The Fall of Gondolin

Sparafucil3

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#2
The Fall of Gondolin

Just curious if anyone here has read any of the other books co-authored by Christopher Tolkien.
I have read most of them. IMO, they feel un-finished, which is exactly what they were. I think they would be better if he just finished the tales, fleshing them out where they needed to be rather than remaining true to his father's notes/outlines. -- jim
 

witchbottles

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#3
I don't know. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Silmarillion. Of course, that work publish dates much farther back than any of the others. It was a good read, and did go far to explain the mythic era that is often referred to tangentially in Hobbit and LotR trilogies later on.
 

Michael Dorosh

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#4
I have the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales on my shelf, but have done little more than flip through them. I did try to get through the abridged History of Middle Earth (the four volumes concerning the writing of LOTR) and found it interesting though I haven't yet completed it.

There is talk in the various LOTR communities that the quality of Middle Earth offerings may improve once Mr. Tolkien has departed. It may be argued that something similar has happened to the Star Wars universe in the wake of Lucas' sale to Disney. I don't mean the latest trilogy, which I personally find of poor quality, but the "Star Wars stories" - Rogue One, Solo - kind of suggest a post-Lucas universe won't be so bad. Chris Tolkien has spoken out against the quality of the Peter Jackson movies, and IIRC the fact that his father had already parted with the film rights was what led to them.

But, Chris Tolkien no longer serves as director of the estate, which may be why we're seeing talk of a television series. There have been video game licenses for a long time, and LOTRO (for just one) is still active.

If the television series is successful, who knows, perhaps we'll see an expanded universe type of book offerings from fresh authors. Personally, I'm finding fresh stories from the War of the Ring era (some of the quest line text from LOTRO, for example) more entertaining than the polishing of J.R.R.'s unfinished ideas.
 

Dr Zaius

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#5
The movies were good, even great at times, but they were far from perfect. I felt Jackson deviated from the source material too much, and some of it just seemed like arbitrary changes. I get the necessity to condense things in order to fit such a long story into a film format. But still, some it of was just unnecessary and was done to “spice things up” for the masses. And in the process some of the key themes and feel of Tolkien’s life works were sacrificed.
 

Paul M. Weir

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#6
Stuff the books!

"What?" you say! I'm the type who could (once anyway) read a 600 page sci-fi book in two or three sittings. My home is packed with books. I simply could not read the various ROTR books. I tried hard, believe me, but I simply could not follow the plot. Too many characters (with strange but similar sounding names), too many places, too many other elements. The only way would have been to construct something like an enormous flow chart or one of those boards with names and places with strings running between them that you used to see in detective or conspiracy shows.

I used to be a programmer well used to and able to juggling minutiae in my head and most here know me for my long winded detail strewn posts on WW2 trivia. I still had absolutely no clue until the films came out. I don't care that the films deviated with some extra characters or plot revisions, I finally got a grasp on the story.
 

Dr Zaius

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#7
I think what I objected to was the “feel” of the films. Tolkien’s vision was one that evoked the ancient world, some elements of our own Medieval era, and re-imaginings of Christian stories and very old European legends. Tolkien mixed all these elements into a unique blend of his own creation, but the core themes were still very much rooted in our own mythology.

Jackson kept a bit of that, but he de-emphasized elemnts where Tolkien had tried to be profound and almost biblical, and instead turned the whole story into a simple hack and slash, D&D-style adventure. And that was okay, but it’s a bit like what Hollywood did to Homer’s Iliad in the Troy movie starring Brad Pitt.
 

witchbottles

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#8
I think what I objected to was the “feel” of the films. Tolkien’s vision was one that evoked the ancient world, some elements of our own Medieval era, and re-imaginings of Christian stories and very old European legends. Tolkien mixed all these elements into a unique blend of his own creation, but the core themes were still very much rooted in our own mythology.

Jackson kept a bit of that, but he de-emphasized elements where Tolkien had tried to be profound and almost biblical, and instead turned the whole story into a simple hack and slash, D&D-style adventure. And that was okay, but it’s a bit like what Hollywood did to Homer’s Iliad in the Troy movie starring Brad Pitt.
You have successfully described what film producers and directors do to every good book turned into an okay (at best- usually worse than okay) recreation on film.

And your reasoning is why I prefer the book and stuff any movie made from a good book. They all suck equally as poorly made representations of excellent works of written art.

I will often only agree to watch films with original plot lines- never made from a book, and often even then - not until it has some critical commentary on its quality. - That said I did watch the LOTR trilogy and the Hobbit trilogy- and found both wanting.
 

von Marwitz

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#9
The Fall of Gondolin

Just curious if anyone here has read any of the other books co-authored by Christopher Tolkien.

I have most of the volumes (about a dozen). The content of most of them is not exactly co-authored by Christopher Tolkien but more compiled from his father's notes and commented. In part it is a collection of notes, annals, fractions of stories in several versions as they develop and an enormous trove of minute details that shows how J.R.R. Tolkien's world evolved. I would rate them more like a compilation of references.

