Octopus's Garden

Issue Fifty-Five

7th September 2005

Current Issue
Back Issues
Other stuff
Last issue
Next issue
Search site


HELLO, good evening and welcome to Octopus’s Garden, the subzeen with its very own, very late, review of Lord of the Rings. It’s a subzeen to Jim Burgess’ The Abbysinian Prince. Produced by Peter Sullivan, peter@burdonvale.co.uk. It's available on the web at http://www.burdonvale.co.uk/octopus/index.html.

Late, as in the late Dent-Aragorn-Dent

Being very possibly the last and most out-of-date review of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in all dipdom.

Yes, I have finally gotten around to watching these on DVD (extended editions, natch). For the longest time, I actively avoided watching the films. This was ostensibly on the grounds that "no film presentation can match the rich imagery of my own imagination" or some such rot. But in fact was just because I was being a miserable old scrote.

However, The Fellowship of the Ring finally made its way on to network TV earlier this year, and A. insisted that we watch it together. Regardless of my own reservations, I was fairly convinced that she wouldn’t like it at all. In fact, we both thought it was excellent, and went and got the extended edition DVDs from Amazon UK within the week.

Watching the extended edition of all three films (even without any of the director’s commentaries or extra "making of" documentaries) was a bit of a marathon, but we did it over about a week and a half. I think my previous reservations were a bit over-done. It’s impossible to "do" any book properly on film, and especially one the size and scope of Lord of the Rings. But if you were going to try to do it anyway, you probably couldn’t have come up with anything much better.

Of course, A. didn’t know the story, which made it interesting watching it with her. However, she proved to be fairly intuitive about it. Three specific examples:

  1. When the Xena-Arwen turns up to take Frodo to the Fords of Bruinen she asked "Is she his girlfriend?"
  2. As Gandalf struggles to open the Westgate, she says "Frodo’s going to work out how to open it, isn’t he?."
  3. And when Gandalf went over the edge in Moria, she refused to believe that he was dead, despite my protestations that "Gandalf the Grey is no more" (which is, technically, true, even if it probably falls into the same category as "I did not have sexual relations with… that woman.").

She also spotted the most obvious of the cuts from the story, namely the whole Scouring of the Shire chapter – at least, indirectly. I understand that the death of Saruman isn’t in the original theatrical release of The Return of the King at all, but at least with the extended edition we get him falling off the top of Isengard on to the "wizard-kebab." But A. felt that this was just too sudden an ending for him, given the importance of his character. And she was right, dagnabit.

Most of the other places where Peter Jackson plays a bit fast and loose with the text (no Tom Bombadil, the "Xena-Arwen", loadsa additional Galadriel for no apparent reason - except, presumably, other than "we’ve paid for Cate Blanchett so we’re jolly well going to use her.") I felt were liveable with in terms of the film format. The one thing that really rang untrue was when Aragorn beheaded the Mouth of Sauron in front of the Black Gate. No matter how angry he was over the presumed death of the hobbits, I can’t imagine him breaking one of the few fundamental rules of war – that messengers are sacrosanct.

Anyway, we’ll now need to get around to watching the various "making of" documentaries and directors’ commentary etc. etc. on the DVDs. Although this has been put on hold temporarily whilst she ploughs through the new Harry Potter.

Around the hustings

The Livingston by-election, caused by the death of Robin Cook, has been scheduled for Thursday 29th September. Labour are defending a majority of 13,097 (29.5%) from the May General Election, which should normally be enough to hold the seat. However, there are a few caveats:

  1. Robin Cook had one of the lowest swings against him for any Labour MP in May, at a mathematical 1.2%. (Actually, with Scotland’s 4-party system, it’s a bit more complicated than that single figure suggests.) Given that he had resigned from the cabinet over the Iraq war, it’s not unreasonable to hypothesise that traditional Labour voters who were concerned about the war were more likely to have stuck with him, instead of (as in other seats) abstaining or voting Liberal Democrat or even Respect. But his successor will not have the benefit of this.
  2. The SNP have been coming out of nowhere to win "safe" Labour seats in by-elections in the central belt of Scotland for almost 40 years. See Hamilton (1967), Glasgow Govan (1973), Glasgow Govan again (1988) and several other more recent near misses.

Honest Pete (always a more nervous tipster than Honest Iain) honestly advises you to keep your money in your pocket on this one.

The same date also sees that rarity, a Scottish Parliament by-election, this time in Glasgow Cathcart. This has arisen after the criminal conviction and resignation of the previous MSP over "Curtaingate." Given the bizarre circumstances of the vacancy, the 5,112 Labour majority over the SNP, and plenty of 3rd, 4th, 5th and even 6th party votes to squeeze, almost anything could happen and probably will.

A blast from the past

C’est Magnifique (CMag) was the postal games fanzeen I ran for 142 issues, from 1985 to 1994 – in fact, Octopus’s Garden was originally started to finish off the outstanding international games from it. I doubt I’ll ever have a full set of back-issues available on-line. But, inspired by Stephen Agar’s scans of classic zeens, I am now scanning the occasional issue, mainly for my own amusement or interest. These are all in PDF format, so you will need Adobe’s free (as in beer) Acrobat Reader, or a free (as in speech) alternative such as xPDF to view them. Dial-up users might also like to check the file sizes before starting to download. Note that, in most cases, these are scans of the mimeo file copies. They are therefore of somewhat variable quality/legibility.


That was Octopus's Garden #55, a Startling Press production

Search this site powered by FreeFind