Many partings

There may be only one Ring to rule them all, but there can certainly be more than one LotR movie trilogy viewing to satisfy this fangirl. So it was that I found myself parked on a couch for the better part of twelve hours on Saturday with some colleagues, lapping up the Extended Editions in all their DVD glory.

There comes a point in a fangirl's relationship with the object of her affection, when it becomes difficult to see the wood for the trees. Yes, I'm watching Peter Jackson's interpretation of Tolkien's tale unfold, but I'm also watching the making of the movies all over again, from the moments of digital imaging that transit seamlessly to live action scenes, to the instant when Aragorn kicks a Uruk-hai helmet and Viggo Mortensen howls in pain at the toe he just broke, to the many endings and final goodbyes that conclude the film, including the viewer's inevitable clicking off of the DVD player.

Belatedly, I realised that perhaps the reason I'm so taken by the ending of The Lord of the Rings is because it's a forceful reminder that you can't always go home again. Most heroes' journeys, like Frodo's, begin from a position of obscurity and ignorance, but most heroes go on to fame, fortune and, typically, a crown of some kind: Luke Skywalker grows up to be a Jedi knight, Farmboy Garion of The Belgariad goes on to reclaim the throne of Riva, and kitchen boy Simon of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn goes on to be king of Erkynland.

In The Lord of the Rings, it's Aragorn that gets to live Joseph Campbell's hero's journey. Frodo doesn't get any of that. The ring destroyed, his quest completed, he returns to the Shire to "pick up the pieces of an old life", as he says in the movie, while having been irretrievably transmuted by his experiences.

That's why he has to take ship to the Grey Havens --- and every time he steps onto the ship and turns back for that one last look of renewed hope at his friends, it's heartbreaking because no matter how much home once meant to him, it's not enough to complete him anymore.

And so he goes.


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At 11/15/2005 8:43 am , Blogger xenoboysg said...

I would give anythin to be dreaming right now ... outside a century of quiet rain is falling ... inside a state of emergency is declared ... I grab ny bag, slide down the hallway, scrunch my feet into my trainers, and scrape open the stubborn door. And I begin running. -- David Mitchell, Number Nine Dream.

How the author parted with the reader.

Start running ex-teacher. *smiles*

At 11/15/2005 9:55 am , Blogger tscd said...

Oooh, I spent hours and hours flipping through all the extras! Keeps me occupied during my post-night shift stupor. I still haven't finished all the audio commentaries yet.

I'm glad that Sam Gamgee manages to have a full and peaceful life after all his adventures. He was always my favourite character - no visions of grandeur for him.

At 11/15/2005 11:09 am , Blogger Benjamin Kong said...

Sam's life is simple - look after Mister Frodo no matter what, and have faith in an old man who does fireworks. It's people like that who have homes and families and children to tell stories to, because they don't worry about great deeds.

Frodo goes with the elves because he and they have something in common - grand and world-changing fates. Sam is very much a creature of the next age, one who is content to cultivate his own garden.

At 11/16/2005 3:34 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Friends, you bow to no one."


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