Monday, November 30, 2015

The Hobbit Casting

My review of the actors and actress (singular) in The Hobbit movies.

Martin Freeman- I think his performance was one of the single best things about the movies.  His mannerisms and his quirkiness was enjoyable to watch, for sure.  I especially love his interaction with Thranduil in BOTFA.

Benedict Cumberbatch- I am a huge fan of Mr. Cumberbatch!  I love his work in Sherlock (a BBC adaptation that also stars Martin Freeman) and of course he is superb as Smaug.  If you actually watch some of the videos of him acting as Smaug and doing the voice, you will see that there was not that much modification from the actual sound he was emitting to the finished product of the Smaug the Tyrannical you see in the film.

Richard Armitage- Outstanding job all around.  I think that he really was the "important" dwarf he was described as being in the books.  It's true that in BOFTA he had kind of a pressed character arc...he became greedy very quickly and healed all of a sudden.  This is not Mr. Armitage's fault, but rather the pacing in the last movie I felt to be off because of all the additives (by which I mean the excessive coverage of the battles and unnecessary and poorly timed "comic relief" episodes with the servant to the master of Laketown.  But I digress...let's focus on the acting of the film).

Luke Evans- Mr. Evans plays Bard the Bowman in "The Desolation of Smaug" and "The Battle of the Five Armies".  I thought that his actual acting was alright.  It didn't stand out to me as anything special in comparison with Martin Freeman.  In fact (not to end up on another rampage about the filmmaking--must resist!) I felt that his character was overemphasized.  Again, not his fault!

Ian McKellan- I actually am surprised (and it may surprise many of you) that I felt Sir McKellan's performance seemed sort of forced throughout the course of the films.  I've actually seen interviews where he said that he was having a really hard time acting and getting into the rhythm of things because most of his scenes were shot alone in front of a green screen.  I think that this may be one of the reasons why his role is not as defined as it was in The Lord of the Rings.

Evangeline Lilly- Aside from Cate Blanchett's brief cameo, Evangeline Lilly's character, Tauriel, is really the only female character.  Now it is probably pretty clear to my long-time readers that I strongly, emphatically, fundamentally disagree with everything Tauriel and her role stand for.  Everytime I see Kili-Tauriel, I get a bad taste in my mouth that makes me want to brush my teeth for five hours (plus).  Besides the fact that her character is unnecessary and undermining of the story, I would also suggest that the acting isn't very good.  It seems melodramatic and very Mary-Sue.  Meh...the movies would have been so much better without her.

30 Day Challenge Day XXX

Favorite LOTR Picture

I'm going to have to be old-school here and just say that this snapshot of The Fellowship sends me fan-girling everytime.

And that concludes the Middle-earth 30 Day Challenge!  Thanks for participating!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tales from Valinor: Maedhros the Tall Part Second

Word must have reached Finwë that he should counsel Ada to allow sight of the Silmarils. He asked Ada to speak to him in his chambers, and Ada went immediately. I followed him. I wish that I hadn't now. It took only minutes to reach Finwë’s chamber. Ada was wearing his sword. He usually wears it wherever he goes since he has become so protective. Or possessive.

I had just ducked out of sight and was circling back home, seeing that Ada was in a cooler mood when I heard the shouts. I turned on my heel, and had a feeling like an iron rod had fallen on my stomach. I gasped as I took in the sight.

My uncle Fingolfin stood against the wall of Finwë’s hall. He stood tall. His expression was surprising calm in relation to his circumstances. Before him stood my father, sword unsheathed, pressed against his neck.

“So it is, even as I guessed,” he said. “My half-brother would be before me with my father, in this as in all other matters. Get thee gone and take thy due place! See, half-brother, this blade is sharper than thy tongue. Try but once more to usurp my place and the love of my father and maybe it will rid the Noldor of one who seeks to be the master of thralls.”* My father seethed, teeth clenched. I stood stock still. Elves had gathered around. Some let out cries of surprise and dismay, others watched with stayed breaths.

Fingolfin did not look angry. He did not do anything. He looked for a long time into my father’s wrathful eyes. I couldn't understand why he didn't fight back. Fingolfin was strong and he knew it. It would have been a fair fight at least. But he just stood there. He shoulders once tensed in surprise, sagged suddenly. Then I recognized the unmistakable glance of sadness in his eyes. He looked at my father sadly. Sadly! Of all the emotions I experience around my father, sadness is not among them. Fingolfin quietly turned away and walked down the path.

My father lowered his sword. He quickly sheathed it and that was when I ran back home.

~

I haven't seen Fingon in days. I have been avoiding him. I feel the unbearable stain of my father’s actions ceaselessly. In fact I haven't even neared the city since that day.

As it turns out, I won't be going back to the city for a long time. My father stormed back today with unquenchable rage. He spoke quickly with my mother. She nodded and ordered us boys to pack. Ada went into his private room for a long time.

We packed the few things we needed and turned our back on our home. Ada won't speak to us, so I have had to do the guessing myself. Ada’s action outside of Finwë’s halls have not gone unnoticed. We are being banished from returning and are to live at Formenos. Finwë is coming with us out of the love he still has for Ada.

It baffles me how he could still love Ada after what he has done. Threatening his own brother on the steps of their father’s house...it is inexcusable.

Ada does not see how gracious Finwë is being. Finwë is forsaking his kingship to be with his son and yet all Ada can think of is Fingolfin being the King over the Noldor in his absence. I hear him I muttering about it...smoldering.

I have not looked my father in the eye for a long time. Our communication consists of terse nods or the deliberate avoidance of one another. I remember times when us boys were the pride and joy of Ada’s existence. Each day he would watch us play sword fight if only for a few minutes and would offer us a suggestion. We would try it out and he would suddenly jump in and tackle us to the ground, laughing. “You need more practice!” He would say. We would squeal and laugh like the little boys we were, and when we were done we would lay on the grass out of breath. “My sons,” he would say, “Are the treasure of my life.”

~

I am leaving Valinor.

I have not written here the trials of my life for some time. Ada and Fingolfin have been reconciled, though Ada still holds him at a cold distance. The Trees are gone. Valinor is dark--there is nothing for me here. Curse Melkor for stealing the light of the world! He spilt the blood of my grandfather--the first blood in this land.

He has taken the Silmarils.
It is well. My father was asked to give them to the Valar and he should have. I will never forget what he said to them.
“The Silmarils are the treasure of my life.”

My heart broke. I don’t mean that it has been sundered. I mean that...everything my father has said to me has built up and built up and...with those words the frail dam I had built trying to convince myself I still loved my father...those words broke it. And all of the pain flowed anew, like a wound had been reopened.

Now that Morgoth has taken them, Ada has finally lost all sense. He is mad. Rabid, like a dog.
I do not think my father would act this way if one of his sons were stolen, and not his jewels.

