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Middle Earth in the real world

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Middle Earth in the real world

Post Aëlwenn on Wed 25 Oct - 1:50

Preparing a thread on Tolkien (long-standing project with Neon Knight), I took up the idea of another forum.
Indeed, Middle-earth represents, for Tolkien, pre-prehistoric Europe, forget about all.





Tolkien himself stipulated that The Shire = England.
I think it's obvious that Rohan = Scandinavia (Viking) and Gondor = Roman Empire.
Numenor refers to Atlantis, the Haradrim to the Arab peoples.
If you were to place the rest of the peoples and regions of Middle-earth in Europe, where would you place them?




Where do you locate, according to the culture, the geography, the philosophy, what do you want, the Elves of Val Gris? Those of the Lothlorien? The elves of Rivendell? The dwarves of Erebor? Moria? The Kingdom of Arnor? The city of Dale? Who would be the Mordor for you? Which forest would play Fangorn?

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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Neon Knight on Wed 25 Oct - 22:44

Good to see you doing this at last Aëlwenn. I can cheat a bit because I found some information about what inspired Tolkien for some of his Middle Earth places. I'll come back to it later this week when I've got more time, but for now I'll just show you two of the more interesting ones:

Rivendell



In a letter to his son Michael, the author wrote that Bilbo Baggins' journey from the Elvish settlement of Rivendell to the Misty Mountains was based on a 1911 trip to Switzerland. Barring [= apart from] the Elves' residence, Tolkien's drawing of Rivendell in the illustrated edition of The Hobbit is almost identical to a view of Lauterbrunnen Valley.


Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower of Mordor:



. . . the illuminated clock tower at the University of Birmingham, visible across the city, has been suggested as the inspiration for the ever-watchful "Eye of Sauron".

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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post de Burgh on Thu 26 Oct - 19:08

I feel that what comprises of Middle-Earth represents all of Europe in its own way. I feel that it takes heavily after Germanic and Celtic countries from European ancient history (e.g. Elves), European Iron Age to Middle Ages (smithing and crafting armor via the Dwarfs) and Middle Ages for LOTR Humans taking after the concept of Kings, Nobility, Castles, serfdom, armor, etc.

Like you said very succinctly; Middle-Earth is Europe, Easterlings/Khand are West Asian/Persian, Haradrim a mixture of Arabic/Indian and the Dark Lands representing Africa.

Umbar representing piracy and mixture of culture/races; the Caribbean more or less; very anarchist in nature.

Not sure about Mordor; too distinct in nature that I fail to see a parallel to compare it with.

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'The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piercing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. [...]'
˜ H.P. Lovecraft

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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Sary on Thu 26 Oct - 22:51

I have seen all three of the Lord of the rings movies. I think I may have read one of the books a long time ago,but I don't really remember the finer points.

Do you feel that the movies do the book justice?

I find it odd that movies were filmed in New Zealand. The landscape is breathtaking,so beautiful. I wonder if the Europeen landscape has really changed so much ,that it is no longer recognizable. I hope that Europe has protected land,like we do here in the USA.

I really enjoyed the first and the third of the trilogy.
The second movie,the two towers ,was a bit too violent for me. Those orcs and trees freaked me out!
What the heck are they supposed to represent?
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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Neon Knight on Fri 27 Oct - 23:00

@Sary wrote:I have seen all three of the Lord of the rings movies.  I think I may have read one of the books a long time ago, but I don't really remember the finer points.

Do you feel that the movies do the book justice?
I think the films could not have been much better in that respect. My only major criticism is that the first film was too long at the beginning with all that 'see how cute the hobbits are' and the third film dragged on too long at the end with all the farewells.

@Sary wrote:I find it odd that movies were filmed in New Zealand.  The landscape is breathtaking, so beautiful.  I wonder if  the Europeen landscape has really changed so much, that it is no longer recognizable. I hope that Europe has protected land, like we do here in the USA.
NZ was also used for the Hercules and Xena TV series which you might remember. I assume it was chosen for the variety of landscapes and maybe tax laws as well (?). It might have been too expensive to keep filming in different European countries. In Britain we do have national parks . . . http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/quick-guide-to-the-uks-national-parks . . . and land designated as 'greenbelt' which is supposed to stop urban sprawl but some of that is now threatened by house building policy. A lot of school playing fields have also been sold for building on.

