Second Week of Advent
Third Week of Advent

And speaking of Peter Jackson...

It's been twenty years since the release of the first film in his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. A youngster named Jack Butler, writing at National Review, gives what I think is a fairly good appraisal of the whole effort. I say that even though my own view is somewhat more negative than his. I think the article is subscriber-only, so I'll quote liberally from it:

It is widely acknowledged that there are many serious differences between Jackson’s adaptation and Tolkien’s novel. Answers vary, however, to the question whether Jackson’s work maintains Tolkien’s spirit or ruins it. Ian McKellen, who plays the noble wizard Gandalf, has remarked that “the enthusiasts who have read the novels over and over may notice every change but in doing so they will miss the point.” On the other hand, Christopher Tolkien, the author’s son and literary executor, complained that Jackson and his crew had “eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25.”

Who is right? Both — and neither. Some of Jackson’s innovations do make sense, at least when considered in light of the exigencies of filmmaking..... Other of Jackson’s changes are blatant concessions to Hollywood blockbuster sensibilities..... 

There are also some fairly egregious changes to certain characters....

Even more notable is the mutation of Aragorn. Jackson’s version is unsure whether he is worthy of assuming his kingly destiny. His story becomes much more a standard hero’s journey. Tolkien gives Aragorn the occasional stumble, but he is largely intent on his destiny from the moment we meet him. Jackson’s alteration of Aragorn partly recenters the movies on him and his internal conflict, somewhat shortchanging Frodo and the hobbits in their respective journeys.

Bradley J. Birzer, a Tolkien scholar and professor of history at Hillsdale College, believes that Tolkien would not have approved of the films. “They’re too violent and have too much action with not enough focus on the philosophical elements of the books,” Birzer has said. There is some truth to that observation, too. Some of the thematic depth of The Lord of the Rings, such as what Tolkien called its “fundamentally religious” (Catholic) nature, is mostly (though not entirely) subdued in Jackson’s trilogy.

Whatever the flaws of Jackson’s films, they captured Tolkien’s spirit and much of the work’s philosophical core. As [Tolkien scholar Tom] Shippey put it, they preserve some of Tolkien’s more important themes, such as “the need for pity as well as courage, the vulnerability of the good, the true cost of evil.”

Even an imperfect representation of that essence puts Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy leagues above much of the dreck that Hollywood produces today.... But whatever complaints one may have about it, the deserved and enduring popularity of his original trilogy will continue to point new generations of readers to Tolkien’s work. And that will remain a virtue in itself.

I'm sure I've said this before, but it's probably been a while, so: I found that the further I got from the films the less highly I thought of them. My view now is closer to Christopher Tolkien's and Bradley Birzer's, though I still acknowledge that the films have their virtues and are considerably "above much of the dreck that Hollywood produces today." And I've never wanted to see them again, not so much because I disliked them as because I didn't want Jackson's often misguided imagery to take over my mind completely. I've only been partly successful in that effort.

There's a line in one of John Berryman's Dream Songs in which "Ol' Possum," presumably T. S. Eliot, says that he seldom goes to the cinema, because it's too powerful--or words to that effect. I have no idea which of the several hundred Dream Songs that occurs in and don't want to look for it, though it's most likely in 77 Dream Songs which was once and probably still is his most popular book. ("Popular" of course is a much more limited thing in modern poetry than in, say, film. Or even in literary fiction.) I understand Eliot's reservation, though I indulge to excess in moving pictures on the much smaller screen in my house. The visual impact and persistence of cinematic images is extremely strong and often unwelcome.

I think Peter Jackson's conception of Aragorn, for instance, is seriously flawed, not only for the reasons given above but simply visually. And I suppose that's partly the fault of the actor. But at any rate I still have it in my head. And I'm still annoyed by that stubble which looks like about a week's worth of beard, and neither grows nor disappears. When I see a celebrity going around like that (it seems still fashionable) I want to say "Either grow a beard or shave, dammit."

At the turn of the year this blog will be eighteen years old. The very first post, January 4, 2004, was a brief review of the third film in Jackson's Lord of the Rings. I more or less agree with what I said there, though as I say I'm a little more negative now than I was then. I still think this is probably true:

...it surely is the best possible screen treatment of the book. I do not mean that in a philosophical Panglossian but rather in a very straightforward sense: it is the best for which we could reasonably have hoped.

