“Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high within the topmost walls, shone out against the sky, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver.”
For the equivalent of 2.9 billion US dollars, the shining city J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about in Return of the King could become a real-life city in southern England. A group of British architects headed by Jonathan Wilson have started a crowdfunding campaign, “Realise Minas Tirith,” to build a fully-functional replica of the city that would be “not only the most remarkable tourist attraction on the planet, but also a wonderfully unique place to live and work.”
Wilson recognizes that his project is a long shot. Although the campaign has already raised an impressive $128,000, the project is still 0% funded with 39 days left. Wilson says, “this project is a light-hearted venture with virtually no chance of succeeding.”
Light-hearted or not, the desire to build a fantasy city, to make it real, is an interesting one. Many people have been so taken by the houses pictured in books or movies that they create replicas to live in themselves. But bringing fantasy worlds into our world robs them of much of their charm. In general these worlds are desirable because they seem better or more beautiful than our own, or because of the story they are a part of. Translated to planet Earth, Minas Tirith would still have all the everyday annoyances of our own world, and none of the world-saving quests of the other. It would still be our world, just a piece of Tolkien would be a part of it. Ultimately, we don’t want shining white cities; we want a better world, or a different grand story for it all.
And for all the orc-fans out there, there’s another crowdfunding campaign, “Destroy Minas Tirith,” so that you can stick the “fleshy humans” with “many pointy and shiny things.”