Tolkien On Adapting His Novels

by Dish Staff

With the last installment of The Hobbit about to hit American theaters, The Telegraph pulled a long profile of J.R.R. Tolkien from their archives. The entire piece makes for fascinating reading, but his thoughts on turning the novels into films seem worth noting:

Tolkien receives innumerable offers for film rights, musical-comedy rights, TV rights, puppetry rights. A jigsaw-puzzle company has asked permission to produce a Ring puzzle, a soap-maker to soap-sculpt Ring characters. Tolkien worshippers are outraged by these crass approaches. “Please,” wrote a 17-year-old girl, “don’t let them make a movie out of your Ring. It would be like putting Disneyland into the Grand Canyon.”

The song cycle, the only commercial venture so far, began when Donald Swann, half of the “At the Drop of a Hat” team, set to music six of the poems which punctuate the Ring. One is in Elvish.

When we asked Tolkien how Elvish should be sung, he replied, “Like Gregorian chants.” Then, in a wavering churchly counter-tenor, he intoned the first lines of the farewell song of Galadriel, the Elf Queen:

Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen,

Yéni únótime ve radar aldaron!

He feels strongly that the Ring should not be filmed: “You can’t cramp narrative into dramatic form. It would be easier to film The Odyssey. Much less happens in it. Only a few storms.”