Wednesday, February 04, 2004

A word about the color scheme in Tolkien's books...I just finished a page in which Legolas talks about the golden trees, the mallorn (plural mellyrn) in Lothlorien. "In the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey." This is one example of the use of earth tones, so prevalent in Tolkien's work...I suppose it makes a greater impact because I've seen the movies and have visual images of the colors used by the filmmakers. Even from the books alone, though, the reader gets a sense of a world in greens, browns, blues and greys. There are splendid, rich reds and golds in the halls of kings, but even they are never harshly bright; they too seem tied to the earth.

With our bright, plastic, pop-culture sensibility, one would think we would find a green-and-grey world shadowy, but I love taking a dip into the freshness of Tolkien's colours, a break from the bubble-gum brightness of store windows. The races of Middle-earth are tied to the land, and the colours of their clothes, armor and dwellings show their affinity for it. Have we moved too far away from that mindset with our store-bought dyes? Would we feel more at home with the earth if we let its colours permeate our lives?


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