Some are more readable like "The Lost Road", both volumnes of "Unfinished Tales" which provide some further information on what was happening in First Age and Second Age. My favorite of the lot is actually "The Lay of Leithian" - Lúthien's and Beren's tale in verse. Unfinished but superb.

von Marwitz
 

von Marwitz

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#10
Stuff the books!

"What?" you say! I'm the type who could (once anyway) read a 600 page sci-fi book in two or three sittings. My home is packed with books. I simply could not read the various ROTR books. I tried hard, believe me, but I simply could not follow the plot. Too many characters (with strange but similar sounding names), too many places, too many other elements. The only way would have been to construct something like an enormous flow chart or one of those boards with names and places with strings running between them that you used to see in detective or conspiracy shows.

I used to be a programmer well used to and able to juggling minutiae in my head and most here know me for my long winded detail strewn posts on WW2 trivia. I still had absolutely no clue until the films came out. I don't care that the films deviated with some extra characters or plot revisions, I finally got a grasp on the story.
Mr. Weir, I am shocked! Tolkiens books are just fabulous and still rightly set the standard. Stuff these? Ne'er!

As with all things, it takes time and patience which will reap rich reward.

I spent years of my free time on that stuff (and RPG campaigns in his world that lasted more than a decade). The memories and pictures in my head are comparably lively as of real vacations (before the movies came out). I would not go as far to say that I could speak elvish back then but at least I was able to get the gist of the meaning of most words and names and was able to tell the Sindarin and Quenya dialects apart though most of the grammar was beyond me.

von Marwitz
 

Paul M. Weir

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#11
I was the type who would read a VAX Macro32 manual (assembler language) as bedtime reading, different strokes for different folks.
 

von Marwitz

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#12
I think what I objected to was the “feel” of the films. Tolkien’s vision was one that evoked the ancient world, some elements of our own Medieval era, and re-imaginings of Christian stories and very old European legends. Tolkien mixed all these elements into a unique blend of his own creation, but the core themes were still very much rooted in our own mythology.

Jackson kept a bit of that, but he de-emphasized elemnts where Tolkien had tried to be profound and almost biblical, and instead turned the whole story into a simple hack and slash, D&D-style adventure. And that was okay, but it’s a bit like what Hollywood did to Homer’s Iliad in the Troy movie starring Brad Pitt.
That's it.

My picturing of Middle Earth was shaped by the art of John Howe, Alan Lee, and Tad Nasmith. These artists significantly influenced the way in which the landscape and much of the visual appeal, architecture and costume was portrayed in the movies. Some of them worked with Peter Jackson's team and in this regard, he did a good job even by the judgement of someone who was very deeply involved in Middle Earth.

Where Jackson was lacking is in transporting the atmosphere of the books in many cases. This became more noted in the second and third movie (not even to begin talking of the three Hobbit movies). I agree that Jackson turned the story increasingly into an endless row of battles and hectic camera cuts. In my perception the pace of the movies was WAY to fast. Middle Earth is a world that breathes time and history from every pore. This was not represented adequately IMHO. Furthermore, many of the main characters were not portrayed as I would see them in the books. Aragorn, for example, is a warrior in the movies. But the actor cannot or does not represent the gravity, responsibility, reserve, depth, and dignity of the heir of the line of Isildur unbroken for millenia. Gimli oftentimes seems to have been given the role of comic relief which does not fit to the stern, grim and withdrawn way, the Khuzdul behave in the books. Legolas does not capture the air and detachment in which the Elves are portrayed in the book. In the movies, this is best achived by the Character of Galadriel. Gandalf was good in the movie, though.

With regard to the Hobbit movies: Oh my! I was doubtful from the outset when I heard that they wanted to make three movies out of that story. These movies deviated from the story of the books in a disturbing manner and worse - without need. And at the latest in the second Hobbit movie where they escaped in the barrels from Thranduil's palace down the river to Escargoth, I facepalmed and resolved not to watch the third movie despite my thorough enthusiasm for all things Middle Earth and ample forbearance with regard to Hollywood adaptations. As far as I have heard, this was the right choice.

von Marwitz
 

Paul M. Weir

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#13
I'm somewhat less worried about that aspect. I've long abandoned the idea that films of books must reflect the books rigidly. They are quite separate media and those media have very different strengths. A book can go very heavy in internal introspection which rarely translates well to film. Classical plays had the equivalent in soliloquies, but film depends upon its visual "realism" and someone alone talking to the moon for fifteen minutes tends to break that illusion.

As for history, with the exception of something like Downfall or Conspiracy, don't expect to write your thesis based upon any film.

Books are books, plays are plays and films are films, treat each as separate but sometimes overlapping and enjoy (or not) each as a standalone product.
 

zgrose

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#14
A whole book in 2 hours rarely hits well. The Martian is probably the closest I’ve seen in recent years even though it skipped a lot. Books get the best chance to come to life in a TV series (eg Game of Thrones) where you get 12+ hours to bring the text to life.