January 6, 2002
The Revelation of Boromir
I finally saw FotR last night, and I was stunned by its beauty and scope. It is not only a fair rendition of a timeless classic; it is also a marvelous movie in its own right. And the thing that struck me most forcibly was how characters I thought I knew, down to the last twitch, came alive on screen in such unexpected and compelling ways.
Gandalf dominated the movie, with his strength and warmth and wisdom. Legolas, even with his secondary role, glowed. But the greatest revelation to me was Boromir.
As many times as I've read FotR, I always disliked that character. When I got to the end of the book, I felt relieved that we were rid of an arrogant blow-hard and were now speeding toward a meeting with his far more attractive and sympathetic brother.
I was prepared to feel the same way about the character in the film, and we got off to a promising start with his obnoxious behavior in Rivendell. But as the quest proceeded, I saw the greatness in Boromir. I saw him fight his inner demons and struggle to remain true to the Fellowship. I saw his love for the hobbits, his honest desire to follow Aragorn as his king, and his despair at the thought of what Gondor faced. I admired him. I liked him. I wanted him to defy Fate and the pen of J.R.R. Tolkien to survive, just this once! When he died, I cried like an idiot.
I think Boromir's death was one of the most beautiful bits of film-making I've seen in years. The shots of him kneeling among the running orcs, watching Merry and Pippin being hauled away in slo-mo, while the music sails up into an ethereal hymn (the same hymn played for the supposed passing of Gandalf), the flinch when he stares down the final arrow of the Uruk-Hai... Like I said, I cried like an idiot.
I'll never see Boromir the same way again, and unfortunately, I won't get to see him in the next two films. But Sean Bean's performance and Jackson's vision of the character are permanently etched in my brain as one of my great movie-going experiences.