The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a fast-paced film and an improvement over its predecessor. The film doesn’t drag at all even though the running time is merely nine minutes less than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. There is action throughout including terrifying Spiders, more battles with Orcs, and an escape from captivity in empty barrels from the Wood-elves while braving raging waters and arrows. Continue reading
Consider submitting a paper proposal for Mythmoot II, to be held in the Baltimore, MD area December 14-15, 2013. Moot-goers will view a special screening of the 2nd Peter Jackson Hobbit film, and attend informative and entertaining sessions with scholars and fans. Papers can be on any fantasy topic (Harry Potter anyone?), with areas of special interest including The Hobbit (naturally), fantasy games & gaming, and adaptations of fantasy in television, film, art & music. Proposal deadline is August 18th. Read the #mythmoot CFP here!
Of the wide variety of articles in this week’s Common Room, one of the most fascinating is Laura Miller’s “Desecrating Poe,” posted over at Salon. Her scathing review of the new Fox TV show “The Following” includes commentary on art, beauty, and the artistic portrayal of violence. Sample quote:
Violence in popular entertainment is usually discussed in absolute terms: Either you think it should be reined in quantitatively or you defend it in blanket terms, as a matter of free speech. This bogus polarity obscures an important question: How is it used? Eyes are gouged out in “The Following” because the mutilated female corpses (all young and pretty in life) make a ghastly spectacle and enable Carroll to torment Hardy with talk of severing the victims’ ocular muscles one by one. Eyes are gouged out in “King Lear” to indicate that the play’s social order has descended to sub-human brutality as a result of the main character’s refusal to see the truth. It’s the same violent act, but in the latter case it is replete with meaning and induces an elemental despair, while in the case of “The Following” it’s just gleefully lurid.
Follow the link for the rest of the story, including many discussable points.
In other news and commentary:
Bloggers and C.S. Lewis fans: Review blog Pages Unbound is hosting a C.S. Lewis read-along throughout the month of February. Ways to participate include reviewing Lewis books or hosting discussions on your own blog, sending in guest posts to the Pages Unbound proprietors, and simply following along to read and/or comment on Lewis’ oeuvre.
It’s been a quiet week here at The Hog’s Head, and apparently everywhere else, too–but there are a couple of hefty news stories. First, Christopher Tolkien gave an interview in which the history of his relationship to his father’s work is covered, as are his feelings about the Peter Jackson adaptations. Sample from the latter:
“Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”
Second, the White House has responded to a petition to create a Death Star. Despite their rejection of the proposal, they’re apparently gung ho on getting to space. This has provoked some presumably fake diplomatic responses from long-dead Star Wars characters.
Also unfortunately for Star Wars fans, a bunch of wet-blanket physicists have determined that the Millenium Falcon’s jump to hyperspace wouldn’t look anything like what the movies show in Han Solo’s windshield. They’re probably correct, but whatever. They also have difficulties with Batman and James and the Giant Peach.
Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer has been chosen to write one of eleven new Doctor Who short books, and the big speculation of the week is that J.K. Rowling may be chosen to write another. Colfer’s much-revered name was the first to be released; other news will hopefully be coming soon.
A series longer in the making than Harry Potter released its finale on the eighth of January: Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic began with The Eye of the World in 1990 and now, after Jordan’s death in 2007, has been completed (from Jordan’s notes) by Brandon Sanderson with A Memory of Light. Jordan’s story is known for worldbuilding almost unrivaled in its depth and range, a cast of characters large enough to fill a decent-sized small town, a high page count–fourteen books averaging over 800 pages apiece, a fantastic magic system, a handful of repetitive descriptors, and–to its loyal fans–a great deal of awesomeness. One of those loyal fans happens to be writing this blog post, and can hardly stand the wait for her copy to come in the mail.
Brandon Sanderson’s release post offers some final details: for instance, that Jordan himself wrote the ending before he died, and why the ebook release has been delayed. Also, Tor art director Irene Gallo toured the bindery as the book was in production, and posted a long set of pictures from the process.
There are rumors–again, only rumors, but still–that Universal may be getting the rights to create a Middle-Earth theme park. It seems likely that a satisfactory recipe for lembas will be as difficult to come up with as a satisfactory recipe for butterbeer.
It’s 2013, some of us are still sweeping up bits of confetti left over from wizard crackers–surreptitiously, when Aberforth isn’t looking–and there are a few bits and leftovers from 2012 to be picked up and discussed as well. For instance:
- Parallel Universe’s Geek Movies 2012: Hits and Misses
- MSN Now gives you permission to boast if you read more than six books last year
- Fantasy Faction lists their picks for best fantasy books of 2012
…and though the Christmas season is almost over (it’s the tenth day–perhaps you’ll get some lords-a-leaping from your true love!), there’s a Godzilla Christmas tree to be seen, fifteen ice planets for a guaranteed white Christmas, Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s picks for Top Ten Christmas Reads for Kids, and a little mixup over the generous nature and white beard of Gandalf.
It’s the third day of Christmas, the feast day of St. John the Apostle–patron of authors and publishers–and a good day to sit around the common room, drink some spiced pumpkin juice, and contemplate magical things. To start, we have Christie over at Spinning Straw into Gold posting about Father Christmas as Fairy Tale:
[St. Nick’s story] is a fairy tale. Or a folk tale, if you prefer. Many elements of a fairy/folk tale are present: an ordinary person called to do or be something extraordinary; a journey, whether symbolic or literal; dealings with faeries (elves); reward and justice; the sense of mystery or more questions left than answers. Here is a figure as universal but specific as Baba Yaga.
Going on with news and commentary:
King’s Cross Station has now opened a little official Harry Potter memorabilia shop at Platform 9 3/4.
Jon Michaud over at the New Yorker argues that The Hobbit is a better book than The Lord of the Rings.
In the cheerful spirit of Happy Hoggy Days, here’s a gift many a Harry Potter fan should enjoy: a Harry Potter and Philosophy podcast put together by Keith Hawk at MuggleNet, starring our own Carrie-Ann Biondi and two of her students! Says Carrie-Ann:
It’s kind of a survey-ish discussion among the five of us ranging over a variety of questions and issues in philosophy and literature that John Granger came up with, so it’s very accessible to a wide audience.
Listen and enjoy! And now, here’s your roundup of the week’s news: