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Thread: Harry Potter v/s Lord of the Rings

  1. #61
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Still though, one cannot deny the flimsiness of the writing in Star Wars.
    I'll take flimsy writing and imaginative and visionary execution over the opposite any day when it comes to film.

    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    I can agree that Star Wars has some value as a movie,
    I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Star Wars had a huge impact in terms of movie production. How you could get by with a limited budget, a hammy script, and a mediocre director if there was genuine vision, imagination, and a really talented production crew (sound, music, special effects, etc.) backing it all up. So much of Star Wars hasn't become iconic just due to popularity - most if it was deservedly so.

    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    and I think the Lord of the Rings movies have transcended their mediocre book, but the Potter movies, in comparison are complete rubbish, and I have seen a few of them, so I am not judging based on other's opinions.
    Whether you like the LotR an Tolkien's writing I'm not sure how you disrespect the extraordinary accomplishment of Tolkien's mythos. As for the Potter movies, I've only seen 2 and haven't been impressed at all.
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  2. #62
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MorpheusSandman View Post
    I'll take flimsy writing and imaginative and visionary execution over the opposite any day when it comes to film.

    I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Star Wars had a huge impact in terms of movie production. How you could get by with a limited budget, a hammy script, and a mediocre director if there was genuine vision, imagination, and a really talented production crew (sound, music, special effects, etc.) backing it all up. So much of Star Wars hasn't become iconic just due to popularity - most if it was deservedly so.
    I think the hamminess and flimsiness of the script is part of the fun. As the Times list I linked to notes: "the fun of the dialogue" is part of the film's draw.

    There are so many memorable lines in Star Wars, even though, yes they can be a bit over-the-top and wouldn't have worked in a more realist film. But it's because we have such an over-the-top world that the dialogue works and becomes one of the features that draw you to the movie and makes it feel epic.

    I don't see what you call hammy and flimsy as a drawback of the films at all.

    I should also point out that I personally think the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, is better than the first. It's even MORE visually stunning, the dialogue is stronger, the characters are stronger, and the plot and execution comes off as more convincing.
    Last edited by Drkshadow03; 08-20-2008 at 06:49 PM.
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  3. #63
    Tu le connais, lecteur... Kafka's Crow's Avatar
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    Both are rubbish, specially "LOTR" which pretend to be 'literature.' "HP" are funny and don't (yet) pretend to be classics or even literature. "HP" win this one. Next!
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  4. #64
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    I agree with Darkshadow. There is such a thing as high melodrama. Star Wars, Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life, and much of the work of Charles Dickens or Victor Hugo definitely qualifies.
    Last edited by mortalterror; 08-21-2008 at 08:42 AM.
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  5. #65
    Registered User balehead's Avatar
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    I enjoyed LOTR more than HP; because of the writing style. Theyboth have complex storylines, but LOTR wins it for me due to the amazing writing style of Tolkein
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  6. #66
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MorpheusSandman View Post
    I'll take flimsy writing and imaginative and visionary execution over the opposite any day when it comes to film.

    I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Star Wars had a huge impact in terms of movie production. How you could get by with a limited budget, a hammy script, and a mediocre director if there was genuine vision, imagination, and a really talented production crew (sound, music, special effects, etc.) backing it all up. So much of Star Wars hasn't become iconic just due to popularity - most if it was deservedly so.

    Whether you like the LotR an Tolkien's writing I'm not sure how you disrespect the extraordinary accomplishment of Tolkien's mythos. As for the Potter movies, I've only seen 2 and haven't been impressed at all.
    That isn't the point - one can criticize things if they choose - I'm not going to play the game where we say "this is canonical, this isn't" it's not worth my time - I merely call a spade a spade.

    As for the Tolkien mythos, what is to respect? the diegesis is so restricted to the text that there is nothing to really appreciate - the mythology is completely Tolkien-isolated - it's artificial, and will stay artificial - when you read Beowulf, it is legendary - it is real, or perhaps, constructed as real - Tolkien is archaic, and cheap in comparison.

    What's this extraordinary accomplishment? A bored, boring professors fascination with making up his own little world, and then hammering out the details? Is that really praiseworthy in itself?

    Don't get me wrong, I respect the trends of fantasy, as hypotheticals - and have discussed at length post-Tolkien novelists working in genre, like Robert Jordan - but the constructed world is only a vehicle, unless there is some mimesis, in which case is it either a metaphor, or a distortion. When it comes down to it, I'd take a novelist like Guy Gavriel Kay's constructed realities, which function mimetically, in a sort of metaphorical vein, rather than Tolkien's any day. The reason, is that Kay doesn't restrict anything - he merely uses the setting as backdrop for a sort of removed historical fiction, where he is more free to bend things around his own creativity - is he a great author? Well, I'll let others decide that - but compared to other genre writers, well, lets make a comparison.


