“They gutted the book, making an action movie for 15-25 year olds. And it seems that The Hobbit will be of the same ilk. Tolkien became…devoured by his popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of the time. The gap widened between the beauty, the seriousness of the work, and what it has become is beyond me. This level of marketing reduces to nothing the aesthetic and philosophical significance of this work.”
In a sense, the notoriously stuffy son of J.R.R. Tolkien isn’t far off about the popularity of The Lord of the Rings and how it’s own momentum and popularity has inherently changed Tolkien’s creation. The original book(s), and The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, will always exist in their own right, and, for those who choose it, can remain untouched by the explosion of popularity seen by the series over the past 15 years. Would Tolkien approve of all the films and videogames, t-shirts, action figures, bed sheets and director documentaries that are now available, each leaving the footprint of another creator/corporate executive on the soil of Middle Earth? I don’t know, but I’m not surprised that his son isn’t happy about it.
I could write a book on stupid requests that were made to me. Normally, the executors want to promote the work. [For us], the opposite is true. We want to clarify what is not Lord of the Rings.
The beauty of the books still exists, and always will exist, but there is a whole lot of white noise that fans, new and old, have to wade through. Some of it adds to the experience (like, say, The Lord of the Rings Online, a terrific MMORPG that absolutely nails the atmosphere of Tolkien’s world) and some of it is garbage that fits Christopher Tolkien’s grumblings. I’d put the films solidly in the former category.
His criticism falls apart when he begins referring to the films as “action movie[s] for 15-25 year olds.” Yep, film is a different story-telling medium that relies on certain methods of story-telling that are either unnecessary in novels or will weaken a prose story. Yes, Jackson’s versions of the story put more emphasis on the action and the warfare that was present in the novels, at the expense of some of the novel’s quieter moments (I do miss Glorfindel…). But they’re good films. I suppose, somewhere in there is a noble effort to retain his memories of his father, and the stories and worlds the man created for them as children, but it’s all lost in C. Tolkien’s surliness.
One thing I expect C. Tolkien and I would agree on in the whole Paths of the Dead/Baldor shenanigans that Jackson shoe-horned into the films. Gimme Ghân-buri-Ghân any day of the week.
The rest of Tolkien’s interview can be read on Examiner.com. It’s a fascinating read, regardless of what you think of C. Tolkien’s stance on his father’s opus.