Saturday, April 13, 2013

L - Lord of the Rings

I know, I know. For someone who writes SciFi and reads Fantasy novels, this one seems like a no-brainer. You're right. It's a bit of a copout. Deal with it.

Unlike most fanboys and fantasy/sci-fi geeks, I didn't read the Lord of the Rings when I was nine years old. I didn't read the complete trilogy until I was in my late twenties and again in my late thirties. I've never read the Silmarillion, or the Red Book of Westmarch, or Unfinished Tales, or any of the other seemingly endless supply of Middle-earth books, stories, tales, legends, etc. I did read the Hobbit as a teenager. And again in my twenties. And in my thirties. And maybe once since I turned forty.

I have seen all three LOTR movies multiple times. I own the Extended Edition Blue-ray set of all three. I'll admit it. I watched all of them in the same week. It took forever. (Over eleven hours total.) I didn't think it would ever end. But then it did, and I was sad. I wanted to start over and watch them again, but I felt I should spend some time getting reacquainted with my wife and children. It had been so long since I had seen any of them. It almost felt weird seeing people without swords or axes or bows. They weren't wearing chainmail or leather leggings. It was a bit of culture shock. And therein lies the genius that is Peter Jackson's treatment of the Lord of the Rings.

Whether you think the movies were too long or too short, included too much of the stories or too little, took too many liberties or stayed too close to the original source, you can't deny that Middle-earth came alive. When watching this epic movie series, the scenery and authenticity of the sets makes you feel as if you are really in Middle-earth. It feels like the stories told what really happened. You almost have memories of the times of which they speak. You delight in the festival atmosphere of Bilbo's birthday party and the easygoing life that is Hobbiton. You can feel the warmth of the Last Homely House in Rivendell. Your heart begins to race as the Nazgul give chase throughout different parts of the land. You begin to wonder how the mines of Moria can be so large and majestic with the grandeur created by the dwarves and still feel claustrophobic and suffocating.

Throughout the series, the settings just feel right. Nothing ever jumps out and says "fake". Fangorn forest is exactly where and what it should be. Mordor is a cursed land that looks and feels exactly as it does in your mind, even if you never thought about it before. This is why it's so easy to lose yourself in these movies for four hours or more at a time and not want it to end.

A friend of mine has yet to see these movies. We have decided we are going to take a day sometime (soon?) and watch the extended editions back to back to back. An entire day of Middle-earth goodness.

It may have to wait until I get a more comfortable couch.