@Sary wrote:I really enjoyed the first and the third of the trilogy.  
The second movie, the two towers, was a bit too violent for me. Those orcs and trees freaked me out!
What the heck are they supposed to represent?
I preferred The Two Towers - because of the violence!  Barbarian Orcs are really tougher versions of the fairy tale goblins. The main theory is that they were created by Melkor/Morgoth (the first 'dark lord' before Sauron) from elves through sorcery and torture (and Saruman did something similar to create the Uruk Hai - I'm not sure what exactly) so they could represent moral corruption. https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/26725/what-is-the-true-origin-of-the-orcs

The ents (tree men) might have worked in the novel but in the film I did think they were a bit childish and the least believable of all the Middle Earth creatures. I suppose they represent the pagan idea of nature spirits/intelligence.


Last edited by Neon Knight on Sat 28 Oct - 16:25; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Neon Knight on Fri 27 Oct - 23:08

@Aëlwenn wrote:I think it's obvious that Rohan = Scandinavia (Viking) and Gondor = Roman Empire.
In the films I was somtimes confused about what/who was Gondor and what/who was Rohan - the two groups looked very similar. Gondorians as Romans is an interesting interpretation which I hadn't thought of. The Vikings (and Anglo-Saxons) were not known for riding horses in battle, so maybe the Rohan were partly modelled on the Normans?

I'll come back to your other questions in the next few days.

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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Sary on Sat 28 Oct - 15:45

@Neon Knight wrote:
@Sary wrote:I have seen all three of the Lord of the rings movies.  I think I may have read one of the books a long time ago, but I don't really remember the finer points.

Do you feel that the movies do the book justice?
I think the films could not have been much better in that respect. My only major criticism is that the first film was too long at the beginning with all that 'see how cute the hobbits are' and the third film dragged on too long at the end with all the farewells.

@Sary wrote:I find it odd that movies were filmed in New Zealand.  The landscape is breathtaking, so beautiful.  I wonder if  the Europeen landscape has really changed so much, that it is no longer recognizable. I hope that Europe has protected land, like we do here in the USA.
NZ was also used for the Hercules and Xena TV series which you might remember. I assume it was chosen for the variety of landscapes and maybe tax laws as well (?). It might have been too expensive to keep filming in different European countries. In Britain we do have national parks . . . http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/quick-guide-to-the-uks-national-parks . . . and land designated as 'greenbelt' which is supposed to stop urban sprawl but some of that is now threatened by house building policy.

@Sary wrote:I really enjoyed the first and the third of the trilogy.  
The second movie, the two towers, was a bit too violent for me. Those orcs and trees freaked me out!
What the heck are they supposed to represent?
I preferred The Two Towers - because of the violence!  Barbarian Orcs are really tougher versions of the fairy tale goblins. The main theory is that they were created by Morgoth (the first 'dark lord' before Sauron) from elves through sorcery and torture (and Saruman did something similar to create the Uruk Hai - I'm not sure what exactly) so they could represent moral corruption. https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/26725/what-is-the-true-origin-of-the-orcs

The ents (tree men) might have worked in the novel but in the film I did think they were a bit childish and the least believable of all the Middle Earth creatures. I suppose they represent the pagan idea of nature spirits/intelligence.

Lol,I am not surprised that you prefer The Two Towers,over the other two movies.  I imagine that if you were a character in the Lord of the Rings ,you would be a good guy.  A defender of what is right and just,fighting those evil orcs!

