Thread: BEREN AND LUTHIEN (THE ADAPTATION)
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Questions immediately arise:
How much do we play with the storyline to make it filmable?
Should we be as faithful to the text as humanly possible?
Should anything be left out?
How do we deal with all those "singing" battles (and Luthien's singing in Doriath)?
More questions jump to mind.
Oh Eldorion - where to start?
GB Can we alter BEREN AND LUTHIEN (THE MOVIE) to BEREN AND LUTHIEN (DIRECTOR AND ACTORS)???
It's such a gripping story, so I think it should stay as close to the text as possible (I suppose everyone here thinks that though )
On the other hand, there would have to be some adaptation. I think the singing battles are the most obvious: in a film there'd have to be a lot of magic at those points. What we must remember is that Silmarillion was written as a collection of myths and stories, and the idea of Luthien defeating Sauron (is that right?) by singing strikes me as very much a mythical representing of their struggle, and I don't think it was intended to be completely literal (perhaps I'm wrong, I'm open to being persuaded otherwise). Therefore, I think this would have to be made into more of a kind of "magic duel". That's what I think anyway.
I think a good place to start would be an introduction to Beren, and his life before he met Luthien (then again, I can't really remember exactly what it was he did before meeting Luthien - did he live alone on the wild for a bit?)
[quote="Odo Banks":s8iyli1s]How much do we play with the storyline to make it filmable?[/quote:s8iyli1s]
I would alter the story line as little as we can while still having the movie flow and work as a movie. Obviously that means we can't just take the original text and expect that to work as a screenplay, but I think that keeping the original structure of the story and working in the original dialog wherever possible would be good.
[quote:s8iyli1s]Should we be as faithful to the text as humanly possible?[/quote:s8iyli1s]
The obvious limiter on faithfulness is quality as movie. I however do not think that quality as a movie and faithfulness as an adaptation is a zero-sum game; it's possible to have both. Given the vague and incomplete state of [i:s8iyli1s]Beren and Luthien[/i:s8iyli1s] as it appears in [i:s8iyli1s]The Silmarillion[/i:s8iyli1s] I don't think that it will be too hard.
[quote:s8iyli1s]Should anything be left out?[/quote:s8iyli1s]
Not if we're going by the version in [i:s8iyli1s]The Silmarillion[/i:s8iyli1s], there's little enough in there as it is. That said, I haven't read that chapter in a while (I will when I get home and can), so there [i:s8iyli1s]might[/i:s8iyli1s] be a few places to take out, but I don't think that there will be many, if any.
[quote:s8iyli1s]How do we deal with all those "singing" battles (and Luthien's singing in Doriath)?[/quote:s8iyli1s]
I would show them. Luthien in Doriath especially since its a pivotal part of the story and runs little risk of being seen as cheesiness (music as part of a love story isn't really a shocker). Finrod and Sauron could be trickier to pull off without weirding out audiences, but perhaps having the singing accompanied by two competing musical themes (worked into the soundtrack) would help. I'll think about this some more.
And yes, with so much magic involved with the story, it will be hard to pull of the singing battles, or even Luthien's hair growing and disguising themselves as beasts.
I'm starting to think that this task will be harder to take on than LOTR!
As to dialogue, that is the toughest thing. Somehow we need to avoid "archaic" dialogue. No thous and thees for a start. There is no reason we couldn't use actual dialogue from the book and add to it. That would be the test of a great script writer, to add but be true.
The idea of Beren talking to animals would be fine, handled properly, but I don't think the animals should talk back - let's not go Disney here.
The landscapes should be "real" where possible. Middle Earth is a beautiful natural world, if wild, and Morgoth's lands an ugly mimicry (CGI could help here especially). The monsters must be realistic - National Geographic sort of, and put them in real environments when they battle our heroes.
While I think we should stay as much as possible with Beren, we should not ever lose sight of the fact that Luthien is the biggest hero. Let's not make Beren too heroic (I mean not too physically powerful - like a super hero - but we must allow his courageous spirit shine through the darkness!) His life must always be at great risk and his mortality shown. If we're not afraid he'll be killed or captured, then he won't work on film. We need to identify with his frailty as well as with his strength.
