WHEN: November 15, 2014, 12:21pm. (Week 46, November 9-15.)
WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME.
FORMAT: Blu-ray on a Vizio 47″ LCD HDTV.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Eating pizza, getting angry at trying to set up two movies to play at the same time.
SELL ME THIS MOVIE:
So earlier this week, I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while, and we started chatting about movies. At some point, he recommended Interstellar, and assured me that even though it’s very long, it’s a good time and goes by pretty fast. I mentioned how the last really long movie I enjoyed was The Wolf of Wall Street, and it was so good that I didn’t even notice. His response? “Ugh, it’s just the same thing over and over for three hours.”
Okay, Lord of the Rings fans, I get what it’s like to be on the other side of that response now, because whaaat?!
How is this boring?
(Other than the literal boring he’s doing right now.)
For my money, Martin Scorsese deserves multiple high fives or, barring that, the money I paid for the Blu-ray for making a three-hour tale of greed and indulgence that feels fresh the whole way through thanks to multiple changes in tone or storytelling style, but hey, this experiment isn’t for talking about movies I like, it’s for talking about The Fellowship of the Ring. And so, I decided to put on The Wolf of Wall Street at the same time as my weekly required Fellowship viewing just to see… what happens?
The volume on Wolf was very low, if you care about that sort of thing.
Believe it or not, this viewing had a few valuable developments, be they lining scenes up with humorous results, highlighting stylistic similarities between both films, or the effect it had on my perception of time. What order do you wanna hear about them in? Okay, we’ll do dessert first, here’s the funny stuff.
WHEN THIS HAPPENED, THIS HAPPENED:
- Jordan Belfort was holding up a hundred-dollar bill when the narration said, “The Ring has a will of its own.”
Okay, that was more chilling than funny.
- The first time Aragorn whips out his sword is the first time Jonah Hill whips out his penis.
Put that away!
- Gandalf talks to Frodo in bed while Margot Robbie talks to Leo in bed.
Remember when she explains how she rode a giant eagle here?
And Gandalf fucks Frodo in a pile of money?
- I wish I was recording when it happened but you kinda had to be in the moment: Elrond says, “Welcome to Rivendell, Frodo Baggins,” right as Margot spreads her legs and the awe-inspiring Elf music goes “ahhhhhhhh.”
- Right when Jordan considers incesting his aunt, Gandalf says, “There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.”
– The Lemmons kicked in during the cave troll scene, and I’m sorry, but Fellowship can’t hold a candle to Jordan’s epic quest.
Moria? No sweat. This? Nail-biter.
- Both movies put their characters on boats at the same time.
And, lastly and quite surprisingly, the one time Bilbo and Gandalf use recreational drugs in Fellowship, nobody is doing drugs in The Wolf of Wall Street. I would have lost that bet.
STYLE, TONE, AND RUNTIME:
I noticed a few interesting similarities between The Fellowship of the Ring and The Wolf of Wall Street as I watched them together. For starters, they’re both tales of greed, and the three-hour runtime sort of helps you feel its power grow. I don’t think any filmmaker’s first decision is, “It’s gotta be three hours!” but it certainly adds to the tension more than a 90-minute whiz bang romp.
Oh, come on, that little thing can’t turn somebody evil…
Also, both films set up the power of greed through the use of a time jump. Fellowship starts with a flashback, while Wolf starts with a flashforward. Each is a fine technique to further intrigue the audience, but for my money, Wolf‘s choice is stronger because it shows our protagonists dealing with greed in the future rather than other people over two millennia ago. Still, it seems like both movies were well aware that they were a bit of a slog and threw some action at us early to tempt us to stick around through the talky parts.
Though this talky part is my favorite scene in the whole movie.
As for deriding Wolf as “the same thing over and over,” I feel like it at least changes up the way its presented enough that it never bores me. Fellowship is a very straightforward “here we go” journey; the most it alters its storytelling is with narrated flashbacks. Wolf, on the other hand, breaks the fourth wall, shows us clips of commercials and news reports, makes us sit through long tense stretches of dialogue, slams us with hyper-montages, and even has a great scene where characters speak to each other without speaking to each other. You can criticize the plot as “money, drugs, fuck, repeat,” but the way its told is just so damn good.
This is as exciting as walking gets.
That being said… I don’t think Fellowship would be better if it, say, contained a hyper-charged cartoon or a segment in black-and-white. It really doesn’t seem like you could use some of the techniques of Wolf to enhance a classic tale like this. All I know is that the current version of Fellowship doesn’t hold my interest.
And I would pay good money to see Scorsese adapt Tolkien.
THE VIEWING PROCESS:
Strangely enough, The Fellowship of the Ring felt shorter this time around. Maybe I just associate Wolf with being such a thrill ride that seeing it at the bottom of the screen every so often sped it up in my mind. Also, I actually found it easier to focus on Fellowship for the first time in months. Truth be told, once Wolf started winding down, I kept my attention entirely glued to Fellowship for the last 40 minutes. Why? I don’t know, but maybe some real scientists should start reading this site and help further our research, because I find it fascinating.
You do too, right?
ONE THING THAT WOULD HAVE IMPROVED THE MOVIE:
If somebody threw Gimli at a dartboard.
I hear he loves being tossed!