Script Discussion S05E11

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
Chris Tolkien's notes on the Athrabeth suggest it was written after the publishing of the Lord of the Rings, Chris places it at around 1959-1960; so, if not quite elderly, then close to it, at least.

I'm not given to understand that we should be certain that the fate of men was not changed, but that if it was, it was changed by Eru. It's an overtly Christian read, reminiscent of the expulsion from paradise, but it's definitely plausible. Frankly, I think they are both intriguing reads with different things to say about both men and Eru, and I think it's much more fun that the point is ambiguous.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
Can I just say how amazingly wonderful it is to have been able to join in. I know plenty of LotR fans, but noone who has read Athrabeth.
I was thinking that the debate between Finrod and Andreth reminds me of some of the debates between characters in the series Vikings about Christianity and Norse religion.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Happy to have you on board, Ilana! Much appreciate the help in putting this into a usable form - it's been very helpful to have multiple voices giving feedback on this hefty task.

Yes, I would like to leave things open to interpretation. If we're going to be very specific...it has to be about something we intend to show or expound more on later. I realize that too much ambiguity and 'I don't knows' make the conversation frustrating rather than interesting, though, so it is a balance.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
I have always loved Tolkien’s idea that death was a gift to Humans and went alongside the mystery of what their role is in creation (which remains a mystery to the Valar as well). That requires Humans to have faith that their ’short’ lives accomplish what they need to in the world. The corruption of this was to make Humans fear this or see death as a punishment. I know there is in this a Christian undertone of salvation at the end of the world, but I loved that the Ilúvatar’s ‘gift of men’ was a ‘gift’. I think in the Athrabeth we see an elderly Tolkien grappling with Human purpose as he faces his own mortality, which is part of the working through of the incarnation of Eru in the world into this dialogue. But I don’t think we need to go off the path in SilmFilm of presenting mortality as it was described in the Ainulindalë. In Season 1 it was not possible to talk about the gift of men because of the challenges of depicting the Ainulindalë, so this is the right time to be bringing it up, I think. This is part of Finrod’s wisdom - that Morgoth is not so mighty that he can alter the fate of Men or Elves - only Eru can do that. So the short life of humans compared with Elves must serve a purpose. That counter’s Andreth’s bitterness that humans had their immortality snatched away, or that they were punished for something.
The issue of death being both a gift and a punishment at the same time cannot be completely left out. If one assumes it to be only a gift one is due to misunderstand humans and have them in contempt as Arwen did for their assumed "rejection of the divine gift" which she admited to have had until she herself faced the situation. (Imho the Finrod's question is easily answered by considering human mortality in its current form a remedy which became necessary after humanity's fall to limit evil's might over humans both in time and extent. That explaines both its utmost necessity and being complete counter to human nature at the same time. But that is an answer Andreth has herself not arrived at as yet. As such it remains open in the discussion. Still the position of the Valar and the elves that death is natural to humans makes them misunderstand human nature which leads to a lot of problems about which our story does talk about a lot. As such accepting the Valarin/default elvish position on human death being natural makes humans look more ungratefull and wicked than they really are.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
Welp, I am well and truly spent, and not the only one I think. We stand at 63 dingity-dang pages, which I think, for our purposes, is acceptable. Provided the Scriptmasters are comfortable, I think it can be PDF'd for review by the Executive Producer team.

