|Apr/May 2003 • Miscellaneous|
The ability of a story to so command one's attention as to suspend disbelief is the mark of a good storyteller. On December 19th, 2001, the film adaptation of the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, of J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, premiered worldwide. When I bought my ticket several days later, the queues of people waiting were long. The box office draw for the film was incredible. Tickets had to be purchased hours in advance. Nearly every show sold out that weekend. The cinema in which I experienced Peter Jackson's phantasia of Tolkien's story was crowded and intense. People of all ages were eager to experience this event.
Jackson revived the sleeping world of Middle Earth for a new millennium. I say sleeping, instead of long-dead, because the unfortunate consequence of the change from fanciful childhood to the responsibilities of job-oriented adulthood is that the memories of forays from which I sallied forth into the world of Tolkien were left to hibernate in the deep recesses of the mind. As a child, I read the trilogy proper, The Simarillion, and The Hobbit, taking great delight in forming a mental picture of the Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Men, monsters (Orcs, Goblins, Trolls), and their world-no less hindered by a convenient map of Middle Earth supplied by the author. At an early age, I was surrounded by the archetypes that Tolkien used: the old wiseman, the strong kings and elegant queens, the hideous monsters, and the reluctant hero with whom I most identified at the time. These archetypes helped me connect and identify with people in my life as well as with aspects of myself. Tolkien's characters are individual and unique, yet also universal in a way that allows the reader to recognize their traits, so to speak. It was Carl Jung's premise that humans share a collective unconscious filled with insubstantial images that rely on "objects within the environment [to] provide substance" (Iaccino, p.xii). These objects define an image from the archetype (p.xii). Certainly, there are characteristics that make the hobbit human or at least understandable to us, "if you follow me," (1:10) states Samwise Gamgee. Samwise uses little tags in his speech such as this and "if you catch my meaning." This hobbit equivalent to my father-in-law's "the thing of it is" cuts to the heart of the matter and ensures that the listener takes what the speaker means rather than exactly what the speaker says. When Gandalf returns to Bag End with the distressing news that Bilbo's ring is actually the Ring of Power, Sauron's one Ring, he catches Samwise outside Frodo's window and demands to know what Sam is doing and what Sam has heard. Sam responds with "I was just cutting the grass under the window there, if you follow me" (1:10). Gandalf, certain of ill intent, is too distracted and responds, "a little late to be trimming the verge, isn't it?" (1:10). Jackson seems to imply that Sam wasn't originally spying, rather he used a euphemism that implied that he was relieving himself! Gandalf listened to Sam's words but did not take Sam's inference. Loosely put, the object, in this case Sam's words, gave meaning to the insubstantial image. Sam relied on a cultural reference to urinating, and Gandalf mistook this for spying. Although archetypes are taken from the same insubstantial image, how one interprets the insubstantial relies on objects within the speaker's ken. Tolkien's story has Gandalf tell Frodo about the Ring of Power in the light of day, so naturally, Sam, Frodo's gardener, is outside the window trimming the hedges. Jackson's change is more strategic to the film and more dramatic, but it does change the meaning behind the words.
Jackson's Sam, like Tolkien's, transcends the boundaries of character to become something more. Sam is the archetypal side-kick. He is stalwart and steadfast—the marks of a true friend. Samwise keeps to Frodo out of loyalty, risking death on several occasions, and in this master-servant relationship, he is more than a mimesis, he is a phantasia, a figure that transcends the servant archetype to become a friend, as well.
In the article, 'Discovering the imagination: Platonists and Stoics on phantasia,' Watson states that it was Philostratus (A.D. 170-250) who first put forth the idea that "[p]hantasia is a more skilled craftsman than mimesis" (Dillon, p.211). Watson believes that "the power of phantasia, which is a higher one than that of mimesis, creates what the eye has never seen but the mind has conceived" (Dillon, p.211). Taking this dialectic and applying it to Jackson's translation of Tolkien's first portion is quite simple. Jackson wanted to stay true to the world of Middle Earth. One reason he states is that by keeping to Tolkien's scenery, Jackson felt that fans of Tolkien would forgive the changes he made to the story. The second reason the director gives is that whenever the filming strayed too far from the original, he found himself going back to the story to right things. For many, Jackson took the characters and land of Middle Earth and expressed a visual representation of what his mind's eye conceived. He most certainly relied on pictures that had been drawn towards the same purpose, since he employed Alan Lee, especially towards location, but the medium of film takes the idea of phantasia one step further. He did not merely copy; he created something else.
