Like Nothing on Middle-earth


#1

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#2

I guess the “Tolkien” is like the new western, and the orcs are the new “redskins” without the racist package? I’ve never understood fantasy writers need to rehash Tolkien ad infinitum, and don’t understand the need of obviously very creative people to do it for film. At least ASOIAF doesn’t actually have orcs and elves. But reading it I felt the magic was really unimportant to his story and he just threw it in to make Tolkien genre fans happy.


#3

Ugly=Evil, Attractive=Good. Got it.

Sigh. Judging by the trailer, this looks like yet another “kill the dark lord and his minions” fantasy rehash that has been done to death. The reason Game of Thrones was so successful was that it upended these cliches, and embraced a morally ambiguous (and therefore, more realistic) approach to the genre.

Ping me when someone actually gives some character depth and societal complexity to those hapless Orcs/goblins/teeming cannon fodder. (On film, that is…several adventurous authors have done just that in print).


#4

It’s not a film, although it does often get quite cinematic, but Shadows of Mordor did that well. Despite how many Orcs you slaughter in the game it really did give them them a feeling of being individuals with complexities both in their nature, their experiences, and in how they relate to their peers… and to you!

Not bad for an orc murder simulator.


#5

Needs mud.


#6

I think they just got renamed “Others” and “Children of the Forest.”


#7

Can we just have Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, already?


#8

““Let’s face it, everything has already been done,” Newcomb” says has got to be the dumbest comment ive ever read. Im not a huge fantasy fan as it has become as some one pointed out the new western genre. Like a good western the possibility for moral stories and drama are built in but so is repetition and unoriginality which seems to be most of the current wave of fantasy. The last wave of westerns were the deconstruction ones like dances with wolves and unforgiven which were the swan song of that genre, i hope that fantasy can learn from that to start exploring other ideas.
just off the top of my head i would recommend the story the last ring bearer which is about how the orcs are a small Mongolian like people who were forced to live in mordor and built a culture based more on a emerging primitive science only to get attacked and scattered by a force of religious fanatics check out this wonderful painting by mark zug of the orcs fleeing mordor http://markzug.com/picture/sandsofgorgoroth-sm.jpg?pictureId=11592858
So rather then endlessly look at the amazing work of just Tolkien you would be better off looking at how he came up this story, his cultural and historical examination of say the Finnish language for the elves.Then start reading history books that cover other parts of the world. I would love to see a fantasy set in japan [the 47 ronin was a good idea but terribly done.] or better yet africa etc.For example check out the work of this artist how on what a alternate world africa could have been. amazing work! http://www.cyon.se/#!alkebu-lan/ck0q
Ive been reading the powder mage series which while still based on European history has a great take on magic vs guns set in a sort of 18th century world with politics that feel real like RR martins work but a great new setting!.
Newcombs idea that there aren’t any stories left say to me that he has blinders on.


#9

“Adrasil.”

Usually, it is the name of pharmaceuticals that sound fantasy characters . . .


#10

For what it’s worth, there’s currently a “mini-Renaissance” of morally ambiguous, complex sword ‘n’ armor flicks that are popping up on Netflix streaming, mostly in the wake of Game of Thrones’s success. I would include Black Death, Ironclad (1 and 2, both are good), Valhalla Rising, and Hammer of the Gods in this gritty New Wave. 1981’s Dragonslayer, the godfather of morally ambiguous fantasy flicks, stands supreme and still holds up well after all these years. Check out this remarkable classic if you haven’t already. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about.

Spaghetti Westerns utterly transformed the genre. I just wish more directors would take a cue from this movement and infuse it into fantasy films. Perhaps they will.


#11

all great examples but still too close to LOTR for my taste, but all great starting points. I was always inspired by the fact that road warrior is based on a aboriginal Australian ghost story even thought its setting and actors are not, i found the idea of reaching for different source material really inspiring!
spaghetti westerns are awesome i think partially because the people doing them were not of the source material ie not American, and with different sensibilities.[im still in love with that crazy slow burn opening of once upon a time in the west]
The recent discoveries about angor wat i find really inspiring as well for a setting.


#12

You’re right that there’s a million stories and settings out there, rehashing the same story in the same setting again and again is moronic. At least try a new story OR new setting. Maybe there’s a timeline for this stuff. The revisionist westerns were new stories in old settings. Maybe that inevitably comes after the old stories in a new setting, which is what most of the original westerns were. Remember Outland with Sean Connery? It was High Noon on an asteroid. How many times has Romeo & Juliet been done in everything from cave men to spacemen? Kurosawa did several Shakespeare’s. My point is it doesn’t take much to rattle the formula, unless the formula is exactly what you’re after.


