Day 314: 5 Week Middle-Earth Movie Marathon Week 3

5 week middle earth movie marathon week 3 return of the king blue

Tonight’s movie for the marathon concluded the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I settled in for a long evening of watching this beautifully done film, as I prefer to view the extended edition version. At 4 hours and 11 minutes long, I had ample opportunity to journey through Middle-Earth with some of my all time favorite characters.

I love this final Lord of the Rings film, although all three movies together create the powerful story. The many strands, within each story, weave skillfully together to create a rich, colorful tapestry that is revealed in all its glory in the final movie. The overarching theme is good prevails over evil, light pushes back the darkness. Within the framework of that larger story, the characters stretch and grow, becoming who they were born to be. It is watching those transformations that so speaks to my heart, especially in Return of the King. The journey draws to an end, and none who began it, remains unchanged.

In ROTK, I have many favorite scenes, from the lighting of the hope beacons to the ride of the Rohirrim to the aid of Minas Tirith (which gave me goosebumps tonight, as well as tears), to the sailing of the last ship into the west. I enjoyed watching them all unfold, several times pausing to rewind so I could savor the moments again. I won’t unpack those scenes this evening. There were an amazing number of fresh insights that stood out. I’ve selected a few aha’s to share.

I really noticed the relationships tonight, and the further breaking apart of the Fellowship. Merry and Pippen are now separated, Merry staying with the Rohirrim, and Pip carried away by Gandalf to Minas Tirith in Gondor. Both grow through that separation, pledging themselves to serve with two mighty men. I love how it is Gandalf who shelters Pippen. The wizard calls Pip a “fool of a Took” and often berates him for acting without thinking. And yet during this film, a fondness grows between them, especially as the White City comes under siege. The way Gandalf calms Pippen’s fear of death provides him with a beautiful hope. “Death is just another path…to a far, green country.”

Denethor, Boromir and Faramir’s stone hearted father, reveals the root of his disdain for his younger son. He despises the line of kings, and strongly resists Aragorn taking the throne. He mocks his peace loving, level headed son with these words: “Ever you desire to appear lordly and gracious, as a king of old.” I had missed that line before, and suddenly the reason for Denethor’s dislike of Faramir was revealed to me. It is good that the actor, John Noble, went on to play a likable, absent minded character in a television series so that MY dislike of Denethor could be tempered somewhat! I was able to be sympathetic to him this evening, more than I ever have been before. Hearing Pippen (Billy Boyd) sing to the steward reminded me that Billy is singing the song “The Last Goodbye” during the credits for the final Hobbit movie. That seems so fitting, and is guaranteed to punch me, emotionally.

Aragorn is the man to watch during this film, although I dearly love the power and wisdom of Gandalf the White and the assumption of authority by Théoden, King. However, it is Aragorn who comes into his own as he finds his way at last to the throne. I feel for Éowyn, who shyly offers her heart to the would-be king. As a shield maiden of Rohan, she is captivated by a man who is confident enough to appreciate her strengths. I heard for the first time tonight how gentle he was with her heart. His love is given to an elf princess who has become mortal. He never falsely promises Éowyn his love. He does hope for her joy. “I have wished you joy since I first saw you.” That is so honoring of her. The extended edition offers a beautifully touching scene with Aragorn recognizing his ability to heal, and laying hands on her, he heals Éowyn of her pain, both physically and emotionally. She is released….to fall in love with Faramir.

A couple of other things I noticed for the first time included Gimli’s remark, “Have you learned nothing of the stubbornness of dwarves?” Oh yes, Master Dwarf, I have! And with the attack on the giant spider, Shelob, I now know that Frodo’s sword, Sting, has bit into spider flesh on two occasions.

What a grand story. It is the conclusion of all things. “And the Fellowship of the Ring, though eternally bound by friendship and love, was ended.” Aragorn and Arwen get to spend a very long life-time together, creating a new kingdom, hand in hand. Éowyn gets Faramir. Merry and Pippen remain friends forever. So do Legolas and Gimli, creating a legendary friendship never heard of before in Middle-Earth. Sam at last marries Rosie Cotton. And Bilbo and Frodo join Gandalf and the last of the Eldar, Galadriel, Celeborn and Elrond, in heading west across the sea.