He is foolhardy. He has convinced himself that he can overthrow Morgoth. It is laughable how his vision has been distorted. Except for the fact that now our people are in grave peril.

Ada has always had a way with words. He has the undeniable power to make you feel as golden as Laurelin, or as deflated and empty as the trees post-Morgoth. I always thought that he must want to make people feel empty because that was what he was feeling inside. Well today he was feeling impassioned, and that’s how he made others feel.

He spoke of the duty of the Noldor to avenge the Silmarils and bring Morgoth down. His words kindled a fire within me, though I tried to quench it. I remembered my grandfather. His kind eyes, always forgiving even towards my father. I remembered when Morgoth's came to my home and murdered him. His last cries for us to run…

I stood and raised my sword.
Qualmë cotumoin Eldaliéva!^”

~

Fingon. I see his face in the fire which blazes before me.
There is only dark behind me.

I stand on the dark shores of Middle-earth. It is cold. In front of me fire shines on the waters of the Sundering Sea. Fingon is on the other side. He vowed to follow his father here into Middle-earth. But we took the ships. We left them there. And now...now Fëanor burns them. “Send them back across for Fingolfin’s sake!” I said to him. He did not listen.

These ships. Curse them. The foam-riders fall into the sea, cruel arrows of the Noldor piercing their fair skin.

The darkening of Valinor surrounds me. The Trees are gone, the Teleri have been slain, Fingolfin has been betrayed. I simply cannot bear it. Regret gnaws at me.

~
Fëanor is dead.

He died this morning. Not without cause. Though I am sure there will be song enough to remember Fëanor’s fiery folly. So I will not recount it here.

My grief is inexplicable. I should not feel anything, and grief the last thing. And yet, I can’t help but feel loss. Days I have spent dreaming of what life would be like without the constant need to be affirmed by him. And now that that need is gone...I am not sure how to carry on.

Bitterly do I rue the day I held my sword up. For already it has reaped nothing but pain and loss.

There is but one enemy. Not the Valar, not even Fëanor. Morgoth. The Black Enemy. Curse his name. He spilled the life blood of the trees, he killed my grandfather, he drove my father to madness. I will have my revenge on him. I am the high king of the Noldor, and I will carry this oath through to its bitter end.

~

The happiness of friendship! I do not deserve the sacrifice and fellowship of Fingon.

Morgoth tried to kill me. I will not speak of it for my arm still aches, and the sight of my lone hand grieves me. I will only here recount the valor of Fingon my eternal friend and say nothing of the pain I have endured.

I still remember his song. Of Valinor and our friendship. I have not spoken to him since my Fëanor threatened Fingolfin, and it brought joy to my heart and light to my eyes to hear his fair voice. I sang back in excruciating strains, each breath tasting like acid. I looked down at him.

He was far below, but I could make out his figure. His bow was slung across his back, a quiver full of arrows. He had ridden to Thangorodrim to find me, and find me he did, though there was no hope of rescue. I begged him to shoot me. He would not listen. Finally, I saw his trembling hands and expression of grief and despair harden and still. He pulled an arrow and nocked it.

A cry in the distance made him stop, eyes full of desperation. An eagle. Wings forty fathoms long, golden almost as the Tree of Laurelin, eyes piercing the dark cloud of Morgoth’s fortress. His cry echoed off of the wall.

Feeling my end approaching, I deeded to have my last breaths be used in protest against end vile place, and in memory of Valinor far away. I cried out once, and I remember no more.

~

*From "So it is even as I guessed" to "seeks to be the master of thralls" is all a direct quotation from The Silmarillion...one of my favorite quotes and I just couldn't leave it out!
^English translation: Death to the foes of the elves!

~

This chapter covers Feanor threatening his half-brother Fingolfin upon the steps of Finwe's halls--one of the most firey of Feanor's moments--to the burning of the ships at Losgar, and all the way to Maedhros' chaining to Thangorodrim.  At this point in the story the focus is shifted away a bit from Maedhros (because Feanor is dead) which leaves a bit more room for the imagination and so I am pretty excited for next week!

While we are on the topic of The Silmarillion and excitement, I am really thrilled to be starting a round of annotation on The Silmarillion today.  The themes and signposts I am annotating for are:

Feel free to join me with my annotations--it should be fun and enlightening.  
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30 Day Challenge Day XXIX

Your LOTR Collection

I've already done a whole post on this topic which you should check out.  But, there have been a few new arrivals since that time, and so here is an update.

This is my new Two Towers book.  I couldn't find my paperback copy and I needed a new one fit for writing in and overall wear and tear.  I got this for $2 at a used books store.  I am hoping to get a nice box set of hardcover Lord of the Rings for Christmas which will be my nice, clean, editions.  

I also ordered two throw pillows from Amazon, one with the tree of Gondor on it an one with a map of Middle-earth and they should be arriving sometime in late December.

I found The Two Towers and The Fellowship VHS tapes in my basement that I didn't know about as well.

So my total collection is:

  • Lord of the Rings DVD Set (all three in Widescreen)
  • The Two Towers and The Fellowship of the Ring VHS Tapes (I can't find The Return of the King)
  • The Silmarillion (softcover)
  • The Hobbit (softcover)
  • The Fellowship (hardcover)
  • The Two Towers (softcover, see above)
  • The Return of the King (softcover)
  • The Hobbit Audio Recording Box set of three CDs
  • "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" Movie Poster
  • Evenstar Necklace 
  • Legolas Cup
  • Lord of the Rings (film) Trivial Pursuit (collector's edition)
  • Parchment Map of The Desolation of Smaug (my friend made it for me)
  • Meduseld 3D Puzzle
What do you have in your collection?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day XXVI

Character you Pity Most

I think the Húrin family takes the pity crown in this case.  Their entire family was a disaster!  Túrin specifically murdered two people accidentally, one of which was his best friend, he indirectly caused the death of Finduilas, an elf, caused the downfall of Nargothrond and the deaths of many of its citizens, and to top it all off, he (unknowingly) married and impregnated his own sister.  Túrin's life was pretty much tragedy after tragedy.

In the actual Lord of the Rings, the character I pity most is Faramir.  Especially in the movies, I feel so bad for him when his father rejects him.  I am happy, though, that (unlike Túrin) Faramir found happiness in the end with Èowyn in Ithilien.



                                    

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day XXIV

Favorite One Does not Simply

For those of you unfamiliar with this joke, basically fans of Lord of the Rings have taken the line from "The Fellowship of the Ring" movie "one does not simply walk into Mordor" stated by Boromir at the Council of Elrond, and have changed the ending to express what they cannot simply do.
Photo property of Newline Cinema

I don't know that I can pick a favorite!  There are so many funny ones sometimes I will just take five minutes to scroll through them--it always affords me a laugh.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Laer Cu Beleg

I wrote a poem!

I have tried on various occasions to write a poem or verse, and it always ends up painfully bloated and meaningless.  

At the same time, I have always been disturbed by the mention of a lament that Túrin wrote for Beleg that was never actually published!  It is mentioned at Túrin created and sang it, but we never actually get the real words.  Therefore, I put my mind to writing The Song of the Great Bow myself, and here it is.

Laer Cú Beleg

The string was pulled,
The string was taut,
The arrow loosed,
The wind it caught.

Far over hill and dale it soared,
To serve both friend and mighty lord.
Pursuing one with cursed name,
Through peril and through fire and flame.

Strong friend was he, both brave and true,
His strength and fire ever grew,
Until a flame that burned as bright,
As Silmarils in evening light.

His love was but to defend,
He was a true and loyal friend,
Valor and honor were his wont,
And it led him to a bitter end.

Against evil he bravely fought,
But evil was the one he sought,
Who pierced him through with frozen blade,
And only pain and sorrow brought.

No more in fair woods will he sing,
No evening light or glow he bring.
These woods are barren wasted lands,
Wrought with lament for truest friend.

30 Day Challenge Day XXIII

Favorite Soundtrack Song

I think there is a special place in every LOTR fan's heart for Concerning Hobbits.  It is so cheerful and carefree.

I also love the White Rider (especially the end) and The White Tree (think Gondor theme song).  I am going to cast my final vote on...Concerning Hobbits.  I love all of the soundtrack, though!

Here is a link to a video of Howard Shore describing how he went about writing the soundtrack we all know and love.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CFN2HRJefgM

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tales from Valinor: Maedhros the Tall

One of Frodo’s great joys in Valinor was walking about and appreciating the gardens and visiting his elven friends.

One morning he was out walking with Elladan. As they strode down the streets of Tirion, something bright caught Frodo’s eye. It was a fiery red mane streaming from the door to Finwë’s chambers. Frodo stopped suddenly to watch. The bright hair belonged to a tall elf wearing mail and a tunic.
Frodo watched until he had disappeared around the corner. He dared to speak to Elladan. “Who was that?”
“That was Maedhros the Tall--the eldest son of Fëanor,” he replied in a hushed tone. Frodo’s eyes grew wide.
“Fëanor? The Fëanor?”

“The one and only,” Elladan confirmed as they continued walking. Throughout the rest of their venture, Frodo could not help but wonder at the proud, tall, fiery red haired elf he had seen.

Later that day, Frodo was in Elrond’s library looking for some parchments to read, perhaps one of Bilbo’s tales, when he stumbled upon something with a strange symbol on it.
He opened the letter and was surprised to see that it was written by none other than the elf he had seen earlier that day! Entranced, Frodo sat down on a plush armchair and began to read.

~

Ada* was in a good mood today. It was his and Naneth’s^ anniversary and I was worried that he would ignore her like usual. Naneth is strong, but sometimes I hate my father for the way he treats her. But Ada didn't go to the forge at all today, and I could tell Naneth's was pleased. I kept all of my brothers outside because I know they can be a bother sometimes; always running and fighting. I thought Naneth and Ada would appreciate the quiet.

But Ada’s mood did not last long. Towards the beginning of the day, he was pleasant enough--if you can even describe Ada that way--and he was very kind to Naneth: he gave her a rose and even a kiss. I was very happy to see him being considerate. But as dusk fell and my brothers finally neared the limits of their activity, I heard yells.

Naneth and Ada are usually either yelling or ignoring each other, the latter I find the hardest to suffer. I don’t think I shall ever marry because it would grieve me too much if I turned into my father and treated my wife like Ada treats Naneth. At least today they cared enough to actually yell.
I remember when they were very complimentary. Ada of course has always had a temper, or at least ever since I was born, but he would always melt whenever Naneth would speak. She used to be able to keep his anger under control, but in these dark days…

Anyway, the yelling lasted only a few minutes. I could tell all of my brothers were listening. I wanted them to forget about it; to yell, make a ruckus, anything but listen to their parents argue. I spend so much time trying to keep them under control, but then I wished that they had been making noise so that they wouldn't have heard it.

So that they wouldn't have heard Naneth sob.

Naneth is the strongest elf I can think of. She has to be: to bear Ada and to have seven children, an exceptional number for the Eldar. I have never seen her cry or break down, and it had never occurred to me that she ever would. But that day, from the yard, all of my brothers and I heard a distinct cry from her strong voice ring out. I did not hear from or see Ada for the rest of that day.
Only when the sun set did my brothers and I somberly enter the house. Naneth was her usual self: noble faced and proud, doing usual things: sweeping, mending torn tunics, washing. There was no display of emotion across her face, and no one brought up what we had heard.

We didn't want her to know that we had heard her cry, but we wanted to cheer her up discreetly. Maglor harped in the main room so that she could undoubtedly hear. She always smiled when Maglor played. But today as she rubbed her hands on her skirt, she asked him to stop without emotion and went outside to garden.

I made my brothers go to bed early, convinced that Naneth needed time to herself. They are quite a crew to try and subdue, but tonight everyone was in a lethargic mood.
“Sleep well,” I said when I blew the lantern out. “Sleep well,” muffled voices responded from under their covers.

Oh my brothers. How trying they can be, and yet how steadfast. Maglor and I spend the most time together, being the two oldest. Our interests are different, but we have the same goals. Maglor gets all the maidens. Often as I lay awake inside at night I can hear him harping below in the garden. After awhile I will hear the sweet voice of a maiden join him in song and I will fall asleep to their music. In the town, elves will always beg him to play and sometimes he will consent and within moments of beginning he will be surrounded by elves of all ages, aching to hear his strains. His voice is soft and sensitive, and I think he is the favorite among all of us brothers.

Caranthir and Curufin are much different. They have no sensitivity about them, and are more focused on strength and cunning. When they were elflings they would often have races to climb the tall tree which stands in our garden. More than once I have carried the body of a crying elf boy inside who has been bumped and bruised from a fall from the tree. Celegorm often joins them, though he prefers to make up the rules to the contests and to observe his brothers desperately try to beat the other. I trust Celegorm to watch over them in my absence.

Amrod and Amras are at long whiles in the country, romping about with their elven friends. They associate much with the sons and daughters of Finarfin, much to Ada’s displeasure. But who is he to say they cannot be with their cousins?

I have heard Fingolfin say on many occasions to me that brotherhood is one of the most profound gifts and that it should never be taken for granted. I know that he has experienced the pain of a broken family, and it grieves him to see my father so angry with him. I try to appreciate my brothers, and I am truly grateful for them.