Jackson's main character, Frodo Baggins, for example, is a synthesis of Tolkien's words and the director's vision-a character unto himself and quite apart from either. Frodo answers the "call to adventure" (Campbell, p.58) twice: once when it is clear that the Ring cannot stay in the Shire and again at Elrond's counsel. Although Joseph Campbell's archetypal hero refuses the call, Frodo does not. He does state, "I wish the ring had never come to me" (2:34), indicating his desire to be rid of the whole burden. Jackson's Frodo takes upon himself the quest while not knowing how to complete it. He is the reluctant hero. Frodo desires to live safely in his hobbit hole, but the pull to rid the world of evil is greater than one hobbit's desire. Through him, we, as the audience, can yearn for home, suffer adventure, and triumph in a just cause. What a wondrous thing to be a part of.
However, it is with the "protective figure (often a […]old man)" (Campbell, p.69), Gandalf in this case, that Frodo can feel confident. This figure "suppl[ies] the […] advice that the hero will require" (p.72). In the extended version of Jackson's film, as the Fellowship leaves Imladris, Frodo whispers, "Mordor, Gandalf, is it left or right?" (2:30) to which Gandalf replies, "left" (ibid). It is not until Gandalf allows the Ringbearer to decide the fate of the fellowship, that they go under the mountain of Caradhras and into the Mines of Moria, to Gandalf's doom. Tolkien has Aragorn warn Gandalf of his impending doom, but that actually blurs the roles of the characters. Jackson, on the other hand, has Gandalf fear the mines because of rumours of the creature that the dwarves awoke with their digging. This helps keep Gandalf as the wiseman and acknowledged leader of the Fellowship. Like Jackson's other characters, his Gandalf is equal parts-Tolkien's and the director's cinematic sensibilities.
Film, in our society, branches out and forms a lush canopy between literature and static painting by moving beyond what Apollonius considered the "plastic representations" to an "exaltation of the mental vision" (Dillon, p.210). From reading Tolkien, Jackson had a mental vision of Middle Earth, its peoples and their struggles, that he transformed from the insubstantial images in his mind's eye to become the substantial object, in this case, the film that premiered in 2001. However, he did not merely film what Tolkien wrote because Jackson's mind's eye translated the images. And as with all translations, certain gains and losses are to be expected.
Jackson's monsters are far more terrifying than Tolkien's were. The Ring wraiths, the Nazgul, in Tolkien's story were hunters in black. They dogged the Hobbits, but they also spoke to others, trying to glean where Frodo Baggins went. In the theatrical version, Jackson's Nazgul are riders in black, but they do not talk as much as hiss. The screeching noises they make send shivers down the spine. They are completely shrouded in black, and the horses they ride have shoes nailed and twisted through the hooves.
Jackson wanted to make the film and make the monsters a strong part of it. For the entire three plus hours, I watched, mesmerized by the events unfolding upon the big screen. Judging from the vantage point of the ego, I reasoned that intellectually I was spot on; there was a validation that I had understood what Tolkien was saying. Jackson validated my fertile imagination, reinforcing the idea that what I had pictured was in some way archetypal. Grey-bearded Gandalf, innocent Frodo & his youthful hobbit companions, nimble Legolas, stoic Gimli, evil Sauraman, his breed of Uruk-Hai, and frightful Ringwraiths were each infused with life-they were real creatures in my mind. Their appearances and mannerisms on the screen almost mirrored those of my mind's eye. The literary heritage supported the intellectual rationale behind my love of the film but also summoned the dialectic between writer, text, and reader. Tolkien was a brilliant scholar who immersed himself in the study of languages. He created languages for the peoples of Middle Earth outside the "common speech" (Duriez, p.107) or English. Concerning this, Jackson didn't miss a beat, employing a Tolkien scholar, as well as dialect coaches, thus authenticating the peoples of Middle Earth by validating their reality. There are differences in dialects between hobbits that all lived in Hobbiton. Yet, this can be intellectually reconciled through the knowledge that Took, Brandybuck, and Baggins families did not come from the same part of the Shire, much in the same way that England has a myriad of different dialects dependant solely upon the shire from where one hails. While the characters do not strictly adhere to Tolkien's story, especially where words of one character are given to another, in essence, they are true.
