The Tolkien Professor

Corey Olsen

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The Tolkien Professor podcast is a series of lectures, discussions, and seminars on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien by Corey Olsen, Assistant Professor of English at Washington College in Maryland. Find me on Facebook at "The Tolkien Professor," on Twitter at @tolkienprof, or at my website at www.tolkienprofessor.com. I have also begun a grand new venture: the Mythgard Institute, offering courses on Tolkien studies for credit at the MA level, or just for fun! Join us at www.mythgard.org.


SilmFilm Episode 1-03: The Ainulindalë (Pilot Episode)

October 2nd, 2015

Episode 292 of 322 episodes

Audio Episode Introduction/Review No more delaying: it's time to discuss the Music of the Ainur. (We're not skipping it!) It's one of the most thought provoking and beautiful stories Tolkien wrote. This is a central core concept that, while it's detached from the "main" story, it's always there. Looking Back to Last Episode Working in the frame story...last week's review will be incorporated into our overall discussion. Mythgard Announcements Mythgard Midatlantic Speculative Fiction Symposium: A1-day Conference of short topics. Papers will be presented, and Tolkien's first work of prose will be published in the spring – Verlyn Flieger will talk about editing it (The Story of Kullervo). Regional event at University of Maryland Saturday October 3. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell:Begins Wed. Sept. 16. Read chapters 1-6 Mythgard/Signum University fundraiser:Beginning on Hobbit Day (Sept. 22). Live Tolkien readings and several events scheduled - talks/lectures/discussions SilmFilm-related events, including a conversation with Jim Butcher discussing the process of adaptation on Oct. 13 LOTRO sessions (Lore of Locations) Flash fiction contest (short pieces can be submitted for cash prizes and publication) Full schedule postedshortly Today’s Topic Consider irregularities in the timeline:"Ainulindalë" overlaps with Ch. 1 of Quenta Silmarillion. Descending into Arda - episode 2 Discussion Nature of the Ainulindalë would be appropriate with a frame story, as it come across as a story being Told and can be presented in the context of Elrond teaching young Estel Also, it would've been hard to do without the frame 2 stories to establish (the Middle-earth story and Aragorn's). Trish votes for a 90 min –2 hr premiere Concern is that it would be boring–2 hrs is a long time for no action/just talking. "Appealing to the masses" as opposed to creating a good story is a recipe for bad filmmaking. Why are we being told this story of music and conflict? Bilbo is inclined towards impatience at the beginning, so for this frame, Gilraen can be the representative of the audience, wondering why, along with the viewers, this is important. Beginning of the tensions in the frame (Gilraen v. Elrond) can echo the conflict in the Music but won't really parallel the Melkor story. Flashback to Arathorn's death isn't a good start (would be misleading as the beginning of the show) but would be good to provide context for Gilraen's viewpoint She wants Aragorn to be prepared for his future, but she doesn't want him to think like an Elf when he's human. The language tone of The Silmarillion is perfect for Elrond –elevated, a little stuffy. Should make a human roll her eyes. "The 'Followers'?! My son is supposed to become king and he's supposed to think his kind is an afterthought?!" Elrond thinks that Gilraen is too quick to dismiss Elvish things and should have an understanding. Gilraen, Elrond, and Estel are in the room. The Music needs to be an uninterrupted story but could work well with a back and forth Q&A. "Why is there suffering in the world" –Gilraen may believe that she better understands suffering than Elves do, but as she continues forward, she begins to understand the memory of Elves and that they suffered a long time ago. Action possibilities: Young Estel sword training, Elrond stops him, Gilraen protests Flashback to the death of Aragorn? The sons of Elrond were at the battle of Arathorn's demise… Maybe Gilraen is difficult to convince to go to Rivendell originally? Her son is the hope of her people, and thus the name. The Elves (either Glorifindel or E/E) remind her of this So she may feel the stories are irrelevant. (Gilraen “channeling” Andreth) Men don't live in the world of the Valar, so why is this important? "The Valar never came for us. Is there evidence that the Valar care for men?" There is a danger of too much bouncing back and forth between frame and main story, but it may happen more in this first episode. We want the viewers to care about the frame characters and recognize that they are connected to the main story and not just there for exposition. End the episode with the music... Start with the more vague Valar things (first paragraph)...then Estel asks questions, "How did they fit? Isn't this world really small?" "Did the Valar have bodies?" – "They put on their forms like we put on clothes but they represent who they are..." Mostly frame story for the first half (they can walk / talk / train), and mostly Silm story at the end Gilraen isn't going to "blow up" immediately, it will build up to the big argument. Vignette things (sword play scene) maybe Gilraen suggests the weapons training herself. The audience can discover earlier than Estel what his true destiny is, and there's no reason why that can't happen in the first episode (maybe halfway through) Elrond is the one who reveals Aragorn's destiny...perhaps Gilraen thinks Estel should know his true name earlier? The resolution of season one should have a reconciliation between Gilraen and Elrond Brings up the theme of the difference in destinies between Elves and Men. For Season One, the Silm story begins with peace and ends with The War that Began All Wars, while Gilraen and Elrond begin in conflict and end the season in reconciliation. Gilraen: "How can you understand suffering when you're shut away in your idyllic little realm?" Elrond then begins the tale of the Music, ending with Illuvatar's speech If we never left Rivendell the whole first episode, we won't establish the rest of the story. Comparisons to a modern Disney Fantasia. Can we depict this with music and color (different color lights?!?!) alone? Elrond's voice would need to be awesome for doing the voiceover explaining what's happening. Begin with narration as music begins, as music gets louder, narration becomes more sparse. (5/7-10 minutes for the Music segment...continuous narration could work) Tolkien's sentences are beautiful, so a voiceover would be welcome. But when the discord happens, we can experience that in the visuals and music first, prior to Elrond's explanation. The theme of the discord would run throughout the story. The music needs to have grandeur and should have themes within that will run throughout the story. "Evil French horns" for Melkor? After the vision, the Valar would be more anthropomorphic (maybe not human, but bipedal) but before the vision, they're more elemental Season Two, they look like Elves. Elrohir more like Elros, Elladan more like Elrond Summary and Decisions Thehosts aren't writing a script, but are looking at conceptual challenges and how to deal with them. Discussion boardsprovide an opportunity for more idea development,story boarding,outlines,writing and artistic/creative/musical design Homework View thethread for this episode on discussion board. Collaborate to create an outline for this first episode. Closing Questions for Season 1, Episode 4 How much frame should we allow? And what's the story of Episode 2? Establish primary Valar and descent into Arda. Need to introduce them. This will be our first venture into inventing subplots inside the frame. Recommended Reading "Vala Quenta" Chapter 1-2 of Quenta Silmarillion

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