*English translation: Dad
^English translation: Mother


~


Okay...so I spent a lot of time this week writing a really long story all about Maedhros and his experience moving from Valinor to Middle-earth and then the reclamation of the Silmaril.  But I ran into a few problems.  First of all, if I wanted to write all about Maedhros' life (which lasted thousands of years) it would be at least as long as The Silmarillion which was really not an option.  Second of all, I like to try to write fanfiction in the tone and style of the original canon, but this proved practically impossible for me.  I don't have the way with words that Professor Tolkien had, obviously!  I wanted to be able to have Maedhros explain his thoughts and the only way I could do that was by writing in the first person (I could have done third person omniscient, but I am terrible at writing in that style, and it just didn't sound right.)  I was having struggles with character development and motivation.  In The Silmarillion Maedhros follows the terrible example of his father, but I didn't necessarily want him to seem like a bad guy.  This is going to be a multiple parter, so in future "episodes" we will have more action, and more of a chance to flesh out characters. 

Suggestions always welcome!


30 Day Challenge Day XXII

Favorite in Book Song

"Though here at journey's end I lie,
In darkness buried deep,
Beyond all towers strong and high,
Beyond all mountains steep,
Above all shadows rides the sun,
And stars forever dwell,
I will not say the day is done,
Nor bid the stars farewell."

Sam's song when he thinks for sure that Frodo is dead in the Tower of Cirith Ungol.  He catches a glimpse of the stars, and they encourage him to go on.

I listened to a really interesting lecture by world-renowned Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey in which he talked about the significance of stars (and other things) in Tolkien.


He actually directly quotes this song in the lecture and I always find myself saying it along with him.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day XXI

Saddest Death

I never cry when I watch movies (unless it's the scene in the Grey Havens) and even less when I read books, but this scene actively makes me cry.  Not just tears brimming, but actually flowing tears.

"Then [he] was aroused into a sudden wakefulness of rage and fear, and seeing one bending over him with naked blade he leapt up with a great cry, believing that Orcs were come again to torment him; and grappling with him in the darkness he seized Anglachel, and slew Beleg Cuthalion thinking him a foe...But has he stood, finding himself free, and ready to sell his life dearly against imagined foes, there came a great flash of lightning above them; and in its light he looked down on Beleg's face.  Then Turin stood stonestill and silent, staring on that dreadful death, knowing what he had done; and so terrible was his face, lit by the lightning that flickered all about them, that Gwindor covered down upon the ground and dared not raise his eyes...he sat unmoving and unweeping in the tempest beside the body of Beleg Cuthalion....thus ended Beleg Stronbgoow, truest of friends, greatest in skill of all that harboured in the woods of Beleriand in the Elder Days, at the hand of him whom he most loved; and that grief was graven on the face of Turn and never faded...he made a song for Beleg, and he named it Laer Cu Beleg, the Song of the Great Bow, singing it aloud heedless of peril."

I was actually tearing up as I typed this...so...sad!

For those of you unfamiliar with the backstory, Hurin was a great warrior in the First Age.  He was captured by the First Dark Lord, Morgoth, and his family was cursed.  In this scene, Turin, Hurin's son, killed his best friend Beleg.  Turin had been tormented by orcs and Beleg rescued him.  As Beleg was cutting Turin's bonds, Turin awoke and saw the sword.  He thought he was still with the orcs and so he quickly attacked, killing his best friend.

"I will not say do not weep; for not all tears are an evil."

Friday, November 20, 2015

Celebrations

Have you ever noticed how terrible things often happen on days of celebration in Middle-earth?

The most infamous of these instances is the destruction of the Two Trees of Valinor.  The Valar and all of the elves were gathered to have a harvest feast, but Morgoth and Ungoliant came and killed Telperion and Laurelin.  Before that when Arda was young, The Valar were having a feast and taking a day off after their long labors of creation, and that was when Morgoth toppled the two lamps.  Furthermore, the downfall of Gondolin occurred on their feast day to celebrate the coming of the new season called The Gates of Summer.

Why are all of these bad things happening on days of joyous celebration?

I'm not exactly sure, but I was watching a BBC documentary on the Anglo-Saxons, and I may have found a reason for this.

For those of you who don't know, Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon language (AKA Old English) at Oxford University, and the Rohirrim were actually based off of the Anglo-Saxons.  So he was very well acquainted with their culture.

So like I said, I was watching a documentary about them, and I came upon something interesting.

The Vikings who were pagan, would study the Christian calendar and strategically plan their attacks for holidays like Christmas or Easter.

Could this historical element be a basis for why bad things always happen on celebration days in Middle-earth?

I found this really interesting and I wanted to share it with you!

For those of you interested, here is a link to the documentary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW-l0utI7sc

30 Day Challenge Day XX

Scariest Moment

I did not have to consider this one for very long.  Without a doubt, the scene when Bilbo tries to take the Ring from Frodo is the scariest moment ever for me.
Photo property of Newline Cinema


Thursday, November 19, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day XIX

Least Favorite Character

For those of you familiar with the story of my favorite character, Idril, it may not come as a surprise to you who my least favorite character is. 

Maeglin, son of Eöl the dark elf.  

You see, Maeglin's main character flaw is that he desired to marry his cousin, Idril.  They were raised separately and didn't meet until they were adults.  

Maybe if Maeglin never acted on these desires, I may think differently of him, but...

He attempted murder, caused the downfall of the last of the elven strongholds and agreed to become Morgoth's slave.  So...yeah, definitively my least favorite character.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day XVIII

Favorite Female Character

My favorite female character happens to be my favorite character!  Idril Celebrindal, lady of Gondolin, daughter of Turgon, mother of Eärendil.  I did a whole post about her you should go read!  It can be found in the post archives.  

Eucatastrophe

(YOO-cah-TASS-trohf-EE)  n. a word made up by J.R.R. Tolkien to describe the sudden, unexpected, and undeserved turn of events, provided by the grace of God.

A eucatastrophe is a good catastrophe!

The thing that is different about a eucatastrophe, is that it is completely unwarranted or deserved, arrives completely unexpectedly, and turns the tides in the favor of the protagonist.

A good example is the goblins arriving at the Battle of the Five Armies.  If not for the sudden and unexpected change in events, the elves of Mirkwood, the men of the lake, and the dwarves of Thorin's company surely would have gone to war against each other.  Instead they had to work together because they all hate the goblins!

Another example is Aragorn arriving at the Battle of the Pelenor Fields instead of the corsairs of Umbar.  It was completely unexpected both by the enemy and by the Rohirric/Gondorian forces, and it was undeserved.

The thing to underscore here is that it is provided by the grace of God.  It is not deserved at all, and it is a sudden change for the better.

Tolkien considered the resurrection of Christ from the dead the eucatastrophe of history: it was sudden, unexpected, and completely undeserved.  

How many places in Tolkien's works can you spot a eucatastophe?


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day XVII

Favorite Male Character

Other than Sam?

