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    Posted December 19, 2013 by
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    The Hobbit Meets Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon


    As all fantasy fans know, the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was recently released. Below, Henry Herz interviews Emil Johansson about his Lord of the Rings fansite LOTRproject and their recent Tolkien-centric collaboration, Six Degrees of Sauron.


    Henry: It is no exaggeration to characterize you as a Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fanatic. What is it about those books that so appeals to you?


    Emil: I think The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were the first books I read that really stimulated my imagination. There is such a vast world in Tolkien's book, it almost seems real, but there's still enough left out to make it mysterious. I also guess I was somewhat a daydreamer when I was a child, and I always imagined being part of some adventure.


    Henry: You host the LOTRproject Tolkien fansite. Please tell us about that.


    Emil: LOTRproject is a personal project that allows me to design interactive projects for exploring Middle-earth. I could say it is what I have always wanted to do. The site started out as only a family tree of characters from Tolkien's work. Since then it has grown to become something much larger.


    Henry: Emil is being modest when he says "ONLY a family tree of characters from Tolkien's work." There are hundreds of characters in that tree.


    Your latest LOTRproject effort is called Six Degrees of Sauron ( Tell us about that.


    Emil: Six Degrees of Sauron is like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon meets Middle-earth. You can enter any two characters from The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, or The Silmarillion, and the application displays the string of connections showing how they are connected.


    Henry: I was surprised at how easy it is to get from Sauron to other characters you wouldn’t think of. The Dark Lord is closer than you think!


    Aside from Six Degrees of Sauron, what are some other features of LOTRproject?


    Emil: There is the core of the site, the family tree. There is also an interactive map of Middle-earth, geospatial timelines of the history of Middle-earth, and some statistics. The statistics were derived from the family tree and gave some fascinating numbers on average lifespan of Hobbits, Dwarves and Men. The average lifespan of a Hobbit is 96.8 and a standard deviation of 10.6 years. I also created a page that allows you to see the frequency of character mentions in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.


    Henry: LOTRproject also features fun infographics, such as a flowchart for figuring out which dwarf in The Hobbit you are viewing based on his facial hair. Yes, we are geeks.


    By movie-making necessity, the cinematic versions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit differ in some ways from the written works. How do you feel about that?


    Emil: My opinion is that they have the freedom to make an adaption the way he wants, to a certain extent. I should say there are a lot of things I really like about the movies, and I certainly enjoy watching them. However, the rearranged timeline in The Hobbit movies compared to the book is something I am not too happy about. Also, I can't understand why they came up with the idea that the Witch-king had been buried. After the fall of Angmar, he fled, and when Eärnur wanted to pursue him, Glorfindel made his famous prophecy, "He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall." That prophecy is quite important, even in the movies.


    Henry: "I am no man!" Lady Eowyn declares as she kicks Witch-king butt in The Return of the King.


    What are some of your favorite quotes from the books and scenes from the movie?


    Emil: I have one I quite like, which is present in both The Lord of the Rings films and, of course, the books. It is of Gandalf and Frodo talking about Sméagol:


    "Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many – yours not least."
    ― Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring

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