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ENTERTAINMENT/ ARTS/ LITERATURE => Arts & Music => Topic started by: Bantu_Kelani on December 29, 2003, 02:10:21 AM

Title: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: Bantu_Kelani on December 29, 2003, 02:10:21 AM
Without a doubt the best picture of the year. It would be a shame if the director doesn't win "Best director" this year. The battle scenes were amazing. "The Return of the King" is the most emotional out of the 3. I give this movie 5 star out of 5. The "Lord of the Rings" is of a kind, it's history.


Bantu Kelani.

Title: Re: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: Rootsie on December 29, 2003, 10:59:14 AM
I sort of grooved on this-
the alchemical aspects of the Lord of the Rings:
thanks Iyah 360.

Title: Re: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: Bantu_Kelani on December 29, 2003, 02:04:05 PM
Thanks for the link Rootsie. Yes, THE LORD OF THE RINGS has an esoteric and fairy roots and this is great, because those roots make for a fantastic story. But I agree with the author of the article below. Despite the sense of LOTR mysticism, I always wondered whether or not TOLKIEN meant LOTR to be written  exempt of the wisdom and science of "other" people. At the end of it the AGE OF MEN was ushered in, my question is: "Should we consider LOTR as literal history or a sweet little fairytale?"

Bantu Kelani.

Title: Re: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: Bantu_Kelani on December 29, 2003, 02:06:08 PM
The Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings
By Lloyd Hard
Indymedia - December 29, 2003

I don't imagine that it was the intention of the director or the producers of the Lord of the Rings films to paint a racist stereotypical tapestry over what could be described as a basic set of principles of humanity's behavior in the natural environment and with each other. However, the fact is that the only people of skin color in the entire three part series of films are all associated with the Dark Lord Sauron, the destruction of the earth and all of its occupants. Not to mention the elephant riding mercenaries that resemble the cultures of the Arab world as well as Africa, Persia and East Asia and the fact that the Monarch of the land of Rohan, King Théoden a white guy yelled out "You great warriors of the West" in the final part of his speech to rouse the troops into battle in the third film.

In these times when a homicidal maniac from Texas (the Texas capital punishment policy under Bush) has stolen the American throne and called for a "crusade" against the "evil doers" in nations that white people have been invading, terrorizing, raping and pillaging in for 5000 years with zero provocation, I think we could manage some cultural sensitivity in our popular culture which one must acknowledge has a powerful propaganda affect on the general population that participates in it.

Can you imagine how people of skin color, of Persian, Arab and East Asian ethnic background feel when they come out of these films where all the heroes are white and all the "evil doers" are of dark skin. Being married to an Asian American I watch people disregard my wife everyday while regarding me, simply because of her skin color. Being part of a European family that has lived on the North American continent for 400 years I've been lucky enough to gain perspective that when you create an evil character (Uruk-hai) that resembles native Americans as they have done in the Lord of the Rings films a great deal of cultural and racial alienation will occur.

I am sure that once the filmmakers read this article there will be claims that they had to stay true to the story that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote, but the fact is, African and Asian cultures have always been a part of the European fabric whose ancient legends and fairy tales gave birth to J. R. R. Tolkien's epic portrayal of the battle between good and evil. And what about the Ancient Picts, a tattooed darker skinned cultured that once dominant in the UK. As someone who has grown up in one of the nation's of the Commonwealth of the British Empire, I know for a fact that J. R. R. Tolkien's generation were deeply influenced and thus deeply moved by all those people of skin color that fought alongside white members of the British forces in World War One and World War Two forming lifelong friendships and deep emotional ties.

In fact all Europe's mathematics, reading and writing and technological advancements in transportation and warfare are all based on African and Asian concepts. The reason that Western medicine has not advanced to the enlightened technological level as Chinese herbal medicine and why most Western technology is diametrically opposed to all life on this planet, poisoning our air and water and causing widespread disease and death is for the simple fact that the Freemasons and the Church have not yet let go of the death grip they have on each other's throats. In other words, the enlightened knowledge that the church has attempted to destroy that the Freemasons attempted to save and capitalize on with Western patents has turned into a death struggle that has created destructive technological paradigms here in the West that are now being forced on the populations of the entire earth destabilizing life and bringing with them the pollution of the air and water that once existed only in Christendom.

Of course there are redeeming images and ideas portrayed in the films such as the Ents protecting the forests by destroying the industrial military complex as well as the fact that white people can be turned to evil to join forces with all the evil dark skinned man flesh eating Orcs and Uruk-hai.

It is important to understand that young people are impressionable and influenced by the symbols foisted on them by the popular culture. It would not have been that difficult to make a contemporary version of the Lord of the Rings that included the heroic symbols of people of skin color. I think J.R.R. Tolkien wouldn't have minded including people of skin color as heros in these films if he were alive today. Especially after witnessing the rise of the civil rights movements in both the U.S. and the U.K.. I'm so glad that the Dwarfs, Elves and Hobits finally got their due but unfortunately this was washed away by the lack of heroic images of people of skin color. After watching the Lord of the Rings films I thank the universe and Mother Earth for the Rap/hip-hop culture and the counterbalancing influence the Rap/hip-hop culture has on the youth here in America and around the world. Racist Tapestry of Lord of the Rings=13086

Title: Re: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: Bantu_Kelani on December 31, 2003, 03:00:44 AM
There is a sense of Middle-earth mysticism if we look deeper into. I also think when reading it that THE LORD OF THE RINGS has realistic roots. TOLKIEN was a Caucasian British male, who was a descendent of the power and might of the British Empire on which the sun never set. I think Tolkien meant LOTR to be written exempt of the wisdom and science of "other" people. Consequently, he utterly failed to praise the civilization of "colored" people and by that demonstrated his ideology was deep-rooted in Western Imperialism. Although fantastic, this fairy-tale is one of the greatest tools for praising the Aryan race of ancient date. The "Middle-earth epic" has many purpose within it's no telling.


Title: Re: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: Rootsie on December 31, 2003, 09:07:47 AM
Well Tolkein was a scholar of Northern European mythology, and his stated purpose was to recussitate that mytholgy so it could be of use to people, so in that sense of course LOTR is the expression of that culture and its assumptions. I am sure he didn't think about dark-skinned people at all, and was prey to the racist worldview of most Europeans.

On the other hand, I read your opening post, and you loved the film. Norse myth and Northern European myth has been used for evil purposes, notably by the Nazis. But the mythology itself is as good as any other, if you go for that sort of thing. We know they all derive from the One source.
And so even in this days and age these old stories still speak to us.

I think the article you posted was right to point out that the experience of this film will be far different depending on a person's race. And the Western media empire is of course overwhelmingly white, and there will continue to be demoralizing and dehumanizing portrayals of non-white people.If this film were one of a number of films that showed different mythos from different parts of the world, would it be offensive then?  If the film industry itself was not part of a racist imperialist system? I think that's an interesting question.

I have to admit that this story has been big for me since I was 12. It may sound cheesy, but it inspired me. How do I untangle all that now, knowing what I know?

Title: Re: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: iyah360 on December 31, 2003, 10:05:58 AM

Thank you so much Bantu for bringing this up. Indeed there are overtones and undertones to this movie that are no accident in relation to the present goals of the powers-that-be. Look at the title of the second installment of this trilogy for even a hint as to what I am talking about.

I think the following from "The Hebrew and Other Creations", by Gerald Massey, relates very succinctly to the under/over tones of the Lord of the Rings:

"The Gnostics taught that the spirits of wickedness, the inferior Seven, derived their origin from the great mother alone, who produced without fatherhood! It was in the image, then, of the sevenfold Elohim that the seven races were formed which we sometimes hear of as the pre-Adamite races of men, because they were earlier than the fatherhood which was individualized only in the second Hebrew creation. **THESE WERE THE PRIMITIVE People OF THE PAST,--THE OLD, DESPAISED DARK RACES OF THE WORLD**-who were held to have been created without souls, because they were born before the fatherhood was individualized on earth or in heaven; for, there could be no God the Father recognized until the human father had been


identified--nothing more than the general ancestral soul of the fathers, or the soul of the seven elemental forces. These early races were first represented by Totemic zoötypes, and were afterwards abominated as the dog-men, monkey-men, men with tails, mere preliminary People, created in the likeness of animals, reptiles, fish, or birds. Warriors with the body of a bird of the valley (?), and men with the faces of ravens, were suckled by the old dragon Tiamat; and their type may be seen in the image of the twin Sut-Horus, who has the head of a bird of light in front, and the Neh, or black vulture of darkness, behind. Ptah and his Seven Khnemmu are the Pygmies.