                                    

Monday, November 16, 2015

Subcreation

Through all of Tolkien's life and still to this day, many people refuse to accept his work as serious literature.  Fantasy, they claim, cannot be taken seriously because it is a form of escapist entertainment.  You put down the book and go back to living your life in the real world.  Tolkien was very adamant about his views of fantasy and striking down this false assumption.  In this article, I am going to attempt to relay Tolkien's ideas of fantasy and literature in general and it's importance in "the real world".

First, the opposition.  This is the general claim of people who don't take Tolkien seriously, and throughout the course of this article, Tolkien's arguments will be explained and they will show how none of these suppositions hold up.

The Argument: Tolkien's writing is fantasy.  It is fantasy because it involves elements that don't exist in the world, like magic, fictional races, etc.  It was written for entertainment and escapism.  However, his books do not have applicability in the real world, and therefore are a waste of time.  He would be much better off spreading Christian ideas plainer, like Lewis, or better yet, preaching directly with non-fiction.

Now let's examine this argument carefully.  Initially, it is makes it clear that his writing is "entertainment and escapism."  Of course his writing is enjoyable to read, and certainly Middle-earth is not identical to the "real world" or what Tolkien called "the primary world".  However, it is extremely ignorant to say that his book is escapism.  One of the major things Professor Tolkien was trying to do by writing fantasy, was help people rediscover things they had lost.  I have talked about this before, but imagine that you move to a new place and originally you are just so captivated by the landscape and you appreciate it immensely.  However, as the years go on, you get used to it and it loses it's value.  This is exactly what happens in real life.  Seeing things in a new environment can help you regain your original appreciation for them.  In a fantastical world, you can't take anything for granted.  Things are new and different, and you have appreciation for them.  So really you are not "escaping" when you read Tolkien, but you are seeing things in a different light and therefore seeing real world things and concepts differently.

Next, the argument claims that "his books do not have applicability in the real world".  This is of course absurd.  Think of all of the lessons that can be learned in Middle-earth.  One for example, is selflessness.  This can be seen in various aspects of Middle-earth, but take the simple example of Boromir.  Putting aside the things he did wrong, him charging up in selfless defense of the two hobbits Merry and Pippin demonstrates a real life theme perfectly.  Obviously there are morals and lessons to be learned in The Lord of the Rings, and all of Tolkien's work.

Thirdly, saying that his books are a waste of time was actually a surprisingly popular theory throughout his lifetime.  Now all of the counterarguments in this article show that it obviously is not, but I just wanted to point out what intense ridicule Tolkien received.

Fourth, the article says that Tolkien should write more like C.S. Lewis.  C.S. Lewis is a fine writer, but his style differs from Tolkien immensely.  He write allegorically, something Tolkien had an opinion that was simply the opposite.  Tolkien figured that once you figured out that (for example) the War of the Ring=WWII, you would stop paying attention to the story itself.  He really did not want this to happen.  Once you begin doing that, you oversimplify things to the point where the story itself is unnecessary.  Just read a textbook talking about WWII.

Fifthly, Tolkien didn't want to "preach directly".  One of the most popular audiences of The Lord of the Rings were 60s college students.  I think they must have picked up the book because of the story, but they ended up reading a story with not only a great and exciting plot, but deep messages and morals as well.  The same morals reached these students through this book, whereas I think that if Tolkien had published a book "how to live your life", not many people would have been very receptive to it.

Not only did Tolkien contest the above stance, but he went a step further.  In his great poem explaining subcreation, Mythopoeia, he says:

..."his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact."

This is understood as offering that only writing fiction set in the real world is worshiping the "great Artefact" which is our world.  Tolkien knew that we are destined for somewhere else, therefore this earth is not all that there is, and therefore not the only place that writing can take place in.

Also in Mythopoeia is further explanation of subcreation.

“Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.”

I talked about this more in my post about Mythopoeia, but an article about subcreation wouldn't be an article about subcreation without this excerpt.  The "single White" light is understood to come from God.  Men take what knowledge He has given them, and change it into something else, like a story.  

Since men were created in God's image, we create likewise in his image.  He created us, and we create stories to honor him and be as close to him as we can be.  In that way, creating things in a fantasy world is actually beneficial.

To wrap it up, Tolkien faced a lot of criticism for writing fantasy.  But he had a compelling argument to counter all of it.  Tolkien believed that writing something you created was in fact honoring God and the gifts that he gave you, and was beneficial to the reader as well.

Thanks for reading!   Questions are always welcome.

30 Day Challenge Day XVI

Favorite Antagonist

All of my favorite characters are antagonists, so this doesn't really narrow things down!

You probably already know that my favorite character of all time is Idril Celebrindal from Gondolin in the First Age.

But you may not know my favorite character from The Lord of the Rings itself.  My favorite is Mr. Samwise Gamgee.

UPDATE:
Did I really just say my favorite antagonist was Sam?  Whoopsie-daisy...That is my favorite protagonist.  

My favorite antagonist is Morgoth.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tales from Valinor: A Garden for Gondor

"Ready?"

Frodo eagerly sat down next to Elladan, Elrohir, Celebrian, and Elrond and waited.  

They were sitting in the tower of Tirion upon Tuna, and were looking through the Master Palantir.  Frodo had never seen a Palantir, but he had heard about what they were like from Pippin and Merry.  This was nothing like they described.  It took a whole room to hold the monstrous ball, and there was no way that Pippin could have taken it from Gandalf in his sleep, even if it had been small enough for Gandalf to hold.

From within the Palantir, Aragorn's face appeared.  It did not look like the Strider Frodo remembered, nor did it look like the king from Minas Tirith.  He looked older.  The lines of care were deeper, but there were also more defined lines where it was clear he had smiled and laughed.  His bright blue eyes were as clear as ever, and he still looked honorable and noble.  

"Estel," Elladan said, instinctively.

"No, son.  This is not the Estel of Rivendell who you played with in the woods," Elrond said, smiling, "This is the king of Gondor and of Arnor, his majesty King Elessar."

At this, Aragorn smiled, and looked down modestly.  "Hello, my lords!  And my lady," he said, bowing.  

"Greetings, son of Arathorn," Celebrian chimed in, smiling.  "It is a gift to meet one I have heard my husband speak of so highly."  

Elrond smiled proudly. 

Aragorn returned her greeting.

"Now come, tell me.  Where is my daughter?"  Celebrian asked, excitedly.  Aragorn called gently.

Arwen came into view.  

"Naneth!  Adar!^ Brothers!" She said, joyfully.  They talked for awhile and Elrond shed a couple of tears in his turn, but eventually the conversation became more stable as Aragorn and Arwen sat down.

"How are things there?"  Frodo asked, finally.  He was indeed happy to see his friends, but he wanted to hear more specifically about Pippin, Merry, and especially Sam.

"Things are well," Aragorn began...

