Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Lord of The Flung Dung

I admit it. I am a Lord of the Rings nerd. Dork. Dweeb. Whatever you want to call me. I’ve read the books multiple times, I attended the opening midnight showings of each of the three movies released earlier this millennium, and I refer to my penis as Treebeard. As much of a LOTR squid that makes me, I don’t consider myself one of those insane Tolkien gargantuageeks. I mean, it’s not like I garbed up Gandalf-like when I saw the movies or immortalized my devotion with a “Frodo Lives” tattoo on the small of my back (not a permanent one, anyway) or shun the movies because they betrayed the integrity of the books. I understand why Peter Jackson chose not to include Tom Bombadil or why he enhanced Arwen’s role in the story or why he ignored the scouring of the Shire. Screenwriters must make some concessions when adapting books to film. What works in the mind does not always behoove the visual experience. The modifications made for the movies were understandable.

WOULD IT HAVE KILLED HIM TO INCLUDE MORE OF THE DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN FRODO AND FARAMIR IN ITHILIEN!?!?!?! I mean, Jeez! OK, OK, I don’t mean to complain. I understand Faramir and Frodo’s verbal chess match does not necessarily translate very well to the big screen, even though it did illustrate Frodo’s emerging maturity and Faramir’s wisdom and ability to be much more of a hero and a leader than Boromir could ever be, no matter what that loony Denethor thought of him. Denethor. What a jerk that guy was. And there is no way he could have run, on fire, from the Minas Tirith tombs all the way through the Citadel and over the outer edge of the giant spur of rock. Sure, it was dramatic and served as a nice transition back to the battle in the movie, but the tombs were about a mile back toward the mountain. Who does he think he is, Joan of Arc? You can’t trick me.

But I did like some of the additions they incorporated, like Sam’s monologue of hope at the end of the The Two Towers. Oh, and near the end of the Return of the King, when all the people of Minas Tirith were gathered on the giant spur of rock for the coronation of Aragorn, and then Aragorn and his party approached the four hobbits and the four hobbits began to bow, but Aragorn stopped them and said, “My friends, you bow to no one” (for all their heroics in the battle against evil), and then everybody bowed to them instead. Every time I see that I feel like I’m swallowing a hockey puck, and, I’m not afraid to say it, tears of joy tumble down my cheeks.

Maybe I am one of those gargantuageeks, afterall (a closet one, anyway). But there was one thing they omitted from the movies that needed to be included. I don’t blame Jackson for it, since Tolkien, himself, chose not to include it in the story. I refer to, of course, the scenes featuring the Mumakil of Harad, aka the big, giant elephants. It’s been my experience, mostly in zoos and circuses (and sometimes at the grocery store) that whenever there are elephants, there is elephant shit, and usually a couple of guys with big shovels. Where was this significant aspect of elephant culture in the story of the one ring to rule them all? It seems too critical a dynamic to ignore.

Through some research I learned that Tolkien had initially used the presence of the Mumakil (Oliphaunt) dung as a crafty tool of warfare in the battle of the Pelennor Fields. In this version, Sauron had instructed cave trolls with big shovels to follow the Oliphaunts, scoop their droppings and deliver them to the catapults, where they would be launched over the stone walls of Minas Tirith. Some dung bombs would even be set afire. There is nothing more discouraging to an enemy than being hit by giant chunks of flaming shit. It’s the first thing they teach you at West Point. This element worked fabulously in the battle scene and added a fresh dimension of strategy to the struggle between evil and good. But, during a bender at one of the local pubs, Tolkien’s pious zealot of a friend, CS Lewis, talked him out of it, convincing him that if god wanted them to write about feces, he would have placed our anuses underneath our chins. Tolkien was so drunk at the time, he believed Lewis and deleted the crap the next day (after the prostitutes left).

Imagine how more riveting The Return of The King movie would have been had this element not been flushed away. The action in the events in the battle scenes would have been enhanced beyond comprehension. When Merry and Eowyn were riding the horse amongst the tree-trunk-like legs of the Oliphaunts, not only would they have had to dodge the Oliphaunt legs, and the trunks and the tusks and the arrows and the orcs, they would have had the added peril of being squashed by a suffocating load of steaming pachyderm pie. If that doesn’t get your palms sweating, I don’t know what would. Consider the tide turning scene where the big chief Nazgul had Gandalf cornered on an upper tier of Minas Tirith. The Nazgul had already destroyed Gandalf’s staff and was about to end Gandalf, too. But the Nazgul was called away by the tumult caused by the arrival of the Riders of Rohan and their crazy attack horn (like the Nazgul couldn’t take an extra couple of seconds to pound the cowering Gandalf before he flew off to tame the equestrians, with their goofy felt covered caps and shiny boots and intimidating dressage whips). Wouldn’t it have been more interesting if, at that pivotal moment, the Nazgul was hit accidentally by a friendly fired mound of flung poop? I think so. Not to mention the ominous foreshadowing it would have made regarding momentum of the battle. Later when Merry would stab that same Nazgul as he was about to sack Eowyn, a little comic relief could have been added if, instead, Merry pelted him with Oliphaunt dung balls. Right when the annoyed Nazgul would implore, “Would everybody stop heaving shit at me, PLEASE!”, Eowyn could have taken that opportunity to stab his face. The result would have been the same, but we all could have had a chuckle as we wept for the dying Theoden king. As is the case with incorporating bathroom humor into any epic, the possibilities for entertainment are endless. Tolkien should have stuck with his first instinct.


keysunset said...

had this element not been flushed away.

Very witty, Wilde, very witty!

HR said...

"As I have said, I am not married myself, but as far as I can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say 'Poor Mr X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.' There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule."--CS Lewis

CS Lewis was an ass.

frodo lives said...

Women shouldn't boss men around and vice versa. Saying that a wife should respect her husband and not have an emasculating Mother/Son relationship with him does not make one an ass. Being a judgmental shrew does, however.

Slappy said...

what does any of this have to do with elephant dung?

furfobo said...

What else can be said about elephant dung that hasn't been said already?

213 said...

I'll give you your oliphaut dung if you put Tom Bombadil back in.

213 said...

oops - oliphauNt

Anonymous said...

It's not funny when dorks make fun of themselves for being dorks.