Thursday, February 23, 2012

Literary sidetrack...

Pardon a little literary geekiness.

With the trailer for the first part of the Hobbit readily available for viewing online, there's been some discussion around about the movies made from Tolkein's books, which has kind of evolved into a discussion of movies-made-from-literature in general.  I'm not going to link to all of that, but I have stumbled across some of the discussions.   I will admit that they tend to be way over my head anyway, mostly being conducted by actual published authors and liberal arts majors.  However, it has brought the topic to mind.

I will, no doubt, see The Hobbit, because I am a great LOTR fan (Why, yes, I have probably read the whole series about 20 times over the last 35 years).  Good vs. evil, iconic nobility vs. foul wretchedness...the sacrificing of one's own agenda for the Great Cause...classic themes of literature.  Not to mention the incredible beauty of New Zealand, which seems to fit my mental picture of Middle Earth to an amazing degree.

But, as so many of the discussion participants have also mentioned, I'll be going guarded.

I saw the first movie, Fellowship of the Ring, rather guarded, but allowing for reasonable artistic license and the necessity of combining characters/places/events to get a reasonably-lengthed movie, I left happy.  So much seemed right that the things that were off didn't seem to matter.

I left the second movie, the Two Towers, disappointed.  Basic motivations of main characters were skewed;  people said and did things that were completely inconsistent with the way Tolkein crafted  the characters.

The Return of the King made me angry.  The nobility that was so present in the text was totally missing from the movie.  The motives of the Good Guys were not so different from that of the Bad Guys.  It was wrong --- it was wrong --- it was wrong.  Who else will have the chance to tell Tolkein's story in such a grand way??  To have that opportunity and then do it wrong seemed such a waste.  We have the movies on DVD, but I can't bring myself to watch them, because I know how the series declines. 

So whose to say how The Hobbit will turn out?  True to the story, or just another fan fiction knock off in which the producers tell their interpretation of the story, instead of telling the story the author wrote?

I see the same sort of thing happening in Christianity today...people who feel they can improve upon what we have been given; modify the text, make it more palatable/exciting/ suitable to a modern audience.  I'm not talking about new translations here...I'm talking about totally disregarding the themes of the text, altering motives of the main characters, disregarding what was written for the way we'd prefer the story to go. 

But corrupting a story will just be disappointing to folks like me, who look for the real thing.  Corrupting HIS story...that's dangerous ground...

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