13 January 2013

Comments Made by Christopher Tolkien Resurface

Last summer, Christopher Tolkien broke his silence and gave his first ever press interview, wherein he expressed his disdain for Peter Jackson's adaptations of his father's work. Now that "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" has hit theatres, his comments have resurfaced. (You can read the English translation of the interview here.*)

"I grew up in the world he created. For me, the cities of The Silmarillion are more real than Babylon."

Long absent from the public spotlight (keeping himself out of the media for over 40 years), Christopher Tolkien explained in the interview that there is an enormous gap – "almost an abyss" – between his father's work and Jackson's films. The Tolkien family disliked the films so much that they even turned down an offer to meet the director. 

"They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25."

"Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time," he laments. "The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away."

While Peter Jackson only has the rights to the material contained in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, fans and even screenwriter Philippa Boyens have expressed a desire to see more of Tolkien's work – in particular, The Silmarillion – adapted for the big screen. Christopher Tolkien, however, remains unwavering in his refusal to give up the rights to any more of his father's work.

Would you like to see more of Tolkien's work adapted for the big screen (or a TV miniseries), or do you think the Tolkien Estate should continue to protect JRR Tolkien's legacy? Share your thoughts in the comments below or send me a Tweet @TolkienBritta!

* You can view the Le Monde interview in its original French here.


  1. Christopher Tolkien's judgment is harsh. I think I can enjoy the films and keep another part of my brain (and heart) attuned to the books themselves, appreciating each for what it is. Do I NEED to see the Silmarillion on the big screen? I don't think I do. As much as I loved the original films, and as much as I want to love the most recent one, one thing I noticed was that the style and images of the films have tended to take over my own imaginations of Middle-earth. Pretty sure I don't like that. Not sure how to prevent while still appreciating the films.

  2. Well I suppose he's more qualified to say so than the rest of us, but I don't really agree. If the films are "action movies," they're the worst action movies I've ever seen. The majority of these films are not fighting; I mean, isn't the common complaint that there's too much walking and talking? What battles there are are mostly taken from the books anyway.

    And that's to say nothing of the Extended editions. When I see scenes like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYqpDHdAyak or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gsLdNyL3yk, the furthest thing from my mind is "action movie."

    I think the films were pretty much as good as you're going to get with a live-action LotR adaptation. I'm curious what Christopher would've done differently...whether it would've been realistic for the medium of film, where changes from the original source will always be made.

  3. With all due respect to Mr. Christopher Tolkien, I think he doesn't understand the medium of Movies properly. Movies are very different from the books. And the director has to do certain unavoidable changes to adopt the books to reel. Some of them even improvise over the original content. Mr. Tolkien is just being too harsh in my opinion. Though I can understand his grief regarding his own property. he has every right to feel & express his feelings regarding his father's work.

  4. I am no ways a Purist. So, I think it was judgmental scrutiny for Christopher to feel almost repellent for it such. I agree that Jackson's films were an outcry of visual stimulants, and I do not disagree against people who think it a promotion ploy to the epoch of advance technology. Those are half-truth, and I think Jackson was passionate for creating the films at the same time. As you can see, the movie was occupied with the historic battle scenes which from Tolkien's book, only filled a couple pages. There was little room for character development, and almost all the people who were not familiar with the books failed to see the essence of the journey; how come and why so. Like Christopher said: it became an action film. Having said that, I am not angry or disgusted about the film. I understand where Jackson was coming from. We're in a different Age now. I think Christopher is just going through that phase in life when all the things he once knew and loved undergone the evolution of time. The world is changing. So maybe Christopher cannot seem to move on? I don't know, but I agree with some of his points, except feeling complete loath for Jackson's adaptation. It almost feels immature. But that's only me. I am sorry for Tolkien and the fans who are solid Book fans. But Jackson's films were contributive to the Tolkien Book society. It was for me at least. It was Jackson that made me want and need to read the books, and I've been an avid enthusiast since then (of the books more than the media). Growing up from a Third country and a middle-class family, I was educated in the mountains, where teachers teach for the sake of the job. We were not obliged to read, and books seemed for leisure only, and were very expensive ( even now ). So I never got my first book until I reached the age of 17, when I had to save money and eat scarce for almost a month. The media was more accessible, and still is. You can watch films at your neighbor's house if you want to. That was how I came to know Lord of the Rings, and I am thankful to Jackson forever. But of course, all credit is due to the creator, JRR Tolkien. Just my thoughts. Don't really matter.

    Bless you x