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J R R Tolkien The works of JRR Tolkien

View Poll Results: Should I read the books first, or watch the movies?
Read the books 37 75.51%
Watch the movies 12 24.49%
Voters: 49. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 8th February 2012, 07:52 AM   #76 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

Don't know that I'd at all agree on the subject of Chaplin, save for his early Essanay and Mutual pictures. Once he had control over his own work, he didn't tend to go for simple laughter, but a blending of many emotions, and he succeeded quite well, more often than not, which is why his work is still so highly regarded throughout the world. But things such as "City Lights", "Modern Times", "The Circus", and so forth, work as much on the level of pathos and sadness as on "comedy" (so-called). And then there are things such as "Monsieur Verdoux", which is a great black comedy with Chaplin playing a serial murderer who is both chilling and humorous (in a very gallows'-humor way) at the same time....

As for Shakespeare... aside from the language (which is actually relatively modern English; certainly more so than that used in Chaucer's day), which
"dates" his work for most people, his themes and handling of them hasn't dated all that poorly, either... given their continued popularity and relevance. This isn't entirely true; Romeo and Juliet does address a very common human experience (look at the way so many young people react to "love", even today), but I would say his better plays are much more successful and important than that, and truly address the heart's-meat of the human condition in language that, even today, is almost impossible to better. It simply takes getting used to the different idiom.

To me, "dating" means that something is far too much a product of its time; not only in its manner of expression, but in its understanding of how the human heart works; it falsifies that reality by being too invested in the views of a particular period (e.g., many of the false perspectives concerning human motivations so common to Victorian morality).
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Old 8th February 2012, 09:41 PM   #77 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

To provide an example of JD's point, Leave It To Beaver is a dated sitcom that is absolutely dreadful to watch, because it has such a false perspective of the human condition in the 1950s, and the themes (if there were any) are so trite as to cause a constant eye-roll.

LOTR is not dated. The themes are timeless. If language is a barrier, then practice it. Read it. Expand your mind. The shorter, simplistic writing of today's age is not the be all and end all of writing. It is simply what our generation is used to. If you make yourself used to something else, then you can truly enjoy it.

Reading older styles of literature is kind of like learning to drink scotch whisky. Almost no one likes their first sip, but after you've tried it a few times, your pallet changes. 10 years later, you won't drink anything but the finest single malts (make mine The Macallan, please). I love reading Shakespeare. His comedies are some of the funniest theatre I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. His tragedies expose the best and the worst of the human heart. His histories (well, not that historical) make the past jump off the page and come alive on the stage. Who can't be moved by Henry V's speech to his troops at Agincourt, on St. Crispin's Day? My goodness, you'd have to be dead!
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Old 9th February 2012, 05:33 AM   #78 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

Or, The Merchant of Venice, certainly one of the best examinations of how hatred and prejudice breed true, and ever more virulent. Think of Shylock's famed speech, when Salarino protests that surely Shylock will not take Antonio's "pound of flesh"; it must be a pleasantry, as it were. After all, what would he do with it? To which Shylock replies, with a particularly chilling blend of justice and inhumanity:

Quote:
To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.
Shakespeare had his faults, but when he got it right, no one, not even Christopher Marlowe (who was damned good at examining the darker currents in human nature) could best him.
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Old 9th February 2012, 06:26 PM   #79 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

Oooooooooo, good one, JD! That is definitely one of The Bard's best. And there are LOADS of other such speeches in Shakespeare.

Here is good King Harry, as played by Kenneth Branagh (who plays King Harry brilliantly):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDZVxbrW7Ow

the origin of the term "Band of Brothers", "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers...". Rousing stuff, truly timeless.

Here 'tis in writing:

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, "To-morrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford, and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."


Best motivational speech EVER, describing perfectly the kind of brotherhood that is shared only by those who have gone through combat together. This is human condition, and it will never be dated.
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Old 9th February 2012, 09:37 PM   #80 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

Oh, yes, and there are dozens, if not hundreds, such, in Shakespeare's work (and yes, Marlowe's, and Webster's, and...). Shakespeare could also tackle such a variety of subjects with that same eloquence and passion, from Hamlet's famed soliloquy to Prospero's beautiful summing up ("Our revels now are ended...") which applies to each and every one of us as well ("We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep"); or the ghost's warning ("I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul..."); or countless others.

And, to bring the thread back to JRRT: He, too, often summed up in beautiful language some of the deepest of human dreams, aspirations, passions, and experiences; there are passages in LotR which are almost heartbreaking in their clear insight and eloquence; including some which are very quiet moments, such as when Gimli first really looks into Galadriel's eyes at the first meeting in Lorien; or the poignant moment at which we see Smeagol almost come back... where the reader, too, can genuinely feel pity for this lost, twisted thing because, for just that moment, we see just what has been lost, and that moment pierces like a blade.

