02 January 2012

1 Jan - "Don't leave me here alone. Don't go where I can't follow."

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
dir. Peter Jackson (King Kong, 2005)

Sean Astin (Encino Man, 1992)
Sean Bean (The Dark, 2005)
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth, 1998)
Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001)
Billy Boyd (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers2002)
Marton Csokas (The Bourne Supremacy, 2004)
Bernard Hill (A Midsummer's Night Dream, 1999)
Ian Holm (Alien, 1979)
Ian McKellen (The Da Vinci Code, 2006)
Viggo Mortensen (G.I. Jane, 1997)
John Noble (The Last Airbender, 2009)
Miranda Otto (The Thin Red Line, 1998)
Bruce Phillips (Without a Paddle, 2004)
Shane Rangi (The Chronicles of Narnia: the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 2010)
John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989)
Andy Serkis (The Prestige, 2006)
Joel Tobeck (Eagle vs Shark, 2007)
Liv Tyler (That Thing You Do!, 1996)
Karl Urban (Priest, 2011)
Hugo Weaving (The Wolfman, 2010)
David Wenham (Moulin Rouge!, 2001)
Elijah Wood (Deep Impact, 1998)

I brought the new year in with this most appropriate film, The Return of the King. Does any movie (besides maybe Star Wars) better represent the inevitable end to all things and simultaneously a rebirth of all that possible and good in the world? Perhaps at times it hits a little heavy with the symbolism, especially those parts where Sean Astin is talking in that halting and horribly affected hobbit accent, about "the old stories" and the likelihood that they will never survive their quest.

But there are good parts too. I remember in the movie theater when I went to see this the first time, when Faramir asks his father, the steward of Gondor, whether he would have been happy if Boromir was still alive and if Faramir had died in his place. When Denethor said "yes!" the whole theater collectively gasped. There are few scenes which represent the idea of perfidy so concisely.

I most often hear two key critiques. The first is that if the eagles were able to rescue Sam and Frodo from the volcano and take them back to Rivendell, why didn't they just get the eagles to drop them off in Mordor in the first place? The answer to that question seems simple to me. Traveling by eagle is terribly high-profile. I think those flying Nazgul would have nailed the eagles in short order, they wouldn't have even made it over the mountains.

The second critique is that the ending is waay too long, and I can get behind this. There's satisfying denoument and then there's LOTR, wherein things get ridiculous. First Frodo destroys the ring, and you're like, "badass! The movie's over! I've got to pee like a racehorse!" but then there's Aragorn's coronation, and some speeches, and then a part where everyone's reunited in Rivendell, and then a part where everyone's reunited in the Shire, and then Frodo and Bilbo get on the elves' boat and sail away. I suppose they should have streamlined all that somehow. So the movie ended with a sense of excitement and wonder instead of...peacefulness? It's unclear, and unsatisfying for that reason.

All the same, I always thought the ending was kind of sad, that even though the battle was won and the ring was destroyed and everything turned out as best as could possibly be expected, the elves still went away. They didn't want to live in the world anymore. I don't understand sometimes why everything magical has to disappear.

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