Now,I was reading about J.R.R Tolkien and learned something very interesting to me.  He was a devout Catholic.....very cool! http://www.catholicauthors.com/tolkien.html

It has been said that the dominant note of the traditional Catholic liturgy was intense longing. This is also true of her art, her literature, her whole life. It is a longing for things that cannot be in this world: unearthly truth, unearthly purity, unearthly justice, unearthly beauty. By all these earmarks, Lord of the Rings is indeed a Catholic work, as its author believed: But it is more. It is this age's great Catholic epic, fit to stand beside the Grail legends, Le Morte d'Arthur and The Canterbury Tales. It is at once a great comfort to the individual Catholic, and a tribute to the enduring power and greatness of the Catholic tradition, that JRRT created this work. In an age which has seen an almost total rejection of the faith on the part of the Civilization she created . . . Lord of the Rings assures us, both by its existence and its message, that the darkness cannot triumph forever."
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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post OsricPearl on Wed 1 Nov - 15:38

@Sary wrote:
@Neon Knight wrote:
@Sary wrote:I have seen all three of the Lord of the rings movies.  I think I may have read one of the books a long time ago, but I don't really remember the finer points.

Do you feel that the movies do the book justice?
I think the films could not have been much better in that respect. My only major criticism is that the first film was too long at the beginning with all that 'see how cute the hobbits are' and the third film dragged on too long at the end with all the farewells.

@Sary wrote:I find it odd that movies were filmed in New Zealand.  The landscape is breathtaking, so beautiful.  I wonder if  the Europeen landscape has really changed so much, that it is no longer recognizable. I hope that Europe has protected land, like we do here in the USA.
NZ was also used for the Hercules and Xena TV series which you might remember. I assume it was chosen for the variety of landscapes and maybe tax laws as well (?). It might have been too expensive to keep filming in different European countries. In Britain we do have national parks . . . http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/quick-guide-to-the-uks-national-parks . . . and land designated as 'greenbelt' which is supposed to stop urban sprawl but some of that is now threatened by house building policy.

@Sary wrote:I really enjoyed the first and the third of the trilogy.  
The second movie, the two towers, was a bit too violent for me. Those orcs and trees freaked me out!
What the heck are they supposed to represent?
I preferred The Two Towers - because of the violence!  Barbarian Orcs are really tougher versions of the fairy tale goblins. The main theory is that they were created by Morgoth (the first 'dark lord' before Sauron) from elves through sorcery and torture (and Saruman did something similar to create the Uruk Hai - I'm not sure what exactly) so they could represent moral corruption. https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/26725/what-is-the-true-origin-of-the-orcs

The ents (tree men) might have worked in the novel but in the film I did think they were a bit childish and the least believable of all the Middle Earth creatures. I suppose they represent the pagan idea of nature spirits/intelligence.

Lol,I am not surprised that you prefer The Two Towers,over the other two movies.  I imagine that if you were a character in the Lord of the Rings ,you would be a good guy.  A defender of what is right and just,fighting those evil orcs!

Now,I was reading about J.R.R Tolkien and learned something very interesting to me.  He was a devout Catholic.....very cool!   http://www.catholicauthors.com/tolkien.html

It has been said that the dominant note of the traditional Catholic liturgy was intense longing. This is also true of her art, her literature, her whole life. It is a longing for things that cannot be in this world: unearthly truth, unearthly purity, unearthly justice, unearthly beauty. By all these earmarks, Lord of the Rings is indeed a Catholic work, as its author believed: But it is more. It is this age's great Catholic epic, fit to stand beside the Grail legends, Le Morte d'Arthur and The Canterbury Tales. It is at once a great comfort to the individual Catholic, and a tribute to the enduring power and greatness of the Catholic tradition, that JRRT created this work. In an age which has seen an almost total rejection of the faith on the part of the Civilization she created . . . Lord of the Rings assures us, both by its existence and its message, that the darkness cannot triumph forever."

One of the problems with Neo-Pagans is that they miss the Christian aspects of LoTR. It's not allegorical, but to separate the man and his faith from his work, is just inexcusable. There are certain elements that are directly influenced by his faith, for example the "Return of the King" can be seen as a allusion to Christ, with Gondor being the church and the Stewart being the Pope. The Ring is an obvious stand-in for Sin. The Sin bearer and suffering servant, Frodo and Sam, is another "Jesus" character, ect.
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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Neon Knight on Wed 1 Nov - 18:11

The parallels with Christianity and Catholicism are interesting and I'm sure there is some truth in them, especially in The Silmarillion with the creation story, the journey of the elves to a new land and the figure of Melkor/Morgoth, the original 'dark lord'. So it is mixed in with the majority influence from Norse, Celtic and Arthurian myth.

