Gollum… Gollum

Tolkien fan?

Have you watched this yet?

The Hunt For Gollum

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. PS says:

    Parts of it are eerie how similar they are to the movie (the blocking, lighting, actor’s mannarism [sp?]). Thanks for this.

  2. Clara says:

    Wait… there were people who watched the Jackson monstrosity… and wanted *more*?

  3. Choirmaster says:

    I am, literally, a Tolkien fanatic. I have always been fascinated with his works on the ‘Elder Days’ such as those in the Silmarillion as well as reading his correspondence (as collected in the book The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. I often wonder how many people are aware of the significance of his Catholic faith in the conception and production of his fantasies. His faith became such an influence on the philosophy and narrative of his ‘mythologies’ that he lamented once that he was worried his works would boil-down to nothing more than a “parody of Christianity.” [An actual quote, but I don’t have a citation at the moment]

    The Peter Jackson movies were an over-all disaster, but in isolated moments it is stunning how the movie(s) could clearly portray the depth and beauty of Tolkien’s masterpiece.

    This ‘Gollum’ film is very interesting, very well done, and unique in its object as a portrayal of the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings.

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for sharing this post.

  4. Jacob says:

    I thank God that Christopher Tolkien has no intention of letting PJ and his ilk get their hands on The Silmarillion or any of the other works from the First and Second Ages.

    The movies had a few good points, but were overall hardly representative of the books, even accounting for the usual condensation from book to movie. Sean Bean’s was the best acting job in all three movies and he died in part one. That says something.

    Don’t get me started on the sham that was the Academy awarding PJ an Oscar for his CGI-without-plot-fest.

  5. Choirmaster says:

    Jacob said: CGI-without-plot-fest

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Tolkien’s plots are so rich and complex that there is no excuse for the inconsistencies and novelties of the Peter Jackson movies. They could have found a million different ways to condense them into a screenplay and yet preserve some semblance of coherence.

    I will say, however, that the movies were an excellent illustration of the books.

  6. Jeff says:

    Are you kidding me? Nobody liked LOTR movies here? I thought they were great! How often do we get a large scale epic adventure that celebrates what is good, beautiful and true? How often can we enjoy a movie or tv show without finding objectionable sexual content?
    I understand the book to movie translation will always be difficult for the book fans, but give credit where it’s due: this trilogy was one heck of a masterpiece.

  7. Brother Ass says:

    Funny how this is getting so much play. This is a shameless plagiarization of a film produced four years ago: “Ringers: Lord of the Fans”

  8. Thomas says:

    Tolkien fan? I just received LETTERS FROM FATHER CHRISTMAS in the mail today!

    As for the Jackson movies, I though THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING was the best and most faithful. As for the other two, Jackson committed several heinous sins against Eru Ilúvatar.

    I was very lucky at BC to take several classes with Peter Kreeft, including a class called THE PHILOSOPHY OF TOLKIEN. I was walking back to his office with him one day to get a paper and talked to him about the movies (ROTK having just been released). We agreed on many points, certainly not because I’m even close to his caliber when it comes to Tolkien or anything else, but because the offenses were so glaring.

    The Ents and the Entmoot reflect the Church and her councils. The Church moves slowly and prudently, but when she makes up her mind she employs all her power and authority to often dramatic effect. Having the Ents be tricked into action did great violence to their characters. I’m inclined to think Jackson did this out of ignorance and a desire to give Pippin something to do, but it’s still a horrible decision.

    A move that I suspect was less out of ignorance and more out of a lefty bias was the desacration of Faramir’s character. Hollywood is incapable of showing us a noble warrior.

    I know that much has to be left on the cutting room floor, such as Tom Bombadil, but one cut was stunning to me. To not just exclude THE SCOURING OF THE SHIRE, but to not even film it because Jackson, and I quote, “Never got that part,” is unforgiveable. For God’s sake, THE HOBBIT was also called THERE AND BACK AGAIN. THE LORD OF THE RINGS follows the same pattern. To leave out the AND BACK AGAIN is maddening. The hobbits went on their adventure and came back dramatically changed. They didn’t so much make a roundtrip as an ascent. Their journey wasn’t a circle, but an upward coil. Jackson severely diminished their story arc.

    Don’t get me going! To be fair, the movies were a lot better than most Hollywood outputs, but as you can see I find them very frustrating.

    Oh yeah, and every time I see that militant gay and Catholic-hater Ian McKellan I want to go through the screen.

    Oh yeah, and Jackson donated HUGE sums of his money from the movies to embryonic stem-cell research. Way to get the point of the freakin’ One Ring, Petey.

