Monday, January 03, 2005

Raise a toast

Please join me and the Tolkien Society in raising a toast to J. R. R. Tolkien, on this, his 113th birthday. According to the Tolkien Society: "On January 3rd, Tolkien fans around the world are invited to raise a glass and toast the birthday of this much loved author at [9:00 pm Greenwich Mean Time (GMT); 4:00 pm EST]. The toast is 'The Professor.''"

Tolkien was born January 3, 1892 and died on September 2, 1973 at the age of 81. The year 2005 also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the publication of the conclusion of The Lord of the Rings. The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers were published in 1954, and The Return of the King was published in 1955.

The Lord of the Rings is my favorite trilogy of all time. I checked out the extended edition DVD of The Return of the King the other night. Although I quibble with some of Peter Jackson's changes (for example, how Saruman met his demise or the Hollywoodized fight scene on the precipice overlooking molten lava at Mount Doom, for example) and other changes really irritated me (Gollum tricking Frodo into sending Sam away, for example), for the most part Jackson nailed Tolkien's story better than I thought any filmmaker ever could; most of his changes were quite understandable as necessary or reasonable. Certainly Jackson managed to put the heart and soul of the work onto film. The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy represents the best epic fantasy filmmaking in history. We won't soon see its like again, and, now, 31 years after Tolkien's death, we still have yet to see the like of The Lord of the Rings novels again.

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