Harry Potter 6 or The Lord of the Rings 1

by Theo Dentchev

Which movie is better?

Some might say that the answer is entirely subjective, and so you cannot conclusively say one is better or worse. That’s true enough, but I’m not asking, “which one do you like more.” Rather which one is objectively better? I suppose to make that kind of judgment we will need to define a set of criteria for determining which is indeed “better.” I propose we look at and compare the following four characteristics commonly used when evaluating film: coherence, intensity of effect, complexity, and originality.

Let us omit discussing complexity and simply assume that both films are sufficiently complex. That is, they both engage us on several different levels and have relatively intricate systems of relationships. Let us also omit intensity of effect, as that covers a range of subjects which are more subjective than I would like, such as how vivid or emotionally powerful the film is.

Then let us begin with coherence, or unity, which refers to how well or clearly everything is presented in a film, and if all the loose elements are tied up by the end. Now, being installations in a series, both of our films don’t conclude their stories and naturally leave certain things unaddressed (left, we assume, for the sequel to pick up on). Though we have to keep that in mind, we can still compare the way the rest of both films are structured. In The Fellowship of the Ring all of the characters and events clearly and logically relate to each other and serve a purpose. Those that don’t are either being left for the next film, or are negligible and require careful viewing to catch. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince it is more fragmented, as though not fully completed, and in a way unrelated to the fact that it is to have a sequel. There are scenes and places which, in the context of the movie, make little sense and are unclear. A striking example can be found at the end of the film, when Dumbledore is confronted by Draco Malfoy atop the astronomy tower and eventually killed by Snape. Harry is hiding in the vicinity the entire time yet does nothing until after Dumbledore is already dead. His inaction does not make any sense and is completely dissonant with his character as well as with the nature of his relationship with Dumbledore. In the book his action is explained by Dumbledore immobilizing with a spell which does not wear off until either he dies, but in the movie it is simply illogical.

That last example is a good place to bring originality into the discussion. Yes, both films are adaptations of books and as such one might be inclined to say that the films cannot be original, but even in films which have a frequently used subject, originality can be found in the way that subject is presented. Likewise both these films display originality in the way they relate the story which they are adapting. Both do depart from the text, sometimes changing minor details, sometimes going so far as to omit entire portions of the book. However, the changes and omissions that are made in The Fellowship of the Ring are done so that the viewer is able to more easily and quickly understand the plot, as superfluous characters and events which serve to unnecessarily complicate the plots are shorn off (such as Tom Bombadil, who never appears in the movie, and the corresponding scene in Rivendell where it is suggested that the ring be given to him). The end result is a more streamlined work that, while differing in some places from it’s source, still tells a complete story and gives the viewer all the information they need to understand and appreciate it within the length limitations of the film meidum. In contrast, Harry Potter omits vital scenes (such as several memories of a young Tom Riddle which offer insight into his character’s motivations and also give more information about the horcruxes), while adding completely irrelevant scenes which do do nothing for the story other than complicate it (such as the burning of the Burrow, which never happens in the book and which goes on to appear again in the seventh book). The end result is that those who are not familiar with the source text will find it difficult to understand everything. While undoubtedly both have elements of originality, just being original without a purpose has no worth. The Lord of the Rings is original in a way which has a clear purpose and achieves the desired effect, while the originality of Harry Potter is haphazard and only undermines the film.

From those two respects The Fellowship of the Ring emerges as the “better” of the two films. Having not covered half of the criteria I suggested in the first paragraph, I could certainly see someone making an argument that Harry Potter is more complex or has greater intensity of effect to the extent that it makes up for its deficiencies in the other areas. Such an argument would have to be very convincing, and I myself am rather skeptical as to the possibility of such an argument existing. But maybe that is just my personal bias, and regardless of what objective judgments we might render, in the end they likely won’t be the determining factor in which film you enjoy more.

-TD

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So I watched LotR yesterday…again…

And I’m supposed to compare it to another fantasy movie I’ve seen. I haven’t seen many. This may be a problem. However, I will not be stopped by a meager unfamiliarity with other media in a genre! The synopsis begins!

Alright, so ((Luke)) Frodo lives with his uncle, ((Owen Lars)) Bilbo in an isolated sort of town, kept secret from ((the galaxy)) the rest of Middle-Earth, almost left behind in time. This place is called ((Tatooine)) the Shire. There is a wandering hermit named ((Obi-Wan)) Gandalf who shows up. He is a ((Jedi)) wizard with far more to him than meets the eye, except on special occasions. He loves the ((isolation and safety of anonymity in the desert wastes of Tatooine)) simple and peaceful ways of the ((Jawas)) Hobbits, and hangs out with them whenever possible.

Meanwhile, certain events take place that force young ((Luke))  Frodo, his new mentor ((Obi-Wan)) Gandalf, and his faithful ((droids, R2D2 and C3PO)) Hobbit friend, Sam to have to leave the Shire. ((Luke)), among others, enters a bar and meets ((Han  Solo)), a Ranger that will transport them to ((Alderaan)) Rivendell, home of ((Princess Leia)) Princess Arwen.

See where I’m going with this?

Later on, Obi-Wan sacrifices himself heroically to buy time for Han to lead the others out of the Death Star.

NOW you see what I mean.

There are wild magics, glowing swords, and epic quests. Our heroes must cross the world/galaxy in order to take the Ring/proton torpedo and deliver it into the fires of Mount Doom/two-meter wide exhaust port. Our hero, who is young and innocent but tenacious and determined, will encouter things that will force  him to grow and test his purity with the temptation of corruption. Our tragic hero is probably going to die. Our Han is going to become a General (or the King) and marry our Leia. There is a formula to these things, one might notice.  And yet, we can always appreciate them, even if only giggling at Luke screaming “NOOOOOO!!!”

— Breon

Where’s MY Golden Compass and Ring of Power?!

by:  Calvin Patimeteeporn

The Golden Compass and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring both take on two versions of what we define as a “fantasy” world. One takes on the adaption of our pre-existing vision of a fantasy world set in a country filled with different races including elves, dwarves, and wizards. The other, however, takes on an adaption of our own world but, for the lack of a better term, “fantasized”. Compass introduces a world to the audience that is very similar to ours, even including some of the same countries, but allows some fantasy aspects to fall through, such as witches and talking polar bears. Fellowship introduces a world that we know to call “the fantasy dimension” with the typical elves and dwarves. Again, both are fantasy, but both display two different worlds.

However, plot-wise, they, and numerous other fantasy films, are extremely similar. Both heroes are, in their worlds, considered unimportant and meek (a hobbit and a little girl). However, its this emphasis on their unimportance that actually make them important. A recurring theme in both of these movies (and every single Disney movie ever in existence ever) is that even the most unlikely to be heroic character can be, well, heroic. Lyra ends up saving multiple universes and Frodo stops Sauron. Both unimaginable tasks completed by a midget and kid. But of course no hero’s journey is complete without the “supernatural aid” of others: Frodo has Gandalf, the old wizard, and Lyra has Iorek, the talking polar bear (Both Ian McKellen!). These characters are immensely powerful but do not actually play the role as the main hero, despite their advantage, but rather they support and guide the character through their epic. But even with this placed aside, the theme of unity is present in both movies. The fellowship of a mix of races and the motley crowd of witches and humans both provide a metaphor to the power of unity (cheesy, yes) and how it is able to accomplish, even the hardest of tasks.

These movies provide both a great amount of differences and similarities, but both are classified as the same genre. Both approach a different world and a different cast of characters, but plot similarities exist as demonstrated through both protagonists.

But all I want to know is when are a sage-like professor with a staff and a giant talking squirrel voiced by Ian McKellen going to come into my life and aid me through college.

-Calvin

The Wizard, the Orc, and the- Wait a Minute…

So I got my fantasy tales mixed up. Can you blame me? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good, epic fantasy flick as much as anyone else, but it seems that the more I watch, the more they get jumbled up. A prime example? J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. Just a brief list here. Both have the seemingly most powerful ally not as the protagonist but in a supporting roll in which they duck in and out of the story itself (Gandalf, Aslan). Not only that, but each sacrifices their life for the good of the company, only to have a sort of rebirth (although let’s not forget that Gandalf makes his much later in another book in the trilogy while Aslan hardly stays dead long at all). Both have a character playing the roll of the not-quite-yet King (Aragorn, Peter Pevensie). Both have a young character who starts fragile but grows in strength and respect (Frodo, Lucy Pevensie). And both feature a betrayel by a close member of the group foro what he believed to be for the better good (Boromir, Edmund Pevensie). I guess if you wanted to include all four Pevensies you could say that both also have a pretty kickin’ archer as one of the central figures  (Legolas, Susan).

If you are one of the people who simply watched the cinematics without reading the actual novels first, there’s a good chance you either already thought about this or now agree with me. But let’s take a step back and remember that both WERE, in fact, novels in their natural state. Not to sound cliché, but the books simply are better in this case. While a producer in a movie adaptation does have some leighway for creative liscense, if he or she exercises too much the risk of straying too far arises. With this in mind, it is best when comparing the substance to use the medium in which the substance first appeared. I was fortunate to be able to read both series before they were put to film, and I can honestly say that the similarities are far less prominent in reading. I can think of a couple reasons for this, the first being the aforementioned artistic liscense. Any artistic liscense a producer has/uses is far, far, far inferior to the one who actually WROTE the story. Secondly, the movies are but a few hours in time while the books may take days or even weeks to read all the way through. This condensation, while necessary for cinematic presentation, all but eliminates the subtle, unique diction styles of the author, the ephasis put on certain parts of the scenery and the list just goes on. In conclusion, The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia movies are fine movies and some of the best renditions of novels on the big screen to date. But to really see a separation in style and substance, one must turn to the books themselves.

