Clad in an Elven Cloak

by Varda

Today at lunch time I escaped from the mayhem of the shop where I work (one customer verbally assaulted another over.....a mousetrap. Shocked ) to walk down to Grafton Street, Dublin's classiest shopping street, to get a gift voucher for my nephew in HMV.

I queued for some time at the checkout, as the place was jammers. The Irish spend 75% more at Xmas than the European Union average, we just lose the plot altogether. Anyway, when I got to the desk the lady said;
'Oh, you can't use these vouchers in Northern Ireland!'

What! did Robert Emmet die so we can't exchange our gift vouchers in Newry?...then I noticed the shelves behind the checkout were packed with little Minas Tiriths (or is it Minas Tirithi?). Hmm, I thought, the ROTK EEDVD must be out...

It was a very low-key, even a no-key release, no ads or posters or special offers, although the dvd cover is very very nice, very Middle Earth. But then I saw the price of the full fifty disc version....EIGHTY-NINE EUROS! WOW! At present rates that must be over $110, is it?

Anyway, it made it easier to abstain from buying it, as I told my relatives to get it for me as my Xmas prezzie (and they are all pooling resources to pay for it) which means I won't see it till *after* Xmas, so I can't read all your glowing posts, sorry guys.

Looking at all the dvd boxes stacked on the shop floor, I felt a twinge of sadness. Friends, this is the end. Not of our friendship, lord no. Nor of our enjoyment of book and films, and our endless journeying down the roads Tolkien merely signposted. But it is the end of the production of new film material. Now, we have seen all that the imagination of Peter Jackson and his inimitable team brought to birth. A terrible sadness is born.

We always had the books, but the bursting out into the public arena of your private passion, the knowledge that the kid serving the burger knew who Legolas was, that absolutely intoxicating feeling when people who had never heard of Tolkien were reduced to tears by a film of his book....that is over. Now it will pass into that library of cult films inhabited by Star Trek and Star Wars, perilously close to geekdom, and worse, the unity between book and film fans will be lost, as book buffs retreat back into their fortress and film buffs work on their convention costumes,and never again will the two be so close, even in enmity.

The arguments are all over.

It has been an amazing three years. It has, for me anyway, been a quest. As Frodo was warned before his quest, I have met friends in unexpected places, and my life has been changed forever.

And I never saw it coming. I had heard the films were being made. I had even hunted about the internet for stills, and got a picture of Gandalf on his cart.
'That looks terrible' I thought.

Then an Irish actor, Stuart Townsend, was booted off the project, and made some not very nice comments on the production. I think he called it a 'nightmare'. In hindsight, some actors are just not ensemble players, and above all team players were what this film required. Stuart was just not that kind of actor (few Irishmen are)

I did not go to see the film when it came out. It first showed before Xmas, and I was embroiled in a real war situation at work, a new management was trying to sack me and the other long-serving workers. It was a horrible situation, with fierce rows in the middle of the Christmas rush. The War of the Ring was tame in comparision to it.

Going home one night in the week before Xmas I passed the cinema and some people went by dressed in long black cloaks. I did not make the connection. Little did I suspect I would be wearing an Elven cloak myself quite soon.

I read the film reviews and they were good. But less rivetting than the boardroom shouting matches I could hear from the staff canteen...I pencilled in the week after Xmas to go and see the Fellowship of The Ring.

It was an afternoon during the post-Xmas sales. It was the new multiplex cinema in the town. I had never even been in it. I hated it. The old, family-owned local cinema had been closed down because it had opened, so I had a grudge.

It has a vast main screen, and the huge auditorium was empty, except for a few middle aged couples who had obviously read the book ages ago and a few skateboarders munching popcorn.

The lights went down, the maps of Middle Earth came up, familiar to me from too long ago. And that scene rolled up, the armies of Elves and Men defeating Sauron under Gil-galad and Elrond, Elendil and Isildur. It was sound-surround and Weta's massive, as I would later discover. I could not have cared less if it was Micky Mouse with a camcorder; this was Middle Earth as I had always dreamed it could be filmed. The scale, the strangeness, the magic, the tragedy, the heroism, the beauty, the battles....even the Elven banners...

I'll send you a postcard, Ma, I've found Middle Earth...