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The Director and Stars of “The Hobbit” Share Thoughts on Bravery, Mercy and Tolkien’s Christianity
Patheos/Christopher Closeup ^ | December 10, 2012 | Tony Rossi

Posted on 12/10/2012 6:04:54 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o

The new film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (opening Dec. 14) has got action and adventure galore, just like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy that preceded it. But the director and actors who worked on the movie are well aware of the deeper themes that lie at the heart of the work of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), who authored all the original books, published between 1937 and 1955.

At a recent press conference about the film in New York City, Richard Armitage, who portrays the Dwarf warrior Thorin Oakenshield, said, “One of the things I find when I look into that book [The Hobbit] is a sense of Tolkien’s Catholicism, his Christianity – not necessarily in a denominational way, but in terms of his chivalric view of the world, his nobility which is expressed through kindness and mercy. It’s present in most of his characters and I find that inspiring.”

Tolkien did in fact acknowledge taking that approach in his stories. In a letter, he once wrote, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion’, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”

For instance, the ideal of mercy is evident in one scene between Bilbo Baggins, the titular hero, and Gollum, a threatening creature that he meets when he falls into an underground cave. Director Peter Jackson, who also helmed “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, noted that creating this moment onscreen was a particular pleasure. Though “The Hobbit” occurs chronologically before “The Lord of the Rings,” the fact that they were shooting this prequel years after the other films allowed him to place special attention on this moment.

He said, “There was a scene in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ where they’re in the mines of Moria, and there’s a quiet moment where Gandalf is talking to Frodo about the events of ‘The Hobbit.’ He says that the pity of Bilbo rules the fate of all: meaning that Bilbo had a chance to kill Gollum but he didn’t. And the fact that he didn’t has now created the story for ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ So it was very interesting to shoot that scene and show the moment where Bilbo stays his hand – and also the reason why he doesn’t kill Gollum when he’s got the opportunity: because Gandalf insisted that ‘true courage is not about knowing when to take a life, but when to spare one.’”

The theme of courage also resonated with Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo. Bilbo is used to a quiet, comfortable life, so going on an adventure in which he could be killed isn’t something he ever foresaw doing. But because the purpose of the journey is to return a group of Dwarves to their former home which has been overtaken by the dragon Smaug, he sees a greater purpose to it all.

Freeman noted that “The Hobbit” is a tale about a small guy who ended up being a hero. But it’s not that he wasn’t scared; he acted despite being scared. “That’s bravery encapsulated,” said Freeman.

Sir Ian McKellen, who returns as the wizard Gandalf, has a similar view of what Tolkien – and by extension, everyone who has worked on these films – is trying to convey through their storytelling. He finds it especially profound because Tolkien had endured World War I before “The Hobbit” was published, and World War II by the time “The Lord of the Rings” was complete.

McKellen explained, “The message I think that resonates in the books and films is – Yes, the world is organized by people who are extremely powerful and are concerned with the preservation of Middle Earth, but they are entirely dependent on the little guy. And [it's impressive] that [Tolkien], who’s been through two World Wars, accepts that: that it’s not the great people we build statues to through whom the world is changed – it’s the ordinary people who measure up in the moment.”


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: dragons; hobbit; hobbits; lotr; moralvision; movies; thehobbit; tolkien
Class, discuss.
1 posted on 12/10/2012 6:05:04 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Can’t wait to see the film.


2 posted on 12/10/2012 6:10:24 PM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Looking forward to the movies. I found the Lord of the Rings books far superior to The Hobbit. The Hobbit seemed to be more of teen book.

I believe Tolkien helped to convert C.S. Lewis to Christianity. He couldn’t get him to go Catholic though.


3 posted on 12/10/2012 6:27:18 PM PST by EEGator
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Our youth group is making a day of this on Sunday: Christmas caroling at local nursing homes in the afternoon, dinner out with Father, then The Hobbit in the evening.

I’ll probably take my children (20, 18 and 16 now) on opening day. Our household has been thoroughly immersed in Tolkien since I read all the books to my kids when the were young, and again several years later.


4 posted on 12/10/2012 6:27:32 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I still have the old cartoon version on an old CED disc. It was surprisingly good. I still have the player but it probably needs some TLC before it will play.

The music was particularly good.


5 posted on 12/10/2012 6:28:03 PM PST by yarddog (One shot one miss.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Unfortunately I won’t watch any movies based on the books, until after I read through them for the last time.

I keep meaning to do my 4th read through at some point, when the time is right for me, but until then, I have to keep putting off watching the movies.


