The lamest Tolkien fanboy around

Date: Thu, Dec 13, 2001 9:44 AM

From: Modemac <>

I admit that I'm biased -- I'm gladly joining the ranks of the
drooling fanboys who are praying on bended knee that the new "Lord of
the Rings" movies are so good, they kick the crap out of "Star Wars."
But putting my own biases aside, it's still hard not to read this
lengthy missive and wonder when the last time this guy here got laid.

From: Michael Kohrs <>
Subject: An Open Letter to Peter Jackson (Part 1)
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 07:33:43 GMT

An Assault on Tolkien: An Open Letter to Peter Jackson

In just a few days the first of three movies based on J.R.R.
Tolkien's novel "The Lord of the Rings" will be released. Fans around
the world await this event - some with anticipation, others with fear
and loathing. No fan is unaffected, no one is neutral (although there
are many, of course who are content to settle for a flawed version
rather than no movie at all.) Such is the power of Tolkien's most
beloved work.

I am writing this because I want my friends and fellow fans to
understand my occasionally virulent opposition to this movie. I
readily acknowledge that I have not seen the Lord of the Rings. I
have no intention of ever seeing it. I have advised my family and
friends not to see it. I have lectured strangers around the world
regarding their sin of desiring to watch this movie. I will oppose it
until the end of my days.

I wish to begin by acknowledging that I am not familiar with your
work. I have never met you (and sincerely hope that I never do) and I
have never seen any of your movies. I readily concede that you may be
a talented director and that this movie may indeed be the "cinematic
triumph" that many critics have labeled it. I do not doubt that most
people will find it enjoyable.

My opposition is not based on the cinematic merits of the film -
I am not interested in whether the characters have been cast correctly
or the quality of the musical score or the special-effects. Such
details are subjective and merely divert attention from the true
issue: The exploitation of J.R.R. Tolkien and his creations.

I cannot help but wonder why you chose to make this movie. The
interviews and reports that I have read imply that you had some idea
of how difficult it would be to make such a movie. I do not think
that you truly understood the magnitude of this challenge, however.
It is not merely a problem of adapting the novel to the screen - I
have yet to meet a fan who has not conceded that it is impossible to
capture the true complexity and spirit of the Lord of the Rings on
film - but also of fulfilling the expectations of countless fans
around the world.

Before I continue, I must concede that my standards are
extraordinarily (some might say excessively) rigorous. I expect any
movie based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien to be nothing less than a
masterpiece. I want people, even those who disliked this book, to
passionately declare that this is the greatest movie of all time.
Perhaps it is a consequence of a childhood in Illinois, where shoddy
and mediocre work is the norm, but I am adverse to inferiority of any
type. My philosophy is perfectly expressed by an advertisement which
I once saw that contained a photo of the gorgeous Taj Mahal and the
caption: "When Shah Jehan saw the contractor's bid, did he say 'Make
the pool a little smaller?'" When you are creating a masterpiece of
any type - and that should always be your goal - you should not fret
over such trivial details as budget and time. In other words, I
expect the film to duplicate the magnificence and poignancy of the

I therefore object to your movie because you are simply not
qualified to produce such a masterpiece. You do not possess the
necessary resources. (I would not attempt such a movie unless I had
the combined resources of Spielberg & Lucas and even then I would
still hesitate.) You lack the credentials to acquire such resources.
You have no experience with epic films and your resume is limited and,
in my opinion, unimpressive. You lack the necessary influence to hire
the best writers and actors. The fact that you were forced to film
this movie in a backwater country like New Zealand speaks volumes
about your inability to maneuver within the labyrinth of studio
politics and obtain the results that you desire. These are obstacles
which could all be overcome given time and effort, but even if you had
all of these requisites available you still lack the necessary

Lest that seem an absurd statement, I will elaborate. It should
be obvious that any attempt to turn the Lord of the Rings into a movie
is an ambition on a par with, say, the building of the Pyramids or the
Golden Gate Bridge or Versailles or the Taj Mahal. Such
accomplishments are not the achievements of ordinary men. Any one who
would attempt such a challenge must possess a vision tinged with what
can be best described as madness. There can be no compromises, no
half-measures, no acceptable flaws; Every detail must be as close to
perfection as possible. Any one who would attempt such a challenge
must be not only capable of inspiring similar passion in his
subordinates, but also willing to crush anyone who interferes or
challenges his vision. I do not think that you fit this description
at all, Mr. Jackson.

Let us overlook your arrogance and folly, however, and, for the
sake of discussion, assume that you were justified in your decision to
attempt an impossible feat. I have not forgotten that you are human.
It was foolish to even attempt to produce this movie, but you
compounded that error many times over by choosing to limit the number
of movies to three. This choice (and I do not claim to know your
motivation) condemned the movie to mediocrity before you ever shot a
reel of film or hired an actor. This choice dictated that some
material would have to be eliminated if the entire trilogy was fit in
just three movies and that naturally doomed any chance of successfully
capturing the spirit of the book. I firmly believe that a minimum of
four or even five movies is necessary to capture the essence of the
Lord of the Rings. I dismiss any claims that audiences would never
tolerate such a substantial project. The public has proven time and
again that we prefer quality to quantity and are quite willing to
endure any inconvenience if a producer can deliver it. (Who could
ever have anticipated that a movie revolving around an uninspiring
love story aboard a ship called the Titanic would become the biggest
moneymaker of all time?) Television has also repeatedly revealed that
fans will quite eagerly watch epics. ("James Clavell's "Shogun," John
Jakes' "North & South" and Frank Herbert's "Dune" are a few examples
which spring to mind.)

I cannot adequately stress that it is IMPOSSIBLE to streamline or
alter the Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings is not a mere
collection of characters and scenes from which you can pick and choose
without affecting the overall story. It is rather more like a
beautifully woven tapestry. Cut any part of it and you ruin the
tapestry! Every scene (even those which many fans find less than
riveting), every passage, indeed every word contributes to the
development and persona of one or more characters. Eliminate that and
you weaken the character and ultimately the story itself.
I object to the movie because you have committed precisely that
sin. I object to this not only because it inevitably affects the
quality of the movie, but also because it is an insidious exploitation
of Tolkien and his fans.

Anyone familiar with the Lord of the Rings will tell you that it
was a labor of love for Tolkien. He poured his heart and soul into it
to an extent that few authors have equaled. (In the lament of
Theodon, for example, we hear the echo of Tolkien's grief as he
watched the natural beauty of his beloved Britain succumb to urban
sprawl and industrialization: 'Yet I should also be sad,' said
Theodon. 'For however the fortune of war shall go, may it not so end
that much that was fair and wonderful shall pass for ever out of
Middle?earth?') He was unable to abandon it even during some of the
darkest hours of his country's history. The powerful sense of loss
that permeates the novel, the sense of evil menace that the enemy
projects, the courage displayed by the most unlikely characters not
only reflect Tolkien's own experiences, but also a poignant attempt to
pass such wisdom as he had acquired to his children. The Lord of the
Rings is thus a subtle love story between J.R.R. Tolkien and his
children and, indeed, all of humanity. I and countless others are
profoundly grateful that Tolkien chose to share this story with us.

I do not think that you truly understood exactly what this book
means to those who have read and cherished it. It is not simply a
book that we enjoy reading and discussing from time to time. I wrote
the following excerpt while explaining my opposition to this movie a
few months ago:

"The town in which I grew up is very small (with a total
population of only 200 most of whom were elderly) and relatively
isolated. There were few children my age and even fewer ways to pass
the time. (We didn't even have cable TV.) In any other state, I
might have gone camping or swimming or just explored the neighborhood
or any of a number of other activities that boys enjoy, but, of
course, these were not options in the pesticide-saturated cornfields
of northwestern Illinois. Consequently, I had little to do but read
and one author whose works became most familiar was J.R.R. Tolkien.
Gandalf, Aragorn, Elrond, Frodo, Treebeard and Farmer Giles of Ham are
old friends of mine and I learned many qualities from them -
compassion, courage, loyalty, etc - that are sadly lacking in the
natives of Illinois." [June 2, 2001]

The Lord of the Rings is more than a book. It is our cherished
memories of reading it with our children and our spouses, of countless
hours spent exploring the mysteries of Middle-earth, of intriguing and
spirited discussions with friends from around the world. It is the
wisdom that we have gleaned from its pages as well as the pleasure
that we derive. Tolkien has accomplished what few other authors have:
He created a world in which we can participate as well as visit. The
Quest of the Fellowship is familiar but never stale: Each time we
open this book, we share Gandalf's fears and appreciate his wisdom; we
laugh with Tom Bombadil and weep with Merry as Theodon dies; we can
almost feel the pounding of the hooves as we charge the legions of
Mordor with the warriors of Rohan and we feel the Company's terror as
the Balrog advances. You are (however unintentionally) trampling upon
such memories when you alter the story. It is one reason behind the
fierce opposition to the elimination of Tom Bombadil and the revision
of Arwen's role.

