Letter to Phyllida

[Image: The Kilns]

Dear Phyllida,

Thanks for your most interesting cards. How do you get the gold so good? Whenever I tried to use it, however golden it looked on the shell, it always looked only like rough brown on the paper. Is it that you have some trick with the brush that I never learned, or that gold paint is better now than when I was a boy! [...]

I'm not quite sure what you meant about "silly adventure stories without my point". If they are silly, then having a point won't save them. But if they are good in themselves, and if by a "point" you mean some truth about the real world which which one can take out of the story, I'm not sure that I agree. At least, I think that looking for a "point" in that sense may prevent one sometimes from getting the real effect of the story in itself - like listening too hard for the words in singing which isn't meant to be listened to that way (like an anthem in a chorus). I'm not at all sure about all this, mind you: only thinking as I go along.

We have two American boys in the house at present, aged 8 and 6 1/2. Very nice. They seem to use much longer words than English boys of that age would: not showing off, but just because they don't seem to know the short words. But they haven't as good table manners as English boys of the same sort would. [...]

C.S. Lewis

Letters to Children (letter of Dec 18 1953)

Born of Hope

Born of Hope: The Ring of Barahir… is a 72-minute fantasy-adventure fan film directed by Kate Madison and written by Paula DiSante (as Alex K. Aldridge) that is based on the appendices of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The film centres on the communities affected by Sauron's war; the story of Arathorn II and his relationship with Gilraen, and the importance of the Dúnedain bloodline.

The bulk of the film was shot at the West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village in Suffolk. Forest scenes were shot in Epping Forest, and flyover shots include views of Snowdonia National Park in Wales and Derwentwater in the Lake District of England.

The Story…
In the late Third Age, Sauron's power is increasing, and he has sent his Orcs to seek out the remnants of the bloodline of Elendil, kept alive in the Dúnedain. Dirhael, his wife Ivorwen and their daughter Gilraen are fleeing from an attack on their village when they are ambushed by Orcs on a forest road, and saved by a group of rangers led by Arathorn. Not having any place safer to go, the refugees go with Arathorn to Taurdal, the village led by his father and Chieftain of the Dúnedain, Arador. While there, Arathorn and Arador ponder the Orcs' motives after finding various pieces of jewelry on their bodies. During her stay in Taurdal, Gilraen falls in love with Arathorn.

In light of the attacks on surrounding settlements, Arador leads his forces on a campaign against the Orcs in the area in an attempt to restore peace to the region. Meanwhile, he sends Arathorn separately in an attempt to determine the meaning behind the attacks. Both are successful, and Arathorn discovers the orcs are serving Sauron, who seeks the Ring of Barahir. Arathorn and Gilraen receive Arador's blessing to be wed, but Arathorn cannot summon the courage to ask Dirhael for his daughter's hand. Arador is summoned to Rivendell to seek Elrond's council, and the wedding is postponed until his return. Arathorn eventually confronts Dirhael, and receives permission to marry his daughter.

A year later, Arador is killed by a hill troll in the Coldfells, making Arathorn the chieftain of the Dúnedain. Gilraen becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, Aragorn. Taurdal knows peace for a while, until Elladan and Elrohir come with news from Rivendell. Elrond has sensed that danger is once again threatening the region, and they request that Gilraen and Aragorn be brought back to Rivendell for safekeeping, as is the tradition with all Dúnedain heirs to the chiefdom. Before Arathorn and Gilraen can come to a decision, orcs attack the village. They are beaten off, however, many Rangers fall, and Arathorn's closest friend, Elgarain, is mortally wounded while defending Gilraen. Arathorn then leads the remaining Rangers in pursuit of the stragglers. They are successful, but Arathorn is mortally wounded in the process. Without a chieftain capable of leading them, the Dúnedain abandon Taurdal and go into hiding in small secret settlements in the forests of Rhudaur, while the Elven twins, Elladan and Elrohir, bring Aragorn with his mother Gilraen to Rivendell, and safety.

The Movie…
The idea for the film was born in 2003 when director/producer/actor Kate Madison wanted to submit a film for the Tolkien Fan Film Exhibition. Originally a modest plan, it grew until April 2006 when the first test shoot occurred. Principal photography started in June 2008, and continued through 2009. The goal was to debut at Ring*Con 2009, which it did. It was later streamed for free on various video websites including DailyMotion and YouTube.

