Archive for February 7, 2024

Books, movies

Why I Love LOTR

Last weekend, I rewatched the Lord of the Rings movies. I reread the books a few years ago, and this was my first time to watch the movies after refreshing myself on the books (and when I reread the books last, it was the first time to read them after seeing the movies). One thing I found interesting was that I seem to have mapped some of the imagery from the movies onto the books, so I was mostly seeing the movie characters and settings in my head as I read (unless I ran into a strong image that remained from previous reads), even in the parts that weren’t in the films. As a result, I had scenes in my head involving the movie imagery that it turned out weren’t actually in the movies, so I was surprised when they didn’t come up. That was a little disconcerting.

Of course, now I want to reread the books again, but I don’t really have time for that right now. I’m trying to read through my to-be-read bookcase as part of a book purge in preparation for a possible move. So no rereading, just reading the books that have been waiting for me to get around to them. Maybe next fall or winter. They feel like fall/winter books to me, the sort of thing you read while snuggled under a blanket, maybe next to a fire.

I’m no book purist. There are book scenes I miss in the movies, but I can also see why they were left out of the films. Even with the regular release (I don’t have the extended editions), they’re very long movies, and these bits would mess up the pacing. But it would be kind of fun to have a whole movie of my favorite part of the whole series, the beginning up to Rivendell. I love so many of the parts that were left out, like the dinner party in the woods with the elves and Tom Bombadil (I know that’s controversial, but that part is basically cozy fantasy). That section of the first book is all about being in this other world and experiencing enchanting things before it gets serious with all the battles. I get bored with the battle scenes in the movies, when it’s all just orcs swarming all over the place. On this viewing, I got distracted by spotting when Orlando Bloom was and wasn’t wearing the blue contact lenses during one of the battle scenes because that was more engaging to me than all the hacking and slashing.

It’s the character stuff I love — Sam finding the strength and courage he always had but that came out when he was put to the test, Pippin growing up right before our eyes (you can actually see on his face the moment when all the illusions shatter), Eowyn being a badass warrior woman without ever being Not Like Other Girls, Aragorn finally accepting and claiming his heritage, the growing friendship between Gimli and Legolas. Gandalf’s gentle fondness for hobbits. I just really love all these people, and I think that’s a big key to the enduring success of these stories.

The ending is always a bit bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I’m usually tired from making it through the whole thing, but on the other I’m a little reluctant to leave that world and return to reality.

Incidentally, I’ve decided that my ideal home might be a hobbit hole in Rivendell. I like the coziness of Bilbo’s house, but I also love the airiness of the elven homes and I like the general setup and aesthetic of Rivendell. Maybe an elven house with an attached hobbit hole for a cozy nook. Incidentally, the movie depiction of Rivendell is one place where I can’t make the movie version fit what I see in my head when I read.

Maybe next time I read/watch, I’ll do it back-to-back or around the same time so I can do a real comparison between books and movies.