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Christopher Tolkien comments on Peter Jackson movies

A change of pace here today.

All the Hobbit-Con news has been wonderful, but I could do with a breather!

By the time December, and the Hobbit, comes around, I will have worn out the keys used to type in The One Ring and Heir Of Durin.

TOR mentions an interesting interview in Le Monde with Christopher Tolkien, son of the author JRR Tolkien.

I found some parts extremely thought-provoking.

“But none of this bothered the family until Peter Jackson’s films. It was the release of the first film of the trilogy, in 2001, that changed the nature of things. First, it had a prodigious effect on book sales. “In three years, from 2001 to 2003, 25 million copies of Lord of the Rings were sold– 15 million in English and 10 million in other languages. In the United Kingdom, sales went up by 1000% after the release of the first movie in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring,” says David Brawn, Tolkien’s publisher at HarperCollins, which retains the English-speaking rights except for the United States.

Rather quickly, however, the film’s vision, conceived in New Zealand by well-known illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe, threatened to engulf the literary work. Their iconography inspires most of the video games and merchandising. Soon, by a contagion effect, the book itself became less of a source of inspiration for the authors of fantasy than the film of the book, then the games inspired by the film, and so on.”


Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has gone too far for me. Such commercialisation has reduced the esthetic and philosophical impact of this creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: turning my head away.”


I found these parts of the article quite sad. I can understand how hard it is to lose control over such a legacy.

The truth is, though, that if it wasn’t for the Peter Jackson movies, I probably wouldn’t have read the Tolkien books.

The first time I had heard about Lord of the Rings was from an American bartender in Warsaw.

This was the late 90s, and I was visiting a bar with friends, probably for a quick underaged drink, and I got to talking to him about Tolkien.

When he referenced Gandalf, and saw my blank expression, he was quite surprised that someone in their late teens had never heard of hobbits, wizards and dwarves in Middle Earth.

The truth is, quite different from American and British readers, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings wasn’t a popular book in Poland before Peter Jackson came along.

I’m sure many from around the world share my experience.

It was the anticipation of the first movie of the LOTR trilogy that made me purchase and read the books.

Just as the Harry Potter series and The Da Vinci Code got people reading again, I think Sir PJ is responsible for introducing a whole new legion of people to Middle Earth, turning many into diehard fans.

As much as I sympathise with Christopher Tolkien, I can never be sorry for that.

The second aspect of the interview I found interesting is how much it may mirror what some believe has happened / is happening to Richard Armitage.

Some feel it is vital to protect him (from the press, from crazy fans) at a time when his career is skyrocketing.

I find most of these attempts quite misguided, although I’d like to believe the intentions are good.

It could also read as a commentary on what, in some people’s opinion, has happened to our fandom.

“The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has gone too far for me…”

For those people I would say, in the words of Christopher Tolkien:

“There is only one solution for me: turning my head away”.

Like it or not, things have been undergoing a change for some time now.

We cannot control all events and people.

There’s no point in trying , or no reason, to influence what someone thinks, says, and writes.

You may not agree with the actions of some members of RArmy, but that’s not to say, just like the Peter Jackson films, they don’t have merit.

It all depends on your point of view.

Be respectful of the opinions of others, or simply be able to turn around and walk away.

About Agzy The Ripper

Sew, Rip, Repeat... and love each moment of it! Join me as I embark on a myriad of sewing and crafting shenanigans.

23 responses »

  1. It’s interesting the early shot of Thorin to what we saw at Comic Con! Yes you have come a long way baby!!

    • I was thinking the same! They’ve moved Throin in a more appealing direction, look-wise 🙂 I can imagine a bunch of prodecers watching the first footage of the Hobbit shots in a dark smokey room saying: Sex ’em up!

  2. Now, this post made mad… Lol…Don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with it!!! The point is: so many things come to my mind and my English just isn’t good enough to express them all!!!
    It’s sad to know about the feelings of Tolkien’s family and I have an idea of what they had to face!!
    Regarding RA career, firstly I don’t understand why some people think he needs to be protected. The man is an adult and he should have known what he was getting into when he chose to be an actor. I see many famous actors dealing very well with fame, fans, press and etc.
    Secondly, I’m waiting for the future, but according to what I see, unfortunately (for me), I believe there’s a great chance I have to turn my head away…

    • Sorry Luciana, I responded, but it seems my comment got lost somewhere 😦
      Your English is perfect, and you know how much I enjoy your comments 🙂
      I’m sad for the Tolkien family, but at the same time I support Peter Jackson’s vision. It’s a tough one, for sure.
      Re: RA, I hope Hobbit-Con proves the man needs no protection or saving. He’s more than capable to deal with what’s going on (not that we as fans can have any idea what it’s like!). People seem to forget he wasn’t born yesterday. He’s been dealing with fame for quite a while. It’s been a steady growth for him, and I’m sure he’s had time to adjust.
      What I would really want for us as a community is to respect each other, be kind, remember our manners when we’re opposing an argument, and be prepared that not all battles can be won. Sometimes it’s just best to walk away. How hard can it be…

      • I agree with you entirely: respect is essencial in all areas of our lives!!! Thanks God, most of this community is very respectfull to RA and to each other. There will always ‘problems’ from time to time, but they are also part of life and can teach us a lot!!!