One of the more notable changes comes in the portrayal of Arwen. Jackson opted for the daughter of Elrond, instead of Tolkien's choice, Glorfindel, to rescue Frodo from the Nine Riders, the Nazgul. Arwen is at once a feminine beauty and a strong character. Her white steed is reminiscent of Nahar, the swift great steed of Orome (Silmarillion, p.22). The white steed has many symbolic references, but the strongest is that of virtue. By using Arwen in place of Glorfindel, Jackson gave a female a much larger role in the story than was previously devised by Tolkien. Again, this was a conscious choice, but a natural one, relying on a different view of the people of Middle Earth than Tolkien had. However, this change isn't the same as colorizing a black and white film or replacing guns with walkie-talkies-this change is recognition that the feminine archetype, who is fractured into mother or harlot, among other guises, can be whole. She is eclectic in the sense that she encompasses many aspects of the feminine archetype. She can be the warrior who defends herself and those under her care without going the route of Atalanta. She does not need to remain chaste to command a power traditionally associated with the masculine. Arwen is the great-great-granddaughter of Luthien Tinuviel, told in the 'Quenta Silmarillion' to be the most beautiful she-elf that ever lived and died, but Arwen's ancestry is not what makes her so fascinating in Jackson's film. What creates fascination is the idea that a woman could tell a man, "I'm the faster rider-I'll take him" (1:21), take control of a situation, and yet retain a relationship with that man. She also tells Aragorn, "I do not fear them" (1:21). Patrick Grant, in his article "Tolkien: Archetype and Word," claims is the Jungian complete self or syzygy-the anima and animus making one whole by balancing each other (p.95). Although this may be the case in Tolkien's story, Jackson seems to understand that his audience expects that women are able to be strong; they can be warriors. Therefore, it is more than the mere balancing Jung's anima and animus; Jackson shows that Arwen is a warrior and is not simply giving in to the animus, nor does she need someone else to complete her strength. She does not allow Aragorn to take control. To belittle this triumph by saying that it was a nod to political correctness is almost unforgivable-to hear it from a woman, no less, is quite disconcerting.
Peter Jackson's other films should stand as a testament that he is a non-conformist, and certainly with "Meet the Feables," he is not worried about being politically correct. His idea to strengthen Arwen was mostly driven by the film genre. It is accepted that in an action film, such as LotR, a love interest is required. Tolkien gave one in this volume: Arwen and Aragorn, but to work smoothly in Jackson's film, Arwen needed a stronger role-so she finds Aragorn and the Hobbits in the woods, saves Frodo from the Nazgul, and takes him to Rivendell. What is special here is the underlying sentiment. Jackson subconsciously echoes Galadriel's words to Frodo that even the smallest character can have a profound effect.
On the other hand, Jackson did leave the encounter in Lothlorien mostly intact, but severely truncated the struggle of Galadriel. Galadriel does struggle with an inner desire to wear the Ring. She whispers:
You offer it to me freely. I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired this. In place of a Dark Lord, you would have a Queen, not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn, treacherous as the Sea, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love me and despair! (2:39).
