Think of it: here's Stephen Colbert, probably the best-known Tolkien fan in America, given the cover story for a major mass-market magazine, One wd expect him to use that forum to celebrate the ending of his spectacular eight-year-run on THE COLBERT REPORT. Or to plug his upcoming show, when he takes over as host of THE LATE SHOW from David Letterman early this year.
Instead, he chooses to let his Tolkien geek flag fly, and talks about what Tolkien means to him. As Colbert himself puts it,
Tolkien's world has been a lifelong haven for me -- truly
a light in dark places when all other lights went out.
For an awkward teenager, Middle-earth
was a world I could escape to.
Peter Jackson's Middle-earth also gave me
a world to escape to, but by the time
his films came out, I was rich and famous
and didn't really want to escape my life anymore.
Still, great movies.
What's more, Colbert, who famously appeared in a cameo as a Lake Town spy in the second of Peter Jackson's HOBBIT movies, interviews Jackson himself as part of this feature. In particular, the two men talk about how Tolkien is NOT science fiction but more like historical fiction. And Jackson makes the interesting observation, or perhaps prediction, that "I'm sure in 50 years people will probably still be going to New Zealand because of these movies". Which, if the past decade-plus is anything to go by, might well turn out to be the case. Colbert also, in the accompanying article, includes a bit about his own apprehensions, way back when he first learned about plans for Jackson to film LotR, about how he hoped and feared for the results, esp. given his response to the Bakshi and Rankin-Bass LotR films.* He frankly admits
"I was afraid that Jackson would be just another thief
come to take my treasure -- my hoard of Middle-earth memories.
It was a very possessive, obsessive, dragony feeling.
"Or worse, he might not treat them with respect . . .
"And I began to have hope . . .
". . . And the movies came, and they were more than good.
To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, they were beauties that pierced
like sword or burned like cold iron. It was clear
that the filmmakers, like the elves of Lorien,
put the thought of all that they loved into all
that they made."
So. Stephen Colbert: for being an unabashed Tolkien fan in a very public place, we salute you.
current reading: THE HOBBIT AND HISTORY, THE NAME OF THE WIND
current dvd: BARBARELLA
* "while I was happy to see someone finally take a live-action stab at the trilogy, I was worried. Because with previous attempts at bringing LOTR to the screen, I had been burned. Take Ralph Bakshi's 1978 quasi-animated Lord of the Rings, a mishmash of The Fellowship and The Two Towers that never even finished the story. And of the 1980 Rankin/Bass The Return of the King, the less said the better. We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!" --Stephen Colbert, December 2014