I have never seen Lord of the Rings.
That was a true statement until last night when I finished off the trilogy.
My mission (and watching LOTR is a mission, lasting nine hours) was given to me during Canadian Thanksgiving, when Celia and Ben heard me utter those eight words: I have never seen LOTR.
Shock riddled them as they beckoned for an explanation of how that was possible. I was used to this reaction being someone who has also never seen Star Wars.
The only thing I could tell them was that in 2001 when the first movie was released, we were permitted to see Harry Potter but not LOTR, as it was deemed too scary.
And then after that, there were plenty of Harry Potter movies to fill my fantasy needs and LOTR kind of just fell off my movie franchise radar and into a pool of “things I have to watch one day.”
Just like Star Wars.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, Harry Potter and LOTR fans alike, I can now say that Gollum and Gandalf are no longer just concepts to me.
I understand them. I know their story. I have lived their journey.
But, I’m sure my impression of them will never be the same as if I had met them at the age of nine like I should have.
So, I thought I would share with you all my reactions while watching the trilogy to identify any gaps in my knowledge and just in case you feel the need to explore Middle Earth in every way possible.
Warning, if like me you have never seen LOTR, there are spoilers, so maybe go away, watch the movies and then come back. It’ll only take you nine hours.
Here they are, my reactions:
- Whoa, 2001 was a long time ago.
As the first movie began, an annoying habit crept up on me: Having to Google the cast because “I know that actor, but what was he/she from”. The difference this time was that it was a revelation seeing the youthful faces on the screen contrasted with what they look like now. It hit me. 2001 was 15 years ago. Whoa. When did that happen? I guess I wasn’t even in my double digits in 2001, but still if it is after 2000, it can’t have been that long ago, right? Wrong. You only have to look at Viggo Mortensen who played Aragorn to see the truth of time. (Side note: when they aged Aragorn in LOTR to show his future with Arwen, they did so very true to how Viggo has aged. Well done!) Still not convinced? The actor who played Saruman died last year. Time, you slippery beast.
- Did Gandalf turn Sam into a horse?
When Samwise Gamgee comes onto the scene after eavesdropping and Gandalf says he has a better idea of how to use Sam, we then cut to Frodo riding a horse. Sam is just out of the shot and I thought for a minute it was a bit of a Cinderella crossover with the Hobbit man being turned into a trusty steed. I was sorely disappointed, but also majorly impressed at the acting skills of a man that later went on to play ‘roids-loving brother of Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates. How the acting tables can turn.
- Sam should’ve looked after the ring.
Trusty steed or not, Samwise Gamgee is the real hero of the movie. Frodo is just your average human with vices and all, while Sam is a shining example of the good in humanity. J.K. Rowling knew that if you want to make a klutzy human lovable, you put him in the role of sidekick. Can you imagine if Ron and Harry swapped roles? Well, you don’t have to because J.R.R. Tolkien created nine hours of film and I’m assuming about triple that in books with that exact character switch in mind.
- Ned Stark needs to get out of this movie so I can continue to love him
Casting Eddard Stark as Boromir is just about the most evil thing they could do to a girl. My opinion of Ned Stark was lessening the longer I had to put up with Boromir’s weakness for the damn ring and his arrogance full stop. As the arrows shot through him at the end of the first movie, I praised the elves of Middle Earth. It may have been the shortest character arc ever – arrogant, arrogant, arrogant, little bit of kindness and teamwork, and then dead – but at least I got to see a slither of that Ned Stark heroism.
- Orlando Bloom – ugh!!
It is difficult to like characters when you’ve had 15 years to see them in roles outside of LOTR and also been swept up in the celebrity gossip around them. It’s equally as difficult to hate them, see above regarding Sean Bean/Ned Stark. But, Orlando Bloom is the one that really got me. Every time I saw him with his bow and arrow, I just saw Brad Pitt’s insane body in Troy and Achilles’ heel. Mongrel! He did slowly redeem himself as Legolas with his battle routine of counting how many Orcs he killed. Also, what was up with his eyes: blue one minute, brown the next? Was this something to do with his super vision? I need to know.
