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(Worldcrunch)   Tolkein's son gives first interview. Regrettably not named "J.R.R. Jr.". Oh yeah, and he whines a lot   (worldcrunch.com) divider line 190
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4752 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 09 Jan 2013 at 7:32 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-09 03:55:08 PM  
Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.
 
2013-01-09 04:15:50 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.


A couple of literary Fredos with no Michaels in their families.
 
2013-01-09 04:20:05 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks


He's stupid if he doesn't do this. His father's legacy allows him great fortune he doesn't have to go out the door if he doesn't want to after all: It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.
 
2013-01-09 04:34:55 PM  
Meh.  The guy is a professor in his own right.  He's obviously not a dummy, and if anyone was going to know his father's work, it would be him.  I give him props for not madly trying to profit and for at least trying to maintain what integrity he could in his father's works.

Having said that, I find Tolkien to be about as boring and languid an author as I've ever read.  In opposition to Christopher, I praise Peter Jackson for producing these stories in a tolerable format.
 
2013-01-09 05:29:59 PM  
Considering the incessant whining of the fanboys/girls whose contribution to the literary world consist of fan fictions concerning Sam and Frodo and bottle of lube...the complaints of a man whose devoted his life to preserving his father's work and legacy seem rather pertinent.    I may not necessarily agree with Christopher Tolkien's complaints, but he's every right to make them.
 
2013-01-09 05:58:31 PM  
But ya doesn't have ta call him Johnson.
 
2013-01-09 06:09:49 PM  

AdolfOliverPanties: The guy is a professor in his own right. He's obviously not a dummy, and if anyone was going to know his father's work, it would be him. I give him props for not madly trying to profit and for at least trying to maintain what integrity he could in his father's works.


It also sounds as if he was deeply involved with his father's work. The part about how he would review and consult his father's drafts of LotR while deployed for war was interesting. Then there were the many years he worked to organize The Silmarillion. There is always that fine line between literary genius and madness, so often stereotyped by the author that drowns in a sea of their own disorganized writing. Trying to bring order to that was no small task.

I didn't get that he was whining, but I could tell that he was frustrated that the work had taken a life of its own and that it didn't always stay true to the original material. Perfectionists who are attached to their work often dislike third-party derivatives, and I think that's part of what is going on here. Add to that how pop culture has a tendency to reduce a work down to its lowest common denominator, I understand his family's frustration. There are plenty of brands, works and icons who have been cheapened because the IP holders didn't do an adequate job keeping the riff-raff out. You've hit bottom when your work becomes some Chinese plastic toy at the bottom of a Happy Meal.

That said, the cat is somewhat out of the bag and the original contract has no means to reverse that. It means that the purists are going to have to suffer as folks like Peter Jackson leave their own fingerprint on the work. OTOH, Tolkein's works had room for improvement, especially when performing a book-to-screen conversion. Just look at how the A Game of Thrones TV series and The Pillars of the Earth miniseries both deviate from the original books.
This guy is going to have to accept that there are going to be parallel lines of work. The best way to ensure that your line doesn't die is to ensure that people are still interested in it. Given that movies and novels tend to attract two different sorts of people, the world is big enough to handle both.
 
2013-01-09 06:38:46 PM  
John Grisham has often said "if you don't like the movie, don't watch it.  The book is still there for you."

These movies have done something wonderful for Tolkien.  If you read the article you saw that millions of copies of his Toklien's books were sold because of the movie.  These are people who may not have ever bothered to read the original material that Christopher holds so dear.
 
2013-01-09 06:45:04 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.


Done in one.  Said it much better than I could have.
 
2013-01-09 06:48:53 PM  
Interesting that he went to Le Monde.
 
2013-01-09 06:52:09 PM  

coco ebert: Interesting that he went to Le Monde.


He lives in France.
 
2013-01-09 07:20:13 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.


Nonsense. J.R.R. wanted Christopher to finish his work. Christopher, who is talented in his own right, became his fathers historian and caretaker.

