It finally happened: the Tolkien Heads sat down and watched the extended edition of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
In what we hope to be an exciting and engaging final episode before a brief winter hiatus, the Heads delve into every aspect of this transformation from book to big screen. We make some criticisms about the film adaptation, but also manage to deem some changes from the book as improvements.
Do you agree with our reactions? Let us know in the comments!
In this special episode we interview Dr. Walter Judd, professor emeritus of botany at the University of Florida and co-author of Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium. While this book serves as centerpiece to our discussion (after we learn what exactly a flora is), we also talk about the phenomenon of plant blindness and work through our guest’s favorite passage from The Lord of the Rings. Finally, Prof. Judd gives some pointers for those interested in learning more about their own local flora.
You can learn more about the Flora of Middle-Earth at its OUP site.
This special episode features the Dwarrow Scholar, an expert on all things Dwarvish. We discuss Tolkien’s Dwarves—their culture, their history, and their language—as well as the similar creatures of Germanic myth upon which the Middle-Earth race is based.
The Dwarrow Scholar also walks us through some of the innovations and expansions he has made on Tolkien’s Dwarvish language, Khuzdûl. Information on Neo-Khuzdûl and many related matters can be found on his website, www.dwarrowscholar.com.
Further Dwarrow Reading
… on Germanic mythology in general:
Deutsche Mythologie (Teutonic Mythologie), Jakob Grimm, trans. Stallybrass—a treatise on Germanic mythology.
The Poetic Edda: The Mythological Poems, trans. Bellows—Völuspá compresses the whole of the Norse vision of the universe’s history and future into its 60-odd short stanzas. It is narrated by a seeress, or völva, who is requested by Odin to share her memories and prophecies with humankind, “Heimdall’s young.”
It is generally thought to have been a minstrel poem that was passed down through the centuries by word of mouth. The catalog of the Dwarves that begins in the 10th stanza is an important source of names for the Dwarf characters in Tolkien’s works.
The Dwarrow Scholar personally recommends the 1908 edition by Olive Bray, as it has extensive notes and a very detailed and valuable introduction (especially for people new to the Edda, well worth the read).
It is worth noting, though, that the 1986 translation by Lee M. Hollander comes closer to conveying the full extent of the grandeur and nuance (both aesthetic and philosophical) of the Old Norse texts.
The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion, Daniel McCoy—written to a scholarly audience, but in a simple, clear, and entertaining style.
Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, H. R. Ellis Davidson—she was one of the twentieth century’s foremost scholars of Norse mythology, yet most of her works were written for a general audience rather than her fellow academics. This is her most accessible work, and is ideal for beginners who want a scholarly take on Norse religion.
… on Tolkien’s Dwarves:
The Hobbit and Tolkien’s Mythology: Essays on Revisions and Influences, ed. Bradford Lee Eden
“Dwarfs in Germanic Literature: Deutsche Mythologie or Grimm’s Myths?” Paul Battles, in The Shadow Walkers: Jacob Grimm’s Mythology of the Monstrous, ed. Tom Shippey
“Explorations into the Psyche of Dwarves,” David Funk, in Proceedings from the J. R. R. Tolkien Centenary Conference
Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. Christopher Tolkien—“The Quest of Erebor” sheds a somewhat new Dwarvish perspective on The Hobbit that should not be missed.
Not even the Ring can hide Frodo from the all-seeing eye of the reader as we follow him out of a dangerous situation to the top of Amon Hen. The Heads discuss temptation and free will as they pertain both to Middle-Earth and to our own world.
The Fellowship is fractured (inevitably?), and only time will tell what awaits them in Book Three …
This chapter calls us to vigilance, even—or especially—in the midst of intense monotony. All remaining members of the Fellowship appear to be weary, despite their recent sojourn at Lórien, and their fatigue is made worse their constricted circumstances in the boats as they make their way down the Anduin. And what is going on with Boromir?
As our Fellowship drifts away from Lothlórien—or is it Lothlórien that drifts away from the Fellowship?—the Heads focus the discussion on mirrors and memory, prompted by a poignant exchange between Legolas and Gimli at the close of the chapter.