13 Feb Andrew O’Hehir

There’s nothing fake or mealy-mouthed about Jackson’s immense admiration for the late author, or his genuine desire to tell the stories the best way he can, but I fear that he now believes he has inherited Tolkien’s mantle and can do no wrong. I really hope these movies are terrific, but I feel a pang of identification with the “intellectual despair” expressed by Christopher Tolkien, the writer’s 87-year-old son and literary executor, who broke his long silence on the Jackson movies in a recent interview with the Paris newspaper Le Monde. In the midst of his struggle to stop “Lord of the Rings” theme-park rides and Las Vegas slot machines – and his lawsuit against New Line Cinema seeking film profits, which yielded his family trust an estimated payment of $38 million – Christopher says his father has become a monster, “devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time.” The gap he perceives between “the beauty and seriousness of the work” and its commercial translation, Christopher says, “has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of this creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: Turning my head away.”