Episode 5
August 26, 2019

This Mysterious Færie Queen

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned discuss Oriana’s choice of topic: Galadriel. Even if she’s not actually Cate Blanchett in platform heels, she’s tall and blonde, and she seems to have a total drip of a husband in Celeborn. If he’s wise, she’s definitely wiser, and once introduced into the legendarium, Tolkien himself didn’t seem to know exactly what to do with her backstory, quite literally changing details just a month before he died. Among our discussions: what did Galadriel and Celeborn do all that time when they were hanging out at the Elf havens in Gondor? Is Galadriel in fact really talking to Sauron in the famed sequence viewing her mirror? Why didn’t Galadriel return to Valinor sooner when it seemed she had numerous opportunities to do so? And of course: what is it about her hair? Bonus appearance by a thunderstorm!

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle for the episode is another success, of course!

The full interview of Stephen Colbert by Anderson Cooper on grief is worth a watch; Colbert first mentions Tolkien offhand a little after the 6:30 mark. Colbert interviewing Lee Pace is a much lighter subject, with the initial Tolkien nerdery happening almost out of the gate.

Here’s that Amazon video introducing their show’s creative team. There are some heavy hitters for sure! IMDB credits for Gen Hutchison show the range—Fringe is currently streaming (with ads) via Amazon. Kate Hawley’s IMDB page similarly has a lot to offer—in 2015 she was interviewed about her Crimson Peak work in detail, and her Instagram is cool—and Rick Heinrichs has done more than a few things himself.

John Howe is, well, John Howe. He’s just that good. Last year’s A Middle Earth Traveller was a great overview of his many designs for both of Peter Jackson’s trilogies, so we’ll see what carries through into Amazon’s production.

Tom Shippey is his own total legend, and very much still active in work on and about Tolkien, as this hour-long lecture from the Tolkien 2019 gathering in England earlier this month shows. His Tolkien Gesellschaft interview doesn’t and can’t say everything of course but there’s a lot in there that shows what the general path of the Amazon adaptation will be like.

Markella Kavenagh is (almost) Tyra, if Variety’s news story is any indication. TheOneRing.net’s piece on this news has more background on the general casting/audition process.

There’s plenty out there on the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time adaptation at Amazon—here’s recent casting news—but yes, suffice to say his estate was NOT thrilled by this bizarre production by another team entirely from back in 2016.

I mean, yeah, Cate Blanchett, Galadriel, there ya go.

But more seriously, Tolkien Gateway’s overview of Galadriel gives a real sense of the character’s deep history in the world of the legendarium, as well as the various points of that history that Tolkien never fully resolved, such as whether or not Amroth was her son.

Jared’s reminder that Tolkien was far from ‘woke’ is a further reminder in turn that there’s been quite a bit of scholarship on Galadriel and feminism in various corners. (This piece, while heavily academic, looks at her and Eowyn in detail in the context of Tolkien’s ‘inadvertant feminism.’)

Celeborn, the master of just being there, supposedly being wise. (And yet, based on his few lines in The Lord of the Rings, he’s not THAT wise.) And yes, this really is an alternate version of his name.

Suffice to say “The Mirror of Galadriel” is and remains one of the most memorable chapters and moments from the book and its many adaptations. As for the mirror itself, there are theories...lots of them.

Galadriel’s hair alone may be the most memorable in any kind of fantastic literature since Rapunzel. (Though Lúthien knew something about hair too.) One of the cleverer bits of Jackson’s movies was keeping the exact scene offscreen, simply recalled in wistful retrospect instead. (As John Rhys Davies noted in the documentaries with the films, it’s a great moment to read, but a hard one to capture on film and act in.)

Galadriel as a manifestation of Tolkien’s Catholicism is no small subject matter. The question of her identification with the Virgin Mary has long been a topic for discussion—here’s a couple of pieces among many—while her famed poem sung upon the Fellowship’s departure, “Namárië,” itself feels like a prayer to another Marian figure, the Vala Varda aka Elbereth Gilthoniel.

The issue of mindreading and telepathy in Tolkien is a touch vague—but not totally absent either: his late essay “Ósanwe-kenta,” published in the 39th issue of Vinyar Tengwar, talks about it in some detail; while not available online, it’s drawn upon for this extensive piece on the wider subject.

My Bloody Valentine? I do like them.

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