Even if you WERE justified in removing some material (and I do
not concede that point), you are not justified in creating new
material. To cite just one example, it has been confirmed that you
included a scene of orcs being "hatched" from pods in Isengard. I am
absolutely certain that Tolkien would have found this scene repugnant
and a violation of the spirit of his stories. (Not only is this
reminiscent of a science-fiction invention, but it actually diminishes
the true magnitude of evil in Middle-earth. Tolkien repeatedly
stressed that one of the reasons why the orcs were so hideous was
because they had been corrupted. Even their method of reproduction
was a mockery of the wonder of childbirth and the joy of childhood.)
You abandoned the spirit of the Lord of the Rings when you chose to
introduce such vulgar and spurious plot devices. You not only debased
the magic of Middle-earth into another sword and sorcery cliché, you
committed the sin of exploiting Tolkien's labor and genius for your
own profit. You are, in a sense, repeating the folly of Melkor in
corrupting the beautiful designs of someone else to serve your own

I find it remarkable how frequently you considered such changes
necessary. I recall an article in Reader's Digest which cites your
thoughts on this particular point: "We thought we going to have to
alter quite a bit to turn this into a film," Jackson says. "But every
time we thought we'd found a clever way to improve the story, we found
ourselves going back to the books." The arrogance implicit in that
statement is astounding! You were prepared to exploit the world that
countless millions have grown to love and yet you did not think that
story as Tolkien related it was sufficient? Do you really have so
little faith in our intelligence that you must improve and simplify
the tale? I truly do not understand why you choose to pander to the
lowest denominator. Surely you have heard of the adage "Try to please
everybody and you end up pleasing nobody?" Why not try to please the
fans instead? It ought to be obvious that we are the most demanding
critics and therefore any film that will satisfy us must by definition
be of the highest quality and thus likely to appeal to others as well.
I did not become a Tolkien fan because he pandered to my taste.

Therein lies the fatal flaw in your movie. In your effort to
ensure financial success, you have compromised the spirit of the Lord
of the Rings. It does not matter whether the performance of the
actors is excellent or whether the sets and props are accurate or
whether the special-effects are spectacular: Ultimately this movie,
this project that has consumed seven years of your life and hundreds
of millions of dollars is nothing more than a neon version of
Isengard: "But Saruman had slowly shaped it to his shifting purposes,
and made it better, as he thought, being deceived-for all those arts
and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which
fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that what he
made was naught, only a little copy, a child's model or a slave's
flatteryS" And that is why I can confidently predict that in fifty
years it will have been utterly forgotten while an entire new
generation will be discovering and exploring the Middle-earth that
Tolkien set forth in the Lord of the Rings.

All of the preceding arguments are based on the presumption that
you deliberately intended to produce a literal adaptation of the book.
You have, according to several sources, repeatedly stressed that this
is not your intention, that your film is only "one possible
interpretation." I find this rationale even more contemptible. I and
surely countless other fans resent this blatant attempt to
commercialize the Lord of the Rings. I do not want Middle-earth to
become just another attraction in a Disney theme park. Yes, I want
people to enjoy the wonder and beauty of Middle-earth, but I want it
to be the Middle-earth that Tolkien created, not a product ravaged by
advertisers and corporate sponsors whose only concern is the profit
margin. Not only it is a crass exploitation of Tolkien's genius and
the fans love of Middle-earth, but it also has the potential to be
ultimately detrimental to all fans.

I think that perhaps Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic
strip "Calvin & Hobbes," expressed it best when he wrote ["The Calvin
& Hobbes 10th Anniversary Book"]:

"The world of a comic strip is much more fragile than most people
realize or will admit. Believable characters are hard to develop and
easy to destroy. When a cartoonist licenses his characters, his voice
is co-opted by the business concerns of toy makers, television
producers and advertisers. The cartoonist's job is no longer to be an
original thinker; his job is to keep his characters profitable. The
characters become "celebrities," endorsing companies and products,
avoiding controversy, and saying whatever someone will pay them to
say. At that point, the strip has no soul. With its integrity gone,
a strip loses its deeper significance."

