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Friday, 7 January 2005

Lord of the Rings - big screen / little screen

Due to various drama in my life last year, I never saw the third LOTR movie. The first two, I saw midnight, the opening night on the gigantic IMAX screen at the very geeky Sony Metreon in San Francisco. One of the pre-movie commercials was for Microsoft. The audience booed. Somebody yelled "go Linux" Cheering ensued. There was cheering for the opnening credits. Oh, we were geeky fans. And somehow, I missed the entire phenomenon for the last movie.

I went and rented all three DVDs. The first two movies really lost something being shrunk down from gigantic iMAX projection to Cola's teeny TV. Well, it's not a teeny TV. It's perfectly reasonbly sized for a television. It's just dropping a lot of detail off the movies. Alas. I'm not sure that I want to see the third movie for the first time on such a tiny format. I'm hoping that somebody who reads this has a gigantic TV and loves LOTR or at least tolerates it and says "come watch it on my TV!" I know of a very large projection screen in Connecticut, but I dunno, want to watch the movie noowwwww.

Requisite pseudo-academic deconstruction

I made a pledge or something not to go watch any more violent movies. I don't want to encourage that sort of movie making because I think it contributes to violence in society. I made an exception for LOTR because the movies are so beautiful and I loved the books so much as a child. But LOTR is violent and has some disturbing social messages. They are at war with evil itself. Sound familar? Actually, because of the various factions involved, it's more of an axis of evil, rather than a single evil.

On the one side is Gondor and the white City with it's white tower. In the white city, there live noble people, skilled guild-members, farmers (well, just outside the city) and buccolic, suburban red staters. Opposing Gondor, there is the black tower. It is industrialized, filled with sub-human workers with dreadlocks who want to do away with the white city's way of life. They work in factories. Not that I'm detecting any sort of sub-text. Evil is at war with civilization itself. The axis of evil hates freedom and wants to stamp it out.

Some of this was in the book. The book has some disturbing bits about how folks from the south (or perhaps the global south) work for evil. They're swarthy. The main point of the book was opposition to mechanized warfare and anti-fascism. It was a reaction to the horrors of WWII. Some of this is still in the movie. The good guys have the ultimate weapon, but it's too horrible to use, even agianst evil. Because any ultimate weapon is, itself, evil. I wish that message would filter more into the public discourse. Also, the acceptance of fate and the strength of ordinary people to enact change are both nicely included.


I've noticed the movies have changes somewhat since I first saw them. I'm very glad the Ent Moot got added in. It was a shame it was ever missing. A voice-over of Gandalf saying to look for him in the East on the fifth day also seems to have been added to the second movie. When I first saw it, there was this long battle and they good guys were losing, but then they rode out into the battle to face certain death and suddenly a fourth army appears and I was thinking "who the heck is getting into this now?" And then I thought, "Oh yeah! Gandlaf! I forgot about him!" It made me feel engaged in the movie. So I think they should take the voice over out because it seems like the charecters in the movie had forgotten too.

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