Tag Archives: tolkien

And then there was Iceland…

There are lots of places I’d love to travel to.  It’s easier to list the countries that don’t interest me.  But every now and then, I come across a place that just hits me in the heart and soul.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I’ve been planning a trip to England and Egypt.  I also wanted to spend at least a weekend (maybe a long weekend) in another country as well.  I was pretty much set on Venice, because flights from London are super cheap.  But then, everything changed.

I started looking at cheap transatlantic flights, and Icelandic Air was always on top.  The only problem was, they always seemed to give you a long layover in Iceland…and why would I want to go there?  I hate winter.  I hate cold.  I hate snow.  I kinda hated Iceland, just for having “ice” in their name!  I certainly didn’t want to go there.  Wasn’t there a flight that would give me a layover someplace I actually wanted to be?

But just in case, I started looking at Iceland.  Surely, there would be something there I would be interested in, if I had to spend a layover there….

Turns out there is.  The whole, entire country.

As soon as I started investigating, I was instantly, completely captivated.  And not in the ‘oh I’d like to go there sometime’ sort of way, like I feel about India or Italy.  No…this went even beyond love-at-first-sight, and into what I call soul recognition.  Iceland is a land I recognize.  It feels like home, like part of my soul has always lived there.

And I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time.  Why Iceland?  Sure, it’s spectacular, but so are lots of places.  It’s not the culture, because I’ve never been particularly drawn to Norse or Scandanavian history or myths.  It was something primal about the land, itself.

And then I realized why.  The Lord of the Rings films might be filmed in New Zealand, but Tolkien was inspired by Iceland.  Iceland is Middle Earth.  Once I saw that, it was so obvious why I was drawn there, to that land.  In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.  Middle Earth has always been one of my places; no wonder I recognized it so viserally the instant I saw it in the real world.

So, needless to say, I am taking Icelandair up on their (completely brilliant) free Stayover  program.  Are you kidding me?  Of course, I’m going to Middle Earth!  So the new, and probably the final plan, is Iceland, then England, then Egypt.  I’m ready to start buying tickets, as soon as the company I’m using for Egypt lists tour dates for Sept 2015.  Everything else has to be planned around that.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out where exactly I want to go in Iceland.  I know I’ll be riding an Icelandic horse.


I also want to go down inside a volcano.  Yes, Iceland is the only place on Earth where you can go inside a volcano!

I can’t wait.

The Hobbit

I really, really like what Peter Jackson is doing with the Hobbit film trilogy.  The Hobbit has always been one of my favorite books in the world (arguably THE favorite.)  I have read it a million times, and will never stop re-reading it.  It makes me happy, just by its simple existence in the world.

Peter Jackson’s film in not the same as the book.  Its child-like whimsey is lessened, in favor of bringing in a more adult understanding of Middle Earth, and this adventure’s ultimate impact on future events.  This is not a bad thing, and Jackson did keep much of the flavor of the book.  But in leaving out some of the simpler and sillier happenings, he added so much more.  It’s as though I grew up being told a bedtime story by a beloved uncle, and now that uncle has sat me down, in the clear cold light of day, and said: Now here’s the things I didn’t tell you before.  Here is why it happened, and exactly how, and the reason I didn’t tell you before is because I wanted you to feel safe and happy and not be concerned with the Things That Are Dark, and the Things That Are Coming.  I wanted you to laugh, and not to cry.

Even when I was a kid reading the Hobbit, it felt like I was being told only half of the story, the safe part.  And I’m delighted that Jackson has decided that we are all adults now, and he can tell us everything.  And almost all every scrap of it came from Tolkien’s own writings.

Tolkien meant to tell us THIS story.  He originally planned to re-write the Hobbit, and make it much less a children’s story, and much more what it is: the first book of The Lord of the Rings saga.  I think Tolkien would be very pleased with what Jackson has done.

So, it case you can’t tell from the above, I went to see the Hobbit yesterday, and I loved it.  I actually teared up at the very beginning, just because it was so very lovely to be back in Middle Earth.   Warning: I will now talk about what happens in the film.  So if you don’t wish to be spoiled, don’t read any further!

As always, I love the look of the Shire, and Bag End.  It is so perfectly done.


