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  1. #1
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    Why there's no "Silmarillion" movie until 2043

    I found a couple of interviews which might shed some light over this altogether...

    First off, from Christopher Tolkien's interview from Le Monde:

    Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? "They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25," Christopher says regretfully. "And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film."

    This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. "Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time," Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. "The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away."
    Also, Philippa Boyens' interview from Movieline:

    By the end of the interview, she had us referring to Tolkien as Professor too, as she discussed the changes and adaptations she and her writing partners made to the text, the sad story of Balin the Dwarf, why fans should be very, very excited for 2043, when the copyright runs out on Tolkien's Middle-Earth compendium, The Silmarillion, and more.

    ...

    Q: I have some good news for you. I looked, on the schedule. There's no movie coming out December 2043.

    A: (Intense laughter)

    Q: Don't pretend you don’t know where I'm going –

    A: I'll be 80-something. I'll be 80 and somebody else will be doing it. That was really hard I have to say, that I couldn't go back there. [There are] extraordinary pieces of writing, extraordinary pieces of the puzzle in The Silmarillion. And we couldn't go near it. I haven't read it for 25 years. I just can't afford to have it in my head because we don't have any of the rights. And also it will just break my heart. I had to let it go.
    My reaction? To be honest, relieved. I already have my own images of the book that I want to keep.

    Hasn't read Silmarillion for 25 years and won't? That explains if some changes in the movies are wrong - how can you fully understand Tolkien's stories, if you don't understand Silmarillion? This makes Philippa as a questionable "Tolkien expert" in my eyes. And Jackson's interests are much more cinematic, those of a director I deem.
    'There now the numbers of Eldar increase,' Voronwë said, 'for ever more flee thither of either kin from the fear of Morgoth, weary of war.'

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  2. #2
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    I have nothing good to say about Peter Jackson's moviemaking lately other than that he can make entertainment. Light and fluffy but mostly entertaining. This sells. He has no fixed goal from the investors who make the movies happen, other than to sell and sell well. Preservation of some sort of Tolkien legacy is not part of the agenda.

    Blatant alterations, omissions, extra storylines out of the blue and downright misunderstanding of the Tolkien text was bound to happen, and it did.

    Not a bad thing from a money-making point of view but not so good from the viewpoint of someone like me who is obsessing over the original written content. It's entertaining but it's not Tolkien. That's OK.

  3. #3
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    Christopher Tolkien's attitude is understandable given his personal connection to the literature. That doesn't mean I don't think he's being unreasonable though.

    As far as the Sil goes, I don't think it's well suited to a movie adaptation anyways. A TV series, perhaps, would work better. I'll be interested to see what's done with it, if I'm even still alive by that time.

    Not going into the whole Peter Jackson films debate. We've had about a billion of them, and nobody is going to budge from their viewpoint. I like them, I think they did a good job of conveying the spirit of the books, that's as far as I care about it.
    Last edited by Nyrion; Dec 23 2012 at 12:20 PM.
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  4. #4
    I was also somewhat relieved that it will be a long time, however there's so many stories in the Silmarillion, which ones would they choose anyway? Luthien and Beren would probably suit itself quite well to a film, but the Children of Hurin would have to be altered significantly (I can't see them allowing incest on screen somehow!)
    A lot of the others are rather too 'Biblicalesque', I don't think the story of creation would make a particularly enthralling cinema visit, however much I might like reading it... Fëanor and his sons might work, but it would be very long.
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  5. #5
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    I think if it was ever done it would be done in Star Wars format, maybe five or six films long to get it all in.

    The only problem with that would be the sheer amount of detail and dialogue that would need to be made up, the book only being sufficient as a framework to build around.
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  6. #6
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    Personally, I think the majority of it is unfilmable. Outright mythology tends to look naff on screen (so forget any scene involving Valinor or any of the Valar other than Morgoth) and elsewhere there are just too many Elves. I reckon they'd need to pick a tale with a sympathetic (i.e. human) hero, with the best candidate being 'Of Beren and Luthien' because that's got all the right ingredients for an epic, even a happy ending. As for the next most obvious alternative (the tale of Turin), as someone already pointed out they couldn't do real justice to it because the central tragedy would be too dark and disturbing for a mass audience.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macroscian View Post
    Not a bad thing from a money-making point of view but not so good from the viewpoint of someone like me who is obsessing over the original written content. It's entertaining but it's not Tolkien. That's OK.
    I agree with you on this one, but that's because it ws never meant to be Tolkien, it was Jackson, who took the stories of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, and created his own movies out of it, and i think he did a great job so far.