Now I realize that Watterson was talking about comic strips, of
course, but I think the same principle applies to the Lord of the
Rings. As he noted in another passage "When cartoon characters appear
on countless products, the public inevitably grows bored and irritated
with them, and the appeal and value of the original work are
diminished." I fear that this will happen with Tolkien's works. It
is entirely possible that the negative impact of the inevitable
commercialism which will accompany these movies could outlast any
temporary interest that the movies may generate. I already know far
too many people, for example, who dismiss ALL of Tolkien's works,
including his contributions to the field of philology, simply because
he wrote a fantasy novel. I cannot help but wonder how many people
will avoid and/or reject Tolkien's works precisely because they are
sick of the incessant commercialism.

Last, but not least, is the fact that the success of your film
effectively opens the gates to a legion of other potential products.
Why stop with only a movie? Why not allow Hollywood to produce a
comic book or an animated series or a sitcom based on the life of
hobbits? In fact, why not produce additional movies centered around
the previously unknown adventures of, say, Aragorn the Ranger or
Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood? Where do we draw the line and cry

I understand that you have no control over this aspect of the
industry, of course, and indeed you quite possibly share my
apprehension and distaste for this crass exploitation. You did not
(with apologies to Billy Idol) start this fire, but you certainly
added the greatest amount of fuel to the flames and you are prolonging
the affliction by choosing to release the movie over the course of
three years. You are therefore responsible (albeit not completely)
for any adverse effects to Tolkien's legacy.

I cannot believe that you are unaware of these issues. In the
absence of additional evidence, I conclude that you were willing to
effectively defile the works of one of the greatest authors of our
time for your own gain. I therefore deny your claim to be a Tolkien
fan and I sincerely pray that your name will one day be as scorned by
Tolkien fans as the name of Ralph Bakshi is today.

Written by Michael Kohrs on December 12, 2001

First Online Church of "Bob"


From: Geoff Bronner <>

> But putting my own biases aside, it's still hard not to read this
> lengthy missive and wonder when the last time this guy here got laid.

I'm voiting for "never."

Always amusing to see a self-avowed perfectionist confuse Billy Idol
and Billy Joel. That was a good punchline that made reading the whole
thing worth the time spent.




From: duke0uke <>

> From: Michael Kohrs <>
> Subject: An Open Letter to Peter Jackson (Part 1)

> From: Michael Kohrs <>
> Subject: An Open Letter to Peter Jackson (Part 2)

Some author- he can't even come up with a trilogy.

From: (mykal d'archangel)
I stopped reading after the point which read "I don't know you or
your work" but then went into the "You are not qualified to make
this movie". That logic doesn't connect.

Whatever. Hell the movie may not be able to live up to a few
choice moments from the *Bashki* debacle that I actually enjoy.
But what the fuck - it's just a movie.

st m d'a


From: "Col. Sphinx Drummond" <>

I stopped reading after he wrote, "I readily acknowledge that I have
not seen the Lord of the Rings. I
have no intention of ever seeing it."

I hate people who say "readily" before they say "acknowledge." Don't
give me that kind of crap. Just fucking get to the point. I don't
care if they were meekly hesitant or mutha fuckin' chompin'
at-the-bits waiting to acknowledge shit. Just get to the Goddamn
point. Fuck him, if he's gonna write about a movie that he ain't
gonna see, then fuck him and his mother fuckin' cat. I can't find a
reason to care what he has to say about what he "readily
acknowledges" he knows nothing of.

-Col. Sphinx Drummond TWSR


From: (Alliekatt P.Pstensch McPogmahone)

I like watching the Bakshi debacle too. I dunno, I just bought my tix
for the opening day and the tik lady told me that it's 3 hours and 14
minutes long. Sounds to me like it's been pretty true to plot. In 3
hours and 14 minutes, they can still somewhat include Tom Bombadil and
Old Man Willow, who are both tangential to the Ring plot.

It sounds like the guy who wrote the article is having a
frothing-at-the-mouth episode, like the people who rabidly pronounce
any bible translation other than King James to be blasphemy. If LOTR
is his bible, then dude, what a goober.

It may be an extremely well-written trilogy, and the very source for
the entire fantasy genre, if you want to pretend that George MacDonald
and Charles Williams don't exist. But damn, it's just some books, and
nobody is going to retranslate them into American slang anytime soon.
Movies are not books.

I personally am just thankful that Hollywood didn't have any role in
it other than financing. Only the kiwis could do right by Tolkien.


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