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[Hm. I promise I'll stop criticising the LotR movies... eventually.]

One thing I read in many critical discussions of the movie is that even if it wasn't perfect, no one would have been able to do it better; or even that some of the ideas and concepts of the books were anachronistic and difficult, if not impossible to convey to a modern audience.

After re-watching only one season of Babylon 5 I beg to differ. It has been done better, in spirit, if not in detail or in exact wording.

I believe the comparison is valid enough; IMO there are sufficient similarities to show that Babylon 5 does indeed use and re-work some of the main themes of LotR; in one of the DVD commentaries JMS mentions how he grew up with the LotR books. This isn’t meant to put down the show in any way, because it’s never a direct rip-off and to re-work such a classic book in such an intelligent and effective way is quite a feat in and of itself. Now of course it is true that JMS and the B5 team were able to build their story and develop their characters over a much longer span of time than the nine hours (give or take) of the three LotR movies, but I don't think this changes much about the basic truth that they simply had a much better grasp of the epic scale of their story and of how to tell it.

For one thing, the B5 creators, despite having technical possibilities on a previously unknown scale (the first fully digitally animated space-fights...) at their disposal, never gave in to the temptation to over-use them. To all appearances they were aware of the fact that a good story is about story telling and characters first and foremost and everything else can only be subservient to that. There simply are no show-off self-indulgent animation scenes on B5 like there are all too frequently on LotR.

The interesting thing is that, judging from various reviews, near everyone’s favourite scene in RotK was Faramir riding out to regain Osgiliath at his father’s command, the quiet ride through the city, the doomed attack; inter-cut with Pippin’s song. No gratuitous animations there, only one arrow fired. This really leads me to believe that a more understated and character-driven movie might have worked and would have been appreciated by audiences.

I'd have liked to have see Arwen make her choice with the same gravity and dignity as Delenn. I'd have liked to see in Aragon what you see in Sinclair, glimpses of what he's going to be, a man realising his fate. Something of Londo's tragedy in Denethor. Some of the essential *otherness* of the Minbari in the elves rather than just wigs & fake pointed ears. I could go on.

Now the last B5 episode, 'Sleeping in Light' - that is Arwen and Aragon’s final parting, space ship or royal tombs of Minas Tirith, it makes no difference - what matters is there: the deep love, the grief, balanced against a life fully lived.

And while B5 is maybe a little more ‘modern’ in its ethical complexity, dealing with the subject of the temptation and corruption of power directly, relinquishing the symbol of the ring, it has all the epic themes of LotR, loyalty, honour, willingness to die for a cause or love, and never, ever seems anachronistic.

IMO it’s more important to capture the spirit of a book or play than to faithfully render all the little details, and once the former is achieved, a lot of liberties can be taken with the latter: it makes for better and more interesting art most of the times, too. I’ve had the good fortune to once see an interpretation of Hamlet that has forever spoiled me for all the more conventional renderings. The director had cut the play up and re-arranged it, merged characters and created new ones while totally abandoning others, but to me it perfectly captured what ‘Hamlet’ was about. ‘Velvet Goldmine’ IMO is much more in the spirit of Oscar Wilde than the conventional and – at least to me - quite boring ‘Wilde’ movie. Babylon 5 is in the spirit of J.R.R.Tolkien in ways that Peter Jackson’s movies never even come close to.

[Bad, bad day. If it weren’t for the fact that I need the job, rent & bills need to be paid... I was never so tempted to simply walk out. Just pack up my things and leave. No particular reason, except that it suddenly seemed unbearable to remain, trapped, my life finished. I didn't, of course. And then I come home, turn on the computer and type endless rambling posts no one’s interested in reading about SF shows & what not, because it's such a relief to give my brain something to do after eight hours of mind numbing stupidity and superficial forced politeness, even if it's only a substitute for the real thing. Ersatzbefriedigung. Gives ‘pathetic’ a whole new range of meaning.]
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Is Christmas depression finally catching up with me?
Woke up in a very melancholy mood...

Sometimes I feel very alone. Not so much in the big ways - (:: shrugs ::) I've kind of got used to it and If I were to be honest more often than not I like it that way - but in small, stupid ways, like when I find myself picking up on aspects of things that no one else seems to notice or attach the same importance to as I do. Wanting to share something and finding no one who feels the same way; ending up posting a wordy lj entry that is as much self-assurance as message in a bottle. Sometimes it feels like I've constructed this elaborate universe for myself to live in and it's entirely subjective... and there's this lingering fear it might easily collapse again, because it's only a figment of my imagination, after all...

I don't even know why this should matter.

[After encountering your typical goth horror-obsessed Clive Barker fan (and nothing but that type) over and over on the internet I had this intense moment of, not even so much satisfaction, but reassurance and relief that I wasn't entirely imagining things, when I read this D.Winter's Clive Barker biography.]

Oh, and... this was not triggered by every one else's gushing over the RotK movie (even I am not that insecure), but my own reaction and criticism were rather symptomatic. I never really fit in anywhere, with any group. Not with the fangirls and not with the Tolkien nerds, for that matter. (Even during my Tolkien fan days I never made it through the Simarillion, because I couldn't really be bothered with the pseudo-mythology of a fictional universe.) And while I'm aware it's unrealistic hoping to find someone with whom you'll agree on everything (or even on most of the major points) - the whole soulmates kind of thing -, especially when you're not 18 any longer, but have lived your own life for more than a decade longer, going to places, some obscure or at least not exactly popular, collecting memories and experiences, still lacking a lot of others that might be considered prerequisite... sometimes there's just this irrational need I can't quite help.

Is there even a point to all this? I usually don't have a very strong sense of wanting to belong, but sometimes it catches me unaware... and yes, there's a world out there beyond the internet... but if it comes down to it, it's even harder meeting similar people there... ?

