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December 08, 2003

The Return of the King

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My family travelled to or through Toronto a few times when I was growing up. My Dad made a special point of having us visit when the CN Tower was being built. The idea of the tallest freestanding tower in the world, alongside the rest of the Toronto skyline, got connected in my head with the spires of Minas Tirith. Every time I see the CN Tower on the horizon... a third of a mile high gleaming white in the sun... I still think of Minas Tirith.

The Tower is a short walk from Paramount Festival Hall where the Toronto premiere of The Return of the King will be hosted tonight. Good thing the Sister of a Flea has a more glamorous job than I do... because this means we have tickets!

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And then... Tolkien's great-grandson has a cameo in the new film (via Suburban Blight).

Royd Tolkien, 34, took the part of a Gondorian Ranger in the new film adaptation of his famous relative's stories after director Peter Jackson invited him to join the cast. Mr Tolkien said: "I was just blown away when Peter Jackson came up with the idea of putting a Tolkien into the film and to be a Gondorian Ranger is a huge privilege."

Posted by Ghost of a flea at December 8, 2003 06:17 AM

Comments

Lucky ghost. Have fun!

Posted by: Ian at December 8, 2003 04:00 PM

Have fun!

Posted by: Ith at December 8, 2003 04:40 PM

Nick, I realise you are a thoughtful man, who wishes to avoid publishing spoilers and the like. Come to think of it though, we have all read the book, and we all know how it ends...

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the production and whether or not the third movie was a satisfying end to the trilogy. Matrix: Revolutions has already disappointed me, and I am hoping that Master & Commander and the Return of the King will be the cinematic high points of Q4 2003.

Posted by: Chris Taylor at December 8, 2003 08:03 PM

My lips are sealed (for now)! I have a couple of bad puns lined up.

Posted by: Nicholas Packwood at December 9, 2003 08:25 AM

The one thing I keep hearing from those that have seen it is that it was wonderful, but it felt rushed. I kind of wish New Line had gone for the 'extended version' up front.

Posted by: Ith at December 9, 2003 12:23 PM

Ok, anyone who does not want my response to Ith's last comment should avert their eyes now! I am not about to reveal any spoilers but I am about to express an opinion about the structure, "look" and emotional impact of the film so if you are like me and want to see movies uncoloured by another pespective then wait until you have seen it to read about my reaction.

Let's see... at 3 hours and 12 minutes I figured I would want to stretch my legs at some point but for that first two and a half hours I was completely lost in the world of the film. Rushed, yes, even at three hours plus the story is rushed and abbreviated. I have high hopes for the extended version... there are points where scenes have almost clumsily been removed. At this point, however, I am prepared to give Peter Jackson almost any leeway. If not for the last half hour this would have been the greatest film I have ever seen (and others may be happier with the last half hour). If there is any justice we are looking at Best Actor and Best Film Oscars. The special effects are stupendous. In the year between films the Gollum cgi has become flawless. Flawless. In scene after scene I found myself looking at vistas I have seen in my mind's eye since my mother first read the book to me as a child. Minas Tirith. The throne of Gondor. The gangrenous light of the Morgul vale. There are plenty of homages to other epic films too... and the debt to "Meet the Feebles" works alarmingly well in Middle Earth.

But the special effects and technical aspects of the film are almost beside the point. It is the emotional impact of the film that makes it a triumph. The person next to me was sobbing uncontrollably for the last hour. I found myself gasping outloud in a kind of empathic shock over and over again. I cannot tell you what the first scene of the film is but I can say it is among the most shocking and brutal I can remember.

I can also say something about a topic I want to write about at greater length next week. My Christianity includes Tolkien. The story is a parable, obviously, and one grounded in a Roman Catholic worldview. This is a mystical Catholicism that sits well with my Protestantism via William Blake. I recommend Middle Earth to anyone who wants to understand something of a genuine faithful relationship to Creation. Some people sneer at a metaphorical reading of scripture and Tolkien himself was opposed to allegory as a rhetorical form. I think instead that The Lord of the Rings is an extended parable whose wisdom reveals the truth through story in much the same way as the Psalmists. This isn't the "literal" reading of scripture some people call Christian but is instead true to the heart of the message of the Gospels and a guide to living in the Spirit. Stories of faith, friendship and loyalty in the face of adversity are all useful to us no matter our circumstances. But they are critical to us now it is our turn to take up the light against the Shadow of our time.

Posted by: Nicholas Packwood at December 9, 2003 03:55 PM

And to think that (according to some media reports) Christopher Tolkien refuses--refuses--to talk to Peter Jackson about doing "The Hobbit", and is refusing permission to allow the building of a museum/exhibit hall to store the weapons, costumes, etc., from the films.

I just do not understand some people!

Posted by: FredKiesche at December 9, 2003 07:40 PM

Wow! You gave me chills.

This isn't the "literal" reading of scripture some people call Christian but is instead true to the heart of the message of the Gospels and a guide to living in the Spirit. Stories of faith, friendship and loyalty in the face of adversity are all useful to us no matter our circumstances. But they are critical to us now it is our turn to take up the light against the Shadow of our time.

So very true. And you express it so well. Thank you.

Posted by: Ith at December 10, 2003 04:08 PM