Columbia, SC — USC professor James Cutsinger’s claim that J.R.R. Tolkien would have been unhappy with the Hobbit movie seems presumptive given other passages from his masterful essay “On Fairy-Stories” (“USC scholars familiar with Tolkien weigh in on ‘The Hobbit,’” Dec. 9).
Tolkien rightly points to the limitations of drama and the stage in attempting to embody fantasy since “walking and talking people” are used as the “natural instruments of art and illusion.” He truly had “never seen it done with success.” But I don’t think Tolkien could have imagined the gorgeous cinematography on locations such as New Zealand.
Tolkien’s concern was for the details of fantasy settings as well as character. In his novels, Middle Earth and all of its rich detail is as much a part of the story as the characters, and today’s modern filmmaking techniques often achieve this successful marriage. Tolkien wrote that “the realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things, all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted, beauty that is an enchantment.” These things can be found in Peter Jackson’s movies, and I think Tolkien would gaze in amazement to see the world he spoke come into existence.