Friday, September 22, 2017

Another weird Tolkien pop culture reference - the GANDALF trial

When I recently got the editorial comments back for my review of Okja (dir. Bong Joon-ho) for Science Fiction Film and Television, the only tweak they required was some clarification on the A.L.F. (Animal Liberation Front). My review, they said, made it sound as if Bong had simply created the group for the film, when in fact it is a very real, clandestine, leadership, world organization for animal rights.

Yeah well, er, um. . . . I won't admit this to THEM, but I actually had no idea that it was real. Somehow, despite all my background research on the film, it never once occurred to me that Bong might be using a real organization to help his protagonist. (*embarassed*) Anyway, after some quick googling, I tweaked the review accordingly. During the course of this googling, however, I stumbled upon something called "the GANDALF trial" from the U.K. in 1997. 

Now, no need to panic -- everyone's favorite wizard is by no means guilty of any high crimes or misdemeanors. Instead, GANDALF is the acronym -- and they tried really hard to make this work -- for Green Anarchist and A.L.F.. The wikipedia entry for this head-scratching event is here. In short, a number of animal rights activist were jailed for conspiracy to commit property damage. The acronym was the brainchild of their defense team, and it just goes to show how strong an environmentalist message could be read into The Lord of the Rings

A weird sidenote -- surely, methinks, I must have casually encountered information about this before, somewhere. Maybe I'll have a look through Patrick Curry's criticism again, since he's the best known environmentalist Tolkien critic, and he tends toward comprehensiveness. Still, this is the first time the GANDALF trial seems to have registered with me.

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