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Ken Muldrew

"Rowling wasn't going to give her series an unhappy ending any more than Lucas would have ended his with the Rebellion's defeat."

Did you read that epilogue in book 7? Tragedy doesn't begin to describe it.

"those notes are clearly the work of a scientific mind, the mind of someone who doubted, questioned, tested, experimented, who looked for reasons."

Snape is really the only non-medieval person in the wizarding world and, from the evidence, he is clearly the most talented wizard extant. His situation and obeisance to both Voldemort and Dumbledore are left unexplained.

I haven't seen the movie yet. My youngest daughter just saw it in Venezuela and asked me to hold off until she returned so that we could go together. There probably aren't too many of those invitations left so I'll just have to be patient.

J.

I don't understand a single thing you've said in this post. But then again, I suppose it's because I deliberately avoided J.K. Rowling's rip-off novels from the start. Yeah yeah, the books got kids to read, wonderful. But her good stuff isn't original, and the original stuff isn't good.

But I think it's problematic to compare Luke Skywalker to Harry Potter since both authors really ripped off major chunks of their plot from other genres. It kind of boils down to an attempt to compare the "Rambo" movies to the "Die Hard" series. Yeah, there may be parallels, but is it really important to the business of movie making?

Bradley D.

"Ralph Fiennes is a far more interesting screen presence than Hayden Christopher." And as if to prove your point, it turns out his name is actually Hayden Christensen. Poor guy can't get any breaks...

Lance

Bradley D.,

lol. And after he did such great work in Jumpers. Thanks for the catch.

B'Hommad

Only saw the first and second Star Wars, which seemed to be about children pointing ray-guns at guys in white armor and saying zap zap, along with some mystical Frank Herbert stuff and odds and ends from a hundred pulp sci-fi stories. It's conceivable that the series got better, but those first two sort of sucked.

But where could you get the idea that Aragorn resisted being king? Seems to me the guy was the king and knew it, never resisted it in the least. Just had to spend a few hundred years with a bad attitude, rangering in the edge lands, playing a close hand, waiting for the situation to ripen, re-forge the blade that was broken, yatada. No resistance, none, zilch. He was ready when the time came and always knew he would be ready. Nothing in the story at all about him resisting. He turned down that hot horse-rider babe without a second thought for anything but kindness, knowing he had to go be the king. The Aragorn resistance is either something that was dreamed up for the movies or you got some re-reading to do.

The part about Harry Potter being normal sounds about right, judging from a first viewing of the first movie last night. It was surprising that Harry shook off growing up in a locked cupboard under the stairs so easily, but it was just a kid story with owls and troll-snot and flying broomstick hockey after all, not Tolkien.

El Jefe

Good stuff on many fronts here, and lots worth talking about.

Lance and Bradley,

Rofl on both fronts. Lucas couldn't cast Skywalkers for beans, could he? For a story told through the eyes that hobbled an awful lot from go. It did make Han, Obi-Wan, and the princesses mother and daughter more compelling by default, though, since they had to fill gaps left by the Chosen Wasn'ts.

Ken,

Now, now. Much of the epilogue feels a little like being able to read intestinal flu, sure, but the conversation between grown-up Harry and young Albus is 1) quite sweet in a genuine sense, and 2) makes a good bit of Lance's point about chosen-as-growing-up. Grown-up Harry much more fully understands at a depth of soul the meaning (both meaning in and meaning of) Snape's life. Snape was indeed the most scientific of wizards and had the immense advantages of that, which made him in many respects just as you say, especially in his potential more than his realized power. Very smart to bring that up, and I think Rowling kind of "got" that by the time she was writing Half-Blood. But Snape's power nearly always came up short or remained unrealized potential because of what he so clearly lacked: the strategic and philosophical depth of even Voldemort, much less Dumbledore, with the one defining exception of Snape's unwavering love for Lily. There, through that channel, he became both the man and the wizard (the only triple-agent who could keep it all straight) he *could* be. Dumbledore deserves even more attention than Lance gives (which is more than usual) to his ease using Harry as cannon fodder for a greater good (his old Achilles heel wrt Grindlewald.) But he understood and deeply respected both Snape's practical talents and that one place in his life where he showed the kind of depth of perspective that might have made him the defining wizard of the age. On beyond the (spoilers!) death scene, it was Snape Dumbledore trusted as Headmaster because McGonagall was such an obvious target for the Death Eater party and would probably have gone down swinging in sheer Scots bloody-mindedness (I speak as a carrier of the gene.) But Snape, Voldemort's inside man, could play his crucial part even to the (spoilers again) inevitable end. Lance has already done lovely pieces on why Dumbledore wasn't a Chosen One and why Neville could quite easily have been; I think there's another one out there about Snape as the other side of the coin, a tragic hero of growing-up. That for me makes him even more interesting than being a one man wizarding Galileo-Newton-Lavoisier.

Lance,
There's a whole other post out there about mythic chosen ones. Especially how the Yeshua-to-Jesus translation (from radical rabbi and pretender to the throne, to Holy Freakin' Trinity, Batman) fits into the larger Justice League of God-Boys abroad in Hellenistic culture (figures like Mithras, Sol Invictus, even Hadrian's boy-toy Antinous which was a far more deliberate effort to gin up such a figure rather than, as I suspect Yeshua's case was, an example of how one culture makes another culture's idea familiar to themselves.) Carrot is, of course, an ideal example, especially his genuine guilt that the old saw that "a hero is someone who gets other people killed" seems to follow him around in spite of himself. To be accurate with Tolkien, rather than Peter Jackson, Aragorn had made his peace with the *fact* of his kingship, but didn't seek the power for its own sake and assumed (in that grim, Tolkenian, survivor's-guilt-plus-Catholicism way) that the road to kingship was, like the mighty Elendil's before him (an even better, if shorter, example of a noble soul who had kingship shoved at him when he'd never wanted it), a road to inevitable tragedy and the failures of his descendants.

Sorry to ramble so long; it's an essay worth rambling about.

Nancy

Buffy also had issues with being the Chosen One.

actor212

Lance, I think the point behind Potter is not the classic hero, but the classic leader, a general, who rallies and marshals forces that ultimately defeat the evil.

In other words, Harry represents love.

I have not read the books nor seen this movie, i should add

Luke was an adult when his trials began. Harry was barely out of diapers. He had protectors and advisors. Luke had Obi Wan and Yoda and both abandoned him (Ok, died) before he could complete his training.

This is a different story altogether. But I do like your analysis.

El Jefe

Forgot this earlier (bring in the comfy chair!):

Rowling, who probably goes on the books with Wodehouse as "best namers of characters in Englishsorrybritish literature since Dickens," even makes something like Lance's point with her hero's name. One part the archetypal English boy king post-Arthur ("Cry God for Harry, Hogwarts, and St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies!"), one part a verb typically used in relation to gardening one's herbaceous borders.

actor212

But where could you get the idea that Aragorn resisted being king?

Do you recall the speech Elron gives to Aragorn when he hands him the sword?

"Put aside the ranger. Become who you were born to be."

It was clear throughout the trilogy that Aragorn was resistant to claiming his throne, altho he knew it was to be. Remember his sadness at the failure of the Fellowship to deliver Frodo to Mount Doom? This was a sign that he felt unsure he could really be a king.

It is not until Boromir's death, in the movies at any rate, that he even talks about defending Gondor.

Mike Schilling

In short, the reason we know that Aragorn and Carrot are the one the true king of their respective fantasy worlds is that neither one wants to be king and each goes out of his way to avoid having to take on the job.

Movie-Aragorn, that is. Book-Aragorn is on a multi-decade program to become the king, because

1. That's his destiny.
2. It's not only his destiny, it's the thousand-year destiny of his branch of the royal family to reunite the lost kingdom of Arnor and restore the royal rule to Gondor.
3. Elrond tells him in so many words that Arwen will marry no Man less than the king of both Arnor and Gondor.

Lance

Nancy, I've got to watch some more Buffy.

El Jefe, B'Hommad, Carl, lots of interesting points. Thanks for taking the time.

Mike, you've got me wondering about something. Has Jackson rewritten the novels, added to the myth, or created a separate version all his own? I'm not sure if it's possible for me to think about the books apart from the movies anymore.

J.: But I think it's problematic to compare Luke Skywalker to Harry Potter since both authors really ripped off major chunks of their plot from other genres. It kind of boils down to an attempt to compare the "Rambo" movies to the "Die Hard" series.

J, Hmmm. Rambo vs. Die Hard? Rambo vs. Die Hard? I think there's a post in this!

Mike

Harry is not, IMHO, the only reluctant Chosen One to prefer ordinariness. I'm pretty certain that part, if not most of the hesitancy of one of the first Chosen Ones, Moses, was a private ambition of the life of a gentleman-farmer. It takes some fair cojones to argue with your tribal deity -- Moses had a good thing going in Midian, and he's supposed to give that up to take on the might of Egypt? For the Israelites?

Ian Welsh

Not directly related, because I stopped reading the Potter novels at number 4, which was a mess, but as someone who reads a lot of SF and fantasy, god I'm sick of the reluctant hero motif. You're the only person who can save the day, shut up, stop whining, and get to it. Yes, for some reason you wanted to be ordinary, but let's face facts, in many cases being the chosen one has some pretty great perks. It reeks of hollywood celbrity whining. Yes, there's a downside to your life, but the upside is pretty damn good, and unlike celebrities, you have an opportunity to do great good.

Voldemort is a very uninteresting villian. As for Star Wars, episodes 1 through 3 are virtually unrelieved horribleness, with bad actors acting badly, and good actors apparently strangled by bad directing, wooden dialogue and characters who are almost universally unsympathetic. What is clear about Lucas is that he doesn't actually understand what made the first trilogy work anymore, something which is made extraordinarily clear when he did the re-edits of the original star wars and put in Han Solo moronically waiting to be shot at first in the Cantina scene. In the original, making Solo shoot first made it clear he was the sort of person who would shoot first, and made it believable that he might walk away from the Rebellion.

Nancy

Yes Lance, you should watch all Buffy episodes - all seven seasons - and 5 seasons of Angel for extra credit.

In the last episode of season 2, Buffy and her mom have it out over Buffy's vampire slaying gig and Buffy explains why it sucks having to save the world all the time:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/14645/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-becoming-part-2

Although my favorite character trajectories in the series are for Willow and Spike, both of whom are in the position to save the world at some point too. And the actors who play those characters are arguably the best in the series.

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