Review by M. W. Worthen
I have to admit to being a huge fan of Tolkein's books since the early seventies. When I read the books, I cast and recast the characters as I directed the movie in the privacy of my mind. When Ralph Bakshi's unfinished Lord of the Rings came out, I was sorely disappointed. The characters didn't look right, the movie was poorly plotted, the pacing was wrong. I hated it.
I expected Peter Jackson's effort to be similar, but have to admit I was excited about seeing it anyway.
So I looked forward to Peter Jackson's movie, and when it finally came out, I took my family to the box office with a strange mixture of childlike excitement and vague trepidation. Fortunately, my stepson distracted me by comparing it to Harry Potter. I told him that this movie would leave Harry Potter (good as it was) so far behind it would look like amateur video. And I hoped I wasn't wrong.
I wasn't wrong.
The sheer beauty and intricacy of the scene preparation, the expansiveness of the locations, the exquisiteness of the set design and decoration, the care with which the costumes were produced, all of these were worth the price of admission. But more than that,
I was in Middle Earth.
Peter Jackson seemed to reach into the world I had constructed for myself reading the books and put it up on the screen. It was just as I had imagined. Ian McKellan is Gandalf. Hobbiton was perfect. Moria was even scarier and more majestic in its dark, decaying grandeur than I had imagined.
I only had a few reservations about the film, and these were small. One, a very small one, was the fact that he had collapsed several characters. Elrond and Elendil became the same person, as did Arwen and Glorfindel. Additionally, I'd been looking forward to seeing one of my favorite parts of the book-- the old forest and the barrow-downs -- and this was totally bypassed.
These were only small worries. As a writer of screenplays, I understand the need to combine characters, to skip certain sections of the book in order to advance the story and keep the viewer on the edge.
As a whole, the film is magnificent. There is a section of the film, a horrific scene in which nine of the nazgul in a reverse-V formation are chasing Arwen across a field that just took my breath away. And the twin statues of the kings on the river. I knew in my heart they were models, but, like the characters, I was awed.
When I came out of the movie, I wanted to share it with my friends (and ended up taking my brother-in-law and sister-in-law on separate occasions). I turned to my stepson and said, "Well?"
"It was better than Harry Potter."
Is there any higher praise from a twelve-year-old?
Five bites, despite the missing barrow-downs.
More Movies to come!
Imbolc 2002 Issue, Updated February 15, 2002
BLOOD ROSE is Copyright © M. W. Worthen.