What do you think of Tolkien on the silver screen...? Whether Bakshi, Jackson, Amazon, BBC radio play, or whoever else, come on in and discuss your reflections, opinions, and memories...


Postby siddharth » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:27 am

The LOTR is widely considered as an epic while the Harry Potter books are an epitome for teenage-literature. The story of both the series is quite similar: an orphan boy/hobbit who has been entrusted with the task to destroy the Dark Lord of their time ( Voldemort in HP and Sauron in LOTR). However, there are innumerable unexpected twists and turns in both of them.
Tolkien had a lot of experience as a war veteran in World War I as a result of which he crated the middle-earth and wrote the battle sequences so well. However, LOTR is based more on descriptive passages than conversation which may make the series look a little slackened at the middle for some.
The HP series starts off as the muggle orphan Harry enters the Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. Here he learns how his family was killed by the Dark Lord Voldemort. The subsequent books saw the introduction of various enchanting spells, creatures and of course magic. However the tone of the story became darker from the fourth book and onwards. However, J.K. Rowling’s flaws in the plot led to a lot of loose ends in the 5th and 6th books where she tried to broaden the plot, which however she explained in the last - 7th book. In overall, both the stories, though have some noticeable flaws in the plot, nevertheless are quite excellent. My rating on story line comparison would be:-

Harry Potter : 9/10
The Lord of the Rings: 9/10

The Harry Potter stories are so lively (and that’s why popular) largely because they take place in a world very like our own. However, LOTR takes place in Middle-earth, is similar to the world we KNEW, but still is hugely different. In fact, it is Middle-earth that makes LOTR so enjoyable: the races, the valleys, the rivers the mountains, the kings and queens and elves and dwarves and especially the race we know as Hobbits. Also, Tolkien drew a very detailed map of Middle-earth. So if you lost your path in the novel you can check up the map! In short, it is the richness and the vastness of the world that is the biggest reason for the story’s success; while the Harry Potter stories have a very easy to understand world, and one that therefore is very much easier to pretend you are a part of. But as whatsoever be Mr. Potter’s world, it pales against the richness of Middle-earth. My pick would definietely be LOTR – the rating is:-

Harry Potter: 6/10
The Lord of the Rings: 10/10

These are only some ( or it will be too lenghty :) )
Frodo Baggins v/s Harry Potter

Frodo Baggins, the main protagonist of LOTR is hobbit who leaves to destroy the Ring. In no way imaginable is he like an ideal hero: he is shorter than a dwarf (as most hobbits are), much weaker physically than the other protagonists like Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin etc. His foremost quality is his mental strength, his determination and his purity and resistance to the power of the One Ring. Though Tolkien has presented the inner conflict of Frodo very brilliantly, the character of Frodo remains two-dimensional.
Harry Potter is an 11 year old boy when the first HP book sets off. The HP series is more about the coming of age of Harry and his efforts to destroy Voldemmort. His main qualities are bravery, determination and his love for his friends - Rowlings’ foremost developed character. Harry’s inner conflicts, anxieties, emotions all are brilliantly showcased and he appears more as a three-dimensional figure to the reader. My thumbs up for Harry Potter:-

Frodo Baggins: 6.5/10
Harry Potter : 8.5/10

Samwise Gamgee v/s Ronald Weasely
Samwise Gamgee is Frodo’s entrusted sidekick in LOTR. He has all the qualities of a hero: he is dead loyal, brave, strong, skilled in combat (he defeated a giant spider once). But these are not the qualities that make Sam as an interesting figure. He is one of the characters who appears quite ‘human’ to the reader. According to Tolkien, Sam’s character was based on country farmers who are simpletons but are brave too when they need to be. In the fierce enemy field far away from village, Sam longs for his house in The Shire, the garden he tends to, the woods he loves, the country fruits even when death is looking into his eyes. Thus, Samwise Gamgee is one of the crafty creations of the highest order in LOTR.
Ronald Weasely or Ron,is Harry’s best friend. He is depicted as a goofy, cowering and sometimes jealous wizard grown in one of the most ancient but poor families of the wizard world. Though Ron’s character is moulded effectively but it does not makes any long-lasting impression on the reader.

Samwise Gamgee: 8/10
Ronald Weasely: 6/10

Gandalf v/s Dumbledore!

A much debated topic, It is the clash of the titans. Both are my favourite characters in the respective series.
Gandalf is a member of the Istari and is perhaps 3000 years old when LOTR starts. However even after he dies while fighting with a Balrog, he gets resurrected, which is why he becomes less humane.
Dumbledore however, only about 250 years old is a little more complex character than Gandalf. He is mysterious, powerful and never reappears after his death. Thus Dumbledore has a slight edge over Gandalf, on parameter of believability ( Though I like Gandalf more! :D :D )

Gandalf: 8/10
[i]Dumbledore: 8.5/1

Overall Character :
The Lord of the Rings : 22.5/30
Harry Potter : 23/30

In this section, Tolkien obviously wins. He was a master philologist (study of languages) and a mature and renowned author. The descriptive passages of LOTR make the reader visualise the surroundings easily and thus makes us comfortable with it. In addition he composed numerous wonderful poems and songs in English as well as in other tongues throughout the novel. In addition to this, Tolkien has created a whole new language and a history for middle-earth! This achievement cannot be surpassed by many celebrated authors of human history.
Rowling’s language is somewhat simple which is why one of the main criticisms HP series faced was it’s language.

Harry Potter: 5.5/10
The Lord of the Rings: 8/10

Originality is one such factor in which LOTR clearly has an upper hand. It is claimed that LOTR, which was published back in the 1950s, has influenced each and every fantasy published since in one way or another. Tolkien derived some of the ideas he used in LOTR and the prequel The Hobbit from old Finnish legends like the Kalevala.
HP on the other hand has been influenced a lot by LOTR, whether Rowlings admits it or not. No doubt, the concept of a wizard world and a school of wizardry is unique but after these, HP’s uniqueness fades. Some of the facts which are proof of LOTR's influence on HP:

1. Harry Potter is an orphan who is raised by his uncle Vernon. Frodo Baggins is an orphan raised by his uncle Bilbo.
2.Description of Sauron and Voldemort are similar: they are the Dark Lords of their time, who were defeated once but still live on as a shapeless spirit.
3.Hooded beings whose presence instills fear:
Nazguls in LOTR
Dementors in HP
4.Harry is attacked by giant spiders in The chamber of secrets.
Frodo and Sam encounter a giant spider in The Two Towers (LOTR book II)
The idea may have been influenced from Tolkien’s The Hobbit, where Frodo’s uncle Bilbo has to fight off hundreds of giant spiders.
5.Both Frodo and Harry have a gangrel creature at their service-
Dobby in service of Harry and Gollum in the service of Frodo.
6.In both, there are objects which have to be destroyed in order to destroy The Dark Lord- horcruxes in HP and the One Ring in LOTR.
7. Description of Gandalf and Dumbledore are very similar.
Both are wise, very aged, have long white beard, are one of the most powerful wizards of their time, one of the key protagonists.
9. Both stories involve a basin in which one can see the past.

Thus on the basis of the comparison, we see that LOTR influences other novels while HP itself is influenced.

The Lord of the Rings: 9/10
Harry Potter: 7/10
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