Saturday and Sunday, I finally gave in to my growing faunch for the three Jackson movies, and by growing, I mean I'd started thinking about watching the movies about 1.5 weeks ago, but kept telling myself that I shouldn't, because I'd be forcing Bob to watch as well, given how small our condo is. Finally, I couldn't wait any longer, and decided to try watching while he was asleep or otherwise engaged. I dragged out our DVDs of the extended versions of each movie, and settled in, starting around midday Saturday. I thank my ever-patient spouse for not rolling his eyes too hard; in fact, he watched most of "Fellowship" with me on Saturday, and a little bit of "Return of the King" last night.
The last time I watched all three movies was, we think, back in 2006. At that time, I planned an all-day marathon, sent out invitations, made vegetarian and non-vegetarian chili, put both up on a sideboard, and enjoyed the company and movies from 9:30 or so in the morning to about 7 p.m. that night. Company came and went, with a determined core of LotR devotees staying the entire course. It was really quite wonderful, but I hadn't seen the movies since then.
At least a bit of background; I've read Tolkien's trilogy numerous times, probably going on into the double digits. I'm aware that that's not many for a lot of Tolkien fans, but it's certainly a fair amount. I may have read the Appendices even more. I've read the Silmarillion all the way through once, almost all the way through another time, and I've read portions of it multiple times, particularly the Ainulindalë and the Valaquenta (many of the stories of the First Age are altogether too tragic for me. I understand the idea that all these stories illustrate The Long Defeat, but intellectual understanding doesn't equate to emotional acceptance.) I've read some of The Unfinished Tales, forced myself through The Hobbit, enjoyed Leaf by Niggle and various other things. So yes, I'm familiar with Tolkien and I really, really like-unto-love his work.
When the movies began coming out, I quite happily viewed them multiple times on the movie screen. Like, double-digit times, even though there were things I was less than pleased with. I went into the movies lo, those many years ago already knowing that LotR was arguably racist, pretty clearly classist in a very British sense, and sexist in the "put them up on a pedestal and don't let them off of it much" sense.
Once I saw the movies, there was more to be uneasy with, or to outright dislike. I was unhappy with Jackson's decision to leave out Tom Bombadil. I thought leaving out the Scouring of the Shire showed that he missed much of the heart of the story. His (to me) ghastly changes to Denethor and Faramir, were almost unbearable, especially Denethor. The way he treated Gimli also made me grind my teeth. His decision, after deciding to make Arwen pretty badass in Fellowship, doing the pedestal thing with her in the next two movies, was less awful, but still, I thought, a bad decision. His decision to add in the "hey, you've got to do this, Aragorn because Arwen's gonna die because, uhm, reasons" was also stupid.
Watching the movies 14-odd years after I last saw them was interesting.
All of my dislikes were still there. And I could see even more clearly how much Jackson loved certain things - battles, Rohan in general, the strangeness of Lothlorien, the tragedy of Smeagol/Gollum and the character of Galadriel - and wasn't prepared to pay attention to so many other things.
Some sections made me squirm with second-hand embarrassment; the Gimli/Legolas drinking scene was one of them, and every time we looked at Frodo's blue-eyed "I am bewildered" face were more of them.
In my most recent viewing, I started wondering whether the Dunland crows spotted our heroes because of Bill the Pony not being hidden, or, you know, anywhere, when he shows up at the gates of Moria being told to go home. I was reminded that Gimli not knowing his Moria kin were dead and Gandalf not mentioning it to him was indicative of either Gimli's stupidity, Gandalf's cruelty or both. I mean, they could have written that just a tad better, don't you think? *eyeroll*
But I still wanted to keep watching. And I still loved them all, second-hand embarrassment and dropped plot threads notwithstanding.
It does make me want to read the trilogy again. Tolkien's ability with characterization and dialogue may be stilted at best, but he describes his world so beautifully that he makes me hear the wind, see the grass and the mountains, feel the shadows underneath the trees, etc.
Or perhaps I'll go drag out The Silmarillion instead. This entry was originally posted at https://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/783139.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comments. You can comment there or here, but prefer to read over on DW. You can comment there using open ID if you don't have a DW account.