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Post by Mrs Figg on Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:38 pm

Forest Shepherd wrote:Oh I don't know about that particular example. I've never felt that Morgan Freeman was included in a movie for any reason but that he's a great actor and is fun to watch.

exactly my point.

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Post by David H on Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:23 am

Morgan Freeman is a great example! In The Shawshank Redemption he's cast as Red, the redheaded Irish narrator in Stephen King's novella on which it's based.

It all works brilliantly thanks to brilliant acting, writing and directing! There's just one line of exposition, when Andy asks Red how he got the name "Red". Freeman shrugs and says "Maybe because I'm Irish?" And that's all it takes.

Personally I think it would have been a real shame if they'd felt obliged to cast an Irishman in the role just to be faithful to the original story.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:00 am

{{I think the question when changing a characters race or sex is a matter of suspension of belief. This is an area I often have an issue with when its diversity for its own sake.
Suspension of belief is generally central to any invented narrative and under normal circumstances a writer will do all they can to maintain that suspension of belief and do all they can to avoid elements which might disrupt, question or worse break it.
In the above case of Morgan Freeman in Shawshank whilst its a change of race, both from Irish and in colour, its not something which breaks the suspension of belief, it as feasible and as effective a character as the Irish red haired original was.

However if you take say Kenneth Brannaghs Much Ado About Nothing you have Keanu Reeves cast as one Prince, and as his older brother and the other Prince is played by Denzel Washington.
And that did not work for me, not because of either actor, though boy does Keannu struggle with some of it he is at least cast to a part that suits him better than any other in the play, but its because the film version is set in the historic period, is otherwise accurate to the look of the times and yet with no explanation presents us with two brothers, both Princes, one black one white. And that broke my suspension of belief because I was no longer in the story watching two brothers contest, but thinking about the casting choices.

Now everyone point of losing their suspension of belief is different- I for example woudl have been fine had Keanus part been played by another black actor- despite the historic period and location making that highly unlikely. But both at once was too much strain on it.
And its precisely because its so easy to break that writers normally work so hard to avoid stuff that will.

In the case of doing Tolkien, or any fantasy or sci-fi story its more important than usual. You have to work extra hard to maintain the suspension of belief. Look at how hard Tolkien works on it, the opening chapters of LotR's are full of familiar things to ground us, from the everyday character sof the down to earth hobbits to detailed descriptions of familiar landscapes and constellations in the sky- all so when the incredible bits come up like magic Rings that make you invisible and undead Ringwraiths you go with it.
If you then also fill the thing with diversity stunt casting just for the sake of it you start to undermine all that careful work the writer has put in maintaining the suspension of belief as surely as if you'd put two moons in the sky for no reason.}}}

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Post by Mrs Figg on Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:28 pm

I agree with you Petty, the power of Hobbiton is that it was rooted in English village life where the sight of 'Black Riders' (which obviously didn't mean people of African origin), at the edge of the village brought disquiet because there were no black looking fellows in Hobbiton.  today there is an inbuilt hysteria over anything with the word 'black' in it but then it was just associated with darkness and evil. There are no black Hobbits because in Tolkiens era there were no black people in English villages. I remember seeing the first black person I had ever seen at the age of 16, it was that rare, so imagine what it was like in the 1940s in Oxfordshire villages. The most important thing is the story and not being jolted out of it by incongruences.

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Post by halfwise on Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:35 pm

My problem with that version of Much Ado About Nothing had more to do with watching Keanu Reeves attempt Shakespeare. What was Branaugh thinking? Given a choice between princes to replace it should have been a snap to swap out Keanu with any of a myriad of black Shakespearean actors if they wanted to keep the brother idea intact.

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Post by Mrs Figg on Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:40 pm

yep Keanu and Shakespeare doesn't really mix.

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Post by David H on Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:22 pm

halfwise wrote:My problem with that version of Much Ado About Nothing had more to do with watching Keanu Reeves attempt Shakespeare.  What was Branaugh thinking?  

I could even find a tiny bit of forgiveness for Keanu Reeves' Don John (half-brother to Denzel remember)

but Michael Keaton's Dogberry....affraid  Suspect pale Evil or Very Mad :facepalm:

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Post by halfwise on Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:03 pm

Dogberry was painful, but not due to lack of intellectual ability.  I'd rather see an actor who knows what he's doing do a botched job than suffer through someone who's clearly out of his element.  That way you only have to be mad at HIM.  With Keanu you're in pain, you feel sorry for him, AND you're mad at everyone who let him do this to you.  

