Every time I re-reard The Lord of the Rings, I'm struck anew by how absolutely compelling Tolkien has made his villains. In many ways, these formidable foes--Saruman, Sauron, the Witch-king--threaten to overshadow the protagonists of the novel. While we know a great deal about the heroes, their motivations, their ancestries, a great deal remains shadowy and unknown … Continue reading Why Are Tolkien’s Villains So Compelling?
It is no secret that we queers have always had an appreciation and an adoration of Tolkien's work. The richness and depth with which he paints the relationships between men--especially that between Sam and Frodo as they make their way to Mount Doom--almost inevitably strike a resonant chord with young queer nerds reading Tolkien's work. … Continue reading The Exquisite Queerness of Jackson’s “The Hobbit”
In the moral universe Tolkien created, good and evil, at least on the surface, appear fairly cut and dry. Races like Hobbits and Men (at least certain types of them) are unequivocally good, while races like Orcs, Trolls, and the lesser types of men are transparently evil. Anyone who has read his work with any … Continue reading Are Tolkien’s Orcs Really THAT Evil?
We Tolkien fans are, not surprisingly, a very diverse group. There are those of us, for example, who are exclusively fans of Tolkien's original works (and even then there are further subdivisions, as there are those who only like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but not The Silmarillion). There are those who … Continue reading Why I’m Not a Tolkien Purist
Peter Jackson has taken a lot of flack for the alleged butchering of The Hobbit, variously described as bloated, silly, crass, and all of the familiar insults typically hurled at his work, and at fantasy in particular. Most frustrating, and revealing, however, has been the consistent charge that Jackson has caved in to his own fan-boy impulses, … Continue reading In Defense of Peter Jackson, Tolkien Fans, and Nerds Everywhere
The final installment of Jackson's Hobbit trilogy hits many of the high, operatic moments of The Lord of the Rings, leaving this fan completely satisfied, and more than a little sad, at this concluding cinematic adventure in Middle-earth. Warning: Full spoilers follow. Further warning: I will probably also have more thoughts on this film after I see it … Continue reading Review: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
It's hard now to remember a day when Peter Jackson's films (whatever one may think of them) were not the dominant, go-to examples of Tolkien on film. Growing up in the 1990s, however, I clearly remember a time when, if you wanted to see Tolkien on screen, you had to go to either Rankin/Bass's productions … Continue reading Re-Considering Rankin/Bass
Today I finally got around to finishing up a post I started two years ago. For some time now, I've been thinking about how very much we Tolkien fans--laypeople and scholars alike--owe Christopher Tolkien. From The Silmarillion to The History of Middle-earth (12 volumes!) to the upcoming volume on Beren and Luthien, Tolkien has been a masterful and truly … Continue reading In Praise of Christopher Tolkien
C.S. Lewis once remarked of The Lord of the Rings that: "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart." While LoTR is (perhaps rightly) Tolkien's most famous work, the work of his heart, as numerous biographers and letters attest, was always The Silmarillion. Lewis's words ring even … Continue reading Reading “The Simarillion” Part One
In case you missed it, Peter Jackson recently announced that, unless the Tolkien Estate grants permission to utilize any of Tolkien's published works (other than The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), there will no more Tolkien films made in the foreseeable future. This should come as no surprise to any of us who have kept up … Continue reading Who Owns Tolkien?