  9. Jeff says:

    Interesting. This makes me want to read more on the Catholic perspectives in Tolkien’s books.
    How neat to take a class with Peter Kreeft, he’s written some great stuff.
    About Ian McKellan…he does a very good job as Gandalf. I know, his public statements stink, and we pray for his conversion, but his role in the movies is done. My children can watch the movies when they are older and they won’t know he’s a homosexual; they’ll be inspired by the wisdom of Gandalf. If we pray enough perhaps McKellan would convert and spend his golden years trying to be more Gandalf and less Magneto.
    Oscar Wilde was a homosexual and yet still wrote very good stuff…and reverted to the Faith at the end. I would not avoid The Picture of Dorian Gray simply because Wilde was a homosexual when he wrote it.

  10. bear-i-tone says:

    Curious to see so many people not that thrilled with the movies. I thought I was the only one. All the other Tolkien fans think they were the finest thing since sliced bread.

    I thought the characters were badly done in the movies. Thomas has already pointed out the Ents. There were more. In the movie, Frodo was a coward, Merry and Pippin blithering idiots. They made Strider out to be a hunk, when the book emphatically points out that he is not. Faramir is turned into Boromir part two, when, again, the book emphatically states that he is not. They even give Faramir a line spoken by his father. “I send my father a mighty gift.” The line in the book has Denethor saying had Boromir been alive, he would have “sent me a mighty gift.” Jackson removed the nobility of the character completely.

    The other thing about the movies was that Jackson seemed to get lost in the technology. He had all these incredible effects, and he went through great lengths to display them, but they often added nothing to the story. I found myself sitting in the theatre and saying: “That’s incredible. That’s spectacular. But why am I seeing it?”

    I really, really wanted to love the movies, but in the end, I found them to be deeply unsatisfying.

  11. Thomas says:

    Jeff, I’d recommend Prof. Kreeft’s own THE PHILOSOPHY OF TOLKIEN (Ignatius Press) for a great book on the “Catholic perspective in Tolkien’s books.” I’d argue that there is no other perspective in them.

    As for the McKellan/Wilde comparison, I think it’s a bad one. It’s not a question of his homosexual inclinations or any artists’ same-sex attractions. It’s McKellan’s vile, hateful, bigotted slanders against the Church and her priests that I cannot and will not overlook.

    But let that be an end of it. I don’t want to divert us from a good Tolkien discussion!

  12. Lirioroja says:

    I enjoyed PJ’s movies for what it was: a fanboy’s attempt to honor one of his favorite authors. As far as that goes he did a good job. But like many non-Catholic Tolkien fans I run across the internet, he misses the point. And that’s too bad because it diminishes his movies. They could’ve been so much more. Even though I own the whole trilogy on dvd, it’s the books that get more wear and tear in my house. I love this mythology and I’m in the middle of a (re)read-through of the books starting with The Silmarillion. As far as this short film goes I think it’s truer to Tolkien than PJ was in his films. The aesthetic is inspired by the New Line films but the story is still recognizably Tolkien.

  13. Jeff says:

    Thanks Thomas, I’d love to take a look at this when I get a chance. I know I want to read the Sillma…um…however you spell it. :-) The *little* I’ve read on Tolkien’s LOTR world is fascinating.

    I really thought Merry and Pippin DID grow in the movies, especially if you see how idiotic they are in Fellowship vs. their bravery in ROTK.

    Thank you for the perspectives on this…I know for me I keep thinking it’s such a great MOVIE, because I compare it to other movies that are so non-Catholic.

  14. Dr. Eric says:

    I haven’t read the books, but have seen the movies. I liked them, and from the comments, I’m glad I didn’t read the books first. I always associated the books with the nerds who read them and acted like elves. I assumed that they had some sort of pagan bent to them. I was very, very, very wrong. I will have to read them sometime, maybe on a long airplane ride.

  15. Subvet says:

    Loved the books, loved the movies. C’mon folks, Jackson had to do some major league editing just to pare those babies down to three hours apiece. So out goes Bombadill (I missed him) and the Scouring of The Shire (I really missed that one). Had Jackson been 100% in line with the books we’d STILL be waiting for the next installment!

    In addition, the books were really slim on the romance angle. Like it or not Jackson broadened the appeal of his movies by playing that up. Otherwise it’d have been nine plus hours of “fight, fight, fight, pause, ride, ride, ride, pause, fight, fight, fight”

    Take the movies with a grain of salt, enjoy them on their own merit and bring plenty of popcorn.