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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Sary on Thu 2 Nov - 21:49

I wonder if Tolkien were alive today ,how he would feel about the way his fantasy stories have influenced the growth of neopaganism in modern society.

His books became very popular in the 1960's/70's coinciding with the leftist hippie counter culture,the age of Aquarius and all of that BS.

Nowadays it seems that bible based religion is on the decline,it is for old /superstitious people,while worshipping nature is now de  Rigueur.

This does not make sense to me,worshipping creation but not the creator.

Maybe this should be another topic/I am not trying to derail the middle earth thread. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Neon Knight on Fri 3 Nov - 13:09

@Sary wrote:I wonder if Tolkien were alive today, how he would feel about the way his fantasy stories have influenced the growth of neopaganism in modern society.

His books became very popular in the 1960's/70's coinciding with the leftist hippie counter culture, the age of Aquarius and all of that BS.

Nowadays it seems that bible based religion is on the decline, it is for old /superstitious people,while worshipping nature is now de  Rigueur.

This does not make sense to me, worshipping creation but not the creator.

I haven't noticed any neo-pagan groups with a Tolkien theme but I suppose it has been an influence via the hippies and maybe fantasy role-palying games. Neo-P is still a small minority religion and any concern for nature is not reflected in the way most people vote.

The philosophical problem with assuming a creator is that it begs the question of who created the creator. If we say that the creator came from nowhere or has always existed then we might as well say that about nature. I remember a teacher saying that it is a Western habit to always think that everything must have a beginning and an end. Maybe the universe (or God) has always existed in some form.

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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Aëlwenn on Fri 3 Nov - 17:33

Normans sound's good for Rohan yes, I don't have noticed for the cavalry.
I think for Numenor, Atlantis is an inspiration for Tolkien, the sunken island.
I do not think, unlike some authors, that Tolkien is thinking about hyperborea.
I've been watching The Lord of Ring's making off for the umpteenth time, and Weta Workshop's work on the details is huge, Tolkien's works were for them a real Bible.
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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Neon Knight on Fri 3 Nov - 23:46

The association of dwarves with Scottishness

Tolkien's dwarves are quite close to those of Norse mythology, so why did Gimli in the films have a Scottish accent? Some think it began with World of Warcraft or even the Lord of the Rings films. Nope! I did some research . . .

This is a character called Auchter from a cartoon in a British role-paying games magazine, Imagine, in 1983:




https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/21026/why-was-gimli-given-a-scottish-accent-in-the-lord-of-the-rings-films Quoting:

"The Scottish dwarves trope is older than Peter Jackson's movies, he merely went along with an established trend. Tolkien's dwarves were not Scottish; on the contrary, Tolkien based their language (Khuzdul) on Hebrew phonology, so that it would be completely different from the elvish languages like Sindarin (inspired by Welsh and other Indo-European languages) and Quenya (inspired primarily by Finnish).

One plausible hypothesis for the origin of Scottish dwarves is a character in Poul Anderson's 1961 novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, Hugi the dwarf, who does speak in a thick Scottish dialect. Three Hearts and Three Lions was an important source of inspiration for the role-playing game series Dungeons and Dragons, as was Tolkien's Middle-Earth, so that is probably where Scottish dwarves and Tolkien dwarves were blended."

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Re: Middle Earth in the real world

Post Sary on Sat 4 Nov - 15:51

Neo-P is still a small minority religion and any concern for nature is not reflected in the way most people vote.

I am not so sure about that NK,I think that government can and has used nature as a tool to control society and its people. I see it here in the USA,environmentalism played a role in the  last presidential election and we all know how that turned out.

I don't  know much about WW2 Germany ,but it seems that environmentalism was a big part of the nazi war machine.  The slogan Blut and Boden/Blood and Soil,idealized a rural way of life,people that worked the land were the ones that possessed it. A form of national socialism? http://ileanajohnson.com/2014/10/nazi-environmentalism/

If you look at Islam today you can see that environmentalism is a big part of their religion,hence the green flag? http://www.greenmuslims.org/

That's all I am going to say about this,Aelwenn has started a beautiful thread about middle earth and I do not want to spoil it with talk of religion and politics.
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