I could have added, for clarity, "considering the nature of the movie industry."

*

Amazon, as you may have heard, is producing some kind of Tolkien-based film project. As you may also have heard, they advertised for an "intimacy coordinator" to work on it. It will be surprising if whatever they produce doesn't justify another sentence from that 2004 post:

I fully expected that the movie industry could not touch such a work without soiling it.

A fantasy series called The Wheel of Time is currently being released, one episode per week, on Amazon. Because of a general weakness for fantasy, I've watched the first couple of them. I don't recommend it to anyone who doesn't really like fantasy, and only with reservations there. And I don't want to bother saying anything more about it than that it's well-produced and socially conscious entertainment. The first of those is a compliment, the second is not.

Comments

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I don't have much of an opinion about the LOTR movies. I knew when I saw the first clip from the first movie that I wasn't going to be able to enjoy it. It was the scene in Moria where they are reading Balin's diary and then they hear the drums. They draw their weapons and we see Sting glowing blue. But Glamdring wasn't glowing. I knew at that moment that I was not going to be capable of keeping myself from picking over every tiny change or mistake. I saw the first movie, and was not impressed (except at my self knowledge :)).

I have no interest in seeing the Amazon series. My son is looking forward to it - I thought I had raised him better.

I am watching the Wheel of Time. I read the first 6 books back in the late 90s. By the end of book 6 it was clear that the author had lost control of the story. He eventually died after book 11 and someone else finished the last 3 books. A couple of years ago I was mildly curious about how the story ended and I tried looking at a synopsis - I couldn't even follow that :).

Anyway - the first few books were a lot of fun, but not great, so I figured I'd watch the series and it wouldn't bother me much if they messed it up. It is holding my interest enough for me to keep watching (well, at least through last week's episode - haven't seen the latest yet), but I agree that it's not something to recommend.

Unless Wheel of Time turns really terrible, I'll watch it all, but I'm waiting now till the whole thing is available. I can't keep track of the plot when episodes are separated by a week.

Part of my negative feeling about it is the characters and the actors. I.e., not just the way they're written but the way they're acted. That woman who's sort of the center (Moraine?) has a sort of pretentious I Am Wise Powerful Female Character vibe. And the candidates for being the Dragon are mostly kind of annoying contemporary young people.

In Jackson's LOTR, the fight that follows the scene you mention is one of the things that just made me roll my eyes. It's *so* Hollywood-action. No real drama at all, just a lot of noise and motion. I didn't really pick on details like Glamdring not glowing. There were much bigger things wrong. :-)

There were absolutely bigger things wrong. That's just the moment when I knew I wouldn't enjoy it even if it wasn't too bad

A dinner-table conversation that involving picking apart details of the movies was the only time my wife ever said something to the effect of "shut up" to me.

At the risk of being called sexist, women just don't get it.

Funny you mention that, because I've noticed that among serious fans of Tolkien women/girls are a minority. Almost none who are the nerdy fanatical types, which I guess is more of a male thing in general, whatever its object (Star Wars, etc.), but also relatively few who seem to *really* get the appeal and are deeply moved by LOTR. Not that they don't exist, but just guessing from my own experience I'd put the ratio at 2-1, at least (male to female).

I tried to read LOTR in college because I had friends reading it and I wanted to "fit in".
I just couldnt stay interested. Wizards,dwarfs..whats the big deal?
I saw the first movie and absolutely loved it.
You have to understand that I was really-for the first time- actually "entering into" the story. Something just wasnt ready in college(about 1976).
I devoured the books soon afterward-and was almost in tears as I was approaching the end of the last one...I just didnt want it to end.
I still read pick them up monthly or even weekly.
I agree with CS Lewis comment about them-
that they are "good beyond hope".
The language he uses is incredibly beautiful and yet not so complicated that I cant read it freely.
And the theme of the "One ring"...man... that has an applicability that may be rooted in the creation itself.
Tolkien had a deep understanding of spiritual realities that was especially reflected in his descriptions of Mordor and the elvish lands.
His imagination and use of language to describe what he created is a source of wonder to me.
I can understand how people might not like the movie if they have read the books first. For me however, it was enough to create an appetite for the real thing.
The fact that the movie created an appetite for the books says that it had some good in it.
My only complaint about the Trilogy is what I have heard also from others:
It is too short. Even the movies are.
John

" it was enough to create an appetite for the real thing"

I think that's by far the best recommendation of them, the best thing that can be said of them. I'm always just a bit surprised when I hear of that happening, but I'm glad. I don't have any idea how common that reaction is.

