As I hinted in an image caption of a post last week, I did a Lord of the Rings marathon this weekend. I had nothing else to do, so I watched all three of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. I haven’t done this in ages, and I highly enjoyed being a vegetable for an entire day. Here are some thoughts and highlights about the experience.
Also, if you somehow haven’t seen the movies yet, potential spoilers ahead.
My Ability to Sit Still is Declining
This is at least the third time I’ve done a LOTR marathon. I’ve seen each movie multiple times, and I’ve done frequent mini-marathons, where I’d watch the trilogy over three days, for example. That said, I hadn’t seen even of these movies since at least 2011, my last year of university. Pro-tip for students: after writing five exams in six days, watching movies is a great way to unwind.
With all that said, this was my worst performance at a marathon. I had 60 to 90min breaks in between each movie, whereas previously as I watched them right after the other. Though the movies are excellent, I could not force myself to sit still that long. I just couldn’t do that. Afterwards I had to go move, take a walk, do something. To be precise, I cleaned my room after the first movie and I then wrote about it after the second movie.
Relatedly, I had two bathroom breaks during the film. Normally I have zero, only relieving myself when I need to switch DVDs. My ability to sit for long periods of time has become compromised. I think it’s because I watch far less TV and play far less videogames, so my ‘sit passively and vegetate’ muscles have become weak from lack of use.
In the past I would eat the most tasty yet unhealthy food possible. Often donuts, because that’s my go to terrible food, but also pastries, chips, pop, gummies, pizza, popcorn with triple extra butter, chocolate, the list goes on. I likely consumed a day’s worth of calories during each of the three movies.
This time I was much more conservative. I had one chocolate bar (mint Areo), one bag of chips (Doritos Bold BBQ), one small package of sour gummy treats. That’s it. I also had one pot of tea, about eight glasses of water (which may have contributed to the bathroom numbers up above) and a homemade chicken wrap. I made that during an intermission as I needed real food.
I’m proud of myself. On a day dedicated to essentially wasting time, I only had a moderately bad diet, not a terrible one. That’s a huge win. At this rate, the next time I do this in a few years I’ll be dipping vegetables in hummus.
New Line Cinema – New Line Cinema
This always make me laugh. On the DVD versions, at the very beginning, it starts with the standard stuff, Aliance Atlantis, this has been formatted to fit your tv, blah blah. You know, the stuff you ignore as you settle into your seat. For some reason, it lists the animation of New Line Cinema twice. That is, you see it once, it says New Line Cinema, the screen fades out, and then it repeats it before starting the movie.
I find this humorous. It’s one of my favourite parts. Have you ever watched TV and see two of the exact same commercials back-to-back? You know how you smile for a second, thinking that’s weird, and then smiling more because you realize someone goofed up? That’s the feeling I get.
As much as I love the music in this series, I also love it when there is no music. At least once in each film, there is an action scene in which we hear sound effects, grunts and yells but absolutely no music. This occurs in Moria for Fellowship, the Warg battle in Two Towers, and, briefly, during the Rohan charge in Return of the King.
Taking away the music adds so much immediacy to the action. There is no soundtrack in real life, and this is surely what it would sound like if we were actually there. The action feels more fierce, more immediate, more life or death. Compare that, for example, to the Helm’s Deep scene where Legolas rides a shield down some stairs like a skateboard, shooting arrows as he goes. The music swells during this scene, and it highlights how it’s lighthearted, almost comical in the sea of death and destruction surrounding it.
Another movie that does this to perfection is the final scene of The Last Samurai. Music can be powerful, but sometimes the silence is even more powerful. I really appreciate these touches.
Aragorn is My Hero
Everyone likes Gandalf, obviously. He’s the man. That said, Aragorn is my hero. I mean this literally. When I grew my hair long during my university years, it was mostly to look like Aragorn. I liked him in the books, probably my second favourite character, but Viggo Mortensen’s performance in the movies destroyed it.
In particular, I am fascinated by Aragorn’s struggle with his bloodline. That is, he is descended from Numenor and Elendil, and this gives him strength. However, Isildur carried the same strength, strength enough to cut down Sauron, but he could not destroy the Ring. As Aragorn says, “I share the same blood [as Isildur], the same weakness.” Part of the movie involves Aragorn accepting his strengths while overcoming his weakness, and that really speaks to me.
No Reading This Time
This is the first time I’ve done a marathon without first reading the books. This gave me a different perspective heading in. Normally I watch the movie with a constant comparison to the books still fresh in my mind. I compare where events differ, what is changed to enhance a visual narrative versus just reading it. This time, I got taken away more by the story and only afterwards reconstructed it from the source material.
As always, the books are better than the movie adaptation, but watching it first helps blunt some of the disappointment that inevitable happens when you read it first. I’ll now have to read the books, again, to see how watching the movies first changes how I approach it. Should be fun.