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 1-09: Finally, Something For The Fëanturi To Do!

January 5th, 2016

Episode 299 of 366 episodes

Audio Episode Introduction/Review Today’s episode is about Valinor Picture of Peter Jackson with The Silmarillion bookmarked – obvious troll/tease. Christopher Tolkien’s children would likely respect his father’s wishes. The SilmFilm project tagline: “It’s better than Jackson could have come up with” Loose ends from last week: At the end of the last episode, we settled on connecting the destruction of the lamps with the fall of the Balrogs What is Melkor’s involvement with the destruction of the lamps? Privately, he’s ticked off and feels he owns the lamps and he should be accepted as the lord of the Valar, and feels wronged that he hasn’t been revered as such. The Balrogs do the destruction, but not b/c he told them. (Henry II “Who shall rid me of this meddlesome priest?”) Arien rebels against them and reports back, the Balrogs lose their wings in the destruction of the lamps The Balrog who becomes Gothmog reports back to Melkor that the lamps have been destroyed, and he merely slyly smirks. Chaos is now unleashed. He hasn’t openly declared himself as an enemy of the Valar, but is actively working in opposition, but they don’t realize it. What do the Valar think? Some may suspect Melkor more than others. There could be confusion amongst the Valar (like this may be tied to Ossë), though Ossë’s rebellion is an effect, rather than a cause His rebellion will have more power if he’s not immediately tied to this. We don’t want to make Ossë a red herring. He should be the centerpiece of his rebellion If there’s doubt, who else would be a possible culprit? Is Melkor the only one? We could say the Balrogs went rogue, but that would require some explanation. There is little mystery about what happened. More importantly, Why? and What does it mean? We don’t have “evil” yet. The only one who’s presented as a villain at this point is Ungoliant. Nessa maybe shouldn’t even be captured – she would just start hanging out with Ungoliant b/c the idea of evil hasn’t crossed anyone’s mind. She would see how they’re similar but not see the bad. How naïve do we make the Valar? They remember the discord of the music, but they might not have knowledge of what that means. Melkor could be come off as “I don’t know why the Balrogs did that, I’m not in control of them” They only know the part of Iluvatar’s mind from which they came, so they won’t understand what the discord is about If no one witnesses what happened, Arien can be like “The rest of the Balrogs are going to do this!” and the Valar wouldn’t understand why. Then it happens, and Melkor (who has been keeping himself distant) could claim that Arien was the one that went bad. “It’s a shame about Arien. My beautiful Balrogs were damaged by Arien’s rebellion.” Does the audience know? Does the audience feel that Melkor can be redeemed? He may feel like a relatable villain to modern viewers. We’re not trying to undermine his evil, but the point is to do justice to the complexity of Tolkien’s moral landscape. Tolkien invites us to sympathise with the bad guys (walking down the path with good intentions). If we have people cheering for Melkor against the Valar, we have failed. The Valar mourn for the marring of Fëanor, and we can try to evoke the same thing for Melkor. He errs of the side of self-righteousness, rather than doing evil things b/c they’re “fun” We also don’t want Elrond confusing Estel with the story telling. Mairon/Sauron could be “drinking in” all of this and getting how Melkor feels. We don’t want him to be too prominent too quickly. We know that Melkor will eventually promote Mairon to first lieutenant…he may be more of an easter egg for right now. Astute viewers will recognize him immediately, but others end up learning 8 seasons later that he’s actually Sauron. Sauron was less evil only b/c he served another (Melkor) for a long time (submission) Defector from Aulë to Melkor Mairon could defect when Aulë repents, being upset that he submits. We don’t meet Sauron till Beren and Luthien. He doesn’t really play a role until then. We could have a Mairon appearance, and then later have a Sauron appearance, and then it’s revealed that Mairon is Sauron. Annatar story – he was actually trying to help Middle-earth and then falls, shown as a flashback Teenage Aragorn might ask “Where does Sauron fit into this?” and Elrong could explain from there. We could have Melkor “working on” Sauron and Fëanor at the same time Mythgard Announcements Spring classes – we have 4 classes this coming spring: Invented languages with Dr. Andrew Higgins (Quenya, Sindarin and other languages) and the tie between language and subcreation. Douglas A. Anderson (The Annotated Hobbit,Tales Before Tolkien) is teaching “The Inklings andScience Fiction” – looking at Lewis and Tolkien’s “sci-fi-ish” works, as well as the sci-fi they were reading and responding to. Tolkien read a lot of Asimov, for instance Corey is offering another installment of Modern Fantasy – sampling of