~

Aragorn entered his chamber.  Arwen was sitting on the balcony, absentmindedly playing with a strand of her long dark hair.  "There is a lot of stone in this city..." she said as her new husband took a seat next to her.  He had been at a long council meeting--too long.  There was much to do now that a king had returned.  Things had to be rethought, reverted back into their old ways.  The chair of the stewards was moved into a place of honor, the pyre was dismantled and turned into a fountain.  Faramir had stayed in the city long enough to get Aragorn acquainted with the overall operation, but he had long since moved to Ithilien with Eowyn.  

"Yes, there is a lot of stone," he replied, not sure what Arwen was getting at.

"I think I might like a garden," she mused, "if it pleases your majesty," she said, smiling.  

Aragorn blushed at her use of his title. "I asked you never to call me that," he replied, feigning anger.  She giggled and he sat back on the bench.  

"I think a garden is a wonderful idea.  Where shall we put it?"  He looked over his kingdom.  So large.  So many people milling about in the fading afternoon sun: pulling wagons, children running around, shopkeepers finishing up their day.  So many people counting on him.  He was ready.  He knew it.  He had proved himself throughout the War of the Ring on so many levels.  Now he just had to live it out.

"There," Arwen said suddenly, pointing to an empty courtyard near the Houses of Healing, "so that I may see it when I look over the balcony," she explained.

"That is well," Aragorn replied, "I think that the Lady Eowyn and perhaps the Lord Faramir would approve of that location, as well," he thought.  "I will order it done," he rose and went to write it down.

The spring of the next year was the fairest anyone could remember.  The garden was completed.  Simbelmyne grew all around and in one large mound right in the center to honor Theoden and the Rohirrim.  Kingsfoil grew in abundance in between the stone paths.  It emitted a beautiful fragrance, and the Houses of Healing used it often.

But the most fair thing in the city that spring was the king and queen's son, Eldarion.  He grew swiftly and resembled his mother and father with dark soft hair, but his eyes he took distinctly from his mother: they were piercing and bright elvish blue.

~

A little boy ran behind Arwen and Aragorn.  "Is that my grandson?" Celebrian asked over the Palantir, tears threatening.

Elrond's smile widened as the little boy's delighted cheers were heard in the background.

"Eldarion, tolo si,*" Aragorn called to his son.  The little boy ran up and jumped on his father's lap.  "This is your grandmother, your grandfather, and your uncles.  And my good friend, Frodo.  Say hello to them."

Eldarion waved shyly.  "Hello.  I'm Eldarion!" He said, proudly.  He hopped away before Aragorn could catch him and Celebrian and Elrond laughed.


~

^English translation: Mother!  Father!
*English translation: come here

This story was a bit abstract.  I just want to say that it is probably impossible for someone to use a Palantir like this, but I wanted some way to connect Arwen and Aragorn with their families so I could write about them!  Just to be clear, the Palantir part of this story is non-canonical.

This was just a little glimpse into life in Gondor for Aragorn and Arwen.  I basically just wanted to set up how life has been for them thus far and hopefully I can get into some more action in the future.  Remember that I would gladly accept ideas in the comments for any stories you would like told (tidbits from the books that are mysterious and could use elaborating are perfect!).  Thanks for reading!

30 Day Challenge XV

Best Steed

I was originally going to choose Shadowfax as the best mount, but I think I'm going to switch over to Bill the Pony.  Bill is mistreated horribly by his former master, Bill Ferny, and once he is taken care of by Sam they develop a bond that cannot be broken.  I feel terrible when I read about Sam having to send Bill on his way as they are about to enter the Mines of Moria, and scared that the poor pony will be eaten by wolves.  Fortunately, Bill "knows the way home" and I like to think that he made his slow happy way back to Rivendell.

Photo Property of Newline Cinema

Saturday, November 14, 2015

We Three Rings

There are three elven rings, Nenya, Narya, and Vilya.  This is a bit about them, their role on the history of Middle-earth, and their keepers.

In the Second Age, Noldorian elves (great craftsmen and smiths) lived together with the dwarves of Khazad-dum.  Eager for more skill and knowledge, they took the suggestions of Sauron and per his instruction crafted the seven dwarven rings and the nine mortal rings.  Around this time as well, Sauron crafted the One Ring back in Mordor.  With the knowledge Sauron had given to him, Celebrimbor, the most talented craftsman, forged the three elven rings.

An important thing to note is first, the number of rings.  First of all, there were a ton of lesser rings, but when Khazad-dum was attacked later on, a  lot of them were lost.  But the three major elven rings were saved.  It is significant that there are three major rings.  First of all, what elven things come in threes?  The Silmarils, for starters.  Celebrimbor is actually the grandson of Feanor (through Celegorm), and gets his skill that way.  Feanor was the greatest of craftsmen ever.  He wrought the Silmarils, jewels that encased the Light of Valinor, a holy light.  He eventually got really greedy about them, so greedy in fact, that it led to his death and a lot of his people to bad ends.  Celebrimbor is related to him, though he renounced his father and his grandfather's deeds.  Celebrimbor does have his problems with greed though which are apparent if you read the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.  The second significant "three" relating to elves, are the houses.  There are three houses or groups of elves: the Teleri, Noldor, and Vanyar.  Thirdly, there were three elven kingdoms built in the First Age which fell because of the deeds of Feanor and his sons: Nargothrond, Doriath, and Gondolin.

The second thing to note is that the rings were not influenced by Sauron.  Celebrimbor used the knowledge he had gained from Sauron, but used it on his own.  Therefore these rings are not under the corruptible influence that the nine and the One have.

The three rings have names: Nenya, Narya, and Vilya.  Nenya is the ring of water, and Galadriel holds it.  Narya is the ring of air, and Elrond keeps it.  Finally, Vilya is the ring of fire.  Originally, Cirdan the shipwright had it, but he gave it secretly to Gandalf.  He gave it to him in hopes that the ring of fire would help him kindle the hearts of the people of Middle-earth to do great things against Sauron.

Rivendell and Lothlorien are kept fair and free by the power of the rings that their leaders (Elrond and Galadriel, respectively) have.  Their rings are tied up in the fate of the One Ring, however, and once it is destroyed, their rings loose their power.  Their realms are fading away and they are forced to sail into the west.

Saying forced gives it a bad connotation, but really the elves' home is in the West, that is where they are destined to go.  Elrond, Galadriel, and all of them have really just been buying their time, and now they get to go home.

Questions always welcome!

This is a parody song I made up to remember key details about the rings, to be sung to the tune of "We Three Kings" the Christmas carol.

