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Old 21st December 2011   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: August 2005
Posts: 352
Default Re: John Martin: Apocalypse

Originally Posted by HSG
Like a scene from the Lord of the Rings contrasting Minas Tirith and Mordor, Joshua's city remains illuminated in blessed light, while the enemy domain, set deep in a hellish valley, an epic wasteland, is obscured in darkness, even as ominous storm-clouds prophesy its destruction.

It's interesting that the Lord of the Rings films should be referenced, because it occurs to me that the Tolkien cinema trilogy is the one of the few (perhaps the only) experiences that most modern viewers, who have not immersed themselves in Romanticism and Romantic art, have ever had of the Sublime.

The depictions of Mordor in the LOTR movies very much embody the aesthetic of the Sublime, as do the caverns of Khazad-dűm. And all three of the main infernal characters - Sauron, the Witch King of Angmar, and the Balrog of Moria - have visual qualities that associate them with the Sublime figures in John Martin's paintings.

The trilogy is rich with visuals that depict the aesthetic of the Beautiful and the Sublime. For example, the view of Caras Galadhon in Lothlórien is certainly a thing of Beauty, with the pastel-coloured sky and the verdant fields reminiscent of Martin's painting of the Celestial City.

Mordor, on the other hand, very much resembles Martin's landscapes of the Sublime, particularly his depictions of Hell and other infernal realms. It even has a volcano, Orodruin (a.k.a. "Mount Doom"), similar to Mount Vesuvius in Martin's Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum. And as a matter of fact, at the climax of The Return of the King, Orodruin erupts and destroys its surrounding territory, just like Vesuvius itself.

The previous images are screencaps, but here's a fascinating example of the concept art that was used in the preparation of the movies. In this illustration, Sauron stands on a rock overlooking the plain of Gorgoroth, looking every bit like one of Martin's solitary Sublime figures perched on similar rocky outcroppings, such as Satan or Manfred.

And not to venture too far off topic, but earlier today, Warner Bros. released the first trailer for Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit, his prequel to LOTR. It exhibits the same stunning visuals that the original trilogy featured, the same dramatic, mountainous landscapes worthy of John Martin himself.

The plot of The Hobbit is much inferior to the Rings trilogy, so it cannot possible approach the greatness of the previous films, but visually, it will clearly be another wonder.
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