It meant more to me this time, to see written on the title page of the red leather journal,

There and Back Again, A Hobbit’s Tale

By Bilbo Baggins


The Lord of the Rings

By Frodo Baggins

Very soon, this amazing 13 year journey, led by Peter Jackson, will end with the sixth film. I am grateful that I, too, accompanied Bilbo, Thorin Oakenshield and his company on their adventure, and the Fellowship on their quest. And I, who began it with them, did not remain unchanged either.

5 week middle earth movie marathon week 3 rotk

Day 306: 5 Week Middle-Earth Movie Marathon Week 2

5 week middle earth movie marathon week 2

Today marked the beginning of week two of the marathon, leading up to the release in December of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The Middle-Earth movie this week is the middle film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers. Tonight I settled in with a cup, or two, of hot tea and the extended edition of this action packed movie. As with the other LOTR movies, I’ve seen this one many times. It is watching it as part of a marathon that sets this viewing apart, as is the fact that I have journeyed far since last watching the film and I am watching with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. As the saying goes, no man steps into the same river twice….and the same Cindy doesn’t watch the same movie twice.

I have regarded Two Towers as a dark movie, bridging The Fellowship of the Ring, which establishes storyline and characters, with the triumphant conclusion in The Return of the King. It is certainly a part of the story, and truly, the three films are one tale. That opinion was before this evening. Tonight, I set aside my perceptions of this middle segment of a larger story, and just watched, allowing the story to unfold and the fellowship, now broken into three companies, to continue on their quests. And…I loved watching Two Towers. I had forgotten how beautiful it is, both in its stunning cinematography and in the development of the familiar characters from the first film and in the new ones introduced here.

Although charged with the main task of taking the ring to Mordor, Frodo and Sam are the lesser characters in this movie. I see the relationship between the two Hobbits deepening, with Sam, the gardener turned bodyguard, assuming more and more responsibility for the duty they have been burdened with. Gollum has joined their little band, and he is such a presence, and represents such an advancement in technology, that it is easy to forget he is computer generated. Merry and Pippan spend most of this movie in Fangorn Forest, while Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli range from tracking the Hobbits to defending Helm’s Deep.

My heart expanded the most watching the return of the wizard, who is no longer Gandalf the Grey, but Gandalf the White. He is the hero of this second movie, as Aragorn is still finding his way to the throne, and seeking the courage within to take it. The beauty of Gandalf, the wisdom and steely certainty about what he must do, is wonderful to watch. He no longer needs to ask anyone in his order what to do. He knows. He is grace and strength personified. I was struck tonight with remembering how Gandalf feared to go into the mines of Moira, in FOTR, knowing the fiery balrog was there. His account of not only facing the balrog, “You shall not pass!”, but pursuing the beast through fire and water, to the mountaintop, until at last he could declare “I threw down my enemy”, inspires me to as relentlessly face and pursue my own dark fears.

One of my favorite scenes in this movie tonight was the freeing of King Thèoden in the land of Rohan. The king is aged and rendered immobile by the constant evil whispering in his ear by Grima Wormwood. Poison enters the king’s mind, by way of words, and darkens it. What an amazing portrayal of the effect of negativity. Gandalf brings light back into Thèoden’s life, removing the source of darkness. I am very fond of the king. His physical transformation is rapid, his mental and spiritual transformations are slower to emerge. When his kingdom is threatened, he relies on what he has always done, to survive, rather than being willing to experience a new way. His adherence to old habits, or limiting beliefs, nearly destroys all that he holds dear. Aragorn begins to step into his kingly role, coming alongside King Thèoden as one who helps, rather than taking power from him. Aragorn calls Thèoden out, and the king responds.

I recognize now that Two Towers is a very powerful movie, not just filler in the middle to get me on to the next film. It is all important, all part of the journey, all woven together to create the adventure. The same is true for me. Some segments of my journey have been less than spectacular, not pretty, full of battles and fears and uncertainty about my role in my own story. And yet, those episodes in my life are not filler either, getting me on to better times. They are vital, and necessary, parts of my ongoing journey and the powerful truths are there, for me to uncover and learn from. Those are big ahas tonight, to draw from a middle movie in a trilogy. I just love how things like that work out.

two towers