Am I the only one who feels like the original Lord of the Rings trilogy movies date me? I was only a young teenager when these movies first came out, so I just got to thinking recently that there are quite a few younger folks than me (I still consider myself as ‘young’!) that don’t remember them originally. They don’t remember life before them.
I remember seeing The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater for the first time. I was totally unfamiliar with the story and had no clue what it was about. I went with my younger cousins to see it. I remember it all on the big screen– unbelievable cinematography, overwhelming special effects, blaring sound, battle scenes I couldn’t stand to watch. I couldn’t follow the story, since we had arrived late and missed out on the first 15 min., and I kept confusing Aragorn with Boromir. There were the horrifying RingWraiths, the fiery Balrog (who I was convinced was the Devil incarnate), and an elf queen that morphed into something truly terrifying. But the thing that absolutely scared the tar out of me were the creatures known as Orcs. By the end of the movie, I was completely wide eyed and my hair was blown back. To top it all off, I had nightmares of a tentacled sea creature coming after me. I told my aunt that I didn’t see how any author could write such things and be a Christian!
Those were my first impressions of Middle Earth. Needless to say I get quite involved in a story! It also speaks to how sheltered I’d been when it comes to movies. My friends loved the movie and I eventually went on to read the books which enabled me to better understand everything. Watching the movies again at home on DVD wasn’t quite as intense as the movie theater, and each time we rewatched them the thrill factor dissipated. But that first time of seeing trolls and balrogs was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. My younger cousins (at the ages of 9 and 10) hadn’t been phased one bit by any of it, but then they’d grown up in a household more accustomed to movies of that nature. Sometimes I’m amazed at what younger and younger kids are acclimated to when it comes to entertainment as time goes on. I’m not necessarily saying that LOR is wrong for a certain age, as that’s up to each family. It’s just an observation and it’s interesting comparing my own experience to them.
I was having a conversation a while back with a young highschooler who said she refused to watch LOR “because of all the violent war,” yet her favorite movie genre was horror films. I still can’t figure that one out.
I think Peter Jackson’s movies forever changed movie making. They’re broader in scope, grander in detail. Even so, it’s funny to sometimes rewatch those films that are now 10 years old and see ways that they are technically outdated. I wondered then and I wonder now what the younger generation will say 15-20 years from now when they see it. I think the movies will always be classics, but I don’t think people will view them with complete awe like we did in the movie theater. Like Star Wars. We still love them, but the special effects aren’t that thrilling in this day and age. They were even remastered on the later DVD releases.
During the three year time the films came out, we lived in a Middle Earthian culture. All of us girls wanted to wear our hair long and romantic. My friend, who was quite the seamstress, designed her own LOR-inspired long, flowing dresses and wore them to church, and my friends’ younger brothers would practice their best creepy imitate of “Gol-lum!” And of course, we girls had multiple crushes on all the heroes.
Tolkien wrote such a classic epic that will endure for a very long time because it is so interpretive and we can identify with many of the characters. LOR meant more to me later on when I watched the trilogy during depression. My grandpa hadn’t been impressed with the movies when he first saw them, either, but later he found some solace in them after Grandma died. There’s something about the story that speaks to us deep down inside, inspiring us to keep going when things get bleak.
It is well-known that J. R. R. Tolkien did not intend for his works to be allegories. But LOR came out at a time when America began it’s War on Terror. 9/11 had just taken place several months before. I think the movies were there at a time when the world needed stories like that. It was hard not to find our own interpretative symbolism for current events in them. They inspired us and gave us hope to fight for the right, even when there were those who claimed that it was too hard, not worth it, unnecessary. That we should turn a blind eye to evil and compromise with our enemies.
I’m glad that The Hobbit is now available for fans who missed out on the original LOR excitement 10 years ago. Sometimes certain classic movies will become more than just entertainment. They become memories.