Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Interesting bit of controversy from the UK. Amid constant rumors that he and some of the other surviving members of JRR Tolkien's family 'disapproved' of the New Line theatrical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, Christopher Tolkien issued a statement through family solicitors that he did not in any way disapprove of the film, but that he thought it essentially not possible to capture the true essence of his father's book in any film adaptation. A biographer of Tolkien, Michael White, is quoted by the BBC as being more blunt, claiming that Tolkien loathed Hollywood.

Anyone with access to Tolkien's published letters (1981) knows this is not true. In fact, as early as 1957, according to the published letters, Tolkien was keenly interested in selling the motion picture rights to the trilogy because he knew he could get a substantial amount of money. In letters to Allen & Unwin publishers he details his interest in the possible sale. One letter is devoted to a spirited critique of an actual story line submitted to him for his comments from one production exec named Zimmerman. It's clear that what Tolkien loathed was Walt Disney and Disney's "cute" approach to cinema, not Hollywood per se. It's also clear that Tolkien had been to the cinema enough times to have a good grasp of how cinema could be employed to tell LOTR. He eventually did sell the rights in 1969.

No comments: