A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to watch a spectacular movie, and all I could think of was Peter Jackson's adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings." I'd watched them all a few years ago and was pretty much unimpressed, but I remembered that it was at least colourful and fast-paced. And that's what I cared about.
So after about eleven hours of movie I was left with pretty much the same impression I'd had the first time: Frodo is a schlump, Sean Astin is a surprisingly weak actor (with a surprisingly bad accent), and the movie is REALLY about Aragorn, Theodin, Faramir, and Gollum. And it simply doesn't end. None of this piqued my interest much...
...but my opinion of the movies shot into the stratosphere when I watched the special features. The passion and agony of the filmmakers adds a new dimension of the movie itself, and I find myself wanting to see it all again. Someday. If just to get another glimpse of The Mouth of Saruon.
Watching venerable actors gush about the source material was enough to get me thinking: maybe I should revisit THE BOOKS? Again, I was never impressed by "The Hobbit" or "The Lord of the Rings" when I was a teenager, but at the time I was more into "Xanth" than "Beowulf." Maybe my matured and more finely-tuned aesthetics will find the same joy in Tolkien's world that Ian McKellen does?
The jury's still out. I breezed through "The Hobbit" and found it...well, breezy, though it was nifty to know more about "The Necromancer" this time around.
Mr. Old Goat himself (of Old Goat Books) is a self-confessed Tolkien obsessive, and he insisted that I read "The Silmarillion" before revisiting "The Lord of the Rings." It sure ain't no "Hobbit!" Digging through its antiquated language and almost point-form notation is like reading the books that inspired it -- the Anglo-Saxon and Norse legends -- and about as fun as The Bible. But I'm in awe of the breadth of his creation, and I hope that if I stick with it I will be rewarded.
PS: I vividly remember seeing Ralph Bakshi's adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings" in a movie theatre, and thinking that it was really damn ugly. Having since caught up with Bakshi's other work I can only marvel that his Tolkien riff was so restrained...like, no pneumatic short-skirted elves being spanked.