Keaton was a perfect choice for the role and technically there was nothing wrong with his portrayal.  Except that you wanted to smack him. Constantly.

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Post by David H on Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:01 am

To each his own. Personally I find it much easier to forgive natural incompetence than the systematic destruction of what can be a very funny part by a professional comedian who almost certainly knew better. Mad

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:30 am

half-brother to Denzel remember- Dave

{{That did occur but I honestly cannot remember if its actually mentioned in Brannagh's version. Or for that matter in the original! As its not a favourite of mine, and despite the flaws in the two performances mentioned above it is about the only version of this play I can take, and even then only some of it. Shakespeare comedies are not a favourite of mine and I fine the massive tonal switches in this one in particular weird and uncomfortable (which might have been Shakespeares point but I I am not convinced it was).
But one minute your watching a fairly gentle, even silly, romantic comedy with witty banter, one liners, comedy cops and misunderstandings, and a love to hate him smiling villain in the shadows- but then suddenly your thrown into this brutal accusations of infidelity, disinheritance and domestic violence as repercussions and a 'comedy' suicide set-up. And then its all smiles and romance again for the finale and all is forgiven lets have a party and a dance.
Its weird.

Personally I think ole Shaky just got bored writing soppy romantic stuff and had an urge for his Titus days and just went dark on it out of boredom halfway through. Twisted Evil }}

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Post by David H on Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:13 pm

I don't have time right now to see if I can track down the "half brother" reference, but I know it's been explained and staged that way before. It certainly makes sense as a way to underscore the rivalry.

I never much liked reading Shakespeare's comedies either, but when I first saw some of them staged at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival by people who weren't afraid to have some fun and take some liberties I completely changed my mind.
I like a lot of Brannagh's "Much Ado" too. Emma lights up the screen, and without that nothing else matters!

I suppose part of why I take exception to Michael Keaton's performance is that I've seen another actor play Dogberry and have the audience rolling in the aisles. It can be done...

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Post by chris63 on Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:27 am


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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:14 pm

{{Good vid that Chris, nice break down. Still doesn't tell us much except perhaps the teasers via the maps dont neatly fall into a young Aragorn concept as so far imagined. }}}

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Post by halfwise on Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:47 pm

Seems to be a second age map so far.

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Post by chris63 on Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:03 pm


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Post by azriel on Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:24 pm

Like the avatar Chris. Like listening to this vids as well. Gets the juices flowing all this anticipation Smile

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Post by Lorient Avandi on Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:22 pm

Man I missed a lot on this thread in the past week!

As far as the maps go, it makes me even more intrigued by this series, as I'm interested to see locations in Middle-earth that have previously been unexplored or have had very little known of them.

As far as the older conversation regarding race, I have no problem with the inclusion of diversity in almost any situation. I only have a problem with it when it begins to take over and negatively affect a narrative, which I honestly believe rarely happens, or when places are misrepresented to an extreme in order to satisfy PC culture. I'm speaking of extremes such as the example given by Petty of Doctor Who misrepresenting an English city by portraying whites as a significant minority when they should be a vast majority. I have not seen this example (I haven't watched Who since the days of Matt Smith), but if it is as Petty describes, I think it is an example of the extreme kind of misrepresentation. These are the only situations in which I have a problem, I frankly find the frequent argument (such as the one against Battlefield 5 for including too many women in its marketing of a WW2 game-there were only a couple) of "too much diversity" or "immersion breaking diversity" silly, but many arguments like that have some elements of truth. I think diversity is great, but I believe there are rare cases where it can feel shoehorned, and that can negatively impact whatever work we are discussing.

Sorry if that was confusing, I couldn't really figure out a way to say that that wasn't somewhat confusing. Shrugging

BTW, I did very much enjoy Baranor in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (he was my first thought when this topic was getting brought up) and felt no problem with his inclusion.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:01 am

{{ I think when its Tolkien the issue is more pertinent than in any modern  created drama.
Take the Shire- there is no one going to convince me that the Shire Tolkien was writing about and its inhabitants he envisioned were mixed race in the sense of Asian looking hobbits, African looking hobbits, white hobbits etc all living together.

