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Séadna

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Thinking foxes? Why would anybody find that weird?

More seriously, I wonder if the medieval Reynard fables may have played a role here as well.
Ignoring your pro-Raynard political stance, I'd say certainly. There's a Hobbit named after Isengrim from the Raynard stories.
 

TristramEvans

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In this essay from th recently released Nature of Middle Earth Tolkien discusses the fauna of Númenor and focuses a bit on how there were many foxes in Númenor, which helped to control their rabbit population and got along well with the Númenóreans.

As for the major animals, it is clear that there were none of the canine or related kinds. There were certainly no hounds or dogs (all of which were imported). There were no wolves. There were wild cats, the most hostile and untameable of the animals; but no large felines. There were a great number, however, of foxes, or related animals. Their chief food seems to have been animals which the Númenóreans called lopoldi. These existed in large numbers and multiplied swiftly, and were voracious herbivores; so that the foxes were esteemed as the best and most natural way of keeping them in order, and foxes were seldom hunted or molested. In return, or because their food-supply was otherwise abundant, the foxes seem never to have acquired the habit of preying upon the domestic fowl of the Númenóreans. The lopoldi would appear to have been rabbits, animals which had been quite unknown before in the north-western regions of Middle-earth. The Númenóreans did not esteem them as food and were content to leave them to the foxes.
The Nature of Middle-earth - "Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor"
While none of this by itself indicates intelligence, the paragraph immediately after this one talks about bears, and they seem pretty intelligent.

...The relations of the bears and Men were strange. From the first the bears exhibited friendship and curiosity towards the newcomers; and these feelings were returned. ... Very few Númenóreans were ever killed by bears; and these mishaps were not regarded as reasons for war upon the whole race. Many of the bears were quite tame. They never dwelt in or near the homes of Men, but they would often visit them, in the casual manner of one householder calling upon another. At such times they were often offered honey, to their delight. ... At times the bears would perform dances for the entertainment of their human friends. ... To those not accustomed to the bears the slow (but dignified) motions of the bears, sometimes as many as 50 or more together, appeared astonishing and comic. But it was understood by all admitted to the spectacle that there should be no open laughter. The laughter of Men was a sound that the bears could not understand: it alarmed and angered them.
The Nature of Middle-earth - "Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor"
And then the paragraph after that discusses squirrels, also with somewhat similar terms:

The woods of Númenor abounded in squirrels, mostly red, but some dark brown or black. These were all unafraid, and readily tamed. The women of Númenor were specially fond of them. Often they would live in trees near a homestead, and would come when invited into the house.
The Nature of Middle-earth - "Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor"
It seems that there may be a theme above Númenor's animals being intelligent, including their foxes, and perhaps that is related to this fox.
 

TristramEvans

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But the oddest part of this digression is that the narrator is applying information that wouldn't have been relayed by the hobbits, who were asleep. As such, I think this is clearly an example of Bilbo's habit of embellishing his stories, something well established in the notes regarding the Hobbit.
 

Sosthenes

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"Calls in" is a rather clickbaity way to say "we had to do some repairs anyway and didn't mind doing her incantations meanwhile".

In Iceland on the other hand:
xYEbxY8.jpeg
(Not a screenshot from the Will Ferrel Eurovision movie. There's a gallery with some excerpts from her treatise on elf sex. NSFW warning: Contains descriptions of elfin emissions.)
 

TristramEvans

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I thought Michael Jackson’s doctor should have told him no too, and that’s nowhere near this crazy.

I thought MJ had some sort of underlying condition that the surgery was covering up, but I may be remembering that wrong
 

Simon Hogwood

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elfMeme.png

The original word for Fox is lost as the word in all modern languages was originally an avoidance word so as not to summon it.
I've heard the same thing about bears.
While none of this by itself indicates intelligence, the paragraph immediately after this one talks about bears, and they seem pretty intelligent.
Of course, we have Beorn all the way back in The Hobbit as an example of the line blurring between bears and men.
 

TristramEvans

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Middle Earth was overall a pretty much anamistic world - meaning sentience was found in just about everything. Beyond animals, we even have the Mountain Caradhras a little while later that had a malevolent intelligence that Gandalf attempts to appease.
 

Simon Hogwood

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Middle Earth was overall a pretty much anamistic world - meaning sentience was found in just about everything. Beyond animals, we even have the Mountain Caradhras a little while later that had a malevolent intelligence that Gandalf attempts to appease.
I once read a theory that the giants seen in The Hobbit were manifestations of similar intelligences on the peaks the Party was traversing. The theory also suggested that Tom Bombadil was the same type of being, manifesting for either the Old Forest or all of Arda.
 

Endless Flight

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Those stone giants were jarring the first time I watched that movie. I hadn’t read the book first. They just seemed like a little too much.
 

TristramEvans

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Those stone giants were jarring the first time I watched that movie. I hadn’t read the book first. They just seemed like a little too much.

shyeah - a lot too much. I think that's the point my brain switched off.
 

