WHEN: October 10, 2014, 6:38am. (Week 42, October 5-11.)
WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME.
FORMAT: Blu-ray on a Vizio 47″ LCD HDTV, English subtitles on.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Just woke up.
What you are about to read is my account of the 42nd time I watched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring this year, as part of a loosely defined science experiment that I regret more and more every day. Regardless of how you feel about the film, by this point, I exist in a world beyond entertainment, beyond plot and characters, beyond sanity. Every week I must find a way to keep my attention on the screen, and for this excursion, I picked a quantifiable goal and charged onward:
Count how many times each character says the word “the” in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Nope, dialogue only.
Is your ass strapped in securely for this linguistic thrill ride? It better be! Here’s my count, straight through, no pausing, subtitles on, and around the third hour I sometimes forgot what I was doing, so try it yourself if you’re all about accuracy in your tediously pointless bullshit.
Galadriel - 64 (42 in the opening narration, 22 in Lothlorien)*
Gollum – 0
Frodo – 35
Bilbo – 26 (2 while singing)*
Gandalf – 109 (4 while singing)*
Sam – 9
Merry – 5
Pippin – 2
Aragorn – 35 (2 in Elvish)
Saruman – 26
Sauron – 1*
Boromir – 36*
Gimli – 14
Legolas – 8
Arwen – 9 (6 in Elvish)
Elrond – 31
Butterbur – 1
Bree gatekeeper – 0
Haldir – 5
Head Uruk-hai – 2
Other – 5 (Somebody in Bree says, “Out of the way!” An Orc says, “What does the Eye command?” Another Orc says, “The trees are strong, my lord.” One of the Ringwraiths says, “Give up the halfling, She-Elf!” And somebody at the Council of Elrond says, “The doom of Man.”
You want a chart? YOU GOT A CHART. (Click to enlarge.)
*NITPICKY DISPUTED UTTERANCES OF “THE”:
- I heard Galadriel say, “while company is true,” but the subtitles said, “while the company is true.” I added one to the final tally.
- While Frodo is quoting something Bilbo said, it turns into Bilbo’s voice and he says “the.” I counted this as Bilbo saying it.
- Ten of Gandalf’s utterances of “the” are in his head as he’s reading Isildur’s journal. I decided these were valid.
- I never once heard Sauron say “the,” but the subtitles claim he whispers, “There is no life in the void, only death,” so +1 for Sauron.
- For my money, Boromir says, “Curse you, and all the halflings!” which I take to mean the Hobbits in the Fellowship, but the subtitles say, “Curse you, and all halflings!” which sounds like he’s damning the entire Hobbit race. I defaulted to the subtitles in every other instance, but for this one, I stuck to my guns and added a “the.” Suck it?
SO, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
This was a dumb idea when I did it during Top Gun and it’s a dumb idea now. Also, holy shit, Gandalf, you’re over 25% of the “the” in the whole movie? Chill out, man.
“The the the the the the the Frodo the!”
ONE THING THAT WOULD HAVE IMPROVED THE MOVIE:
A special feature that counts how many times any word or phrase of your choosing is spoken.
Aww, not even one?