    Also, if the Silmarillion is ever made into movies or a TV-series, I think they should start from the beginning of Middle-Earth, with the Books of Lost Tales, in a TV-series, and then make (a) movie(s) of the Quenta Silmarillion. And I wouldn't mind Peter Jackson doing it. Hey may not always stay true to the original lore, but I really like how he has given his own twist to the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Except for the elves in Helm's Deep. I hate that.

    So I think, after the Hobbit Trilogy, it shoulb be laid to rest for at least another 10 years, and then see if anyone is willing to make an attempt to film the remaning lore in Tolkien's universe.
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  8. #8
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    I believe they'd need far more than 10 years though. The Silmarillion would really have to be split into many many movies. The Silmarillion is a History, a compilation of Tales. We have stories like Beren and Luthien's, Túrin's (and by extension, Húrin, Morwen and Niënor's), Tuor's, the Nauglamír and Doriath's fall, and Eärendil's voyages and the fall of Arvernien; Each of these should be a seperate movie if they wish to preserve everything. In between those, there would be stories of many different battles, a whole load of stuff before Beren and Lúthien which has the potential for another two movies (i suppose it would be from the awakening of the Elves to the Flight of the Noldor, and the second would be from there till after the Bragollach), the War of Wrath, yet another movie (it spanned over more than 40 years if I remember correctly), Akallabêth, another movie (seeing as how there are so many events, Aldarion and Erendis, Tar-Minastir's fleet, the forging of the Rings of Power which happened at the same time). In fact, Aldarion and Erendis might even be its own movie. The Ainulindalë is kind of short, I don't believe that the movie would last more than an hour and a half, were we to start at the beginning and end off just before the elves awake. I don't think they should make that though, what with showing Ilúvatar and all. But if you round up just how much stuff there is, you'll see that there could and SHOULD be around 10 LOTR-lenth movies. And if you wonder how that's possible, remember that movies are not a narration. In the Silmarillion, before Beren and Lúthien there isn't much in the way of actual written dialogue, but in the movie they will HAVE to be present. Bilbo wrote the Silmarillion, he would only have access to such dialogue as was chosen to be recorded in the histories - there is not much in that apart from Túrin's story and Beren and Luthien's. But it is not as though no one spoke before that. There would have been a lot of dialogue- maybe not recorded in the Silmarillion, but it would have been present. I could give the example of the conversation between Andreth and Finrod one night. It is such a powerful and beautiful piece, and would be around an hour were it to be shown in the movie. There are plenty of conversations that simply can not be skipped, even if they were not present in the book. So really, the Silmarillion can never be made into a movie. it is a depressing realization, but it's the reality. Maybe we could have a TV series- but again, it would be EXTREMELY long.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReallyFat View Post
    So really, the Silmarillion can never be made into a movie. it is a depressing realization, but it's the reality. Maybe we could have a TV series- but again, it would be EXTREMELY long.
    Think back to when people used to make movies based on something from the Old Testament - they only ever filmed a bit at a time, like the tale of Samson (Samson and Delilah), or Moses (The Ten Commandments), and the same principle could readily be applied to the Sil. Apart from the creation itself, which is completely unfilmable, outright mythology looks hokey on the screen so it'd actually be best to leave the Valar unseen. There are tales which are self-contained, forming a discrete and epic narrative in themselves - Beren and Luthien is one, the tale of Turin another - and those could, in principle, be filmed (although the tale of Turin would end up so dark and grim that it's hard to imagine the mass audience taking to it). Much of the rest suffers from the problem of being mostly about Elves (audience problems again) or taking place over extended periods of time, so again pretty much unfilmable. You could get a solid trilogy out of it, though (with the remaining one being the Fall of Gondolin, as that has Hurin in it and so the tale could be told from his perspective and that'd be as epic as anyone could wish for, cast of thousands and all that).

