This Week in Middle-earth

A year ago today, I attended my first Tolkien Studies conference, hosted by the Tolkien Society of Kansas City at Park University.  I even helped re-enact the scene where Frodo is wounded by the Witch-king (I played the part of Wraith #5 in the video taken by Corey Olsen which is no longer available according to Twitch).

IMG_2364I’m looking forward to my second Moot next weekend in Waterloo, Iowa, also called MiddleMoot (because we alternate years between the two locations – back in KC for 2020).

MiddleMoot 2019

A Reader's Companion to the Lord of the Rings by Hammond & ScullAnd since I start off October by celebrating or at least contemplating being another year older, I decided to start a Twitter post series based on the Hammond & Scull Reader’s Companion to The Lord of the Rings, in which the timeline is very accurately tracked as the story unfolds.  So on the morning of September 30th,  the last day of that month, I finished reading “The Uruk-hai” chapter in The Two Towers and picked up the Reader’s Companion to read their research and notes on the same chapter, but instead I wondered what was happening “on this day” in Middle-earth?  So I returned back to the chapter “A Knife in the Dark” from The Fellowship of the Ring and found the corresponding entry for last Monday:  Continue reading “This Week in Middle-earth”

Movie Review: Born of Hope (4 stars)

Born of Hope movie poster

Born of Hope: The Ring of Barahir

Release date: December 1, 2009

Director/Producer: Kate Madison

Official Website: http://www.bornofhope.com/

Watched: late September 2019

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I stumbled across this fan film last week while researching (translation: falling down another Tolkien rabbit hole) the backstory of Gilraen, mother of Aragorn. I am always interested in Tolkien’s female characters because there are so few of them and nearly all of them have surprising agency considering Tolkien’s times. The Tolkien Gateway article for Gilraen includes a link at the very bottom that delves deeper into her tragic tale, gleaned from The Lord of the Rings Appendices and other Legendarium sources: The Tragedy of Gilraen, Aragorn’s Mother

Gilraen probably has the saddest epitaph of any of Tolkien’s characters (except perhaps Turin and his sister):

Onen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim.
“I gave hope to the Dúnedain; I kept none for myself.”

Gilraen could not see the light for the growing darkness and despaired, living only half as long as she should have, as one of the few remaining Dúnedain.

Continue reading “Movie Review: Born of Hope (4 stars)”

Tolkien’s 122nd Birthday

TheOneRinginscriptionwithTolkienssymbol_zpse18b2086J.R.R. Tolkien would have been 122 today.

His writings enriched and continue to enrich my life (see my Best Reads of 2013 wherein The Silmarillion received a rare five star rating from me).

While I haven’t re-read The Hobbit for the umpteenth time, I did venture out last week to see The Desolation of Smaug at my local favorite movie theatre (I gave that movie 3.5 stars via Flixster, and don’t think it’s as well done as the first one, An Unexpected Journey).

If you haven’t read any of Tolkien’s writings, I highly recommend all of them.  I rarely re-read books, but I will always return, again and again, to the master of epic fantasy storytelling.

Some previous posts I’ve shared at this blog that reference Tolkien’s legacy:

Continue reading “Tolkien’s 122nd Birthday”

Movie Review: The Hobbit ~ An Unexpected Journey (2012)

totem-trekThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

4 out of 5 stars

I waited until the last possible moment to decide to watch The Hobbit ~ An Unexpected Journey this past weekend.  If I plan to spend the money to watch a movie in a theater, I do it opening weekend, because then most of the money goes back to the studio, which in turns means more movies that I like being produced.  In other words, I vote with my money.  And, Terry and I prefer to watch movies from the VIP seating on the balcony of Theater 7 at the Legends.  Well worth the climb up the stairs to the third floor Saturday afternoon.  We arrived with eight minutes to spare and sat through an amazing number of previews, but not any advertisements, which was a change for the better.

My most recent reading of The Hobbit occurred three years ago, when it was chosen as the book of the month for November 2009 for the Fantasy Book Club at GoodReads.  While I like The Hobbit, I’m not really the target audience for the book, since Tolkien wrote it for children.  But as with most well written children’s tales, there is much to be gleaned and learned by the adult reader.  I’m excited to re-read The Silmarillion next month for the same book club. In fact, I may read it as an ebook and also listen to it as an audiobook.

I loved the increased frame rate speed used to film The Hobbit.  I’ve been screaming for smoother sharper filming for years.  Really, there’s no excuse not to.  My eyes can drink in more than just 24 frames per second so please flood me with clean, crisp imaging.

I felt the focus of the story shifted away from Bilbo almost too much, and became Thorin’s story with Bilbo relegated to comedic sidekick. My foggy memory of reading The Hobbit three years ago recalls an older Thorin, still prideful to the point of arrogance, but not this brooding barely middle-aged dwarf, a veteran of many hard-fought battles.  I came away thinking Peter Jackson tried to turn Thorin into a darker, shorter Aragorn.

And the whole albino orc and warg subplot is just a bit much.  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t conceived in Tolkien’s mind.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the first installment of the drawn-out film trilogy adaptation of Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d encourage you to catch it on a big screen near you soon.