:: headdesk :: ...yet *another* thing I didn't like about the LotR movie-verse: Arwen... )

Will go my nerdy ways now & read a bit, then watch the next couple of B5 episodes.
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[nostalgic rambling post of mostly local interest]

You realise you're getting old, old, old when the co-worker is looking at a book we'd just unpacked and says: "Günther Nenning? War der nicht mal in der Politik? Bei den Grünen oder so?"

[My conscious politic memory sets in about that time - I was twelve at the time of the protests for the preservation of the Hainburger Au, reading the headlines and wishing I cold be there. Kreisky I don't really remember (though I still recall hearing of his death on a trip through Turkey after having graduated from school); Sinowatz for the SPö and Busek for the ÖVP; and I vaguely remember Steger and the beginnings of Jörg Haider's career; later worrying when the FPö crossed the 10% mark, then the 15%. Buying the Abfangjäger now being replaced (or not, as the case may be) by the Euro-fighters and how everyone mocked them. All things considered they've done rather well - contrary what everyone expected then they lasted quite a long time and none, as far as I remember did crash. Remember Manfred Deix when he actually drew scathing politic cartoons; I still have a collection somewhere. Rudolf Kirchschläger portraits in primary school; then the Waldheim controversy. Not the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant controversy, but the AKW ADE graffiti on many walls. The Stadtbahn before it became the U4. And double decker buses!! They were great, if you could get a place right in front on the upper deck. Ah well, getting a bit side-tracked here...]

Another sign of age is when you remember Richard Dean Anderson from MacGyver rather than SG:1. Or, apparently, when it's mentally or physically impossible to be a fan girl over the LotR movies or cast. Sean Bean goes back to Derek Jarman's Caravaggio for me, and the rest... couldn't care less. Sorry.

Speaking of LoTR, though - even Der Spiegel is picking up on the Frodo/Sam slashiness... (... in klassischer Liebesfilm-Manier... Immer wieder werfen sich die Hobbits schwer verliebte Blicke zu.)

Während sich der Held der Arbeiterklasse also wacker abrackert, übt sich Elijah Wood in dem singulären Gesichtsausdruck "Erschöpfung", verdeutlicht durch stieren Blick und eine steile Stirnfalte. Zum Glück wird die Bürde des Ringes auch noch durch blutige Schleifspuren der Kette am Hals des Hobbits verbildlicht.

:: chortles ::

I've been freezing all day, presumably because I've been mostly living off soup, yoghurt and coffee for the last few days. All the talking doesn't help; felt kind of better in the morning, but ended up croaking at customers by mid-afternoon. It's really disgusting right now, desperate people mind- & thoughtlessly grabbing last presents for people they presumably don't care about. (Sad as it is, this has at least the advantage that they don't much bother me, because they're not so much looking for specific books any longer as for any book that might serve as a present.) I just want peace, quiet, not having to talk to anyone and sleep sleep sleep, time to get well again. The stress I could deal with, but not while being half-ill... I wish I could get Saturday off, but sadly it's impossible.

Nothing like working in retail to put you off Christmas forever. I actually used to like the season, choosing presents for people, decorating the tree, all that stuff. But that was before... and I'm aware there are a lot of people who are still worse off than I am. Can't even imagine what it must be like working in a department store.
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We were at the advent market on Karlsplatz before the movie; drank Glühwein, I found the cutest keychain for myself (a stylised leather mouse) and the obligatory horse-themed Christmas present for Ch. One guy selling those tiffany style hanging candle holders, multi coloured bowls, very beautiful, but unfortunately € 50.- upward. Still considering, though... One booth with very original hats, but none quite fit me and they were too expensive anyway.

And I so want to ride one of those Shire horses once in my life; they're just awsome.

LotR: RotK; better than I'd expected... )

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I work with two people who emphatically profess to have been bored to death by LotR, both the books and the movies. Now the latter I can understand, but the books? My main complaint about the movies so far was that they cut so many of the more quiet poetic and funny moments in favour of action scenes partly even of their own invention. I'm not a rabid fangirl (except when I leave the cinema whining and ranting about what Peter Jackson and his cast IMO messed up this time) - Tolkien's writing has lost much of the appeal it had for me 10, 15 years ago. These days I tend to get irritated by the pseudo-epic style and the stark black and white of the moral conflict; faceless evil incarnate only holds a very limited interest for me. But some passages and characters I'm still rather fond of and to have them called boring and tedious by implication is a bit harsh. Part of me wanted to shout blasphemy!... Is this an age thing? One of them is 19, the other 23. Then again, probably just a matter of varying tastes, no need for me yet to go all grandmotherly and complain about what today's youth is coming to.

On an entirely unrelated note, I picked up at work this 3CD compilation 'Forbidden, not forgotten', about composers forbidden, persecuted and murdered by the Nazis.

The historical background hardly bears thinking about - my favourite piece (and even this expression sounds slightly wrong in the context) is 'Partita für Streicher' by Gideon Klein, written in 1944 in the ghetto of Theresienstadt, the composer was deported to Auschwitz only a few days after he finished it and killed there. Pavel Haas, 'Studie für Streichorchester', also murdered in Auschwitz, as was Hans Krása ('Brundibár' - an opera for children).

I'm not a musical person; my knowledge about classical music especially is not even sketchy to begin with and for that reason I hesitate to write about my occasional tentative (and extremly random) venturings in this direction, though even understanding as little as I do I'm beginning to think it'll maybe occupy me more in the future. Even listening to an alternative radio station, recently so much of the music tends to quickly bore me... :: sigh :: Maybe I'm really growing old. Or maybe just growing up...


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March 2013

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