"And the theme of the "One ring"...man... that has an applicability that may be rooted in the creation itself."

Yeah, and I wouldn't even say "may be"--I think it really is. And that's a big part of the reason (I think) that other fantasy stories just don't touch many people as deeply as Tolkien does.

THE absolute worst mutation is Faramir.

I don't have time to read the comments right now, but I am pretty sure I get it, and that your wife would have wanted to tell me to shut up, too, but would have been too polite.

AMDG

Janet, I hope my generalization ("Frailty, thy name is woman!") wasn't too offensive :).

I didn't get far enough in the movies to see what they did to Faramir, though I've heard that was one of the major errors.

I'm not sure I quite have it, but there is a theme of the lower being more important than the higher - Sam vs Frodo, Faramir vs Aragorn. The servant being better than his master. But only because he is a faithful servant. Not something a movie today (or 20 years ago, which doesn't seem too different) can grasp.

I can’t remember what the problem was with Faramir, just that there was one. If I remember correctly, which I may not, I really didn’t care much for the second movie. Or at least had more complaints about it than the other two.

Yes, Janet, I’m sure you get it.

There are two different levels of getting it. First is the basic getting of the book, the being completely enchanted by it. Second is the geek or nerd level, which involves retaining a huge store of detail about the whole Tolkien world, and being very concerned about it. I very much get it on that first level, less so on the second. I think the latter getting-it is more a male thing in general, whether it’s Tolkien or Star Trek or whatever. But there are certainly some females who get into that level.

I definitely agree about the two levels of "getting it. And knowing that I would never be satisfied on the second level saved me from being disappointed on the first.

I think i was saved from being a total Star Trek nerd by the later series. I could nerd out about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (and Scottie) - but Picard & co, or DSN, or Voyager...eh.

I only saw a few of the original Trek when it was new and didn't especially care for it. It just didn't match what my imagination did with sci-fi. I thought the first really good sci-fi film, technically, was 2001. I sort of mildly liked what I saw of TNG, but not enough to become a fan. I don't think I've seen any of the others.

There was a movie in which Kirk meets some of the TNG characters that I enjoyed at the time. Can't remember the name of it now. Malcom McDowell is in it as a mad scientist.

The current Star Trek is incredibly terrible. Or it was up to the point where I couldn't bear it anymore.

You're definitely right about more males being into the nerdiness of all those things, although I do know some girls.... It just occurs to me that there seems to be a larger percentage of girls who are nerdy about HP.

Don, I am not offended.

I just got home from our annual CSL Advent gathering which was our first in person meeting since the plague began. I am currently, to Don's point, the only regular female attendant of the meetings, so just me and a bunch of nerdy mostly old guys.

So, hopefully I will have time to read this after work tomorrow.

AMDG

I think you're probably right about HP and girls, although I don't have many data points. My daughter who was a very big HP fan didn't seem to respond that much to Tolkien. I wonder if there's some subtle connection to the fact that HP was written by a woman.

I would have thought a CSL group would attract women and men more or less equally. Especially given the fact that book clubs seem to be a mostly female thing.

I got lost somewhere along the line; what is HP?

I'm sure I've said before on this blog that I really loved the LOTR movies (not so much The Hobbit ones). I love the books also. They are different. But my excitement about the movies was mostly due to being SO into fantasy books when I was a kid in the 70s/80s and going out of my way to see so many fantasy movies....that were all uniformly terrible.

When the first LOTR movie came out, say what you want about it in relation to Tolkien's written word, it is certainly filmmaking at a very high level. So I think you just need to somehow realize that the mediums are so different that there is only so much you can do.