    Got to think out of the box a bit. Still, ain't gonna happen before 2043 at the earliest by which time I'd be an old git, if I'm still here at all so I can't say I'm fussed about it

  10. #10
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    The Fall of Gondolin would have to be from Tuor's POV, not Húrin's- he had killed himself many years before
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macroscian View Post
    I have nothing good to say about Peter Jackson's moviemaking lately other than that he can make entertainment. Light and fluffy but mostly entertaining. This sells. He has no fixed goal from the investors who make the movies happen, other than to sell and sell well. Preservation of some sort of Tolkien legacy is not part of the agenda.

    Blatant alterations, omissions, extra storylines out of the blue and downright misunderstanding of the Tolkien text was bound to happen, and it did.

    Not a bad thing from a money-making point of view but not so good from the viewpoint of someone like me who is obsessing over the original written content. It's entertaining but it's not Tolkien. That's OK.
    I don't think what Tolkien was aiming for when he wrote The Lord of the Rings was so far from 'entertainment.'

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Lindaelle View Post
    Hasn't read Silmarillion for 25 years and won't? That explains if some changes in the movies are wrong - how can you fully understand Tolkien's stories, if you don't understand Silmarillion? This makes Philippa as a questionable "Tolkien expert" in my eyes. And Jackson's interests are much more cinematic, those of a director I deem.

    Narrative adaptations and clearly demarcated IP licensing requires a distancing, often deliberate, from related works otherwise potential rights violations can occur. A different example of this issue is LOTRO.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by hallasan View Post
    Narrative adaptations and clearly demarcated IP licensing requires a distancing, often deliberate, from related works otherwise potential rights violations can occur. A different example of this issue is LOTRO.
    Given the changes Tolkien made to his works over the years its hard to say how disappointed he would have been over the movies. The changes made were made with today's generation in mind with hopes to appeal to a wider audience which it did. There were 2 previous attempts at the Lord of The Rings, one was too dark and the other was waaay too fluffy.

    Someday there will be another attempt and i am sure there will be an equal number of people dissatisfied with that attemt as well

  14. #14
    If certain large corporations have their way, rights will never run out on any fictional characters from books, TV or movies. Nor will anything by any writer or musician go public domain again. Too much money to be made by owning it forever.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemane0 View Post
    Given the changes Tolkien made to his works over the years its hard to say how disappointed he would have been over the movies.
    That's a red herring, as none of that is relevant to LOTR. The mythological side of things was the key thing he seriously reconsidered over the years and that was kept very much in the background of LOTR (it's only ever hinted at). He'd concluded that the sort of old-school mythology you'll find in the early chapters of the Sil (e.g. the Sun and Moon being made from the fruits of the Two Trees) doesn't play well with a modern audience, that you therefore can't really 'do' that sort of mythology any more.

    The changes made were made with today's generation in mind with hopes to appeal to a wider audience which it did.
    You're generalising something awful there. Some changes were evidently made with that in mind, but by no means all of them. Some of them were to do with pacing, some to make the story easier to follow in adapting it to the different medium, some to add a fight scene or two, some to switch dialogue around between characters. The 'trendy' changes were mostly disposable junk, though (with the odd exception like giving Arwen an expanded role, which was a good idea) and the movies succeeded despite them (clumsy as they were), not because of them.

  16. #16
    But the Silmarillion isn't just one story, it's a history and as such has a lot of stories contained within (though not told in full). My question is, if someone plans on making a movie based on that book, which part will they focus on? My guess will probably be the third section, dealing with the history of Sauron and the rings of power up until the years before the trilogy took place, associated story and all that.

    I would like to see someone try to do a film interpretation of the story of the first age and the Silmarils, I always thought the story was terribly beautiful and tragic, but I'm also afraid that it would end up rubbish because it would either up up a giant fantasy action movie or a tragic romance movie.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindaelle View Post
    My reaction? To be honest, relieved. I already have my own images of the book that I want to keep.
    Yeah, I know what you are talking about. I saw the Lord of the Rings movies (and loved them) when I was 9 or 10 or something like that. When I first started reading the books a little over two years ago (I was almost 15 then), and I really understood what they were all about, I became angry with the films. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the most magical, fantastical and enchanting piece of literature I had ever read, but because of the films I couldn't make my own pictures in my head for around half of the scenes that also appeared in the films. I damned the films and Peter Jackson and it has given me a broken heart... The magic was partly ruined for me.

