After watching more than 9 hours of Lord of the Rings movies this weekend (not back to back, but almost), my jaw is still slack with amazement. Amazed at the cinematography, the casting, the scenery, the music, and the mastery of the medium that Peter Jackson demonstrates in every single frame. Amazed by New Zealand and now famishing to go there to see it for myself. Amazed by an epic story told on an epic scale.
I am reminded of a radio station manager I met some years ago who was forced for business reasons to attend an Alan Jackson concert even though he said he had always hated country music. He came away impressed in spite of himself: “A professional showman who knows how to entertain” is how he described the singer, grudgingly admitting that he had, in fact, been entertained, even though he still hated country music.
Now, I won’t go so far to say that I have ever actually hated fantasy epics full of wizards, orcs, hobbits, elves, endless bloody battles, near-death struggles around every turn, and the constant threat of total world annihilation, but that’s just really never been my thing, you know? Still, I was immensely entertained by Lord of the Rings in that it kept my interest throughout and moved my emotions more than twice.
For those who haven’t seen it (and I know there are a few among my readers), I won’t attempt to recap the entire plot. Suffice to say, if you’ve seen all the Harry Potter and Star Wars movies, as well as at least one movie set in England in the Middle Ages with armies on horseback storming a castle, this series will feel kind of familiar. The disembodied but nevertheless all-powerful dark foe who seeks unfettered power and total world domination at any price, the plucky and brave band of handsome fellows (all fellows in this one, unfortunately for gender parity) led by a good wizard that unite to oppose him, the large-scale battles that are improbably won by the underdogs, the regular cliffhanger escapes by the heroes, the perilous journey to complete a daunting task, the pair bonding of battle buddies, the peripheral romance, the amazingly ugly mythical creatures, the tragic deaths of comrades, the sun-soaked happy ending. Aww yiss, as the fanboys say: LOTR has all of that and more. Much more. Once you get the names of the main characters and places sorted out, it’s easy.
I’m glad I watched these movies, and I may watch them again one of these days (maybe when I get a larger TV so I can actually read the captions of the Elvish dialogue). But not any time soon. The overall message of doom, doom, doom was a bit much and left me feeling more than a little melancholy (even though the ending was, technically, happy, there was a lot of destruction leading up to it).
Also, a little bit of Gollum goes a long way.