Being the random thoughts of Greg Tito, age 29.

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Lord of Regret

I got the extended edition of The Return of the King a couple of months ago. Is there any other version? As Peter Jackson says in the commentary, these extended editions will be known as the definitive version of the film. It's uncanny how much an extra half hour can enhance the story and authenticity of the movies. It's a shame that Jackson was so compelled by Hollywood to cut these films down in the theatrical cuts but I think he did so knowing that the DVD editions were coming so soon after. A lot of time was spent on the DVD, continuing work on the movies after the movie was released. Jackson states that one shot was actually completed after the film won the Oscar for best picture, probably the only time such a thing has occurred.

Enough about him, let's get back to me. The other day, I decided to go back and start watching the Fellowship of the Ring. From the opening prelude sequence, I was surprised at how consistent the look and feel of the first movie compares with the third. These were truly one very long film, split into 3 dramatic parts. It's a fantastic achievement. God, I really can't stop blathering about it. In short, I think the films are fucking amazing.

I grew up reading the LOTR. One of my very first memories is watching the Rankin/Bass animated Hobbit and my brother telling me how different it was from the book. So I read it. I've reread the Hobbit and LOTR countless times, they are a part of me. They shaped so much of who I am, my dreams to be a writer, my fascination with fantasy roleplaying games.

Watching the FOTR two days ago, I was struck with the beauty of it all. The sequence in the Shire was so right, so in line with Tolkien both thematically and visually. Sitting on the couch watching it, I broke down in tears. I don't know what happened. I was overwhelmed with admiration and joy. I was also high but I don't think that had that much to do with it. I'd gotten teary-eyed before watching these movies but this time I just wept. I wept that something so perfect was in the world.

Back to the title of the blog. I was in my senior year of college when principal photography began on LOTR in 1999. I was 21. I remember being really excited that a live-action movie was being made and I followed the news of the shoot fairly regularly. College was going well, I was dating a wonderful girl named Mephistopheles. I was writing plays and producing my first full-length one called Online. But I have this mountain of regret.

I should have gone to New Zealand. I had next to no experience in film, but this was a dream project. I should have dropped everything, gotten on a plane and walked up to the office and told them I wanted to help make a movie. Do anything that was needed. Make coffee, drive cars or trucks, fucking shine Peter Jackson's shoes, anything. LOTR was a perfect meld of so many of my aspirations, I always wanted to make something, to write, to make a movie, to be creative, and the number one thing that inspired all of that was Tolkien. Why didn't I drop everything and go to make the definitive film version of a story that I had loved for so long?

I can tell you why. I was in school, with less than a year left. I had a car. A family. An awesome girlfriend who would eventually be my wife. I tell myself, if there was none of that, I would have gone. Or would I have? Would I have made that leap into the unknown?

I don't know. All I do know is that as I sit on my couch in the year 2005 and watch the work of Peter Jackson, I am so full of regret that I had nothing to do with the LOTR. It is arguably the greatest film in the history of cinema based on my favorite story of all time...

and my only contribution to it is that I cry because it is so beautiful.


Anonymous said...

I like to get high too.

Savo said...

That makes three of us.

Bob Jingle said...

I find it hilarious/sad that the only thing that both of you took from this blog was that I was high.

WWKnight said...


LotR was really something I wish was NEVER written.

Its boring. It set fantasy into a cliche, forever stopping anything original.

Every fantasy story is the same. The only thing that makes them stand out from one another these days is the characters which take part in them.

And as far as Tolkien's characters are concerned, they were boring too.

I read the Fellowship and the two towers. I enjoyed reading the bible more. I think I would have rathered the two books being tied together, attatched to a large length of chain, and some wierdo beating me around the head with the impromto weapon. I believe that would have been more fun.

And the movies were only slightly better.

Peter Jackson managed to get every boring description out of that book and put it on film! The ONLY benefit of a book being converted to film is that it will take out the long, pithy descriptions.

Not so in this case.

From memory this is what I think of Tolkiens writing style.


"Frodo was walking down teh path. it was a cool day, and the breeze sent a pleasent cool wind, which embraced him like a cool jacket. The sun was shining, a little too brightly for the hobbits liking, but it warmed him sufficently against the cool breeze. There were a few rocks on the road Frodo was walking on. They were all different sizes. Some were small, and didnt hurt Frodo's feet. Others were larger, and did hurt his feet. Frodo liked how the sun glinted on some of the shiner rocks. Frodo missed the shire, but knew he had an important journey."

Blah blah blah blah. How much freaking description do you need to lead up to something that you already know?

I have never liked Tolkien. I knwo his works inspired DnD, and aside from the author fo the conan books, he is the father of fantasy. But, he ran it into the ground.

Maybe it's a testament to his good work? That everyone tries to emulate him, but I have never seen what's so good about it!


Bob Jingle said...

Here's where we can agree to disagree.

Tolkien was a writer's writer. He loved language and spent decades devising his own languages before he even began writing the Hobbit. He uses elevated language to describe surroundings because that was the goal. You also have to remember that such writing was the style in the 1930s, when he started writing this story. I can understand that it gets bogged down sometimes, but I think that only increases the tension.

LOTR did inspire modern fantasy, but much of what is written today bears little to no connection to Tolkien beyond the mention of elves or dwarves.

WWKnight said...

Fair enough. I can agree to disagree. I'm used to it by now.

But let me clarify. I loved the hobbit. I thought it was a great read and lots of fun.

I get hwo much work Tolkien put into eveolving his world. I am going through the same process. Have been for two years, and I am NOWHERE near the level of perfection Tolkien achieved. (WoW has a lot to do with it). I respect him on that front.

But from the Hobbit to LotR, it seems Tolkien forgot about telling good stories and wieghed everyitng down with boring description. Maybe thats why I am so bitter. I know his potential, and I feel he has wasted it.