Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Boorman's LotR movie remembered

So, thanks to Janice for the link to a GUARDIAN story re. five weird movies that never got made:
Orson Welles' HEART OF DARKNESS, Jn Boorman's LotR, Le Guin's WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, the original version of ALIEN III, and a mooted sequel to Russell Crowe's GLADIATOR. Here's what the writer of this piece, Tom Huddleston, had to say about the Tolkien film:

John Boorman’s Lord of the Rings

In 1970, The Lord of the Rings was everywhere, its eco-friendly escapism dovetailing neatly with the communal mindset of the post-Woodstock era. A film was inevitable, and rights-holder United Artists turned to John Boorman, a British director with a passion for Arthurian fantasy and – more importantly – a moderate hit under his belt in Point Blank. Joining forces with the young screenwriter Rospo Pallenberg, Boorman turned out a script that covers all three books, runs to 178 pages and is, without question, one of the weirdest documents in existence.
It’s hard to pick a favourite scene. Is it the one where the wizard Gandalf beats Gimli viciously with his staff in an effort to help the dwarf recover his ancestral memories? Or the one where Frodo is invited into Galadriel’s bed, much to the grumbling dissatisfaction of Boromir and Aragorn, both of whom planned to seduce her? Perhaps it’s the 11-page expositional kabuki play in which a small dog representing fate pursues a ball representing the ring, while Sauron (described as “a combination of Mick Jagger and Punch”) looks on.
There are undoubted highlights – the hobbits’ journey out of the Shire is a mushroom-fuelled voyage climaxing in a tornado of whirling petals, an idea Boorman would revisit in Excalibur. But it’s hard to imagine the finished film being anything other than a freaky – if fascinating – failure.

I disagree about a film of Tolkien's work being 'inevitable' -- as subsequent events wd show, it was a long time coming. Having read Boorman's script, which is preserved at Marquette along with several other attempts, I can say that Huddleston does not exaggerate but if anything downplays the deep-rooted weirdness of Boorman's vision; we're lucky this project fell through.

As for the EARTHSEA, I shd note that this is neither the disappointing Studio Ghibli effort nor the horrible tv miniseries but a third, earlier effort with Le Guin herself co-author of the screenplay. I hope that screenplay survives and sees publication someday.

Here's the link to the full story:

current viewing: RE.LIFE (anime)
current reading: Sayers reviews of detective stories; also a revamping of an early D&D module (THE BOTTLE CITY).


N.E. Brigand said...

I remember reading about the Earthsea project when I skimmed Michael Powell's autobiography. I thought it began as a student project in a film class that he was teaching, and that his students actually filmed some scenes, but it's been a long time, so I may be mistaken about that. One point I do recall is Powell praising "The Wizard of Earthsea" by comparing it to "The Lord of the Rings", which he didn't care for. (Although I don't recall that it was clear he'd actually read Tolkien's book.)

OnTheTrail said...

Hi John.

The Boorman script is located at http://cinetropolis.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Lord-of-the-Rings.pdf for others to read.

It is a very bizarre read.