#13

From what I can see of ASOIAF fandom, there’s a majority expecting that the story will turn out in the end to be a bog-standard fantasy epic, despite GRRM’s clear propensity for deconstructing the tropes.


#14

I feel bad for this article as its intent was to show the lowering the bar for entry to film/video but as the genre of fantasy was its focus im glad we are talking about the content.
Just cause you can make a movie on a iphone doesn’t mean you should…
one thing i still find weird is the lack of film history you find with fanfilms and how more and more of them resemble photocopies of photocopies of part of a image.
Take star wars, George Lucas was very interested in film history, experimental films [check out his collage work very interesting] anthropology,documentaries, Japanese culture and film, Joesph Campbell old movie serials etc All of these influences melded after two earlier great films to become star wars which is the heroes journey with elements from the Kurosawa film hidden fortress, production design influenced by his love of cars for speed and the texture of aged machines and his first movie thx 1138 with its futuristic harsh black and white clean world for the look of the empire to a at that time out of date film scoring style .All of this blended together to make that movie.
another example would be modern art where the real pioneers of this at the beginning of the 20th century started with very traditional and disciplined approaches to art. But for example the German expressionist ended up in the apocalyptic WWI and came out different so they pushed against the constraints of art at the time, as it lacked the visual language to express their inner ideas any more. Look at Otto Dix’s WWI art even thought its like a distorted cartoon there’s more reality in those then the more conforming social realism of Sargent’s work.
http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/dix-wartriptych.jpg vs http://jssgallery.org/Paintings/Gassed/Gassed.jpg
So they started by learning the rules then broke them, but if you go to art school now most students don’t have that background having started with the distorted work not realizing how that was a break thought for that time and place.
With the tools available today wouldn’t making original material be more interesting?


#15

I’ve watched some semi-independent Star Trek films, including a couple that had an impressive list of professionals involved, including several actors from the various shows. However, the acting was wildly uneven, and the writing was terrible. The set and costume design, by contrast, was excellent.

Apparently good writing is actually really, really hard. Anyway, that’s the thing I’d be most concerned with. I’ve seen enough examples of really creative and interesting things done with familiar fantasy tropes, in games anyway, to believe that good writing can make use of the genre, but there’s no replacement for good writing.


#16

As a Rappahannock County resident I think it’s cool to see this project get a little viral. As to how hard it is to get away from it all in the VA countryside? drive on out here, 45 miles west of Washington D.C. and you can still peep the Milky Way most nights…on second thought don’t. : )

Here’s the local paper’s write up:


#17

Dragonslayer is definitely still the high water mark for that sort of thing (it should be classed in that group of “films that shouldn’t be attempted again because lightning doesn’t strike twice” - I’d nominate Bladerunner for that group too.)

For interesting takes on fantasy tropes, one unexpected source has turned out to be the card game Magic: the Gathering, which spins through settings at a dizzying rate that enables them to tackle issues in a surprisingly modern way (the current storyline features transgender and autistic spectrum characters without making either of those aspects their “defining” characteristic.)


#18

I think this is greatly oversimplifying, and possibly also insults the intelligence of fantasy fans. I think people would not only enjoy but would even embrace a fantasy film set in culture that’s very different from the standard “Tolkien”.

Long before Gaiman’s Anansi Boys or, for that matter, American Gods I was a fan of Anansi stories, and thought that a fantasy comedy based around him in a West Africa-type setting would be a real hoot. Back when I first had the idea I knew there was no way any major studio would even think about it. Now it seems a lot more plausible.


#19

No, I think the hard part is getting production types to read the good writing. I’m a fan of SF rather than fantasy, and I cringe at almost every new film or TV show. Rather than mine more than a century of great SF literature, they all rehash the same tired tropes. Get rid of time travel and half of all SF productions ever go with it (and good riddance).

It seems too many productions treat the actual writing the way a lot of bands treat lyrics, as an afterthought to be tacked on. I once worked on a major franchise film where the last scene to shoot on the last day, that was critical to the story, made no sense whatever. I said to my boss they’ll need to reshoot this. At the screening the dialog had changed, he said they simply looped new words!


#20

That’s a tad judgmental. I understand that many of the readers here want something further away from the Tolkeinesque tradition but, quite frankly, if that’s what speaks to the writers, crafters, and funders of this film, I’d strongly prefer them to follow that rather than cater to a sentiment that doesn’t touch them.

It’s perfectly alright to say that this film isn’t right for your tastes, but “moronic” is tantamount to claiming that all those involved and supporting the production have the “wrong” tastes, a claim that is especially unpleasant given how often those who appreciated science fiction or fantasy have been accused of having the “wrong” tastes.