She faces the shadow, becomes it for a few terrifying moments, and defeats it, as is the case in the original story. This is one of the instances where Jackson kept strictly to Tolkien, so naturally, it mimics the Jungian influences of Tolkien along the lines of a Christian view of the shadow. Galadriel defeats her shadow and states that she has "passed the test" (2:39). From a pagan standpoint in the struggle with the "shadow self" (Conway, p.161), Galadriel acknowledges that due to overcoming this shadow self, she will now, "diminish and go into the west and remain Galadriel" (2:39). The shadow self is a necessary part of the whole self. From a Christian standpoint, the evil that is inherent in the shadow self must be destroyed. However, from a pagan view, the shadow self must be recognized, dealt with, and incorporated into the self to be whole. An uneasy alliance must be made because denying the shadow self is giving it greater power, but to understand it is to lessen its power. Galadriel has kept secret her desire to possess the Ring, thus giving her shadow strength, so that a final conflict must take place. When Frodo offers her the Ring, Galadriel must struggle with the force of her desire. To destroy the shadow self is the ultimate destruction of the whole self. Through Galadriel stating, "I will now diminish" and go the way of the setting sun, "west" (2:39), we can see that although she remains Galadriel, her power has diminished, and she can remain the Sorceress of the Lothlorien no longer. She is not in balance because she has destroyed the shadow self. As far as the shadow that Jung speaks about is concerned, the shadow is what Galadriel fights. She becomes her darker self that wishes to rule and be desired, but overcomes this self and thereby destroys it, rather than incorporates it into herself. The destruction of this shadow self makes it impossible for her to continue to exist as she has done for three ages of Middle Earth.
However, Arwen is a whole self-she is a liminal figure that can be the image that Jackson has of her. She can save Frodo without following the strict Jungian archetype that Tolkien portrayed. This minor change has major repercussions for the audience viewing the film. This was a good choice, but to use a liminal figure to save Frodo has stronger implications. The main implication is that, again, one cannot succeed alone. Arwen contains more inside than what the other elves have. She is not fully elfin, nor is she fully human, she marries the best of both in the struggles to overcome evil, and this is an advantage. Whereas for Elrond, the struggle is not his this time nor is it the elves. The Elves still care for Middle Earth, but they are in the Twilight of their years. Elrond tells Gandalf "my people are leaving these shores" (2:24). They have no more ties to the land, but are still sad of its struggle. The elves cannot continue to fight the long defeat that Galadriel claims the fight against Morgoth is. Arwen does not seem to share this vision. Jackson's Arwen can reconcile the need to nurture and the need to destroy and she is all too aware of her limitations. She finds Frodo and tries to save him, but realizes that she needs the help of Elron, reinforcing the theme that no one can do it alone. She rides swiftly to Imladris to her father's house all the while hunted down by the Nazgul. At the Ford of Rivendell, Arwen rears up her horse and issues the challenge, "if you want him, come and claim him!" (2:21). Then she calls up the most female of symbols, the water, to stop the Nazgul from crossing. Arwen's strength comes from the use of the shadow self's ability to destroy, where her natural instinct is to preserve. This is, strictly speaking, a departure from Tolkien proper, but it is appropriate for a cinematic treatment which becomes quite clear in Jackson's theatrical release.
Another of these departures from Tolkien concerns Jackson's treatment of the effect that the creation, loss, and re-emergence of the One Ring has had on Middle Earth. By its creation, the delicate balance of good and evil was upset. Jackson gives the last alliance of men and elves in flashback from Elrond when responding to Gandalf's claim that they will rely on the strength of Men. In reference to Bilbo's ring, Gandalf states, "there are many magic rings in this world, and none of them are to be used lightly" (1:6). What Gandalf claims is what most pagans in the world believe-magic is not to be used lightly. The common misconception among non-pagans is that all magic is evil. Magic is certainly a power, but more a tool, if you will. It is not a toy to be played with, any more than a gun is a toy. But in this, magic is very like a gun, because a gun is neither good nor evil; it is a tool. The wielder is solely responsible for the use of the tool towards good or evil purposes. Jackson, like Tolkien, has this implicit message in the film. When Bilbo uses the Ring, it is fun. Bilbo places it on his finger and disappears. The camera follows the invisible hobbit into Bag-End, where Bilbo then removes the Ring with a chuckle and snaps it up into the air as if it were a lucky penny. This simple scene shows that, to Bilbo, the Ring is a mere gimmick. We do not experience the scary shadow world of the Ringwraiths with Bilbo that we do when Frodo puts on the Ring. The Ring is not something evil at this moment, but it is a convenient tool for Bilbo to escape from the party in a flamboyant manner. Bilbo even says, "did you see their faces? […] it was just a bit of fun" (1:6). We know, of course, that the Ring is not fun. It is not a convenience and it is not lucky. It is, however, "precious." In fact, it is referred to by several as "my precious," because power is precious. The insidious creature Sauron, who forged the one Ring, bent it to his evil will. Although Gandalf realizes this, it is quite clear at the Counsel that Boromir does not. "It is a gift. A gift to the foes of Mordor" (1:27). He is wrong, because this Ring, in particular, is an evil power due to the original wielder. It is not simply a tool. It was created for controlling the other powerful rings given to the dwarf lords, Elves immortal, and the race of men. In the extended version, Jackson made the power of the Ring even clearer.