    I am SO glad I read many other books BEFORE the films, like The Hobbit and the Harry Potter series (though I read the last book about 5 years ago). I have noticed that I AM actually capable of keeping my own images in my head after seeing film versions of books I have already read. Bag End, the trolls, Rivendell, the goblins etc. are still the same in my head, DIFFERENT from the films. Hogwarts doesn't look like the film version in my head as well, and the characters have their own appearance.

    Once again, a last lament: I wish the Lord of the Rings films would have come out after this series of The Hobbit films.
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  18. #18
    I think Christopher Tolkien's reaction is a little over dramatic.

    The commercialization of LoTR has brought its amazing story and characters to a wider audience than ever before. How is that a bad thing? I'd also like to point out that Tolkien's original intent with writing the LoTR was to create modern day mythology. I think he of all people would understand that the point of myth isn't the details but in the act of telling it. I'm sure his renditions of Beowulf and the Arthurian legends differed a lot from the ones people hundreds of years ago told. I think the movies were as faithful as you can get them on the big screen in a way that will impact modern audiences. If people want more than that, they're more than welcome (and encouraged) to dive into the books.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkheart06 View Post
    I think Christopher Tolkien's reaction is a little over dramatic.
    I imagine he thinks something vital got lost in translation.

    The commercialization of LoTR has brought its amazing story and characters to a wider audience than ever before. How is that a bad thing?
    A semblance of its story and characters, and at times a highly unsubtle one. You can't really 'know' LOTR without reading it but having seen the movies, some people think they do.

    I'd also like to point out that Tolkien's original intent with writing the LoTR was to create modern day mythology.
    No, that was an ambition he'd had as a young man, something he later dismissed as 'absurd'.

    I think he of all people would understand that the point of myth isn't the details but in the act of telling it. I'm sure his renditions of Beowulf and the Arthurian legends differed a lot from the ones people hundreds of years ago told.
    I don't see that at all, as the style in which a myth is told does affect it. If you tell it like it's straightforward fantasy then that's how it comes across. If you separate it from its cultural roots, then it can lose something (this is what's happened to Arthurian myth, it became something very different to what it had once been when when French troubadours filled it with High Medieval tropes like chivalry and courtly love). Tolkien wanted something more genuine than that - he'd considered doing something with Arthurian myth himself but set it aside because its popular image was so overwhelmingly that of Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. In much the same way, every time PJ fell back on modern fantasy tropes he was making the movies less genuine in that respect and it shows. CT does have a point, although I do think he overstates it somewhat.

    I think the movies were as faithful as you can get them on the big screen in a way that will impact modern audiences.
    I can think of several ways that's demonstrably untrue, starting with how Gimli was crudely reduced to a figure of fun and moving on from there.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    I can think of several ways that's demonstrably untrue, starting with how Gimli was crudely reduced to a figure of fun and moving on from there.
    /seconded

    They messed up Gimli
    Last edited by Isdring; Jan 20 2013 at 09:38 PM.
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  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post

    No, that was an ambition he'd had as a young man, something he later dismissed as 'absurd'.

    That's a bit sad and ironic, then.

    Because he DID create modern myth. Just as Greek myth influenced writing and story telling for hundreds of years after, so does LoTR. It created modern fantasy. The very same "tropes" you say ruined the movies were born from LoTR.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkheart06 View Post
    That's a bit sad and ironic, then.

    Because he DID create modern myth. Just as Greek myth influenced writing and story telling for hundreds of years after, so does LoTR. It created modern fantasy. The very same "tropes" you say ruined the movies were born from LoTR.
    True, true... Although while I do believe that Tolkien shaped the great things about fantasy writing (and others contributed to this, such as C.S. Lewis, Robert E. Howard and more modern writers like R.A. Salvatore), I believe other writers created the flaws and bad parts of fantasy writing...
    The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began.
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