Great World Literature
Taught by David K. O’Connor
Class 1: Rereading LOTR through Peter Jackson’s Movies
: The most influential “reading” of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
is now and is likely to remain for a long time the splendid movie version of Peter Jackson. Many lovers of the novel, including me, were very skeptical that the movies would do justice to Tolkien’s imaginative vision. But we skeptics were wrong. The compression of the 1000 pages of the novel, even into three long movies, forced some losses and shifts of emphasis, so at the level of plot, the novel exceeds the movies utterly. But the movies make brilliant use of the artistic resources of visual images and music, intensifying and emphasizing aspects of Tolkien’s own vision. The movies will enhance a careful and loving reader’s experience of the novel itself, as long as the reader creates a conversation with Peter Jackson as a fellow interpreter, rather than letting the movies supplant the novel in our imaginations.
David K. O’Connor is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, member of TIC Advisory Board.