Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien

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The works of J. R. R. Tolkien have served as the inspiration to painters, musicians, film-makers and writers, to such an extent that he is sometimes seen as the "father" of the entire genre of high fantasy.[1]

Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story... The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd.

— J. R. R. Tolkien[2]

Art and illustration[edit]

Tolkien found Horus Engels' 1946 illustrations for the German edition of The Hobbit too "Disnified": he disliked both "Bilbo with a dribbling nose, and Gandalf as a figure of vulgar fun".[3]

The earliest illustrations of Tolkien's works were drawn by the author himself. The 1937 American edition of The Hobbit was illustrated by professional draughtsmen. Tolkien was very critical of this work, and in 1946 he rejected illustrations by Horus Engels for the German edition of the Hobbit as "too 'Disnified' for my taste: Bilbo with a dribbling nose, and Gandalf as a figure of vulgar fun rather than the Odinic wanderer that I think of".[3]

In 1948, Milein Cosman was invited by Tolkien's publishers to submit illustrations for Farmer Giles of Ham. Tolkien felt her impressionistic style did not suit the story, and she was replaced by Pauline Baynes, who later also supplied the illustrations for The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962) and Smith of Wootton Major (1967). In 1968, Tolkien was sent a number of a suite of illustrations of The Lord of the Rings, mostly in coloured ink, by the English artist Mary Fairburn; Tolkien said of her pictures: "They ... show far more attention to the text than any that have yet been submitted to me.... I am beginning to ... think that an illustrated edition might be a good thing." For various reasons the project went no further, and Fairburn's illustrations were unknown until 2012.[4] Crown Princess Margrethe (now Queen Margrethe II) of Denmark, an accomplished and critically acclaimed painter, was inspired to create illustrations to The Lord of the Rings in the early 1970s.[5][6] In 1977, Queen Margrethe's drawings were published in the Danish translation of the book.[7] redrawn by the British artist Eric Fraser.[8]

A very large Gollum in Tove Jansson's early illustration for the Finnish translation of The Hobbit, given that Tolkien had not said how large Gollum was[9]

Tim and Greg Hildebrandt were well-known Tolkien illustrators in the 1950s and 1960s.[10] The British artist Jimmy Cauty created a best-selling poster of The Lord of the Rings (1976) and The Hobbit (1980) for the retailer Athena.[11][12]

Well-known Tolkien illustrators of the 1990s and 2000s are John Howe, Alan Lee, and Ted Nasmith — Alan Lee for illustrated editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Ted Nasmith for illustrated editions of The Silmarillion, and John Howe for the cover artwork to several Tolkien publications. Howe and Lee worked as concept artists in the creation of Peter Jackson's film trilogy. In 2004, Lee won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction on the film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.[13]

Other artists who have found inspiration in Tolkien's works include Inger Edelfeldt,[14] Anke Eißmann,[15] Michael Hague,[16] Tove Jansson (of Moomin fame, illustrator of Swedish and Finnish translations of The Hobbit),[9] Paul Raymond Gregory,[17] Tim Kirk,[18] Angus McBride who illustrated Iron Crown's Tolkien-based role-playing games,[19] Jef Murray,[20] Colleen Doran,[21] Jenny Dolfen,[22] and Peter Xavier Price.[23] Works of several of these artists were exhibited in an "Images of Middle-earth" exhibition of some 170 artworks organised by Davide Martini of the Greisinger Museum of Switzerland; it toured Italy between 2003 and 2005.[24][25]

Film[edit]

Peter Jackson, director of six Tolkien adaptations, at the site of filming of "Hobbiton" for his The Hobbit trilogy

In the early 1970s John Boorman planned a film of The Lord of the Rings, but the plans never went further. Some of the work done was resurrected for the film Excalibur in 1981.[26]

Ralph Bakshi directed an animated movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings in 1978 (partly made with the rotoscope technique), which covered only the first half of The Lord of the Rings.[27] Rankin-Bass covered the second half with a children's TV animation The Return of the King (1980);[28] earlier they had made a TV animation of The Hobbit (1977).[29]

The Lord of the Rings was adapted as a trilogy of films (2001–2003), directed by Peter Jackson.[30] The Hobbit was adapted as a trilogy (2012–14), with some elements adapted from The Return of the King's Appendices, resulting in noticeable divergences with the novel.[31]

Literature[edit]

