WHEN: August 23, 2014, 2:30pm. (Week 34, August 17-23.)
WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME.
FORMAT: Blu-ray on a Vizio 47″ LCD HDTV.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Just watched the movie Ringers: Lord of the Fans to get in that fandom spirit.
The Cinema 52 experiment is an exercise in forcing yourself to find a new perspective on a film on a weekly basis. Today’s attempt: try to understand the appeal of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by watching a documentary all about Tolkien fans.
Okay, to be honest, to laugh at a bunch of dorks.
Like this fucking nerd–hey, WAIT, Star Trek is cool,
I think you’re in the wrong documentary, bud.
So, before today’s viewing, I watched Ringers: Lord of the Fans, the clunkily titled non-fiction film all about how The Lord of the Rings is just the best thing ever. Truthfully, it’s not a great documentary (and even Tolkien superfan Hannah Peterson agrees with me on that), but style aside, it certainly hit every corner of the fandom that I could ever imagine, and it changed how I see Fellowship in a lot of ways. Such as…
I’M IN GOOD COMPANY FOR NOT LIKING LORD OF THE RINGS:
Most documentaries have a section where the detractors speak, so fans can shout “Booooo!” and non-fans can safely laugh at the fans, but that section is typically not one of the first scenes in the movie. Ringers gets that out of the way just seven minutes in, with an unfunny cartoon that desperately wishes Terry Gilliam returned their phone calls.
Kinda hoping the animator suffers a fatal heart attack…
I have not read the works of any of those three fellas up there, but they hated The Lord of the Rings, and I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard negative criticism of Tolkien before from literary scholars. If anything, it’s disapproval by omission; I think most people find the book to be a respectable amount of work at the very least, but if it’s not their cup of hairy feet, they just don’t say anything. I don’t know how accurate all the quotes in the unfunny cartoon are, but apparently Edmund Wilson really did call the book “juvenile trash,” which is a bit too harsh for me to agree with. That guy probably would have hated Star Wars. Either way, I didn’t feel alone for not understanding the appeal of Middle-earth.
IT’S A GOOD BET THAT TOLKIEN WOULD HAVE HATED THE MOVIE FANS:
I’m also not alone in being frightened of Lord of the Rings fanaticism, and this time my good company is J. R. R. Tolkien himself. Here’s a quote from Ringers that’s in a dumb font because they were talking about the Sixties:
If that seems too nice a criticism, Tolkien also referred to his more rabid readers as “my deplorable cultus,” which is cool as hell. Now I can picture Tolkien sitting next to me while watching Fellowship and saying, “Can you believe everybody gets so worked up over this shit?” Except he’d probably say “dreck” or something. And then we could bitch about Peter Jackson leaving out Tom Bombadil.
FELLOWSHIP WAS PLAGUED BY SPIES:
Okay, fanboys and fangirls, this shit is not cool.
You’re giving geeks a bad name.
Apparently the filming of the movies was pestered by staff from TheOneRing.net literally breaking onto the set to make sure that Tolkien’s work was not sullied in any way. Come on, nerds. This is horseshit. Do you really think Peter Jackson is going to thank you after you run through his shot to tell him Pippin’s cloak should be an inch longer? Ringers states that Jackson was reading TheOneRing.net for input on the movies, but it should be noted that this was claimed by a staff member of TheOneRing.net being interviewed by a guy holding a TheOneRing.net microphone.
They’re gonna shit once they realize they’re in line for the wrong movie.
VIGGO MORTENSEN IS BASICALLY A SEXY ALPHA MALE JEDI:
Folks, I think I’m in love with Viggo.
In addition to being a hunky warrior poet, Viggo Mortensen always seems to have the wisest and most honest things to say about The Lord of the Rings, both good and bad. I already love his take on Fellowship‘s sparing use of CGI, but in Ringers he talks about the dangers of seeing Rings and other myths as a complete metaphor for our world. Here’s a transcript:
“And I think that [Tolkien] was particularly sensitive about the fact that, in his time, Hitler and his government misapplied the literature and mythology of the North, of Northern Europe, which he was so fond of and based a large part of The Lord of the Rings on. I’ve felt the same way, as journalists didn’t even ask the question, they just made the assumption, made the statement that this story is allegorical, you know, in terms of what’s going on in our time, in particular, the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and that the good guys at Helm’s Deep or the Fellowship at any given moment represent the United States and its cohorts against these dark forces, these, you know… heathen hordes, that are, you know, holding the good and true Western civilization hostage.”
It’s just so refreshing to hear that someone in the cast of Fellowship is also concerned about seeing it as a lesson on evil or a cathartic response to 9/11, especially since I usually picture the actors as a bunch of lovable doofs fucking around in the woods.
Aww, you knuckleheads!
JOHN RHYS-DAVIES, PLAY ME OUT WHILE PICKING YOUR EAR:
ONE THING THAT WOULD HAVE IMPROVED THE MOVIE:
A bunch of TheOneRing.net snoops running into the frame.
“Peter! Peter! Stop everything and look at this appendix!”