Thursday, 17 August 2017

What Might Have Been

From a very recent biography of Tolkien by Raymond Edwards:

"In the late 1960s, the Beatles were keen to make a version of The Lord of the Rings, with the four of them playing Gollum, Frodo, Sam, and Gandalf. Tolkien, who detested the group as a whole, and the bumptious John Lennon in particular, was furiously opposed; they did not secure the rights."

I am guessing:

Gandalf - George
Frodo - Paul
Ringo - Sam
John - Gollum

Paul I am sure would have insisted on being Frodo, and really George has to be Gandalf. The other two are tough ones.

Yoko could have been Wormtongue.

18 comments:

  1. https://i.pinimg.com/originals/37/1c/37/371c378b4228e2e6af0352ce88a45e67.jpg

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  2. Well, we got "Yellow Submarine" instead.

    Has anybody statted up the Blue Meanies and their various terrifying sub-species for D&D? The green apple bonkers? The snapping turtle turks? The exploding clowns? The dreadful flying glove? Navigating the Sea of Holes and the Sea of Monsters to repel the invaders from Pepperland seems like a campaign just waiting to happen.

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    1. The "Yellow Submarine" is a Lovecraftian dreamland really, when you think about it.

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    2. The Dream Quest of Unknown Pepperland.

      Randolph Carter meets Peter Max.

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  3. Way I heard it, John Boorman was going to direct. When that project fell through, his next film was Zardoz.

    Just let that sink in for a minute.

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    1. According to this book, that was a different project to The Beatles' one. The Boorman version was going to be a drugs- and sex-filled version with Galadriel seducing Frodo, among other things.

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    2. http://odd74.proboards.com/thread/6502/john-boormans-lord-rings-screenplay

      A read-through.

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    3. Excellent! Thanks for posting that.

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  4. No way does John let George be Gandalf without a fistfight.

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  5. I'd be interested to know Mr Edwards' source for this. I mentioned this to my wife who is an obsessive Beatles maniac. She's read just about all there is to read on the fab Four and she has never heard of this before. She's never read that any of the four were even interested in Lord of the Rings. She knows Lennon was a fan of Alice in Wonderland amongst other things and it's possible that at least one of them would have read it but she's never heard mention of it. Also by the late 60's, she says, they weren't really doing much together anymore. Very curious.

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    1. He doesn't provide a direct one but if you google "the beatles lord of the rings" there are loads of stories about it.

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  6. Not to be a naysayer, but I've always been skeptical of this. I don't doubt that, back in the history, some die hard Tolkien fans and Beatles fans got together and pondered the possibility. But I have yet to see anything from old Abbey Road from that period suggesting this was ever a Beatles idea. Yes, McCartney mentioned it in light of the LoTR films. But let's face it, it's not as if the Beatles aren't somewhat adept at self promotion. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but over the years I have amassed quite a few texts and collections of interviews and documents from The Beatles, and I've not found one with even the slightest references to Tolkien, Middle Earth or Hobbits. Most stories I find are self-referencing circles, simply pointing to the same sources from within the last 20 years and a few pointing to some fan mags from the 60s. Any contemporary evidence from The Beatles, Inc, and I'd happily concede the point.

    And yes, Yoko would have made a good Wormtongue. Though George Martin would have been the appropriate Gandalf.

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    1. Interesting. The Edwards biography seems very well researched, though - Tolkien at least seems to have thought it was a possibility at one stage, enough to make his feelings about it known!

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    2. That's interesting. I've not heard that Tolkien referenced the idea. I have less on Tolkien than the Beatles, but nothing that references a Beatles LoTR movie. Not saying he didn't. As Christopher once said, it's a common myth that Tolkien never considered his books as movies. Of course he did. They just weren't written with that as the end goal. So it is possible. I'd be interested to see the reference. Every time I trace the story, I end up with sources that are from the time of Peter Jackson's trilogy (often with Jackson as the main source), or are references to old fan rumors from the 60s, but nothing from Apple/EMI/Abbey Road c. pre-1970.

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    3. Yeah, the impression Edwards gives is that Tolkien was quite happy to take the money and run when it came to movies of his books in general. I've returned the book to the library now but Edwards says something to the effect that Tolkien saw the whole matter as one of sacrificing artistic integrity for making a lot of money - he was quite happy for his vision to be trampled all over IF it meant financial success. He was willing to make that trade off (which makes sense, because most of his life appears to have been quite a financial struggle).

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    4. I heard that Christopher had corrected the notion that Tolkien never imagined movies would be made of his books. I don't believe he went further with motives. Tolkien was more than pleased with the financial success of the books, and it's likely he wouldn't mind financial payoffs from any movies. With that said, he was also famously bothered by the way later fans spun his tales, especially during the sixties, when the hippies would read into his texts regarding smoking or mushrooms or similar interpretations. That suggests he might not have been so accepting of any artistic trampling. Likewise, he was no small critic of films and literature. If Edwards suggests that Tolkien saw it that way, he would need an actual quote of Tolkien saying he saw it that way. Otherwise it would either be Edwards', or someone else's, interpretation that Tolkien saw it that way. Which, when doing history, can make a big difference.

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