06 August 2016

The Defense of the Homburg -- Wait, What?

That would be a Homburg on Churchill's head.

In a pdf of Tolkien's letter to Forrest J. Ackerman (of Famous Monsters of Filmland fame) about a possible film of The Lord of the Rings, we find a rather strange proof of just how important it is to proofread the documents one scans:
I am afraid that I do not find the glimpse of the 'defence of the Homburg' – this would be a better title, since Helm's Deep, the ravine behind, is not shown – entirely satisfactory. It would, I guess, be a fairly meaningless scene in a picture, stuck in in this way. Actually I myself should be inclined to cut it right out, if it cannot be made more coherent and a more significant part of the story. .... If both the Ents and the Hornburg cannot be treated at sufficient length to make sense, then one should go. It should be the Hornburg, which is incidental to the main story; and there would be this additional gain that we are going to have a big battle (of which as much should be made as possible), but battles tend to be too similar: the big one would gain by having no competitor.*
(Letters, no. 210) 
While this conjures many an image of Churchill as Théoden King, a role he would have truly relished playing, I shall leave the inevitable re-imagining of the king's dialogue into Churchillian cadences to my reader.**


*In an aside I find it interesting to note that Tolkien would have chosen to discard the Battle of Helm's Deep as incidental, rather than scant the Ents. Peter Jackson of course made precisely the opposite choice, and has met much criticism in some circles for it.

**Presumably Churchill would have found something to say about the fact that his mother, Jenny Jerome, was no more a native of England than Théoden's mother, Morwen of Lossarnach, was of Rohan. It could be adduced as proof that he was born to play the part. 

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