Essay by Varda

They say 'It is better to travel than to arrive' and that certainly was how I felt when I finished The Lord Of The Rings..  So complete and convincing is the world created in it that I emerged blinking at the end, wanting to go back in..  This 'fantasy' world is more real than places I see every day because it exists in my mind, imperishable.

The beauties of the descriptions remained with me long after I read the book..  I never see the sunlight falling down a mountain slope or flitering through autumn leaves in a wood without thinking of the Misty Mountains or Lothlórien.

But The Lord of The Rings is not just a fantasy tale of wizards and Elves; for me it is a story of friendship, love and sacrifice.. nbsp; The hobbits' love of life, loyalty to each other, courage and sense of duty to me represents goodness in a world torn by war and darkness.

The ending is bittersweet and has haunted me..  But along the way I found beauties never to be forgotten, heroic adventures and as Elrond promises Frodo, friendships unlooked for.

31-May-02

Additional essay on the occasion of New Years Day '04

This week marks a kind of anniversary for me. Two years ago, in the middle of a great deal of personal turmoil I went to see The Fellowship Of The Ring. I had been working hard and not paying much attention to the media so I had not been subjected to any hype and had no expectations beyond the Sunday Times making the rather extravagant claim that it was 'the greatest film ever made'. It was about a week after its release on an afternoon showing and the cinema held me and about six other people (the sales were on).

When I saw the initial battle sequence, with Elrond and Gil-galad I was stunned. Just stunned. I had always thought in my mind wouldn't it be great if some director brought to life the massive pageant of this book, the vast battles, the wonderful, heartbreaking characters, the sheer scope, forests, mountains and caverns and palaces....and here it was. I was shattered, in a way. My imagination could take a rest. For thirty years I had lived in Middle Earth in my head. Now I could see it for myself, writ large before my eyes on a big screen. I did not feel my own vision was diminished, but for decades I had nursed my love of this book as a secret passion; now I could come out, because everyone else was. It was cool to be a hobbit. I could find fellow lovers of this magic world, we were easy to pick out.

I was able, after a bit of lurking, to contribute things to a discussion board. It was not like writing a letter to the Tolkien Society, where you got an answer six months later. This was real, immediate; people came here every day, all day, it was like a big noisy happy family house. It was interesting, the critical discussion was as good as anything anywhere, and it was ...funny! I laughed till I cried at things people wrote, their real life middle earth moments, their limericks and parodies. They loved the books and films, but could write interesting and moving and hilarious posts about them. The books were enjoyed, not made into a museum. It felt like home, when my real world was quite awful.

So, I did what I had not done for an age; I tried to write. I felt creative, like all those years ago when I painted Frodo at the Black Gates at school; LOTR has always inspired me, it hits deep chords in me with its themes and people and places.

It has been an amazing two years for me, and everyone here has made that possible. Today I had to go in to work very early. I got off the bus on Leeson Street and walked round the Green. In the halflight the rows of iron lampstandards stretched along the Park and I felt next year stretching away in front and wondered what will happen now? For me the great Plane trees of the park, hundreds of years old, are Fangorn. The police horses passing down Merrion Street were the Rohirrim and the blood red sky was Legolas's red dawn. The future is ours, and we can keep it Tolkien.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and film, a runner in of the arts, can do what no book however great can do; let you see, with real not a mind's eye, those tears in Faramir's eye as his father dismisses him; that look of contempt Boromir gives Aragorn at the Council and the gentle voice of Legolas as he says to Gimli on the eve of their last battle;
'Can you die in the company of a friend?' and Gimli's look as he replies;
'Aye; I can do that....'

Turning down Baggot Street where I work as dawn broke a song of the late Luke Kelly was on the walkman, Raglan Road;

'..I gave her gifts of the mind
I gave her poems to say'

Well, Tolkien, PJ and all you Ringers, so you have.

Very happy New Year to you all....

V