The Top Ten Reasons Why The Fellowship Of The Ring Wiped The Floor With Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone

a semi-humorous dig by Dean McIntosh


    Films seem to come out in groups these days, with new instalments in three distinct franchises planned for 2002. In order of probable release date, these are Star Wars II: Attack Of The Clones, a new adaptation of a Harry Potter novel, and of course, Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Two Towers. While the first of those three demonstrates that George Lucas is sensible enough to realise he may not be able to compete with work based upon the writings of one of the greatest authors of all time, last year's release schedule shows no sense on the part of Harry Potter's makers. Indeed, most literary critics whom I work with predict that if what I like to call Harry Pooter And The Philosophising Stoners were released at the same time as The Fellowship Of The Ring, the former would have been knocked out of the cinemas like mortal men in the path of Sauron's mace. Unfortunately, this didn't take place because the former was released a month or two in advance of the latter, which certainly goes to show what good marketing can do. So, in that spirit, I bring you ten reasons why The Fellowship Of The Ring crapped on Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone from an almighty height.


The Lord Of The Rings is a novel that can be read by readers of all generations, and has inspired all sorts of imaginative spin-offs. To name but a few, there is the Barrow-Downs' Elf-Name Generator, where one can learn what their name would have been if they were born an Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit, or Orc. I always thought my Orc name would be something like Grenthos The Flatulent, but that one is obviously reserved for Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. For those who are interested, my Elven name is actually Donserkeion. Then of course, there's the two CD compilations I made for a friend in America of contemporary music that could have fit into the film. The only thing that Harry Potter novels have inspired me to do is throw them across the room, usually within fifty pages or less.


Elvish is a legitimate, living language, a dialect based upon one of the numerous languages of Western Europe (I forget which nation this language actually belongs to, but it borders with Finland if I am not remembering incorrectly). Not only that, but the names of locations that are mentioned in The Lord Of The Rings have been used as song titles and band names numerous times, the Norwegian hymns of Isengard, or Mordor's Les Armees Du Sauron being good examples. By comparison, all that Harry Potter can offer is gibberish that is an insult to the Wiccan faith by Rowling's attempts to pass it off as a facet thereof, and moronic location names like Hogwarts.


Recreating Middle Earth using real-world locations and special effects was considered impossible until a few years ago. While it is true that there are many places in Australia and New Zealand that could be passed off as Hobbiton or Bree, locations that can pass for Mordor and Moria no longer exist, despite the fact that the former was inspired by the then starting industrialisation of Birmingham. Not only that, but the immense task of recreating the look of the various species in Middle Earth has been done so convincingly that I would almost have believed that the War Of The Ring really happened, and Peter Jackson simply photographed it. By contrast, Harry Potter is based around fake locations with no basis in reality, one-dimensional characters with stupid names, and special effects that look like they are part of a video game.


"Suitable for all ages." Why is it that "all ages" never includes anyone over the age of five? Sure, you can promote Harry Potter as being suitable for all ages until you are blue in the face, but as a man who read The Lord Of The Rings when his age could be measured in single digits, I can tell you that it just does not wash. Unlike many other "all ages" stories, The Lord Of The Rings can continue to be read and reveal new things to the reader, and now the viewer (see point X), until the day they die. Literally.


When was the last time you heard about any of J.K. Rowling's work being compared to such great classics as Paradise Lost, leave alone becoming a basis for comparison by which new fiction is judged?


To quote the late-breaking headline on www.frenchfor****.com (Ed. WARNING - this linked site contains crude, adult-oriented humour that may well offend), the only merchandising item J.K. Rowling won't reject, or so it seems, is the Harry Potty toilet trainer. We have Harry Potter bubble bath, Harry Potter colouring books, Harry Potter magazines, and a whole heap of other crap that is basically useless, but as the ads say, it has Harry Potter on it. By comparison, the merchandise for The Lord Of The Rings is of extremely high quality (the Ringwraith doll looks beautiful), creatively inspiring (the tabletop battle miniatures are coming along nicely, thanks), exceptionally collectible (the customisable card game is wonderful, too), and in some cases, very valuable.


This is specific to American audiences, but a Philosopher's Stone is the supreme object of Alchemy, the thing that will turn other metals into gold. A Sorcerer's Stone is exactly three tenths of bugger all. While a name change was contemplated for The Two Towers (with understandable reason), Peter Jackson and the powers that be realised that Tolkien fans would probably rip them a new opening for it.


J.K. Rowling will never inspire creative work from anyone who has access to film and cameras. J.R.R. Tolkien's novels are credited with inspiring elements of everything from Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly) to Gladiator.


When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about other races and other faiths, he demonstrated a vestige of respect, and sometimes even love, for them.


Pick your taglines: "Let The Magic Begin.", "A journey beyond your imagination", and "The Magic Begins November 16th." or "Power Can Be Held In The Smallest Of Things", "The Legend Comes to Life", and "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." I know which taglines I'd rather teach the children I'm never going to have.

Dean McIntosh (my bio... read it)
Saturday, April 13, 2002