Tolkien's Mythology JRR Tolkien John Ronald Ruele Tolkien (photo at right courtesy of The Guardian), Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, and author of The Lord of the Rings, was disapointed in England's lack of an overriding mythology. Most of the tales considered to be part of that mythology, such as King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, was actually a collection of stories from other lands, primarily England's old enemy, France. It was the good Professor's dream in his youth to create a mythology that would eventually be taken over by others and expanded upon, adding art and music.
By the time his epic work, The Lord of The Rings was published, Tolkien was in his sixties, and had long since given up such dreams. He needn't have. Within two years of the book's publication in the UK, its US debut resulted a craze on this side of the Pond for all things Tolkien. Graffiti on the walls of New York City subway stations proclaimed "Frodo Lives!" Tolkien's novel, The Hobbit enjoyed a resurgence of popularity, not only among the ten-to-twelve year-olds that the book had originally been published for, but among the new adult fans of the Middle Earth depicted in The Lord of the Rings. Leonard Nimoy, Spock from Star Trek television and movie fame, recorded a song called "Bilbo Baggins," a musical version of the tale of the main charecter in The Hobbit. You can view a video of Bilbo Baggins on YouTube.
In the late nineties, Sir Peter Jackson of New Zealand, began work on his film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of three movies based on The Lord of the Rings. Composer Howard Shore created a magnificent score (in the opinion of this webmistress). A sweeping sequence, filmed from a helicopter across the peaks of New Zealand's Remarkables mountain range, counting the beaconing signal fires that ranged between Minas Tirith, the captial of Gondor, and Edoras, the capital of Rohan, as Howard Shore's crescendoing heroic version of the Gondor Theme blooms on the soundtrack, is a glorious example of the fulfilment of Tolkien's original dream. Filmed images accompanied by sweeping music is truly an extension of Tolkien's mythology in art and music.
Digital animation, and special effects were a necessity to bring Tolkien's novel to life on the screen. Weta Digital handled the bulk of the computer generated charecters, environments, digital effects and intelligent crowd scene behavior and animation for the three films. Their work set a new standard in the early millenium. Even many of digital artists have commented that much of what they achieved should not have worked based on everything they knew previously. The innovations made by the artists on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy paved the way for new classics, such as Avatar, directed by James Cameron.
Today, Tolkien fans like myself are anxiously awaiting the release of the Hobbit, being directed by Sir Peter Jackson. Much of the cast and crew that made the Lord of the Rings Trilogy the masterpiece it is have been gathered once again in New Zealand. Howard Shore will be composing the music; Sir Ian McKellan will be returning as Gandalf and Andy Serkis is returning to drive the charecter of Gollum as no one else could.
The original Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, and the highly anticipated Hobbit films (the Hobbit will be made in two parts) have brought a new generations of fans to Tolkien's world of Middle Earth. Despite the physical loss of Tolkien's genius in the 1970s, his vision continues today in new forms that could not have been imagined when the novel was originally published. Tom Shippey, an author and commentator on the extended DVDs of the Lord of the Rings movies, credits C. S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia with a definition of mythology as something that is part of the mental furniture of the culture; something nearly everyone recognizes despite perhaps never seeing the movies or having read the book. By this definition, mythology has been acheived by Tolkien. His wish was fulfilled. For more information on Sir Peter Jackson and the upcoming Hobbit Movie, please visit Sir Peter's Facebook Page
For more information on Professor Tolkien, please visit JRR Tolkien
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