Fantasy[edit]

Fantasy writer Terry Brooks was heavily influenced by Tolkien.[32]

Many authors have found inspiration in Tolkien's work. Following the success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the 1960s, publishers were quick to try to meet a new demand for literate fantasy in the American marketplace.[32] Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea in 1968, was one of the first fantasy series influenced by Tolkien.[33][34] Patricia A. McKillip's The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and Jane Yolen's The Magic Three of Solatia were two examples of Tolkien-inspired fantasies for young adults written in the mid-1970s.[35] Ballantine, under the direction of editor Lin Carter, published public domain and relatively obscure works under the banner of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, aimed at adult readers who enjoyed Tolkien's works.[32] Lester Del Rey, however, sought for new books that would mirror Tolkien's work, and published Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara, David Eddings's Belgariad, and Stephen R. Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.[32] Guy Gavriel Kay, who had assisted Christopher Tolkien with the editing of The Silmarillion, later wrote his own Tolkien-influenced fantasy trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry.[32] Russian writer Nick Perumov was able to publish several fantasy novels set in Tolkien's Middle-Earth after the events of The Lord of the Rings (due to a loophole in Russian copyright law).[36] Dennis L. McKiernan's Silver Call duology was intended to be a direct sequel to The Lord of the Rings but had to be altered. The Iron Tower trilogy, highly influenced by Tolkien's books, was then written as backstory.[37]

Throughout the next two decades, the term "fantasy" became synonymous with the general aspects of Tolkien's work: multiple races including dwarves and elves, a quest to destroy a magical artifact, and an evil that seeks to control the world. The plot of Novelist Pat Murphy's There and Back Again intentionally mirrors that of The Hobbit, but is transposed into a science-fiction setting involving space travel. J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter has been seen as having been influenced by Tolkien's work, particularly the wizard Dumbledore being partially inspired by Tolkien's Gandalf.[38] The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini largely rehashed the setting and languages of The Lord of the Rings, as well as creatures such as elves and dwarves having nearly identical qualities to the Elves and Dwarves of Middle-earth (though the plot is much more similar to that of Star Wars). Some people have gone so far as to accuse Paolini of plagiarism.[39] S.M. Stirling's "Emberverse" series includes a character obsessed with The Lord of the Rings who creates a post-apocalyptic community based upon the Elves and Dúnedain of Middle-earth. The same plot point was used by the Russian writer Vladimir Berezin in his novel Road Signs (from the Universe of Metro 2033). Another Russian writer, Kirill Eskov, wrote The Last Ringbearer, about the events in Lord of the Rings from the perspective of Sauron. Stephen King, best known for horror novels, has acknowledged Tolkien's influence on his novel The Stand as well as his fantasy series The Dark Tower. Several other prominent fantasy writers, including George R. R. Martin, Michael Swanwick, Raymond E. Feist, Poul Anderson, Karen Haber, Harry Turtledove, Charles De Lint, and Orson Scott Card, have all acknowledged Tolkien's work as an inspiration for their own fantasy work.[32]

Graphic novels[edit]

Cartoonist Jeff Smith was influenced by Tolkien, and the mythologies that inspired his works. His epic 1,300-page graphic novel, Bone has been characterized by him as "Bugs Bunny meets The Lord of the Rings. It's a really long fairy tale with some fantasy elements but a lot of comedy."[40]

Parody[edit]

The first commercially published parody of Tolkien's work was the 1968 Bored of the Rings, by The Harvard Lampoon.[41] The BBC produced a parody radio serial, Hordes of the Things, in 1980.[42] The Last Ringbearer is a 1999 fantasy novel by Kirill Eskov in the form of a parallel novel showing the war from Sauron's perspective, under the notion that the original is a "history written by the victors".[43][44]

Radio plays[edit]

Three radio plays based on The Lord of the Rings have been made, broadcast in 1955–1956, 1979 and 1981 respectively.[45][46] The first and last ones were produced by the BBC. Tolkien heavily criticised the 1955-56 production.[45]

Music[edit]

Numerous songs and other musical works, in a wide range of idioms, have been inspired by Tolkien's fiction.