30 Day Challenge Day XIV

Saddest Quote

"The Third Age ended thus in victory and hope; and yet grievous among the sorrows of that Age was the parting of Elrond and Arwen, for they were sundered by the Sea and by a doom beyond the end of the world."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Magic and Tolkien

My friends and I always have heated debates about literature and politics at lunch.  Yes, I know it's nerdy.  Usually it revolves around me getting into a debate with my friend Anna.  She likes contemporary fantasy/dystopian/fiction/sci-fi type stories. Today she was explaining how one of the characters in her book has wind/ice powers or something like that.  To which I responded: I don't like magic in books.  Of course the entire table then converged upon me.  "What do you mean you don't like magic?  You're the biggest Lord of the Rings fan we know!  Oh the humanity!"  Okay, it wasn't that dramatic, but they were pretty surprised.   I feebly tried to explain to them how the magic in The Lord of the Rings is way different from the common conception of magic.  I didn't do a very good job of it and they left very confused.  So I did a bit of reading, and this is what I came up with regarding magic in Middle-earth.

Professor Tolkien stated in a letter to Milton Waldman from 1951*:

"All this stuff is mainly concerned with Fall, Mortality, and the Machine...both [the fall and mortality] of these (alone or together) will lead to the desire for power, for making their will more quickly effective, - and so to the Machine (or Magic).  By the last I intend all use of external plans or devices (apparatus) instead of developments of the inherent inner powers or talents - or even the use of these talents with the corrupted motive of dominating: bull-dozing the real world, or coercing other wills.  The Machine is our more obvious modern form though more closely related to Magic than is usually recognized.

"I have not used 'magic' consistently, and indeed the Elven-queen Galadriel is obliged to remonstrate with the Hobbits on their confused use of the word both for the devices and operations of the Enemy, and for those of the Elves.  I have not, because there is not a word for the latter (since all human stories have suffered the same confusion).  But the Elves are there (in my tales) to demonstrate the difference.  Their 'magic' is Art, delivered from many of its human limitations: more effortless, more quick, more complete...And its object is Art not Power, sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of Creation."

Tolkien makes it clear in the last part of the first paragraph, that by "machine" or "magic" he means using something outside that you have created to create to your own will, with your own designs without regard for the natural order of things.  If you look at it from a Christian point of view, doing something like that is essentially saying: "I know better than God and so I'm going to create something in spite of his plans in order to make my will known."  This is something that Tolkien was fundamentally against.

Tolkien references the Hobbits' discussion with Galadriel from The Fellowship of the Ring which is as follows:

"'Well,' said Sam, 'you can't see nobody working it.  No fireworks like poor old Gandalf used to show.  I wonder we don't see nothing of the Lord and Lady in all these days.  I fancy now that she could do some wonderful things, if she had a mind.  I'd dearly love to see some Elf-magic, Mr. Frodo!'...'Do you wish to look?'  Frodo did not answer.  'And you?' she [Galadriel] said turning to Sam.  'For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem also to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy.  But this, if you will, is the magic of Galadriel.  Did you not say that you wished to see Elf-magic?'"

As for the first part of this quote, Sam so delicately says "'you can't see nobody working it.'".  This corroborates what Tolkien said earlier:  "Their magic...is more effortless, more quick, more complete...".  Sam doesn't see the Elves do a "magic trick" or do something spectacular to amuse him, but they just emanate goodness and that is the type of flawless, easy skill that the Elves possess.

Now one of the points that my friends at lunch brought up was "Gandalf uses magic all the time!"  I can only assume they were referring to the fireworks at Bilbo's party and the spectacular beams of light shot at the Balrog and Nazgul from the movies (none of them have read the books, sadly).  Now Gandalf does indeed have powers.  He is a Maia, so he is a low level angel.  For this reason he does have some powers which he uses sparingly.  It is complicated and so it was hard for me to explain it to my friends, but Gandalf was sent to Middle-earth by Manwe, the leader of the angels.  Manwe in turn gets his intel from Eru Illuvatar, the god of the world.  So Gandalf uses his powers only when it is necessary in order to fulfill the will of God, or Eru (and he knows when this is through Manwe).  Unlike the modern use of magic, Gandalf is using his powers to fulfill the will of God.

Contrasting that, Magic (or the machine) is used to fulfill your own will.  To make things easier for yourself.  This is the antithesis of Gandalf's use of magic.  Sauron does this.  He is also a low level angel, but instead of fulfilling Eru's will and glorifying him with his art, he does the opposite and uses his power to corrupt and bend others' wills to his.

As for Tolkien's last point in his letter, "And its object is Art not Power, sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of Creation.", he is demonstrating that the Elves do not seek to fulfill their own will, but to glorify God through their Art.  I am going to do a future post on what Tolkien called Sub-creation, because it is so fascinating and a big part of his writings.

He says that magic is an art.  I want to make it perfectly clear that it is not an art that you can study and learn, like the wizards in Harry Potter.  You are born with it, and you practice and perfect it for the greater glory of the world around you and put it to use according to Eru's will.

If you have questions about this topic, I would happily answer them.  Galu!

*Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981) no. 131; and in part reprinted in the preface to The Silmarillion (1999).

30 Day Challenge Day XIII

Funniest Quote

I've mentioned this quote before, but it never loses it's charm.  Aulë and Yavanna have an argument about how Aulë's people (the dwarves) are always going to be in conflict with Yavanna's creation, the plants and animals.  Yavanna feels very triumphant after announcing that she has the Ents and Eagles to protect her creations, and this is how Aulë replies:

"'Eru is bountiful,' she [Yavanna] said.  'Now let thy children beware!  For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.'  'Nonetheless they will have need of wood,' said Aule, and he went on with his smith work."




Thursday, November 12, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day XII

Favorite Location

My favorite realm has to be Gondolin.  It was the city most similar to Valinor, specifically Tirion.  It isn't as well known as other locations in Middle-earth since it is only described in The Silmarillion, so here is a little background on it.

So going way back, there was a group of elves called the Noldor.  There's a long history about them which is what The Silmarillion is about, but I won't get into that.  Anyway, one day, one of the princes of this group was traveling.  He had a strange dream that instructed him to build a fortress because evil was brewing.  It turns out that the Master of the Water, Ulmo had sent this dream to Turgon (the prince).  He showed him just where to build it and he protected it from many foes.  It became known as the Hidden City because no one knew exactly where it was.

Turgon built it to look like the eleven city of Tirion in the Undying Lands and from then on Gondolin was ever a sign of hope for the elves.  As long as that city stayed hidden and safe, they were alright.

But of course it didn't and several factors contributed to it's discovery and downfall.  It was completely ravished, Turgon was killed and many elves died in the city's defense.

So that is a very bare summary of this city.  If you are interested in learning more, read the Silmarillion!  I cannot stress enough: it's hard work, but it is worth it!  You will love it.

And just in case you're wondering, my favorite location from the actual story of The Lord of the Rings is Rivendell.  I could spend hours resting and reading there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day XI

Favorite Battle

I am not an expert on war tactics and I don't know much about formations and weapons, but the great thing about Tolkien's world is that you don't have to.  You can enjoy his stories without knowing all of the details--because they're written expertly and engagingly.   Even though I don't know much about battles, I do know that the battle of the Pelenor Fields is my favorite for three reasons.

