OBJECTIVE: Watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring once per every week of 2014.

WHEN: September 12, 2014, 2:11pm. (Week 38, September 7-13.)

WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME.

FORMAT: Blu-ray on a Vizio 47″ LCD HDTV.

COMPANY: Jason B, his cousin Josh, and Cinemanaut John until Bree.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Just finished playing a round of The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game.

A college buddy of mine, Josh, a Tolkien fan himself, told me I had to get in touch with his cousin Jason, who not only loved Lord of the Rings, but was also an avid tabletop gamer and would love to show me how to play the trading card game based on The Fellowship of the Ring that was released in November of 2001. So, before viewing the Fellowship movie together, we fought each other’s Fellowships in a race to Mt. Doom, because the game apparently has Two Rings to rule them all, or something. It’s complicated, just watch.

Woo! Fun! And then we put on the movie, during which Jason and Josh threw all kinds of trivia at me, like any self-respecting nerd should. A lot of it I’d already heard by now, but here are some mostly unverified facts they shared with me that I was previously unaware of.

While the rest of the actors in the Fellowship were flown to various filming locations, Sean Bean was terrified of helicopters and would walk the whole damn way, including hiking the snowy mountain used as Caradhras. This is especially surprising since he once starred in a movie where his character hijacks a helicopter.

I think it was called Keep That Fucking Whirlybird of Death Away From Me.

Supposedly Viggo Mortensen, the warrior poet sex god, is a huge fan of headbutting people, and one night at the bar, he headbutted Orlando Bloom so hard that he couldn’t see. (Looking this up after the film, it appears Viggo convinced somebody else to do this, because Viggo is clearly a trickster demon sent to this Earth to manifest chaos.)

Viggo’s best “Did I do that?” face.

Josh has visited the pub where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to hang out, the Eagle and Child. It’s pretty tourist-y.

“I’ve got it! They fly away from Mt. Doom on children! No, that’s stupid…”

Elijah Wood’s first leap onto the Bucklebury Ferry gave him a huge splinter. Yeowch!

“Betrayed by my namesake!”

I clearly haven’t been paying enough attention to Legolas the previous 37 times I’ve watched this movie, because there are a couple of neat visual tricks the filmmakers used to show how light and swift Elves are that I completely missed. For starters, Legolas is the only character that runs across the top of the snow on Caradhras, while the others sink in…

Cheeky bastard.

…and Legolas draws his arrows with superhuman speed because the editor intentionally dropped frames from the film every time he archerizes someone.

How fast is Legolas? This is a GIF.

So now it’s time to go Deep Nerd. At this point in the year, I’ve read The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Two Towers. Is that enough to understand these movies? Of course not! For starters, I asked why the Ringwraiths stab Frodo in the shoulder when they could just kill him, and Jason started talking about “the twilight.”


Joke accomplished, moving on.

According to Jason, all that swirly swooshy shit going on around Frodo when he puts on the Ring is actually another realm, or dimension, or something like that, so the Ringwraiths need to infect Frodo so that he’s between planes of existence, allowing them to pick him up. I still don’t understand why they can’t just grab the Ring and leave him behind, but okay. This is partially an explanation. That I can’t find anywhere on the Lord of the Rings wiki.

Twilight Form

Hmm, “twilight form,” close enough.

You’d think I would have caught something like that in the Fellowship book, but I also missed that Boromir’s prophecy (a subplot cut entirely from the films) was totally fake.

“Aw, man. I mean, what?” – Rings fans that haven’t read any of the books.

Okay, I don’t think I’m that inattentive when I read; this stuff has to be in some of those long, boring histories of Middle-earth without any actual plot. Like the fact that Elrond used to be human.

Wait, what?

I dunno, Jason tried to explain it me and I got lost. I guess Elrond chose to become an Elf, and his brother chose to be a Man. Who gave them this choice? Oh, you know, gods.

Wait, WHAT??

Alright, I never assumed, from the books or the movies, that this was the sort of world with gods. I figured the magic was a kind of “sufficiently advanced technology from the days of old” type of thing, with nothing on the mythic scale of actual divine creators. This breaks my brain. Isn’t that a bit blasphemous? Wasn’t Tolkien religious? Why are we following these tiny boring characters around when gods are out there being powerful and awesome?

“Hey, did you forget someone?”

Oh, yeah, Sauron. He’s supposed to be a demi-god. The one almighty ass-kicker in the movie is an eyeball on a stick that has to beg an old man to get his jewelry back.

An Uruk rager.

“Whom do you serve–WHOA! Holy fuck! This isn’t a sex thing!
Put that away! Yes, impressive, but come on. Let go of it!”

UPDATE: Approximately one hour after publication, previous Tolkien superfan guest Hannah Peterson posted on the Cinema 52 Facebook page that it was Dominic Monaghan that got the splinter in his foot.