Friday, September 6, 2013

Report - Welly-moot 2.4: Rivendell

(Apologies for the late report - if anyone wants to volunteer to write these after every meeting, please let me know).

Welly-moot met on August the 25th, and we discussed Rivendell. The homework was to read the Rivendell chapters in The Hobbit, plus the sections in LOTR, and for the super-keen among us, watch the movie versions of Rivendell one more time as well. Attendance was good - all in all, 13 people enjoyed the coffee at the Embassy. Kris, Alex and myself were met by Wayne and Hillary, and Miranda. Annabel had brought Lucy and Sophy, and Hawk was there with mum & dad Jenifer and Ryan. Sadly, it is likely their last meeting as they will be leaving our shores to return back to the USA in a month or so. Also we had a new member, Caitlyn. Welcome to our little group, Caitlyn!

Pic: (from the back of Ryan's head in fron, cw to the left): Jenifer, Annabel, Hillary, Wayne, and Miranda

Since our last meeting, Welly-moot has had a small identity crisis - the group was fast on its way to becoming a Peter Jackson fan club instead of the chartered Tolkien fan group. The problem of course is that we're pretty much all  big fans of both, and a large percentage of the group was on the set of The Hobbit movies as extras, so a lot of the discussion has been about the movie versions in the past.

Today's discussion brought us back to the roots. There was a good sized stack of books present; to the point of some not getting discussed. [Wayne, I did notice that you had a copy of "Defending Middle-earth" with you. Please bring it again next meeting - we WILL get to it!]

Kris had brought a beautiful postcard from her travels to Switzerland's Lauterbrunnental, which was one of JRR Tolkien's inspirations for Rivendell. She also brought her print of Alan Lee's Rivendell for comparison, and indeed, there was more than a passing resemblance. This has been noticed by others as well. Kris also had her copy of "The Art of Tolkien" with her, which was enjoyed by all.

Hillary had recently been to a reading by the Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum from the London School of Jewish Studies, on the topic of "The Torah of the Lord Of The Rings". We discussed this briefly (thanks for the copies of the notes you passed out, btw!), and the topic of translated Tolkien works came up. Alex had brought her Japanese copy of The Hobbit with her (and her English one as well)

Soon we were back to Rivendell. In chapter 3 of The Hobbit, Bilbo thinks to himself "Hmmm! it smells like elves!". After discarding and possibility of B.O. from the elves, we decided it must be like spring or summer, a refreshing smell.

There is also a lot of talk of singing in all the books - not just from the elves but also from the dwarves, the hobbits, the men, some of the animals, and yes, even the orcs sing. Singing is a very powerful thing in Middle-earth. In the Silmarillion it is said that the world of Arda is sung into existence, and all things were created by their own song from the Valar (the deities). Singing is a magical thing. These days the mass-media has changed all that, probably beginning with the onset of radio. When once everyone could sing (apparently), nowadays you have to be better, or at least as good as, anyone on radio, and therefore few attempt it in public anymore. Although the sound of singing is still commonplace through our myriad devices, it's rarely live singing anymore. Is it a loss? The quality is better usually, but there's plenty to be said for live impromptu performances.

There the discussion turned to the atmospheric difference in the Rivendell from The Hobbit to that in the Lord Of The Rings. In The Hobbit, the elves at Rivendell are playing musical instruments, singing, dancing, eating, even hunting. In LOTR, there wasn't so much happening, and a lot less elves to be seen at all. This has to do with the symbolic autumn of the elves throughout the sagas (in fact, the season in LOTR was autumn when the fellowship arrives at Rivendell). The elves are leaving at that time, to return to the Lands in the West - Valinor. During The Hobbit, that autumn has not yet started.

Peter Jackson's movies certainly reflect this change as well, which shows his attention to such details. There are stories that his set-builders stapled 400,000 fake autumn leaves to the trees in Rivendell's LOTR filming locations - a necessity since it was filmed in an evergreen rainforest area.

What we can see in Peter Jackson’s movies is not necessary the same from own images from books however the movie's Rivendell is beautiful and comfortable. Our own images are mostly ‘Homey place’; there is fire place, plenty of food and drink on the table - all in all comfortable and safe.

Alan Lee’s drawings are closer to the book. Rivendell is built in a hidden place and elves must have had plenty of time to create arts, songs, and stories.Rivendell was a place to relax.

From there, the discussion veered briefly off Rivendell. Was the movie accurate in its portrayal of the characters from the books? Was the casting done well? We all had images from the characters after reading the books. For example, Orlando Bloom matched most people's vision of Legolas from the books, however neither Aragron nor Boromir were as well cast. Not to say they were badly played though. I've recently finished the books again, and although I saw Legolas very much like Orlando's portrayal, Boromir and Aragorn were different in the books for me. Different, but not better or worse.

Pic: (left to right) - Hillary & Wayne, Miranda, and Jack in full swing.

Too soon, the afternoon was at and end, the coffee had run out, and people started to leave. We'll have an other meeting at the end of October - watch this space!

One final thing - Kris picked up a pair of glasses left behind by someone - if it was yours, please get in touch with either myself or with Kris.