6 posted on 12/10/2012 6:28:19 PM PST by ansel12 (A.Coulter2005(truncated)Romney will never recover from his Court's create of a right to gay marriage)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Sir Ian McKellen, who returns as the wizard Gandalf, has a similar view of what Tolkien – and by extension, everyone who has worked on these films – is trying to convey through their storytelling. He finds it especially profound because Tolkien had endured World War I before “The Hobbit” was published, and World War II by the time “The Lord of the Rings” was complete.

McKellen explained, “The message I think that resonates in the books and films is – Yes, the world is organized by people who are extremely powerful and are concerned with the preservation of Middle Earth, but they are entirely dependent on the little guy. And [it's impressive] that [Tolkien], who’s been through two World Wars, accepts that: that it’s not the great people we build statues to through whom the world is changed – it’s the ordinary people who measure up in the moment.”

The same man who boasts that he rips passages that offend him out of the bibles left in hotel rooms.

7 posted on 12/10/2012 6:32:10 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
"...it’s the ordinary people who measure up in the moment."

He nails it. This statement reminds me of the fall of the Berlin wall. This was a huge event in the continuing war on fascism which became the first of many falling dominos and it was precipitated by ordinary people who were tired of all that "the wall" represented.

Regular citizens partied at the wall, and on the wall, and back and forth over the wall, and finally, through the wall. Ordinary cops refused to stop them and while the decision makers enjoyed their weekend in the country history was made by average men and women who saw their opportunity and made the most of it.

8 posted on 12/10/2012 6:38:33 PM PST by concentric circles
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To: a fool in paradise

Yep, that bugs me too. A lot. I watch the movie now and instead of seeing Gandalf of the story, I see the actor who hates the God behind all the good in the story. Fatal distraction.


9 posted on 12/10/2012 7:07:45 PM PST by Springfield Reformer (Winston Churchill: No Peace Till Victory!)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I’m halfway through “Return of the King” on the Nth re-read (can’t remember how many times!) and am always struck by the symbolism Tolkein wove into his stories without being obvious or preachy. “The Hobbit” is such a special book, in that he allows Bilbo to set the stage for what follows, without knowing the impact of his acts but just being true to himself.

Really look forward to seeing yet another brilliant interpretation by Peter Jackson, who truly does the work justice.


10 posted on 12/10/2012 7:22:37 PM PST by bigbob
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I read The Hobbit in college, not as part of a course but for enjoyment. I’ve seen the LOTR Lord of the Rings films in the cineplex and am looking forward to seeing The Hobbit.


11 posted on 12/10/2012 7:27:46 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: a fool in paradise

Interesting comment as McKellan is an atheist.


12 posted on 12/10/2012 7:32:46 PM PST by cblue55 (The original point and click interface was a Smith and Wesson.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

In some places the Source Material shines through quite clearly:

Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor,
for the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever,
and the Dark Tower is thrown down.

Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.

Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.
Sing all ye people!


13 posted on 12/10/2012 7:58:55 PM PST by GOP Jedi (Democracy, Immigration, Multiculturalism -- Pick Any Two)
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To: Mrs. Don-o


14 posted on 12/10/2012 8:04:21 PM PST by HangnJudge
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To: Mrs. Don-o; Old Sarge

Thanks, Mrs. Don-o!
PING to a friend!


15 posted on 12/10/2012 8:21:28 PM PST by MS.BEHAVIN (Women who behave rarely make history)
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To: GOP Jedi

Tolkien Ping!


16 posted on 12/10/2012 9:20:59 PM PST by Bshaw (A nefarious deceit is upon us all!)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

So many Christian themes in Tolkeins works. Frodo and the Ring is essentially the tale of the mustard seed, how the great become small and the small great, among many others. Boromir’s fall and redemption at the end. Gandalf and Aragorn’s trials an echo of Christ. The Ring with all it’s temptations, but in the end just lies and slavery.


17 posted on 12/10/2012 9:21:07 PM PST by Free Vulcan (Vote Republican! [You can vote Democrat when you're dead]...)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Searching for an exact comment Of Tolkien's regarding the works, found at wiki was this, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Themes_of_The_Lord_of_the_Rings ;

Not allegory, for that directs or rather insists on taking the reader to one precise comparison, but metaphor, where the reader participates in the applicability.

Overall, the entry there appears quite good (to my eyes) for it's depth & range of discussion. There are numerous links embedded there, leading to more information, including critics;

The Inklings, reviews were mixed. Hugo Dyson complained loudly at its readings, and Christopher Tolkien records Dyson as "lying on the couch, and lolling and shouting and saying, 'Oh God, no more Elves.'"[4] However, another Inkling, C. S. Lewis, had very different feelings, writing, "here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron."