Luthien should remain slightly distant. Let's not risk sublimating the Magic and Mystery that surrounds her by making her a stock heroine. I don't how we can do it, but we must keep her down to earth but also remote somehow - she must have an inner natural beauty as well as an outer beauty. Wow! She'll be hard to cast.
Hey! This might be a great opportunity to have a female hero who is genuinely a 'female' hero and not some Conan with girl parts! We'll need female script writers - absolutely!
This is exciting! I need to catch my breath and give someone else a turn!
But I think you could get away with some archaic dialogue, when Thingol speaks to Beren for the first time, for instance. He's angry and proud, so I think he could probably use old language. That having been said, I completely agree about avoiding it for general dialogue.
And I must watch some truly beautiful (and subtle) love stories to get my head around how the romance should be handled. (Can the ladies help with suggestions?) The scene with Arwen telling Aragorn that if he is dreaming then it is a good dream, to me is a brilliant example of what we should be looking for. But some lighter but still intimate scenes will be required too. (Beren must trust Luthien from the start. No ghastly "Oh you're just a girl," crap!!!)
And I think PJ's monsters were generally good, but I think he did not build suspense all that well at times. If our movie could move a little slower and build suspense, I think that would work well. In other words, let's trust our viewers like T did his readers to follow a storyline that is not all bells and whistles and CGI monsters!
And if we put in some humor - and I think we should - let's make it situational rather than slapstick. Make it a pun-free zone - and definitely no comical creatures. I only mention humor because it is part of the human condition, even in the darkest of times, and Beren and Luthien should be serious but not severe; and somehow we must get light in so that the despairing and dangerous parts can work better on our emotions. If the characters are too dour, we will not be able to identify with them. They must not take themselves TOO seriously - nor resort to ever being silly, I hasten to say!
Yes, this won't be easy, but it'll be worth it in the end.
Unlike the Arwen Aragorn scenes (which for some reason bug me, though i don't know why, though it could very well be that I was obsessed with ARagorn...) Beren and Luthien shouldn't talk as much. For example...
As Beren walks through Doriath, following Luthiens voice, I think the moment he sees her (and we'll have to find one amazing actor for this) should simply look at her, and the audience will feel the overwhelming love he is feeling at that moment. Then we see Luthien, brilliantly fair with flowing dark hair and wonderous gray eyes, singing like a Nightengale. She begins to wander away, and an awe stricken Beren calls out to her, "Tinuviel" breaking the silence. She turns around, and you see in her face the same emotion that was on Beren's, yet wonder also. She looks at him, and she knows then her doom is decided. And she begins to sing to him, and they walk through the trees in complete bliss, their love blossoming as quickly as can be percieved by mortals alike.
That's what I call love at first sight. I think Tolkein does also. You see very much of him in Beren, the young tolkein at war. Alone and frightened and tired after long days of traveling and battle, then to look upon the face of the most fair maiden to ever walk the earth.How he felt, perhaps, when he met his wife the first time. We need to express that in the film.
And MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This movie CANNOT be Romeo and Juliet esc. This story deserves not to be compared too. (like Twilight )
I'm about to read the tale again. I'm playing with the idea of using the actual dialogue as a starting point for the scenes they're in. From there, maybe work out more dialogue, if necessary, to flesh them out. This method, one hopes, would help cover quite a few romance scenes. And from a framework something like that, we might begin to piece together the fuller script... (There's not a lot of dialogue, so why shouldn't it all be in?) The action scenes should be more straight forward, I think (though this doesn't take into account all that singing!)
A starting point...???
What about Beren out alone scouting for enemy activity in a treed valley. Maybe see a warg down the valley snuffling about to add a little tension. (This could be during starting credits). Then, to his surprise, a bird flies in from the direction of his village (quite some way away) sending up a "danger" call to alert him about trouble there. (This would be the Orcs killing the folk back home). The audience would then immediately know that he can converse with the beasts and lead fairly early in the movie to him hunting down the Orc band... (No dialogue yet... which should make things easier to begin with!)
This going to be hard to get right...
What I mean I'll try to explain by giving a (potential) example.
Huan (a great hound) finds Luthien despite her enchantments (remember he's from Valinor not easily duped). He takes her to meet Celegorm and Curufin. In conversation Luthien finds out who they are, and they her.
"You are elves - and perhaps Noldorions, I see. Who are you?
