A different look at Tolkien

I love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Of course I do. They’re wonderful. (The Hobbit, not so much.) That aside, it is a shame how much his films have hijacked the imagination as to what Middle-Earth looks like. Just try to picture Frodo without imagining Elijah Wood. Next to impossible, right? It’s a shame because Tolkien’s universe is a place that should be so stimulating to the visual imagination.

As an antidote to the “Jacksonation” of our Tolkien imagination, I present Tove Jansson’s delightful Hobbit illustrations.


Gollum in his boat.


The petrified trolls.


In mirkwood

View all of these illustrations here.

Thanks to Les McClaine for sharing these!

Kiki’s Delivery Service

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On this Culturezoo we talk about the 1989 Miyazaki film, Kiki’s Delivery Service. We spend some time comparing the ideas and details of this film to other magical stories like Harry Potter and spend some time discussing the importance of vocations and finding and enjoying our place in the community we are in. Not exactly stuff that you often come across in a kid’s cartoon.

As a special bonus, 13-year-old geek intern Jack joins us for a quick graphic-novel recommendation at the beginning of the podcast.

My Neighbor Totoro

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We’re back with the Summer of Miyazaki and this time we’re talking about the 1988 classic “My Neighbor Totoro”. Roger Ebert called this one his Great Films and we’re incline to agree. This film is a uniquely beautiful, subtle gem that comes with our highest recommendation. In this episode we talk about animation, childhood, and we can’t help but compare Disney and Ghibli again.

Next week we tackle Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Castle in the Sky

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The summer of Miyazaki continues with his second full-length feature and first with Studio Ghibli: Castle in the Sky. In addition to discussing the film, Levi and Rosalyn get existential and end up spending a lot of time talking about the world’s problems and who’s to blame: technology or human nature? We also compare the difference between Disney animation and Miyazaki’s style.

Next week: My Neighbor Totro!