- Gandalf’s line “Fly you fools” is the most underrated line of the trilogy
Just as Gandalf falls to his ‘death’ in the first movie, this is what he says to the fellowship. And, I just think it’s so badass and fresh after all the highly emotional talk between characters we have become accustomed. Of course, ‘My precious’ is great to weave into everyday happenings, but I think ‘Fly you fools’ should be used just as often.
- If you don’t see someone die, don’t believe it
I learned this one the hard way after watching Gandalf fall to his ‘death’. We had watched Everest and Me Before You the night before and I decided that ‘people dying when they could have been saved’ was the theme of our weekend movie choices. We just had to put Titanic on and we would have had a mini film festival. But, honestly, Gandalf definitely could have been saved from the fall if Frodo could be saved from falling into the fiery volcano starved of strength and with only Samwise Gamgee’s short little arms to help him. So, I learned, if you don’t see them die, don’t believe it.
- The rules of being a wizard are all about the hair
I guess Gandalf had to show off his badass magic, which I acknowledged saying, “Damn, he should get an upgrade to white wizard for that.” It seems I’m a LOTR natural because that’s what he gets. And, as we discover, the rules of being a wizard are pretty much all about the hair. Sure, you go from grey drab clothes to white silky robes, but the true win is going from a curly mop of hair to a lush, straight, glossy mane. J.R.R. Tolkien and the movie’s production team know true power is in the hair. Now that I think about it, it’s probably why Taylor Swift went from curls to straight hair too. Maybe she is a wizard? It would be possible too because apparently being a wizard means only using your magic sparingly. I mean, c’mon Gandalf, we want to see more magic! For instance, those eagles could’ve helped them in every battle, but no, they had to be saved until the end. I guess he is but a wizard and not a military strategist.
- LOTR is discriminatory when height is concerned
Throughout the trilogy, it really burred me up whenever the Hobbits’ height was the butt of a joke. That was until the end when there was that awesome Mulan moment when the whole of the kingdom bowed down to the four Hobbits. It was just like in Mulan when China realises a woman has substance. So too do the Hobbits. Goosebumps.
- Celia’s inconsistency theory
In the second movie, Celia pointed out to me something that troubled her. Merry and Pippen first see Gandalf the White while riding shotgun on the tree people. But, then when Gandalf sees the rest of the fellowship and they say “Gandalf!” he replies, “Yes, that was what they called me.” As Celia pointed out, why wouldn’t Gandalf have had that realisation talking to Merry and Pippen? Surely they would have screamed his name excitedly too? It’s something that belongs on a Reddit thread for sure.
- My first book is going to be Samwise & Frodo: A Love Story
Arwen and Aragorn can take a backseat because the true love story of LOTR is between Sam and Frodo. And, honestly, it borders on more than just a bromance. I saved some of my favourite dialogue for authenticity when I write my fan fiction novel about Samwise and Frodo, pioneers of gay marriage.
Frodo: “I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam.”
Whenever people speak about themselves in third person, they are either in love with someone else or just themselves.
The second part isn’t dialogue, but there were definitely words behind that forehead kiss at the end. Way too long to just be friendly.
- Failings of LOTR makeup
Before you freak out, I concede, the makeup on LOTR was incredible. They did an amazing job. My only question was why couldn’t they age Elijah Woods just even a smidge for the very end when four years is meant to have passed? I mean he was writing novels in that time. That’s stressful business. Just one or two gray strands of hair, or maybe some lines around his eyes. That’s all I ask for.
- The trilogy ends on a Hobbit door?
A Hobbit door? Seriously??!! I mean, I get it, The Hobbit movies were to come next and it was probably a bit of a hint at that. But, the last half an hour of the trilogy is filled with possible endings: the fellowship all dressed in white in the hospital room laughing with Frodo, the Mulan bow to the Hobbits, that sunset they sailed off into. But, no, they had to end on a Hobbit door. I guess I’m going to have to watch the Hobbit now and hope that they end on something a bit more cinematic!
So, I guess I’ll end this post on what should have been the final shot, and an open ending for the Frodo and Samwise Gamgee love story: