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.
December 5th, 2015
Episode 295 of 360 episodes
Introduction/Review We introduced Melkor last episode, now we’re ready to start “working with him.” You have been awesome on the discussion boards! Adding, fleshing out characters: roles being merged/compressed for adaptation. Book purists may not like it, but for a movie it would make sense. Glorfindel’s role subbed for Arwen Tolkien does the same thing, to a point: there’s 13 Dwarves, but many get very little dialogue. He chooses Dwarves to speak who reflect different aspects of how the entire group is feeling There were lots of Elves, but Daeron, Mablung and Beleg are chosen to be “spokespeople” Tulkas? Tossed around the idea of bringing him in concurrent w/Melkor (perhaps as buddies) (as opposed to Episode 2) but him arriving with Melkor would diminish Melkor’s intro (and Tulkas’ too) He either arrives with the Valar or a little later (maybe when the lamps are being built.) Or maybe even later? We can’t go half the season without Tulkas? Unless Tulkas shows up to be the “catalyst” He needs a great arrival moment He enjoys fighting/wrestling, not necessarily war Orome is much more of the “take up arms” mentality Tulkas will want to wrestle with Melkor Marriage to Nessa is significant Tulkas and Orome could be friends (hunting scene…Tulkas would be wrestling with the prey with a grin and Orome would tell him he was doing it wrong) Tulkas would be naively delighted to be friends with Melkor, and be like a “wounded puppy” when Melkor betrays him We may have to save some of the Valar (introductions…have them in the background but not featured) until later How do we get people invested in him? A noteworthy introduction (in episode 5) Sowing seeds of conflict…the betrayal should surprise the Valar, but not to the audience (some things that happen with Melkor can be positive to make the Valar think that his arrival is a good thing) “Melkor is integrating” in episode 4 So Tulkas can be introduced as saving the world from the havoc and illness that Melkor’s hatred has wrought. Yavanna would want to know why her fair creatures have become such beasts Ungoliant could appear (as a person) Add Lucy Lawless to fantasy cast We need to be able to solidify Manwé, Varda, Melkor before adding more characters Balrog points: Proto-balrogs/Unfallen balrogs should arrive in episode 4. Melkor should be alone at the end episode 3. (the resolution of his part in the Manwë/Varda/Melkor triangle) They join him – maybe Melkor’s good b/c he attracts good, pretty, shiny folk Suggested names for proto-balrogs Calwanár ("Beautiful flame") Uryalcar (This is supposed to mean "Burning splendour" or something like that.) Rámanárë ("Winged fire") (easiest to pronounce) Uryaráma ("Burning wing"?) Arien (Sun Maia) can be with the Proto-balrogs. Paradise Lost “easter egg”: One seraph (Abdiel) does not follow Lucifer when he leads the rebellion against God Arien can be the “Abdiel” for Melkor (and thus, why he hates, fears and covets her) Names…we don’t need to have 3 different names for the same character A change in name is significant…it shows the identity and substantive changes in that character (Gothmog should change first) The hatred of the Elves is so great that they don’t say Melkor’s name What makes Elrond a greater loremaster than others, despite that others have been there longer? His hatred for Morgoth will be profound, but he is capable of dispassionate treatment that a historian would show. He would explain to Estel that you can’t be blinded by your hatred. It is important to set aside your passion and anger, and understand the evil that he is and where it came from. Other elves may have longer memories but refuse to acknowledge Melkor “How all evil begins in good” moment Looking Back to Last Session Episode 3 of season 1: Melkor has been rejected in the Void This episode is when he meets the other Valar, the following episode is The Creation Of The Lamps, and the one after is The Destruction Of Lamps Mythgard Announcements: Home stretch of Mythgard and Signum University fundraising campaign (running through the month of October) $20,711 – we can maintain software licenses/utilities Next threshold is $35,000 and many fees How to donate? http://signumuniversity.org/fund/ Saturday October 31: Whole day webathon Halloween Extravaganza Eastern Time: we will not have changed to Daylight Savings Time 10am: Fun with Words from the Hobbit – Sparrow Alden and Dave Kale talking about computational text analysis of Tolkien’s works, and offering attendees a shot at doing some analysis themselves A Mythgard Academy-style session covering The Father Christmas Letters Fantasy scholar Dmitra Fimi will talk about Halloween customs and rites in literature, and she’lloffer extracts from some unexpected pieces of literature that have a Halloween flavor. Part 2 of “Where on Middle-earth is Wigend,” this time going to places where our courageous guardian has never been (and he may not survive!). 