First, there’s the simple fact that Tolkien’s innovations are so great that they have, ironically, come to be considered “generic.” In fact, they only appear that way because the genre of Modern Fantasy is something Tolkien himself largely created: he is the exemplar that defines the category. The very idea of a player character party — a group of diverse individuals of differing races with differing talents and specialties who set off on an adventure together — is a uniquely Tolkienian innovation, unprecedented in earlier fantasy, where we either have a hero, or a hero & a sidekick.
I used to own a pachinko machine. It was an old one from the late seventies, and was sumo-themed. Of course there was no computer and no video screen. I loved that thing. But pachinko is probably the dullest game in existence, barring baccarat. This Lord of the Rings movie pachinko machine is for sale on eBay for $160 (but shipping to US is another $90).
Now they’re ripping up the house and selling off the pieces. Of the house. Like they’re relics, and the proximity of this random piece of wood or rock has somehow been magically imbued with a Tolkienian essence. What’s next, finger bones?
The Lord of the Rings had a positive impact on independent and foreign-language film markets around the world. Shortly after a major slump hit those markets in 2001, the first part of the trilogy pumped money into the overseas distribution companies that had helped finance LOTR. They in turn put that money into buying more films, helping bring the slump to an end.
I was fascinated by this “Developer’s Diary” about the creation of the Mines of Moria. The author describes the design decisions that went into creating the virtual Dwarrowdelf, and the new software necessary to create cavernous interior spaces.
On his web site, aclaimed British actor and prominent gay rights activist Ian McKellen, who of course portrays the cinematic Gandalf, answers email questions from fans. But one correspondent goes after McKellen for comments quoted on a right-wing Christian web site.
As for whom Gandalf would advise you to vote, he would be torn between McCain’s strong military stance against Mordor, and Obama’s pledge to reverse the worst excesses of Denethor’s disastrous reign. Chances are he’d back Ron Paul, as Gandalf would be quite keen to see a hobbit in the White House.