As far as archetypes are concerned, Boromir presents a dilemma. He is a steward of Gondor, he attends the counsel and pleas for help from invading armies, and he has the will of a warrior. And yet, Boromir is man. He is not Dunedain, like Aragorn. Boromir has desires, his judgment becomes clouded, and he dies heroically defending Merry and Pippin against the insurmountable armies of Orcs. In Understanding Tolkien, William Ready states that "[t]he decision to struggle on when defeat seems inevitable is the true glory of Man [a] great Norse ideal." (57). Boromir seems to sum up what is best and what is worst in us; he is Jackson's most eclectic figure. He represents mankind-our hopes to be the best that we can be, our failure to rise above our desires, and in the end, our ability to do the right thing, even if that entails death.
In a world where we are increasingly distancing ourselves from each other via the Internet, the need to reach out from the self and connect with others-the basic realization of our existence-has suffered. Jackson's film shows that one person cannot survive alone. Jackson kept with the spirit of Tolkien and enacts a battle between Gandalf and a balrog. Both characters are Maiar, but serve with different intents. Where Gandalf helps, the balrog destroys. They engage in an archetypal battle from which neither is immediately victorious. In the pagan sense, the two have cancelled each other out. We know that later Gandalf does return, but he has changed and is no longer simply the old wiseman. In the Christian sense, a sacrifice was made so that the others may continue on. One death to save many, as was Jesus' intent, but strangely, Gandalf does not fall, he releases his hold. This is a deliberate act and Jackson, again, points toward a pagan view of sacrifice. Gandalf is not the Christ figure who resigns himself to torture and crucifixion, he is the wiseman, or sorcerer, who knows that he must pay for his own mistake of not being careful. He did not watch as the balrog fell; he turned his back to it. This crucial mistake cost Gandalf his life, but he did not want it to cost others as well, and thus he let go of the cliff. He sacrificed himself because the others would not have left, and Gandalf knew that the need to get the ring safely through Moria was the ultimate goal. If there had been hope of rescue, then the company would've stayed at great risk to save Gandalf. The wise decision was to erase the hope, which he did by letting go. Jackson claims to have used Tolkien, himself, in his portrayal of Gandalf. Jackson's Gandalf is more human than supernatural being-a greater distinction in this world of supernatural beings. Where in the original, Gandalf, laughing at his own folly of seeking a deeper meaning where none exists, solves what is now considered a riddle, rather than an entreaty or welcome, Jackson has Frodo actually answer the "riddle" of the Gates of Moria. Gandalf failure to open the Gates through his immense experience and knowledge gives him a humanness with which we can identify. This is Jackson's great strength-to make remote characters familiar.
Throughout his film, prejudices are uncovered, desires surface, and true inner strengths are shown. The battle of good and evil is ever constant, but the joining of different peoples who can overcome their instincts and long-held beliefs is a hope that is universal in our society. It seems that the changes made to the story only disappoint when a false or incomplete idea is shown. The director was quite careful in his editing so those encounters with Tom Bombadil that are not in the film are not missed in the continuity of the story. Where Jackson falls somewhat short is in the portrayal of the prejudices between the Elves and the Dwarves in the theatrical release. A small portion of this animosity is evident when the fellowship is still in the counsel stage at Elrond's home in the city of Imladris in Rivendell. Gimli roars, "I will be dead before I see the Ring in the hands of an Elf. Never trust an Elf!" (1:27). The scene erupts into heated arguments between all members of the counsel, but it is the animosity between the dwarves and elves that led the arguing. Another quick instant where an interaction between dwarf and elf seems to hint at more than what is shown is when the band crosses the bridge in Khazad-dum. Gimli jumps from one landing to the next and is saved only by Legolas who quickly grabs Gimli's beard to stop Gimli from falling. Strategically, it is Legolas who grabs Gimli and saves him. The next time Jackson demonstrates an interaction between dwarf and elf is at the borders of Lothlorien. Haldir states, "A dwarf breaths so loudly we could've shot him in the dark" (2:37). The tables have turned it seems, but unfortunately in the theatrical release, there are no scenes of Gimli inside Lothlorien or having further contact with any elves, save Legolas.