6:30pm: Fantasy Casting for the imaginary Silmarillion television series – easiest to go with folks with we know, but if you have lesser knowns, put them on the list and we can talk about them (have links and images ready to send for us) Winners of the fiction contest You are welcome to wear costumes! Prize drawings throughout the day Book Context of this Season: Ainulindalë/Vala Quenta/Ch. 1-2 Quenta Silmarillion Today’s topic: Growth of decay/disruption/discord that Melkor brings will be saved for Episode 5 Focus on the end of the Ainulindalë (Iluvatar’s conversation with Ulmo) Discussion: Melkor has brought much disarray, yet his disarray causes the temperature changes that cause snowflakes, rain…these things are actually for the greater good of the other Valar. Ulmo and Manwé are brought closer together Melkor increases harmony amongst the Valar “How evil shall have been good to have been” (and Mandos’ response “And yet still remain evil.” Varda has already rejected Melkor in the Void. Her thought will not be very positive with his arrival Under what circumstances would the Valar have peace with him? They have to accept that Melkor’s being there is part of the plan Varda could have a private moment with Manwé expressing misgivings, but if she is the center of resistance, we run the risk of rehashing the last episode Aulë may be one of Melkor’s allies in the beginning Aulë’s Maiar (Sauron/Mairon and Saruman/Curumo) Aulë’s almost fall (creating the Dwarves) Building of the lamps is a team effort Nienna could be resistant initially, but then speaks on his behalf later on Mandos should be a dude of few but significant words, so he could say some “doom” and then be silent (and observing disapprovingly) Ulmo could resist, but then we could put Iluvatar’s words into Melkor’s mouth. “The devil can quote scripture for his own purpose” What do we have happen? Subplots? What is our arc for today’s episode? Where do we end? Utumno should be beautiful, not hellish. He welcomes guests at the end (perhaps introduce Sauron…Sauron seeks Melkor b/c he’s seeking knowledge…a parallel story between Sauron and Melkor) The tension is that he’s seeking rightful lordship. He doesn’t feel like he’s evil. We can have a bunch of extras who are the Maiar of other Valar, but the relationship between the Balrogs and Melkor should be different…the magnitude of their devotion (which can creep out some of the other Valar). Melkor’s relationship with his followers are marked with domination, and the Balrogs do worship him The Valar think it’s the Balrogs who are weird, as opposed to thinking that Melkor would actually demand this type of submission What is the climax? The viewers can look at this reveal and begin to understand the extent of Melkor’s domination Does anything else happen besides them talking in Almaren? Slow reveal of Melkor’s spy organization of Maiar? Perhaps one of the Valar are trying to find out with Melkor, but something happens with that character Maybe we start the episode with the arrival of winter. It’s cold, and no one knows why. (A snowy scene and a desert scene) The Valar are wondering what’s going on. Varda or Ulmo can say something about suspecting Melkor, and then he arrives. Valar to be convinced that Melkor’s temperature extremes are good thing for the world. He should do a thing to prove himself…maybe the extreme heat and cold is destructive, but then he shows how it’s an improvement Yavanna could be upset that her realm is being trashed by glaciers (one episode will cover millennia, so glacier movement will seem faster) Aule can somehow be involved if the heat problem is a volcano The encroachment of deserts and glaciers may destroy everything in the world…maybe what Melkor does is show that he’s capable of “laying bounds” on the deserts and glaciers and preventing the world from falling apart. Melkor to Yavanna: “Behold the cactus, and the walrus…(another “easter egg”…we need part of Tolkien’s walrus definition) and the glory of the autumn leaves” all the new animals and plants that have come as a result of the extremes in environment “Look at the rainforests!” (“This brings us closer together!”) Melkor to Ulmo: “Look at the snowflakes, look at the ice crystals. You would have never thought of that.” At the end, everyone thinks he’s pretty awesome, and Melkor is in his glory, with all this increased beauty and harmony among the Valar. He is basically positioning himself to take over. (for future reference – Feanor should be inspired by snowflakes) We don’t have any true conflict/villains, so our action will be more elemental/natural disaster problems, and their resolution. We end the show with Melkor being celebrated, and the building of the lamps are basically his “coronation” Echoes…Varda being insightful and Manwë ignoring her (and here we begin the time honored tradition of ruling men ignoring their wiser wives) Framestory…we can give the impression that Melkor is awesome and Ulmo is the malcontent, and we can almost convince Estel (and the viewers)...
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