Browsing Tag



Things I may eventually write in my copious free time

As y’all know, I am partial to the whole Tauriel/Kili romance in the Hobbit movies, and I have this idea for a short piece in my head wherein Tauriel must go to Dís and bring her news of the deaths of both her sons and her brother. I’m seeing this as perhaps Tauriel’s last act before she bails for Valinor—or perhaps thinks she’s about to bail for Valinor. I can totally see her and Dís teaming up together to roam Middle-Earth for a while in shared grief and companionship. It could even be a parallel to Legolas and Gimli, later. And mostly I just have an urge to write about female dwarves.

But while I’m on the topic of Middle-Earth fanfic, Dara and I got into discussing a potential AU last night after I finished rewatching the first half of The Two Towers. I was struck anew by the scene in which Sméagol banishes his darker Gollum-self—and how for a very short time, he’s just so happy. “Sméagol is free!”

And then of course it goes back to hell after Faramir’s men are so harsh to him. Gollum becomes the dominant personality once more. But Dara and I wondered: what if that hadn’t happened? How would the scene at Mount Doom played out differently?

I can see Frodo maybe beating down poor Sam just before he proclaims, “The Ring is mine!”—but then, Dara and I decided, Sméagol would put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

And he says, “I know. Let the Precious burn.”

I. Not we. Because now that I have finished my reread of the books, I am reminded that Tolkien did indeed use pronouns as a marker of Sméagol’s mental state. And in this version of the story, he would have become more stable than he’d been in centuries.

The Eagles would have had three small travelers to rescue, not two.

Dara and I think that perhaps Sméagol could not have handled going back to the Shire, and that perhaps Gandalf would have taken him into his care—properly this time, not as a prisoner. And as he is finally free of the Ring, I see Sméagol learning to welcome the touch of sunlight once more. Remembering the taste of fresh bread. Maybe even being able to touch things made by the elves without pain.

But Sméagol, much, much older than Bilbo, would quickly start to age and draw near to his death. And he would have been on that final boat to Valinor, ancient, wizened, and so fragile that he might not even have been able to walk. Perhaps Gandalf would have carried him.

Yet he would have been granted a place on that boat. And a place in Valinor. Because at the end of the day, he too was a Ringbearer. And he paid his penance for the slaying of Déagol, for all the many long, dark years that he kept the Ring under the Misty Mountains.

As the Fourth Age began and the War of the Ring passed into the legends of Men, Sméagol’s name would have been spoken alongside that of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. He would have been hailed as a hero for having kept the Ring from Sauron—secret and safe, for five hundred years, even though it nearly destroyed his mind.

Don’t get me wrong; I would not trade a single word of the narrative as actually written.

But this makes for one hell of an AU. Sméagol. Sing his name, sons and daughters of the free peoples of Middle-Earth. Remember him with honor.


Movie review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition

I have finally acquired a copy of the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and am delighted to report that as with the EE for An Unexpected Journey, I very much enjoyed the EE cut of movie #2! Which is not terribly surprising, given that I very much loved the theatrical cut. (And as a general reminder, I am indeed on Team Tauriel.)

Details behind the fold! Send the burglar in for spoilers! (And for reference, has an excellent breakdown of the specific new footage, right over here.)

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Because I am not finished talking about Tauriel yet

I’ve continued to see a lot of brouhaha over the character of Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and as near as I can tell, the objections to her presence in the movie fall into these general categories:

  • “How DARE they put a character in this movie that Tolkien didn’t actually write!”
  • “She’s only in the movie to pander to the female moviegoing audience–because god forbid that a woman would be seeing this movie without her!”
  • “She’s a total Mary Sue!”
  • “I don’t have a problem with her presence, but I don’t like what they’re doing with her, because putting her into a romantic triangle is stupid.”

As I’ve already stated in my review of the movie, I actually very much like the character. And while I do not expect to change the minds of anyone who dislikes her, I thought I’d speak a little more on the topic on why I like her, and yes, why even the romance angle she’s in works for me.

Needless to say, spoilers for the movie will abound behind the fold. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to skip this post for a bit.

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Movie review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Let’s get this right on the record: I loved this movie, and in fact, I loved it more than the first one.

Picoreview: Overall a tighter experience than the first one, without the need to do all the setup, and there was much less superfluous action. There’s a lot more changes to the core Hobbit storyline that yeah, diehard purists will definitely object to–I’ve already heard and read a lot of those objections. With wry apologies to the purists, I don’t share those objections. Every one of the changes totally worked for me in the context of the story Jackson’s telling in this movie, so I have no qualms about them whatsoever.

Which means that yes, as I pretty much expected would be the case, I am ABSOLUTELY a Tauriel fangirl.

