On the Rings of Power and the Third Age

As I've been sketching out this post, it seems to be swelling to about 5 interconnected themes (much like the music of the valar) So this might turn into a bit of a mega post. I'll try to breakit up with some nice pictures.

So while my family was away for two weeks, I tried to do some recording. Honestly I did.

But I got confused, and I decided a better use of my time would be to watch the extended version of The Lord of the Rings (I will be referring to is as a single film throughout, since none of the chapters stand alone as independent films).

Aside from anything else, this has got to be the gayest film ever. Never mind from all the macho posturing, camping and scouting for boys, the incredible lack of female characters, which has all been discussed elsewhere, consider lines from the film like this:
"all his thought is bent on it"
"his gaze is distracted"
See? it's written into the dialogue. Sauron's orcs are his gays, and his thought is bent.

For a film with barely three speaking female characters in 12 hours, I'm surprised that it manages to just scrape through the Bechedel test based on a conversation between Eowyn and a girl called Freda who rode into town with her brother. I can't remember her name from the film, but apparently it is in there. The film uses utterly retrograde shorthands for evil, such as race and disfigurement. I won't dwell on these points since they're made well across the internet, although I disagree that This was a missed opportunity to use little people actors, because I find that utterly patronising when every film is an opportunity to use little people. I'm glad this didn't turn out to be like willow (although it's painfully obvious when they do use little people stand-ins, whenever a hobbit is walking away from the camera next to a human).

I know the script a lot better than I thought I did. I found myself quoting along lines in a 12-hour film I've only ever seen once, of a huge book I've only ever read once. Clearly it all had an impact. But I'm still at an absolute loss as to what I think of these films.

Let me explain (wtf does 'I' get capitalised, but not 'me'?). When I saw the films, when they first came out, I could tell they were fairly faithful adaptations, as they'd have to be for such a popular book. That's what reassures me, but also confuses me. I find it hard to understand how it's so popular; the 6th highest grossing film series of all time. I can understand that Harry Potter films top that list, because Harry Potter is dumb. But how can something I like - something good - be so popular? Watching the films, I found them genuinely moving (mostly the relationship between sam and frodo), and genuinely funny (Gimli), and I know that I like it, but honestly, is it any good? or both to my tastes, and popular? It doesn't make sense to me that a large proportion of people would be able to emotionally engage with characters in a fantasy world. Like, a total fantasy world, not like harry potter or james bond - fantasy worlds just beneath the skin of our own.

For instance, I found myself playing 'cast-a-long-a-lord-of-the-rings' - you know, guessing what spells are being silently cast throughout the film by the characters. Gandalf worldessly casts push, Arwen dramatically casts flood and we are left in with no ambiguity to the magic nature of the wave that sweeps away, the Witch-King of Angmar casts staff break. But mostly I found the explicit magic in the film a little disappointing; Saruman casting a fireball at Gandalf just makes you wonder why that stuff doesn't happen more often. in the Silmarillion, magic is like oxygen; most non-human characters just live and breathe it unconsciously. I've written about this before.

I found I couldn't play one of my other hobbies - the act-change drinking game. I've become really good at spotting the change of acts in films, and often it's right on the button of 30 minutes and hour. just watch the time display next time there's the end of a big scene or a tonal shift in a film you're watching. Great fun, but not possible with a 12-hour film. The rambling self-importance of LOTR is another reason I find it hard to believe it's popular. It's really the opposite to star wars which sets itself up as a fun adventure filled with peril. Humour works perfectly in the star wars universe, but it feels a little out of place in the otherwise ultra-serious world of LOTR. Maybe it's because of the chopping up of the source material into bits that don't fit. Maybe, I don't know.

Also, as a side note, I think the term 'live action' needs to be really, really well defined now. Live Action should mean no computer generation at all, not merely 'featuring real humans sometimes'. Any use of green screen or cgi stops the film from being live action, it just means that contains some live action.

And DM OF THE RINGS is utterly genius. I say that as part of a rather unique group of people who a) love roleplaying and b) love LOTR and c) love affectionately taking the piss out of things we love.

While you might say 'surely everyone who love RPGS loves LOTR, and might be broadly right, the specificness of the humour in DMOTR is pretty niche. While the concept is good, the execution is simply brilliant; How the author manages to make the Tolkien's narrative decisions into the gamers' or the masters' errors is brilliant. take this example.

Hmmm. can't help notice that the last four posts i've done are all 'this piece of culture sucks in all these ways but I still really like it, which just goes to show how good I am.'
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