Also as a big fan of 19th century English literature....how many of those movies/TV shows made from Austen/Dickens/Eliot etc. books can I even stand at this point? If you love the books it is hard to love the movies so much. Although the movie version of Howards End is pretty perfect (I know, not 19th century).

I watched the first Wheel of Time and just about everything about it annoyed me, so I think that was enough LOL

HP is Harry Potter. It always takes me a second to remember that, because after so many years in technology the interpretation my brain supplies is Hewlett-Packard.

"you just need to somehow realize that the mediums are so different that there is only so much you can do."

I know, and I do. But even taking that into account there are so many things about the movie that aren't dictated by the medium. By the box office, maybe. There's nothing in the nature of cinema that required something like the cave fight scene be done the way it was. But it might not have been as audience-grabbing. Or Aragorn's stubble. :-)

I guess I haven't really *loved* any of the English novel adaptations I've seen, except for Brideshead Revisited. My opinion tends to run the gamut from "pretty bad" to "pretty good." I've been meaning to watch one of the filmed Emmas. I definitely don't like to see anything of that sort without having read the book first.

I definitely wouldn't argue with you about Wheel of Time. Having seen two episodes, I feel pretty safe in saying your opinion wouldn't improve.

I like the newest Emma quite a bit. If you have seen Queen's Gambit on Netflix, it is that same actress, and she is quite different in Emma. Bill Nighy plays her father to much comic effect. Quite enjoyable. Then I re-watched the Gwyneth Paltrow version and did not enjoy it as much in comparison, though Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley is quite good in it.

I have seen Queen's Gambit, and liked it ok. I can imagine that actress as Emma.

I'm not quite up to saying much (as if I ever am :)) - but I will comment on The Wheel of Time. I'm all caught up. It is becoming progressively more, um, progressive. The last episode had some major, and somewhat predictable, character changes from the books.

Hmm...so maybe I won't make it through. Right off the bat it's wearing its intersectional heart on its sleeve.

I deliberately avoided seeing the LOTR movies because I didn't want my mental images displaced by the on-screen ones. Everything I've heard about them since makes me glad.
I may have said this before, but Brideshead Revisited is one screen adaptation that I think in certain ways improves on the book. The visual medium is much more effective than prose at conveying Charles's falling in love through beauty. I admit I may be biased, though. The year that it came out, my family was living not far from Oxford, and I saw the series through a New World teenager's romantic gaze.

The Anthony Blanche in the BBC Brideshead is absolutely creepy.

I don't want to watch the LOTR movies for the same reason I'm not that interested in watching The Chosen; I don't want my imagination about the Apostles and Jesus to be shaped by Dallas Jenkins.

I wondered where they got Blanche from. I mean, he is in the book, but there is nothing so very weird about him. Or at least I didn't think so the last time I read it.

I agree about The Chosen, and a bit more: I suspect it's really not all *that* good, which would make the persistence of the images all the more annoying. Bad religious art can really interfere with one's spiritual life. I still have to make an effort to get the white-bearded old man picture of God out of my way.

"The visual medium is much more effective than prose at conveying Charles's falling in love through beauty. "

That's a good point. It was certainly effective for me, because Julia in the series happened to have a kind of beauty that's particularly appealing to me.

1. Blanche is creepy for me in the book as well, and in much the same way.
2. The Chosen is very well done. Not "bad" Christian art.

I should say that I really dislike the portrayal of Aragorn--not only his angst, but his yucky, dirty hair, and that having that image in my mind is my biggest gripe with the movies. However, they completely changed Faramir's character. They made rather shifty, as I remember, but I don't clearly remember. He really is one of the most noble characters in the book.

I get picky about adaptations of Winnie the Pooh, so there's no end to my pickiness about LotR.

This has been a very Tolkien year for me. I listened to LotR, accompanied by a very long, and very good series of podcasts about the book. I read Tolkien's letters, and Humphrey Carpenter's biography. I was finally talked into watching the movie, and did not find it as objectionable as I had feared. I read The Adventure of Tom Bombadil, and I am considering rereading The Silmarillion after the first of the year; however, my library career may prevent this.

AMDG

I was thinking of Chaim Potok's The Chosen and couldn't figure out what you were talking about. Despite the recommendation of many people of the other The Chosen, I have avoided it because I don't even like the pictures in the ads.

