-Tom-
> I found the Tolkein movie that I watched (something about rings
> I think)

Just curious if there's a Tolkien movie that isn't "about rings"...

> to be a tiresome road movie where the heroes kept getting into
> impossible situations for no apparent reason and then being
> rescued in the best Greek tragedy tradition by deux ex machina.

Not sure why you find _deus ex machina_ to be "tiresome", though in any 
case I disagree that much if any of the conflict resolution in Tolkien's 
writings qualifies as such.  (Qualifies as _deus ex machina_, I mean.  I 
won't argue about matters of taste, like whether a given story is 
tiresome.)  As for "getting into impossible situations for no apparent 
reason", you may have to give some examples to clue in those of us who 
don't know what you're referring to.

> The Potter stuff is similar, but at least mildly entertaining,

Apparently there are a few others, here and there, who find the Tolkien 
movies "at least mildly entertaining".

> I just prefer reading Narnia and having the challenge of sorting
> out the strong Christian symbols running around the outside of
> the storyline.

Allegory is certainly much easier on the reader, as long as he shares 
with the author the underlying knowledge necessary to interpret the 
allegory correctly.  Tolkien, though himself a devoted Christian (in 
fact, he converted C. S. Lewis, if I recall correctly), explicitly 
denied any allegorical intent in his writings.  The result is that the 
reader has to work a little harder, dig a little deeper, and try to 
understand his symbolism within the framework the author used to 
construct the fable -- which in essence is what Tolkien's so-called 
"trilogy" is.

Granted, not everyone enjoys such a mental workout.  They get little 
reward for their efforts, and thus find it tiresome.  Maybe that is what 
you were referring to, though since you were commenting on the recent 
movie version and not the books, I really don't know.  But I do know 
that since beginning to reread Tolkien in my forty-first year, I have 
been immensely enjoying the depth of imagery and texture of narrative 
that quite escaped the notice of my half-aged self two decades ago.  I 
certainly enjoy allegory as much as the next fellow, but my respect for 
Tolkien has deepened.

However, if the movie adaptations have left you with the sour taste of a 
contrived-resolution road movie, you perhaps ought not to waste your 
time reading the books.  I can only imagine what the spectre of Tom 
Bombadil would do to your blood pressure.

Hey, I'm Tom Bombadil, Tommy Bom-bom-ba-dil-lo!
My head is a sieve, and my brain is like Bril-lo!
I dance and I sing, and I sing and I dance!
I'm a jolly old godling in search of my pants!

Stephen

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