A change of pace here today.
All the Hobbit-Con news has been wonderful, but I could do with a breather!
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.