AMDG

About book clubs being mostly female, I don't even think of the CSL Society as a book club. It's not like my Catholic women's book club, which, of course, is entirely female, where we read a book every month and discuss it-along with many other things. We talked about That Hideous Strength for a year. There were some other women before we started meeting on Zoom, and I hope they come back. They aren't your average book club kind of women.

AMDG

Having looked up Wheel of Time, I had never heard of the books, in the 90's I was reading other kinds of things, but now I am curious.

AMDG

Here's the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11ZozKfRqvA

I really don't remember anything specific about what the movie did with Faramir, but I remember not liking it. From what people say though it sounds like it was a pretty fundamental and wrong change. As I think I mentioned above, I thought that was the worst of the movies.

I agree about the pictures in the ads for The Chosen.

I was interested in the books, not the series. https://www.polygon.com/22828001/wheel-of-time-gender-one-power

AMDG

The first 4 books were really good. There was a thriving discussion on usenet back in the 90's. rec.arts.sf.written...any posts about the WOT had to be have "Jordan:" in the title - until they broke off into a separate group altogether. Book 5, eh. Book 6, not so great (though I did go to a signing for that one - and told the author that the ending was not satisfying :)). I gave up at that point. There are 14 books. I'm sorry, but that's too many.

Well, that Polygon article may have killed my already fairly weak interest in the series.

rec.arts.sf -- that brings back some memories. Not of that group specifically but of Usenet. I was reminded of it just yesterday, listening to the Kate Bush album that has "Suspended in Gaffa" on it. There was a Kate Bush group called something like rec.music.gaffa

Just found a piece written by the actor who did the Blanche character in Brideshead. He says Waugh based Blanche on two of his contemporaries, Harold Acton and Brian Howard:

"Acton and Howard had been rivals at both Eton and Oxford, both vying for the title of ‘aesthete par excellence’. Like Blanche, Acton had stood on his balcony at Christ Church, declaiming Eliot’s The Waste Land through a megaphone to the ‘meaty boys’ walking below; as an undergraduate, Howard varnished his finger and toenails. When he was an AC2 in the RAF, he dragged up at weekends and worked as a waitress at the Ritz."

And about his portrayal of Blanche, he says that the "challenge was to convince the audience that it was the character who was over the top, and not the actor. Only you can judge."

I'm trying to remember which side I came down on, but I think it was the former.

https://www.theoldie.co.uk/article/britains-grandest-film-set

That's a fascinating article. I guess maybe it's a lack of imagination on my part, but I didn't imagine the character on the page to be nearly as over the top as the one on the film. Of course it's no surprise that there would be a flamboyant homosexual in the circles in which the novel takes place. But I didn't see him as being *that* flamboyant.

I don't remember looking at too many other groups on usenet. I don't recall ever looking at rec.music.gaffa (which I have to say was named after one of the weakest songs on The Dreaming). But rec.arts.sf.written introduced me to some really good authors. Robert Jordan (of the Wheel of Time) didn't hold up. But Guy Gavriel Kay and Steven Brust are two great writers (at least as far as modern fantasy goes) that I got from that group. Both are on my "buy at sight" list (though I still have GGK's last book unread on my nook. My problem more than his")

I hadn't heard The Dreaming at the time, had hardly heard Kate Bush at all, but I remember looking at that group out of curiosity and seeing a big discussion about what "suspended in Gaffa" meant.

Not surprisingly, I haven't heard of those authors. Have you read Gene Wolfe? I've heard good things about him so when I saw a couple of his books on the discard shelf at the library I picked them up. Haven't read them though and am not sure I'm going to. They're the first two books in that series about the torturer and I don't know that I want to deal with that.

I read a ton of "high fantasy" in the 80's and early 90's. The only series I remember with any real fondness is Guy Gavriel Kay's trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry. I keep telling myself to reread it, but so far I haven't followed through. I also remember enjoying Stephen Donaldson and Raymond E. Feist, but not enough to think about reading either of them again.

I never got interested in HP, either the books or the movies. Not sure why, exactly. Could be because I had read so much of that sort of thing earlier that I grew tired of it.

