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

Day 245: The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest

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I am a fan of the works of JRR Tolkien. It had been years since I had read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, when Peter Jackson brought the stories to life on the big screen. I fell in love again with Middle Earth as I watched the first movie in the Lord of the Rings series. I read the books again, all of Tolkien’s books on Middle Earth. I watched each movie over and over as I waited, patiently, for the next installment to arrive in the theater. I found huge pieces of myself, my identity, within those films and books. I grew, with the characters, as they journeyed and I journeyed as well.

When I heard rumors that The Hobbit was being considered for a trilogy of films, I didn’t think Peter Jackson could do it again. I was not as big a fan of The Hobbit, since some of my favorite characters didn’t appear in this book and presumably wouldn’t in the film, but I welcomed a chance to return to Middle Earth. I was wrong about Peter Jackson. He so beautifully captured the story. The special effects were stunning. I fell in love with the warrior race of dwarves, which until The Hobbit movie, had been my least favorite characters in the LOTR films.

This December, the final movie in The Hobbit trilogy will be released. A part of me can’t wait. However, being familiar with the book, another part of me has been very content with the year long wait to the finale. I know it will be a deeply moving, gripping film. I will be the viewer in the back of the theater, sitting stoically by myself, watching the inevitable unfold on the large screen.

Peter Jackson is brilliant. He is gifted. He has created excitement for the upcoming release and found a way to give back at the same time. He has launched The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest, which I entered for my first. This isn’t just a share or like a page and get your name entered for a chance to win contest. This is done Middle Earth style, where characters and entrants discover who they are and what they are made of as they journey. This contest offers a challenge, four of them, actually, with one given out each week. Each part of the challenge must be met, for a chance to win. And the prize? It is very worthy of the challenges. The winner gets the opportunity to journey to New Zealand, the cinematic Middle Earth, to experience the epic conclusion to The Hobbit trilogy in the first official screening of the movie with director, Peter Jackson.

Yes, I am a fan. Ask anyone who knows me moderately well. But a year ago, before this amazing year of firsts, I never would have entered such a contest. I would have convinced myself that I had no chance. I would have balked at the challenges, which push me out of my comfort zone. Challenge One was easy enough: write a virtual postcard and send it to Peter Jackson, sharing what I would do on my prize winning trip to Middle Earth. Challenge Two, which I completed tonight, was to take a quiz about the locations used in New Zealand for the filming of The Hobbit movies. This one would normally give me pause. I am very familiar with the scenes in the movie, yet not so familiar with New Zealand. I don’t like to take a quiz if I know I am going to fail. I am grateful for Google and the opportunity to learn, via computer, about the breathtaking landscapes in that gorgeous country. I answered 9 out of 10 questions correctly.

Challenge Three scares me. I must create a two minute video to send to the judges, sharing my musings and recollections of my experiences of The Hobbit movies. Reading that would have caused me to pass on this contest, before this year. I am very self conscious in front of a camera, especially when it is video taping. I am learning to move beyond that, this year. I love that this challenge is a true challenge for me, pushing me. I will share from my heart and not over think this part of the contest. Challenge Four involves sharing exclusive art, mine or someone else’s, it doesn’t specify. I perhaps should be wondering more about this one!

I am grateful for the opportunity to enter this contest, and show my deep appreciation and love for these life shifting stories and films. And I am grateful for the challenges that move me beyond my comfort zone and further along in my journey. As Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit hero of these films, says later to Frodo, “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Perhaps, on a powerful journey, with no promise of safety, but the guarantee of adventure and growth and the discovery of who I am created to be.

the hobbit the battle of five armies poster e

http://www.thehobbitfancontest.com/