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Sunday, 26 August 2012


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Scott, the last time I watched Jackson's movies, I felt that they looked like shitty '80's action films, and it disgusted me. I remember how I felt after I saw Fellowship, and I walked right out of Two Towers it was so horrible. The bits and pieces of Return of the King that I've seen were just...offensive.

So, when I see that you're using Fellowship in your class, I absolutely have to ask you for a visual rhetoric post on it. How, how, how can you be showing that to impressionable young freshmen? The dialogue is infantile, and the framing of the shots is straight out of, I don't know, a Van Damme movie. The movies are one big practical joke on society.

I am seriously requesting you do a post on LotR, becase, honestly, in ten years, no one - not a single person - has ever given me a single argument as to why they are decent movies, let alone "best of the year and/or decade." I absolutely need to see your critiques of these movies, because I am absolutely shocked that you would use them in your class.


I absolutely will. I just re-watched the first half of it the special edition the other night, and found it's starting to acquire the quaint charm of the novels, i.e. it's clunky, but compelling. There's a lot to be said about Jackson reverting to his pre-Heavenly Creatures love of horror clichés, and have no fears, I'll say it.


Chester: After ten years, you continue to be shocked that your idiosyncratic opinion on those movies is idiosyncratic?


The fact that the movies got made as a coherent epic is worthy of mention, though when his option runs out, something better will be made. They were adequate for the technology and time available, but impressive, in the way that a five-decker, double-triple bacon, BBQ sauce and mayo burger on grilled cheese sandwiches for buns is an impressive foodstuff.


Well, whatever my taste in movies is, I agree with Ahistoricality's way of putting it - these movies are the KFC double down of cinema. I mean, you can call my taste in movies bad or whatever, but that's not an argument for the movie's quality, it's just a dig at my taste.

To be clear, I mainly take issue with Jackson's childish interpretation of the plot and the terrible way he handled the characters. He could have simplified the story by actually telling the important parts of the story instead of wasting time with all his little dick and fart jokes. "No one tosses a dwarf." Just...huh? Where did that even come from? Was this supposed to be a children's movie or something?

But when I rewatched it, I also noticed that it is shot like a cheesy action movie, and that's something that SEK specializes in explaining, and I absolutely understand that I could be wrong about that, which is why I want to see SEK's post on it.


The dwarf-tossing lines in the first and second movie are loathsome, I agree with that.

I don't call your taste in movies bad, not at all. But it clearly is idiosyncratic (at least in this case)--these movies were not only loved by audiences but also critically acclaimed, which doesn't make you wrong but does make it weird that you would be so shocked that someone would teach them in a class.

I rank the movies more highly than you or Ahist do. I don't have enough of a sense of film history or composition to tell the difference between the movie being shot like a "cheesy action movie" and a regular action movie, though, so I too am interested in Scott's (and your) thoughts on that.


Well, most people take my opinions on the movies and just say, "That's like, just your opinion, man," so I was a little defensive when I read your comment.

But, yeah, I'm not shocked as much as, you know, I trust SEK's word on movies, and he's teaching something that I've never understood. So now's a chance for me to hear a real professional tell me why the movies are good.

I mean, most reviewers have really faint praise for these movies. At least when SEK criticizes a movie, he'll still tell us why it LOOKS good, even if it's otherwise crap.

Robert M.

I dunno about the individualized route. Opting out of (e.g.) Ned's POV would mean missing some pretty damn important elements of the narrative; skipping Jon's would save them a lot of work, but would also mean losing some of the more interesting sociological details of family and xenophobia. You could easily find yourself spending four weeks teaching a dozen different novels with separate (if overlapping) themes, plots, and characters. That seems... excessively difficult.

Cutting out the Danaerys POV seems like the most straightforward plan, since (IIRC; it's been a while) she doesn't really collide with the rest of the POV characters until halfway through the second volume. But in that case I'm not sure whether it's a better idea to complement the missing material or maintain your focus on events in Westeros; on balance, and given the typical undergraduate attention span, I'd probably take the latter.


Robert M. has some good points; the different POV's form a tapestry, and I think if you let students choose which POV's to follow, you'd probably end up doing so much backfilling in order to connect thematic dots that it becomes confusing, or tedious, or both. At least with Danaerys' POV, her part of the tapestry takes more time to link up with the rest. You could help smooth out that pothole by providing a kind of outline for what's going on in those chapters, just so the students could see how a theme developed in one section is addressed in another section they're not reading.

I don't think this happens in GoT, but later on, it becomes more difficult to leave out certain POV chapters. The whole Bastard of Bolton storyline is in part conveyed through partially-heard conversations by small folk and relatively minor characters across a few different chapters. It seemed like GRRM was telling the reader not to ignore the little things.

What kind of secondary material are you bringing in? About a year ago, I saw some debates about how Romanticism influences contemporary fantasy; how fascism took many of its aesthetic cues from Romanticism, and thus if contemporary fantasy then contains -- mainly unconsciously -- a kernel of what motivates fascist ideology; and if A Song of Ice and Fire reiterated or resisted those aesthetic moves. Interesting discussion material.

Charli Carpenter

Just force them to read. It will thin the herd in the early weeks anyhow.


The problem with being a lecturer is that if I thin the herd too much, they'll just cancel the class in Week Two. So I need to find some way to keep at least 75 percent of the originally enrolled students in the class.

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