I can hear the purists moaning already, and wading in with wisecracks. Will we have tap dancing hobbits? Orcs doing a soft shoe number? Will there be a romantic duet between Aragorn and Arwen? Will Pippin and Merry provide the light relief and do a couple of comedy numbers?
I will probably offend the Lord of the Rings purists by opining that I think old Professor Tolkien wouldn’t have minded. I don’t think he would have minded the movies, the video games or the board games. I don’t think he would have minded the toys, the posters and the jewelry. I don’t think he would have minded any of it at all.
Here’s why: he understood myth. He was attempting to write a myth for the English people. He ended up writing a myth for the whole world. Now a myth, is by definition, a popular form of literature. It belongs to the people. It is bigger than one particular author. Since a myth belongs to the people they can do with it what they like. They can play games with it. They can re-tell the story and alter details. They can turn it into a film, a play, a musical or an opera. They can translate it and add to it and embroider it. That’s what myth is–it is not a set piece of art, but a flexible, adaptable and constantly changing work. The characters and basic plot stay put, but other things can change, and should change.
Take an example of another popular myth: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. You have the basic myth which grew from basic legend. Then Malory writes it down, then Tennyson writes his poetic version. The pre-Raphaelite artists paint pictures of it. Wagner composes operas around it. T.H.White writes a prose version in The Once and Future King. It becomes a Disney cartoon: Sword in the Stone. It becomes a Broadway musical: Camelot, Hollywood makes film versions, and the myth goes on.
It’s okay. In fact, it’s great. It’s creative and it’s exciting. Through this process the story gets deeper and deeper into the corporate bloodstream and continues to ‘baptize the imagination’ of ever more people.
Bring on Lord of the Rings–the Theme Park I say.