Bored of Lord of the Rings

I have to admit I’m getting a bit bored with Lord of the Rings. Not the books, so much as the shenanigans around the movies and TV series. Peter Jackson’s original adaptation a couple of decades back was amazing, but his version of The Hobbit was a nine-hour-plus train wreck that veered into self-parody. I don’t know anything about the Amazon TV series other than the fact that it started life in Auckland, since moved to the UK, and for IP reasons is based only on material published in the appendices for Lord of the Rings, meaning the characters and narrative structure of the episodes are essentially going to be original to the series’ writers.

What I find problematic is that Tolkien’s work was classically mid-twentieth century, heavily informed by the First World War on multiple levels and framed both by his own scholarship as a philologist and by his deliberate intent to create a very English mythology, one he felt was otherwise lacking. His tales were intentionally structured to that end. Although founded in early-mid century intellectual frameworks, it spoke to the 1960s generation who adopted the same trappings (think rustic Shire life with its arts-and-crafts stylings and call-backs to an idealised pre-industrial world and Tom Bombadil). But times have moved on and Tolkien’s stories don’t engage modern sensibilities in quite the same way. Not without adaptation that moves the story-telling style away from his originals.

All of which, to me, says but one thing. Scrap the lot and run with Bored of the Rings, a 1969 novel by Henry Beard and Douglas Kenny which skewered Tolkien’s epic – including his coined names – and produced a ridiculously funny parody that was also a brilliant comic novel in its own right. And while the relentless pop-culture references are half a century out of date, the humour is totally on point. It’s precisely the style now used by The Onion – and with good reason. Bored of the Rings, it turns out, was hugely influential.

The original cover (I own a copy of this edition)

Has this been made into a movie? Yes and no. No, not the Kenny and Beard book exactly. But yes, there’s a movie of that title, pretty much a parody of the Jackson movies. The scary part is that it was made in 2005 and I totally missed it. Until now… (WARNING – it’s monolithically crass).

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2021

7 thoughts on “Bored of Lord of the Rings

  1. lol – I grew up in the 60’s so Lord of the Rings speaks to me. I did watch Jackson’s original move adaptation, but I can’t make myself watch The Hobbit, partly because I never really /liked/ the book that much. I might re-read the LotR trilogy again though. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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      1. Really? How on earth did you manage that??? I still have the original set published in… 1974. Wow. I actually had to go check the date. In 3 more years my edition will be 50 years old. -gulp-

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        1. It’s a longish story… when I got them the book was in its 1980s lull and editions were hard to find. I was brought up as a kid on borrowed library copies (the 1966 second edition) and my Mum had a one-volume paperback set, but those stayed behind when I left home. I keep meaning to replace them with a ‘proper’ set.

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