Two Towers

“Give me a Flashman novel and I’m happy as Larry.”

Flashman is great!

Whoever you are, you are losing your touch.


What movie did I just see?

Jackson managed to get the characters roughly where they needed to be for the next movie, but he changed just about everything he could on the way there. Almost none of the characters introduced in this movie were played with even remotely similar motivations to their characters in the book. Theoden’s wussing out and running to Helm’s Deep instead of riding out to fight and ending up there when the other city is sacked. The Ents come across as really shallow. Faramir, wow, completely wrong.

Then we’ve got the half hour in the middle of fabricated drama at the “loss” of Aragorn and his subsequent elf dreams, or as I like to call it, The Intermission.

Gollum was perfect. Easily the best part of the movie.

And were those Jackson’s kids making another guest appearance hiding out in Helm’s Deep? I’m certain they were.

Yeah, that was a weird addition (the “loss”), but I guess part of a larger, cool addition. Good call on the character changes - I don’t really understand the reason for the Theoden change, or the Ent “vote”. Faramir’s decision at least makes some sense in terms of developing the power/temptation of the ring - but I thought the contrast with Boromir in the book was more interesting.

Also (and I really need to end on this and go to bed), what are your thoughts on Gimli being more vocal, and mostly for humor? I liked hearing more from him, but it was at times just bordering on jar-jar-ish.

That’s a great concise characterisation of Tolkien’s writing. He was a philologist after all, and LOTR is quite obviously a parody of 19th century English novels (mainly in the Hobbiton parts) and ancient sagas. His style is excellect – from what I’ve seen of modern fantasy novels I’d say that he’s the only fantasy author who even has any kind of literary style.

The lengthy biographies and accounts of past events that people perceive as boring really just mirror similar parts of actual sags, e.g. the listing all the ships and warriors by name in the Ilias. I suspect that people who don’t like Tolkien’s writing simply don’t have any sense of literary style, they probably either haven’t read any classics or disliked them…

Quite obviously a parody?
Tolkien was writing a parody of 19th century novels and epic sagas? I think he was influenced by them and he was intentionally trying to write an epic saga, but I think he’d kick your ass if he heard you call it a parody Nahr.

(Note, I have no other problem with the rest of your post)

When he wrote “parody”, he meant “tribute to”

I guess there’s some misunderstanding. I didn’t mean parody as in “funny, hah, hah” but as in consciously adopting an older style. Parody as a literary device. Hmm, maybe there’s another term that would be more appropriate but I can’t think of it right now…

Erm, I’m normally not a “fonboy” about Tolkein, but it’s only cliche now. Mainly because, well, most fantasy has borrowed heavily from Tolkein’s work. When LoTRs was written, today’s cliche’s were yesterday’s new ideas.

Most of Tolkein’s creatures are based on existing mythology that he had rather heavily researched, so it is fair to say that he borrowed a lot of his ideas from previous stories. But he knit them together into a world that has been mimiced time and time again by countless authors. Hell, the entire world of AD&D is basically Middle-Earth with a different map with a little more magic in it.

Even the naming of elves and elven lands has been copied more times that I care to think. And the description of elves that we think of today (6 feet tall, fair skinned, good with bows, immortal, gay) were often called Tolkein Elves to differenciate them from the then current descriptions of elves (small creatures resembling garden gnomes that either helps folks or used darts to spread disease). Today it’s hard to imagine an elf looking like anything but the way Tolkein describes them, but back then it was unconventional.

Anyway, I’m sounding like a silly fanboi who will probably be slapped down by some links describing how Tolkein actually stole all his ideas from George Washington’s bedtime stories.

Surely Tom Bombadil’s songs are parody. Please tell me Tolkien wasn’t serious with those!


…and to Jim F. “Tolkien Elves” are Nordic elves. Even the stuff about Valinor is reminiscent of Alfheim. The Norse even had Dark Elves, for all you D&D Drow fans, who lived in Niffleheim. Little elves are really “elves” from Irish culture. Pixies, leprechauns, faeries, etc., Elves may also be smallish in German lore too. Northern Europe is all about legendary small people, or really tall people, for some reason.