In the original work, upon reaching the border woods of Lothlorien, Haldir explains that Gimli must be blindfolded, because dwarves are not trusted or allowed into the woods of Lothlorien. As a show of solidarity, Aragorn insists that all of the fellowship must be blindfolded, and Legolas is the only one who protests, but eventually allows himself to be thus bound, as well. When Gimli is brought before Celeborn and Galadriel, the Lord and Lady, he is first met with prejudice, but the Lady sees into his heart and quiets the harsh words of Celeborn. She allows all to ask one gift of her for their journey. With great embarrassment, Gimli requests a lock of Galadriel's hair. Although this outrages the other elves, Galadriel grants his wish after asking why. His response is as gallant and courtly as a dwarf can be. It is this give and take that shows understanding, compassion, tolerance and possibly forgiveness. Gimli stalwartly defends the Lady Galadriel's honour when he perceives that it is not respected by the Men of Rohan. From that point onwards, in the original, Legolas and Gimli become friends.
However, in Jackson's cinema-released version, Gimli is not seen in Lothlorien, only leaving it. After Frodo and Sam abandon the fellowship, Jackson shows Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pledging to keep true to each other and the ideal behind the quest. From the standpoint of what the movie shows, the idea that prejudice and hatred between peoples can be so easily smoothed over, is somewhat disconcerting. Unless one has read The Lord of the Rings, it would seem as if this holds true. Would that in real life we could so easily overcome our differences and accept one another for who we are! Yet, this is but a small picture in the larger scope of the story. Evil must be destroyed that the free peoples of Middle Earth may yet remain so. Jackson was doing what he could to reconcile Tolkien's text with the medium of film. In this sense, he married the best of both, through an idealized version of the events described by Tolkien, into an eclectic amalgam of archetypes.
In the extended version available on DVD, Jackson did flash several times to the elves' condescension to Gimli. Aside from the counsel scene, when searching for the Gate to Moria, Gimli proudly states, "dwarf doors are invisible when closed" (2:33). Gandalf adds, "their own masters cannot find them if their secrets are forgotten," to which Legolas sneers, "why does that not surprise me?" (2:33). Before entering Caras Galadhon and after Haldir's initial comment, Haldir is reluctant to allow the fellowship to enter the woods of the Lady. He tells Gimli, "we have not had dealings with the dwarves since the dark days" to which Gimli replies, "and you know what this dwarf has to say to that..." (2:37). After Gimli spits something in dwarvish, Aragron tells him, "that was not so courteous" (ibid). And finally, when the remaining Fellowship meet with Celeborn and Galadriel, Legolas tells them that Gandalf's death was needless because they had passed through the mines of Moria, clearly dwarf mines. The animosity is most clear, and Gimli, too, feels Gandalf's death was somehow his fault, because he bows his head at Legolas' words. Not until after the remaining Fellowship leave Lothlorien do Legolas and Gimli become friends. In flashback, Galadriel asks what gift each would have her give them. Gimli shyly says "nothing, except to look upon the Lady of Galadriel one last time, for she is more fair than all the jewels beneath the earth" (2:41). He then asks for a strand of her hair and she gives three. After relating this to Legolas while navigating the Anduin in their boat, Legolas smiles. The path towards tolerance and acceptance, shown in the extended version, gives us hope but with the knowledge that it isn't a short path.