Rock and heavy metal [edit]

Hansi Kürsch, the Blind Guardian vocalist and lyrics writer, composed many songs about Middle Earth

Jack Bruce wrote a song called "To Isengard", included in his first solo album "Songs for a Taylor" (1969). Progressive rock acts like Rush, Mostly Autumn, Glass Hammer, Bo Hansson and indie rock band Gatsbys American Dream have composed several songs based on Tolkien's characters and stories. Rock band Led Zeppelin wrote several songs inspired by Tolkien's works including "The Battle of Evermore", "Misty Mountain Hop", and "Ramble On," with debate about some parts of "Stairway to Heaven").[47] Tom Rapp set most of The Verse of the One Ring ("Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky...") to music as "Ring Thing" in Pearls Before Swine's second album, Balaklava (1968).[48] Bob Catley, lead singer of the British prog rock band Magnum, released a solo album titled Middle Earth. Punk quartet Thrice released a song called "The Long Defeat" about Tolkien's philosophies. The East Texas-based rock band Hobbit has produced multiple albums inspired by Tolkien's work.[49]

Many heavy metal artists were influenced by Tolkien. Blind Guardian composed many songs relating to Middle-earth, including the full concept album Nightfall in Middle Earth that follows The Silmarillion.[47][50] Most songs by symphonic black metal Summoning[51] are based on Middle-Earth, with focus on the orcs and dark forces. The entire discography of multi-genred metal band Battlelore is also Tolkien-themed. Power metal bands like Epidemia, Nightwish[52] (Elvenpath, Wishmaster, among others), Megadeth (This Day We Fight!),[53] Cruachan (Fall of Gondolin), Sabaton (Shadows of Mordor), and others, feature Tolkien-themed songs. Italian progressive band Ainur composed several albums inspired by Silmarillion stories in early 2000s.[54]

Some bands and certain musicians used Tolkien legendarium for their stage names. Progressive rock band Marillion derive their name from The Silmarillion,[55] Gorgoroth take their name from an area of Mordor, Burzum take their name from the Black Speech of Mordor,[56] Cirith Ungol take their name from the pass on the western path of Mordor, the dwelling of the spider Shelob[57] and Amon Amarth take their name after an alternative name for Mount Doom.[58] Lead singer of Dimmu Borgir, Shagrath, takes his stage name from The Lord of the Rings, after an orc captain.[59]

Jazz[edit]

Australian jazz musician and composer, John Sangster, made six albums of musical responses to Tolkien's work. He recorded The Hobbit Suite (1973, Swaggie Records – S1340), and Double Vibe: Hobbit (1977); the first of these, with a selection from the second, was released on CD in 2002 (Swaggie CD 404). The later four double albums,The Lord of the Rings: A Musical Interpretation, v. 1, 2 and 3 (1975–77), and Landscapes of Middle-earth (1978), have been re-released on CD, 2002-06: Move Records MD 3251, 3252, 3253, and 3254.[60]

Folk[edit]

Sally Oldfield's first solo album, Water Bearer (1978) was inspired by Tolkien's works, particularly "Songs of the Quendi", which quote from his poems.[61]

The folk group The Hobbitons, part of the Dutch chapter of the Tolkien Society, released a CD in 1996 with 16 tracks of settings of Tolkien's poems.[62]

The Irish singer Enya contributed a song "May it Be" for The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) movie soundtrack. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. She released a song entitled "Lothlórien", on her 1991 album Shepherd Moons.

In 2001, bluegrass and anti-folk artist Chris Thile released an instrumental album titled Not All Who Wander Are Lost, referencing Gandalf's words to Bilbo and Bilbo's poem about Aragorn. One of the songs on the album is "Riddles in the Dark", sharing the title of one of the chapters in The Hobbit.[63] The Celtic foursome Broceliande's album The Starlit Jewel sets to music selected songs by Tolkien.[64][62] Other folk rock and new age musicians inspired by Tolkien include Za Frûmi (singing in Orkish), Nickel Creek, David Arkenstone and Lyriel, among others. The Spanish Neoclassical Dark Wave band Narsilion derived its name from Tolkien's song "Narsilion" about the creation of the Sun and Moon.[65]

Classical / film score[edit]

Donald Swann set music in the British art-song tradition to a collection of seven of Tolkien's lyrics and poems, published as The Road Goes Ever On. The work was approved by Tolkien himself, who collaborated on the published book (1968), to which he provided notes and commentary.[66] The songs were recorded by William Elvin (bass-baritone) with Swann on piano, and released in 1967 on an LP by Caedmon Records.[67]