While his approach is definitely that of "old-fashioned, leisurely prose", I don't think much in Tolkien has dated because of that. If anything, as that has been the mainstream of English literature for many centuries, he dates much less than many of our contemporaries, who are too wrapped up in both the idioms and philosophies of our day, so that within a very short period, those who were so strikingly "new", fresh, original, and "relevant", will find themselves as inaccessible to readers of another era as does poor Bulwer today....
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Old 21st March 2012, 10:38 PM   #81 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

Coming very late to the topic, I would have advised the movies first, as once you've read the book, the movies are really disappointing . . . aren't virtually all movie adaptations a pallid reflection of the original work?

I have almost reached the point of having no desire to see a movie adaptation of some book I love--almost. I suppose I am a sucker for the CGI/special effects.

Once in a while someone really nails part of a book. The first thing that strikes me is the feel of wonder in the first Harry Potter movie--mind you, not the whole story, only those occasions of child-like wonder, such as Harry's first visit to Diagon Alley--the music, the magic, it perfectly captures that feeling.

As to Shakespeare, no one has more fully understood and expressed in writing the human condition in all of its varieties than old Bill. Nobility, corruption, depression, loneliness, love, heroism, evil, spite, envy, amorality, etc. He nailed them all and better than any author of whom I am aware.

To fully understand Shakespeare is to come as close as one can to fully understanding mankind . . . at least in my not so humble opinion.

j.d., you're right about Tolkien's prose. There is definitely magic there for those who can appreciate it.
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Old 22nd March 2012, 08:10 PM   #82 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catswold View Post

As to Shakespeare, no one has more fully understood and expressed in writing the human condition in all of its varieties than old Bill. Nobility, corruption, depression, loneliness, love, heroism, evil, spite, envy, amorality, etc. He nailed them all and better than any author of whom I am aware.

To fully understand Shakespeare is to come as close as one can to fully understanding mankind . . . at least in my not so humble opinion.
I think you could say that about any of the major poets - if you so choose to. The difference with Shakespeare is that his work has the luxury of being performed as plays. The likes of Tennyson, Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth etc., don't get that luxury, but for me their words are far more interesting.
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Old 22nd March 2012, 08:40 PM   #83 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

Chaplin humor is timeless, i laughed so much i cried when i saw him dance, sing that silly song in Modern Times. Psychical humor might look simple but its not dated if the comic is still loved today. He is not exactly forgotten. 90% of other silent films stars are not popular culture icons like him.

Speaking books first or movies first. I read LOTR before i saw the films out of respect for fantasy classic and because i always respect book versions ahead of their film versions.

The fact Tolkien lost me in the middle of the first book is another thing. I just dislike the subgenre his series belongs too.
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Old 25th May 2012, 05:22 AM   #84 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

Don't get me wrong. I loved the movies, even while I ground my teeth as the 2nd one departed from the books around Faramir, the Lorien elves showing up at Helm's D, etc. Jackson did wonders with these 3 films on many fronts, and deserves the praise he's received.

Having said that, there really isn't any comparison. I'm probably really late to this party, but read the books. Even were he allowed twice as much time for each film Jackson could never hope to convey the history, the culture, the sheer feel and knowledge of Middle Earth the way the books do. Odd as this sounds, when I watch the movies, I feel like a spectator, but when I read the books, I am there.
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Old 21st June 2012, 09:09 PM   #85 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

I agree, the films could never compare to the depth of the books. I watched the films first and regretted it after I'd read the books, they were so much more ... full. And there are a few cool scenes omitted in the films.
But I also found that the films were much easier to understand after reading the books, as I watched them half-heartedly at first, so didn't capture everything important.
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Old 22nd June 2012, 08:32 AM   #86 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

I'm almost done with Fellowship at this point. Loving every bit of it... except Tom Bombadil. Didn't understand what was the point of that guy.

Btw, the only Shakespeare I've read is Romeo and Juliet.
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Old 23rd June 2012, 06:57 AM   #87 (permalink)
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Exclamation Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

I think there's a thread or two here that might offer you ideas on Bombadil's purpose, but definitely don't go there until you finish the story.
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Old 30th November 2013, 06:01 PM   #88 (permalink)
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Re: Book first or Films first? Never read LOTR... NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!

While LOTR movies seems like Middle-earth because they have the same characters and basic plot and, most importantly, great visuals courtesy of Lee and Howe, they don't do the books much justice. Most of the themes are either missing, or altered or given the most perfunctory treatment (ex: pity, power). Sure, it's PJ's vision - well, his vision is the opposite of Tolkien's. Just keep that in mind when you watch the movies.
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