As far as the Brit costume dramas go, I do not watch them until after I've read the books. It's been a while since I've seen one, but I do remember Martin Chuzzlewit being quite good. And I did like the Cranford series. Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree with Keeley Hawes is fairly lightweight but enjoyable, a good one to watch at this time of year actually, as part of it is set at Christmas time. I remember Polanski's Tess being very good but it's been ages since I've seen it.

Mac - I had heard good things about Gene Wolfe, so I bought a book years ago. Actually two books in one volume. I was about halfway through the first book when I realized I had no idea what was going on. But I'm a somewhat careless reader (I hope less so now than 10 years ago, but 10 more years of the internet have probably made it worse), so the problem was probably me rather than the book. I am planning to give it another try (it's in a box of books I saved from being thrown out or sold).

Rob - I never read any Feist, but Dondaldson was always one of my favorites, annoying as he is. I am looking forward to his next book (the third of a trilogy, which was almost rejected by his publisher).

It's been a long time since I read The Fionavar Tapestry, but I remember at one point thinking "There's no way he's going to pull this off" and being quite impressed that he did.

The Harry Potter books just aren't that good. I'm still somewhat puzzled by the wild enthusiasm for them. I've never read any of the other authors y'all mention.

"I'm a somewhat careless reader (I hope less so now than 10 years ago, but 10 more years of the internet have probably made it worse)"

Interesting. I have suspected the same thing about myself. My latest gambit for trying to reverse that is to make notes, on paper with a pen, while I'm reading, or at least not long afterward. That's a regular practice for some book people, I think.

I watched part of the Candleford series recently. It's ok but I couldn't get very interested. I wonder if I'm ruining my palate by watching too many crime dramas.

Speaking of which, Rob, on your recommendation I put the Danish (?) original of The Killing on my Netflix dvd list, several years ago now I guess. I've been thinking about cancelling the dvd part of my Netflix subscription, because there aren't that many things I want to see that I can't get online. So I went through the very long queue thinking I would put anything I really wanted to see and couldn't get otherwise at the top and watch them before cancelling. The Killing was one of the first things I thought of. It's not there anymore. As far as I can tell the only way you can get it now is through yet another streaming service, Topic. Unless you want to buy the dvds of course. I know our local library doesn't have it.

If the DVD's had a U.S. release you may be able to get them through interlibrary loan. But I'm not sure they did. They may have been a Netflix exclusive. Is Topic one of those services you can get through Prime? Of course that's no help if you don't have the latter.

I've never watched the Candleford series, mainly because I've read that it strays from the books quite a bit.

Oh, you said CRANford--I read CANDLEford. Cranford I don't know.

Yes, inter-library loan might work, but it's a hassle. I have to be very motivated to use it, more than I am for this. You can get Topic through Prime, but it's not included. I.e. it's still another $6 or so a month. BritBox is the same way. Speaking of which, it's very frustrating that good British tv is split between BritBox and Acorn. Sometimes even within one long-running show, like Midsomer Murders: some seasons will be on one and some on the other.

Can you get Topic through your library? I could get Acorn until recently. Then they dropped it and I had to switch to watching Midsomer Murders on Prime. But I've pretty much given up on MM--I don't think there's been a single episode with a religious person who wasn't either evil or nutty.
Cranford is in the British costume drama group, not the fantasy-sf group.
Thanks for the article, Marianne. In the book Blanche seems as extravagant as in the TV series, but less unambiguously homosexual, I think. There are references to affairs with a duchess.

I've never heard of accessing a streaming service via the library, but I guess I should check. That could be good for the occasional thing that you can't get otherwise.

I agree about MM. It was always lightweight, and it's gone downhill in a number of ways.

For weird treatment of religious people, nothing I've seen recently has topped a series called The Sinner. The first season of it involved a picture of Catholicism that was just plain bizarre. No, that's not strong enough. Deranged. It might have been justifiable if the woman at the center of it was clearly meant to be insane, but there was nothing to suggest that her crazy notions were anything but standard if over-fervent Catholicism.

Remember though, on those Prime add-on channels you can go month-by-month. I've done that a few times when I wanted to watch one particular series on a given channel. Paid for a month, watched it, then cancelled the subs. I would note though that the first series of The Killing has 20 episodes. It was originally supposed to be stretched over two seasons but it was so popular that they ended up airing both seasons the same year.