    Harry Potter - as we know it, the setting is essentially restricted to 10 or so places, but really 2-3 - that alley they go to, the school, the ministry of magic, and the houses of the friends, and that town they go to, which functions more like an aspect of the school - with emphasis essentially on the school only, and very little outside, except perhaps the last book.

    The school itself functions as a dated British style boarding school, with enough razzmatazz to keep some viewers interested - but arguably, less and less secrets as books progress, as magic, once the trick is revealed I guess, seems to lose its flare. The world itself is clever in some ways, boring in others, cliché most of the time, but barely bending much as to make it really enjoyable - the whole notion of Wizard School has been done... to death, and isn't something someone who reads the genre will not have been familiar with.

    The actual setting for the training of wizards seems to be rooted with the very nature of wizardry itself. Feists Magician has a such school, Le Guin's Earthsea, or in other forms - Terry Goodkind's various institutions, or Robert Jordan's White Tower (for only women, which is a nice touch). I think though, that the modeling on the British boarding school tradition is the most defining feature of Rowling's - is that more authentic though? doubtfully.

    Tolkien's World - we see a construct of mythological borrowings woven into a sort of northern Germanic saga like tale, with intricate details down to the names of trees and their age. But is this really interesting? The conceptualization seems a lament for a rightfully passed time of feudal simplicity and aristocratic dominance - he seems to have imagined a boyhood fantasy of the medieval times (with dragons!) without any other implications - he may have languages and lore, but where are the real practical elements of the text?


    Robert Jordan - a very interesting world - perhaps too idealistic at times, and originally, though thankfully not lingeringly modeled on Tolkien's Fellowship, the world, geographically perhaps is the largest - the details are there, if not as refined and precise as Tolkien - there is quite a bit of creativity - albeit, perhaps not in character creation - but enough to really give a sort of life to the world - I think the distinctive cultural personalities work, and really use the whole genre as a vehicle for getting away with discussing cultural idiosyncrasies and traditions in interesting ways. The attention paid to, for instance, fashion is very interesting - but still, as a metaphor, the setting barely functions - it is more a vehicle for expansive escape and removal - perhaps not such a bad thing - I have my reservations about Jordan's quality mind you, and I am in no way suggesting he is good literature, but in terms of constructed reality, he seems to blow the top off of previous conventions, by really working to distinctly landscape, especially with things of interest, like food and manners - though, of course, he perhaps drew things too widely and in not as refined and nuanced detail as would've been liked.


    Steven Erikson - the least comprehensible of the mentioned novelists, and perhaps the most wacky - his world seems to have nothing really in common with anything - it is way weird, and essentially uninteresting to me. The Malazan landscape has lots of names and places, but very little sense (or, at least from the first book) and seems to lack any real desire to make itself known - I hear things become more clear in later books, but after 500 pages of no idea what the hell anything was, I think I've given up. Lots of numbers and names with 's and strange consonant clusters, but no actual sense or application.

    George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire - A strange world - the weather graphing seems awkward, but perhaps makes more sense as the novels progress - culturally, I guess, things are modeled more closely than the others on our own world, but as a setting with a message, I can't help but think this landscape functions as a sort of rape fantasy - I've gone into detail over it elsewhere, so I am not going to restate my points, other than to say that though perhaps somewhat rooted in history, his treatment of sexuality is unjustifiable as a moral sense of "entertainment" and lacks the functionality as social or cultural criticism necessary to justify it in any sense - he seems to like beating, raping, deflowering, and enslaving children, so I'll leave him to it.



    I hope this gives a general sense - none of these writers are Peake though, who seems to have had some idea as to the potential of setting - I'll add more names later for comparison if others are interested, but right now it is quite late, and I've already stayed writing this for too long.

  7. #67
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    I thought 'The Hobbit' was very good. A great little fantasy story. I started LOTR though and found the first one incredibly dull. I only got about 80 pages in.


    It always amuses me that in the '60s Californian Hippies, high on drugs, used to phone Tolkein up at 3 or 4 in the morning at home in Oxford (or was he professor at Cambridge?) and go on about how 'cool' the Hobbits were and asking him what they were smoking Can you imagine this old English gentleman on the phone at 3 in the morning to a stoned San Francisco hippy!

    "hey man, we really dig those little hobbit guys...real cool little dudes"

    "who is this? Look I don't wish to be rude but I think you have rather a cheek phoning a chap up at this time of the morning!"

    "Hey man, there is no time...all time is relative man"

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    Very silly. May as well compare a pedal boat on a pond to the Bismarck.

