Wednesday 10 January 2007


Further to yesterday’s post about Peter Jackson’s possible interest in directing the next two Harry Potter films, one can't help but wonder - if true - whether the legendarily controlling J K Rowling would tolerate anything approaching the level of re-writes that Tolkien (mercifully for him, dead) underwent?

As for Wagner getting the Jackson treatment: the claim that The Ring Cycle is not as well known as The Lord of the Rings is arguable, though it depends - I guess - on who you are talking to… And whilst the suggestion of Howard Shore re-writing Wagner would be a rank blasphemy if uttered in the crush bar at Covent Garden, those of us who admire Shore’s writing would agree that it has an undeniable Wagnerian scope and power…

If the quotes reported on Mike Crowl’s Random Notes are accurate (and not a spirited New Year divertismenti by a blogger who is a sometime opera repetiteur) then PJ seems set on giving Herr Wagner the WORKS:

"There’s plenty of room for CGI, and maybe even a bit of splatter… No one has ever managed to stage the Ride of the Valkyries effectively. I believe we can make it one of the most hair-raising scenes in movie history. And the descent into the Rhine, and the forging of the Sword. It’s just waiting to be captured on screen!"

And the suggestion that Andy Serkis play Fafnar…? Well, why not? After Gollum and Kong, a dragon ought to be easily within his capabilities?

Unfortunately, I think the ghost of J R R Tolkien is likely to nix whole project; after all, the Professor was always a bit cagey about admitting to any Wagnerian influence on his epic yarn, and dismissed alleged similarities with the words, “Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceased…”

Tolkien's ultimate revenge might very well be to summon Loki and the other gods of Valhalla and have them descend mob-handed on Jackson's Wellington studios.

Interestingly, however, New Yorker writer Alex Ross wrote what might possibly be seen as a prescient piece in December 2003 under the title The Ring and The Rings: Wagner vs. Tolkien which concludes:
The experience of film—and, in particular, of music in film—has probably had a prejudicial effect on the way people view live opera. They expect images to set the tone and music to match—“Mickey-Mousing,” Walt Disney’s composers called it.

Howard Shore, in The Lord of the Rings, practices the art of Mickey-Mousing at an exalted level. But in opera the music takes the lead, generating an imaginary landscape that directors and performers struggle to realize however they can.

Not even Peter Jackson would be able to keep pace with Wagner’s hurtling, hovering, ever-evolving musical images, although someday an opera house is certain to ask him to try.
Or, maybe not an opera house, but a movie studio!

Only time will tell… We await further statements from New Zealand - either confirming these tantalizing stories or announcing the commencement of libel litigation against Mr Crowl.

Whatever the outcome, I'd personally rather New Line made it up with PJ and let him get on with The Hobbit!

[Illustration: Arthur Rackham]

PS: Advance warning (for those who fret when I don't blog): no post tomorrow as I'm in Paris catching the exhibition, Il était une fois Walt Disney at the Grand Palais before it finally closes its doors next week...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm quite surprised to hear that J K Rowling has acquired legendary status for being controlling, having witnessed in the most recent film some pretty huge deviations from the book. All in the interests of keeping the running time under 4 hours, I assume!

Personally, although I love the music of opera, the spectacle has never done it for me. I'd rather close my eyes and paint mental pictures, and can do so in much more comfort than that afforded by all but the most expensive seats in the opera house.