The first reason I enjoy it so much is because of how it is written.  Sometimes I forget the power of the language in the books itself.  The writing lends itself so strongly to feelings of despair; hopelessness.  I can't help but feel the urge to give up--the exact same urge I am certain the citizens of Gondor are feeling.  Even though I know what is coming, I still feel a sinking in my stomach just waiting for the forces of Mordor to be unleashed.  This is just a testament to Tolkien's skill with words.

The second is how the battle actually plays out.  It starts with despair.  Just to emphasize how the odds are stacked so crookedly, we have the character of Denethor forsake his duty via the pyre.  We are left in the dark for awhile, the cloud of Mordor hanging over our heads.  But then, there is a tiny ray of light that peeks through and the Rohirrim come.  I would urge you to read this part of the book.  Even if you say "no way!" I am not going to read The Lord of the Rings, just read this part.  It is so powerful and...oh it gets me every time!  Reread it, even if you already are familiar with it.  It never gets old.  The real "euchatastrophe" is when Aragorn shows up and meets Eomer on the battle field.  It's overwhelming how powerful this part is.

The final reason is the outcome of the battle.  This is the real turning point of the story.  Prior to this battle, the people of Middle-earth were just waiting for their doom to strike, but after it, Sauron looses his footing and a glimmer of hope is seen.

Of course there are those priceless moments, like Eowyn killing the Witch King and Theoden's passing, Theoden's speech to the Rohirrim and Eomer's desperate final charge after seeing his uncle killed, Merry's courage, and all of the little moments that peek up.

Here are just a few quotes from the battle of the Pelennor Fields that just get me right here.

"Ride now, ride now!  Ride to Gondor!"

"'To me!  To me!' cried Theoden.  'Up Eorlingas!  Fear no darkness!'"

"'Hinder me?  Thou fool.  No living man may hinder me!'...'But no living man am I!  You look upon a woman.  Eowyn I am, Eomund's daugher.  You stand between me and my lord and kin.  Begone, if you be not deathless!  For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.'"

"And he looked at the slain, recalling their names.  Then suddenly he beheld his sister Eowyn as she lay, and knew her.  He stood a moment as a man who is pierced in the midst of a cry by an arrow through the heart; and then his face went deathly white, and a cold fury rose in him, so that all speech failed him for a while.  A few mood took him.  'Eowyn, Eowyn!' he cried at last.  'Eowyn, how come you here?  What madness or devilry is this?  Death, death, death!  Death take us all!'...the Rohirrim sang no more.  Death they cried with one voice loud and terrible, and gathering speed like a great tide, their battle swept about their fallen king and passed, roaring away southwards."

"Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising 
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking,
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day X

Most Epic Armor

In the movies the most epic armor has to be that of the Witch-King of Angmar.  But my favorite armor ever is featured in the drawing of Legolas by Alan Lee.  Try and tell me this is not amazing.

                                       

Monday, November 9, 2015

30 Day Challenge Day IX

Favorite Dress

Photo property of Newline Cinema
This one I did not have to consider for very long.  My absolute favorite dress in all the movies is the one Eowyn wears when Aragorn and crew arrive at Edoras.  Just look at those gorgeous sleeves!  White is my favorite color--it is all of them combined!--and I think it just looks great.  If there is one thing I don't love about this dress, it is the golden beading down the front, but that is just nit picking.  What's your favorite?


Sunday, November 8, 2015

An Article

Recently I read an article that made me so frustrated I just had to share with you.  Unfortunately there was no comment section for me to rant about it directly to the author, so I am releasing my feelings here.  It was done on The Huffington Post.  The title was: "Don't like The Hobbit Movies?  Then You Don't Know Tolkien'." It was intriguing enough so I clicked on it.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-abramson/dislike-peter-jacksons-em_b_2342591.html

First of all, the article claims that the movie critics reviewing it are going to be proven wrong when future generations look back and see how good the movie was.  This was very perplexing.  It is a completely unsubstantiated claim that frankly makes no sense.  What about ten years passing says that the movies will suddenly be accepted into pop culture (something, by the way, that is not necessarily a good thing and has proved detrimental to The Lord of the Rings already)?

The article goes on to explain that Peter Jackson's approach to the film was more from the perspective of "The Quest for Erebor" which involved Moria, Bolg, Dol Guldur, and yes, even Sauron.  I can see this, and I realize that this is what he was going for.  

Then the article explains what has already happened leading up to the story.

Later on--and this is the most shocking and irritating part of all--the article claimed that "Moreover, critics seem to be whitewashing the flaws of the original movie trilogy. The Washington Post complains of a lack of "engaging character development" in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as if that had ever been a hallmark of Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The original trilogy was itself a plodding, portentous affair with a good deal of unbearably melodramatic dialogue and head-shaking archetyping. We permitted it, as moviegoers, because The Lord of the Rings was and is an allegory, because it was and is beautiful to experience, because it has ever been intended as a lengthy and immersive experience, and because it tells a story of massive scope and scale: all things which, as it happens, are true of Tolkien's (and Jackson's) The Hobbit. "

I have no words.  Actually I have a lot of words that I'm not going to say because they are not very nice.

How could someone say this?  They are claiming there was no character development in The Lord of the Rings?  Frodo didn't change?  Aragorn is the same as he was in the beginning?  "We permitted it, as moviegoers, because The Lord of the Rings was and is an allegory".  "We permitted it, as moviegoers, because The Lord of the Rings was and is an allegory". An allegory?  This seems very odd to say for someone who claims that they know Tolkien and we don't.

"I cordially dislike allegory in all of it's manifestations, and have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect it's presence," wrote the professor in the introduction to The Fellowship of the Ring.  This completely contradicts what was said earlier!

The reason that people have a problem with The Hobbit--myself included--is that for the most part it forsakes the touching and subtle moments in sake of bloodier and grander battles, something The Hobbit was not originally based around.  I do grant that this article was written before "Desolation" and "Battle" so it is not entirely fair for me to enter that reason into evidence.

This is the point in the article when I just sort of snapped.  I simply could not bear it.  This article was completely removed from what Tolkien himself said, and to top it all off, the article claims to be the end all be all of it by claiming that "you don't know Tolkien".  How ironic.


(Just to be clear, I bear no ill will to people who enjoy the movies.  The movies are alright in themselves, though I feel that if you consider them with the book there is no comparison.  This is just my opinion, though it is strongly worded because of the extreme pretension of the article I am frustrated with.  The only person I am thoroughly requesting defense from is the author of that article.

UPDATE: I actually did receive a very well written defense from the author, much to my excitement!  I was very happy to see an author actually stand up for his work and his response made a lot of sense to me and opened my eyes a bit to what he was actually saying.  If you are interested in reading his thoughts on the topic, you can see it in the comments.