Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ents & Clarinets

So, the day before yesterday a batch of back issues of MALLORN arrived. It'll be a while before I have time to sit down and read them properly, but I have begun browsing, starting with the reviews of the first installment of the Peter Jackson movies (MALLORN 40, Nov. 2002). Rather surprising to see balanced, mostly positive comments, some of them from people who went on to become harsh critics of the whole series. It'll be interesting to trace the evolution of their stances through the next two issues, which respectively cover the second and third installments of the film.

One article did catch my attention, because one aspect of it hinged upon a point in THE HOBBIT, and not surprisingly THE HOBBIT rather dominates my mind these days. In "Treebeard's Voice" (volume 40, page 28), John Ellison goes beyond the obvious that the ent sounds like a woodwind (as stated in LotR itself) and asks what kind of woodwind. In passing, he makes the (to me) interesting point that the clarinets Bifur and Bofur bring to Bag-End are anachronistic, since these are 18th-century instruments. I should have remembered that, since I'm a clarinet player myself (or was, back in junior high and high school--I actually had a band scholarship my first year in college), and commented on it in my discussion of the anachronisms (real and perceived) in that chapter.

As for what Treebeard sounds like, if C. S. Lewis's claim that he was the model for Treebeard's voice is true, then the old ent sounds like Sean Connery impersonating Alfred Hitchcock -- at least that's what CSL's voice sounds like on the surviving tapes I've heard (THE FOUR LOVES, his inaugural lecture, his talk on Bunyan, &c). It certainly does give me a whole new perspective on one of my favorite characters.


current reading: BEHIND THAT CURTAIN by Earl Derr Biggers [1928]

No comments: