Saturday, March 17, 2012

"If I could stick a pen in my heart...

…and spill it all over the Sage...”

You are watching the Fellowship of the Ring movie. The Fellowship has arrived at Rivendell. It is time for the Council of Elrond. Elrond begins to relate the history of the Ring.

While Elrond speaks, Mick Jagger climbs onto the council table. Mick is dressed something like an evil elven kabuki dancer. Mick Jagger is Sauron.  

As Elrond speaks, Jagger mimes the rise of Sauron, the forging of the rings, and the gyrations of Elendil. Those about the table pay Jagger no mind. He is kabuki, invisible except to us.

This moment of alternate cinematic history could have come to pass if Tolkien hadn’t been alive to read John Boorman’s script for the Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien slashed the script up with red pen. Slain before reaching maturity, the script fell and came to lodge in the Tolkien collection at Marquette University.

Which is where Seattle’s Tolkien scholar, John D. Rateliff, read the script and lived to tell the story. I wouldn’t know about the Boorman script if John hadn’t told me over a Tolkien-anecdote-stuffed-lunch. Boorman’s Excalibur was one of my favorite movies as a teenager. I think some of the images that he wanted to use in Middle-Earth found a home in the story of Arthur.

But kabuki Sauron? And the entire Fellowship prancing and strutting their stuff to try and seduce Galadriel only for her to choose Frodo as bedmate? Too close to Bored of the Rings for comfort. This is epic 70’s pipeweed material.

John’s blog over at  talks Tolkien in depth and breadth. I poked around on the web after hearing John’s story and found it interesting that fans on some Tolkien discussion sites mentioned just how terrible they would have felt if something like the Boorman movie had been filmed first. But now that Jackson made the films that people pretty much agree got LotR right, some people said that they would be curious to see a less faithful adaptation, an artistic treatment that brought something new and unexpected to the story.

1 comment:

  1. I bought "Bored of the Rings" at whatever mall we shopped at near Leavenworth with Christmas money in 1975 . . . and then when I got it home, my parents read the cover text about some fair elven maid parting her frock and spilling her ample bosom atop fortunute young Frito Bugger (far more lewd than anything actually contained in the actual text) . . . and the book was returned for a refund immediately. It was probably ten years later before I managed to actually read the thing . . .