Bub’s an elfologist.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

– Xaroc

Fair enough, but I’m thinking that very few people would be able to lose their contemporary filters and read Tolkein’s work in the same way as a person in the 1930s. The fact that the book is still immensely popular is testament to the world that has been created. I just don’t think people come away from the book thinking about the elegance of the prose. It would be interesting to see some of the original literary reviews on the book when it first came out.

Pastiche works.

I know people love Tolkien, and he’s certainly a fun read, but I don’t think his work stands up well as literature. He’s a good storyteller, but his books don’t ask the kinds of questions literature asks. And I don’t want to get into a discussion of what elevates a work to the status of labeling it “literature”, mostly because I’m not sure. That’s my preemptive defense of this post.

Guys, not to be the on-topic-cop, but there’s this whole other FORUM here for discussing books. :)

Okay, so I saw TTT today.

I should preface this by saying that I could honestly care less how faithful it was to the book. If that sort of thing is a criteria for your enjoyment of the film, what I say might not apply to you. For me it doesn’t even factor into the equation - not even a little bit.

Overall, I thought it was great. What a great movie. It doesn’t stand alone, and it doesn’t re-cap the first one (thank GOD). You could go into Empire Strikes Back having not seen Star Wars and maybe you’d be a little confused, but you’d get it. Doing so with this one would be less harder.

This installment has more thrilling action, and Gollum is the best actor in the movie. It’s not just “oh that’s an impressive CG character,” it actually stands on its own merits as a “performer” with all the real people, and outshines virtually all of them. But the slow parts in TTT were slower than in FOTR. They seemed less necessary, and filled with a little less emotional weight.

It’s funny, because even with movies I really LIKE, I think the director’s cuts and extended versions are not better films on the whole and that they were right to be shorter. I was surprised to find that with FOTR, it’s a better movie for being longer on the DVD set. Some important scenes that describe who some of these people are and why they’re so important are there, particularly with Aragorn. Why they cut a whole two-minute scene with him at his mother’s grave in Rivendell is beyond me. I do NOT feel that way about TTT. The cut of the movie I just saw needs some additional trimming, especially in the second act. Lopping off a few scenes of tracking the hobbits and walking through the forest blabbing with Treebeard wouldn’t have hurt anything, and would have made it move along a bit better.

I wonder if, when the inevitable 30-mintues-longer DVD is released, the movie will get better or be strung needlessly longer still? If they added some more interesting stuff to break up Act 2, it could help the flow.

They did a better job with segueing between the people at one location and another, which was cool.

Highlights: Gollum in general, but especially his "Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man"esque split personality scenes. Brad Dourif is positively creepy as Wormtongue. The battle scenes were wonderful. Gimli is funny and more likeable. The Ents storming Isengard was pretty damn cool.

My personal bottom line: totally worth seeing, one of the better movies this year, and a worthy successor to FOTR. But whether it’s from elevated expectations or a pacing problem in the middle, or both, it’s not quite as good.

Nah, I’m more a mythologist. The elf stuff is just something I dabbled in back in College.

“He’s a good storyteller, but his books don’t ask the kinds of questions literature asks.”

I don’t think Tolkien ever intended the books to be literature. And I dont think most good writers aim to write ‘literature’. I know you’re playing the devils advocate, but please, dont you think Tolkien deserves some credit?!? sheesh. You make it out like he’s some average schlock fantasy writer. I’d at LEAST compare him to someone like Poe in influence. Yeah if you look at Tolkien compared to modern preconceptions (which goes against his books) then yeah its a stodgy remake of the Nibelung mixed with Celt/Norse/Arthurian myths… but I don’t think anybody before him done much like it anyway, at least making a massive midevial epic (world) out of time.


And what exactly is your problem with rhyming “willow” with “Bombadillo”?

As for those comments on Joyce in this thread, I’ve one word to say to you: Dubliners. I’m not a big admirer of anything else that Joyce wrote, save maybe Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but Dubliners is the finest collection of short stories ever written in English and probably the finest work of fiction written in the past five centuries. IMHO, of course.