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Lord of The Rings: Marathon 2024

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

I spent New Year's Day on a marathon of the extended editions of Lord of The Rings. I had a lot of thoughts while watching it. Some are random and some are commentary on story and what elements make a good one that stands the test of time.

My thoughts while watching The Fellowship of the Ring

- Gandalf truly had a blind spot when it came to Saruman. I wonder if he ignored the red flags in their relationship. I've definitely been there.

- Why are there no, "Run Frodo Run," memes? I know it's not the line, but it's a lost opportunity in my opinion.

- The heaviness of the ring was borrowed by the writer who shall not be named. There aren't any original stories, just original configurations of them. The mirror as well.

- Somewhere along the way, someone decided it's bad form to have more than one character with similar names. Tolkien ignored this with Saruman and Sauron. There's an argument in the writing world that says you can break any rule if you are established or know them well enough. He had a couple of books out, but wasn't any more established at the time than several of my writer friends currently are. At the same time, it's not inaccurate in life. I once had four boys with the same first name in my class. Yes, that was a confusing year for the teacher. At least their names were spelled differently and they had different last names that began with different letters.

- A love of food can be deadly. The hobbits nearly die on Weathertop. There's room to debate whether or not crispy bacon is worth it.

- Uruk-hai reproduction doesn't look fun. I'd be angry living in a world without intimacy too.

- Arwen is a phenomenal female. Why do I not have her Funko POP? Oh, because it seems to only come with Aragorn and that's B.S. It also seems to be many hundreds of dollars for the set these days.

- The music as they leave Rivendell makes me want to sob. It's so beautiful, yet has a sadness to it. It truly conveys that they are setting out on an epic journey full of peril. The composer, Howard Shore, happens to be Canadian, which is a wonderful thing that I just learned.

- The bird scene isn't that scary compared to The Birds. I should put the book on my reading list. Apologies for this ADHD moment. I should read many of the books that Hitchcock made films for as he apparently deviated from the original works by a lot. I was sad to learn that he had a disdain for books and saw them as doorstops. I see stories as wonderful no matter the medium they are in and the medium only dictates some of the characteristics.

- Gimli was terrible at keeping in touch with his family. I wonder if that's common among dwarfs.

- For short hominids, dwarfs make ridiculously high ceilings. I'm under 5 feet tall, so I feel like I can make this critique. Such wasted space. They could have had many more floors instead and maybe that's also the influence of living in 520 square feet that makes me extra sensitive to this waste.

- Frodo really could've used some battle training before they set out on the journey. Not that there was time for a proper amount of it, but the hobbits are all under skilled with fighting. Even learning to use their lower centre of gravity (or mavity for the Whovians) would have been helpful. This helps hook people as most humans don't have training or time to prep for things that are thrust upon us in life.

- The Balrog is immensely cool, but has a slight cuteness to it. 

- Galadriel is beautiful even when she's scary.  She's in tune with the situation in a way that she gives just enough help. This character foreshadows much of the events that come with the gifts she bestows upon them. She is an excellent and under appreciated character in my opinion.

- Boromir's death is incredibly sad, but Frodo was probably better off in the end without him. Yeah, he fought his damnedest in the end, but that was partly out of guilt. I have complicated feelings about this. Perhaps that stems from my own upbringing.

- Sam's bravery and loyalty are something worth aspiring to. It's rare to find that level of friendship no matter how long one has known someone.

My thoughts while watching The Two Towers:

- There are a lot of times that evil characters are shown as phyically ugly. This is necessarily not true to life. I suppose that's why characters like Homelander in The Boys resonates with people. LotR came at a time where it was more common to create characters in this way.  It was a time where it was acceptable to berate those on the fringe though it never should've been. 

- Aragorn is such a skilled and important character, but plenty of other characters get time to shine along the way.

- The return of Gandalf is done at such an unexpected time.

- Frodo often seems like he's on a bad drug trip. In the past, I felt like Frodo was a bit of a pathetic character, but he's been through things that are hard to conceive of as they are beyond what is known. While it could be boiled down to magic, it's not done in a way that is a surface level excuse and is instead deeply relatable to anyone who has had to endure hardship and illness.

- Gandalf's resurrection story has a ripple effect in other stories. I'm thinking of Supernatural and it's repeated resurrections of Sam and Dean. Supernatural takes it to a ridiculous level, but it has a similar fight against evil.

- There is no Chosen One. There is a chosen many in LotR. Gandalf is chosen by the universe to play his partin justice. Aragorn is chosen to redeem his bloodline and aid humanity in creating a better future. Frodo is chosen as the bearer of the heaviest burden. Sam is chosen to support Frodo, protect him, and ensure the success of the mission. Legolas is chosen to represent the best of the elves, their wisdom and cool-headedness. Gimli is chosen to represent the dwarfs and imperfection. 

- Theodin's posession by Saruman is rather allegorical for how parents can fail their children at times while they pursue other things in life. It could stand for addiction, which could be a substance or something like working too much. It could also be rather like dealing with a condition like dementia. Lucky for the story, it was a curable affliction.

- Sam has a wonderful ability to appreciate seeing an elephant despite all the death and destruction he's witnessed. He's ever hopeful that good will triumph. Their journey is hard but worth it.

- There are a lot battles in the second film. Writing those is an art form on its own.

- Merry convincing the Ents to get involved was a critical part of the story and it's nice to see that he finally gets a moment to shine.

My thoughts watching The Return of the King:

- Sam talking about how he's rationed the bread to ensure they get home made me weepy. Ever so full of light in the face of such darkness.

- Saruman's death was always going to happen, but it comes slightly too soon to make the journey a bit more troublesome. Characters need to be tortured.

- The dynamics between Gimli and Legolas and the antics of Merry and Pippin are critical to lighten the mood occasionally.

- I guess it was fortunate that Smeagol found the ring so very long ago. Someone else could've found it and brought Sauron back sooner. Given that the ring was always trying to find its way back to Sauron, that is likely what would've happened.

- Elrond wasn't all that invested until it affected Arwen. The idea that the elves are morally superior is suspect. Maybe they have a bit more in common with humans than they admit.

- It sure took a lot of deaths before people stopped going through the mountains. Or maybe they never actually stopped judging by the sheer amount of skulls. How many people have to disappear before it's evident that something isn't right?

- It's thoroughly satisfying to see Gandalf knock Denethor out and take control of the battle. 

- Did Eowyn actually kill the Nazgul dude, or just temporarily dispatch him? I feel like it's really unlikely he was dead, but more likely that he didn't have time to reform.

- The moment the ring begins to melt and Sauron begins having a fit of epic proportions is a favourite of mine.

- I wonder if Sam wrote about how Frodo actually failed. Frodo got all the credit, but Sam got the girl and a full life, so I'm betting he let the truth slide.

I can see why my friends start the year with a marathon. It's a wonderful way to begin a new year. It's also a fantastic reminder of what makes great stories.

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