He could have easily sold off the rights, had a ton of crappy movies, books by other authors, comic books- but he didn't.
Instead he released his fathers works that was fascinating for true fans.

He's entitled to his disappointment about what Jackson has done. Jackson took a lot of liberties that changed the meaning of the stories and characters. Christopher T. could have spoken out louder-but he hasn't
 
2013-01-09 07:30:22 PM  
"These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime."

so yah, the estate still got screwed by the games played by the studios.
 
2013-01-09 07:38:46 PM  

Darth_Lukecash: Nonsense. J.R.R. wanted Christopher to finish his work. Christopher, who is talented in his own right, became his fathers historian and caretaker.

He could have easily sold off the rights, had a ton of crappy movies, books by other authors, comic books- but he didn't.
Instead he released his fathers works that was fascinating for true fans.

He's entitled to his disappointment about what Jackson has done. Jackson took a lot of liberties that changed the meaning of the stories and characters. Christopher T. could have spoken out louder-but he hasn't


Spoken like a gentleman!
 
2013-01-09 07:38:49 PM  

namatad: "These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime."

so yah, the estate still got screwed by the games played by the studios.


The last film that turned a profit in Hollywood was filmed in 1922.
 
2013-01-09 07:46:02 PM  
namatad: "These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime."

so yah, the estate still got screwed by the games played by the studios.


like the sons of Fëanor he must vow to recover that which his father created
 
2013-01-09 07:54:16 PM  

Darth_Lukecash: RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.

Nonsense. J.R.R. wanted Christopher to finish his work. Christopher, who is talented in his own right, became his fathers historian and caretaker.

He could have easily sold off the rights, had a ton of crappy movies, books by other authors, comic books- but he didn't.
Instead he released his fathers works that was fascinating for true fans.

He's entitled to his disappointment about what Jackson has done. Jackson took a lot of liberties that changed the meaning of the stories and characters. Christopher T. could have spoken out louder-but he hasn't


He and his family should count their farkin' lucky damned stars that Jackson made some pretty great films. Instead they could have ended up with an "I, Robot" or something.

This says that he doesn't even know what the fark he's talking about any longer:

"They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25," Christopher says regretfully.
 
2013-01-09 07:59:37 PM  

Fano: namatad: "These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime."

so yah, the estate still got screwed by the games played by the studios.

The last film that turned a profit in Hollywood was filmed in 1922.


Yeah. It wasn't Hollywood that screwed him over so much as the crappy lawyers who negotiated the agreement that gave away the film rights. I'll bet dollars to donuts that JRR tried to make do with the family lawyer instead of a specialist.

That said... he whines about how Jackson's work isn't true to the fantasy world his dad created (what film made from The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings could ever be?), and then is apparently bitter at not getting a bigger share of the money the films made. Seems like a bit of a disconnect there.

Also... I think Christopher Tolkein's view of that fantasy world has become so distinctly personal over the course of his life that no one else's vision would ever be adequate. It's a pity he can't step back enough to see that, and accept it.
 
2013-01-09 08:03:43 PM  

Because People in power are Stupid: RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks

He's stupid if he doesn't do this. His father's legacy allows him great fortune he doesn't have to go out the door if he doesn't want to after all: It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.


Frodo sees what you did there.
 
2013-01-09 08:06:34 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.


* internet fistbump*

What Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson did to the "Dune" universe is far worse than anything Christopher Tolkien has done, IMHO.

As for the LOTR films, they aren't perfect, and the sobbing hobbits in the third one really p*ssed me off, but they could have been much worse in the hands of most other Directors...
 
2013-01-09 08:07:13 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.


Have you ever heard of the Royal Family?
 
2013-01-09 08:10:10 PM  

AdolfOliverPanties: Meh.  The guy is a professor in his own right.  He's obviously not a dummy, and if anyone was going to know his father's work, it would be him.  I give him props for not madly trying to profit and for at least trying to maintain what integrity he could in his father's works.

