Art and Literature News / Movie News / Tolkien News

An Eagle’s View of Middle-earth: Tolkien Week Special!

Every week, our Middle-earth News reporters seek out Tolkien/Hobbit/LOTR goodness and tag their finds with their names. In honor of Tolkien Week, which starts today, we decided to dedicate this week’s “Eagle’s View” to interesting facts about The Professor himself!

  • Tolkien worked on three languages as a child. He explored Animalic with friends, but did not actually invent it himself. Tolkien helped to construct Nevbosh, meaning “new nonsense,” and enjoyed conversing with his friends in it. And at age eight or nine, he worked on his first language, Naffarin. (Source)
  • As a child, Tolkien was bitten by a large South African tarantula called a baboon spider. Three guesses as to where the inspiration for Shelob the gigantic spider came from! (Source)
  • At one point during his first term at Oxford, Tolkien stole a city bus as a prank, and took his friends on a joyride. (Source)
  • In 1918, Tolkien was hired to work on the long-time project that would become Oxford English Dictionary. Started in 1879, by the time Tolkien joined, they had finally reached the “W”s. (Source)

  • The inspiration for Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ home of Bag End came from Tolkien’s aunt’s farm of the same name. (Source)
  • As a boy, Rayner Unwin helped convince his father, the director of publisher George Allen & Unwin, to publish The Hobbit. Sir Stanley Unwin asked his son for a written report, for which he would be paid a shilling. “This book, with the help of maps, does not need  any illustrations and should appeal to all children between the ages of five and nine,” the ten year-old reviewer noted. (Source)
  • He’s been published almost as prolifically posthumously as alive. Most authors have to be content with the works they produce during their lifetime, but not Tolkien. His scribblings and random notes, along with manuscripts he never bothered to publish, have been edited, revised, compiled, redacted, and published in dozens of volumes after his death, most of them produced by his son Christopher. While Tolkien’s most famous posthumous publication is The Silmarillion, other works include The History of Middle Earth, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. (Source)
  • When Tolkien’s son Michael entered the army, he listed his father’s profession on his paperwork as “Wizard.” (Source)

According to Peter Jackson, Tolkien nixed the idea of a Lord of the Rings film featuring The Beatles. Stanley Kubrick was approached to direct and John Lennon wanted to play Gollum, Paul McCartney would play Frodo, Ringo Starr would embody Sam, and George Harrison would take on Gandalf. “It was something John was driving and J.R.R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage, but he didn’t like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So he killed it,” Jackson said. (Source)

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  1. And Tolkien was completely right to have killed a Kubrick rendition of LoTR, never mind that it would have had the Beatles (and entirely different, yet completely valid reason for killing it).

    The combination of the two is a nightmare beyond the imagination.

    The Beatles were tragic actors and wholly unsuited to the job (even had they been actors).

    And Kubrick, while a first-rate director/producer (more director, though, no?), would no more have been suited to Direct LoTR than Alfred Hitchcock would be to Direct Willy Wonka (or, more correctly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) – or for Hitchcock to direct LoTR.

    I can’t think of a director from the 50s or 60s who would be up to the task.

    Although, we might have got a version of the movie where people were less worried about upsetting anyone over the depiction of the Orcs, Easterlings, or Haradrim/Southrons then than we have now.

    Come to think of it, David Lean (Bridge over the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia) would have been able to pull this off.

    Although he specialized in war-films, and probably would have blown off what he saw as a “kiddy-film” he probably could have brought the appropriate gravitas to the film to pull it off.

    I doubt that any of the Ray Harryhausen period special effects would have greatly hurt the production (it really wouldn’t require many if it was staged properly, to minimize such things). Although we would have to put up with some exploitation of “little people” in the parts of Hobbits and Dwarves in such a production. And that would probably hurt such an attempt at having made a movie of the work prior to the 21st century.

  2. Kubrick and the Beatles? (shudders violently)

  3. victorialadybug says:

    That would have been atrocious!

  4. Proof that even Tolkien was a wild and crazy college kid.