House of Bëor

D

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I honestly think it’s the opposite. It’s the issue you have in lots of fantasy. Let’s use X-Men to put it in a boiled down modern setting. Mutants can be seen through the lens of lots of marginalised groups. However, they are frequently shown to have their own culture, subcultures, arts and political divisions. Yet there are totally valid reasons to fear and potentially hate them, not because they are stand-ins but because of who they are themselves within the narrative. They are not mere allegory. And yet, readers identify with them because of what is familiar. It becomes an issue though if all the talk of equality within the story is reflected by largely WASPy characters who don’t represent identifiable marginalisation. Certainly in the earlier stories. There’s a much more interesting perspective if people can talk across intersectional issue. Not because it’s good to squeeze in ‘woke issues’ but because it fleshes out perspectives. The black X-Man Bishop notes that ‘being a mutant is like being black. It doesn’t matter if your the best athlete or artists, you’re black first.’ Which is given credence as he can speak to that. Of course, it’d help if his writer had been black but that’s another issue. The character of Kitty Pryde, who is Jewish, is often the one to challenge people or racial slurs or prospects of camps for mutants, as readers we can see how her perspective adds weight. Now, they are tied to real world concepts and history so we are bringing that context. Obviously Middle Earth doesn’t have that history.

But with this is no longer being a novel anymore but now a visual medium, one of the big rules is basically to ‘make the abstract visual and the internal external’ to quote David Trottier. This isn’t happening in a vacuum as there is an audience.

That said, Tom Hardy as Beren though...
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

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I honestly think it’s the opposite. It’s the issue you have in lots of fantasy. Let’s use X-Men to put it in a boiled down modern setting. Mutants can be seen through the lens of lots of marginalised groups. However, they are frequently shown to have their own culture, subcultures, arts and political divisions. Yet there are totally valid reasons to fear and potentially hate them, not because they are stand-ins but because of who they are themselves within the narrative. They are not mere allegory. And yet, readers identify with them because of what is familiar. It becomes an issue though if all the talk of equality within the story is reflected by largely WASPy characters who don’t represent identifiable marginalisation. Certainly in the earlier stories. There’s a much more interesting perspective if people can talk across intersectional issue. Not because it’s good to squeeze in ‘woke issues’ but because it fleshes out perspectives. The black X-Man Bishop notes that ‘being a mutant is like being black. It doesn’t matter if your the best athlete or artists, you’re black first.’ Which is given credence as he can speak to that. Of course, it’d help if his writer had been black but that’s another issue. The character of Kitty Pryde, who is Jewish, is often the one to challenge people or racial slurs or prospects of camps for mutants, as readers we can see how her perspective adds weight. Now, they are tied to real world concepts and history so we are bringing that context. Obviously Middle Earth doesn’t have that history.

But with this is no longer being a novel anymore but now a visual medium, one of the big rules is basically to ‘make the abstract visual and the internal external’ to quote David Trottier. This isn’t happening in a vacuum as there is an audience.

That said, Tom Hardy as Beren though...
To be honest, I have always found the messaging of X-Men rather clumsy. Because the truth is that marginalized groups of humans are *not* inherently more dangerous than anyone else while the mutants of the comics and films *are*. The arguments for maintaining controls on mutants are the same arguments for regulating firearms.

And on top of that, the X-Men stories are deliberately designed to talk about issues of racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry, however they are doing it. The Beren and Luthien story (as far as Thingol's role) is dealing with issues like possessiveness and myopia. I don't want to lose sight of the issues the story itself is tackling by adding one which in our world will be viewed as dominant.
 
D

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Yes, X-Men certainly have problems, I was just trying to reframe it onto another setting.

And yes, Thingol is about isolationism and control. I think Thranduil and Tauriel in the film adaptation of the Hobbit pull lots of that together.

I felt it was worth having the discussion at any rate. But of course the themes of that come into play really in season 6. I think it does matter though that at the very least, one of our humans groups is not white. But that seems to have been unanimously agreed
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Yes, X-Men certainly have problems, I was just trying to reframe it onto another setting.

And yes, Thingol is about isolationism and control. I think Thranduil and Tauriel in the film adaptation of the Hobbit pull lots of that together.

I felt it was worth having the discussion at any rate. But of course the themes of that come into play really in season 6. I think it does matter though that at the very least, one of our humans groups is not white. But that seems to have been unanimously agreed
I think the general hope was to have that be the Haladin. Bëor's grateful acceptance of Finrod's paternalism will make things kinda gross if we add a human racial element.
 