As the black race was first on earth, so is it in the mirror of mythology. These are the "People of the black heads," who are referred to on the tablets, and classed with reptiles, during a lunar eclipse. These typical black heads were the primeval powers of darkness, to which the old black aborigines in various lands were likened or assimilated by their despisers. In the Babylonian prayers we find the many-named mother-goddess is invoked as "the mother who has begotten the black heads." These at times were intentionally confused and confounded with their elemental prototypes. Seven such races are described in the Bundahish, or abOriginal creation, as the earth-men, the men of the water, the breast-eared, the breast-eyed, the one-legged, the bat-men, and the men with tails. These were the soulless People. They are also referred to by Esdras as the other People who are nothing, "but be like unto spittle"--that is, when compared with those who descended from the father, as Adam, or Atum, on earth, and who worshipped a father, as Atum, or Jehovah, in heaven. There were seven creations altogether; seven heavens, which were planetary in their final phase, seven creators, and seven races of men. And when the one God had been evolved he was placed at the head of the Seven."

Title: Re: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: Bantu_Kelani on January 01, 2004, 06:45:45 AM
My point is ROTK is a great movie with amazing effects etc, I still found racist undertones which ultimately turn out to be the most disturbing aspect of LOTR. It is true and obvious that ALL dark skinned people happen to be on the side of evil. With the gift of llúvatar (the monotheistic deity of Middle-Earth), the good either live in the North, with old English as the inspiration for their language, or they live in 'white cities' etc. Was Gondor the Byzantium Empire? Certainly, the filmmakers did state that the Gondor architecture was influenced by Constatinople. Certainly white people have embraced LOTR on that it link back to the history and adulation of mediaeval Europe... As for my reaction if LOTR was written by for "other" peoples, I still would have a problem with the racism in the books/movies as the epic trilogy links to history. The history and mythology of any people on this planet is made up of the histories of "different" people. And if LOTR is based on historical themes, so why such orgy of forgetfulness? Tolkien did made a fantasy world out of the real world. But that does not make his racial prejudice untrue.

Iyah 360,
As to your reference here, we must ask when Caucasian and Semitic legends ever benefit Black people in general. I am too aware of the fact that racism exists in their Biblical texts, as fools they believe as the truth.

Title: Re: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King  
Post by: Bantu_Kelani on January 01, 2004, 07:19:27 AM
The connection between the Medieval history and LOTR!!

Sources for the History of the Numenorean Realms in Exile

Everyone knows that Tolkien based the languages of Middle Earth on the languages of mediaeval Europe. The sources he used for their history, however, haven't received anything like as much coverage. In this essay I argue that the history of the Numenorean realms in exile - Arnor and Gondor - follows that of the Roman and Byzantine empires.

Government and the Army

Tolkien had far more imagination than most of those who followed him. A common criticism of the worlds described in fantasy novels is that they are "just like mediaeval Europe, only with magic". They have knights on horseback, an aristocracy of nobles under a king, and so on, coexisting with magicians, fantastical creatures and items of cosmic power beyond belief.

You won't find any of these feudal European elements in Gondor. The only identifiable vassal state of Gondor is Dol Amroth, otherwise the kingdom is unitary. The army of Gondor fights on foot, even the nobility like Aragorn and Boromir. Faramir rides a horse during his retreat from the Pelennor wall, but he doesn't participate in cavalry charges: the couched lances of Arthurian tradition are strictly a Rohirrim technique. In fact there are references to there being only one company of cavalry in the entire army of Gondor.

I think Tolkien had a particular culture in mind. These features are much more reminiscent of imperial Rome than of feudal Europe. To be honest, they army is more reminiscent of early imperial Rome than of Byzantium, but I never expected this to come out perfect.

One other analogy should probably be mentioned: Minas Tirith is, of course, Byzantium. An almost impregnable fortress sitting astride an absolutely critical path, protecting the remnants of the empire from the forces that destroyed the rest, a magnet for every attacker.