    Now I’ve got to see if my wife is through reading “Return Of The King”. Then it’s my turn (again)!

  16. Jacob says:

    To those who approve of the films:

    Say what you wish, but you will never convince me that PJ made any serious attempt to remain faithful to the books. Cut out scenes, condense material, fine. But that does NOT explain the stark contrasts between characters in the books and their counterparts in the movies.

    Faramir: dumbed down and turned into a wimp.

    Denethor: turned into a heartless psychotic.

    Aragorn: dumbed down and all personal heritage removed (the Man was born to be the King in the books, in the movies: nada).

    Gandalf: in the books, Gandalf accepted Frodo taking the Ring and even hailed it as the right choice, a moment of destiny. In the movies, Gandalf was turned into a grandfather figure who was either being all high and mighty or hugging the quivering little hobbits in need of comfort in the big bad world (even Bilbo needed a hug).

    And then of course Frodo himself: Frodo in the books was fifty years old and his own person. In the movies, he was reduced to a simpering fool who was only good enough to look terrified and roll his eyes before holding the Ring in one hand and his opposite hand’s finger in front of his face until danger passed.

    Ugh. I don’t even like to think about PJ’s fan service.

  17. Paul says:

    I think the movies were great. The thing you have to do is look at the books and the movies as two separate works. Movies adapted from books are never really the same; the two mediums are just too dissimilar. I think the books are better, obviously, but I still think the movies were some of the best ever made, at least in the realm of adventure movies.

    Anyway, I had forgotten this fan film was coming up, I’m gonna go enjoy it!

  18. Clara says:

    I’ve loved the LOTR books since I was a kid (when I used to reread the whole trilogy annually, to the point where I could quote lengthy passages from memory.) Stuff you read at that age really sticks with you. I absorbed Catholic ideas from Tolkien that I wasn’t even able to recognize as such until many years later when I converted.

    The Fellowship movie came out when I was a senior in college, so I went to it with my friends. I found it *excruciating.* If I hadn’t been with my friends I wouldn’t have made it more than an hour into that first film. I’ll admit, there were a few minutes there in the mines of Moria that I sort of enjoyed… good effects, and since that really is an action-packed chapter it seemed okay to go whole hog with the fighting. (“The Bridge of Khazad-dum” was my favorite chapter of the series when I was seven or eight; later on I grew more appreciative of the more sophisticated parts. But I felt like I was tapping into my inner eight-year-old during that part of the movie.) Other than that, I don’t think there was a single scene I didn’t hate. It was like every interesting bit of dialogue, every noble character trait, virtually every delightful nuance, had been flayed out of it to make way for more hackneyed lines and fighting fighting fighting. This is not a question of grudges formed over the loss of particular favorite scenes. (I’m only too glad Jackson cut Tom Bombadil — if he’d put him in, he probably would have manufactured some spectacular fight between Bombadil and the willow, followed by the hobbits having to escape in the dead of night to prevent Tom and Goldberry from stealing the Ring.) This is about the manhandling of *every part of the story,* pounding out all the lovely, carefully-crafted details and using the hollow shell as the foundation for a totally manufactured Indiana Jones-type action thriller.

    I can certainly imagine how, for people who hadn’t read the books, or weren’t particularly attached to them, the LOTR movies might be enjoyable at that light-entertainment sort of level. Hey, I’ve had a few fun Friday evenings with Indiana Jones and a bowl of popcorn — nothing wrong with that. But it offends me that Jackson could get away with doing this to Tolkien. Because you know, if a filmmaker took one-fourth the “liberties” that Jackson took with a Jane Austen or EM Forster novel, he’d be raked across the coals. You can’t get away with doing that to serious literature. You *can* get away with doing that to grocery store paperbacks of the Stephen King or John Grisham variety. To shrug and say “well, what do you expect, it’s the movies” of a travesty like Jackson’s is implicitly to accept that Tolkien belongs in that category of writers — fun thrill-providers with no serious substance. That is very wrong. Tolkien is much more than that. A guy who claims Tolkien as “one of his favorite writers” and produces something that cheap and shallow should be booed off the stage.

    Needless to say, given my reaction to the first film, I didn’t see the need to inflict on myself the torment of watching the subsequent two. And given that most people tell me the first one was the *most* faithful to the book, I probably won’t be renting them anytime soon.

  19. Clara says:


    If you want them to be two separate works… why not just make a totally separate work? Why even pretend that the thing you’re making is the Lord of the Rings?