Madison spent her life savings of £8,000 on the film. An extra £17,000 was generated by posting a trailer online, raising the budget to £25,000. Born of Hope was made over a period of six years, using a cast of 400, who would camp in tents so as to be able to shoot in the early mornings.

Christopher Dane (Arathorn) ended up getting very involved in the process of making the film, contributing to the script as well as handling the editing of the final product. Kate Madison, who directed and produced the film, was additionally cast as Elgarain.

Chris Bouchard of The Hunt for Gollum (see previous post) contributed to the production of the film as a camera operator and effects artist.

If you've not seen it, here is your opportunity to see the movie… you can find it, and much additional material, here: http://www.bornofhope.com/

The Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum is a 38-minute 2009 British fantasy fan film directed by Chris Bouchard and based on the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.  The plot of the film is set in Middle-earth, when Gandalf the Grey fears that Gollum may reveal information about the One Ring to Sauron.  Gandalf sends ranger Aragorn on a quest to find Gollum.

Filming took place in North Wales, Epping Forest, and Hampstead Heath. The film was shot in high definition video, with a budget - amazing as it might seem - of GBP£3,000 (USD$5,000). The production is completely unofficial and unauthorized, though Bouchard said he had "reached an understanding" with Tolkien Enterprises in 2009. 

The Hunt for Gollum debuted at the Sci-Fi-London film festival and on the Internet, free to view, on 3 May 2009.  By October 20 in the same year, it had been viewed by 5 million people, and has since been viewed over 10 million times.

If you have not yet seen it, the writer of this blog would say in amazement, "Why not?  It's a  short movie that all lovers of Tolkien's sub-creation should see"  Click here --->   http://www.thehuntforgollum.com/ 

Magdalen College on a sunshiny Monday Morning

Below is an interesting introduction, explaining how a literary manuscript, marginalia based on a lost letter, a series of lectures, and oral history culminated in the publication of a book:

[by C. S. Lewis]
When Charles Williams died in 1945 he left two works unfinished. One was a long lyric cycle on the Arthurian legend of which two installments had already appeared under the titles of Taliessin through Logres (1938) and The Region of the Summer Stars (1944). The other was a prose work on the history of the legend which was to have been entitled The Figure of ArthurThe lyrical cycle is a difficult work which, if left without a commentary, might soon become another such battlefield for competing interpretations as Blake's Prophetic Book. Since I had heard nearly all of it read aloud and expounded by the author and had questioned him closely on his meaning I felt that I might be able to comment on it, though imperfectly, yet usefully. His most systematic exposition had been given to me in a long letter which (with that usual folly which forbids us to remember that our friends can die) I did not preserve;but fortunately I had copied large extracts from it into the margin of my copy of Taliessin at the relevant passages. On these, and on memory and comparison with Williams's other works, I based a course of lectures on the cycle which I gave at Oxford in the autumn of 1945. Since a reasonable number of people appeared to be interested I then decided to make these lectures into a book.
It soon became clear that I could hardly explain the narrative assumptions of the cycle without giving some account of the earlier forms of the story — a heavy task which I shrank from undertaking. On the other hand, those to whom Williams had committed the manuscript of the unfinished Figure of Arthur were at the same time considering how that fragment could be most suitably published. The plan on which the present book has been arranged seemed to be the best solution of both problems.In it Williams the critic and literary historian provides an introduction to my study of Williams the Arthurian poet; or, if you prefer, I add to Williams’s history of the legend an account of the last poet who has contributed to it — namely, Williams himself. Chapters IV and V of his work I saw for the first time when Mrs. A. M. Hadfield sent me a typed copy of them. The two first chapters had been read aloud by the author to Professor Tolkien and myself. It may help the reader to imagine the scene; or at least it is to me both great pleasure and great pain to recall. Picture to yourself, then, an upstairs sitting-room with windows looking north into the ‘grove’ of Magdalen College on a sunshiny Monday Morning in vacation at about ten o’clock. The Professor and I, both on the chesterfield, lit our pipes and stretched out our legs. Williams in the arm-chair opposite to us threw his cigarette into the grate, took up a pile of the extremely small, loose sheets on which he habitually wrote — they came, I think, from a twopenny pad for memoranda, and began as follows:—

From Charles William and C. S. Lewis, Arthurian Torso: Containing the Posthumous Fragment of the Figure of Arthur and a Commentary on the Arthurian Poems of Charles Williams (London: Oxford University Press, 1948), 1-2.