Overall my expectations, set by the first movie, were in the B- range. I was so delighted by so much of what I saw in this second installment that I gotta bump up its grade to a B+, though!

So let’s get into the deets, shall we? Shining starlight-colored spoilers behind the cut!

Above-cut ETA: Dara has her review post up now right over here, in which she brings up the point about Tolkien’s work as a mythos, and myths getting changed and reinterpreted. And which she also points out very correctly that representation does matter, and that’s a big big plus for having Tauriel in the movie.

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Thoughts on Tauriel and imminent viewing of the Desolation of Smaug

I haven’t seen The Desolation of Smaug yet, but am very likely to do so in the next couple of days, before my housemate Paul heads east to see his folks for Christmas. I am, however, starting to see a lot of reaction coming across my various social network channels, so I wanted to get a few things on the record.

To wit: Dara’s talked to me about how Tolkien was seeing his work as a way to set up a mythic backstory for English speakers, and you know what happens with myths? They get retold. They get reshaped and changed. You have but to look at the rich tapestry of Greek mythology to see this in action–you can often find different versions of the exact same story, told differently by different playwrights, or differently between the Greek and Roman traditions. And the stories get changed over and over again as they get handed down through the millennia, too.

For me, Middle-Earth has pretty much the exact same status in my head as Greek mythos. It’s so rich and varied and fully realized, in short, so mythic, that it seems entirely natural to me that Peter Jackson is playing around with the story and adding in his own interpretations, plotlines, and in the case of Tauriel in Desolation, his own brand new characters. It would in fact seem weird to me if he didn’t do that.

“But he ought to film what Tolkien wrote!” I hear you cry. Or, perhaps, “This isn’t the Middle-Earth in my head!” Both of which are also absolutely valid ways of looking at it.

But see, here’s the thing–with the exception of what he’s doing with Tauriel, almost everything else I’m seeing in the Hobbit trilogy of movies is sticking fairly well to what Tolkien wrote, at least for this particular reader. This was particularly driven home to me now that I’ve finally concluded my re-read of The Hobbit, wherein I noticed this in the final chapter:

It was in this way that he learned where Gandalf had been to; for he overheard the words of the wizard to Elrond. It appeared that Gandalf had been to a great council of the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic; and that they had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold in the south of Mirkwood.

I don’t know about the rest of you, Internets, but this right here sounds exactly like a one-paragraph summary of the entire Necromancer plotline that Jackson’s putting into this trilogy. In other words, he’s taking something that Tolkien put right there in the text and is simply expanding it out to play out on-camera for us, rather than mentioning it as an afterthought at the end, when Bilbo himself only finally finds out about it. Which, I daresay, would be way less exciting on a movie screen.

Which brings me around to the other change I’m hearing people getting up in arms about in the new movie: i.e., Tauriel.

For the record, I am totally down with adding a warrior female to Jackson’s version of the storyline. I don’t particularly find it a ploy to get me, as a female viewer, to see this trilogy–I mean, I was going to see it anyway, because hi I’m a great big Tolkien nerd. And love Tolkien as I do, his female characters were pretty damn thin on the ground. I can name a small handful off the top of my head who stand out for me, and only two of them are major forces at all in The Lord of the Rings: i.e., Galadriel and Eowyn. (I almost don’t even count Arwen as a major character in the books, just because she functions a lot more as a MacGuffin than a character actively participating in the plot.) And given that my all-time favorite Tolkien female character, Luthien, is over in The Silmarillion, I don’t expect we’re going to see her on camera any time in the foreseeable future.

And in The Hobbit, we have no female characters at all. None. I’ve just spent the last several months re-reading the thing in three languages, folks, so trust me–I know. So I’m totally fine with putting a woman in there, particularly an elf. An elven warrior woman makes the best sense, since of the various Middle-Earth cultures, the elves have the least amount of gender separation between warriors–you can find that if you go digging through Unfinished Tales as well as bits of The Silmarillion. And it does not diminish Tolkien’s original work, in my opinion, to put a new character in there; see previous commentary re: that kind of thing happening all the time in myths.

To put it in more modern terms, albeit perhaps with less gravitas than “myth”–this is Peter Jackson’s Most Expensive Tolkien Fanfic Ever, Complete With Original Character, and I am absolutely fine with that. I absolutely believe that fanfic is a modern way of doing the same mythic retellings I talk about above. It’s just that with fanfic, you’re dealing with source material that’s still new enough that we have the original material around!

Here’s another reason I’m good with Tauriel being in this trilogy of films. For anyone out there who hasn’t actually read The Hobbit, and I’m sure there may be some of you who haven’t, there are spoilers involved here. Ditto for those of you who actually have read the book but not recently, and who may not remember the specific events of the Battle of Five Armies. I’m going to white out the next paragraph, so highlight the text if you want to see it.