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Yes that’s a very good point there. Especially the name Bëor and it’s meaning being vassal
 

Ange1e4e5

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And with Elves, regarding the ones who have prejudices against Men, there are more reasons for that than just race. Maeglin doesn't necessarily hate Tuor because he's a Man, he hates him because of the love Idril has for him, and tries to kill her son because he is Tuor's. He’d behave that way towards anyone who shared Idril's love, even if they were an Elf. Celegorm is the one who incites the Second Kinslaying and has the most personal reasons for revenge; the King of Doriath is Dior, son of Beren and Luthien, the child who should have been Celegorm's, the man whose father took Huan from him and cost him the respect of any dog, really.
 
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D

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Oh agreed, however in Thingol case it does seem very much rooted in a kind of prejudice rather than a specific individual. Equally, I don’t want us to cast actors whose skin tone can act as some kind of messaging. But I did just want to consider of there was some value in making explicit the implicit prejudice theme.

But as pointed out, making Beor’s family line black is laced with a huge amount of problems; not least of which tokenism and casting an actor purely to help portray another character’s prejudice.

it wasn’t an idea I was sold to but wanted to bounce around the writer’s room. I’ve been healthily steered away from it lol

So, back to specific casting I suppose
 
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Haerangil

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Forcing diversity representation is bad politics...
We could reasonably have done that with the elves without having to twist the material, but that opportunity is now gone as the execs were against it. For the Edain the material just does not give that away... and i hate to change it for bad reasons.

Rationalised we could cast european, latino, near eastern, even mixed-looking actors because the material allows that, sub-saharan or east-asian looking actors... the material for such casts just isn't there...

We're basically depicting proto-indo-europeans.The cast must reflect that or it becomes unbelievable and arbitrarily..
 
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I don’t really think adhering to visual race as set by Tolkien is vital to keep the heart and ethos of the narrative. I think it’s fine to change things if it remains in service to the story we want to tell regardless of whether it veers from details of the book. As long as it’s true to the core
 

Ange1e4e5

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I don’t really think adhering to visual race as set by Tolkien is vital to keep the heart and ethos of the narrative. I think it’s fine to change things if it remains in service to the story we want to tell regardless of whether it veers from details of the book. As long as it’s true to the core
How far is too far? You could be left with something like Eragon, where nobody resembled each other outside of their names, like Eragon being blond instead of dark-haired or all the various races looking like humans (Arya doesn't look like an Elf, the Urgals looking more like tattooed humans than horned Orcs, the dwarf king Hrothgar being the size of a human).

Change too much about the personality, you get Nigel Bruce's Watson, a mere shadow of the ex-Army doctor he was in the books (you'd be hard-pressed to figure out how he became a doctor).
 
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D

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I’ve never seen Eragon so I don’t get the references lol

I tried watching Artemis Fowl recently however. And couldn’t get through it. Mulch Diggums is human size instead of the size of a fantasy dwarf. Butler is played by the fantastic actor Nonso Anozie with whore hair instead of being a white bald man. Commander Root, a character who is male in the book, is played by Judie Dench. Those choices didn’t bother me. Within the narrative of the movie there is no reason that it’d make sense for them to be otherwise.

For me what didn’t work was the erasure of all the character traits that make the protagonist interesting. It fundamentally changes not just the story, which could be passable if done well (it isn’t), but it changes the tone entirely. It’s thematically unrecognizable.

But if they’d make the goblins (green with pointy noses and ears in the book) humans with green tattoos? Would that’ve been disappointing? I guess. Would it change anything? No.

In Jackson’s Fellowship film, he portrays the balrog as having wings, a tail, and a monstrous horned face. Does Tolkien imply any of this? No. Does it work to dramatically sell that this is a monstrous demonic threat? Heck yes.It might not be what Tolkien envisioned, but I think we all agree that adaptations cannot be a direct conversion to screen but need to be true to their own narrative purposes.

We've probably all seen the sorts of 'what they should have really looked like' photomanips of Marvel or Game of Thrones characters and if anything they prove that literal adaptations look ridiculous lol So they are some leeway I would say when it comes to creating a world based on another.

I know we’re all in the same boat on that and think we agree regarding the House of Beor (for many of the reason discussed) and I don't think we should change a character's race just for shock or whatever, but let’s not utterly dismiss casting the best actors for a role purely based on race.