You may not know us, but I know you, for the beauty of Luthien is renowned, and you surely can be no other! Let me introduce myself, I am Celegorm, and here you see my dear brother, Curufin.
LUTHIEN (slightly frowning):
You are sons of Feanor then!
CURUFIN (cynical smile):
That we are, your Highness, that we are!
Okay clumsy - not good - but you get the idea! Fans will know - non-fans can catch up when they will - at least they'll know they're elves and know their names. Mind you, by this time the brothers have already met Beren in Nagathrond, so the viewing audience should already know them. Luthien would be meeting them for the first time and need an introduction. The elves will guess that Luthien is searching for Beren (who by now is off questing with Finrod Felegund), but they will hardly mention that! And Huan's saying nothing at this stage.
Look, I 'm making this up as I go....! I hope you get what I'm driving at. Surely there are enough fans to make a Purist movie pay!
The Silmaril's and the Oath of Feanor's sons (and Morgoth, the Dark Lord, of course) can be mentioned here and there in passing to reinforce the drama, but not to dumb it down for non-Tolkienite heathens. (If the movie sends non-Tolkienites off to read the Silmarillion, all the better!)
Anyway, the story (romance and action) is good enough to allow for some minor confusion about the whys and wherefores. A lot of movies leave me wondering about unexplained details.
As to Luthien singing....
I believe when she is singing, its like far off harmonic music, and as you get closer to her, you hear her incredible voice, and your heart melts. Maybe something along the lines of New Age music perhaps? and in battle, when she begins to sing, all is silent and only her voice is heard. And the audience sees the results of her beautiful voice on the enemy. So you're hearing pretty, but seeing ugly...
I have an idea that the first word he utters in the movie is "Tinuviel!"
Beren up to now would have had quite a few (wordless) adventures, including all that horror and danger he endures in the valley of spiders and dark enchantment while on his way to Doriath. Imagine! Just when the audience begins to think, "Oh my goodness, this story is just too horrific and bleak to bear!" Beren comes stumbling through the Girdle of Melian into a sunlit forest glade - or similar - and sees HER for the first time. At last there is light and hope (and love) in the movie! He tries to come to her but she keeps disappearing on him, until at last, he gets close enough to call out one word, one name! "Tinuviel!"
Tinuviel, your music ideas are appealing, but it will be a real trick to get the feel right. Of course, not many things of true worth are ever easy, so the pain will be worth it! And btw thank you for your kindness regarding my little bit of dialogue.
And you too, Tar-Palantir, thanks for your enthusiasm and encouragement!
Talking over Tolkien's Great History surely gets the creative juices flowing, don't it!
Only one thing.
Beren should utter some words, like when he takes the ring from the orcs and runs away. After that there really doesn't have to be dialogue other than short phrases and ONAMOTOPIA (i know i spelled that wrong...)
Otherwise, I'M LOVIN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is movie is as epic as the quest it's telling!
I hope you don't think of him as a wise cracking braggart type? He must kill his enemies with chill intensity, I think. Remember, the Orcs fear him because of what he does hunting them in Doriath before Sauron arrives to hunt him with an army. I imagine him as a silent and clinical killer who actually turns the terror back on Morgoth's crew. Not with super strength and bravado, but with sheer efficiency. He must stalk his enemy ruthlessly but believably.
Beren's softer? lighter? side might come out after he meets Luthien. If he's unrelentingly dour, I don't think the character will work with audiences (including me).
I confess I don't know what ONAMOTOPIA is - whether spelt right or wrong! (I certainly hope Beren won't have to say it in the movie - irrespective of what it means!)
Hey! I just read "Of Beren and Luthien" again (second time in a week). It's certainly a very powerful story. I now understand why some say it is the center of T's creation. Only the closest of adaptations is acceptable!
I reckon some of T's prose can be reworked quite readily into dialogue by the way, which will help with the script writing.
And I agree, beren shouldn't be a wise guy, but more so a person who, once he's met Luthien, has the confidence of a man in love.
And i think when beren takes the ring, right before he departs, should say something like, "This does not belong to you" with some venom and anger and sorrow as well. Just to set the stage.
Yet I feel that if there isn't enough dialogue, the story won't flow as easily. I saw this pochahontas movie with Colin Farell in it, and the majority of it was without dialogue, and i was completely lost because of it. Dialogue helps show passage of time. By no means am I implying that much of it is needed, but some perhaps...
