I have been waiting for the perfect time to wax lyrical about this and finally I have an excuse in the guise of a suggestion, if like everyone else you’re losing your mind in isolation. If you have never seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy before, aka the best films ever made, firstly where have you been? secondly this is the perfect time to discover their beauty. And if you have already seen them, then you’ll obviously be as in love as I am, and therefore it’s the perfect to revisit!
Let’s start with the basic reason number one, that if you watch the extended editions, you’re going to fill a good twelve hours of isolation. (And you could go even further and follow it up with the three hobbit films, looks like we’ll probably have enough time. Personally I’m not a fan, whilst I do love Legolas and a nice little love story I wasn’t particularly happy with them being shoehorned into the Hobbit, a perfectly good adventure story without any additions needed. If you ask me Peter Jackson should have just made one very good Hobbit film instead of three ok but not great padded out movies. But that is a whole other thing I’m not going to get into now.) Aside from their length there’s a whole lot to love about this trilogy of films. I fully believe they had a good hand in making me who I am today, and even though Harry Potter will always have a special place in my heart it is Tolkien’s magical fantasy world that draws me in time and time again. They are quite simply, my favourite films of all time and let me tell you why…
Part of my love for these films is a nostalgia factor. Whilst my Grandad gave me the first Harry Potter book and my mum gave me Enid Blyton and the Bronte sisters and Austen, my Dad gave me Lord of the Rings. It started on one of those blurry days between Christmas and New Year, with my Dad announcing at dinner, that the two of us were going to go watch The Fellowship of the Ring the next day. I had read the Hobbit over the summer whilst we were on holiday in the Italian mountains, and such a big impact it had on me that when I think of that holiday I always think of hobbits wandering around rural Tuscany. So my Dad was convinced I would love this film.
We drove to an old fashioned cinema, as the closest was fully booked, my dad bought wine gums as snacks and there was an interval when they sold ice cream. I was eleven and going to the cinema was a rare treat at that time, we really only had been on birthdays or when we were staying at my grandparents, and only so far to see Disney films or, just a few weeks previously the much anticipated Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. This film was something else though, it was dark and it was fantastic and even though the dark riders scared me shitless I fell in love with the mythical land and beings. The next year we went to the art house cinema to watch the Two Towers and then the following year the multiplex cinema by my grandparent’s to watch the epic conclusion, The Return of the King. And I for the first time ever (although there has been hundreds of times since) found myself crying in a cinema. So invested was I in these characters and their journey and so overwhelming was it when finally the darkness of Mordor was defeated that I couldn’t stop my tears. Turns out my Dad was completely right I did love these films.
These were the films I grew up on. Orlando Bloom, as beautiful blonde Legolas became my first celebrity crush. I even asked my parents for a poster of Legolas for Christmas, and it wasn’t taken down from the back of my bedroom door until we sold the house when I was 24. They founded my overwhelming desire to go to New Zealand and explore the stunning settings, as well as my complete and utter love of adventure. The hours I spent watching the behind the scenes footage on the DVD fuelled my day dreams of becoming an actress and my desire to create something special and lasting. And these were the films I would turn to whenever I was upset and wanted an escape. Which let’s be honest we could all use right about now.
Tolkien created such a magical fantastical world and Peter Jackson so wonderfully brings this alive on the screen. It is such a visual delight with epic battle scenes and sweeping scenery shots. Jackson captured every minute detail of Middle Earth, and I wanted to fall right into it, still do actually.
There is everything here that you could possibly want from an adventure movie, of course awesome battle scenes but also quieter more emotional moments as the characters struggle with themselves and the tasks facing them. There is humour, time for dancing hobbits, drunk dwarves and talking trees and there is romance and bravery, and above all there is friendship. Elves, dwarves and men overcoming their differences to fight together and becoming the best of friends along the way. And hobbits being there for each other, following their friends into the most dangerous of adventures because they need each other, and most importantly because they love each other.
I defy you to not adore hobbits. The purest of all creatures, these little people whose idyllic lives revolve around eating and partying and drinking at the Green Dragon, occupy a special place in my heart. Being on the short side, I’ve always felt an affinity with the hobbits and their love of a good beer at a good pub. And whilst I might complain about being nicknamed variations of Frodo or Baggins by my friends, as nicknames go it’s pretty damn good. Because Frodo was a hero, the most unlikely of heroes but a hero none the less. Who would have thought that a little hobbit could save the world? I learnt so much from these characters their love and bravery and loyalty, and the way they go on fighting even when they think all hope is lost, because as Sam so wonderfully says “there’s some good in this world Mr Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
This is storytelling at its finest, the quintessential tale of good versus evil. And isn’t that just what we need right now, a reminder that good will win out and the darkness will end. We may not be in the midst of a war fighting Sauron but times are a little scary right now, and we are all struggling with the overwhelming changes in everyday life. Frodo’s wishing “it need not have happened in my time” has never been more relatable, but as Gandalf replies (with my favourite of all quotes) “so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to do is to decide what to do with the time that is given to us.”
And that is really all we can do,whether we use the time to learn something new, to make something, to reconnect with people or just to chill out. All we can do is decide how to use this time to be as happy as we can be in the circumstances. And my suggestion of what to do with this time… get acquainted (or reacquainted) with Middle Earth! Pull up a seat (a comfy one) and get lost in this most magic of all fantasy lands. If we can’t go outside for an adventure we might as well get our fix on the screen. And I hope for a little while it’ll help you forget that the world is a different darker place at the moment, and that in escaping to Middle Earth for a short while will give you as much comfort and joy as it gives me.