Goblins and Trolls that he might be suggesting that these Blacks were yet another race and not even men at all! So I think it all depends on what you want to believe about Tolkien, what his intentions were and whether it represents his views of the real world or whether he was just trying to tell a tale. One of my favourite films is Zulu, partly because of the heroic true story of distant relatives, but I do hold prejudiced views of the participants, indeed I remember them all with honour and sadness. I do so even though I do believe in War, which is an admission of failure.


                  • #11
                    No one called Tolkien a "racist bigot", he wasn't racist and no one would accuse him of being so, but he was ignorant. He was ignorant because his work potrays a great deal, like a lot of other work, of ethnocentricity. Everything in the Lord of the Rings that portrays good is white, all the heroes are white, they wear light colours, Gandalf is called later "Gandalf the White", the elves, the lightest of all, are the epitome of beauty, etc. Opposed to this, everything that is bad and evil is black, the uruk hai and orcs are dark skinned, the men from the south are black, Sauron is the second "Dark Lord", after Melkor of course, the land he occupies, Mordor, is black. What he effictivly does is create a world of absolute, where white is absolute good, and black is absolute evil.

                    The first objection to that point, to say that thats a "common idea in everyone" is flawed, because it is not a transcendent idea, one we hold a priori, it is something that we learn from society. Tolkien, not being a rascist, but a product of the time in which he wrote perpetuated this "superior white hegemony" (as a lot of people still do today) that had been put forward before him.

                    The second objection, that Tolkien never meant anything by this, although probably true, is invalid. Ignorance is never a defence that can be fallen back upon. The greatest obligation a writer has, whether he writes fiction, or non-fiction is to avoid putting forwards views that can easily be misconstrewed in a negative way. I feel Mike would agree with me on that one.

                    I don't think Tolkien is a racist, but I do believe the criticism still stands.


                    • #12
                      I agree that all the good guys were white and the vast majority of the bad guys were black. I also think it is likely that Tolkien was not being intentionally racist. Perhaps the association of this to black people generally in the real world did not enter his mind at all, as is the case with most people, including myself.

                      Perhaps he was using the color black, which is associated with the bad guys eg. Black magic or the man with the black hat to reinforce the view that these were the bad guys. I believe that even Alien in the recent Sci-Fi film did this. Is this use of the color black unacceptable because of the possibilty that this will influence certain people to associate this with and be prejudiced against the black skinned races? Does this mean that the color black as a symbol of evil has now been lost to us completely?

                      I will need to think about this further because obviously it is going too far to never have a bad guy played by a black skinned person, so there must be an acceptable medium which is probably subject to change over time. Perhaps in a thousand years when all racist, sexist and ethnic prejudice have long since been forgotten then it will no longer matter who plays which part in a story because people will know it is a story and that it no longer has any bearing whatsoever on peoples views.

                      I just saw the film "The man who climbed a hill and came down a mountain" starring Thomas Tup and Thomas Tup Two! Only the Welsh could be so prejudiced against themselves, hope it doesnt stick!


                      • #13
                        He's only guilty of writing a simple minded children's fantasy and nothing more. The problem is when people start taking it seriously. His setting is roughly equivalent to the middle ages, and the role of women in the stories seems to be about on par with the setting. The usage of light and dark to represent good and evil was around long before Tokien. I think all of this racist, sexist, ethnocentric crap is utter nonsense for college professors to debate. His writing is a product of his times and his upbringing. I could say the same thing about my favorite books, the Elric series: Elric, the hero, is about as white as white can be. His evil sword is black and sucks the souls out of people. Not only is his sword black, but it is also a huge phallic symbol and it kills the woman he loves. Elric is both racist and sexist.

                        See how foolish that sounds?


                        • #14
                          This is a good piece about Tolkien and racism, from a faq I found:

                          7. Was Tolkien racist? Were his works?

                          A full discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
                          Some people find what they consider to be clear indications of racist
                          attitudes in Tolkien's works. It is certainly possible that they are
                          right: racism is notoriously difficult to recognize accurately, and
                          most people harbor at least some level of racial mistrust.

                          On the other hand, most people who make such accusations seem to do
                          so primarily to stir up controversy and inspire flame wars. In fact,
                          much of the "evidence" presented to demonstrate Tolkien's racism is
                          flawed, and there is reason to believe that Tolkien was less racist
                          than many people of his day. For the sake of diffusing the issue a
                          little, I will mention a few of those mistaken arguments.

                          One occasional charge is that Tolkien was anti-semitic, presumably
                          because he occasionally compared his Dwarves to Jews. Those
                          comparisons seem to focus on history and language, however: in Letter
                          #176 he says, "I do think of the 'Dwarves' like Jews: at once native
                          and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country,
                          but with an accent due to their own private tongue.....". And he seems
                          to have had a very positive view of the Jewish people in general. For
                          example, when discussing the origins of the name "Tolkien" in the final
                          footnote to Letter #325, he says, "It is not Jewish in origin, though I
                          should consider it an honour if it were." He made very similar comments
                          in a draft of a letter (#30) to a publisher in Nazi Germany who asked
                          about his race, and in Letter #29 he introduced that draft and told his
                          publisher, "I should regret giving any colour to the notion that I
                          subscribed to the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine."

                          Another seemingly prejudiced statement comes in Letter #210, where
                          Tolkien describes the Orcs as "degraded and repulsive versions of the
                          (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types". At first glance this looks
                          blatantly racist, but the qualifier "to Europeans" casts it in a very
                          different light: Tolkien explicitly recognized that different cultures
                          have different standards of beauty, and that his impressions did not
                          reflect any underlying superiority. Moreover, he made it clear that
                          the Orcs were not in any sense actual "Mongol-types", but "degraded and
                          repulsive versions" of humanoid stock. (Nevertheless, his comment
                          certainly falls short of modern standards of sensitivity.)

                          Many point to the "hierarchy" of the various groups of humans in the
                          books as clear evidence of cultural elitism or racism, but they seem to
                          forget that most of the Numenorians (the "highest" humans) fell into
                          deepest evil and were destroyed by God, while the Woses (the "Wild Men"
                          of Druadan forest, who certainly would not represent "civilized"
                          Europeans) were among the most wise and resistant to evil of all
                          peoples (as well as having a complex culture and many skills other Men
                          lacked), to take two of many examples.

                          Finally, a few people have mistaken the symbolic conflict between
                          "darkness" and "light" in the books for a conflict between "black" and
                          "white", which they then interpret racially (which is already a
                          stretch). They seem to overlook the ghastly white corpse-light of
                          Minas Morgul, the White Hand of Saruman, and Isildur's black Stone of
                          Erech, to name a few exceptions.

                          As for specific claims that Tolkien linked skin color to good and
                          evil, there are simply too many exceptions for that to hold up. Light
                          skinned characters who did evil things include Saruman, Grima, Gollum,
                          Boromir, Denethor, and the Numenorians as mentioned above. And it is
                          notable that Tolkien described Forlong's people of Gondor and even the
                          men of Bree as "swarthy", the same term he used for example of the
                          Southrons who were ambushed by Faramir (though to be fair, he may have
                          imagined different degrees of "swarthiness" for those groups). For
                          that matter, Sam's flash of empathy for the fallen Southron he saw
                          during the ambush indicates that many of Sauron's soldiers were likely
                          unwilling slaves, not evil at heart.

                          In short, while there are racially "suspicious" elements to be found
                          in Tolkien's writings if one hunts for them, closer examination
                          typically reveals the attitude behind them to be benign. That doesn't
                          mean that he was perfect, but it certainly doesn't seem that he should
                          be condemned for intolerance.



                          • #15
                            If it isn't worthy of discussion, as you said, it has absolutely no merit and is both a waste of effort and time. Might as well throw it on the pile with all the bad bestsellers we see these days.

                            The point in the FAQ is rather weak, the sense of light ("white") against darkness ("black") is far greater than the few little items that contradict it. It is a theme of the book as opposed to a specific item or person like the others. I understand people like the book, but it's an objective fact, it's not something you can really argue against because it's there.

                            As for your Elric comparison, thats really a false analogy. Elric is a hero only in the sense that he is the champion eternal. As a person he is physically weak, selfish, self-serving, incredibly self-pitying, cruel and he usually makes the wrong choice. He may be a hero, and "white", but he is far from what we in modern society would ever accept to be "moral". As for Stormbringer being "evil", it is really just a tool, it is not a moral agent so it cannot differentiate between good and evil. It is only evil in the hands of those who are weak and give in to it's nature.