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Thread: Simon Tolkien

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In another thread I wrote:

For me, what was hard to believe was that Christopher Tolkien 'disowned' his own son over films based on The Lord of the Rings -- according to a news article that was later publicly corrected by Christopher Tolkien, and Simon Tolkien as well.

I would like to correct this statement after listening again to the interview in question with Simon Tolkien. In an interview of 13 April 2010 -- Simon Tolkien: The Inheritance, Diane Rehm, NPR -- Simon was asked about a 'dispute' concerning the Estate (at first Mr Tolkien made Diane Rehm repeat her question, saying that he didn't understand it):

Diane Rehm: '(...) your father's and your grandfather's estate. Was there a dispute?

Simon Tolkien: 'No, none at all. There was a subsequent problem that I had, ah, back when the movies were coming, we had a bit of a falling out with my father that's now composed, but the actual inheritance from my grandfather, who died in 1973, on to my father as literary executor I think was entirely smooth, and what my father has done since 1973... (...) We had as I say a falling out...'

By the way this was an audio interview, so obviously the written form here is mine. In my opinion Simon Tolkien put an emphasis on 'I had' but in any case the interview can still be found on the web, is 51 minutes 34 seconds long, and the question above can be found at around 28:32 in.

So it seems that Simon's 'No, none at all' was rather in reference to the matter of JRRT's inheritance, and the dispute with his father Christopher is a different matter, here characterized as a bit of a 'falling out' at the time the films came out.

There's also a more recent interview with Simon Tolkien in which he states that he kind of liked the first film of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings adaptation, but ultimately adds...

'... my problem with the films was really, that ah I think Jackson was kind of too faithful to the books, he kind of put too much into it, and so there was too much going on. I would have liked more character and perhaps following his own course, so I think with the Hobbit films...'

While I would not have used the phrase 'too faithful'...

... I have always agreed with the opinion that Jackson tried to include too much. I would have cut more, altered very much less, so to speak.

The newer interview, or part of it anyway, is currently on youtube.

Well it's all up to the individual viewer and I think that after all these years the first films are there as are the books. They're all great and excellent and loved and will be for the rest of human history.

The Professors messages are held in the movies, and I think it's great that these messages have been past on to new generations.

Hmm, another statement about the subjectivity of interpretation. Of course one could go around posting the same thing as a response to just about anything said about the films, good or bad, but yes, we all have different opinions. 

And the films are 'there'? Well I guess everything has to be somewhere

I have to say that I don't agree with Simon on the fact that he didn't like P.J staying too faithful the books. I think all the films were perfect in the sense that they have you enough insight on the culture of all the different races. Staying faithful was, I think, also necessary because many people who saw the movies, I noticed, did not read the books. One thing, though, that I didn't like was how slow the journey from Hobbiton to Rivindell was. The book was more adventourus. To me it was the most boring part of the Fellowship of the Ring. I still loved the movie though.

Well, I think Simon Tolkien said 'too faithful' in the sense of trying to get too much of the books into the film, plot wise. I've heard from some who had not read the books that the films were too confusing, and this, I think, ties in with what Simon means here: too much going on and not enough focus on character.

That doesn't necessarily mean he thinks Jackson was 'too faithful' with respect to the way he took things that he tried to fit in, however. For example, obviously the death of Boromir is from the books, but Jackson presented it very differently on film (this example is something I would not have cut from the books of course, but it makes the distinction).

What to keep in from the books versus what to cut -- distinct from what to keep in but then alter for 'filmic reasons'.

Basically the films would have failed if PJ had stuck to the exact word of the books. There are a few chages which I think were unnessersary, however on the whole I love them.
I think PJ did a pretty good job with the films. Of course he put in some unnecessary things here and there but those were hard films to make in general. What I'm saying is that making films for the books was really hard but PJ did an amazing job.

Brego wrote: Basically the films would have failed if PJ had stuck to the exact word of the books. There are a few chages which I think were unnessersary, however on the whole I love them.

Well no one ever asked or expected any director to stick to the 'exact word' of the books in any case, yet plenty of people think Jackson's films fail as adaptations, just as they are.

Do you have anything to post about Simon Tolkien, or about what he said?