        • I can honestly say I’ve never had any bad experience with the RA community, but then I’m not here to cause trouble, rock the boat, and upset people. I can’t imagine going on if I felt that our comminty was anything but the most friendly and fun place. I really don’t want the hassle, fighting gives me no pleasure.
          Yesterday’s visit was a bit upsetting. I had hoped that because I’m a tiny fish in the RA pond, I wouldn’t be worthy of any negative attention.

  3. A couple of thoughts on the two separate issues … first on Christopher Tolkien:

    1) Keep in mind this is the man’s son. Of everyone in the world, this is the person who has more of an entitlement and sense of ownership to it than anyone else. It makes sense that he has this reaction, as a child of the author. My father is also deceased, but he was a well-known leader in the organization of The Salvation Army in the U.S. and highly respected. This of course isn’t on the same level as a world-renowned Tolkien, but the dynamic is the same. I’m highly protective of anything said about him today, and he’s been gone since ’91.

    Regarding the commercialization of the book through movies and video games, well, in today’s technological space, it can’t be helped. And people always love or hate what movie people do to their favorite books. JK Rowling and Doug Gresham (stepson of CS Lewis) were very involved with the film-making process of Harry Potter and Narnia Chronicles. Perhaps the Tolkien family tried to shun it, and this was the result? I don’t know. But film-making requires a bit of tweaking with the storyline for streamlining the storytelling. Films are never as good as the books, even after Rowling’s and Gresham’s involvement with their respective projects. Authors and their families should come to expect that films will never be perfect mirror images.

    On the Richard Armitage fandom issues:

    2) Well, here’s how I see it … I’ve already been public about my strong disagreement with the route I’ve seen of some bloggers and fans.

    And this has been my response: A) Voice my opinion unabashedly, when appropriate. Don’t belabor it, but stand behind what I think with a name and a face. and B) If I disagree with a blog, I just don’t go there! I express my disagreement and then focus on the blogs that I think bring a standard of dignity and respect to Richard with which I agree.

    For the record, your blog is one of them. I love it, and I think your presentation here is uniquely charming and lovely.

    Did I just write a sermon? Sorry. I enjoyed your post and felt it deserved a thoughtful reply.


    • Thanks Heidi 🙂 We don’t always agree on some points, but I really do respect your opinion, and I always know what you write comes from the heart! It’s honest, so even if I sometimes disagree, I do understand where your comming from.The key word is respect, and not bashing people on the head with your point of view. After a while, people only see the anger and don’t listen to the words. This goes for both sides (if there are such!). Like Aretha says: RESPECT!
      Re: Tolkien, I can see how the family must feel strange not having control, but I would imagine Sir PJ paid a bundle to be able to use the stories, and with it the right to transform it to fit the movie’s needs. It’s sad for the family though, and the interview really struck a cord with me!

      • Thank you — and I agree — keep it light and happy and respectful and friendly. Some of my best friends and I have the strongest disagreements on topics much more important than this, but the love always remains between us.

        Whatever we think or disagree upon, at the end of the day, if I can put my head on my pillow and sleep knowing that I didn’t tear apart anyone’s spirit, that’s the only thing that matters to me. 🙂

        • I used to read a blog I enjoyed very much. One day someone wrote a homophobic comment, and, to my horror, the blogger agreed. For a split second I though about writing something. Then I realised that it’s not a battle I could win, there’d be heavy casulty and it just wasn’t worth it. I walked away, and haven’t been back. Not because I didn’t feel I was right and they were wrong. I felt the hassle and stress (for all involved) wouldn’t be worth it!
          If we’re Richard Armitage admirers, should we be kind to one another? Isn’t it what he has advocated in the past?

  4. Hi agzym,
    I also “met” J.R.R. Tolkien through movies and Peter Jackson, my love for Tolkien evolved from there to infinity and beyond. I admit that without them, might never have known his work.
    I believe it speaks of human nature that for some people (like me) movies were an event that changed his life, and for others (Tolkien family) is something they prefer to ignore… never two people think/feel the same

    I like to think that Tolkien’ universe is a basis for innovation, creativity and respect, with no rejection or disapproval. After all, Tolkien was a visionary who opened the minds of many.

    PD. Just realizing that Peter Jackson has been molded my tastes in recent years… after all also through to him I “met” Richard.

    • Very well put Vec. Come to think of it, some of my favorite authors have come by way of a film adaptation, like Iris Murdoch. Maybe it’s the way the world is now. I cannot regret it, because movies have opened up my eyes to many different things. It’s not only book, but also art (like Frida), different places around the world (like China) and many, many more.
      I think Peter Jackson is extraordinary, and, after all, we don’t really know what JRR Tolkien would say of the world he created as seen through Jackson’s eyes.
      I think there are stories that go way beyond the original intent of the author, and that is a testament to their greatness!

  5. As it’s really not possible to control what is posted on the internet by other people, there is really no option than to look the other way. Even governments can’t always control what people write (and that’s a good thing).

    • Governments do try, bless. But then who can judge what’s right and what need to be eliminated. I come from a post-communistic country, so I get a rash when the the topic on censorship comes up. I know what dangers it may bring.
      I think it’s such a personal thing. We each set limits individually. I’m quite liberal in my views, that doesn’t mean I don’t understand when people feel that some line has been crossed. I may not agree with their point of view, but I understand they have a right to it. I actually enjoy reading comments from people who differ in their approach. The big BUT here is that we can’t push and pull someone to accept our view.

  6. Pingback: Legenda 35: Stuff worth reading « Me + Richard Armitage

  7. I meant applause for your stand, Agzy.


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