With other later criticisms themselves being criticized;

Moorcock's essay has drawn criticism for its portrayal of the themes in The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien's other works. Epic Pooh accuses Tolkien of glorifying war, preaching "cowardly self-protection," avoiding the subject of death, and forcing a happy ending upon the reader.

The ending, for my own readings, seemed sad, amid the poignant note of the Elves needing retire to (an admittedly vague) "Gray Havens" where their once known immortality would slowly fade. But not all the once immortals (taking along Bilbo & Gandalf) sailed away [from first listed link]

Finally, in one of the appendices to The Return of the King, after more than two hundred years of life Aragorn dies in his deathbed, leaving behind a lonely and now-mortal Arwen, who travels to what is left of Lothlórien to herself die on a flat stone next to the river Nimrodel, having returned to one of the few places of true happiness she knew in her life.

There was a handful of famous "rock 'n roll" songs inspired by the Lord of the Rings, most famously from Led Zeppelin (in case some here didn't know that, ha!)

I did run across an interesting, suggestive explanation which somewhat assists interpreting the riddle, or leading the listener in a certain direction in understanding the metaphors concerning "the lady" in Stairway to Heaven, with myself being led to think of the love for what was good & right that the elven princess Arwen carried as "lady of the light" and what she gave up *[to bring the balance back]* in the preceding song on that album, yet gained still(?) shared love with Aragon

Eh, probably reading too much into all of that...
The suggestion for interpretation found on a webpage discussing the preceding related song, primarily The Battle of Evermore with that one needing to be taken in context to see all that lovey-dovey in Stairway, with better copy of the lyrics found *here*.

As to the aforementioned Stairway there is an incongruous re-phrasing there of Tolkien's beginning line of http://allpoetry.com/poem/8500017-Song_Of_Aragorn-by-J_R_R_Tolkien "All that is gold does not glitter", with the editor there noting the resemblance to lines from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. In the Stairway version, clearly influenced by Tolkien, the line is rather inverted in meaning, making the Lady to look the fool at the beginning, saying;

Being as Plant & Page were rumored to have been satanists during that period of their musical careers, I suppose it is fitting that things might get twisted in opposite directions, leaving one thinking love for fools, if reading into the Zeppelin song's metaphors, as suggested.
[can anyone follow all of that -- or is it all too much?]

For any who have read Lord of the Rings, but not heard one of the LedZep songs mentioned, once one "prays up" a bit, with mind towards protecting themselves from possible demonic influence carried along by the song, here's a

which I cannot vouch for soundwise -- no sound on this 'puter. But it's a interesting song, with the mandolin, and call-and-response style to the lyrics that rather evokes a Lord of the Rings sort of clash between forces both good & bad. It's rather disturbing to hear the narrator voice such seeming enthusiasm for the ring-wraiths, but still overall "evocative" as to mood, fitting loosely with the set-piece battles at Helm's Deep, and the final large confrontation near the end (of LoTR), but still leaving me wonder just who's side Zeppelin was on?

Returning to the literary LoTR itself, another short discussion of themes within http://www.novelguide.com/TheFellowshipoftheRing/metaphoranalysis.html

18 posted on 12/10/2012 11:35:24 PM PST by BlueDragon (and this is one of those places where they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

bookmark


19 posted on 12/10/2012 11:44:01 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I did see the first three movies of the series, my favorite being that of the two towers which peaked my interest bigtime after the attack of the WTC towers on 9/11/01.

Could Tolkien had recieved spiritual visions from God in prophecy as well being incflunced by the Bible in regards to the present times we are living in which influnced his writing style?


20 posted on 12/11/2012 2:59:23 AM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: HangnJudge; ProgressingAmerica
Had this poster on a few walls back in the '70s:


Interesting article that is using that picture:Cultural Marxism — Is It Here to Stay?

Also Tolkien versus the Frankfurt School : The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of the Left
21 posted on 12/11/2012 4:24:33 AM PST by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus sum -- "The Taliban is inside the building")
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To: HangnJudge; ProgressingAmerica; Jack Black
Had this poster on a few walls back in the '70s:


Interesting article that is using that picture:Cultural Marxism — Is It Here to Stay?

Also Tolkien versus the Frankfurt School : The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of the Left
22 posted on 12/11/2012 4:25:01 AM PST by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus sum -- "The Taliban is inside the building")
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To: Dr. Brian Kopp; Mrs. Don-o

Our homeschool association has had a “Hobbit Reading Club” going since June. We’ve read the book - usually each chapter several times - done character analysis, plot charts, arts-and-crafts, and discussed mythology, theology, and how difficult it is for people who are cranks about the text to sit through movies made my non-cranks.

