Essay by WindSinger

I haven't figured out for myself yet just why the movie Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring has wormed its way into my psyche and appears to have taken up permanent residence.  I have only seen a handful of movies even twice at the theater.  I saw LOTR:FOTR 13 times, 3 by myself (which is also a first).  I have purchased just about every LOTR related book that Tolkien wrote, as well as every book published about LOTR.  I have been reading LOTR stuff ever since last December, to the exclusion of reading anything else. I joined the LOTR fan club for 3 years, which is the first time I have even considered joining a fan club of any kind.  I have become addicted to the fanclub site, copying reams of discussions, fan fiction, poetry and movie reviews.  I outlined a fan fiction (which I may never actually write, but who knows?).  I purchased a DVD player just so I could see the extended version, which I had pre-ordered.  Of course, I also had to purchase the original theatrical version.  All of this is very unlike me. I have fallen hard!

I had read the Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings about 30 years ago when I was in college.  I enjoyed them, but never read them again before I saw the movie.  I wanted to see it but I was definitely not ready for the impact it had. I think I just became lost it it.  After it was over, we all said "Wow, what a good movie" and I expected it to fade into the background, only to be dredged up when someone asked if I had seen it.  But NO!! On the way home I found myself continually thinking about it.  The next morning, it was back in my thoughts as I was walking the dogs, on the way to work, at work, on the way back from work, while I was fixing dinner, as I was trying to go to sleep.  Whenever I was not actively thinking about something else, I was thinking about the movie.  I had given my copies of the books to a friend to read, so I ordered the one book version.  I really needed to reread it to see how it was the same/different and to refresh my memory about what Tolkien had written.  Then I started buying and reading Tolkien's other LOTR related books, then any book about LOTR, including all the movie related publications.  I could not get enough.

So, why has A MOVIE had such an impact on me, and what, exactly, has been the result? I am still not sure.  Peter Jackson and crew have made a visually stunning, superbly crafted and acted, masterpiece of a movie which makes me believe in Middle Earth, Hobbits, Elves, Wizards and Dwarves (not to mention Orcs, Balrogs, Trolls, etc.).  And I cannot praise them all enough.  However, I think this movie has become lodged in my psyche because, due to the movie being so unbelievably well done, the themes of friendship, honor, courage and trust that Tolkien wove throughout his novel are brought to life in a gritty, real, believable way.  The inhabitants of Middle Earth (well, those not under Sauron's influence) value and respect each other, even though they may not agree with each other.  They can see beyond their own narrow needs and desires to the good of the whole.  They are willing to give their all to prevent evil from over taking their world.  And they do not think twice about showing their affection, love, for one another.

In our modern society, I do not think most of us will ever be faced with situations that require that kind of sacrifice and courage.  Remember, I said most. I know that members of the military, police, fire departments, etc., as well as some everyday citizens, have faced life-threatening situations. In our country we have just had the incredibly difficult experience of September 11, 2001.  However, most of us, hopefully, will never need to face the kind of personal threat that is a constant in LOTR.  In the past I have wondered if I could rise to the occasion, to do what is necessary, in a crisis.  Now, I certainly do not want my comfortable life threatened by some unbelievably dark force.  But I do wonder how I would respond.

Somehow, what I see as desirable core human values have been so incredibly portrayed in LOTR that it resonates in my soul. I have found myself asking; would I be able to get beyond all of my preconceived ideas, my desire for comfort and safety, to make a difference when faced with the threat of evil? (Would I even be able to understand that evil is evil?) Are my friendships deep or strong enough to survive threatening challenges? Do I have enough courage to be that kind of friend? Do I really have the courage of my convictions? Are there things I need to be doing now to help change things that I truly think are wrong, if not evil? How can I, as an individual living here and now, embody those characteristics that I  admire in the members of the Fellowship and in those who support and help them?

I guess the bottom line is that the movie has helped me re-examine what is required for me to do a good job with the time I have on earth.  Now other things have, to some extent, had the same effect on me; but never to such an extent and never a movie! What a wonderful reminder to never forget the important things and to never get too comfortable with the status quo.  And I really need to get back to hiking and backpacking - New Zealand treking anyone?

I cannot even begin to find the words to thank Tolkien for letting us in on his unbelievable history and Peter Jackson, cast and crew for allowing me to wallow in the richness of Middle Earth. And two more installments!! And three extended DVDs.  YEA!!! Gad, I can't wait!!!

OK - Very LONG winded! Sorry! And now we just have one more installment and two more extended DVDs!

March, 2003