LotR Musings

***warning: rambly rant ahead. apologies!!***

So with the release of DoS (Hobbit2) coming up quickly, there’s been a lot of talk about the new character of Tauriel and whether her existence in the Tolkien universe as seen by PJ is a good or bad thing. My response has been a resounding “meh”. I am – surprisingly – noncommittal. I really don’t care. I was at first grumpy when I heard they were adding someone, then cynical (thank you, Servetus, for helping pick the perfect word), then pretty much just bored. I reckon I’ll wait and see how she works within the context of the movie. I mean, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo is a lot funnier and a lot less earnest than the Bilbo I read in the book, and I’m loving his performance.

Richard Armitage’s Thorin might as well be a new character, he’s such a massive improvement on the book’s curmudgeonly grumpybucket. I hated Thorin in the book, but I’m fascinated by the depths to Movie!Thorin’s character and **IT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE OMG RICHARDARMITAGE IS THE GORGEOUSEST MAN OF ALL TIMES YO** even though amiright?… it’s because there’s actually a lot of backstory to him, and in the book I kind of felt like Thorin was sitting around with the other dwarfs, smoking and talking about the actors’ union laws, when he heard his cue – jumped up & put on his sky blue hat with the silver tassel – and poof! Thorin. I feel like BookThorin is the bad copy. But I digress.

So Tauriel? Let’s see how she does. I’m pretty much numb on the changes between book and movie version as well. I think the Hobbit probably works out to three movies brilliantly, because being a children’s book, it’s got a lot of fantastical, sharply-drawn characters and action sequences.  (To be sure, LotR had great characters as well; they simply talked a LOT more, or in the case of Tom Bombadil, chuckled, hopped, sang, sprang, and exhorted Goldberry a lot more.) So. There are my weighty and Very Important (not) thoughts there.

But here I’ve got to unload some baggage I’ve been carrying around for ten years. It’s not pretty and I’m not proud of it, but I should air it out and let it go, or try to. And this blog is about catharsis, so here we go.

My biggest peeve with the LotR movies was and has been the changes they made to Arwen, who was being called (among other things) Xena!Arwen in the fan forums. I was thinking about it this evening – why does Arwen still tick me off so? – and I think what it comes down to are a couple things: the LotR books were SO important to me growing up, they are pretty much sacred. (Not so, the Hobbit) Also, Arwen’s character got a lot of extra stuff added that actually made Aragorn *less* (“A Ranger caught off his guard” – and her using the Kingsfoil instead of Aragorn, who had extensive herb lore – this STILL TICKS ME OFF  k I’m breathing now)… Aragorn is one of my favorite characters and this broke my heart a little. Ok, a lot.

But the biggest thing, the top thing, was this – yes, Liv Tyler looked beautiful in the part. Yes. I can’t argue. However, she had trouble learning the Elvish lines and on the whole, didn’t really seem to be too serious about it. And REALLY? This stuff was SOSOSOSOSOSO serious to me. So important. I was dying inside a little to be there, somehow, involved in any way (Sweeping the floors. I didn’t care. I wanted to be there, somehow) and to see this actress who’d been offered this incredible honor to recreate such a visceral part of my childhood – and then she didn’t honor the material? – oh my god. I just died inside. I still die inside. What a letdown. And what they did to Aragorn. From the Dunedain to Boy Blunder. Well. (sigh – and with the advantage of hindsight, maybe she respected the material more than I thought. But she really didn’t seem too serious about learning the lines in Elvish. Like at all. Grump. I’ll stop.)

I can still read the books and know in my heart that Aragorn is still the character I fell in love with when I was, what? 7, 8 years old? I had dual crushes on Aragorn and Carl Sagan (as you can see in my About  page) and fortunately, nobody’s done a biopic on Carl Sagan yet and ruined it by putting in some nubile young actress to tell “him” how, you know, science works.

(glaring at all and sundry) BAH.

Ok. Time for me to stop cranking about this and do something productive, like play with my dog. Here’s to the second Hobbit movie being awesome! Cheers.

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23 thoughts on “LotR Musings

  1. Reblogged this on Me + Richard Armitage and commented:
    Refers to me (lol) and expresses significant pieces of my feelings about the Tauriel character. I, too, am waiting for the film to make a judgment. I have no opinion on LOTR women. Comments there, please.

    • Oops. Sorry. Hope you’re ok with being named. You simply hit the mot juste so perfectly! In future, I could refer to you as IncognitoPants! Then you’d be within the greater “Pants” universe, as it were.

  2. I know how you feel. I was very active on TORN when PJ started filming. Someone got hold of a copy of the script or part of it. We were OUTRAGED to know that Gimli was the comic relief and Arwen became WonderElf. Or whatever they called her. And Arwen in the script was at Helm’s Deep! What? PJ changed that one. He apparently erased her from some footage. LOL Somehow the arrival of the elves from Lothlorien didn’t seem as offensive as ARWEN being there! I’m still bothered by Gimli, although I understand that the films needed a character like him. I also didn’t like the way the whole Treebeard thing was handled. Like the Ents decided not to get involved but Merry & Pippin convinced him? Bleh.

    On the Hobbit front, I have no problem with Tauriel. Or Legolas either. But I fear some of the other changes that are not really known yet. Like Thorin offering to share the wealth of Erebor with Laketown? Really? I think there is probably stuff we don’t even know yet.

    • YES. Gimli’s character being redused to a panting, belching, bumbling buffoon was TERRIBLE!! I still can’t even watch any scene in LotR where Gimli eats or drinks. Just, AWFUL. I thought I was the only person who was bothered by that. THANK YOU.

      I was so incensed!!

    • And, oh my lord, I’d forgotten about Arwen at Helm’s Deep. Right. Oh, yeah, that would have been horrible! Didn’t anyone think of how she and Eowyn would have been, stuck in those caves together, and both in lurve with Aragorn? Especially since Arwen was, like, what – pumped up on Elf-roids or something?

      We might have known each other on TORn back in the day!! I’m making a big heart gesture at my monitor, by the way. I knew you were good people, you beautiful nerd, you. xo

      • HaHa! I bet we did know each other back then! 😀 Makes me happy to think so, anyway.

        Confession – I joined the LOTR Fan Club or whatever it was called, and my name is actually on the first movie’s dvd! PJ listed all the names on it. Didn’t show it in the theater though. LOL!

        • OMGOMGOMGOMG Me too!! I don’t know if it was the first movie though, I think – being a cynic and having lived through the painful Rankin and Bass versions – I wanted to wait and see if it was ANY good at all. I was hoping so, and the trailers looked AWESOME, but – oh, those animated versions were so bad. I think I finally had the money to do it for the third one. But God knows, it might have been the first. I was in on TORn from the get-go. :} ❤ ❤ ❤ I'm going to look for us next time I'm downstairs!

          • The Rankin and Bass was horrible. But the Ralph Bakshi animated LOTR was pretty good. He didn’t complete the trilogy though. Having seen the story on the screen I was more than excited about the PJ version!! 😀

            • I did love the Bakshi when I saw it as a kid — I had to nag and nag until I got someone to go see it with me, and they totally didn’t get it. :} But I wish he had been able to complete the series. Still… where there’s a whip, there’s a way, or something. Right? 😉

  3. I can’t add any Tolkien angst or commentary concerning the role if Tauriel but I really liked Evangeline’s comment about it just not being acceptable for a young girl to watch a 9 hour movie saga that doesn’t have a single impactful female character. Well, dang it – she’s got a point. Doesn’t she? So I assume that Tauriel’s role has been vamped up to add that missing component (the contribution of half of creature-kind) to this segment of Tolkein’s story.

    • I hadn’t heard Evangeline’s comment, but I can see a benefit in that and it’s a much less cynical reason than I suspect the other reason to be: WB’s motivation to draw in non-LotR female fans and their daughters and connect them to the merchandising. On the other other hand, anything that introduces new women/girls to the world of Tolkien and encourages them to crack a book, well, that’s brilliant in my estimation. So – as you can see, I really don’t have a super-formed opinion about this. The only thing I do know is that I don’t like to see a new female character created *only* as a way for WB/New Line/whoever to cash in on a new market for merchandising. :} But a new audience of potential book-readers sounds good to me. lol

      I will say though, I think that it’s an oversimplification to assume that girls can only identify with girl characters and boys can only identify with boy characters. My favorite character in the LotR books was surprisingly not Eowyn, the plucky princess who was arguably the second strongest female character (actually, I might put her before Galadriel in some ways, but that’s another conversation for another day); it was Aragorn. The one I identified with the most was Frodo. As an adult, though, I probably identify the most with Sam or Pippin (that fool of a Took). So clinging to gender stereotypes and roles in this case would also be an unconvincing conversation for me – and silly, given that Tauriel looks like she is a very strong and capable warrior!