We’re all going to see the movie Saturday afternoon. I will stifle my cries of “That’s not in the text!” for the sake of the team ;-).


23 posted on 12/11/2012 5:12:23 AM PST by Tax-chick (Stand in the corner and scream with me!)
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To: Tainan

Ping for those articles. Thx!


24 posted on 12/11/2012 6:12:54 AM PST by Oratam
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To: Tax-chick

I miss homeschooling :o(


25 posted on 12/11/2012 6:19:26 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("All the way to Heaven is Heaven, because Christ said "I am the Way." - St. Catherine of Siena)
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To: Biggirl
I think really prophetic writing is not just right "once," it's right over and over. I think a gifted artist (even an unebliever) can write true things without quite knowing it. I've seen that several times with authors who were trying to make one "point," but ended up making a different, truer one.

Tolkien,I think, is one of the Permanent Good Ones.

26 posted on 12/11/2012 6:27:10 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!")
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To: Mrs. Don-o; Tax-chick
I miss homeschooling :o(

Our oldest is in his second year at Christendom. Our middle is a senior in high school but she is taking classes at the local community college. Our youngest is a sophomore in high school. We've been homeschooling for 15 years now. I can't even imagine life after homeschooling but its right around the corner for us too.

27 posted on 12/11/2012 6:49:34 AM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: Tax-chick

I miss homeschooling :o(


28 posted on 12/11/2012 7:07:21 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("All the way to Heaven is Heaven, because Christ said "I am the Way." - St. Catherine of Siena)
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To: Dr. Brian Kopp; Mrs. Don-o

I will be 65 when Kathleen finishes high school, other things being equal.

The Hobbit Club has been lots of fun, even though the logistics got crazy once the science teams started in September.


29 posted on 12/11/2012 8:03:58 AM PST by Tax-chick (Stand in the corner and scream with me!)
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To: BlueDragon
I did run across an interesting, suggestive explanation which somewhat assists interpreting the riddle, or leading the listener in a certain direction in understanding the metaphors concerning "the lady" in Stairway to Heaven, with myself being led to think of the love for what was good & right that the elven princess Arwen carried as "lady of the light" and what she gave up *[to bring the balance back]* in the preceding song on that album, yet gained still(?) shared love with Aragon

And I always thought that the song was about a junkie looking for her dealer so she could get her next fix:

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
...

Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know,
The piper's calling you to join him,
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.


30 posted on 12/11/2012 8:19:38 AM PST by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: Springfield Reformer; a fool in paradise; cblue55
It is certainly alarming that MvKellum has such mordant atheist views. But on the other hand, Galdalf is a monkish or priestly figure (old, wise, celibate as far as we can tell, benevolent toward dwarves and men owad their well-being and redemption); and then there's no doubt Gandalf is also a Christ-figure.

McKellum's Gandalf-fight with the Balrog was (in my mind) the best symbolic portrayal of Christ fighting demons, descending into the pit (of earth, hell), dying, coming back resurrected and transfigured, that I have ever seen. He comes back --- at the turn of the age --- so radiant that Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas bow and kneel in homage.

So our old atheist can appreciate --- in a shadowy way ---- the nobility of priestly and Christly realities.

Let's pray for him.

31 posted on 12/11/2012 8:35:57 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("All the way to Heaven is Heaven, because Christ said "I am the Way." - St. Catherine of Siena)
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To: Tax-chick

Our youngest son did a full course on “Lord of the Rings” as a ‘Literature course’ in his Senior year. He read the full trilogy, it tied in vocabulary, and even had some lessons on comparative literature. It was called “Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings”, and he really enjoyed it.


32 posted on 12/12/2012 3:07:12 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: SuziQ

I’d have a great time with that. Our group ranges in age from 6 to 14 (not counting the nerdy moms; we are in our 40s). Term papers are too much to ask, but they didn’t have any problem getting into characters and descriptions. I drew battlefield maps for the last couple of chapters, just like in the National Battlefield Parks guidebook!


33 posted on 12/12/2012 6:47:12 PM PST by Tax-chick (Stand in the corner and scream with me!)
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To: EEGator
I believe Tolkien helped to convert C.S. Lewis to Christianity. He couldn’t get him to go Catholic though

Because they are so different

34 posted on 12/12/2012 6:52:54 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: HangnJudge

Thanks for that post, beautiful graphics.


35 posted on 12/14/2012 8:19:20 PM PST by BlackVeil
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