We're basically depicting proto-indo-europeans. The cast must reflect that or it becomes unbelievable and arbitrarily..
I know Tolkien originally intended his secondary world to be a mythology explaining many current cultures (though he seemed to drift from this). Has it been established whether this is what the SilmFilm project is intending to do? It's a fantasy world right? As long as we have internal logic for the 'why', then we can make up the 'what'
 
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MithLuin

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We will likely discuss the appearance of the Edain in Thursday's session (well, 8 AM Friday Central European Time).
 
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Ange1e4e5

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I’ve never seen Eragon so I don’t get the references lol

I tried watching Artemis Fowl recently however. And couldn’t get through it. Mulch Diggums is human size instead of the size of a fantasy dwarf. Butler is played by the fantastic actor Nonso Anozie with whore hair instead of being a white bald man. Commander Root, a character who is male in the book, is played by Judie Dench. Those choices didn’t bother me. Within the narrative of the movie there is no reason that it’d make sense for them to be otherwise.

For me what didn’t work was the erasure of all the character traits that make the protagonist interesting. It fundamentally changes not just the story, which could be passable if done well (it isn’t), but it changes the tone entirely. It’s thematically unrecognizable.

But if they’d make the goblins (green with pointy noses and ears in the book) humans with green tattoos? Would that’ve been disappointing? I guess. Would it change anything? No.

In Jackson’s Fellowship film, he portrays the balrog as having wings, a tail, and a monstrous horned face. Does Tolkien imply any of this? No. Does it work to dramatically sell that this is a monstrous demonic threat? Heck yes.It might not be what Tolkien envisioned, but I think we all agree that adaptations cannot be a direct conversion to screen but need to be true to their own narrative purposes.

We've probably all seen the sorts of 'what they should have really looked like' photomanips of Marvel or Game of Thrones characters and if anything they prove that literal adaptations look ridiculous lol So they are some leeway I would say when it comes to creating a world based on another.

I know we’re all in the same boat on that and think we agree regarding the House of Beor (for many of the reason discussed) and I don't think we should change a character's race just for shock or whatever, but let’s not utterly dismiss casting the best actors for a role purely based on race.


I know Tolkien originally intended his secondary world to be a mythology explaining many current cultures (though he seemed to drift from this). Has it been established whether this is what the SilmFilm project is intending to do? It's a fantasy world right? As long as we have internal logic for the 'why', then we can make up the 'what'
Well a more familiar one perhaps... the portrayal of Dr. Watson in the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes. In the books Watson is a strong, brave and intelligent man; not as smart as Holmes but smart enough to be a medical doctor, with fairly steely nerves having been a medic in the Afghanistan Wars, a person who can understand Holmes. Holmes admits he needs Watson "I am lost without my Boswell", who can translate Holmes' methods into a medium people outside of the field can understand. There are even points where Watson is smarter than Holmes by being able to understand clients, particularly women. Nigel Bruce's Watson, in contrast, is a fat, bumbling buffoon, occasionally referred to as a “Boobus Brittanicus”, the type you'd wonder how a man like him became a doctor; admittedly memorable, entertaining and loyal, but not really Watson.
 
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D

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Never seen him actually. Though I’m aware of his portrayal through parody and homage.

But yes, that’s precisely what we don’t want- getting the characterization and personality wrong.

Martin Freeman is far closer I’d say while physically being different (well, he’s living in the 21st century for starters). The personality is there though.

That said, visual presentation can certainly play a central role to character and getting that wrong certainly can affect a character and major aspects of their story, I agree.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I'd never say lets all cast only actors of purely european descend or anything like it... quite the opposite! Yet i am adamant that actors have to match the physical description of those figures of literature they have to represent on screen and that casting choices have to take into account the background of a story, even a fantasy story.
 
D

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At the end of the day, I think we are all on the same page. We are building our own fantasy world drawing from cues laid down by Tolkien and we need to be consistent in the world we are building. If we are creating a history then that history has to hold up. We don't need to recreate Tolkien's exactly but we need to be loyal to our own narrative and things need to make sense. Just basic worldbuilding stuff.

And when we are casting characters, we want to be true to the character elements and appearance that we think matter. Jackson et al obviously cast a younger Frodo as they chose certain elements of that character they felt were vital and intentionally excluded others. We can do the same, as long as we are included any elements we think are vital and it makes sense to exclude other elements within the world we have created.
 
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