Tolkien TV

Tolkien TV is the Cook family YouTube channel.

We launched in early 2019 and produced six episodes of ‘Rescuing The Hobbit,’ which reveal slow and painful progress mastering a new medium. Now we (kind of) know what we are doing we are preparing a new series on The Hobbit that – hopefully – will be less of a mess.

Tolkien TV began as a way of engaging with my children and awakening their interest in the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. But I’ve now come to see the videos as an integral part of my own research. What is always missed in the sterile debate over ‘the books versus the movies’ is that Tolkien thinks in pictures. It is not merely that the illustrations he drew for his stories give vital clues to what he is doing, ultimately Tolkien understands fairy-stories as turning on a queer relationship between word and image.

Faërie cannot be caught in a net of words; for it is one of its qualities to be indescribable, though not imperceptible. (On Fairy-stories, p. 32)

Nobody to my knowledge has ever taken these words seriously. Doing so opens up a strange vista on adventures in a nameless realm that can be pictured but not directly described. Our enchantment as readers is bound up with our mistaking metaphorical titles (elvish artist, hobbit hole, magic ring, and so on) for the real names of the things and personalities who dwell in a nameless reality. And Tolkien’s art is made by stepping from the pictures in his mind to metaphorical descriptions on paper. This movement may be described in words but is better shown through video. (And if ever a movie director gets his or her head around this we might see some amazing movies as opposed to the tripe that was The Hobbit trilogy and the dire fare I am expecting from Amazon…)