Tolkien Gateway

Letter 207

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 207
RecipientRayner Unwin
Date8 April 1958
Subject(s)Tolkien's comments on a synopsis for an animated Lord of the Rings

Letter 207 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Easter was over, the "Dutch incense"[notes 1] dissipated, and Tolkien said he would now get busy on the Story-line.[notes 2] First though, pleading ignorance of the jargon, he asked Unwin just what a "story-line" was and its function in the process.

If a story-line was simple directions to picture-producers then he would not waste his time on it. However, the document gave Tolkien grave anxiety about the actual dialogue to be used. Zimmerman was hasty, insensitive, impertinent, and quite incapable of adapting the "spoken words" of the book. It was evident to Tolkien that Zimmerman had only skimmed The Lord of the Rings and then constructed his story-line from partly confused memories. He got most of the names wrong (Borimor for Boromir) or misapplied (Radagast became an Eagle). Characters were introduced with little reference to the book.

Tolkien was very unhappy with the extreme silliness and incompetence, and the complete lack of respect for the original. But Tolkien said that soon he would very much need money and was conscious of Unwins rights and interests. He would endeavour to restrain himself and make no comments to Forrest J. Ackerman except through Unwin and with his assent.[notes 3]

[edit] Notes

  1. Tolkien had been sent, at Allen and Unwin's expense, to Holland. He had enjoyed the trip very much.
  2. A synopsis of a proposed animated Lord of the Rings, written by Morton Grady Zimmerman.
  3. Later Tolkien did write to Ackerman directly to spell out his issues with the story-line – see Letter 210.