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Thursday, October 22 Front Page >> Random Rants >> Lord of the Rings...

Apr 08, 2007, 10:55am

The first "serious" book I ever read growing up was Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. I think I was 11 or 12 years old when I first read the book, finding a copy at the local library - going to a catholic school at the time, this was not the sort of book to find in the school library.

It took me some time to fully read it. I remember having to renew it the maximum 4 times that the Ottawa Library would allow. Then I checked it back in, and signed it back out again a fifth time.

When I was done, I read Two Towers, and that too took a bit of time. I think I was 14 by the time I ended that book, and then I delved into Return of the King, the third book in the trilogy. Ironically, I was also reading the other great masterpiece of literature in the last 200 years - Les Miserables, in my French Literature class in Junior High. It was an abridged version, broken down into something like 9 small books. Les Mis is the french equivalent of Shakespeare in French Lit classes.

By the time I was 15, I had read the trilogy, and then read The Hobbit. By the time I was in Grade 12, I read them all over again.

And I read them again while travelling through Europe - they were the three books I carried with me for half a year.

And I read them again while travelling across Canada.

And I read the three books again on my Palm V (the slim, sleek Palm of days gone by) as the first "e-book" I remember ever reading. That's going back to 1999, the last time I read all three books.

Then I heard about the movies that were being made. The whole internets did - I remember so many "buzz" and "spoiler" sites dedicated to the goings on in secretive New Zealand where the films were being made. These were really the forefathers of what's more common now on the internets, but I think Lord of the Rings was really the first huge movie to drive the creation of fan and spoiler websites, talking up a project even before it was started.

So anyway. being a devotee to the Lord of the Rings and Tolkien's writings in my own quiet way, I saw the films in the theatres - saw them several times each, in fact. And I bought the DVDs when they came out, and watched them again.

The last one I saw was Return of the King, in the theatres. Just absolutely loved it. Cried my eyes out. Felt fairly satisfied with the movies, save for some omissions (I think almost all Tolkien fans are sad that Tom Bombadill didn't make the movie).

When I bought the DVDs, they were the original releases - the 2 disc versions. But Peter Jackson came out with Special Extended versions of the movies on DVD sometime afterwards - adding 30, 45, 50 minutes to each film. Adding back in things that he had to chop in order to make a theatrical release (albeit stretching the limits, going up to 3.5 hours for the final film).

I bought Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in the special extended version some time ago because I loved the statues of the ancient Kings guarding the river that were included in the box. But I didn't watch the movie, for whatever reason. Actually, plenty of reasons - my Mom was going through he last days, my relationship with Jeanette died, lots of turmoil in my life.

A few years have passed. And for some reason, a few weeks ago, I started thinking about Lord of the Rings again. I can't quite figure out why, except maybe it's that time in my LotR "cycle"... where I feel the urge to revisit the book again. Seems to happen every 3 or 4 years. So the epic tale, the best series of books written in the 20th century, are on my mind again.

I started reading online about the books and the movies, and reading more about these "extended versions" on DVD. I had one - the first one - but not the other two. I also haven't watched the movie with Beata, or shared the experience with her. So last week, I ordered the second and third movies in their extended versions, and now I'm just absolutely chomping at the bit to watch them again. But I'm going to wait. I'm hoping Beata will sit with me as we watch all three extended length films. Maybe one disc per evening (each movie spans two discs - they are so long, and Jackson wanted them in the best quality possible).

I'm actually quite private most of the time about Lord of the Rings and what it means to me. I'm not going to talk much about it here either. Just to say the story means a lot to me - more than I can ever explain. But I think the core of it all is that even in one's darkest moments, there's always hope. Even when all seems lost, and you don't see anything but despair, the will to continue, to go on, can sometimes just be enough. A few years back, I was in a situation that put me in pretty bleak moments. I think subconsiously, the message from this book, and even from Les Miserables helped get me through those moments.

That's what I got out of these books. Intensely dark, yet absolutely filled with hope and joy. An ending that isn't hollywood or fairy tale, because the hero has to still pass on; but even in that ending, there's hope and joy.

Les Miserables (the book, not the broadway play) and Lord of the Rings are two defining pieces of literature that have had a large impact on me. It's time to revisit one of them again.

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