Having said that, I find Tolkien to be about as boring and languid an author as I've ever read.  In opposition to Christopher, I praise Peter Jackson for producing these stories in a tolerable format.


Tolkien was a master fabulist, the imaginary world he created is without parallel for its richness and complexity.  He was not, however, a particularly good STORYTELLER.  It is a good thing the products of  his brilliant imagination are finding their way into the hands of those who can tell an equally great tale
 
2013-01-09 08:10:24 PM  

Lydia_C:

Yeah. It wasn't Hollywood that screwed him over so much as the crappy lawyers who negotiated the agreement that gave away the film rights.


In the end there was a settlement and the studios paid a bit fat pile of cash. The Hobbit license was the leverage that made them settle.
 
2013-01-09 08:14:32 PM  
Christopher Tolkien has not expressed himself in the media for 40 years. No interviews, no announcements, no meetings -- nothing.

This is about as far as I got. He could have gotten ahold of the production team at any time this entire time that they've been making LOTR movies and he chose not to. I'm not about to give his opinion any consideration at this point.
 
2013-01-09 08:24:20 PM  
I can understand Christopher Tolkien's point of view but The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit are filled with many scenes depicting fast paced action and as such it should be no surprise the direction Hollywood took with the films.

That said the films could be truer to the books in places.
/can't speak for the hobbit as i have yet to see it.
 
2013-01-09 08:25:47 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.


End of thread.
 
rka
2013-01-09 08:27:11 PM  

AdolfOliverPanties: If you read the article you saw that millions of copies of his Toklien's books were sold because of the movie.


Maybe 10 of them were actually read cover to cover.
 
2013-01-09 08:28:18 PM  

The My Little Pony Killer: Christopher Tolkien has not expressed himself in the media for 40 years. No interviews, no announcements, no meetings -- nothing.

This is about as far as I got. He could have gotten ahold of the production team at any time this entire time that they've been making LOTR movies and he chose not to. I'm not about to give his opinion any consideration at this point.


What were they supposed to do? Guess what his farking vision of the movies was?

Yeah, Christopher, they should have make them more like Wagnerian operas.
 
rka
2013-01-09 08:30:36 PM  
For all of the stupidity in The Lord of the Rings (dwarf tossing? sliding down stairs on a shield?) they pale in comparison to what Jackson did to the Hobbit.

What a disjointed mess.
 
2013-01-09 08:30:40 PM  

gaspode: Lydia_C:

Yeah. It wasn't Hollywood that screwed him over so much as the crappy lawyers who negotiated the agreement that gave away the film rights.

In the end there was a settlement and the studios paid a bit fat pile of cash. The Hobbit license was the leverage that made them settle.


But New Line already had the rights to The Hobbit, so there was no leverage on that front. It appears that New Line ended up settling just so that the Tolkein Estate would shut up and go away. FTFA:

The frenzy pushed the Tolkien family's lawyers to take another look at their contract, which stipulated that the Tolkien Estate must receive a percentage of the profits if the films were profitable. With the incredible box office figures, the lawyers for the family shook the dust off the contract and demanded their share of the pie from New Line, the American producer of the films, who had bought the movie rights for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. And surprise! Cathleen Blackburn, lawyer for the Tolkien Estate in Oxford, recounts ironically, "These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime."

... The lawyers for the Tolkien Estate, those of the Tolkien Trust, and Tolkien's publisher HarperCollins demanded $150 million in damages, as well as observers' rights on the next adaptations of Tolkien's work. A lawsuit was necessary before an agreement was reached in 2009. The producers paid 7.5% of their profits to the Tolkien Estate, but the lawyer, who refuses to give a number, adds that "it is too early to say how much that will be in the future."

However, the Tolkien Estate cannot do anything about the way New Line adapts the books. ... "We are in the back seat," Cathleen Blackburn comments. In other words, the Estate can do little but watch the scenery, except in extreme cases-- for example, preventing the use of the name Lord of the Rings on Las Vegas slot machines, or for amusement parks. "We were able to prove that nothing in the original contract dealt with that sort of exploitation."