We know what Tolkien was thinking of when he envisioned the Shire- the countryside and people he grew up around in rural England. And in his time period (hell still now in a lot of small places) a non-white face is a major rarity.

But more so with Tolkien it totally messes with history, genealogies and the like. How do you explain given the history we know of hobbits and their movements over the centuries there being members who clearly adapted in completely different climates from the rest? How do all the racial types survive through the years without becoming diffused into the population? Where did these different hobbit races come from? How did they all end up together in the north of ME? It just messes up everything from Tolkien's original vision he was writing about to the histories of the people of ME. It undermines the sense of realism and reality Tolkien imbues his world and people with in order to get away later with the fantastical. Its a dangerous game to undermine that in the viewer with out of place casting just for the sake of box ticking.

And for what purpose would they be sticking diverse hobbits in for? What would be the point? The misguided modern belief that if a black person doesn't see another black face on screen they cant relate to the show? That a gay person needs a gay character or they cant relate to the show? That a transgender person cant relate to a show if its doesn't have a transgender character? That the epilepsy sufferer needs a character with epilepsy or they cant relate to it? Where do you stop?

And surely the whole premise is misguided in the first place- if the drama is about humans, appeals to things which effect humans then it will work and be relatable to humans. And last I checked that was all of us! }}

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Post by azriel on Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:39 am

I agree with Petty. I think the trend of including everything but the kitchen sink is corrosive. Someone out there is now going to say "whats wrong with sinks ?" There are some things in the world that are just what they are & are meant to be. Leave alone. I read "Brer Rabbit" as a child, I don't get hot under the collar ( cotton or synthetic ? ) because Uncle Remus was a black guy. My uncles were white men but it didn't make me even think for one minute the whys or wherefores'.
He fits the story, he fits in & I like it. Are "we" going to rearrange every book ever written to be PC as possible ?  Plays, films, TV & radio ? Music seems to be the only form free of it. Ive got lots buzzing in my head. I watched an episode of "Time Team" on tv, it was trying to find remains of the Iceni tribe & of course Boudica herself. They discovered fabulous jewellery made by the Iceni. I then couldn't help but think were these the blue print for the Elves ? They could create wonderful objects ?

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:10 am

{{That's a torc, worn round the neck popular from the bronze age through the iron age and most likely spread by Germanic Celtic tribes moving northwards over the centuries. There are beautiful examples in different styles from southern Europe to the north of Scotland.

For all Tolkiens seeming disdain for all things Celtic he does seem to appeal to quite a bit of it in his writing.

'My uncles were white men but it didn't make me even think for one minute the whys or wherefores'.'- Azriel

Exactly, a good story will carry you along, good characters will invest you in their  tale, and if the story happens to be about someone non-white that should be the same, and if its about someone white that should be the same, regardless of the readers own colour.

I watched a drama with the better half the other night on Netflix (which she has, I dont) it was excellent, set in a rural village in South Africa, dont think there was a white face in it, never once occurred to me this was a problem.  And more importantly nor did the makers feel pressured into casting half their African villagers in the background as ethnic minorities of whites, Indians and Chinese. For the very good reasons it would be stupid and it would undermine the credibility and realism of the setting which the rest of the narrative strived to create and maintain. It would be utterly out of place.

Why them being pressured into making half their extras white would be stupid is obvious, but when drama set in majority white locations where lots of brown and black faces are equally out of place feel the need to fill half their background cast with minorities it is not, is beyond me.  Shrugging

On a side note was an Indian actor talking about going to casting calls, said if he went in and all the other potentials for the role were Indians his heart sank, as it was a diversity casting, not interested in the character or even in his performance so much as making sure he fitted the right ethnic role so they could tick that off in their diversity quota box. Conversely when he went to a casting call and walked into a room of mixed colour faces his heart leapt, as it was an indication the role was not race specific and they were interested in the character and who could best bring it to life.

I don't think the idea of casting diversely for the sake of it has much mileage, what is needed is far wider scope of writing and dramas coming from different communities about themselves and their relationships with the world reflecting much broader ranges of views. I got some insights into S. Africa watching that drama I would otherwise not have had precisely because it was written by, made for, and examined the lives of a black community in that country. And because I was not in their mind when they made it, they just wanted to tell their story, which happened to be about people who were black as it was clearly base don their own experiences growing up in such communities, it was all the more interesting for me to watch and learn from as well as enjoy the drama and performances. We need more of that sort of thing, drama anyone can enjoy but which is genuine in its reflection of diversity, or its lack thereof if that's the case.

