I write a lot of serious stuff on this blog; I don’t want it to turn into my corner of the internet to be all serious, all the time. So I thought I’d share some thoughts on my first experience watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Yes, shocking as it is, I had never seen LOTR until about a week or so ago. All my Catholic friends thought this was just a step shy of heresy and my hubby loves LOTR so I finally decided to give it a chance. I’ve read The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, and I’ve heard people (Catholics) talk about it INCESSANTLY so I had a tiny bit of background understanding, but not much.
I’ll preface this by saying that I also haven’t read any other commentaries on LOTR, so what you’re about to read are my unfiltered thoughts on the whole thing. I do look forward, however, to getting a better understanding of the nuances in the story and learning more about the life, faith, and work of JRR Tolkien himself.
And here’s your warning: don’t read this if you’ve never seen/read LOTR because there will be plot spoilers!!
And so, here are my thoughts and reflections upon seeing LOTR for the very first time:
1. Orcs are disgusting. That’s really all I have to say about that but… really. The producers did a great job of making them look all-out repulsive.
2. The score is STUNNING. I mean, like, WOW. Take a listen to this bit from the Rohan/Rohirrim battle scene. I’ve been listening to this on repeat via YouTube for the past few days, no shame!
3. The ring as a metaphor for sin: … at least, this is what I’m thinking at this point. It could be compared to sin, in some capacity. Everyone seems to want it and it seems to have an effect on even the most noble, seemingly-strong people–including Boromir. The stronger characters can resist the temptation to take the ring for themselves: like when Aragorn promises to help Frodo, and he makes a point of placing the ring in Frodo’s hand and closing Frodo’s hand around it. Boromir is pretty strong, too, but he is momentarily overcome by it’s power and tries to take it from Frodo–and then some of his dying words are expressing remorse for trying to do so, even though he knew he shouldn’t and did really want to.
…Whereas Gollum/Smeagol is completely and utterly depraved and deformed for want of the ring and his lusting after it makes him do some really stupid, awful things (killing his friend in his flashback, trying to kill Frodo numerous times) and even though he gets the ring from Frodo ultimately, it quickly leads to his own destruction.
This seems to reference sin–though it’s not a perfect metaphor, because everybody sins–most of the characters are affected by the ring in some way. Almost all are tempted, even if it’s just briefly. The stronger, noble ones can say no to that temptation; and then others more easily succumb to the ring’s power; and the ones that become obsessive over it become consumed by it. (This isn’t to say that if you give in to temptation you’re like Gollum, of course, haha; like I said, it’s not a perfect metaphor…!).
4. The little guys, the underdogs, do the most amazing things in the story. The best example of this is Frodo himself, carrying the ring. Why didn’t Aragorn carry the ring to Mordor? He’s capable, competent, a skilled fighter… he probably could’ve gotten to Mordor a lot easier and more quickly than a few bumbling hobbits.
Pippin saves Faramir, the big, brave warrior and brother of Boromir, from his own dad when he runs to tell Gandalf that his dad’s about to burn him alive; and ultimately Pippin is the one that pulls Faramir out of the fire pit.
And another great example of this is Eowyn killing the Nazgul; I’m definitely not a feminist but I did notice there weren’t many women in the movie (which is fine!). But I did love how this scene played out: when the Nazgul says “no man can kill me” and Eowyn takes off her helmet, says “I am no man,” and then proceeds to slay him right there. Like I said… not a feminist but that scene was awesome.
Of course, the best example is near the end of the movie when Aragorn is crowned king, and the entirety of Minas Tirith bows in gratitude and honor of the four hobbits: all the warriors, kings, powerful people, etc. all bow to these four humble little barefooted “halflings.”
5. That Aragorn is a great dude. I really appreciated that Aragorn kept Arwen in his heart the whole time–even when she initially decided to go to the Undying Lands, and it looked like they would never see each other again. I think they both illustrate fidelity and also self-sacrificial love, in that Aragorn doesn’t just go be with Eowyn just because she was there and available in Rohan (and she really did try to catch his attention) and Arwen gave up her immortality so she could love and be with Aragorn.
6. The movie is full of characters deciding to do the RIGHT thing, even when they don’t want to do so initially. I love the Ents–the tree people. Initially they don’t want to fight against Saruman; in fact, the Ent that is carrying Pippin and Merri even says something like, “this is not our fight.” Then they come upon a huge swath of forest that has been destroyed by Saruman; and suddenly the Ents are “all-in” against Sauron and Saruman. And they promptly go on to just totally trash Isengard.
There are two other really powerful moments, in terms of battles, that illustrate this point: one is when the Elves–who generally seem to act a bit superior and better-than-you when compared to other races in Middle Earth–show up, ready and willing and honored to help defend Rohan against Sauron’s armies. And likewise, Theoden initially doesn’t want to help defend Minas Tirith because they didn’t come to Rohan’s aid. However, he eventually decides to help and the Rohirrim coming over the crest of the mountain is probably one of the coolest moments of the movie.
7. And finally, EVERYBODY needs a friend like Samwise Gamgee! I mean, what a pal he is to Frodo. Fraternal love, friendship, and brotherhood are portrayed beautifully and it’s something our world in 2018 really, really needs more of. The purity of their friendship, and the selflessness on the part of Sam, is just incredible. In addition to insisting on joining him on his journey to Mordor (he doesn’t really give Frodo an option!) and almost getting killed many times, he also sacrifices for Frodo’s sake multiple times–like when he saved food for Frodo or let Frodo drink out of his canteen, when he figured out Gollum’s plot (even though Frodo didn’t believe him), and when he found Frodo in the tower and saved him from that gross orc. He always, always had Frodo’s best interests at heart even in the most desperate situations. Everybody needs a friend like that.
So, there you have it. A first-timer’s unfiltered, raw thoughts on what stood out to me upon watching Lord of the Rings for the first time. Overall the movie has some amazing themes played out in stunning ways: honor and loyalty, self-sacrifice and selfless friendship.
I can’t quite put my finger on a favorite scene, but among them are the battle for Rohan, and when they lit the beacons before the battle at Minas Tirith.
Feel free to share your thoughts on LOTR in the comments below! And, if anyone has any suggestions as to articles, commentaries, books, etc. (in addition to the original Tolkien books themselves) that I can read/peruse to gain a greater understanding into Tolkien, his life, and work, and the Catholic undertones of LOTR, please send them my way! 🙂