This, right here, is something like what my home in Heaven will look like. I am certain of that.  It pulls to me with every fiber of my being!  I am a hobbit, really.  I love the elves, and the elven clothing, art, and designs, but I would not be happy living as an elf.


I loved, loved, that they began the Hobbit almost exactly where they began The Fellowship of the Ring – almost to the moment.  Jackson, you are a brilliant man, and it’s obvious you love these books as much as I do.  It’s obvious you are making three films because you love them, and not because you want to make money off the fans.  (Shame on you, Patrick Rothfuss, for saying Jackson ‘crapped on your childhood’ by making this film – even though you haven’t seen it, and thus know nothing of what you rant.  The Hobbit is not “your” exclusive childhood.  It is my childhood, it is Jackson’s childhood, and belongs to everyone who loves it.  If you don’t want to see another artist’s representation, then don’t.  But don’t froth at the beard because he made a movie you don’t want to see.  In this, you suck.)  Sorry, back to the film.

Bilbo was brilliantly cast.  Martin Freeman IS Bilbo.


One place the film actually outshines the book, is with the personalizing of the dwarves.  I am not a fan of dwarves, generally.  The dwarves in the Hobbit book were my least favorite of any of its characters.  I really didn’t care if they regained their ancestral home from Smaug…I just wanted them to succeed because I loved Bilbo.  And Gandalf.  And everyone else.  And part of that is because dwarves have an image problem.  They are generally (in every work of fiction I’ve read or watched) the dumpy, lumpy, semi-stupid, slapstick characters.  And when there are thirteen of them?  Let’s just say…in my umpteenth readings of the Hobbit, I could only remember two of them distinctly: Thorin Oakenshield, and Bombur.  Thorin I always found a bit unlikeable (too arrogant!) and Bombur…well.  Again with the lumpy, dumpy, slapstick!

But now?  Jackson has fleshed them out for me.  I finally understand them, and who they are, and I like them – as people.  I get why Thorin is so prickly and arrogant-seeming.  I think I finally see them how Tolkien saw them.   And I love that Jackson didn’t shy from the lumpy dumpy slapstick (it’s a genuine part of the book) but also didn’t hesitate to show the other side.  Because they did have one, these dwarves.  They were warriors and rulers of men.

It doesn’t hurt that Thorin and Kili are super-hot, either:


Can it BE that I actually have a crush on dwarves?  Dwarves???


But my favorite dwarf is Balin, because his heart-to-heart talks with Thorin nearly broke my heart.  So SWEET.


And the dwarves SING the SONGS.  This is my ultimate proof that Jackson loves this book like I do.  I think any other director in the world, if he were trying to make a ‘serious’ film out of a children’s book, would have left out (at the very least) the “That’s what Bilbo Baggins Hates” song.   But it worked.  It worked brilliantly.

The costuming was great – when it came to the dwarves’ costumes, and that of Radagast .  The whole concept for Radagast was gorgeously done – well, as gorgeous as a costume involving bird poop can look.  🙂  But huzzah the costumers for that one.  It makes me wish a were a beard-y type man, so I could make and wear that costume.  (Perhaps I will, anyway!)  The hobbits were also spot-on, and one of my only disappointments with Part One, is that the lady hobbit costumes I’ve been drooling over online didn’t make an appearance.  I’m absolutely making one of those!  But the elves were lacking the costume-spark.  They were…fine.  But after the close-up magic of the LOTR elvish-wear?  These weren’t nearly good enough.  The elven sets were gorgeous though, especially the place where Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel spoke.


I couldn’t find an image that really showed it well.  The use of water was beyond breathtaking.

But the best part, THE BEST PART was Riddles in the Dark.  I squee just remembering the awesomesauce-ness of that scene.  Wow.  Gollum was exactly what he should be, half heart-breaking, half terrifying.


I can’t wait for part two.

Lord of the Rings

I’m a total fan, so imagine my delight when I discovered this:


It’s a new film by fans for fans…and the trailers look absolutely gorgeous!  If I had seen them unknowing what they were, I would have assumed I was seeing clips from Peter Jackson’s film.  The cast and crew are doing this purely for love of Tolkien, using their own funds, and without being paid.  And best of all, the finished 40min film is going to be released for free onto the internet on May 3rd.