The Turner Classic Movies channel is showing Academy Award winning films all day every day this month in a series called “31 Days of Oscar.” I watched Lord of the Rings: Return of the King last night and realized something.
I would remember that trilogy for the rest of my life.
I hadn’t read the books before I saw the first movie. I remember seeing the trailer and being very intrigued. Then I saw the movie and knew I had seen something incredible. I was in 8th grade when Fellowship came out. After that, my friend Tim and I became obsessive teen fanboys. He had read the trilogy plus the supplemental materials before, but we enjoyed the movies together.
I kept a daily countdown until the release of The Two Towers. Every day in chemistry class I would tell my friend Chris how many days were left; he wouldn’t care, but I couldn’t care enough. We bought our tickets in advance and went opening weekend I believe.
We repeated the same process for Return of the King, except I read all of the books before I saw it. I simply could not wait until December to find out what happened. (I’ve read the trilogy twice through since then.) So seeing Return, I had a different perspective, yet I enjoyed it as much as I did the others.
I remember being picked up from school with Tim by my sister Elise. Tim was just crawling into the back seat when Elise began to accelerate. Tim’s foot was not yet in the door, so it got caught beneath the moving tires for a moment. He was pretty jarred, but he made it, and we made to the theater to enjoy what we knew would be the final run-through of our annual ritual. Though we could extend our ritual further with the release of the extended DVDs. I’ve since watched the entire trilogy straight through with Tim—good times.
Lord of the Rings went on to box office and Oscar glory, but it also won the hearts of many youth. My dad never caught on to it; the weird names and twisting plot makes it hard for the Boomers to latch onto it. But it is essentially the Star Wars of my generation. Filmmakers will try for its revolutionary special effects and cultural impact for years. But above all, I will always associate LOTR with the fondness of my youth.
I will think of the great epic story, the lovable heroes, and the grand magic of cinema that creates a world out of nothing to entertain and enlighten the child in everyone.
Here’s lookin’ at you, Frodo.