So the Tolkeins and others sued for damages (on what legal grounds?) and the lawsuit came to and end after the producers promised some sort of payout (from what profits?), but I'll guess that the settlement came nowhere near $150M, and may not ever. And the estate *still* has almost no control over what happens next.
 
2013-01-09 08:35:23 PM  

rka: For all of the stupidity in The Lord of the Rings (dwarf tossing? sliding down stairs on a shield?) they pale in comparison to what Jackson did to the Hobbit.

What a disjointed mess.


Apparently you've never actually seen a disjointed mess.
 
rka
2013-01-09 08:37:11 PM  

vrax: rka: For all of the stupidity in The Lord of the Rings (dwarf tossing? sliding down stairs on a shield?) they pale in comparison to what Jackson did to the Hobbit.

What a disjointed mess.

Apparently you've never actually seen a disjointed mess.


vrax: rka: For all of the stupidity in The Lord of the Rings (dwarf tossing? sliding down stairs on a shield?) they pale in comparison to what Jackson did to the Hobbit.

What a disjointed mess.

Apparently you've never actually seen a disjointed mess.


Yes. It cost me $6 for a matinee yesterday and 2:50 minutes of my life.

I read the book in less time and it had an ending.
 
2013-01-09 08:41:46 PM  
Huh an 87 year old hipster, there's something new.
 
2013-01-09 08:43:22 PM  
The whole family whines a lot.

"Oh, bother. These films that have made us even more millions of dollars in books sales are not too our liking."
 
rka
2013-01-09 08:51:41 PM  

gunga galunga: The whole family whines a lot.

"Oh, bother. These films that have made us even more millions of dollars in books sales are not too our liking."


You mock them now, but when Jackson gets his paws on the Children of Hurin rights and turns it into a dance number with the cast of Glee and Justin Beiber you'll be singing a different tune.
 
jvl
2013-01-09 08:59:20 PM  

AdolfOliverPanties: I praise Peter Jackson for producing these stories in a tolerable format.


I have much praise for Jackson.

But the addition of Arwen, Warrior Princess was idiocy, and entirely Jackson's fault.
 
2013-01-09 09:01:47 PM  
The action scenes in the movies are pretty dumb, but Jackson's Return of the King is better compared to other films than Tolkein's is compared to other novels.

Then again, Tolkein has much stiffer competition. If we're going to take him seriously as an author, we have to put him up against guys like Proust, Pynchon, Joyce, and Dostoyevsky, and they all outclass him. Jackson's best can at least be compared with The Godfather, even if it isn't as good.
 
2013-01-09 09:12:54 PM  
There is also the important point that they were in no way forced to ever sign a deal for the books to be made into anything at all other than printed books. The owner of the rights can do as they please, and apparently having movies made pleased them.
 
2013-01-09 09:13:54 PM  

jvl:

But the addition of Arwen, Warrior Princess was idiocy, and entirely Jackson's fault.


Except that part never really made it in did it? They had her come along the road and meet them, but she never did anything warrior-like. They filmed and cut a lot of really stupid shiat though.
 
2013-01-09 09:14:10 PM  
Oh, Chris, you whiny biatch.
 
2013-01-09 09:18:54 PM  

rka: vrax: rka: For all of the stupidity in The Lord of the Rings (dwarf tossing? sliding down stairs on a shield?) they pale in comparison to what Jackson did to the Hobbit.

What a disjointed mess.

Apparently you've never actually seen a disjointed mess.

vrax: rka: For all of the stupidity in The Lord of the Rings (dwarf tossing? sliding down stairs on a shield?) they pale in comparison to what Jackson did to the Hobbit.

What a disjointed mess.

Apparently you've never actually seen a disjointed mess.

Yes. It cost me $6 for a matinee yesterday and 2:50 minutes of my life.

I read the book in less time and it had an ending.


Well, you shouldn't have gone to see it when you were high. Because apparently you were high.
 