  9. #69
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boo Radley View Post
    Very silly. May as well compare a pedal boat on a pond to the Bismarck.
    Nice one but which one is which?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scheherazade View Post
    Nice one but which one is which?

    One author is still going round in circles making froth and bubbles, the other has already sunk. I hope that was a rhetorical question.

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    "JRR Tolkien's books are a laboured reorganisation of Norse myth by a writer who struggled with the sentence structures of English."

    Mark Lawson, http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Ar...326748,00.html

    "A vast concourse of inadequate works, for adults and for children, crams the dustbins of the ages. At a time when public judgment is no better and no worse than what is proclaimed by the ideological cheerleaders who have so destroyed humanistic study, anything goes. The cultural critics will, soon enough, introduce Harry Potter into their college curriculum, and The New York Times will go on celebrating another confirmation of the dumbing-down it leads and exemplifies."

    Harold Bloom, http://wrt-brooke.syr.edu/courses/205.03/bloom.html

  12. #72
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal4mac View Post
    "JRR Tolkien's books are a laboured reorganisation of Norse myth by a writer who struggled with the sentence structures of English."

    Mark Lawson, http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Ar...326748,00.html

    "A vast concourse of inadequate works, for adults and for children, crams the dustbins of the ages. At a time when public judgment is no better and no worse than what is proclaimed by the ideological cheerleaders who have so destroyed humanistic study, anything goes. The cultural critics will, soon enough, introduce Harry Potter into their college curriculum, and The New York Times will go on celebrating another confirmation of the dumbing-down it leads and exemplifies."

    Harold Bloom, http://wrt-brooke.syr.edu/courses/205.03/bloom.html
    Heh. I took a LOTR class in college. It was a good class. Harder than most of my regular classes, though.
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  13. #73
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Heh. I took a LOTR class in college. It was a good class. Harder than most of my regular classes, though.
    Heh, just for fun, I'd like to add they offer 1 fantasy course in English lit in my university (biggest in the country), and they for the past few years have not taught Tolkien;

    This is the reading list:

    Lord Dunsany, The King of Elfland’s Daughter; L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz; C. J. Cherryh, The Dreaming Tree; Emma Bull, War For The Oaks; Johanna Sinisalo, Troll: A Love Story; Matthew Lewis, The Monk; H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics Edition, Ed. S. T. Joshi); Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in The Castle; Ramsey Campbell, The Darkest Part of The Woods; course Reader.

    The package is mostly short stories and genre related earlier poetry, as well as a few essays thrown in. But you can see, Tolkien isn't unanimously praised, even within the genre - Moorcock, who I'm sure you have heard of Drkshadow, as you probably know, has written at great length on the subject - Le Guin has essentially in her non-fiction work, projected an aesthetic completely different in every way than Tolkien - the dreadful Donaldson's Thomas Covenant is a direct anti-Tolkien (and a terrible set of text, but we'll leave it at that) - the actual acceptance of a Tolkien model applies more for epic veins than for anything else, and ultimately, the epic stuff tends to be the stuff taken less seriously (lets be honest, no critic should want to sit down and read 6+ 700 page books to comment, especially when they are released over a couple decades).

    Stylistically, I think the best "genre" writer of fantasy is probably Roger Zelazny - he seems to be the one with the best command of language, in terms of style. But, although there is some importance on the Tolkien vein of literature (it's sales make it unavoidable, to be honest), you end up, usually, finding the best stuff as far away from Tolkien as you can go.

    Gene Wolfe, for instance, although somewhat reliant on Tolkien as an original ground breaker, seems far more rooted in English Modernism, and therefore far more profound. He, I would argue, is far better than the sort of English nostalgia that dominates Tolkien.

    The genre itself doesn't need Tolkien much anymore, except in the sense that English novels need Pamela or Clarissa. The Tolkien landscape has already been absorbed - we don't see people reading Madame Chrysanthème despite its influence on its generation - it's profound influence (though some Area specialists brought out a translation that is used as an example of East-Asian Orientalism in university classrooms). Harry Potter doesn't seem much better to me either - I think we're beyond it - it didn't break any ground, or perfect any broken ground - as a text, it doesn't engage other texts, or engage the world - it's sort of like a silly British tale of typically British things outside of their real social implications.

  14. #74
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Heh, just for fun, I'd like to add they offer 1 fantasy course in English lit in my university (biggest in the country), and they for the past few years have not taught Tolkien;

    This is the reading list:

    Lord Dunsany, The King of Elfland’s Daughter; L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz; C. J. Cherryh, The Dreaming Tree; Emma Bull, War For The Oaks; Johanna Sinisalo, Troll: A Love Story; Matthew Lewis, The Monk; H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics Edition, Ed. S. T. Joshi); Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in The Castle; Ramsey Campbell, The Darkest Part of The Woods; course Reader.

