Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The Return of the Blogging

Sorry to have been absent for so long, but for the first time since before graduate school started, I decided to avoid doing new work between Christmas and New Years. I did grade a stack of papers and exams that was over 20 inches high, but other than that I was slack, spending most of my time playing with my daughter. No one gets into Christmas like a 3-year-old.

So I may have missed out on some good discussions of Return of the King. But Andrea Harris' review of Return of the King is pretty much what I would have written: she points to the same problems I thought marred the film (particularly the lowest-common-denominator character of Denethor; he should be a Lear, not a typical drooling villain from central casting). I think that the overall flaws in Jackson's execution are that in many places the screenwriter and the director didn't respect their audience enough: they could have left things challenging and complex, but they over-simplified. Thus the Frodo / Sam fight about the missing lembas (really a stupid 'Sam is fat' joke drawn out way too much) instigated by Gollum was far more shallow than necessary; the audience would have just understood a real fight simple about trusting/not-trusting Gollum (though, as I've said before, no one is offering me 300 million dollars to make movies). But RoK was a fine movie and I think I would have really loved it if I didn't know LotR so well.

Now, just in case you were thinking that a professor lives a life of luxury, I have to: finish entering changes in the proof copy of Tolkien Studies volume I and send to the printer; edit and re-layout my grammar book; enter the editor's suggested changes for the manuscript of How Tradition Works (and the editor is a genius so she's almost certainly given me a lot of good stuff to enter and revise); update all of my websites; revise my syllabi for Anglo-Saxon and Chaucer for next semester; write an article on Tolkien's Beowulf translations (without quoting them) that's due in three days for a collections coming out from Western Michigan University Press; give a talk at the University of South Carolina on January 15. All of these things must be done before classes start on January 27.

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