Betjeman, MacNeice and Lewis in 1927

Monday 24th January 1927

Bussed back into town and to Betjeman's rooms in St Aldates — a v. beautiful panelled room looking across to the side of the House.   found myself pitchforked into a galaxy of super-undergraduates, including Sparrow of the Nonesuch Press.  The only others I remember are Harwood of the House (no relation) and an absolutely silent and astonishingly ugly person called McNeice, of whom Betjeman said afterwards "He doesn't say much but he is a great poet".  It reminded me of the man in Boswell "who was always thinking of Locke and Newton".  his silent bard comes from Belfast or rather Carrickfergus.  The conversation was chiefly about lace curtains, arts-and-crafts (wh. they all dislike}, china ornaments, silver versus earthen teapots, architecture, and the strange habits of "Hearties".  The best thing was Betjeman's v. curious collection of books.

Came away with him and back to College to pull him along thro' Wulfstan till dinner time.  In spite of all his rattle he is really just as ignorant and stupid as Valentin.

C.S. Lewis
All My Road Before Me (1991)

[Image : Louis Macneice at Oxford]

On the Wild

"When pools are black and trees are bare, ‘tis evil in the wild to fare"


Fellowship of the Ring
J.R.R. Tolkien

Et in Sempiternum Pereant

[Holywell Cemetery, Oxford, just behind St. Cross Church - the large white stone in the centre marks the grave of Charles Williams]

But as Arglay bent, he was aware once more of that effluvia of heat risen round him, and breaking out with the more violence when suddenly the man, if it were man, cast his arm away, and with a jerk of movement rose once more to his feet.  His eyes, as the head went back, burned close into Arglay's, who, what with the heat, the eyes, and his sickness at the horror, shut his own against them, and was at the same moment thrown from his balance by the rising form, and sent staggering a step or two away, with upon his face the sensation of a light hot breath, so light that only in the utter stillness of time could it be felt, so hot that it might have been the inner fire from which the pillar of smoke poured outward to the world.

He recovered his balance; he opened his eyes; both motions brought him into a new corner of that world.   The odd black coat the thing had worn had disappeared, as if it had been a covering imagined by a habit of mind.  The thing itself, a wasted flicker of pallid movement, danced and gyrated in white flame before him.  Arglay saw it still, but only now as a dreamer may hear, half-asleep and half-awake, the sound of dogs barking or the crackling of fire in his very room.  For he opened his eyes not to such things, but to the thing that on the threshold of this place, some seconds earlier or some years, he had felt and been pleased to feel, to the reality of his hate.  It came in a rush within him, a fountain of fire, and without and about him images of the man he hated swept in a thick cloud of burning smoke.

The smoke burned his eyes and choked his mouth; he clutched it, at images within it - at his greedy loves and greedy hates - at the cloud of the sin of his life, yearning to catch but one image and renew again the concentration for which he yearned.  He could not. The smoke blinded and stifled him, yet more than stifling or blinding was the hunger for one true thing to lust or hate.  He was starving in the smoke, and all the hut was full of smoke, for the hut and the world were smoke, pouring up round him, from him and all like him - a thing once wholly, and still a little, made visible to his corporeal eyes in forms which they recognized, but in itself of another nature.  He swung and twisted and crouched.  His limbs ached from long wrestling with the smoke, for as the journey to this place had prolonged itself infinitely, so now, though he had no thought of measurement, the clutch of his hands and the growing sickness that invaded him struck through him the sensation of the passage of years and the knowledge of the passage of moments.  The fire sank within him, and the sickness grew, but the change could not bring him nearer to any end.  The end here was not at the end, but in the beginning.  There was no end to this smoke, to this fever and this chill, to crouching and rising and searching, unless the end was now. 

Charles Williams
Et in Sempiternum Pereant
From: "The London Mercury", 1935