2013-01-09 09:19:55 PM  

NetOwl: The action scenes in the movies are pretty dumb, but Jackson's Return of the King is better compared to other films than Tolkein's is compared to other novels.

Then again, Tolkein has much stiffer competition. If we're going to take him seriously as an author, we have to put him up against guys like Proust, Pynchon, Joyce, and Dostoyevsky, and they all outclass him. Jackson's best can at least be compared with The Godfather, even if it isn't as good.


On what grounds can you possibly make these comparisons. These authors were all different men trying to accomplish different things with radically different genres. The same thing goes for comparing LOTR and the godfather. Compare him to other sci-fi and fantasy authors maybe but Proust? Joyce? talk about apples to oranges.
 
2013-01-09 09:22:49 PM  

gaspode: jvl:

But the addition of Arwen, Warrior Princess was idiocy, and entirely Jackson's fault.

Except that part never really made it in did it? They had her come along the road and meet them, but she never did anything warrior-like. They filmed and cut a lot of really stupid shiat though.


There was the part where she found Aragorn and the hobbits after Frodo had been stabbed, and carried him back to Rivendell while outrunning the black riders, ultimately using the river to stop them. In the book, it was Glorfindel who did all that, whereas he was completely absent from the movies.
 
2013-01-09 09:26:15 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.


Christopher Robin Milne
 
2013-01-09 09:27:09 PM  

RexTalionis: Christopher Tolkien has basically made a career out of picking at his father's scraps to make a few bucks. If ever there is a person more apt to be described as "the lesser son of greater sires," than Christopher Tolkien, then I do not know them.

Okay, wait, there's also Brian Herbert.


And Christopher Robin Milne.
 
2013-01-09 09:27:54 PM  

DoBeDoBeDo: Huh an 87 year old hipster, there's something new.


He's actually 88.

I think he ran out of time to produce a sequel.
 
2013-01-09 09:31:05 PM  

Ghastly: But ya doesn't have ta call him Johnson.


Came here to say this, godammitsomuch.
 
2013-01-09 09:31:40 PM  

anfrind: gaspode: jvl:

But the addition of Arwen, Warrior Princess was idiocy, and entirely Jackson's fault.

Except that part never really made it in did it? They had her come along the road and meet them, but she never did anything warrior-like. They filmed and cut a lot of really stupid shiat though.

There was the part where she found Aragorn and the hobbits after Frodo had been stabbed, and carried him back to Rivendell while outrunning the black riders, ultimately using the river to stop them. In the book, it was Glorfindel who did all that, whereas he was completely absent from the movies.


I'm probably going to catch some Tolkien-purist hate, but I think that change on Jackson's part is better than the book...

/ dropping Tom Bombadil was probably a good idea too...
 
2013-01-09 09:32:44 PM  

anfrind: gaspode: jvl:

But the addition of Arwen, Warrior Princess was idiocy, and entirely Jackson's fault.

Except that part never really made it in did it? They had her come along the road and meet them, but she never did anything warrior-like. They filmed and cut a lot of really stupid shiat though.

There was the part where she found Aragorn and the hobbits after Frodo had been stabbed, and carried him back to Rivendell while outrunning the black riders, ultimately using the river to stop them. In the book, it was Glorfindel who did all that, whereas he was completely absent from the movies.


That's the bit I was referring to. I completely understand taking out a confusing and irrelevant character and using it to introduce Arwen a bit earlier, it is not a bad idea and doesn't really mess with the characters much..
 
2013-01-09 09:34:58 PM  

NetOwl: The action scenes in the movies are pretty dumb, but Jackson's Return of the King is better compared to other films than Tolkein's is compared to other novels.

Then again, Tolkein has much stiffer competition. If we're going to take him seriously as an author, we have to put him up against guys like Proust, Pynchon, Joyce, and Dostoyevsky, and they all outclass him. Jackson's best can at least be compared with The Godfather, even if it isn't as good.


I would like for you to expand on this. I like where you are going with this critique,
 
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