25 June 2000
Following the publication of Hollywood hobbits upset Tolkien fans in The Sunday Times (and reworked as an article in The Toronto Star), I received the following correspondence from Ian Collier, the Publicity Officer for the Tolkien Society who was quoted in the articles. In his correspondence he made it clear he was not at that time speaking as a representative of The Tolkien Society. However he gave his full permission for his thoughts to be shared publicly and online. This is the text of his letter:
I'm e-mailing you...because I appear to have dropped myself in it with the press regarding the film of Lord of the Rings.
As you may or may not know the UK's Sunday Times ran an article yesterday 25/6 entitled "Hollywood hobbits upset Tolkien fans" about the filming of Lord of the Rings. I knew it was coming as I'd been interviewed on the phone for it being the Publicity Officer for The Tolkien Society (www.tolkiensociety.org); what I didn't see coming (a tad naive of me) was the misquoting that would occur, especially as I had been asked for the Tolkien Society's position on the film. I've emailed you because I don't want the society to be understood as being anti-film, or anti Sean Bean's casting - opinions which could be formed after reading the article and the captions for the photos of Sean and Cate Blanchett, which could be taken as implying that the Tolkien Society has voiced an unattributed opinion on them.
As it is on Liv Tyler's role the article misquoted me when they said:
"Ian Collier, spokesman for the Tolkien
Society, said: "We have heard that Arwen is leading an elf
army at one point and replacing one of the hobbits in the fellowship.
I do hope Liv Tyler is not going to turn it into a
sword-and-sorcery type role."
I didn't say that, in the interview I gave the society's position and as the interview went on Arwen's expanded role came up, my comments were that I could see some expansion as necessary to explain her marriage to Aragorn, but that I also wondered what effect this would have on Eowyn's role, silly of me maybe but I know better now. Regarding "and replacing one of the hobbits in the fellowship" I specifically stated that this old rumour had been definitively dealt with on Sir Ian McKellen's website (www.mckellen.com) after someone posted a query based on a 'spy' report.
My personal opinion is that the cast & crew are doing a great job and are trying their hardest to stick as closely to Tolkien's texts as possible, this is based on rumours, interviews and question and answer sessions posted on all the above sites. As I've said above I don't want the idiocies of the press to make the people concerned feel that the Tolkien Society holds a negative opinion about them. They don't!! If anything our 'official' position is one of (slightly positive) neutrality until we get to see the finished work (although I guess that's not interesting enough for the press).
Ian was also kind enough to send along The Tolkien Society's official position concerning The Lord of the Rings films:
"While the society welcomes the filming
of The Lord of the Rings, it is our opinion that no motion picture
will ever manage to capture the full depth or flavour of the book.
This is because a film and book are two different media for conveying
ideas. In a book the readers' visualisation of the lands and characters
described therein, are as unique as the individual reader, whereas
any motion picture is a visual attempt at conveying those same
ideas and thus the result of its director's (or the creative team's)
concept of how the story works visually. This means that all cinemagoers
will see one idea of how the characters and landscapes should
look, irrespective of their own conceptions of them.
However, a quality motion picture that treats the written work with respect has the potential to bring that original work (and others by Tolkien) to the attention of many more people around the world. Therefore we
would welcome any quality motion picture, even at the risk of some aspects of it disappointing some aficionados of the written work.
We would also like it to be noted that the artistic merits of any motion picture can only be judged once it is ready for theatrical release, and considered completed by its director. We would also like to point out
that The Tolkien Society can not comment on the views of the Tolkien family regarding this film."
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