modern fantasy (a few from the mid-80s…anything post-Tolkien) Dragonriders of Pern, Grimoire Chronicles, among others Elementary Latin I Nearly ready to vote for the next group of books. (BBCTV’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell adaptation is fantastic!) Book Context of this Season Ainulindalë/Vala Quenta/Ch. 1-2 Quenta Silmarillion Today’s Topic/Discussion Episode 7 – the establishment of Valinor. These 2 episodes are “sort of” filler…next episode would be about the growth of The Trees The Valar have their own domains here, whereas in Almaren, they are all living together Lórien and Mandos (they aren’t those Valar’s names but they are associated with their domains so much that those Valar called by their locations.) We could have Elrond saying to Estel that the Valar pursued their tasks and established their domains. Elrond giving a verbal “Who are they? What are their domains?” may be interrupting the other storytelling that we’ve been doing up to this point How much time can we realistically spend on the establishment of Valinor without losing the audience’s attention? Estel could be nodding off while Elrond is talking, making a joke about that getting kind of tedious “A closer look at a representative sample” If we spend time with Lorien, Nienna and Mandos, we can introduce Olorin, Estë and others who serve/work with them. Now that Almaren has burned, Nienna has something to cry about (!!!) Yavanna and Vána can help make the gardens (save for the next episode with the Trees) and Nienna will be involved with that as well. What other characters do we need to introduce? The most common ones were Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast (with Yavanna and Aulë) Oromë – though he is the one who discovers the Elves, so he’ll have his episode. But we don’t want him to be a total stranger either. Huan (and who is he? He is the Hound of Valinor…is he a Maia who chose the form of a dog?) We can make up our minds but not need to explain it in dialogue. Our depiction of Huan could spark internet debates about whether or not he’s a SuperDog or a Maia. Will there be Deer of Valinor? Horses of Valinor? Does he have a pack? He may ne a member (though not a leader) of Oromë’s pack Is Shadowfax of this line? Yes (we don’t need to be explicit about it) The Noldor should bring some horses with them from Valinor We can just show that Oromë with his pack to establish the idea for the time being. The Noldor in Season 2 can be riding with Oromë When Huan turns against Celegorm, the viewers should be emotional/upset b/c of how far Celegorm has fallen. Huan can grieve…being Celegorm’s conscience/ “Jiminy Cricket” Celegorm steps forward to speak the oath, and we can see Huan’s reaction. The moment Huan leaves, he has concluded that Celegorm is no longer redeemable Getting to know Huan throughout all this will definitely make his death that much more tragic Melkor’s trajectory: we need to have some kind of map (how do we get from here to the war at the end of the season?) There should be tension…some of the Valar should suspect Melkor…but not all of them. Other Valar may suspect others The theme is discord. There’s conflict, tension, chaos. The Valar (especially Manwë) think this can be reconciled and reestablish order and peace. (manifestation of discord in the Music) In some cases, this will work. Aulë is about to go off track, but comes back Ossë rebels, but comes back Manwë still thinks Melkor is just another one of those things that can be fixed. The thing that happens is the recognition is they actually have to fight Melkor Manwë will feel like this is giving into discord, and the idea of establishing peace through violence Musically, the discord should be in the soundtrack. When does he go to Utumno? Melkor will see he has followers and offer them an alternative to going to Valinor End Episode 6 with Arien rushing in to where the other Valar are to warn them about the attack on the lamps Begin with the Destruction of Almaren from the Valar’s point of view and talk about What just happened? What do we need to do here? Arien is pointing the finger at Melkor and vice versa Ulmo was already speaking against Melkor before, so he could be blamed as well (and we had already set up Ulmo as an opponent for Melkor anyway) Tulkas likely suspects Melkor, and probably wants to challenge him to a fight on the spot Manwë ultimately says “let’s build a place together, as we’ve been too separate. We need to establish peace” (which is ironic, as they establish their own domains) To go to Valinor is to leave Middle-earth. This introduces a split. Melkor would be against this and would want to establish a stronger kingdom as in Middle-earth. We can build New Almaren (Utumno) Melkor is right for the wrong reasons. He’s trying to establish his own kingdom but he’s not wrong in saying that leaving is escapism. Melkor is forcing a choice between himself and Manwë (and he becomes more bitter as most choose to follow Manwë) Setting up for the Valar’s next mistake of bringing the Elves...

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