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Tolkien and ballet

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Hi BalletStar811:

Since I used the term "allegory", let me help you with definitions.

An allegory is a story, poem, novel, etc., which can be interpreted to show a hidden, inner meaning. As an example, you can read "Moby Dick" and think of it as a story about a sea captain chasing a white whale ... or you can think of it as a tale of Good and Evil ... the "Good and Evil" meaning would be interpreting Moby Dick as an allegory.

Allegory is related to two other figures of speech in English: simile and metaphor ...

A simile is a comparison of one thing to a different kind of thing, using "like" or "as". "You dance like an angel" is a simile.

A metaphor is the use of a description or term for something to which it doesn't really apply or using one term as a reference for another. "You are the rock of this dance company" is a metaphor (you're not really a rock, but the person is saying you are the solid foundation of the company ... and comparing your strength to the strength of a rock).

Hope that helps.

BB (... and no, I'm not really an English teacher ... I just love to read!!)

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Yes, the Númenoreans are related to the Elves by marriage - of Beren and Luthien.

And Bilbo, I was trained to be an English teacher(among other things), and I couldn't have defined "allegory" better!:)

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I see Bilbo, thank you! But I do know what a simile and metaphor are ;) Thank you though for defining allegory in a way which is easy to understand. :)

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Mr. Johnson, I find it crazy how you know about so many things! You know history like the back of your hand, LOTR as well, English, ballet (of course)... what don't you know! ;) :) I just think that is wonderful to have such knowledge about so many topics. So Aragorn I know was brought up by Elves, and he is a Numer-what? Is that like a cross between Elves and Men?

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He is the last of the pure Númenoreans, the heirs of Elendil, although his life-span is not as great as those of Old. The Númenoreans are only related to Elves as in-laws.

They are the descendants of the race of Men who escaped the sinking of the great island of Númenor in Second Age 3319.

(And I can't do arithmetic worth a durn! My checkbook is a mess!;) )

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:D . I was at the bookstore today, and I went over to the Tolkien section, and scanned some of the histories, like the Treason of Isengard. I am now confused as to what the histories of Middle-Earth really are- I mean, some of the chapters were entitled the same as from The Fellowship and it kept saying "my father....". I thought the histories were stories like the Trilogy.... I was most likely mistaken!

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The HoME books are the backgrounds and supplementary materials that JRRT wrote and Christopher Tolkien prepared for publication, so that Tolkienophiles can see what the process of creation of the books was. The four books that make up the drafts for the Trilogy show marked differences from what was finally sent to the publisher as final.

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Actually, if I remember correctly (and please correct me if I'm wrong), the "original draft" for much of TLOR was a series of letter that Christopher has subsequently published. His father, JRR, had written them to him when JRR was on duty with the British Army during WW II and Chris was a 9-10 year old, sent away to the country because of the bombing of London. They must have been originally a very long "night time story" from father to son ... and perhaps (here I am, back on my allegory trail!!) the battle of Good and Evil in the trilogy came to mind in the more immediate war father and son were involved in ...

BB

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There is, in "Letters" much back-and-forth between JRRT and Christopher, but he was developing most of the story on his own, in response to a request from Allen and Unwin, his original publishers, for "something more about hobbits". He started off thinking that he was going to write another Hobbit-length book, and ended up with a monster manuscript that required three volumes of two "books" each to be easily portable. Hence the famous quotation, "The tale grew in the telling." Actually, the Professor was a WWI veteran, and Christopher was 18+ and in the RAF in WWII.

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So much for my recollections ... and my "allegory"!!

Thanks, Mel, for the real facts!!

BB

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Allegory is all right, according to Tolkien, if you, the reader are seeing it that way. He just denies ever writing with the intention of presenting allegory. He felt that it was too tyrannical of an author to do so, as it abridged the reader's freedom of interpretation. he felt that if a reader thought that, "Gee, this Sauron guy is a lot like Hitler/Stalin/my mother-in-law," then that was fine, but he didn't intend it that way.

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I don't think I would interpret it at all like he was like Sauron was like one of those dictators... Middle-Earth and that whole world are too far off in such a great place that I would love to live in for me to connect with some present day conflict. I see it as a wonderful tale, and of course it is the classic fight of good vs. evil, but we see that in all the best fairy tales and tales from the Middle Ages and years ago. Even Star Wars, set in the future, has that battle... I see Sauron as more of a connection to Darth Vader than to Hitler.