Cranford is the series based on Mrs. Gaskell's novel of the same name, plus a few of her short stories. It is very well done.

I've never wanted to do that subscribe-and-cancel thing, though it's tempting. Then they've got your email address and cc number so I figure they'll pester you. I always figured they would make it difficult to cancel but I hear that's generally not the case.

I've done it with Acorn and BritBox. No annoying emails (well, they would go to my wife since Prime is under her account - but I'm sure I'd hear about it).

I'm tempted to do it again for season 6 of Shetland, even though I'm sure it will be more annoying than the earlier seasons, which I'm sure bugged me, but I can't remember why. Not a great recommendation for the new episodes, but what else am I going to do? Read a book?

Ditto. I've never had any problems with emails or anything from Amazon, other than the sales pitches for Prime you see on Amazon itself.

Fwiw, a UK friend watched Shetland 6 recently and said it was excellent. I just started watching Unforgotten 4, and other than the now almost-obligatory gay/lesbian relationship, so far so good. I imagine we'll get Shetland on DVD eventually, so I'll wait. Same with Line of Duty 6. I hate watching things on my laptop unless I have no other choice.

On a laptop? Ugh. You need a Roku, or something of that sort. Assuming you have wi-fi and an HDMI connector on your tv, they work great. I even have one I'll give you. I upgraded just because Roku was offering it really cheap. The old one works fine and I've been looking for someone to give it to.

Actually I was thinking of doing a blog post on Shetland 6. I thought it was excellent. Offhand I can't think of anything that bugged me about it. It reaches back to season 4 for its major plot element, though you don't have to have seen (or remember) that. Of course I couldn't remember it, but went back and watched it afterwards just to fill in the picture. One thing I'll give you a mild warning about: it ends on a...well, not exactly cliffhanger, but *major* un-resolution. I suppose that more or less guarantees a Shetland 7.

I guess I'll give Shetland a try. Can't be more worse that WOT...

I certainly don't remember Shetland season 4 (unless I do). I remember 2 things (besides beautiful scenery)

1) Everyone ends every sentence with "ok?"
2) Something very bad happened that was a very big deal and then wasn't mentioned in later seasons.

More worse...I didn't think I was that far gone :)

One of my children extended "worse" to "worser" and "worsest." It was cute.

I mentioned Guy Gavriel Kay in an earlier comment. One of his best books, Tigana, is a bout a land that is conquered by a tyrannical wizard who wants to erase their history. He casts a spell so that no one who wasn't born there can even hear the name of the country. Not sure why that came to mind today.

Lots of kindred wizards around these days.

I remember buying Tigana when it first came out, probably through the Science Fiction Book Club, but I never read it. That was about the time I started to burn out on "high fantasy" and was reading more ghost stories and supernatural fiction (It was around then that Tim Powers became a favorite). I have some old fantasy books in a box or two and that book may very well be among them.

One fantasy novel I do remember enjoying around that time is Richard Adams's Shardik. It came out in the 70's but I'm sure I didn't read it until sometime in the late 80's. And sometime around then the unabridged version of Stephen King's The Stand came out, which I recall being completely engrossed with for several weeks.

I never read any of Adams's work, though it was very popular and I think pretty well regarded by critics. It just didn't sound interesting to me.

I re-read Watership Down a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. But I've read The Girl in the Swing twice and didn't like it as much the second time.

I never read any Adams. I did see the animated film of Watership Down many years ago. All I remember (if I actually remember it) is a pretty horrific scene of the rabbits being slaughtered at the beginning.

Never saw the WD movie. It's one of those instances where I didn't want the movie to ruin future readings of the book for me. My ex-wife and I did watch The Plague Dogs and were appalled and depressed. Which I guess was sort of the point, since the subject is the mistreatment of animals.

I've been meaning to dig a little deeper into Adams' life and work. He seems to have been a practicing Christian of some sort, and besides his fiction he also did some nature writing. And I think he wrote an autobiography or memoir as well.

I hear that Terrence Malick's next movie will be a life of Christ.

AMDG

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