If TV and film commissioned more work and gave more financing to up and coming writers and film makers from cultures outside of America and Western Europe that would be a far better way to have diversity, and choice, than just shoe-horning it in where it doesn't belong in the first place.}}

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Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:40 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:{{ I think when its Tolkien the issue is more pertinent than in any modern  created drama.
Take the Shire- there is no one going to convince me that the Shire Tolkien was writing about and its inhabitants he envisioned were mixed race in the sense of Asian looking hobbits, African looking hobbits, white hobbits etc all living together.

We know what Tolkien was thinking of when he envisioned the Shire- the countryside and people he grew up around in rural England. And in his time period (hell still now in a lot of small places) a non-white face is a major rarity.

But more so with Tolkien it totally messes with history, genealogies and the like. How do you explain given the history we know of hobbits and their movements over the centuries there being members who clearly adapted in completely different climates from the rest? How do all the racial types survive through the years without becoming diffused into the population? Where did these different hobbit races come from? How did they all end up together in the north of ME? It just messes up everything from Tolkien's original vision he was writing about to the histories of the people of ME.  It undermines the sense of realism and reality Tolkien imbues his world and people with in order to get away later with the fantastical. Its a dangerous game to undermine that in the viewer with out of place casting just for the sake of box ticking.

And for what purpose would they be sticking diverse hobbits in for? What would be the point? The misguided modern belief that if a black person doesn't see another black face on screen they cant relate to the show? That a gay person needs a gay character or they cant relate to the show? That a transgender person cant relate to a show if its doesn't have a transgender character? That the epilepsy sufferer needs a character with epilepsy or they cant relate to it? Where do you stop?

And surely the whole premise is misguided in the first place- if the drama is about humans, appeals to things which effect humans then it will work and be relatable to humans. And last I checked that was all of us! }}

yep I agree, and I also think there is nothing wrong with liking tales of your own people, be it Celt, Anglo-Saxon or Scottish, that's why folk tales are so long lived, its about that particular clan or place, its about roots and belonging, its not about multi-culturalism, its about the genius loci. If you want tales about multi-culturalism there are other tales of far off lands. These days liking tales of your own people is called 'being a racist', that's how absurd its got.

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Post by halfwise on Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:04 pm

Actually, in a documentary I watched on curiositystream (so can't post, unfortunately) a researcher was fascinated by the interest Lord of the Rings held for other countries. He said that what struck him is that no matter which country people were from, in interviews they saw the Shire as being in one of their home villages, NOT in England.

It seems that even though Tolkien himself felt he was capturing something very English, what he captured in his hobbit culture was in fact a universal depiction of human village life and views.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:35 pm

{{ I would think so Halfy. I have always thought if your Indian growing up in India you probably imagine it as a small Indian rural village, or if your African then an African rural setting. That I would say was Tolkiens applicability at work. Freedom residing in the mind of the reader.

But if your going to put Tolkien down on film then you have to make a definitive decision, you can't be applicable to everyone or you'd have to made thousands of different versions. The freedom no longer resides with the viewer but in the intentions of the film makers.
So you have to go back to source and look at what was envisioned by the author, what fits the world created and what is explainable by that world to be consistent with it and its internal logic and support the drama and narrative. }}

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Post by halfwise on Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:50 pm

Actually, I don't see anything stopping them from using their own medieval milieu. Except for place names there's almost nothing you can point at and say "there! that can ONLY be English."

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:17 pm

{{ I think you can safely point to the Shire and say that is white folk based on the global position and history. Same goes for the Rohrrim, based on Anglo-saxons and Norse, blonde and fair, not many African or Asian Rohirrim either I would imagine.

They could easily make up their own 'medieval milieu', but that's precisely what they would be doing, making up their own thing. And if they want to change things so much that they are doing their own thing then I for one would rather they'd piss off and do their own thing and not ruin Tolkien shoe-horning diversity into it.
We've seen one try at making Tolkien more diverse by increasing the female appeal with Tauriel- do we really need burnt twice? }}}}

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