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Actually, Star Wars is not set in the future... it always say "A long long time ago..." on the introductions :cool: RUN! ORCS! I mean... Battle Droids :)

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The Professor would agree with your right to interpret it that way, even though he couldn't possibly have written it with that intention.

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Interesting ... so some artists can INTEND their works to be allegorical (or let's say based on a defined story), while others allow the audience full reign to interpret as they wish. Do you really think that an author as careful as Tolkien, taking the time and creating entire histories of Ages, really didn't have, in his mind, some link? Did he really just write it as a fabulous tale, without any meaning he wanted to convey?

I'm just thinking (as an example) of Verdi's opera "Falstaff" (just saw it last weekend, so it's fresh in my mind). Verdi acknowledges his love of Shakespeare and the use of Shakespeare's plays Henry IV, parts 1, part 2, and the Merry Wives of Windsor as the basis, but his librettist took major liberties with Shakespeare's text and characters to fit into the operatic form (many of them actually improvements!!). Verdi, by naming it, clearly implied the strong connection.

But if you take a ballet, such as Tschaikovsky's Swan Lake ... the connection to the original tale is there, in name and in story ... but by the time a new (non-original) chorecographer has made changes and the artists have exercised their freedom to innovate ... when is a ballet a "variant" and when does it become a "vew version"?

BB

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Creators of works of art are informed by various influences. Tolkien was vastly influenced by medieval romances and the Icelandic sagas, plus something of his own Edwardian boyhood.

The story of Swan Lake was formed from a story called "The Stolen Veil" from Johann Musäus' Folk-Tales from Germany, and is rather different from it. Now, once a definitive version of a ballet comes out - in this case, the 1895 production, how a company chooses to stage it becomes an issue. Indeed, the near-perfect Act II needs little "punching up" to make it current, and its true resilience is revealed. It is in the rest of the work that stagers often stray. There have been so many productions of NotSwanLake, with Freudian, Jungian, and Krafft-Ebbing curlicues in the other acts, that a company choosing to restore a traditional version to a major company's repertoire might just find itself being hailed for "innovation"!

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Mr. Johnson, another question~

When Gandalf (or whomever) speaks of the Dark Tower, is that.... Barad-Dur in Mordor? Also, what exactly are Barrow Wights (not sure if said that one right)... I was wondering what they were and why they took Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin. I am enjoying this book very much.. oh LOTR is sooooo good! :mad:

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Yes, Barad-dûr is always the Dark Tower. The Barrow-Wights are the undead spirits of an ancient race of men who inhabited Eriador during in the Second Age. They died in driving Sauron from their kingdom and assume any intruders are his agents. That's why their swords glow in the presence of orcs or the Ringwraiths. They may have been ancestors of the Rohirrim, as the Horse-People recognize the name "hobbit" from an ancient word in their tongue, "holbytla".

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Oh, thank you very much I understand now. Do you think the movie served the book justice, just wondering? I know they left some things out, but that is inevitable since the book has so much to it.... they left Tom Bombadil out completely, but I guess he wasn't necessary to the plot. But I thought the movie was completely wonderful... I especially love the music, and all the characters are perfect. And the scenery! It takes you to another world! Middle- Earth! Oh but of course they had to throw in more romance, by replacing Glorfindel with Arwen... oh well.

