Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rilstone on Jackson on Tolkien

Andrew Rilstone, who by all appearances is a Tolkien geek of major proportions, wrote a whole lot of reviews of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Ring films. I don't always agree with him -- in some places I liked the films more/thought they worked better/thought he was being too harsh, and in some places I liked them less/thought they worked less well/thought he wasn't being harsh enough -- but he's got a very interesting take on them. Even better, he has a very funny take on them. (He is increasingly funny as he goes on, getting increasingly bitter about the films.)

The funniest (and the least forgiving to Jackson) is this 2004 talk entitled "Go Away and Never Come Back", written after he'd seen the whole trilogy. If you like that (or if you're mad at him for being too harsh and want a bit more nuance), you can go read the rest of his reviews which were done in real time (as it were), as he watched each film: The Fellowship of the Ring (probably the most forgiving to Jackson (probably justifiably)); The Two Towers; the five appendixes to his Two Tower review (a Tolkien geek for sure (they include good material, though)); Return of the King parts one, two, three, four (all very short save for three) and lastly his review of the Extended DVD edition of the Return of the King.

As I said: I think he is both too nice and too harsh at times. But he's interesting, and he's funny. Have a look -- at least at the "Go Away" one (which is one of the last written, I think).

As for me, if I didn't have to teach in nine hours, I'd go procrastinate further by reading him on Star Wars...

Update: For another mixed -- but ultimately far more positive -- view of Jackson's films by one well versed in their Tolkien, I recommend Tom Shippey's essay "Another Road to Middle Earth" in the anthology Understanding the Lord of the Rings: the Best of Tolkien Criticism. Shippey is an extremely interesting reader of Tolkien (I highly recommend his book The Road to Middle Earth for anyone looking for a book-length work on Tolkien), and so it's very interesting to get his perspective on the films.

Long-later update: Sadly, Rilstone seems to have let his site lapse. So, for convenience, here are links to Rilstone's essays on the films on wayback machine: Fellowship; Two Towers; Return of the King (also 1, 3, 4); Go Away and Never Come Back; and the Extended DVD.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting, but I thought his complaint, in "Go Away," about Jackson's "cinematizing" the moments in the story when people "seemed" especially tall and terrible by making them look especially tall and terrible was sort of disingenuous, as though movie art and craft begins and ends with pointing the camera at the actors' expressions and letting their eyebrows tell the story.