YPSILANTI – Critics have generally praised and audiences flocked to The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jacksons first installment of three films intended to bring J. R. R. Tolkiens master fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, to the silver screen. But does Jacksons recreation of mythic Middle Earth, down to the elves, orcs, wizards, warriors and hobbits, pass muster for tried-and-true Tolkien fans?
Thats the question that will be examined by a cadre of these fans 7 p.m. on Feb. 7 at Ave Maria College, where a mock trial of Peter Jackson will be staged and students at the Catholic liberal arts college will render verdict.
This will be very tongue-in-cheek, and we plan to play up very big, said AMC writer-in-residence and Tolkien biographer Joseph Pearce, one of the two Tolkien experts to present evidence at the Trial of Peter Jackson for the desecration of The Lord of the Rings. Pearce is the author of Tolkien: Man and Myth, and most recently, Tolkien a Celebration: Collected Writing on a Literary Legacy.
Admission will be free to the event, which will be held in the college auditorium in the academic building at 302 West Forest Avenue in Ypsilanti. The mock trial is expected to last about one and a half hours, including time allotted for the audience to participate in a cross examination of the Tolkien experts.
While Pearce serves as defense attorney, literature professor Henry Russell, Ph.D., will serve as prosecutor and Ave Maria Radio talk show host Al Kresta will moderate the mock trial as judge and pronounce sentence if a verdict is rendered for the prosecution.
Both professors spoke to packed theaters at Quality 16 and Showcase during the movies opening week, presenting background on the literary importance of the trilogy authored by the late John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, professor of Anglo-Saxon language and literature at Oxford University in England. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has been popular since it was published in the early 1950s and has been named the book of the century in several reader polls.
Russell has already laid down the gauntlet, remarking that Jacksons rendition of Tolkien, has all the depth and intellect of a video game. Pearce declined to make a statement, because, he said, Im waiting until the trial to present my evidence.
Because Tolkien and his fantasy world have popular appeal in the local community as well, Pearce said the college expects to have a lot of fun with this one.