-Alecsj

Britomart- An Iambic Perspective

By Colin Doberstein

A figure in white armor faces me
With golden trim and flowing auburn hair.
She doffs her helm so she can plainly see
The lad (in height her equal) standing there.
Against her pallid skin her eyes burn bright
Their color fit to match the ocean wet.
She holds her spear free, ready for a fight
Until she perceives that I am no threat.
And in a solemn voice, she says: “Well met.”

She seems to me, due to her warlike calm
Like Washington, a courtly fighting man.
She voted for Obama, whose new dawn
Will help the poor: her duty and her plan.
And so I say to her: “Hello there, ma’am.
Your choice of garments makes your knighthood clear.
Though I wish not your valiant heart to slam.
It seems that of you I should have no fear.
For as you walk, I see you shed a tear.”

“’Tis true” she sniffs with upper lip held firm.
“My love I search for but have yet to find.
And so, if Arthegall you do discern,
Bring him to me and give me peace of mind.”
To her I told the truth: “Your love is dead.
I killed him, his superior I am.
And so, to me your love shall soon have fled.”
She disagreed, and used her spear to ram
Straight through the parts that mark me as a man.

And so, my friends, I give you some advice:
Killing a hot knight’s lover has its price.
So if you feel the need to sate your loins
Remember well the story of my wounded groin.

You May Be a Manly Man but I am a Manlingtin Man

By: Amir Aschner

Manlingtin is the youngest son in a very old family. He is the descendent of some of the greatest warriors in the land. All of his siblings and elders are champions or guardians that fight for the peace and prosperity of the race of men. He was raised with the expectation of following in that tradition of valor and combat. His name was even chosen for its implication of being masculine and strong: a name that would be feared throughout the land by his foes. In his youth Manlingtin was given the best of all worlds. He received the best physical and combat training from his family but also was allowed to explore the scholarly world because brawns without brains meant nothing. However, Manlingtin did not fit into the role his family had prepared him for. From a young age he always preferred his education over his training. His favorite activity was to read a book while sitting under the shade of a great oak tree.

Manlingtin got along well with people in his home city and was well liked but he always felt most comfortable in nature and indeed it seemed nature enjoyed his company as well. His best friends as a child were actually the wildlife around his home. Eventually, Manlingtin realized he had a gift no others in his family had: he could control and manipulate the environment and elements around him. Upon this realization Manlingtin decided to forgo the rest of his combat training and focus on his studies and honing his new skills. This did not go over well with the rest of his family. They believed he was betraying their history and disgracing their ancestors by choosing not to become a warrior. Due to the disagreement between himself and his family Manlingtin decided to depart on his own and find his destiny.

Now Manlingtin may be found wherever the need is great. He prefers to travel alone or in the company of nature and his wildlife familiars. He is not a traditional warrior like the rest of his kin but indeed his name is now one to be feared. For everyday he grows in strength and wisdom and becomes more like the elements he controls: as swift as the wind, powerful as the water, indomitable as the earth and dangerous as fire!

Portrait of a Dwarf

By Colin Doberstein

 

           This is a biography of Bamfi, my Dwarf minstrel in Lord of the Rings Online. This post is not written by a singing dwarf. It is being written by a committee of five manatees pushing glass balls with words on them. Admit it: you’re not a bit surprised.

 

            Any discussion of the Shadowhide dwarves of the Ered Mithrin must begin with their distinctively dark skin color (hence the name). Bamfi and his clan have long lived deep under the Grey Mountains, and while no conclusive answer to why their skin is almost pitch black has been reached, the amalgamation of rumor and legend says that the rocks which crowd so tightly around Shadowhide strongholds have begun to imprint their characteristics upon the dwarves themselves. While this may or may not be true, the Shadowhides have taken care to cultivate this rumor, leading to the misguided belief among some that they are actually made entirely from living stone. Were such a misguided traveler ever to come into contact with a Shadowhide dwarf, it is unlikely that the dwarf would care to dispel that notion.

 

            Bamfi himself left the tunnels deep under the Grey Mountains because of the declining strength of the Shadowhide clan in that area. Since the intense darkness that pervades most Shadowhide settlements has necessitated a system of coordinated sounds to communicate over long distances, Bamfi found himself already in possession of the basic skills of a minstrel. Being fairly gruff and solitary (standard for most dwarves), Bamfi has taken up the life of a wanderer, adventuring to increase his own power with the hope of increasing the prestige of the Shadowhide dwarves across Middle-Earth.