My first-world problem: having to endure nine hours of back-to-back Middle-earth problems.
By Karen Eva Chin
I KNOW, I know, I am about a decade late with this franchise. The Lord of The Rings’ first installment in the trilogy (The Fellowship of The Ring) was released in 2001. I did not find it appealing then, and I hated it; so, I didn’t even bother going for the second movie, The Two Towers which was released a year later.
When the third installment came out after that, I got dragged to the cinema to watch it. All I remember about The Return of The King was that I fell asleep five minutes in, and woke up when it started to get noisy during the battles at the end.
This piece of information is to highlight just how uninterested I am in the trilogy.
Regarding the concept, however, I have to say that J.R.R. Tolkien is a genius. Period. Impressively enough, the books were written in the 50s.
Anyway, my boyfriend acquired the trilogy recently and made me watch them all in the space of three days. I put down a simple condition before I gave up about nine hours of my life: Subtitles. There are too many never-before-heard-of terms, weird names and mumbling and grunting in the movie.
So I watched, got led back to the laptop screen when I got distracted, and discovered it wasn’t bad at all.
I couldn’t help but observe the character’s behaviors and find lessons in the movies. I have to admit that although I was barely watching most parts, I already felt like a LOTR-pro. I feel like I deserve some sort of certificate of acknowledgement. (You wouldn’t dismiss this if I made a guy watch back-to-back makeup tutorials on YouTube for nine hours).
Before I point out some of my personal observations of the characters, here’s a super-brief summary of The Lord of The Rings (LOTR):
A bunch of people from Middle-earth (a fictional place) created power rings for rulers of the various races (elves, dwarves, men), but a bad guy named Sauron created one evil but extremely powerful ring to rule over all the other rings. One day, he was defeated and the ring was lost and eventually found by a hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who passed it down to his nephew Frodo, and the great wizard Gandalf came and assembled a fellowship of Middle-earth people to go on a mission to destroy the ring.
You can quote me on that. No doubt my boyfriend was truly annoyed with my questions and yawns throughout the entire movie.
Bilbo is the hobbit, the one who finds the ring in the LOTR prequel, The Hobbit, when he meets Gollum under Misty Mountains. It remains in his possession until he leaves for a final adventure and leaves all his belongings to his nephew, Frodo.
In his old age, Bilbo has become a writer and documented his life and adventures in a book. After finishing the final page of his adventures, he leaves town with a bang by turning invisible with the ring at the end of his farewell speech at his birthday celebration, effectively leaving something for his annoying relatives to talk about for generations. That’s the way of a true rock-star.
Bilbo’s character reminds me of accomplishments; what achievements would make me die peacefully if I were to go tomorrow?
Lesson: Make your life worthwhile, and treasure all your adventures. Leave your mark in the world.
Gollum, the creature with the ring-obsession in Misty Mountains was actually a hobbit. The hold the ring has on him has destroyed his soul but left him with an unnatural, long life. Under the power of the ring, he turns into a disgusting creature, seemingly with a split-personality. Sometimes a slight trace of his previous self emerges and it is sad to watch his struggle.
Lesson: Do not let your desire for worldly things change you into a monster.
Played by Elijah Wood, the 90s heartthrob with unbelievably clear blue eyes, Frodo is the hobbit who gets stuck with the evil ring and is sent out to destroy it. He doesn’t speak much (I am not sure if it is his nature or because of the burden of the ring) but he stands strong with his fate, gets stabbed numerous times in the trilogy but still goes on, and hard as it is, is able to resist even the strongest of temptations.
He doesn’t fight or actually do anything (he has a team of awesome people following him throughout his journey) but just keeps his eye on the mission. The only thing I couldn’t stop feeling amused about is how he looks perpetually confused. And he is the one everyone is betting on to destroy evil.
Lesson: If you are lucky to know what your life’s purpose is, go out and do it no matter how tough it is.
A makeover helps even old wizards. Gandalf the Grey looked old and weary. Gandalf the White looks awesome and I love his hair, evenly white and so smooth. The makeover seems to help his performance too. (It is annoying to keep thinking he is Dumbledore, then realize that it’s a whole other story).
Lesson: Never underestimate the power of change.
Sam is Frodo’s best friend and also one of the hobbits in the Fellowship. He is the epitome of the annoying overly-attached friend. A lot of bromance jokes have hovered around his and Frodo’s friendship. However, I see Sam as the example of a loyal and constant friend. Not many of us are lucky enough to have a Samwise Gamgee in our lives.
Lesson: Appreciate those who are always there for you, and always be there for them.
One of the four hobbits in the Fellowship, Merry’s plight touched me. He really wanted to go into battle but was told to stay behind because of his small stature. His size did not match his desires and bravery in spirit. He went into battle, anyway.
Lesson: Don’t let anyone destroy your dreams and make you lose belief in yourself.
Curious and innocent, Pippin is also one of the four hobbits in the Fellowship. His character is a classic example of the expression “curiosity kills the cat.” Although he angers Gandalf numerous times and Gandalf repeatedly calls him a fool, in the end, he still rides with Gandalf on his white horse. He saved one life and killed one Orc.
Lesson: Don’t be afraid of what people think of you, you have your strengths.
Boromir is the eldest son of Denethor II, Steward of Gondor. He was part of the Fellowship of the Ring and when he was protecting the hobbits in the Fellowship, he got stuck through with several arrows but kept fighting to his last breath to protect the hobbits. If you are determined enough, you will fight with every breath you have to achieve what you want.
Lesson: Fight for what you believe in. Fight for what’s right.
Father of Boromir who loved and favoured him over all else, including his other son, Faramir. He fell into total despair when he found out Boromir had died. And then he did some crazy things, like dooming Gondor to destruction by refusing to light the beacons, sending his surviving son on a suicide mission, trying to burn said son alive, and then commits suicide when he catches on fire by jumping off the edge of his kingdom. All this while everyone else in Middle Earth was busy fighting evil. Cuckoo!
Lesson: Depression makes us self-absorbed, hopeless, and it drives us insane. Do not focus on the tragedies but the blessings that you still have.
Gimli is another one of the nine in the Fellowship of the Ring. He is the only dwarf, and characterized as simple-minded with simple motivations, shameless, competitive and stubborn. However it is touching how he forms a friendship with his alleged mortal enemy which is the elf Legolas. In the end, I see that even the toughest characters are capable of hiding the softest hearts.
Lesson: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Get to know people for who they really are.
Cool, polished, pulled-together. This elf with mad skills with the bow and arrow is hardly affected by his situation or surrounding. Almost always good-natured, he seems to be doing the best in the fellowship.
Lesson: Stay cool. Enough said.
Arwen is a half-elf who falls in love with a mortal man, Aragorn. She sacrifices her immortality for love. She would rather die than be without it. She was brave enough to go for what she wanted even though her elven family was against it. She went on to have a happy family with that man.
Lesson: Love never fails.
Eowyn is the niece to the King of Rohan, and she’s awesome. She is a woman, a feminist of her time who refused to stay home but rather come out and fight with the men. She slew the bad guy who “no man can kill” and his pet dragon but not before saying, “I am no man” while removing her battle helmet and revealing her long hair.
Lesson: Swim against the tides. Forget gender-role oppression and take up any unconventional interests that you want even though it’s not a “girl thing.”
I guess the movies were worth watching after all.