Right then. I’m pretty damned certain that Tauriel’s doomed to die in the Battle of Five Armies. We already know that Thorin, Fili, and Kili all die in that battle, and that Fili and Kili die defending Thorin in particular. Given that the new movie is setting up a love triangle between Legolas, Tauriel, and Kili, I am foreseeing a situation where Tauriel sees Kili about to die, and rushes in to try to save him, and she goes out in a blaze of glory. Which sets a grieving Legolas up nicely to be all “grrrr dwarves” until the events of The Lord of the Rings, when he meets Gimli and finally gets over himself. It makes total narrative sense.

Lastly, while I know some of my friends object to Tauriel having a romantic plotline on the grounds that they find it insulting, I’ll freely acknowledge that a) I am a total romantic sucker, and b) I’m already on record as being a movie!Kili fangirl. So I’m down with the concept. I’ll need to see the movie before I can decide for myself whether I think the romance is well done.

But I don’t have a problem with Tauriel having a romance at all. Hell, I don’t even have a problem with her being in a romantic triangle. It ain’t like Tolkien himself didn’t pull out the trope of romantic rivalries, or even just romantic angst in general, all over The Silmarillion or anything!

So I’m ready for Desolation, and I’m predisposed to look kindly upon Tauriel and what she contributes to the film. And when I work out whether her story works for me, I promise to do so with respect to the film itself, without worrying too much about whether Jackson has committed sacrilege by adding in a new character at all.

Because yeah–whether you think of this trilogy of movies as Jackson retelling the Arda mythos, or simply just producing the Most Expensive Tolkien Fanfic Ever, Tolkien’s masterworks are not harmed by these film creations. It doesn’t hamper my enjoyment of them in the slightest or make me think less of them, any more than Rankin-Bass’s animated Hobbit and Return of the King did back in the 70’s.

Arda is wide, my friends, and there is time aplenty to sing each other’s songs and tell each other’s stories about the First, Second, and Third Ages of the world. I’m ready to hear them all.


On the Desolation of Smaug trailer, and Tauriel!

And lo, yesterday, the Internet did quake with the coming of the first trailer of The Desolation of Smaug! And it was GOOD. Internet, I AM EXCITE. Because OMG the shot of Bilbo at the top of the trees with the butterflies. OMG the barrels tumbling down the waterfall. OMG there’s Bard the Bowman. And OMG THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF SMAUG! \0/

If you haven’t seen it yet, behold!

I’ll just say this right now: after seeing Legolas and Tauriel, I have just two words for Mr. Jackson. Those words are: HEADCANON ACCEPTED!

I do not give a fat flying damn that Legolas is not actually in the book. He is after all Thranduil’s son, and it makes sense for him to be around. I’m absolutely fine with his presence. Particularly if he’s going to be badassed and pretty and shooting things.

I give even less of a damn that Tauriel is entirely a figment of Peter Jackson’s imagination. Those of you familiar with my longstanding Elfquest fandom will know how much I appreciate a clearly badassed female elf. Those of you familiar with my longstanding Tolkien fandom, likewise. Because after all, Lúthien, Galadriel, and Éowyn are my top favorite characters all over Tolkien’s works. Especially Lúthien–because, hello, badassed female elf, even though her badassery is less combat-oriented and more magical.

Also, having read the relevant chapter of The Hobbit not terribly long ago, I do note that Thranduil does in fact have a guard captain. Yes, he’s male in the story, but he’s so incidental a character that I have no problems whatsoever with Jackson pulling a genderflip.

I’d pretty much already decided that I’m on board with Dara’s interpretation of Jackson’s movies, which is to say, Middle-Earth has reached such mythic status that Jackson’s simply now adding extra versions of the same stories into the rich tapestry of stories available. It’s like Greek mythology–there are several different versions of any given Greek myth, depending on what sources you check. With the works of Tolkien, it’s simply that we know which ones are the original canon. Same deal with superhero stories, which are certainly giving us our modern mythic heroes.

Or, if you will, Jackson’s just giving us some damn good AU fanfic. In which case HEADCANON ACCEPTED makes all the more sense. ;D

Here’s one more thing that makes me willing to deal with Tauriel’s presence as well: wondering honestly whether she’s fated to die in the Battle of Five Armies. This would, I think, make narrative sense. I mean, we know what happens to Legolas. We know he starts off bitterly anti-dwarf in LotR, and that it takes his friendship with Gimli to pull him out of it. If the rumblings I’m hearing about Tauriel being his love interest in these films are true, and she goes out in a tragic blaze of glory in the Battle of Five Armies, it would work quite neatly to set up his sentiments in the other films.

Until we get film #3, though, I’ll be over here admiring her badassery. Because redheaded elf with a bow who looks like she knows how to use it? SIGN ME THE HELL UP.