OBJECTIVE: Watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring once per every week of 2014.
WHEN: February 6, 2014, 10:25 pm. (Week 6, Feb 2-8.)
WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME.
FORMAT: Blu-ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV.
COMPANY: Cinemanaut Adam, who loves LOTR so hard that it scares me.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Eating fries and a chicken sandwich, kinda sleepy, worried Adam and I won’t be friends any more after I make fun of something he adores.
A few viewings ago, casual LOTR fan Cinemanaut John and I watched The Fellowship of the Ring together and each made a list of our ten least favorite things about the movie, to see if fans and non-fans have the same complaints. Well, I decided to revisit that idea, but in the other direction: whether you love or hate the franchise, do you still enjoy the same parts?
Are we both just as ecstatic over the end credits?
This time, I had Cinemanaut Adam along for the journey, and he… well, he really digs these movies. You’ll see. Here are our lists of ten things we love about The Fellowship of the Ring, exactly as we wrote them.
BILL’S LOVE LIST:
1) I like watching the rings get made. Blubble!
2) I appreciate the practical effects.
3) I like the look and feel of the Shire.
4) I enjoy the odd phrases the Hobbits use, like “eleventy-one” and “droppin’ no eaves.”
5) The music is pretty great.
6) I like invisibility as a superpower.
7) It’s awesome when that guy gets door-squished and horse-trampled.
8) I like how the various weapon designs tie into the personalities of the characters that use them.
9) That little arrow stab/shoot combo Legolas does kicks ass.
10) I like when Boromir dies, but only because it made Adam cry like a widdle baby… and I needed a tenth thing.
ADAM’S LOVE LIST:
1) The score. Underscores both epic and emotional moments effectively.
2) The scenery porn. (The Shire, Rivendell, etc.)
3) The cinematography (especially those aerial shots).
4) Any time the two Sir Ians (McKellen and Holm) are acting together.
5) “You shall not pass!”
6) Battle scenes (cave troll, escape from the Mines of Moria, the final skirmish at Amon Hen).
7) Sean Bean’s performance as Boromir.
8) “Let’s hunt some Orc!”
9) Boromir’s death. I cry every time I see it.
10) I don’t know… fucking EVERYTHING!!!!!!
THE ANALYSIS… WAIT, NO, HOLD UP, THE CRYING?
So this is supposed to be the part where I compare our lists, but viewings don’t always stick to the plan, like, say, when your co-pilot is bawling his eyes out over a character that you never really gave a shit about. Seriously, when Boromir was pumped full of arrowheads, Adam wailed. And I scratched my head, because I had no idea that we’re supposed to like Boromir.
It’s bad enough that he’s always filling my Facebook feed with formulaic jokes.
Let me try to put you in the moment here: as Sean Bean takes the first arrow, I hear sniffles. Then the glasses come off, and Adam is rubbing his eyes. At which point I have to ask…
Me: “Are you crying?”
Adam: “Because Boromir’s dying!”
Me: “Wait, that’s bad?”
Me: “I thought we hate him. He attacked Frodo…”
Adam: “He’s a very complex character!”
Me: “Oh. I– okay.”
And then I let Adam just cry it out. And he did. And I couldn’t focus for the rest of the movie, because my mind was blown. I’d watched this film for five weeks in a row and never once thought we were supposed to feel anything other than relief when Boromir kicks the bucket.
Maybe I’m always approaching this scene like a writer. “Oh, one of the fellowship members can’t be trusted, he’s dead now, problem solved.” It kind of pisses me off how convenient Boromir’s death is. Wouldn’t it be a much more interesting story if Boromir was with them to the end? He’s got to live with the guilt of roughing up Frodo and trying to steal the ring, and the rest of the fellowship never really knows if they can trust him any more. He gives 110% with heroic deed after heroic deed, but a few characters still aren’t convinced he’s redeemed himself. Aragorn leaps to his defense, but the Hobbits are all, “No, fuck off, the guy’s a psychopath.” Maybe he even succumbs to temptation a second time. Or what if– no? We’re going with the arrows? Got it.
Send him over Plot Contrivance Falls.
I pointed out in my last viewing that Boromir’s attack on Frodo, from the performances to the editing to the cinematography, is portrayed very similarly to a rape scene. Perhaps the effect was done so well that I just immediately stamped “Bad Guy” on Boromir’s forehead and called it a day. And his subsequent redemptive moment and death happen so goddamn fast (in what is otherwise a slowww-assss movie) that I barely have time to reconsider his villain status. Adam has made it known that he prefers the extended editions of the Rings movies, which I have yet to see, so maybe Boromir’s arc feels a little more naturally paced in the So Long It Feels Like Raw Footage cut.
I’m secretly hoping he just gets hit with a few more arrows.
Boromir aside, have you ever sat next to someone crying at a movie you can’t stand? It is surreal. This was the first time I really understood that fans get into these flicks. They’re not connecting with me, but they’re wrenching real goddamn tears out of other people. And no, I’m not acting like I’m above crying at movies or anything. The scene in 101 Dalmatians where they almost freeze to death? I still fucking bawl. But watching Adam cry at something I find so tedious and uninteresting… caused me to ask him if the movie was triggering some other traumatic experience. That’s how baffled I am at anyone being emotionally caught up in The Fellowship of the Ring. He can’t be swept away by the great writing or the dramatic cinematography or Sean Bean’s gripping performance! His uncle must have touched him while they were watching GoldenEye or something! But no. Adam just loves The Lord of the Rings. The books, the movies, the world. And I can respect that. I don’t get it, and I’ll quietly snicker about it, but I respect it.
Let it out, man. Even Viggo cries sometimes.
Right, so, I guess…
We both like the score, we think the Shire is pretty, and that’s about it. Though I suppose they all match since Adam listed, and I quote, “fucking EVERYTHING!!!!!!“
ONE THING THAT WOULD HAVE IMPROVED THE MOVIE:
Adam. Just stick Adam in every scene reacting to whatever the hell’s going on.