I'm gonna go take a little 6 or seven hour nap, I think. :p Thank you very much to everyone for their input and their rigorous attention to detail throughout this process. The Athrabeth has been hacked almost to the bone, but the bones of it seem to me to be very much intact, and I am delighted by how much of Tolkien's original language made it to the final draft. Even where changes had to be made, I think you will find it difficult to tell what is Tolkien's unaltered text and what is paraphrased or jury-rigged, at least in the majority of cases. Of course, it could just be that I've been staring at this for so many hours over the last couple weeks that I I've simply lost all sense, but in case it's unclear, I'm pretty happy with what we're sending, and I very much enjoyed the Herculean group effort that got us there. Thanks everybody, hope you can make it on Thursday!
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The issue of death being both a gift and a punishment at the same time cannot be completely left out. If one assumes it to be only a gift one is due to misunderstand humans and have them in contempt as Arwen did for their assumed "rejection of the divine gift" which she admited to have had until she herself faced the situation. (Imho the Finrod's question is easily answered by considering human mortality in its current form a remedy which became necessary after humanity's fall to limit evil's might over humans both in time and extent. That explaines both its utmost necessity and being complete counter to human nature at the same time. But that is an answer Andreth has herself not arrived at as yet. As such it remains open in the discussion. Still the position of the Valar and the elves that death is natural to humans makes them misunderstand human nature which leads to a lot of problems about which our story does talk about a lot. As such accepting the Valarin/default elvish position on human death being natural makes humans look more ungratefull and wicked than they really are.
Conversely, we have shown Bëor accept his death at the end of his life, and we will show the Numenoreans (at first) surrender their lives peacefully and willingly at the end of their long lifespans. Death-as-Gift is not an error in Tolkien's world, despite it being counter to his own theology. Finrod's opinion that Men would welcome death if they were not tainted is not wrong. Of course, it's not the whole story, either, but I think that it is good to preserve the idea as best we can, even in this text.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
[
The issue of death being both a gift and a punishment at the same time cannot be completely left out. If one assumes it to be only a gift one is due to misunderstand humans and have them in contempt as Arwen did for their assumed "rejection of the divine gift" which she admited to have had until she herself faced the situation. (Imho the Finrod's question is easily answered by considering human mortality in its current form a remedy which became necessary after humanity's fall to limit evil's might over humans both in time and extent. That explaines both its utmost necessity and being complete counter to human nature at the same time. But that is an answer Andreth has herself not arrived at as yet. As such it remains open in the discussion. Still the position of the Valar and the elves that death is natural to humans makes them misunderstand human nature which leads to a lot of problems about which our story does talk about a lot. As such accepting the Valarin/default elvish position on human death being natural makes humans look more ungratefull and wicked than they really are.
INteresting. I had always viewed Arwen's scorn at not the 'rejection of the divine gift' but rather as recognising the struggle that Men have to accept the gift as given - they have to have Estel that their time on earth is worth something, and that there is something beyond worth sustaining hope for. She says at Aragorns bedside "As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, then it is bitter to recieve". Her pity, I thought, was in final understanding of why death is so bitter and frightening to humans, even though it is a gift. If humans reject the gift (as the Numenoreans did), it is because they had become fearful of letting go of life - something that Aragorn does not have. This does not make death a 'remedy for humanity's fall', as you say. I do think that this is what Tolkien was leaning towards in the Athrabeth, but then he was also rethinking his whole cosmology as well. Arwen's speech here doesn't hint at death as a punishment or something that comes from evil or evil deeds, and that is not the presentation in the Ainulindalë.
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
Welp, I am well and truly spent, and not the only one I think. We stand at 63 dingity-dang pages, which I think, for our purposes, is acceptable. Provided the Scriptmasters are comfortable, I think it can be PDF'd for review by the Executive Producer team.

I'm gonna go take a little 6 or seven hour nap, I think. :p Thank you very much to everyone for their input and their rigorous attention to detail throughout this process. The Athrabeth has been hacked almost to the bone, but the bones of it seem to me to be very much intact, and I am delighted by how much of Tolkien's original language made it to the final draft. Even where changes had to be made, I think you will find it difficult to tell what is Tolkien's unaltered text and what is paraphrased or jury-rigged, at least in the majority of cases. Of course, it could just be that I've been staring at this for so many hours over the last couple weeks that I I've simply lost all sense, but in case it's unclear, I'm pretty happy with what we're sending, and I very much enjoyed the Herculean group effort that got us there. Thanks everybody, hope you can make it on Thursday!
Awesome work Brian.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
[

INteresting. I had always viewed Arwen's scorn at not the 'rejection of the divine gift' but rather as recognising the struggle that Men have to accept the gift as given - they have to have Estel that their time on earth is worth something, and that there is something beyond worth sustaining hope for. She says at Aragorns bedside "As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, then it is bitter to recieve". Her pity, I thought, was in final understanding of why death is so bitter and frightening to humans, even though it is a gift. If humans reject the gift (as the Numenoreans did), it is because they had become fearful of letting go of life - something that Aragorn does not have. This does not make death a 'remedy for humanity's fall', as you say. I do think that this is what Tolkien was leaning towards in the Athrabeth, but then he was also rethinking his whole cosmology as well. Arwen's speech here doesn't hint at death as a punishment or something that comes from evil or evil deeds, and that is not the presentation in the Ainulindalë.
The concept as I see it are:

Elves/Valar : Death is natural to humans, if they reject it, their rejection of it is wrong /sick/wicked/coruppted.

Humans: Death is wrong and goes against the very human nature. Human strive to overcome it is natural as is their longing for (real) immortality.
How can Eru's gift be so bitter if Eru is good?

Remedy angle: Death is a necessery remedy for a corrupt human nature trappped in a corrupted world as it limits the duration and extent to which humans are enslaved to evil "the freedom of mortality" - a dead person which left Arda is no longer under Morgoth's/Sauron power - as such Sauron is a Necromacer and works on preventing his slaves from leaving Arda. As such death is both a mercifull gift and a consequence of the fall of men (which can be experienced as a kind of "punishment"). It still goes against human nature, but most medicines do that. [If is even an expectation in my culture that "a good medicine has to be bitter to work"].
 

Ilana Mushin

Active Member
I think I get where you come from. Are you saying then that when Tolkien wrote in the published Silm (Of the Beginning of Days chapter) "It is said that after the departure of the Valar there was silence, and for an age Ilúvatar sat alone in thought. Then he spoke and said ".... But to the Atani I give a new gift' Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should see beyond the world and find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is fate to all else..."
Are you saying that this 'new gift' was given as a remedy after the fall of Man?

My interpretation has always been that this is 'new' because it is so different from the Valar and the Quendi who are both tied irrevocably to the Arda itself. Because the humans were not in the music made by the Ainur, their fate can only be understood by Ilúvatar himself. The gift to 'see beyond' seemed like a genuine gift to me, as is the power to shape one's own life, not something in response to Men not turning out as planned.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I think I get where you come from. Are you saying then that when Tolkien wrote in the published Silm (Of the Beginning of Days chapter) "It is said that after the departure of the Valar there was silence, and for an age Ilúvatar sat alone in thought. Then he spoke and said ".... But to the Atani I give a new gift' Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should see beyond the world and find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is fate to all else..."
Are you saying that this 'new gift' was given as a remedy after the fall of Man?

My interpretation has always been that this is 'new' because it is so different from the Valar and the Quendi who are both tied irrevocably to the Arda itself. Because the humans were not in the music made by the Ainur, their fate can only be understood by Ilúvatar himself. The gift to 'see beyond' seemed like a genuine gift to me, as is the power to shape one's own life, not something in response to Men not turning out as planned.
This is what Finrod mentions. But as he himself discovers this does not involve a forcefull separation of hroa and fea nor being forced to leave before one is ready to. Nor getting sick, old and infirm. Nor being at odds with the natural world and one's own nature. The gift of Eru as mentioned after the Song made human mortality possible, as they become able to leave Arda, but not are not mortal yet like in they are not yet forced to leave against their will. As such the gift is proactive ensuring an exit possibility, but not yet forcing an unvoluntary exit necessity for humans involving the forcefull separation of the bound between the soul and body.

Chris Tolkien's notes on the Athrabeth suggest it was written after the publishing of the Lord of the Rings, Chris places it at around 1959-1960; so, if not quite elderly, then close to it, at least.

I'm not given to understand that we should be certain that the fate of men was not changed, but that if it was, it was changed by Eru. It's an overtly Christian read, reminiscent of the expulsion from paradise, but it's definitely plausible. Frankly, I think they are both intriguing reads with different things to say about both men and Eru, and I think it's much more fun that the point is ambiguous.
I do think Andreth and Aegnor are a foil and commentary to/on Arwen and Aragorn - not only by all their names starting with the same letter and having corresponding syllables.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Humans finding no rest is the whole point i think.That is what makes their souls strife beyond the world, but it also is partly the reason for their longing for immortality and fear of death.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Humans finding no rest is the whole point i think.That is what makes their souls strife beyond the world, but it also is partly the reason for their longing for immortality and fear of death.
If also ensures that there is always a part of them that cannot be completely corrupted by evil as its home is beyond Melkor's reach or care.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Recall that the Lay of Leithian means 'Release from Bondage', and ends with Lúthien dying indeed and leaving the circles of the world (ie, Arda/Eä). For the Elves...that's the dream! To be able to leave Arda, and still exist. The Silmarillion is told from the elvish viewpoint, so 'escape from deathlessness' is more in fitting with their world view than 'escape from death'. After all, that's their true fear: ending with the end of the world.