    The package is mostly short stories and genre related earlier poetry, as well as a few essays thrown in. But you can see, Tolkien isn't unanimously praised, even within the genre - Moorcock, who I'm sure you have heard of Drkshadow, as you probably know, has written at great length on the subject - Le Guin has essentially in her non-fiction work, projected an aesthetic completely different in every way than Tolkien - the dreadful Donaldson's Thomas Covenant is a direct anti-Tolkien (and a terrible set of text, but we'll leave it at that) - the actual acceptance of a Tolkien model applies more for epic veins than for anything else, and ultimately, the epic stuff tends to be the stuff taken less seriously (lets be honest, no critic should want to sit down and read 6+ 700 page books to comment, especially when they are released over a couple decades).

    Stylistically, I think the best "genre" writer of fantasy is probably Roger Zelazny - he seems to be the one with the best command of language, in terms of style. But, although there is some importance on the Tolkien vein of literature (it's sales make it unavoidable, to be honest), you end up, usually, finding the best stuff as far away from Tolkien as you can go.

    Gene Wolfe, for instance, although somewhat reliant on Tolkien as an original ground breaker, seems far more rooted in English Modernism, and therefore far more profound. He, I would argue, is far better than the sort of English nostalgia that dominates Tolkien.

    The genre itself doesn't need Tolkien much anymore, except in the sense that English novels need Pamela or Clarissa. The Tolkien landscape has already been absorbed - we don't see people reading Madame Chrysanthème despite its influence on its generation - it's profound influence (though some Area specialists brought out a translation that is used as an example of East-Asian Orientalism in university classrooms). Harry Potter doesn't seem much better to me either - I think we're beyond it - it didn't break any ground, or perfect any broken ground - as a text, it doesn't engage other texts, or engage the world - it's sort of like a silly British tale of typically British things outside of their real social implications.
    A couple of thoughts:

    I admit I am not a huge Tolkien fan myself. I don't dislike Tolkien exactly; I enjoyed his work for the most part, but I don't feel the need to worship it like some fans do, and would agree there is plenty of better fiction out there, fantasy or otherwise.

    Tolkien in many ways is still the center of the fantasy genre. I think the fact that writers such as Moorcock in his essay, Epic Pooh, and writers like China Mieville (certainly a billion times better than Tolkien) who called Tolkien the wen on fantasy's buttocks (to paraphrase a bit), still find themselves striving with Tolkien, even as they reject his aesthetic vision and politics, fifty years later, is rather telling; Tolkien is still a force that fantasy writers, especially ones working in an the epic vein or a parallel vein (New Weird), need to respond to, even if that response is one of rebellion. Then there is the fact that so far Tolkien's popularity hasn't waned; this is a book that has continued its popularity for 50+ years when many other fantasy novels have long since fallen out-of-print into the dustbin of used book stores. Likewise, people have been producing scholarship on Tolkien for ages in both book form and peer-reviewed articles and informal scholarship (popular articles), with no sign of letting up. Will Tolkien stand the test of time forever? Beats the hell out of me; I haven't lived forever yet. Has Tolkien stood the test of time so far? Yep, I would say so.

    I would agree Tolkien is most influential in the epic vein. You don't see too many Urban fantasy writers spewing complaints about the outmoded influence of Tolkien. That's also the problem when discussions like this happen. Fantasy is a huge genre, with a lot of niches; it doesn't begin and end with Epic fantasy. Besides, lately Martin has been more influential than Tolkien in dictating the direction of epic fantasy ( especially on writers such as Abercrombie, Lynch, Stover, and Hobb).

    Really, I don't understand when people say, "we are beyond something." If we were actually beyond a particular book, behavior, philosophy, idea, or whatever, then no one would being engaging in it and there would be no need for that phrase. If we are still engaging in a behavior or still want to read a particular book then that suggests that we are in fact not beyond it at all.

    One pattern you tend to have when you talk about literature in general is that you forget that the value of literature doesn't solely rest in who it influenced and whether it still is an influence, but literary works have intrinsic value in and of themselves for what it can teach us about the world and the people in it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Harry Potter ... doesn't engage other texts, or engage the world - it's sort of like a silly British tale of typically British things outside of their real social implications.
    I just about agree with this. But I'd say, living in Brit. land, that it promulgates "sad, cliched distortions of upper-middle class British things" rather than simply "typically British things". We don't all go to naff public schools, and none of us travel by steam train, and we aren't all obsessed with daft sports with rules beyond understanding...

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