      So, as disorganized as it is, there it is. 😀 Hope it makes sense.

      • I completely agree that girls can identify with male heroes – we’ve all done it. And if a story really doesn’t justify females as main protagonists, I don’t think it’s necessary to inset them merely to appease our current worry that females will be deprived of relevant role models.
        I don’t think adding a little more to Tauriel will be a bad thing. It is nice to show the strengths of certain characteristics that women generally exhibit in a more natural or practiced capacity – compassion, nurturing, gentleness, etc. And it’s nice to show that ALL admirable traits can be exhibited by either gender — even kick-ass physical prowess! 🙂

      • Respectfully disagree with Ms. Lilly — I hadn’t heard the remark it “wasn’t acceptable” for girls to see long films w/o female characters in them — but she just slid about another mile down in my estimation. What a ridiculous thing to say in this day and age.

  4. I just love it when people think they can rewrite history to make it acceptable to our current opinions, no matter how laudable we believe them to be. I really did not realize how unconsciously angry Lilly has been making me all this time until our discussion yesterday. It’s piling on my anger about pink and purple erector sets, I suppose. I’d better put a sock in it. I really loved this post, though. Thanks for bringing this up.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post – it’s interesting that she brings up so many strong emotions with so many of us, isn’t it? And for so many different reasons. Her detractors, her defenders, those who couldn’t care less about Lilly but who think Tauriel is a disaster second only to the Hindenberg… it’s fascinating. But I love the nature of the conversation we’re all having. What are we about, as fans? As women, and as girls, in relation to the entertainment industry? As its consumers? With actresses generally packaged for consumption by the male gaze, is the entertainment industry doing a sensitive and capable job of repackaging them (or allowing them to repackage themselves, thank you very much) for female consumption? And is the movie industry doing a responsible job of providing young women with female characters worthy of them?

      Cool stuff. 😀

      • Calmer, now. I think that a lot of my distaste comes from the fact that this episode (to me) replays a dynamic that appears regularly in discussions of geeks / cosplay — men who feel women are “faking it” by engaging in cosplay and pretending to be geeks, so not serious and also coded “ugly” — there is a deep male insecurity at the bottom of this — you, geek woman, would not be interested in me in real life, you are only toying with me, I will not take you seriously in fan life, either. NB: women cannot win at this. They cannot be serious enough, nor can they be feminine enough. The problem lies with the man, not the woman. So now a woman gets inserted into all of this for us that feeds that dynamic exactly — not serious enough to be a geek, but not ever going to be taken seriously as a woman, either, because they have already decided or conceded that she doesnt’ really belong. In other words, I feel like the geeks created exactly the woman they love to hate, and NOW they are putting her in their film. Forgive me while I fail to be interested in what reads to me much less as an appeal to women than as an appeal to a classic geek man’s picture of what a woman is / should be, one that makes these men despise women even as they secretly desire them.

      • In other words, I do not believe that the core male audience for this film will see Tauriel and want to be with her (with apologies to Richard Armitage). My experience of geek culture makes precisely that point implausible to me. And so far Lilly has not made me want to be her, in the least. She personifies things I deeply disdain.

        So, waiting for the film.

  5. I understand the phenomenon you’re describing. I went to a Lord of the Rings watching party once with a friend and was the only female there, and I was ostracized – really, really made to feel unwelcome and out of place – by the males as a pack, except for my friend. It was extremely awkward. And the saddest thing about the whole episode was that I had actually been a Tolkien fan the longest, and was comparably well-versed with the best-read of them. But because I have boobs, they rolled their eyes at me and tried to make me feel as though “an interest in Viggo Mortensen (wasn’t) really enough to grok Tolkien’s works” – to which I did not reply that “grok” was actually a Heinlein construct from “Stranger in a Strange Land”, because I was playing nice – and were generally just dicks from start to finish. I stayed for about 45 minutes and then ditched, because life is too short to deal with asscakes. But some of them hadn’t even cracked the books!! I was so offended. So I get your point. (calming my breath) Sorry. I’m still offended, apparently. Well, I know this happens all the time, so… yes.

    I look forward to hearing what you think (and what I think) after seeing the movie. Let’s compare notes then. :}

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