As I settled down to watch TV one evening last week, I realized I needed something familiar, so I decided to start a rewatch of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Here’s some breaking news – I still consider the films, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s saga of the quest to destroy The One Ring and, in the process, the ring’s evil creator, to be fantastic.
When the first film in the trilogy – The Fellowship of the Ring – was released in 2001, I paid it no mind. This was, in part, because I confused it with Lord of the Flies, which I have never and will never read or watch. I still didn’t care when the second movie – The Two Towers – was released the following year. I still didn’t care when the third movie – The Return of the King – was released in 2003. After all, the only fantasy adventure that interests me involves my move to Cicely, Alaska.
But also in 2003, someone recommended I rent the first two LOTR movies. I don’t remember who made this recommendation, but it had to be someone whose judgment I trusted, because I made my way to the video store and rented a VHS tape of The Fellowship of the Ring that I played on my VCR.
Although I must have been skeptical, the movie captivated me within minutes. I enjoyed it so much that I returned to the video store as soon as possible to rent The Two Towers. Then, I waited impatiently for The Return of the King to be released on video because I had missed its theatrical run.
Through the years, I’ve caught the movies on the TV, but enough time had passed since my last watch that I felt I could view them with fresh eyes. As I mentioned earlier, they’re fantastic. I love the music and, with one exception, the cast, and the grandness. At times, it’s over the top, but it’s a story about mind-reading elves, an all-seeing eye that corrupts a wizard, and a self-aware ring that’s trying to get back to its master. If that story doesn’t deserve and demand theatrics then I don’t know what does.
Ultimately, though, as a friend notes when explaining why the trilogy constitutes her favorite movie, it’s a story about working together and helping one another for a greater good or simply for friendship. As a teary-eyed Sam tells Frodo, he can’t carry the ring, but he can carry him. And he does.
Here are more of my thoughts on the trilogy, in no particular order of importance:
- The Shire is beautiful. It’s no wonder most Hobbitses don’t leave.
- I love the way the elves don’t seem to move when they move.
- Much like Éowyn, I fell in love with Aragorn on first sight.
- I’m sure this is offensive to Tolkien fans, but I couldn’t finish the books. They were hard to follow and boring.
- Whenever the characters worried about the lack of troops, I shook my head. They just needed Aragorn and his sword, Legolas and his unending supply of arrows, and Gimli and his axe. Well, those guys, their weapons, and a little of Gandalf’s magic.
- This might be an unpopular opinion, but the Orcs are scary and creepy.
- If I had the ring and that screaming wraith showed up, I’d throw it to him.
- Smeagol makes me sick to my stomach, but he had some good lines. Indeed, stupid fat hobbit is one of the greatest insults in cinematic history. Poor Sam. Not only did he accompany Frodo on his perilous journey over Middle Earth, he did so without po-tay-toes, and he endured fat-shaming. It’s no wonder Tolkien considered him the story’s true hero.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.
I agree that the trilogy as a whole is a grand work of art, bigger than the sum of its parts. But it’s weather-dependent—it has the greatest impact for me on an overcast winter’s day. I’ve tried watching it in the warm seasons it loses something. Same with the Harry Potter movies. Anyhoo.
It’s interesting that you say, I mean, write that because my previous rewatches have taken place during the week between Christmas and New Years.
I’ve just never jonesed for it in the summertime.