It is Not This Day

by Elvellon Ringsbane
Seeing the Extended Fellowship of the Ring in the theater was an experience I still have not fully recovered from – perhaps I never will, unless it be when I view the EE Two Towers and The Return of the King (if my frame of mind after that experience can be called ‘recovering’. :-/) These films are a stunning achievement of the cinema, but more than that; they are the visual realization of an epic story that will endure forever.

New Line Cinema’s decision to show the Extended Editions in the theater, right before the Return of the King, was the best they ever made (next to supporting these films). To be able to return to the beginning, to the very first step in the great Quest, and see the completion of the journey, each film one after another in the theater, is the best possible way to celebrate the release of the final film.

Viewing the EE on the big screen was for me the chance of a lifetime, not to be missed. And how right I was. Even having seen the DVD, I was not prepared for this experience…

It was as if I had never seen this film before. Every scene, from Gandalf’s meeting with Frodo to the death of Boromir, was new, and I noticed so much I had never seen before. For three and a half hours I truly lived in Middle Earth, journeyed with the Fellowship, joined in their laughter and tears. I cracked up (along with every one else) at the antics of Merry and Pippin, shuddered at the deafening screams of the Nazgûl, relived the horror of the darkness on Weathertop, raced beside Arwen as she fled to the Ford bearing the wounded Ring-bearer, smiled through tears of joy at Frodo’s reunion with Sam, Merry, and Pippin in Rivendell.

With the Elves I stopped my ears as the Black Speech thundered through the theater; stood silently with Aragorn in the mist about his mother’s grave; dove for cover as the Crebain swept screaming overhead; struggled through the blizzard on the brink of Caradhras. Before the Doors of Durin I waited as Gandalf sought the opening words; marveled at the vast pillared Halls of Moria; stood with the Fellowship by Balin’s tomb; fled with the Company across the smooth floors, washed in the flickering glow of fire. With pounding heart I stood with Aragorn and Frodo upon the crumbling stairs; shouted my defiance silently with Gandalf as he stood fast against the Balrog; watched in horror as the whip curled about his ankle, he clawed futilely at the broken stone, hung for a breath above the void, uttered his last command, and was gone.

In grief I traveled the road from Moria to Lothlórien; marveled at the beauty of the Elven kingdom; with joy stood by as Galadriel bestowed gifts upon the Company; hearkened to the words of Celeborn’s warning. I felt the swell of the Anduin beneath the prow of the grey Elven boat; wandered with Frodo upon the slopes of Amon Hen; faced the Uruk-hai with Aragorn; and wept at the passing of Boromir.

I remembered the way I felt nearly two years before, as I watched the Three Hunters set off, and gazed with Sam and Frodo at the dark ridges of the Mountains of Shadow, when this was all the Lord of the Rings I knew, and the Two Towers still unseen and longed for.

Many of the Extended scenes I actually forgot were coming, including two of my favorites - The Green Dragon and the departure from Rivendell. Every extra minute added to the theatrical release so greatly enriched and completed the Fellowship of the Ring – it was a new film, the Fellowship as it should have been, as it is.

The experience was enhanced a thousand fold by viewing it on the big screen. Not only was the size a tremendous improvement (I could hardly believe how large it was; I had forgotten what it was like to see FOTR on the big screen!) but the sound was incomparable. The lush green and untroubled spirit of the Shire, the ethereal beauty of Rivendell and Lórien, the terror of the Nazgûl, the darkness of Moria…all were brought to life by the glorious score. Always the music has had the power to transport me, from the merry strains of the Shire to the pounding drums and Dwarven choruses of Kazad Dûm.

Not only was the soundtrack enhanced, the dialogue was much more powerful. During the extended Council scene, when Gandalf utters the Ring spell, the theater nearly shook – the voices seemed all around me, terrible and commanding, echoing… I was astonished by how much greater is the effect of this terrific scene with the proper sound!

Once again the love and effort put into these films astounded me. As Orlando Bloom said, ‘the detail is fantastic’. As Gandalf leaps from the pinnacle of Orthanc to the back of the Wind Lord, one can see a small bowl and cup lying beside the horn of the tower visible on the far right – Gandalf’s rations while imprisoned by Saruman. Who would ever notice such a little thing? I have viewed this film countless times, and I did not see them until now. Yet they are there, as they truly would have been, for those who would to discover.

No translation from book to film is or can be perfect. The tremendous accomplishment of Peter Jackson and all the devoted cast and crew have come as close to perfection as is ever possible. My own vision of the world that Tolkien created has been brought to life – no longer need my mind alone see the characters and the journey that I have loved so long, but before my eyes I have seen the forms of Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, Boromir… There are flaws in these films, to be sure, and some are more obvious than others, and more regretted. But whatever the mistakes, we are extremely blessed. Things could have been much, much worse. In a letter published in issue 10 of the Fan Club magazine, a fan wrote; ‘The actors were born for their parts.’ A truer word was never spoken. How often have I thought the very same thing, from the first time I saw the Fellowship of the Ring! Think what it would have been like if Viggo had refused the part of Aragorn, if they had never found Elijah Wood…

In two days I will be sitting in a theater once more, reliving the Two Towers. Two days after that the journey will end at last, with the Return of the King. When first I saw the Fellowship of the Ring, I could not bear the thought of waiting two years for the final film. And here we are, two years later, and I cannot bear that it should end.

We come to it at last, through darkness, fear, and suffering, to hope and light, and sorrow at the parting. But perhaps it is not the end, for ‘even the very wise cannot see all ends’. Others who see us and laugh at our love cannot understand, for they have watched but not seen, heard but not understood. Beneath the violence and death there is hope and beauty, truth and bonds of friendship stronger than the Shadow. Boromir spoke to Aragorn in Lothlórien; ‘Have you ever seen it Aragorn? The White Tower of Ecthelion, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, its banners caught high in the morning breeze… Have you ever been called home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?’ Boromir loved his city more than his life. He lived for it, and died for it. All throughout the long journey from Minas Tirith to Rivendell, and from thence to Amon Hen, he thought of his city, longed to return, prayed it would not fall. That is how I love The Lord of the Rings. No matter what the real world brings, I will never forget it, and always I return there in heart and mind, praying that it will not end; for I too have wept at the though of it being over, as Boromir wept for his city. The White City did not fall, Aragorn kept his vow to Boromir; neither will the Return of the King bring the end.

My love will live on, long after the last credits have vanished from the screen, when posters no longer herald the coming of a new film, when all save those who have stayed and seen have forgotten the Lord of the Rings. I will never forget it, or you with whom I have had the great privilege of making this journey. Two years ago I knew nothing of poetry, writing, or the many wonderful fans that dwelled in secret scattered over the earth. Drawn by one love, a common purpose, we have gathered to this board and found that we were not alone. I have gained so much through this fan club! Thank you for welcoming me into this, our Fellowship of the Ring. May our Fellowship never be broken!

‘A day may come...when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship...but it is not this day.’