The Tolkien Professor

Corey Olsen

Arts, Literature

Chart Positions

Literature 62

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 1-10: The Two Trees – Aftermath (or...Everything but The Trees)

January 9th, 2016

Episode 300 of 366 episodes

Introduction/Review Angband and Utumno (from the discussion boards). Last time, the parallel of establishing Utumno and Valamar at the same time (The Valar doing the wrong thing for the right reasons and Melkor doing the right thing for the wrong reasons) Do we have Melkor with 2 establishments? Angband becomes Sauron's domain We should keep them separate. Utumno is Melkor's palace, and is gorgeous... Angband is a fortress and needs to be secret, as the Valar don't find it. Utumno is the counterpart of Valimar. Both places would be full of light, and Utumno may even have more light. When we first see the Silmarils, we should think that they belong in Utumno with all these beautifully radiant things. Utumno is all about Melkor's awesomeness, while Valamar is about the Valar living and working in harmony The destruction of Utumno in episode 13 is a tragedy, and will be sad. It'll be a step closer to the abyss for Melkor, in the marring of his character. The changing of Melkor's name to Morgoth can coincide with his move to Angband, and we can recall the beauty of Utumno and think about how far he's fallen. He's the glorious ruler in Utumno, but in Angband, he's no longer concerned with glory, but he's only concerned with strength and dominion. In Utumno, he wants everyone to worship him In Angband, he only wants to punish everyone for not doing so Our "crowning victory" would be showing Melkor traveling the path of descent Announcements Registration is open for spring classes. Corey isteaching Modern Fantasy II. Douglas A. Anderson's (author ofThe Annotated Hobbit) class on The Inklings andScience Fiction. Andrew Higgins'Language Invention Through Tolkien. Philip Walsh's Elementary Latin I. Next 2 Mythgard Academy classes: The Shaping of Middle-earth, Wednesday January 6, and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Full class listing are here. Today's episode Things to think about for next time--what sequence does everything happen? We want to come up with a logical sequence of events. Varda and the stars should be episode 12 (the establishment of the great constellations should happen with the awakening of the Elves) so Ossë's rebellion (in which Melkor is involved), Aulë and the Dwarves, and Yavanna and the Ents, and the defection of Sauron to Melkor happen prior. How are we progressing along to the War to Begin All Wars? Some of the Valar distrust Melkor, others don't. We could make it look like Ossë is gone for good at the end of the episode. Sauron could defect at the same time. Aulë disobeys but repents, "the bad boys episode" (we should never miss an opportunity for a cliffhanger) It could look like everything is going to hell bc of the trouble Melkor has caused. If the stories overlap, it can really look like a crisis for the Valar and everything is falling apart. At that point, Melkor isn't the only issue. There are other problems with Ossë, Aulë, and Sauron. Manwë and Varda seek harmony and order, and he may want to keep trying to reach out to Melkor to bring things back in line, and it finally comes to an "alien," tragic, loss type conclusion that they need to go to war by the end of the season. These other rebellions begin to look like an epidemic. Aulë may begin making the Dwarves in fear that the Children may not come. In the book it says that Aulë made them to oppose Melkor. They're designed to be "weapons" against the chaos. We can show parallels with the rebellions, and the nuances between them as foils for each other and foils for Melkor to show different stages/aspects of the path of discord. It's difficult to depict unfallen, angelic beings. What does it mean to be totally free of sinful inclination and yet have free will to choose. Aulë is a wonderful example of showing it's not just a black and white deal. He has good intentions and could go in a bad direction but repents. It's not just about being flawed. We need to have at least one scene in Utumno and want to show the visual contrast between Utumno and Valimar. Utumno should be genuinely beautiful, but not understated, and yet not gaudy/tacky. Maybe Aulë can visit Melkor in Utumno Aulë's rebellion should be bc he opposes Melkor, not bc he is seduced by Melkor's words. Or maybe it's Manwë