Friday, November 27, 2009

WMF Gandalf The Grey / The White

Deutsche Version

Throughout the big epic fantasy novel "the Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien we are told that Gandalf is the great wizard. That he can do so much. But let's face it, he does little magic. He blows a smoke ship, lights his staff, creates an energy shield do save him from one lash of the fiery whip from the Balrog and that is pretty much it.

That is very little magic compared to the time that the whole show/book runs. Which is years.

So I must conclude that Gandalf is a pretty lousy magician. I suppose his Double Lifts are weak too.

Compared to other fictional magicians he doesn't do anything. Merlin does way more. Any random witch is more busy. Hell, even Harry Potter, an apprentice is more diligent.

That is why Gandalf is this weeks magic failure.


Scott said...

You could say the same thing about God.

Roland said...

Well God doesn't have the title "wizard" so he is kind of out of the game.

Scott said...

Why? He's supposed to be all powerful. But what has He done for his believers lately?

However, if you imagine that Gandalf was a sort of lesser God himself, what he does/does not do makes a bit of sense. What would Frodo, Sam, or any of them have learned if Gandalf had simply teleported them to the spot where they could throw the ring in?

Or if he had just done it himself?

What if doing magic is harder, more physically tolling, than simply pointing a wand and saying a word? What if each spell costs you years off your life?

And don't forget his duel with Saruman. That was pretty cool.

What if learning to do one trick takes years of study and practice (like a good magic routine?) Most magic pros have a repertoire of less than a dozen effects. Why would professional wizards be any different?

The problem as moviegoers is, we’re spoiled. We expect Harry Potters in all our films, with magic going on everywhere, every few seconds.

I agree some more magic would have been better. But I also prefer the wizards in Stephen R Donaldson's brilliant series of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.

Personally I didn't like the Lord of the Rings Books. The Hobbit was good. But the other books are so full of names and places that never appeared before nor ever will again, reading them is like a slog through waist high wet snow.

The movies are better story telling imho.

But this topic also relates to my critique of most magic acts in general. (And manipulation acts in particular...) They're so chock full of tricks that there's not much magic. Little trick after little trick, some good, some not so good. Filler. Maybe one big good trick at the end.

It’s like a smorgasbord of 'just ok' dishes. I’d rather have one dish, prepared for me, to my liking, that’s perfectly cooked, perfectly conceived, perfectly served.

If our goal is to create a real experience of magic, is this the way? Show them 50 tricks and hope a couple hit the target?

However it’s not that they do too many tricks. It’s that there’s no focus. There’s too many other things going on. Too many themes. Or too much confusion.

Take Losander’s Floating Table. It’s got great focus. Simple, direct. It seems impossible. Now if the magician made himself float, then the spectator, then the audience, that would be a lot of tricks but they would all fit together.

Or should the magician pull feather flowers out of the cloth, a card fountain out the table, and doves - lots of doves?

I remember watching Topas’ manipulation act years ago with a non-magician girlfriend. Throughout the whole act she would say, “Saw it.” Or “Missed it.” It was a game to see if she could catch the steals or see the moves. Is that the reaction - the thought process - we want our spectators to experience??

My goal is to make them laugh. But having one or two really good effects that blow their minds is important to me as well.

Check out the Donaldson series (and in fact everything he ever wrote) if you like fantasy/sf. He's the best. Together with Orson Scott Card...