The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book. I try to read it once a year, but lately have had to settle for maybe once every two to three. That doesn’t mean I love it any less. I love wondering the realms of Middle-Earth, visiting familiar places, seeing old friends, and singing songs. So I was so eager to see how they translated to the big screen…
I remember sitting at my desk in my grade 12 class thinking about film projects I would like to undertake when I became a famous filmmaker (that has not happened yet… And not sure if it will…), one of them was J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic. Apparently I won’t have to worry about making that one…
I remember watching the first teaser trailer for the Fellowship of the Ring on my irritating little laptop, which labored for minutes, on dial-up, to download the smallest file version of the teaser available, just so I could have a peek at what Middle-Earth would look like. And even in that tiny quicktime window, it looked amazing…
It was with great excitement that I went to the Cineplex in Kingston for the opening night show on December 19, 2001. I had already spent a stupid amount of money on the merchandise surrounding the film. I had a mug from the Green Dragon, I had a few of the action figures, and of course, for the show that evening, I had the One Ring on its chain around my neck.
I settled in to the packed theater, and prepared to lose myself in a world that I had only ever seen in my imagination (and Ralph Bakshi’s animated film).
I was stunned.
Everything came together for me in one moment, Gandalf, in his cart, comes over the hill, and we see the Shire laid out before him. It was EXACTLY as I had always seen it in my imagination. I had tears in my eyes. I was home, a home I had only ever lived in my mind, but there it was before my eyes, and I knew it, as I knew myself.
Everyone of the characters I had welcomed into my heart strode across the screen. The film cemented my opinion on my favorite characters… Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson) and Peregrin Took (Billy Boyd) or Pippin as he’s more commonly known.
I had read the books so often that I knew lines, and wasn’t troubled when sometimes they came out of other characters’ mouths. I also wasn’t troubled by the loss of Tom Bombadil, the spirit of Tolkien’s work was all there.
I dragged everyone I could to see the film in the theater, I went countless times, and even knowing the books as I did, my throat would catch every time at certain spots in the film (“Fly you fools!”).
This was movie making and movie magic of the highest degree. I hadn’t been this enraptured by a film since Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, and Jaws before it.
I read all I could about the making of the film, the fantastic work of Peter Jackson and his incredible cast, the bigatures, weapons, armor and clothes designed by WETA – all of it combining to create a real, and lived-in world.
Howard Shore’s beautiful score was on repeat on my CD player at home, and then my ipod whenever I was out and about. I would hum, whistle, and even my dreams seemed to have the music of Middle-Earth running through it.
This was an event film. It was also an event in my life, and knowing that I had two more yet to come, two more Christmas presents coming over the next two years…
I couldn’t believe it.
These films, even now, continue to draw me in and Fellowship brought to life the world, and characters that I have longed to spend time with. I fancy having a little house somewhere on the edges of The Shire, taking my ease, and wandering as I wish amongst the Misty Mountains, the house of Elrond, the white walls of Gondor, and Lothlorien.
“The road goes ever on…”