that goes to Melkor's throne to try to work things out. He is really trying to keep things together and very reluctant to go to war. He doesn't need to look like a doofus...he's thinking of the collateral damage of the world as a result of the war. As Manwë is the King, it's typical for him to look regal, but in comparison to Melkor, his rainments would look simpler. He would look out of place in Utumno. Manwë is more humble. Who does Manwë see besides Melkor? The Balrogs are too ugly now, and would be suspicious to Manwë. Some of the Balrogs were missed when Utumno was destroyed. He may have contempt for the other fallen creatures ("I'm not like them"). But maybe other Maiar went with Melkor, as all the Valar went to Valinor. Perhaps the Balrogs are in the "basement" - After Melkor and Sauron fall, they can't take on beautiful forms any longer, and so it should be with the Balrogs. Utumno is beautiful but empty. Melkor meets Manwë at the door, and gives him a tour, and only his voice echoes back. There's no actual ban against going to Middle-earth. Yavanna and Oromë will continue going there without having to "sneak off" but the idea of going to Valinor is for protection. The Trees... What we see are the fruits of these choices. What happens in Valinor is the beauty of the trees, and peace and harmony, light and hope is sheltered here in Valinor. The Valar don't feel any competition with Melkor, but Melkor feels competition with them, and wants the Valar to feel ashamed of their place. Pride and envy, which become anger, bring forth the monsters in Middle-earth. The beasts can just appear. We don't need show them being created. Tulkas, Oromë and Huan can be hunting in Middle-earth, and they fight and kill the monsters. This would be the first time we have "bulk" corpses. Carnivores already exist, but this would be the first time there would be a field of corpses (deer, for instance). The fight with Ungoliant didn't shed any blood. We can have them talking about what they're seeing, and show the differences between their characters. We can look more at the horror of the slaughter and what it means, rather than focusing on CGI violence. Fëanturi: we want to highlight Nienna's role in the planting of the Trees. Yavanna's song is still what creates them, but Nienna's tears water them. (She does not weep for herself, and those who learn from her learn pity.) Nienna's is still mourning the marring of Arda, and she goes to Yavanna, and from that mourning are tears of hope. Nienna is not just sad. We have to be selective in the actress that plays her bc it's a complex range of emotion. The tears of hope can tie back into the frame and it ties into Estel, who's listening to the story. And in this moment, the rest of the Valar "get" Nienna. We can begin this episode with the beauty of Valimar and the rest of the Valar celebrating, whilst Nienna weeps. Tulkas maybe like "um...dude?" Just as Gilraen talks of giving hope to the Dunedain, Nienna can talk of giving hope to Valimar. The rest of the Valar can be celebrating Yavanna's accomplishment, but Lorien and Mandos would be the ones appreciating Nienna's contribution (as well as the audience) The division of who's celebrating Yavanna vs appreciating Nienna can point to the disunity to come (leading to the rebellions of Aulë, Ossë, and Sauron) Namo, Irmo, Estë and Vairë might already be in Valinor (building Mandos and Lorien, respectively) when the rest of the Valar go there but we don't want them to NOT be in Almaren, which would be good at the end of Episode 7. Final shot of episode 8 – the 2 trees are glowing, and then pan to Melkor looking down from Utumno, looking at the 2 trees, and the reflection of the 2 trees are in his eyes (foreshadowing the moment that he and Ungoliant look at the trees before attacking them) and the trees Questions for next time: January 8 How should we handle the elements of the next episode? What are we doing? Do we want to do Aulë first (with the Dwarves)? Or do we do Sauron and Ossë in parallel? Or do we integrate all 3? Yavanna has to happen after Aulë. And how does this all relate to Melkor, and where is he in all these? The war episode is the last of the season (the war to begin all wars) Reading for next episode: Ch. 1 Quenta! Théoden was described as being like Oromë, so maybe we want to have a scene where Oromë might remind the viewer of Théoden in some way (appearance or some sort of parallel...a sort of LOTR Easter Egg).

Featured Podcast