But I imagine the Orcs talking during Gorlim's capture and torture, and shortly later Sauron talking to Gorlim when the latter breaks and gives up Barahir's hideout. Gorlim's ghost also speaks to Beren.
My thoughts, of course, are evolving on this. We can use a series of quick scenes to show Beren stalking and killing Orcs in clever and unexpected ways, thus inducing their fear of him. This could be used as a device to show time passing. You know, Winter kills, Spring kills, Summer kills, Autum kills - four years swishing past, inter-spaced with scenes where he befriends wild things. After that, his journey through the forests in the Mountains of Terror on the flight to Doriath - which would not require talk, only building horror and action).
We here orcs talking about their victory and them gaining the ring, while BEren intensely listens. Then he attacks them with a blind fury, and we see him walking away, barrying his father ect. but at the end we see him looking at the ring (maybe go to a flashback of when he was young with his father?)
then putting it in his pocket (or on his hand) and then your 4 year sequence with AWESOMELY intense music (of course ) But also think that before Beren meets LUthien, we should see some of Luthien and how she lives, or just Thingol and Melian talking about her, just to foreshadow things a bit and to equally weigh the background stories of both characters.
And are there any pictures by John Howard or somone of Huan or any characters from the Silmarillion in this story? I know there's one of Luthien for sure...
SAURON (to his Orcs when he sends them out after Barahir)): "After you have killed him, bring me the ring he wears. It is a trinket gifted to him by my friend Finrod - and I would have it for my collection."
As to Huan. What kind of dog are were talking about if we think of "Hounds"?
I don't think Beren needs to kill any Orc but the leader who has Barahir's ring. This throws the others into confusion, and Beren escapes with the ring. Why not leave any major heroics with Beren until later in the storyline - what do you think? Until he meets Luthien, I feel Beren should be a tragic desperate individual.
Your idea about awesome music, I'm not sure. Shouldn't we be patient and wait until we get to scenes like Huan fighting Sauron (as Werewolf) before we begin to unleash the strongest music?
First, I'm not entirely certain that Beren needs to be entirely speechless until he spies Luthien. The lack of extensive dialogue in the story is due more to Tolkien's storytelling style than any particular character trait. Having said that, there wouldn't be much of a need for dialogue between the time Beren discovers his father's death and later comes across Luthien.
I agree, he should seem brooding and desperate particularly during this period, but with a noble and yet humble soul, in short, much like Viggo's Aragorn. I don't really know how old he's supposed to be, but I like David Thewlis for the part (he plays Remus Lupin in the Potter films), but at 46 he may be too "old". Shame that.
I love the idea of Beren having premonition dreams about Luthien during his Orc killing spree Odo.
Now Huan should be a large dog, big enough for Luthien to ride on. Possibly an Irish or Russian Wolf-hound with special effects to make him look bigger. I'll check my dog books and when I have a firmer idea I'll try to find some pictures to post.
Interestingly, Huan is limited to speak only 3 times in his life. Not certain the best way to handle that yet. I actually liked the way it was done in the Narnia films, but would it work in a film geared more for adults? Perhaps, we are talking about making the film for fans of the story, so they would be prepared for that.
As for the singing battles, that could present a problem. I like the music from many musicals, and have no problem with it when they are stage productions. But it takes me right out of a story when people sing their dialogue, so I'm not a big fan of musicals as realistic drama. But i am thinking that if it is presented as wordless vocal Magic--maybe it could be pulled off.
That is to say, the characters would just vocalize certain tones in an operatic manner, perhaps electronically enhanced and we could see the sound waves rippling through the air and vibrating the surrounding props and set until the resonant frequencies shatter certain objects.
Anyway, just a few thoughts from me to start.
This talk of singing raises an interesting point. I remember that Saruman sings (wordlessly?) in FOTR when he brings the snow down on Gandalf, so what you say about music corresponds with what has already been done to some degree and with some success.
I must look up your hounds on Google. I agree we should up-size whatever we find, but keep whatever we choose "real". I really like the idea of our Movie seeming realistic - almost National Geographic. What an interesting challenge to make all the Magic seem Natural. This fits with a peculiar view I have that Luthien is almost a Gaian figure.
