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Ocularcentrism, horror and The Lord of the Rings films

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The majority of the analyses of The Lord of the Rings films centre on extratextual dimensions: the political economy of film production, of audiences and fandom, and the impact of technology on envisaging the series. Instead, this article explores the aesthetic qualities of the films, focusing on the visualization of the chapter ‘Lothl√≥rien’ from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, and ‘The passage of the marshes’ and ‘Shelob’s lair’ from The Two Towers. In making The Lord of the Rings, Director Peter Jackson engages with the cinematic possibilities of vision and images of the eye; he then borrows spectatorial conceits from the horror film in order to relate the ocularcentric to the vulnerability of the individual body of Frodo Baggins. In visualizing the trilogy, an obsession is born, not only with the image of the eye, but also with the horror of being watched and of watching.

Keywords: Peter Jackson; The Lord of the Rings; horror; ocularcentrism; spectatorship; vision

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Northumbria

Publication date: May 8, 2012

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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