Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No Silmarillion in Theaters?

There's been an article making the rounds on Facebook, exploring Christopher Tolkien's decision not to allow further licensing of his father's creative property. It's an interesting position - I knew there had been issues, but I hadn't heard that he had completely decided to forswear any future opportunities.

Read the Full Article here.

First of all, I want to be clear that I'm not going to bash Christopher Tolkien. He has done a phenomenal job of managing his father's estate, and has made so much material available to us. Truly he has been a good steward and deserves immeasurable commendation for that.

I also think it's telling that he was so dissatisfied with the films that he's putting a stopper on any other material being transferred to screen. Tolkien purists have had issues with the movies for years - which honestly I have always felt were rather harsh, since any adaptation needs to take liberties when translating to film.

Still, let's be honest. There are some really important thematic elements that did not make the transition well at all - the corrupting of Faramir is, I think, the most important, with the elimination of "The Scouring of the Shire" and the subtle altering of the situation at "Helm's Deep" also standing as major problematic changes. I've not yet seen "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" so I honestly can't comment on that, although most of the strong fans I've heard from have been pleased with it.

Whatever. Seriously. We're past the age of 'one film for all time.' Remakes happen as the technology changes, and I have no doubt that someday we'll see another version of LOTR hit the big screen. Those rights are still out there.

The truth is, no film is ever going to be perfect. Purists of any franchise are always going to be dissatisfied with something. I think LOTR did better than we could have hoped, given the film industry of the time. What Jackson pulled off was just short of a miracle and he also deserves commendation for his efforts. That he missed the point on some crucial elements is lamentable, but considering the scope of the book and the amount that he did get right, still sets him above much of the film industry. It was also a major achievement for the country of New Zealand, and I think that alone makes the films worth doing. And yes, the Hobbit as well.

All this is to say, if Christopher Tolkien wasn't happy with Jackson's work, then no, he likely wouldn't be satisfied with anyone else's, whether it's a future adaptation of the licensed properties, or the hoped for but now demolished dream of "The Silmarillion" or "The Unfinished Tales" coming to the screen. So therefore his decision is probably the right one, and I can't blame him for making it, especially as he is in his 80's and can't get involved in a production at the hands-on level that Douglas Gresham (C.S. Lewis's step-son and literary executor) did for the Narnia movies.

I'm not certain, however, that we'll never, ever see any of the other properties retold for film. The estate will come under new management at some point, and I think eventually we'll see a younger executor partner with a film company (or perhaps in a TV series format) to adapt the other stories. It may not be for fifty years, but I do think it will eventually happen. At some point, at least, all the rights are going to relapse and then it'll be fair game. Although with a property as lucrative and precious as LOTR, I'm sure it will be tied up as tightly as it can for the time being.

1 comment:

Elora Shore said...

I think you are right--that is how I feel. Someday other Middle Earth stories will likely be made. And perhaps it's a good thing--the scope that the Silmarillion would need, future tech advances might be best. Who knows? But one thing for sure--when I think of all the money it'd take to make it, it just blows my breath away. Think of the money they spent on Lotr, and Hobbit!