Letting Finrod voice the elvish perspective here is important. As far as the human viewpoint...the Athrabeth is an attempt to reconcile Tolkien's theology with his storytelling. He wanted to present a version of Original Innocence, the Fall, and Redemption, as well as a glimpse of what Heaven would be like, that is compatible with Catholic cosmology while still maintaining that there are Elves and that Death is 'the Gift of Men.' One could argue that you can't have it both ways, but I think that he tried hard to leave it open to interpretation how 'true' each speaker's viewpoint might be.

Certainly, the current script document retains much (though not all) of the theology of the Athrabeth.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Recall that the Lay of Leithian means 'Release from Bondage', and ends with Lúthien dying indeed and leaving the circles of the world (ie, Arda/Eä). For the Elves...that's the dream! To be able to leave Arda, and still exist. The Silmarillion is told from the elvish viewpoint, so 'escape from deathlessness' is more in fitting with their world view than 'escape from death'. After all, that's their true fear: ending with the end of the world.

Letting Finrod voice the elvish perspective here is important. As far as the human viewpoint...the Athrabeth is an attempt to reconcile Tolkien's theology with his storytelling. He wanted to present a version of Original Innocence, the Fall, and Redemption, as well as a glimpse of what Heaven would be like, that is compatible with Catholic cosmology while still maintaining that there are Elves and that Death is 'the Gift of Men.' One could argue that you can't have it both ways, but I think that he tried hard to leave it open to interpretation how 'true' each speaker's viewpoint might be.

Certainly, the current script document retains much (though not all) of the theology of the Athrabeth.
What you have describe as elvish is mostly Finrod's perspective - he thinks about those matters enough to be an "theologian" among the Noldor. Maybe the Vanyar specialise in such matters and that is the reason his fiancee is one of them. But I doubt most of Noldor care to bother and almost none of the Sindar does. Their perspective is Arda or even the edge their own forest, and what happens after those are gone seems too farfetched to think much about. Their focus is on the past and how to preserve it - on their precious memories - the future is a dangerous place and full of loss to them anyway.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I think that’s overstating it a bit, but it is certainly true that our big players in the series get a lot more interaction with the Atani than the average Elda. That was one of the motivators for conflict in this episode; Finrod learns this hugely important piece to the metaphysical puzzle of Arda and he thinks it’s the sort of thing that elf-kind as a whole should know. It’s weird to learn things they don’t know about the universe, so much of their religion is just “this angelic being who was literally present told me of their firsthand experience”. He’s reluctant to sign up for a campaign that might result in the deaths of so many people and the potential extermination of these human communities. He’d like it if their people could grow closer and learn more of one another, and promises to send visitors to Ladros towards the end of the episode.

I think one of the best parts of writing this episode was digging into the Athrabeth and figuring out how all the moving pieces work. I had read it maybe twice before this, but know I have a much more fluent working knowledge of it, it feels great and I highly recommend it, it’s fantastic.
It helps that I really like Tolkien’s dialogue. :p
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I think one of the best parts of writing this episode was digging into the Athrabeth and figuring out how all the moving pieces work. I had read it maybe twice before this, but know I have a much more fluent working knowledge of it, it feels great and I highly recommend it, it’s fantastic.
It helps that I really like Tolkien’s dialogue
What you describe, I am deciding to call SilmFilm Epiphanic Effect (TM) or SFEE. Coming to a clearer understanding of the text through the lens of adaptation.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
So true!

Btw. Luthien did leave the circles of the world? But only after her second death finally.Her first one she begs Mandos to release Beren before HE does leave them. I found that resurrected couple thing always odd and never really got it. Just like i was never much into Earendil... i find him obscure at most. But i am waiting for my next SFEE, maybe with next season when we get beren and luthien or season 9 or ten when we get Earendil... (that is... we get Tuor and turin next... is there something else in between, hurin? My guess is 9/10 being the earendil season...)
 
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