If Gondor is the Byzantine empire, who are its enemies? Let's try this descriptions of orcs:

... blood drinking ferocious creatures ... evil ... cannibalistic and cruel ... all were possessed of the same barbarous nature; and they were hideous, with jagged fangs, flared nostrils, broad faces and slanting eyes. and this of their armament: scimitars and shields of hide to which we should add bows, from many sources. Orcs do not farm, although they do enslave humans to do their farming for them, notably around the sea of Nurnen in southern Mordor. This is obviously a fantastical monster, and nothing from the real world.

Or can we be sure? Consider this description of a Far Haradrim:

black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues which makes you wonder what colour tongues other humans have in Middle Earth. Or this of a Lossoth: The Lossoth house in the snow, and it is said that they can run on the ice with bones on their feet, and have carts without wheels. Distorted descriptions of a Negro and an Inuit respectively. But only the Far Haradrim were enemies, so only that description is laden with perjoratives.

Stripping out the Numenorean war propaganda and the Dunedain xenophobia, we have a description of a people that prefer bows and curved swords, with broad faces and slanting eyes, who don't use farming much. Considering its brevity you couldn't ask for a much better description of Mongoloid nomad herders from the Central Asian steppe. The three famous cases of people like this invading Europe are the Huns, the Turks and the Mongols. I'd argue that the long wars fought between Gondor and the orcs, that culminated in the War of the Ring, borrow heavily from the wars between the Byzantine empire and the Turks.

It might be instructive, or at least amusing, to try the mirror thought-experiment. Go back to dark ages Europe and tell someone you know where Huns come from. "An evil satanistic fallen angel called Sauron took unbaptised babies and put them into a vat to distort them into these hideous forms. They've been breeding like rabbits ever since." You might not have the weirdest theory in town. The Byzantines, though, were a bit more sophisticated and probably wouldn't fall for this explanation applied to Turks.


Couldn't it all be coincidence?

I don't think it's likely. If you haven't found this convincing then I'm either unpersuasive or deluded, but I obviously can't tell you which.

Are you sure? Some of these analogies seem to be a bit of a stretch.

Fair cop, some of them are: the Anchises and Aeneas bit for instance. But the argument doesn't depend on the weakest link unless we want to argue the histories are identical, and I'm just saying they're related. So we have to ask ourselves what the most reasonable explanation is, and I can't see coincidence is in the hunt.

So did Tolkien steal his history?

Yes, just the way he stole his languages. Quenya, for instance, isn't Finnish, exactly, but a synthetic "undiscovered" Finno-Ugric language whose closest known relative is Finnish. Gondor's history isn't exactly that of Byzantium, but it's a synthetic "undiscovered" imperial history whose nearest living relative is that of Byzantium.

Why would he do this?

Why did he steal anything? As far as I can tell, he seems to have thought taking elements from his mediaeval studies was kind of neat. Also, he needed an empire which had been slowly declining for a long time from a very high peak. Something that represented a crumbling island of civilisation in a rising tide of barbarism. The Roman empire fits perfectly so it must have been continuously suggesting itself. And it would be extremely familiar to Tolkien's intended audience: academically inclined humanities majors much like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis' friends. Tolkien was a big believer in assembling his fantastic world out of familiar elements - familar to anyone with Tolkien's background, anyway.

Wouldn't it be better if he'd been more original?

Depends on your point of view. I doubt Tolkien lost an hour's sleep over it. He did this sort of thing a lot, and he seems to have had some success on the whole, so it can't be too bad.

Is the War of the Ring something from Byzantine history?

A matter for debate, but I'd say not. It's a triumphant happy ending long after Byzantium lost any chance of that. And in my opinion, the story's much the better for it. It's one thing to steal the backplot, another entirely to steal the plot of the actual story you're writing. Harry Turtledove has a series developed by taking the second world war, moving it to the southern hemisphere so all the cold places are hot and vice versa, shuffling the cultures randomly, renaming the characters and replacing all the technological elements with magical ones. It leaves me cold, but your mileage may vary.

Aren't there other influences?

Sure. The Atlantis myth must have influenced the fall of Numenor, for example. And Christianity is all through it. Classical history was just another thread in the tapestry.

Are there other analogues? Are the elves Greek, or Sumerian, or something? Does Morgoth have an analogue?

A damned fine question and you should write it up. I've given it no thought and I have no idea.

Credits and References

Most of the raw data for this came out of J.E.A. Tyler's The Tolkien Companion. The original seed for this idea was a remark years ago by Tim Allen. Controversy created by J.R.R. Tolkien.