sarnath: Bilbo sees the lonely mountain from the Mirkwood (Bilbo & Lonely Mountain)
[personal profile] sarnath
Dramatic, but not too much so for a dragon, I suppose! I watched The Desolation of Smaug for the first time last week and it was brilliant. Of course, I'm not a book purist and have honestly forgotten most of it (haven't read it in twenty years at least!) despite having read it more than once.

 photo HobbitDoS01smaller_zpsa14f2793.png

They're beautiful, these films. And I'm so easily moved by epic adventure and the old school romance of the heroic quest that I'm really not reliably biased when faced with it in such a glorious package.

Also, I have joined the hordes of the Thorin/Bilbo shippers. What can I say, I'm a simple woman with simple pleasures. And they're pretty shippy, considering! I suppose I'll have a good cry at the ending, though, that's going to be depressing.

While I was at it, reading the fic, thinking about the world, I decided to watch the Ring trilogy as well, an that made me consider many things about these books and fantasy in general. Because when you get down to it, Tolkien is pretty awful at the worldbuilding stuff, isn't he?

I mean, did I understand correctly that the world has been technologically and socially practically stagnant for at least two and a half millennia? Have they no scientists, no one who is in the least curious about the way the world could be understood? Are they content to live on a level where a broken leg could be a death sentence? Unless you get hold of the elves, of course, and that leads me to my next point:

Why is every land and people so segregated? And why do they seem to have practically no contact with each other? Even Eddings wrote more alive worlds, and that's saying something considering he generally built his worlds on paint by number clich├ęs (he did have some entertaining characters, though, especially for a fourteen-year-old just starting out reading fantasy).

But what mostly bothers me really is the technology. It's not completely absent; occasionally it's brought up as a part of the evil that's destroying the lands. Like Saruman no longer caring for growing things, but now having a mind of "metal and wheels". I mean, seriously.

Then there is the blatant sexism, of course. The constant harping on "women and children" needing protection, reinforced heavily in the films by juxtaposing images of men riding to war with cowering women with crying children in their arms. The battle of Helms Deep exacerbates this with having young children going to war, only boys, while healthy, strong, grown women are cowering with fear in the caves.

I must say that the Hobbit films was an improvement in this, except for the seemingly inescapable compulsion writers feel to give female characters a romance as their central narrative. Talk about misplaced and unnecessary! But I applaud that Tauriel is treated as a soldier like any other in every way, despite the romance drivel.

But generally, I think Tolkiens ideals just aren't mine at all. He has a sort of romantic rose-coloured image of the perfect pastoral life as the ideal of human existence, and I simply just don't agree. In a large part it's because that vision is stagnant and isolationist, but also because it turns his writing predictable in a way; he is heavily influenced by the Christian imagery of a purely evil and a purely good side, and of the future being an orderly, decided thing. His writing is very fatalistic, and that is not my thing at all.

I'm also not a fan of the "all things are declining" type of stories. I find it a bit boring, to be honest! And so, so very Christian in how this imperfect world will end, and be replaced with a new, perfect (probably also stagnant) one.

I'm also constantly asking questions throughout watching. Like:

- What does the ring even do?

- What does Sauron actually want with his rule?

- Why are the elves "diminishing"?

- Can the orcs even reproduce?

- Where is the rest of the world? The map obviously shows only a small part of the it.

In any case I love the Hobbit films, and I don't mind the changes. In fact, I like most of them, and wouldn't mind finding out Jackson has taken even more liberties in the last one! Sacrilege, I know, but since I don't really revere Tolkien's writing to begin with...
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