June 8, 2001

Family Entertainment Isn't Neccesarily a Bad Thing
Louie V.

Peter Jackson has a contractual obligation to not deliver the film with an R rating. There are plenty of movies with a PG or a PG-13 rating that aren’t ‘kiddie’ movies. The PG rating says that “some material may not be suitable for children”, and the PG-13 rating says, “some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” When a movie is rated R, it simply means that “children under the age of 17 require an accompanying parent or adult for admittance,” and usually for good reason. In Ji-Soo W.’s letter there was reference made to “a lot of gratuitous nudity and violence.” There is another consideration in the ratings system that was not mentioned; language. Let’s consider the factors that might affect the ratings and see just how terrible something less than an R rating would be.

The R-rating is often given for movies because of language that is frank, may be sexual in nature, and may be considered offensive. This won’t be the case for the Fellowship of the Ring. So, as far as language goes, G, PG, or PG-13 is fine.

What about sex and the R-rating? In the Lord of the Rings? I guess we need not even go there.

Violence, including gratuitous violence, can be the cause of a movie earning an R-rating. In “Sleepy Hollow”, for instance, the violence was very graphic. Did it need to be? I thought so. It’s very difficult to make a movie about the Headless Horseman (Hessian) without some heads rolling. Tim Burton really fleshed out the legend and, IMHO, did so in a way that was very necessary for this project. Why do I bring up this particular movie? I bring up “Sleepy Hollow” because I’m thinking of the siege of Minas Tirith and of warriors heads being lobbed over the walls, heads with the Eye carved in the forehead. Is that disturbing? Yes. Is it meant to be? Yes. Will it be included in the movie? It can be, but it depends on how it’s done. What about orcs being beheaded? What about riders being hacked down? What about Gimli’s axe? I personally believe that a talented and creative director can provide some of the gruesome elements of the entire trilogy in a way that doesn't compromise.

Ji-Soo W. said that “anyone who has read LOTR would attest that it is very much an ‘adult’ book.” I’ll go along with that. But as far as sharing concern about a “Disneyesque” perversion … I have to stop there. I see the trailer, I get goose bumps, and I think how much darker Jackson’s movie is than I’d imagined. I haven’t seen anything yet that indicates that any punches have been pulled. I believe that the “very grown up, at times dark and complex, atmosphere of the book” is being preserved. I believe that Mr. Jackson takes this project very seriously. I agree about the length though; 90 minutes is far too long. My 43-year-old attention span couldn’t handle it. Was “Titanic” a long movie? If so, I’ll go for long too. I sat through three hours of “Pearl Harbor” (mainly to see the trailer!) a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t help thinking “I hope ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ is this long.” It can be, and easily. But I expect 120 minutes for each, and that’s based on nothing. But we may actually get 150 when we discover that Peter Jackson’s role in the movie is that of Tom Bombadil…