The cinematic journey ends - We still have the books...

This can not really be claimed to be a review, in the proper sense of the term, for how does one begin to comment on a movie that has fired the passions and consumed the waking thoughts of so many people? That this is true can be seen by the explosion of websites, art work, written prose and merchandise that is now available at our fingertips. Those of us that began this journey back in high school during the 70s remember what Tolkien's work was like. It was rare. It was special. We were part of a group that had insight into a wonderful world; a world that, as hard as we might have tried, we could not get others to understand the pull that it had on us. To see art that depicted Tolkien's written works was almost unheard of. Music that was inspired by Middle Earth was about as hard to find. That has all changed.

The cast of the movies, that most all of us have come to picture when we `see' our favorite characters through the pages in the books, have been immortalized whether they like it or not. Middle Earth is somewhere out there in the Southern Pacific, and we can all go there if we just save up our money. Seemingly every scene, from the Lost Tales to the Return of the King, has been rendered in graphic form by a multitude of artists (some great and some not so great). I also have seen, but not heard, CDs of music that are performed by death rockers who pattern their lyrics after the Black Speech! The evil of Morgoth does indeed live on in the hearts of men...

It is not an exaggeration to state that Peter Jackson's movies have caused all this.

I have seen the Return of the King four times since it came out on the 17th of December. I still do not know just how to put my feelings in words now that the cinematic journey is finished. It is pointless, really, to talk of what was left out or what was changed. Many people have already done a fine job of this, and their points are all well taken. It is equally pointless to discuss why Mr. Jackson chose to create the work in the way that he did. This has also been examined and explained in many commentaries. What really matters is the emotions that the movie leaves one with.

And there were a lot of emotions; enchantment, revulsion, humor, sympathy, heartache, and sorrow, just to note a few. My skin crawled, my heart pounded, my tears flowed. Orcs were hideous, the defense of Osgiliath valiant, the people of Minas Tirith beautiful, the Riders brave. Nobody cheered at the showings that I went to, although I felt the urge to do so. The bond of love between Sam and Frodo was so thick you could reach out and cut a slice of it. I have cried my eyes out at the Grey Havens, and when Sam returns home, each time I have seen it. My heart actually aches. I just want to grab my three boys, hug them, and weep. Remembering Annie Lennox from the early 80s, and not having listened to her for years, the final song on the soundtrack was a fantastic surprise. The last two songs are some of the most moving pieces I have listened to. For all of the exclusions and changes that were made, the movie was a wonderful, and dare I say it, a moving experience.

A recent review stated that these movies are not the final word on Tolkien's masterpiece, yet I have a difficult time accepting that anyone will attempt a revision anytime soon. The commitment of time, resources, and peoples' lives that went into these films is too consuming. As I look forward a few years into the future, toward the Hobbit, I thank God that I have the books. The books. The source. The foundation. As I finish this up, New Years Day, my wife and I are heading to the hospital for prenatal tests. They may just keep her there, because her due date is very close. I better make sure that I toss those copies of the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring into the suitcase, just in case we are there for a while...

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