Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Watching Fellowship of the Ring in theaters--again!

Last night, the BF and I made a special nerd pilgrimage to the movie theater to see a one-night-only screening of "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" extended edition. I saw this movie six times in the theater, or maybe I'm thinking of "The Two Towers" and I only saw this one three times. I can't remember because it was ten years ago.

Ten. Years. Ago.

Fellowship came out Christmas 2001. Jeez, that makes me feel so old. I've been obsessed with these movies for an entire decade. I haven't watched the movies in a while, probably years at this point, but I found that I remembered every single line of dialogue in Fellowship. Hell, I even remembered the DVD commentary for certain scenes! Why I am using memory space for such things? At least I didn't dress up for the screening. I have my dignity.

Actually, nobody was cosplaying last night, which was a bit weird. I'd expected to see at least a few people rocking a ring necklace and bare feet, maybe a sword or two. But no, for the most part it was a mixed bag of young professionals, people old enough to have read a first edition in a haze of potsmoke and Pink Floyd, and couples. Lots and lots of couples. And you know, that gives me hope, hope that one day society will retire the stereotype of the fat, unhappy loner male nerd and embrace the nerd community as it really is: pretty damn normal, actually.

Fellowship holds up very well after 10 years: acting, special effects, sound, music, all of it top shelf movie magic. The version we watched, in addition to be the extended cut, was also digitally remastered for Bluray, so the whole thing was just freaking gorgeous! I saw details I'd completely missed before (and considering I knew every word of the movie by heart, that's really saying something).

It was a bit slower than I remember, probably because it was the extended edition, which means more gently cavorting hobbits and uneventful slogging through rough terrain. I think it takes over 2 hours to get to the action scenes in the Mines of Moria, but man, when it does, I'm just as blown away as I was ten years ago. The music and the pacing during the staircase scene, and Gandalf standing down the Balrog on the bridge--it gives me chills all over again. Lothlorian slowed the movie again and it actually sort of dragged during the giving of the gifts scene. I actually almost fell asleep, but that's probably just because it was late and the music is very soothing.

So here I am, ten years later, remembering an afternoon in 2001 when a friend said, "Let's go check out that Lord of the Rings movie, I heard it was pretty good." I'd seen a single teaser for the three movies almost a year before--just a shot of all 9 members of the Fellowship coming over a ridge and looking majestically determined. And some people in the audience were batshit excited, but a whole lot more were like, "Huh, that sounds familiar, didn't my parents read me a a little of that when I was a kid or something?" The books had a big cult following, but it was still just that, a cult classic. And Peter Jackson had one solid, Oscar-nommed movie under his belt, "Heavenly Creatures," but was himself mostly a cult hit for slasher horror flicks like "The Frighteners." New Zealand wasn't know for having ANYTHING Hollywood wanted, much less a world class special effects studio. Nothing about this project should have worked, and yet Jackson got the rights, New Line Studio ponied up the cash (and stayed out of the way because New Zealand is really, really far away from anything), and those plucky Kiwis spat out a masterpiece. As Jackson says in the special introduction he recorded just for these screenings, "It really felt like fate that we got to make Lord of the Rings." It was a labor of love on a blockbuster budget, and it was pure magic.

Ten years ago, after I got home from watching Fellowship, I got my mom's copy down from her shelf and read the entire Lord of the Rings in a single weekend. I've been hooked ever since, and I can't wait to see "The Two Towers" next Tuesday--and then "Return on the King" the Tuesday after that!

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