Reread, Repurchase

Dec 16, 2002

Last year’s hobbit loving movie,
The Fellowship of the Ring, was excellent.
Peter Jackson
could have been considered crazy for even attempting to translate such a well-realized and popular set of fantasy novels to the silver screen. The results might have been disasterous. Instead, they were wonderful.

The
books
themselves are the stuff of legend. They aren’t just fantasy novels. The Fellowship of the Ring trilogy and its prequel, The Hobbit, are fantasy standards. The four of them form the fantasy writer’s dictionary and encyclopedia. See that orc over there? See the smoke rising from the humble abode sadly placed near the Forest of Death? Thank
J.R.R. He played his part. He’s the Shakespeare of the sword and sorcery world.

To an aspiring 6th grade reader, they were a speedy horseback ride into the world of magic and mayhem. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Dragonlance,
Magician, Thomas Covenant
— many a fantasy series followed. I’ve never found a sword with a golem on the pointy end that I didn’t like. But I’ve never forgotten what started it all. Or had I? Why was everything so fuzzy?

I suppose it might have something to do with the 17 intervening years (oh my, now I feel old). You could say that it’s been in a while since I’ve read the books. I remember the them much like I remember my old middle school teachers. That’s to say if they came by and beat on my desk with a ruler, the memories would come flooding back. Without such an occurence, the details remain outside of my grasp.

The first movie acted much like that ruler. However, the sound of splintering wood was replaced by a light tapping upon my head (my old reading teacher would be much dissapointed). The big events stood out – Gandolf … dwarven mines …. massive battles. The rest all kind of runs together. The epic grabbed me by the ears but also made me miss my formally intimate knowledge of its supporting text. What did they leave out? How did I envision such a land? You know, I probably should reread the series.

That would be easy except for the fact that I loaned it out not so long ago. I believe I gave it to my nephew but, to be honest, I don’t remember who I handed it to. I’ve recommended it to many people, particularly when the first movie approached. Someone, somewhere has my classic copy. Unfortunately, that meant I no longer had a copy of my very own.

The solution to the problem wasn’t as clear cut as you may think. Visiting the store seemed to betray my inner geek. I’m not a part of the masses who were introduced to the one ring through a lighted wall. I was an early adopter. I’ve been there; done that. Hobbits? Yep, I know all about them; I even know a lot about good old Bilbo. I’m not jumping on the bandwagon. I’m leading the pack (Well leading in the sense that I’m behind the real uber-geeks out there. They are easy to spot. Just look for the Magic – The Gathering cards) . In this sense, at least, I rejected the movie.

That is until I finally drug myself to the book store. I found a splendid paperback set graced with covers directly from the movie. The nerd inside was at peace and my shiny plastic credit card surfaced. They’ll look just beautiful next to both editions of the first
DVD.

Revisiting the books will likely put the next two movies under a much more focused microscope. I’ll analyze. I’ll have a much more recent comparison. But I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. The movies have relit the fire of my interest in the hobbit world. I’m sure they won’t mind if I poke at the coals a bit.

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