Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Lord of the Rings...

Recently, I've been trying to watch more movies with my hubby, because he truly loves movies. I, on the other hand, have the attention span of a 2 year old, so it's hard for me to sit still for a multi-hour movie. Bad 30 minute sitcoms and sappy hour long dramas are my usual forte. Especially when there are wonderful romances set in Amish country to be read...but I digress. We've established a nice system whereby we watch movies on a weekend night and we take turns picking. I got Mike to watch the 5 hour BBC version of Pride & Prejudice (ha!) which I blogged about at the time. And he LOVED it.

So, a few weeks ago, I suggested that we watch something that I know that he loves and wanted to share with me: the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King. I had heard that the movies were quite good, and JRR Tolkien was a well-known devout Catholic who claimed to have woven Christian moral themes into the stories. So I acquiesced. But I don't usually enjoy fantasy, so I wasn't sure how I was going to like them. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised. I *loved* them. We actually had Lord of the Rings marathons for an entire week, watching a hour or more each night before retiring for bed.

I'll try and give a brief, clumsy summary from someone who has never read the books. The dark lord, Sauron, creates this One Ring that possesses his essence and can influence even the best of men to crave its power, even kill for it. To free Middle Earth from the powers of evil, the kindly wizard Gandalf asks hobbit Frodo to transport the ring to Mount Doom, whose fires are the only place in which the ring can be completely destroyed. Apparently, hobbits are more innocent and genuinely good than most other folk. So, he's hoping Frodo can resist the ring long enough to dispose of it, a task at which other creatures have previously failed in grand form. Frodo is assisted by his good friend Sam, and Aragorn, heir to the human settlement of Gondor, along with a few other people whose names I can't remember. One is Orlando Bloom, with blond hair, who plays an elf that can shoot arrows like nobody's business. Mike could not stop laughing when I referred to the elf community as "fairies." Fairy, elf, is there really a difference? Anyway, there is also a caustic dwarf that I liked very much. They constituted the "fellowship" to protect the ring on its journey, but ultimately they had to send Frodo and Sam on by themselves; the power of the ring was too overwhelming for the group dynamic to stay strong.

The overall good versus evil theme really kept my interest. I had a hard time keeping all the crazy names and types of creatures straight, but I grew attached to the characters. One thing that struck me were the battle scenes. In each, the good troops were all rounded up on horse back with their armor and swords, given a pep talk, and sort of foisted off to the attacking evil army, which was inevitably twice their size and oozing gross liquids. A difficult thing war was, to be sure. And each time, they were badly outnumbered and had weapons that were way less cool and spiky. But they held their own, trying desperately to stop the invading army of Orks -minions of Sauron - from taking over the main settlements of Middle Earth, hoping that somehow Frodo will succeed in getting to Mount Doom and destroy the ring.

My favorite scene in the films is towards the end of Return of the King. Our good fellowshippers, along with other human compatriots, are gathered outside the main gates of Mordor, home to Mount Doom, about a million disgusting-looking Orks, and Sauron in all his doominess. They know that Frodo is inside, and are simply trying to distract Sauron and the Orks in what they believe may be a futile attempt to give Frodo enough time to climb Mount Doom and drop the ring into the fires. Aragorn gathers their paltry remaining crew, and attempts to pep talk them before storming the gates. He realizes that there is not much left to say: the fate of the world lies in the balance. He simply says: "for Frodo..." and away they storm. It was very moving. And extremely well done.

I won't give away the ending, in case anyone hasn't seen the movies yet :) But if you haven't seem them, do rent them. Fantasy is definitely out of the realm of my usual sensibilities, but I was very, very impressed. I was drawn in quickly, and I'm so glad that I watched these classic stories.

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