As to Beren's age. I would have thought "quite" young, eighteen at the start? When he meets Luthien he'd be about twenty two - though matured by adversity.
As to Beren not saying anything, it's just I can't imagine him having cause to say anything of real interest until he meets his Love, so why not use the opportunity for an especially Uplifting Moment? He calls her name! Wow! I reckon. Wow! And what if he befriends his animals and initially talks in bird or animal language to begin with - I mean mimic their sounds to converse with them.
On the issue of him befriending animals, I've got some ideas how we could do it, but later... My post is long enough already!
Perhaps... hmmmm. An idea has just struck me. It may not be better, but, here it goes:
There's a narrator. Perhaps Beren himself, speaking in the first person. That way we don't have dialogue, but there isn't akward silence. This way, we can keep the books dialogue and still move the story along. Mainly in the begining. THinking this... what about David Wenham? he played faramir, but he would be a great Beren I think, or narrator (because of 300). Or perhpas Ian McKellen. Someone with that voice that has age and wisdom to it...
David Wenham certainly has the acting ability to do Beren. Now you mention him, I kind of imagine Beren as a Faramir-like character. Aragorn had elvish blood, but Beren was a mere man, even if a heroic one. Mind you, did all men of Numenorean stock have elvish blood? It's something I bet Eldorion would know.
This I feel is the perfect way to tell the beginning story and all of the back ground story!
WE HAVE A START!
But that aspect could be ambiguous. We would still see Beren talking to an Ethereal Gorlim in a Flashback or Nightmare, which fits with Tolkien's turn of events. The non-reading audience wouldn't necessarily understand that this was a recurring dream, but that could also be remedied by having brief flashes of that dream recurring during Beren's wanderings and Orc Slayings.
And thanks Tinuviel .
And I have an idea . How about the film starts with pre-credits with a wordless (but with music) sequence showing the Silmarils being fashioned. Then, after the credits we follow a silent Beren as he kills Orcs and befriends birds and beasts (through the changing seasons as Odo mentions). But the silence is punctuated at points by his nightmares and remembrances of his dying father and the events leading up to his father's death. Then the nightmares begin to be interrupted by ethereal and soothing dreams of Tinuviel. Finally one day he comes across Luthien, and his first word (not in a dream or flashback) is "Tinuviel".
I think that sequence incorporates some of all of our ideas thus far and keeps Tolkien's basic construct of the beginning intact. No voice-over necessary. We can find out more info about the Silmarils when Beren reaches the court of Luthien's father. And the information about the mission that led to Barahir's death would be conveyed in the snippet length nightmares and flashbacks.
Opening Sequence (Scene One?)(over basic credits):
Gorlim comes to his deserted village in the trees. Sees light in window. Creeps up and sees his wife. As he watches her in happy disbelief, Orcs jump him. He's dragged off to their camp somewhere in Dorthonion. Some torture (and taunting) goes on. Gorlim resists blabbing, but at last asks about his wife. Orcs give snide looks to each other and take Gorlim before Sauron (who is in a pavillion or similar - can't have him sitting around the camp fire!) Gorlim spills his guts when Sauron (cunningly) suggests Gorlim might "join" his wife. As Sauron walks out to send his Orcs to Barahir's hide-out, he says as aside to his chief torturer-orc: "Take him [Gorlim} to his dear wife - [as aside] but no need to hurry." (As in 'kill Gorlim slowly', or something sinister like that). (NB Gorlim's wife is called Eilenen or similar - sorry about spelling, I've got no access to Tolkien at present!)
Next (Scene Two?):
Show Orcs surrounding Barahir's hideout before first light... The Orc Captain grins evily...
Next (Scene Three?):
We have Beren asleep out in the heather somewhere. He dreams of those crows in the alders by the lake dripping blood. Gorlim approaches across the lake and hears his ghostly confession. Beren leaps up and heads for home in the pre-dawn light. Maybe he could shortly after look across from a heathery height to see the lake and flames rising above the hideout beyond.
(As Beren will hunt those Orcs shortly, I don't think we need to see what happens to Barahir and his men - just the results that Beren discovers. If what he finds is gruesome enough, I think it will be an effective means of showing how evil the Orcs are! This is after all an adult tale!)
Reasonable start - or not?
