KILLMENOW...OR IF YOU WANT TO BE REALLY VINDICTIVE AND CRUEL......strap me in front of a screen and play the LOTR movies over and over.
As the year 2003 dragged on, and the recollection of the tedium and confusion dulled, I actually started to doubt myself... "Maybe the LOTR films aren't as meandering and unfocussed as it first seemed...maybe the characterizations aren't as underdeveloped and the dialogue more than just a series of grunts and keen statements of the obvious...maybe the direction isn't as flawed as I remember with endless holds on people gazing off-screen and actors being oh, so earnest or evil...hey, maybe the innumerable scenes of ugly creatures lopping off heads and impaling greasy haired humans I don't know, are really not as interminable and repetitive as it first seemed to me...Hmmmmm...."
I went to the screening of the Return of the King determined to not look at my watch. In fact, I considered not even bringing it, in case the temptation to look would be too strong, but then, I decided that would be too cynical. And besides, maybe I was wr*ng about the films and they really are super-duper, clever, profound, compelling and doggone it, not the unfathomable, subversive mass-hypnosis of the Church and the world that I had aforeto concluded?
Let me just say this third film is the pick of the dripping, over-produced, dark and confusing lot. I found this to be the most suspenseful of the three films, principally because even I didn't want to see Mister F get consumed by a giant arachnid. Contrary to the previous two movies -which really are just prologue for this one - there is actually some semblance of a story here, although I again spent much of the movie confused...
"Remind me again which kingdom the pensive guy with stringy hair is trying to reclaim?"
"Who is that hungry guy and why does he hate his son and why doesn't he realize his other son isn't dead when we can all see it from way out here?"
"What, ANOTHER human city that needs to be saved or the whole race will be annilhated? Didn't we leave that party last movie?"
"Who is this mean dude on the dragon and where has he been hiding in the last 7 hours?"
"Don't these people ever bathe?"
"What the hell is Runah or is it Runar? And is Gondor a person or a place? And didn't we kill Sarum (SERUM? SEERAHM? SAREM? AHHHHH!) in the first movie or did he just turn into a lighthouse when I was dozing?"
Anyway, despite all my resolutions, there I was, reflexively looking at my watch ONLY 35 MINUTES INTO THE 3 hour and twenty hour ordeal! I almost sobbed out loud.
This film is also the most self-indulgent of the three projects. The film ends at least seven times that I counted, each one bringing tearfilled eyes and the loving gripping of shoulders. On the way out of the screening, another Christian magazine writer was irate at me for groaning through the twenty-five minute epilogue and noted, "This movie is the greatest spectacle ever to have been put on film."
I'll give you that it certainly is a spectacle in the way that Cleopatra and Intolerance were spectacles.... But it isn't great spectacle in the way that Lawrence of Arabia or Gone With the Wind, because in the end, I just don't care too much about any of the people on the screen. The spectacle only serves itself.
It seems to me. But I am holding out my finally verdict until the LOTR junket later today. Maybe being in the presence of Vigo and Elijah and Peter and Liv et al. will allow me too to sink into the mass sublimal devotion to these films. I'll let you know...probably from a therapist's office.
But in any case, go ahead. Send the fiery vitriol. Call me ignorant and stupid and a hell-spawned bastard.