Tulpa Girl

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The original word for Fox is lost as the word in all modern languages was originally an avoidance word so as not to summon it.

I've heard the same thing about bears.

the_true_name_of_the_bear.png

"Thank you to Gretchen McCulloch for fielding this question, and sorry that as a result the world's foremost internet linguist has been devoured by the brown one. She will be missed."
 

TristramEvans

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giphy.gif
 

TJS

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Those stone giants were jarring the first time I watched that movie. I hadn’t read the book first. They just seemed like a little too much.
""All was well, until one day they met a thunderstorm—more than a thunderstorm, a thunder-battle. You know how terrific a really big thunderstorm can be down in the land and in a river-valley; especially at times when two great thunderstorms meet and clash. More terrible still are thunder and lightning in the mountains at night, when storms come up from East and West and make war. The lightning splinters on the peaks, and rocks shiver, and great crashes split the air and go rolling in tumbling into every cave and hollow; and darkness is filled with overwhelming noise and sudden light. Bilbo ... saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out, and were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang ... they could hear the giants guffawing and shouting all over the mountainsides."

The problem is that the book is being read I think a little too literally. It's dark, there's flashes of lightning, so presumably Bilbo cannot see clearly. If someone has been brought up to believe in stone giants, and there in the middle of a storm, and they see things in flashes, they may imagine they really see stone giants when they're not there...Or maybe they are there who knows? The strength of a novel is interiority, and that means that some ambiguity can remain.

Films do exteriority, so by presenting literally what the book says Bilbo sees there's no ambiguity in the film (it could perhaps have been done, by a more subtle director, by taking advantage of lighting and the like).
 

TristramEvans

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I mean, it's not simply that it took place in the film, it's that they had to have the CGI dwarves running underneath the shower of CGI boulders
 

Rich H

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Bah. Too much CGI bullshit in general. It made me want to hit someone. Let's not even get into that Marx Brothers nonsense in the Goblin caves.:argh:

... Or the barrel ride escaping the Elves. I kept expecting Sonic-style coin collecting sound effects for that bit.

What a set of wank films they were. The LotR trilogy, for me, dropped the ball too many times; The Hobbit ones never picked the fucker up!
 

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When watching The Hobbit, I got the impression that a few scenes, like the goblin escape and the barrel ride, were made specifically to be used as part of a thrill ride in an amusement park. They are rather jolting, like the movie being made to match the toy.

These scenes also demonstrate a trend I've noticed akin to the inverse ninja law: If a situation looks so incredibly lethal that no one could possibly survive, then you know that no major characters will be seriously hurt. I think the probability of protagonist injury/death follows either a bell shaped or parabolic function of apparent danger.
 

David Johansen

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Middle Earth was overall a pretty much anamistic world - meaning sentience was found in just about everything. Beyond animals, we even have the Mountain Caradhras a little while later that had a malevolent intelligence that Gandalf attempts to appease.
I can dig up references if you like but the Balrog was unleashed when the dwarves tunneled under Caradhras.

I seem to recall Tolkien argued in a letter or something, that the "stone giants" were just big trolls. I've always liked the question Rincewind asks, "what happens to the stones when the sun goes down again."

The Hobbit movies always look too much like World of Warcraft to me. I can live with some of the changes. I thought the barrel chase / fight was at least interesting and fun to watch. I can live with Tauriel and Legolas after all they are elves and there are elves in Mirkwood it's even where Legolas is from. I think Tauriel and Rey* probably sit around in a bar somewhere complaining that men can't handle strong women. Though really, they share a common issue with Rose, the more the director tries to beat you over the head with how awesome their favorite character is the less people will like them. Relatable characters are flawed. But the entire ending of Battle of Five Armies, and the Thorin / Bolg fight in particular, ugh, that was bad.

*I imagine Denathor, Thrandruil, Radaghast, and Boba Fett spend time in a bar grumbling about character assassination.
 
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TJS

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I think even the Lord of the Rings movies are too influenced by later derivative Fantasy. That's one of the things that disappointed me about them. I'd really like to see an interpretation that challenges geek culture, rather than comfirms it.

It disappoints me to see Tolkien's very idiosyncratic work folded back into the world of fantasy cliches.
 
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Sosthenes

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The opposite happend, too. Just compare pre-LotR-Movie dwarves with current fantasy dwarves. Before that, "fantasy cliches" were horned helmets, regular chain mail, axes, etc.
Now we all get that unique angular design going on.

If "idiosyncratic" means Tom Bombadil & songs, I'm okay with streamlining.
 

Isator Levi

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the paragraph immediately after this one talks about bears, and they seem pretty intelligent.
Given the example of Grafton, New Hampshire, this makes me think that if Sauron didn't get to the Numenoreans, the bears would have eventually. "Making them feel comfortable wandering onto our property seemed like a good idea at the time".

Werner Herzog narrating that story would be pretty kickass, though.
 
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