I simply cannot resist
This weekend, TNT is airing the Lord of the Rings trilogy across three nights, and so help me I cannot resist. Sure, I’ve seen the films again and again; I own the extended box sets and have had more than one 12-hour viewing marathon of just the movies. And TNT’s versions are simply the theatrical cuts interspersed with advertisements. Not optimal LOTR viewing, and yet I cannot resist.
A few things struck me while watching The Fellowship of the Ring last night. First, I could anticipate more dialogue (verbatim) than I realized. At first I thought it was simply the more famous/oft-repeated moments of the film, but it began occurring more and more until I had to admit that this first film had become ingrained in my subconscious. And I suppose I’m not surprised; this is the film that began my education, my love for all things Middle-earth. When FOTR ended, having never read the book prior to that first viewing, I could not wait to learn what happened next. I went home and ordered a book for myself and began reading it immediately upon its arrival three days later. For three months I was consumed by Lord of the Rings, and luckily I was surrounded by an office full of fanboys eager to hash out the details and commentaries. Those months are still some of the fondest of my life. And I’m sure this contributes greatly to my love for this first film of the trilogy.
Having also just completed Sean Astin’s autobiography, during which I found new eyes for some specific details, I was entranced anew at Fellowship. It is now as if being allowed inside the joke, so to speak. Not that this pulled me out of the viewing, mind you, but Astin’s details did serve to enhance specific scenes and I found them even more alive and rich than before. Anyone who knows me can attest that this is a mighty thing since I’ve known nothing richer or more alive than Tolkien’s world. But last night’s viewing of FOTR gave me a few more levels to enjoy in an already beloved film.
Perhaps most interesting of all to me was my response to the imagery of the film. There were actual moments of awe and wonder upon “first” sight of the Argonath and Rivendell, and our first glimpse of Minas Tirith truly takes my breath away, even after all this time. A broad smile appeared in anticipation of Haldir’s first appearance, and I spent half an hour trying to remember the name of Saruman’s orc creations, frustrated that something which once came so easily had managed to slip into my mind’s recesses, until I actually yelled into my empty apartment when “Uruk-hai!!” finally came to the surface. These are moments of true pleasure for me. Pure joy. And I’m always thankful that God has given me such innocence and naiveté that I don’t mind expressing it however it comes to me.
The Fellowship of the Ring has many moments that rise above the rest in my estimation, so watching it again after months or years have passed always begs the same question: will those moments still resonate as they once did? Last night, the greatest of these moments did just that — Boromir’s death still sears a hole in my heart.
This was not always the case. I don’t remember breaking down upon first watching the scene in the theater in December 2001. That happened at the end when Samwise chased after Frodo in the boat and nearly drowned himself through his devotion. My tears overflowed with his statement of ” ‘Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to.” But when the first viewings of the trilogy were finally complete and I had seen the full arc of all the characters, Boromir’s death emerged as a key point in my consideration. His acceptance of Aragorn as his true king, his redemption in protecting the hobbits at any cost, and, later, our discovery of his anguished relationship with father and brother prove Boromir’s honor was true and steadfast, even on the heels of his momentarily lapse with Frodo and the Ring. And so watching his death is heartwrenching for me every single time. I cry at exactly the same moment, every single time; I am overwhelmed by his resolve and his awareness during his last living moments. This one scene has elevated the first film for me to a place of respect and endearment, far above any other story-telling moment in Fellowship. And it holds true each time I watch the movie.