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I, personally, think that the movie served the books justice. I can see WHY they left Tom B out, you're right, he really isn't necessary to the plot. I think it would have been interesting to see Peter Jackson's interpretation of it, though I don't think it would have added much to the movie. It seemed to me that they left quite a bit of that part of the story out for a reason- they where "running" from the ringwraiths, and by poking around talking to Bombadil. Good character, really, but movies and books are two completely different mediums for telling a story. I honestly do not think that it would have added anything to the story, simply because they "speed" everything else up, too- they make it seem like it could have been a much shorter time from when Bilbo left to the time that Frodo left, they made Frodo's trip to Rivendell shorter, as well as the time it took to get to the Caradhras (did I spell that correctly?). They speed up their visit to Lothlorien and their trip to Edoras is quite a bit quicker- as is how quickly the hobbits are on their way to Mount Doom. They have to skip a lot that doesn't pertain to the plots as much, and I think that while Tom B is quite a big character in the book, he would have only made movie goers a bit bored. I don't understand why it was necessary to cut out Glorfindel... well... actually, thinking about it, I suppose it makes sense. It was a good way to introduce Arwen to the plot, especially since they didn't do the banquet like they did in the book, which is what originally introduced Arwen. I suppose the romance *could* have been left out of the movie, especially since it wasn't that prominent in the first two books (if it is or isn't in the last half of the ROTK is beyond me, I haven't gotten to that part yet)... my guess is that they wanted to introduce Arwen in the first movie to establish the fact that Eowyn's infatuation wasn't "allowed" and that in the third book they (I'm assuming here, I can only use what my friends have told me about this part, correct me if I'm wrong!) get married. (again, I don't totally know this for sure... I suppose I should haev researched it out a bit more lol, but this is what I've heard from various friends and other things. The way my mind peices the info I have together is this- elrond doesn't leave until after they are married, and the last chapter is the "Undying Lands" which presumably is when Frodo goes to the undying lands because of Arwen.... but again, do correct me if I'm wrong :o) I think the only thing that DIDN'T make sense is in the Two Towers in the book, Legolas WISHED for Mirkwood archers, but never got them. In the movie, Haldir (of LORIEN) was sent from RIVENDELL with MIRKWOOD archers (huh?) guess it didn't click with me haha

I think the movies did to the books justice... the scenery really is another world, the music is fabulous. I can't go 24 hours without listening to the Fellowship CD, I'm dying to buy the Two Towers. the characters matched the descriptions given in the books, as did the scenery. I think they did a beautiful job.

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Right - even JRRT admitted that he couldn't figure out why he left Tom Bombadil in the story, unless it was to foreshadow Ents, as he talks Old Man Willow (clearly a Huorn) out of holding the hobbits. But then he went on and on with him. I think he left Tom in because the Professor's daughter's favorite doll was named Tom Bombadil, and the Professor was really sentimental about things like that.

I think the "romance" material from the Appendices was quite perfectly incorporated into the action where it was, but that it was too bad that they switched Glorfindel with Arwen. The "suits" thought it would be better to give her more to do, and make her a sort of Warrior Princess, but the outcry from Tolkien fans, especially women ran, "No, no, no - Arwen isn't a Warrior Princess, that's Eowyn!" Result - the Two Towers movie was recut to remove Arwen from Helm's Deep (where she doesn't belong anyway) and give Eowyn more to do! (yay!) They also had doubts about Glorfindel. If they introduced him, they were afraid they'd have to explain him. He was an elf of Gondolin who was killed in a battle with a Balrog a long, long time ago, but his spirit was "recycled" and he was sent to Middle-Earth again.

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Re Tom Bombadil, there is an interview with Peter Jackson (I'll have to find my source ... I've been reading so many "peri-Tolkien" books (those are books "around" the subject ...) that they're beginning to blur .. and he indicates that he thought seriously about Tom B and came to the same conclusion you did ... that in a movie, he would be a distraction ... he did apparently think about a "hint" of Tom B ... perhaps having a character with a hat, singing, go by in the woods ... when I have the reference, I'll give you the details ...

Re "Middle Earth", as you all know, the films were shot all over New Zealand. I have a few Kiwi friends (actually Maori descent, rather than British descent) and it's so much fun watching the film with them ... they identify the places, tell me about visiting them, rave about the natural beauty. The country quite literally went crazy during the filming, as did the film crew, which truly respected the Maori spiritual significance of the sites and made certain they left each site ecologically untouched ... and today, in the airports, over Customs & Immigrations, the signs still read "North Island ... South Island ... Middle Earth" ...

Someday ... I hope to visit ... "There and Back Again"?:o

BB

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I'm one of those people who stays for the whole "credit crawl" and I found it very fitting and proper that the production acknowledged the contributions of the Local Indigenous Personnel by putting a "thank you" in the crawl in Maori. The production truly respected the environment, and put everything back as it was before it began, or in cases where plantings were an improvement over what had been there, they were left. I'm glad to hear that the Kiwi sense of humor extended even to the barren reaches of Customs and Immigration!:o

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Customs and Immigration was better than that ... one of the photos (when the cast & crew were flying in for the premier) shows separate desks labeled "hobbits", "orcs" and "elves"!!

BB

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