One re-read to rule them all.

I have started my somewhat annual re-read of The Lord of the Rings. I realized this morning as I was reading that Ian McKellan was pretty much how I’ve always pictured Gandalf, and when I read about Sam I do picture Sean Astin, but, in my mind, Frodo is older and rounder than Elijah Wood. That’s not to say that I think Elijah Wood did a bad job. Just that he didn’t match up to my idea of what Frodo should look like.

There were so many things that were great about the Lord of the Rings movies. When we went to see the first one, I spent the whole movie in wide-eyed wonder, whispering to Mike, “That was just how I always pictured the Shire . . . I can’t believe they made Galadriel act like that . . . Oh, that part is all wrong . . . Oh, I’m so glad they included that!” I loved the intro on the history of the ring – I had been wondering how much I was going to have to explain to Mike just to get him up to speed, but he only needed a few small explanations. (For the record, I am thankful to have a husband who can just glaze over when I say things like, “You have to understand that this is important because of XYZ, but they couldn’t include it all, obviously. But just know that it’s in the appendices.” He just nods and smiles. I’m so blessed.) The second movie was one of my all-time favorite moviegoing experiences – people cheering when Gandalf reappeared, and when he came at the end with the Rohirrim. And when Legolas did his awesome swinging up on the horse move. The third is a lot more somber, and contains a scary spider, and I was in a fairly low point of my life, so I ended up crying through the entire second half of it when we saw it in the theater. But all three are among my favorite movies, and there are things I love about each of them.

I am glad for the popularity of the movies, and I think Peter Jackson did about as good a job as anyone could with them. I loved so many things about them – Theoden was wonderful, and Aragorn and Eowyn. And Merry and Pippin. There were so many great moments that were included – it’s obvious that Peter Jackson and company love the story and tried very hard to make the movie in the right spirit. After each movie, I said things like, “Well, they had to make changes, you know. I’m not married to the text, so I understand that.” My only real problem was what they did to Faramir and Denethor. But, you know, when we watched them all back-to-back-to-back on New Year’s Eve, I could see how there were quite a few things that were fudged. The Arwen plot is really quite a muddle, and I can’t really abide the idea that Frodo would send Sam away. Watching them all in a row like that, I ended up liking them a tiny bit less than I did originally as individual movies. Don’t get me wrong – I still love them and count them among my favorites. But it was a little easier to see more of the problems and difficulties.

The worst thing about being a fan of the movies is that I have been accused more than once of “groupthink” or liking them simply because they are popular. I want to somehow separate myself from the “I love Legolas” crowd (*ahem* not that there’s anything wrong with liking Legolas, to be sure!) and wear a sign that says, “I read The Hobbit when I was eight! I read The Lord of the Rings when I was 14! I’ve been a fan for a long time!” When I read them, my classmates thought I was kind of weird for toting them around. It definitely wasn’t groupthink when I first fell in love with Bilbo and Gandalf and Frodo and Sam.

I’m looking forward to this re-read – I haven’t read the books since seeing Return of the King, and the movies always made the battles a lot clearer for me. I’m really interested to read about Pelennor Fields now and have a better idea of what it might look like. But it will be a while before I get there. I am already noticing things that I had forgotten – things I had accepted as “as they should be” in the movies when they were really quite big changes from the story in the books. I hope Mike is ready for all my “filling in the gaps,” because I am sure it will start again in earnest. hehe.

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