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.
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....