May 04, 2001

Some Thoughts After Waiting 30+ Years
Louie V.

I just wanted to jump in on Lorien’s coattails here for a second…

I can’t claim to have read LOTR twice per year since I was nine. I have read it at least once per year since I was thirteen, though, and being forty-three now, that puts me into the thirties. That LOTR has made an impact on my life and worldview might be an understatement. What I have noticed over the last thirty years, though, is that my conception of the characters, the land, the buildings, and the sheer scale of Middle Earth has evolved over that time. Having traveled, Middle Earth has grown. Having dealt with people from different cultures, the characters have become less commonplace. Having dealt with numerous life experiences, the situations the characters are in have taken greater depth of meaning. This is why I continue to read LOTR; it provides a sense of continuity in some parts of my life.

When I first started reading LOTR, Sean Connery was still James Bond for me. There was no way I could conceive of him as Gandalf! Charlton Heston was my first choice then because he carried that Moses-aura with him. The idea of using full-size actors for hobbits was beyond me, and beyond the technology at that time. I was just out of high school when Bakshi’s movie came out and I am incapable of expressing the extreme disappointment with the entire project. Likewise, the Rankin-Bass “Hobbit” was not up to what I’d envisioned. With a one-two punch, it felt like Middle Earth had followed Numenor to the depths. I thought, “Well, that’s all the interest anyone making movies will ever have. I’ll never see a decent production on screen.”

A few years ago when storyboards started showing up on the net, I was very, very excited but just as apprehensive. Would this project take off? Can they get enough time to treat the project with some dignity? Will it be a G-rated kid show? As time moved on, the tone of the films became more and more serious. They recast Aragorn (THAT was a load off!) and got a three-film deal. I was sorely disappointed that old Tom was cut, put my name on the petitions to add him back in, and went on. But having read the trilogy over and over, studied Tolkien’s other works, and looked at how my perception has changed over the years, I saw that the movie coming out was not the Middle Earth that had formed in my mind over the years. It was familiar and new, more and less all at the same time. I write this just after seeing a new photo of two Nazgūl un-cloaked and find that December is still too damn far away.

This movie is like life; it’s never, ever exactly what you want it to be, but it IS life just the same. You can either enjoy life, or you can bitch about it until you are seething with discontent. I, for one, choose to enjoy life, and I fully expect to enjoy this movie more than many movies I’ve seen. But you know what? It is a movie after all, and I doubt I’ll stop wearing out my copies of the trilogy just because it’s onscreen now. I might suggest that everyone sit back and enjoy it for what it is. After the final credits for “Return of the King” have finished, those that are still unhappy could go and round up a few hundred million dollars and remake their own version.