Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Hobbbbbbit

In a hole in a ground there is Professor Jonathan Ronald Reuel Tolkein. 'Tis a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell: it is a grave-hole, and that means comfort is of little concern.

In the dawn of the third millenium of the Second Age of Only Men, many wizened scholars decried the differences between the movie adaptation of "The Hobbit" and Tolkein's original vision. Amidst other extensions, some sages noted that the role of the Necromancer seems expanded well beyond the original tomes. Indeed, a letter in Tolkein's own hand explained that the Necromancer was "hardly more than to provide a reason for Gandalf going away and leaving Bilbo and the dwarves to fend for themselves, which was necessary for the tale" (source: J.R.R. Tolkien. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien and Humphrey Carpenter. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1981, pg. 346).

Why have no Men seen fit to simply ask Professor Tolkein what he intended, or his views of the movie adaptations? Well, I'm a Professor and a professional researcher, just like he was. And, just like his kid, Chris Tolkein, I devoted my life to studying my father's writings. Since Dad was the Necromancer, I dug up some of his musty old books, learned a few basic necromancer spells, and got ol' Johnny Ronnie talking again. In this interview, he fleshed out his decaying vision with great rigour.

"Professor, what did you think of the films based on your work?"
Edith? Edith, is that you? How I miss you, my love-

"No, this is Morgul Winyamo, son of Morgul Tinuviel, son of Bob."

"So you remember my dad?"
Regrettably. Terribly pompous man, an amateur writer lacking discretion, taste, or audience. He was most petulant in his insistence that his skill was comparable to mine, much like CS Lewis. 

"Was it true that you intended the Necromancer to play quite a minor role?"
Indeed not. My original vision actually featured an entire trilogy with him and Radagast, with more rabbit sleighs and bird droppings. You see, the Hobbit was intended as a tale for my children, and hence adaptations alluring to that age group are most fitting. Thorin's rejection of Bilbo, leading to the subsequent reconciliation and hug, was deemed trite and highly uncharacteristic of dwarf and hobbit alike, but only by viewers over twelve. 

"This leads to another common criticism. How did you feel about the use of CGI in The Hobbit?"
Most regrettably, my access to IMAX theaters is decidedly limited down here. Indeed, might you be so kind as to help me find my way out of here?

"If you answer more questions."
Very well. I must say the CGI is splendid, very close to what I had hoped. When I wrote my books, my primary concern was that the pixellation technology at the time would render any adaptation rather weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable. 

"Ah, you're quoting the great bard!"
No, that was Hamlet. Bard was a grim and ineloquent man. Anyway, I particularly enjoyed the CGI in the end of the second Hobbit film. Most prescient of Peter Jackson to recognize that, although the half-hour of special effects was not quite so thoroughly detailed in my book, it is indeed what I hoped would ensue. 

"And the adaptation of the party meeting Beorn?"
Well, the original scene in my book, like so many others that were modified, was meant largely to develop characters and background. As mentioned, I always considered these ends far less important than visual effects, extended action scenes, and dialogue that children would consider original. And hence I shall again praise this adaptation. Say, my good man, would you at least send down some pipe-weed?

"Sorry, but since you're breathing again, you only have so much oxygen."
Then, mayhaps, you could ask the eagles to rescue me? They provided a fine escape in my books.

"They're endangered now."
Might you contact the cemetery owner, then? I should have ample funds after the films.

"You didn't get any money from them."
Bloody hell. Those greedy chaps are worse than the Sackville-Bagginses. Might we enter into a literary collaboration? A new Tolkein book might fill both our coffers.

"That would be plagiarism. You don't control your own work any more." 
Perhaps I might ghostwrite, if you'd pardon the pun? I could finish my unfinished tales and extend the Silllllllmarillllllllllion with more CGI. Were Disney to purchase my new works, we would most surely have wondrously profitable films, blending my genre with Star Wars. Imagine the visual effects of a lightsaber battle between Luke and Azog, or Smaug vs. X-Wings. Might you speculate as to whether George Lucas would be willing to claim that added CGI constitutes a meaningful retelling of his original vision?

1 comment:

Alida Allison, Professor said...

Quite agree that J.R.R. would have favoured CGI over plot and character development. How odd indeed that he isn't happy enough about Legolas and his elf lady being in Jackson's Hobbit to praise that major improvement, as well as many others Mr. Jackson so thoughtfully provided in LOTR.