Bad Mothers

by Varda

I have been reading the famous last magazine, and there is a very good interview with Peter Jackson and another with Fran Walsh, a good article on John Howe and very interesting articles on make-up and the usual New Zealand Tourism extended advertisement.

One thing missing is an interview with one of the actors, and perhaps that is why they finally decided to end the mag, as the actors have mostly gone on to other projects, or might not want to do it anyway.

I was always a bit divided on the subject of Fran Walsh's scriptwriting. I knew the book had to be changed to provide a script, but some things irritated me. When Pippin finds Merry on the field of battle, in the book, Merry says to him;
'Have you come to bury me?', one of the book's most heart-rending lines. The film had 'are you going to leave me?' which was not as moving and changed the meaning completely. There were a lot of minor changes like that which I thought were unnecessary (and a lot I knew were necessary) Also, in her interview on the dvd extra disc Fran Walsh said about her changes to the character of Faramir
'We felt like bad mothers, tee hee'

Tee hee? What was so funny about the wrecking of Tolkien's most beautiful character? it weakened the films and certainly lost them a lot of 'book' fans, not to mention endangering their claim that the film was 'made by fans for fans'.

Looking at the letters page I have to admit one thing missing from this publication was controversy like this. The letters sing the magazine's praises but hardly hint at the scale of the disappointment we felt when its end was announced. There is a letter in the magazine from Dan Madsen saying what a wonderful time it has been, and how great friendships were forged and this is true, but we all know from posts here a lot of friends were lost after the clumsy revamp of the boards and the total lack of any feeling that'they' were listening to us.

The merchandise pages are looking a bit thin, and one wonders was the lessening of sales another reason to cap the magazine. Despite the effusive tributes, money matters.

I hope no-one from the Tolkien Society reads this, but I always thought the fanclub magazine was as far from the TS publications as you could get; glossy, glamorous, full of merchandise and glorious images. But it did celebrate something else different from traditional Tolkien societies; in 30 years with the Tolkien Society I never made a single friend there; here I managed to visit Canada and the US, England, Germany and Donegal, all the time visiting fellow LOTR fans who became close friends as well. I suppose that, rather than a glossy back number, is the legacy of the fanclub....

Thanks, fellow fans

Response from Ladyhawk:

Interesting observations as always. And even though we didn't get to meet personally, you did meet Bregalad, whom I have met and gone to THE movies and dined with. I haven't met Linaewen or Lith, but I have met FDNL, who has met her. I haven't met Prim but Bregalad and jan-u-wine have both met her, and so many others. The friendships that have changed my life are a legacy I will be grateful for the rest of my life.

Do I agree with everything PJ and co. did? I agree that many things were changed that did need to be changed and little things could have been slipped in and a few things left out. I'll miss the excitement of the magazine arriving, and they could have handled things differently. I've voiced my thoughts to them; I've done what I could. They have their decisions to make, and I have mine. I have chosen not to shop in the New Line store if I can buy what I want someplace else, which I can. My chose will not affect them, not really, but the important thing to me is that I get to choose. I also get to choose to be grateful for what I have been given and let go of any disappointment that doesn't affect them in the least but does hurt me. I've learned about discussing things, including -- and maybe especially -- things one doesn't agree with when there will never be agreement, and more importantly I've discovered good people can disagree and still be friends. I don't care for the new board format but my forced absence because of my back trouble has taught me a new appreciation for it. And at the risk of being roasted alive, I didn't mind the "change" to Faramir since I saw him as a bully to begin with, that is until the very end of the exchange in the book. Hmmm... I suppose I should consider having stew for dinner.

Reply to Ladyhawk from Varda:

Faramir a bully?  Oh dear, not so my dear Lady H.

In the book, Faramir has the right to execute Frodo, who is travelling in a country where it is lawful to kill strangers. But he never considers killing Frodo. Even the 'trial' he puts Frodo on is just a formality; this is Tolkien's final creation in a long line beginning with Turin and leading through Aragorn; the just leader, the compassionate warrior, the thinking man as war hero, forced to make momentous decisions on the spot in the wilderness.

Far from being a bully, it is Faramir who says;'I would not trap even an orc with falsehood' and who hates killing. It is Faramir, not Aragorn, who is Frodo's real soul friend. It is Faramir who says to Frodo the prophetic and beautiful line;'I won't see you again under the sun'

Nor does he, Frodo never lives again under a sun, only in a halflight of painful memory.

Far from being a bully, Faramir is all that is best in The Lord of The Rings; brave, full of reverence for the greatness and beauty of his city's past but unwilling to sacrifice life to it, he has, as Sam says, 'an air of wizards', the air of Numenor. The real bully is his brother Boromir, who seizes Faramir's errand to Rivendell and takes all their father's love, then throws it all away in a moment of madness.

'We are truth-speakers' says Faramir 'we men of Gondor; we boast seldom, and then perform, or die in the attempt. Not if I found it on the highway would I take it I said and even though I knew not clearly what this thing was when I spoke, still I should take those words as a vow, and be held by them...'

And Frodo in parting says to Faramir;
'It was told to me by Elrond Half-elven that I would find friendship unpon the way, secret and unlooked for. Certainly I looked for no such friendship as you have shown...'

Bully? Not so.....

Reply by Ladyhawk:

Frodo was small and clearly worn from his travel and burden and yet still Faramir interrogates him, until he faints. I find that neither kind nor generous. I am well aware that Faramir should have had him killed, and at least he had the good sense to question authority. But Faramir goads and threatens an already tortured soul. I find nothing brave or praiseworthy in that. BTW, I did like Faramir by the end of it all, for he and Frodo did come to understanding, but it did not change the memory of my first impression of him. And I didn't say Boromir wasn't a bully and in fact this more or less proves my point. The two are clearly brothers, the only difference is that one followed through on his threats, provoked by the Ring, while the other chose long before that the Ring was not what it was cracked up to be, and did not follow through. Frodo and Sam were not seasoned warriors, even Faramir admits it, and yet he treats them as if they are. Over and over it is driven home that the hobbits are considered to be more like children by Men and not taken seriously and in fact many did not believe they existed at all. It is two small hobbits captured by seasoned warriors, all of whom are twice their size. I do understand that this was war, but that doesn't mean I have to approve of the behavior, which even Faramir would admit brings out the worst in a Man. It did not bring out the very worst in Faramir but I still did not find his threats and behavior admirable.

I have ever admitted I feel much akin to Frodo. I don't like to be bullied either. And I don't like to see it happen to anyone else. It brings out the Mother Bear in me.

I do wish the interrogation scene could have been in the movie only because it brings out the deep down strength and courage of Frodo, but sadly PJ chose not to emphasize that aspect of Frodo, but I never forget it is there.

Response from Goldberry:

I agree with you Varda, about the changes to the Faramir character in the movies – I would also have liked to have seen more of the Faramir/Eowyn story and the Houses of Healing. To me the most annoying parts were the “Arwen’s dying” and her fate is tied to the ring nonsense, and also, the time when Frodo told Sam to “go home”. I cringe a little when I watch those parts. I also thought Gimli’s part in the EE “Drinking Game” scene was a bit juvenile and out-of-place (in such a high-class movie). But I guess everyone has their own pet peeves.

As far as the magazine is concerned, I guess it had to come to an end sometime. They could have given us a bit more notice, though. I have yet to meet any other fans or go to a meeting or convention; I hope someday to meet some other ringers – I wonder if this fanclub will die out eventually…