    Answer: because you want to net all those Tolkien fanatics by promising to put a beloved trilogy onto the big screen. It’s all about the name recognition. But that’s precisely why it offends. The Jackson films do not deserve to have Tolkien’s name attached to them. If they’re just your standard cheap-thrills popcorn movies, they shouldn’t be billed as a great masterpiece in cinematic form.

    Anyway, not all films based on books are anywhere close to that bad. The Harry Potter movies, for example, are *much* more faithful to the books than Jackson was to Tolkien.

  20. Antiquarian says:

    Beyond enjoying the films more or less for what they were, I agree they are nothing but twisted shadows of the trilogy.

    For those interested in the Christianity implied in Tolkien’s writing, you must seek out “The Debate of Finrod and Andreth” in one of the History of Middle Earth volumes edited by Christopher Tolkien. [Remember which?] This is a JRR Tolkien never finished and never published, but it is the most clear depiction of how his Catholicism informed his work. In the First Age, Finrod, Galadriel’s brother, engages a mortal woman, Andreth, in a discussion of the fallen nature of Men , its origin, and the possibility of redemption. It moved me to tears when I first read it, and even now when I think of it.

    Andreth speaks of a faction among Men who believe the Marring of Arda will only be healed when Iluvatar Himself “enters” Middle Earth to save his children. Neither she nor Finrod can imagine how this could happen (he asks, “how can the painter enter his painting, or the poet his song?”) but Finrod prophesies that is is through the race of Men that this will come about, and that the envy Men have for the Elves is nothing compared to this fate.

    Finrod will later sacrifice himself to save Beren, and thus play a part in the healing of Arda himself.


  21. Emilio III says:

    Fr Z, “ATHRABETH FINROD AH ANDRETH” is in Volume X: Morgoth’s Ring

  22. Antiquarian says:

    Emilio III– Thank you. I had not remembered which volume it was in, and was too lazy to check!

  23. Antiquarian says:

    The complete text is, of course, copyrighted and not available online– but here is a description along with some excerpts–


    “If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of Estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be for His Children’s joy.

  24. Thomas says:

    “If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves.”

    What a wonderful line! I’ve never heard the Incarnation defended in that manner, but it’s spot on. Brings home the reality of celestial warfare, doesn’t it? We’re in a constant battle, but with our General it’s a bloody rout.

  25. Lirioroja says:

    It’s lines like that that have me coming back to the books, whereas the movies – meh. I can take them or leave them. I do find that the more I reread the books, the more I can’t stand the films. You’ll have to pry my tattered copies of The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, LOTR, and History of Middle-Earth from my cold, dead hands.

  26. I mixed on it. On the one hand, I really like the look and feel. It is definitely made by fans.

    However, I don’t like what seems to be the failure of a happy ending. I think the story of the Lord of the Rings should have ended and messing with things in the way it seems like they are sort of ruins the whole effort of the original trilogy, IMHO.

  27. Jacob says:

    Comment by Clara — 6 May 2009 @ 9:44 pm

    What she said.

    Re: “The Debate of Finrod and Andreth”
    I do a lot of activities with fans of Tolkien’s works online and by and large, most of them are non-religious to the point of agnosticism and atheism. Rather, they indulge in modern day pagan imagery. They’re the ones you see when you go to Renaissance faires and festivals who are dressed up as witches and the like.

    When I pointed out to them in the past the Catholicity of Tolkien’s works and even the explicit connection between his work as a ‘pre-history’ of the world to recorded histroy through “The Debate of Finrod and Andreth,” they’d immediately dismiss it, falling back immediately on the old standby that Tolkien didn’t write allegory and that if it wasn’t formally published during his lifetime, it wasn’t important.

  28. Papa Z says:

    ATHRABETH FINROD AH ANDRETH was profound and moving. I’ve used it, as well as other sections from Tolkien’s writing, in theology classes I’ve taught. To lose sight of Tolkien’s Catholicism is to totally misunderstand his writing. His devotion to the Eucharist was particularly profound. “The only cure for sagging faith is Communion” (from a letter to his son Michael).

  29. Sacristymaiden says:

    Hey, anyone ever read the Lays of Berliond? It’s also quite good. I believe that parts of it detail the begining of Numenor and Middle Earth. Some of the poetry reminds me of Chesterton.

  30. mpm says:

    Galadriel’s line: “I pass the test. I will pass into the West, and remain
    Galadriel”, in context, takes on new meaning when you read in one of his letters
    that it was the Blessed Virgin who was his chief inspiration for her character.

    Catholics in England ought to be seeking Tolkien’s canonization!

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