- Btw I have an idea or two about how we can approach the issue of Beren befriending wild beasts and becoming vegetarian - a pretty good and gruseome reason, I think! - but first things first: your suggestions so far?
I'm not sure now if we should go with dreams of Luthien. It's not how it is in the book. I think Tolkien puts her in the story in the place and time she needs to be. Save her up, I say!
I do think there should be a prologue about the silmarils and Morgoth and such, and then the gorlim scene. Instead of him telling Beren directly, the events that take place is the dream Beren has. He awakens in the heather to see crows flying toward the camp and smoke above the canopy. He sprints back as fast as he can, possibly a bird or something following him. He reaches the camp and everything is ruined, burned, and bloody He falls to his knees and cries out in dejection, and all of the crows around him fly away.
We see Beren running through the woods with an enraged look on his face. He finds the orcs in their camp and we see him slowly draw his sword. He hears them talking about yucky things and then he sees his fathers (head, hand?) and strikes in rage. He kills the leader and the few near him. The others stand back in fear, looking upon this terrible man who appeared out of the darkness. I'm thinking now that it could be a silent moment as Odo suggested. Perhaps he spits on the orc corpeses (which might be a little too much edge...) and walks away. Or, the other orcs flee in fear, and there is no need for dialouge. Thus begins the wanderings of Beren.
For instance, we could have the crows in the trees and Gorlim coming to warn Beren, but only know it's a dream when Beren startles awake.
In the book Beren finds the camp a day later (I think?) and l really think he should find the terrible aftermath of brutal violence. Is this too gruesome? Beren finds all the dead with their faces eaten off [man-flesh!] and Beren stumbles anxiously from one body to the next, and only recognizes his father from some kind of brooch, or motif on his clothes? Then he sees his father's hand has been taken by the Orcs. I imagine Beren would be quite upset over all this.
Beren loses his hand later too. Lots of hands getting lost...
None the less! If we are to make this a movie, we must add some concreteness to it. Tolkein obviously never intended for this story to be on the big screen, therefore he didn't take the time to make it realistic enough for one to protray with mere actors. We would need the actual characters to tell this story the way tolkein did. It's a diffficult task, and we may need to ( as much as I HATE!!!!!!!!! to say this...) add some reality too it. Only in order to make it into the film. That's what happens though when you take a story and make the words pictures; you loose a little bit of the imagination that goes with them.
Thus, this project will be harder than LOTR.
I'm up for it. U?
As to your thoughts about having to make Beren and Luthien (The Movie) a little more realistic, I agree with you. I've been playing it over in my mind for several days. Might we not endeavor to show the true story of what happened, but show the audience (through subtle means I haven't thought up yet) what 'actually' happened in a way that might hint at and suggest how history became legend, and legend 'mythology'! And, anyway, if we try to be too fantastic, I think we'll lose the opportunity to show Beren and Luthien as 'real' people who might actually fail. We know they don't fail, but surely we must feel they might - so they must be shown to be 'real' and vulnerable.
As to Luthien as heroine - well Luthien is the daughter of an Elf King and a Maia. She must have Powers - we just have to be thoughtful how we might limit them. As to her saving Beren's bacon a lot - why not?
In stories male heroes have been saving Gals-in-Distress for thousands of years. You know, it can go the other way too. I think it's great T had Luthien consistently saving Beren! But let's just not turn her into a shield-maiden (or a quasi-man) to do it. A woman can have some physical ability as a fighter (and Enchantress, of course!) but she doesn't have to punch out huge Wargs and Werewolves with one punch, or ward off the thrust of huge swords wielded by Mega-Orcs.
(Btw I hate it when light-weight heroines punch out hordes of beefy male villains - it's silly. Actually, I don't like it when that weedy Tom Cruise does it either! And come to think of it - let's have Beren not be too over-the-top with his prowess either...)
Yes, to make an exciting romantic magical realistic but yet subtle movie will be difficult. That's why this movie needs the quality of people who post on this forum to accomplish it! Other forum-type people have tried to make this movie - according to our wise beard, GB -but obviously they failed!
And, unlike the other forums, WE SHALL PULL THROUGH!!
I can feel it....
This really does need a budget and some decent acting to pull it off properly.
Also, should we film this in New Zeland? or should early middle earth be located somewhere else... Ideas?