Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.

Friday, February 13, 2004  

Forest And Trees Department: The human heart has a seemingly endless capacity for self-deception. We seem to be able to stare the truth down at point-blank range for months or even years at a time and not admit to ourselves or to others what it really is.

Take, for example, the cast and crew of the movie trilogy based on JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson and crew have done a remarkable job of adapting the professor's work to the screen. In my opinion, they've managed to keep true to the spirit of the book (for the most part, anyway; I have some quibbles, but that's all they are-quibbles).

Despite the quality of the product, however, some of them apparently haven't a clue as to what Tolkien was really writing about, judging from Megan Basham's report "Tolkien v. Jackson," over at Boundless.

For example:

Asked specifically about the religious elements in the trilogy, actor Orlando Bloom (Legolas) made a vague reference to an awareness of the "spirit" and "energy" that defined Tolkien's writing. Further pressed to define that "spirit," he seemed to strain for words, speaking once again about the film and his own experience rather than the book in question: "It's very positive. … It's about a group of strangers, of mixed races, putting aside all of their … differences to come together to make a difference. … And New Zealand, which is a classless society in many respects … that we were all treated with equality there had an effect on us when making this film. … "
Did he even read the books? Nothing in that response leads me to believe he did.
Actor Ian McKellan took a different tack on the question of the books' religion altogether, refusing even to acknowledge that there are any Christian undertones in the them. Flying in the face of Tolkien's own assessment, McKellan stated, "I wouldn't say there's an appeal in this story to any particular set of beliefs… I note with delight that Hobbiton is a community without a church. … There is no set of beliefs in this story, no credo."
And there are no homosexuals in the book, either. Right Ian? So what ridiculous conclusions should we make from that factoid?

Viggo Mortensen has already demonstrated that he can only recite the same old tired twaddle when it comes to politics, thus, his statements weren't surprising in the least.
Though he played Aragorn, great warrior and defender against monstrous evil on screen, Viggo Mortensen the actor was reluctant to pass value judgments, or even admit that the trilogy does so: "It's [The Lord of the Rings] not necessarily promoting one particular philosophy … but saying that if you accept that there are differences in the world and are prepared to embrace those differences, to approach the world in a positive, loving way, you may actually be able to change the nature of the human race." One wonders how the Fellowship would have fared had they simply "accepted" and "embraced" the Orcs "differences."
Don't you know? We simply must show the Orcs and Sauron that we just want to get along with them.

It's not clear from Basham's report whether John Rhys-Davies was present at this press event. But judging from some things he's said that have been reported in other venues, I think there's a strong possibility his answers might have differed from his co-stars.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:47 PM
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