The Norwegian classical composer Martin Romberg has written three full-scale symphonic poems, Quendi (2008), Telperion et Laurelin (2014), and Fëanor (2017), inspired by passages from the Silmarillion. The works were premiered in Southern France.[68][69][70] Romberg has also set Tolkien's Elven language poems to music in his work "Eldarinwë Liri" for girls' choir. The work premiered in 2010 with the Norwegian Girls Choir and Trio Mediæval at the Vestfold International Festival.[71]

Johan de Meij's Symphony No. 1, "The Lord of the Rings", for concert band, is in five movements, each illustrating a personage or an important episode from the novel: Gandalf, Lothlorien, Gollum, Journey in the Dark (The Mines of Moria /The Bridge of Khazad-Dum), and Hobbits. The symphony was written between March 1984 and December 1987, and was premièred in Brussels on 15 March 1988. It has been recorded four times, including in an orchestral version, orchestrated by Henk de Vlieger. It won Sudler Composition Award in 1989.[72]

Jacqueline Clarke's setting Tinuviel (1983), for countertenor solo, SATB choir, and piano accompaniment has been published in score.[73]

Leonard Rosenman composed music for the Ralph Bakshi animated movie, while Howard Shore composed the Music of The Lord of the Rings film series.[74]

Paul Corfield Godfrey has written a large number of works based on Tolkien, the most significant of which is the four-evening cycle on The Silmarillion but also including three operas based on The Lord of the Rings: Tom Bombadil (one act), The Black Gate is closed (three acts) and The Grey Havens. as well as several sets of songs. His third symphony, Ainulindalë, is based on the opening chapter of The Silmarillion, and there is a half-hour setting of The Lay of Eärendil based on Bilbo's song at Rivendell.[75][76]

The Tolkien Ensemble have published their settings of all the poems in The Lord of the Rings on CDs.[77]

The Tolkien Ensemble published four CDs from 1997 to 2005 with the aim to create "the world's first complete musical interpretation of the poems and songs from The Lord of the Rings". The project was given approval by both the Tolkien Estate and Harper Collins Publishers. Queen Margarethe II of Denmark gave permission to use her illustrations in the CD layout.[77][78][79]

Aulis Sallinen, one of the leading classical music composers of Finland, composed his Seventh Symphony named "The Dreams of Gandalf" in 1996, from music initially meant to accompany a ballet.[80]

Canadian composer Glenn Buhr has written a three-movement tone poem Beren and Lúthien which he has recorded with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as part of his CD Winter Poems.[81]

Games[edit]

Many model-based games, trading card games, board games and video games are set in Middle-earth, most depicting scenes and characters from The Lord of the Rings. In a broader sense, many fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and DragonQuest feature Tolkienesque creatures and were influenced by Tolkien's works. The books have been reproduced in video game form repeatedly, though without necessarily reflecting the power of Tolkien's storytelling.[82]

Early miniature wargames include The Ringbearer (1975). Games Workshop have made The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game (2001), which, while part of the film trilogy's merchandise, combines elements from both the books and films.[83]

Early board games included Battle of Five Armies (1975) and the series of Middle Earth Games from Simulations Publications, Inc. in 1977, containing the games War of the Ring (strategic, covering all three books), Gondor (tactical, covering the siege of Minas Tirith) and Sauron (covering the decisive battle of the Second Age). More recent games include a game simply entitled Lord of the Rings (2000) and War of the Ring (2004, strategic, covering all three books).[83]

Among role-playing and card games based on Middle-earth, Iron Crown Enterprises made Middle-earth Role Playing game (1982–1999) and Middle-earth Collectible Card Game (1995–1999). Decipher created The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game (2001)[84] and The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game (2002), both based on the Jackson films.[83] The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (2011) is made by Fantasy Flight Games under their "Living Card Game" line.[83] Adventures in Middle-earth (2016) is a D&D-compatible role-playing game released by Cubicle 7.[85]

References[edit]

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  84. ^ Miller, John Jackson (2003). Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide (2nd ed.). pp. 295–302.
  85. ^ Cubicle 7 (9 November 2016). Adventures in Middle Earth: Player's Guide. Cubicle 7 Entertainment.

Further reading[edit]

  • Iwanitzky, Nikolaus. The Reception of J.R.R. Tolkien's Works in Song Lyrics. Verlag Dr. Kovač: Hamburg, 2017.

External links[edit]