Although Director Jackson indicated a worry that his films would disappoint the avid Tolkien reader, he was true to the essence of the story that Tolkien wrote. He reinforced the creations that Tolkien painted in my mind nearly thirty year ago. Friends that are Tolkien readers have been just as enthusiastic as I was after seeing the cinematic translation-wishing only to be transported again to the incredible realm of Middle Earth. However, there are some whose first instinct upon hearing that Jackson had changed Tolkien's story is to assume that these changes were made simply to suit a politically correct atmosphere, but they are building on a false premise. Jackson is not Tolkien. Certainly he based his film on Tolkien's story, but Jackson wasn't mimicing, he was creating. In this instance, Tolkien would've been pleased. The genius of Tolkien, translated from dusty old professor's notes to the novel, moved beyond the written word to become a media event. Intellectually isn't this what every writer would want-to be able to span time, place, and medium? Tolkien paved the way for science fiction and fantasy writers, created worlds for gamers, and spawned computer and video games. As a twenty-first century writer, I am under no illusion that I am free from influence. I played and still play Angband and Moria, more for the fact that the game is a wonderful collection of symbols. In my mind's eye, the lowercase p that indicates my character is actually an eighteenth level thaumaturg or mage with long green robes, a sparkling personality, and several magic items and artefacts. This game simulates the insubstantial image from which objects within my environment make substantial. My writing has been heavily influenced by the mythic and the fantastic, and for this, I thank Tolkien, as well. Jackson states that he was a Tolkien fan and harboured a secret desire to make a film that could express the images that Tolkien created in his mind many years ago. This would be possible only if he found the right time and place to do so.
In this, he has succeeded. Peter Jackson's film version of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring cannot help but be both part and not part of the original. The changes that Jackson made created something more than Tolkien may have intended. The dialectic between writer, text and reader hopes that the best that a writer can expect from a reader is that the reader will actually understand the importance of the text. Jackson keeps true to the essence of the story. He portrays the Fellowship's struggles on the anti-quest to destroy the Ring, but he does it in such a way that the characters involved in this anti-quest: Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf are more than a mere mimesis of the characters that Tolkien created-they are a phantasia from the mind of Peter Jackson. Whether or not we can appreciate the changes is incidental. Why wonder what future generations will think about what Jackson did, anymore than Tolkien would've worried what future generation would think about his novel. What is significant is the idea that one needs not mimic verbatim to apply the archetypes. Jackson created something that combines the best examples from Tolkien and then added or changed certain scenes to encompass the images in his mind's eye. By doing this, Jackson has given a voice to the essence that Tolkien wrote. In the words of Galadriel, "History became legend, legend became myth," (1:1) and Jackson revived the myth and legitimatized the story for a new generation of moviegoers.
Harold Bloom, Ed., Modern Critical Interpretations: J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, (Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000).
Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, (New York: Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1968), p. 58, 69, 72.
Joseph Campbell, Ed., The Portable Jung, trans. R. F. C. Hull, (New York: Penguin Books, 1978), pp. 144-155.
Jane Chance, The Lord of the Rings: the Mythology of Power, rev. ed., (Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2001).
D. J. Conway, By Oak, Ash, and Thorn: Modern Celtic Shamanism, (St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2001), p. 161.
John M. Dillon and A. A. Long, Eds., The Question of "Eclecticism: Studies in Later Greek Philosophy, (Berkeley: U of CA Press, 1988), p.210, p.221.
Colin Duriez, Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings: Guide to Middle Earth, (London, Hidden Spring, 2001), p. 107.
Christopher R. Fee with David A. Leeming, Gods, Heroes, and Kings: the Battle for Mythic Britain, (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001).
The Fellowship of the Ring, Dir. Peter Jackson, DVD, New Line Home Entertainment, Inc., 2001, disc 1:1,6,10,21,24,27, disc 2:30,33-4,37-9,41.
Patrick Grant, "Tolkien: Archetype and Word," in Tolkien: New Critical Perspectives, Eds., Neil D. Isaacs and Rose A. Zimbardo, (Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1981), p. 95.
James F. Iaccino, Jungian Reflections within the Cinema: A Psychological Analysis of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Archetypes, (Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1998), p. xii.
Jolande Jacobi, Complex, Archetype, Symbol: in the psychology of C G Jung, trans. Ralph Manheim, (New York: Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1959).
William Ready, Understanding Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings, (New York: Warner Books, 1976), p. 57.
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