A Day Well Spent: My Trek Through Middle Earth

A Day Well Spent: My Trek Through Middle Earth

“You haven’t seen that? What have you been doing with your life?” We all have a few movies that we haven’t seen that illicit that response. For me, that movie (or rather movies) would be the epic “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

For whatever reason, my parents decided to deprive me from “LOTR” as a child. Thanks to that, I missed out on a surprisingly large part of pop culture and therefore was less cool. In elementary school, I heard my friends call short people “Frodo” all the time, but I never joined in because I didn’t know what it meant. Other times, people would show off their Gollum impressions amongst each other and I wouldn’t know what the hell was going on. Experiences like these led to me feeling left out and alone. Not seeing “LOTR” perhaps ruined my childhood. (kidding.)

In my recent teen years, I tried to make up for this with repeated ill-fated attempts to read the book series. The furthest I ever got into the first book was about 50 pages or so, which probably happened on three separate occasions. It eventually became clear to me that I needed to do myself a favor and stop trying to be a hipster by reading the books before watching the movies. Thanks to the wonderfulness of my completely plan-free winter break and a bit of convincing from fellow Newspacer staffer/”LOTR” connoisseur Andrew DeMonico, I had a clear path to immersing myself into the world of Middle Earth.

The plan was simple. I would find all of the extended editions of the “LOTR” movies and watch them all on the first day of winter break. Three movies in a day is quite a bit of screen time, but when you’re talking about the “LOTR” movies it’s pretty much a whole different ball game. The total runtime for the three films spans 11 hours and 23 minutes, so it’s more like six normal movies. Plus, I think it’s safe to say that the “LOTR” series is largely known as some of the best film work ever created. I was prepared for either supreme satisfaction or a melted brain, but more likely a combination of both.

While I had never seen any of these films in my life, I did not go into this marathon without a bit of context. I had actually read The Hobbit a few years back and saw the most recent Peter Jackson movie Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies twice in theaters during the week leading up to the movie marathon. I can confirm your suspicions: I have a large amount of free time.

Some of my fellow classmates were gracious enough to join in on the trek to Mordor, so thankfully I was not alone on my journey. In total, six people came and watched at least one of the movies. I was grateful for their presence as it made me feel like less of a hermit for staying inside and watching movies all day. A special shoutout goes to Katie Calo and Tim De Vries, who were both there for almost the entire time.

The experience and spectacle of watching the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings was entirely worth it. One of the most enjoyable parts of the marathon was finally seeing all the oft-referenced legendary moments that I never understood in real life. The “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” line by Gandalf was as epic as advertised, and when Boromir said “One does not simply walk into Mordor” I cracked a smile. The action scenes were also incredible. I have no idea how they managed to create such realistic and exciting battle sequences, but I am very glad they did. An added bonus to these scenes was watching Legolas and Gimli compete over who could kill the most orcs, which was pleasantly hilarious.

However, the ride was not completely smooth. The runtime was a tad overwhelming and as a result of no time to process what was happening, I mostly had no clue what was going on in the The Two Towers. I also felt that the romantic subplots were pretty dull and it seemed as though those scenes lasted for hours.

Another element I found surprising was how inept of a fighter Frodo was. For some reason I thought he would hold his own throughout the movie, but seemingly around every corner he either got stabbed, shot with an arrow or simply tricked. It was truly a miracle that he made it to Mordor, which was something that was not lost on me when the movie ended. I would also like to point out that Sam Gamgee was a pretty huge suck up, and his unrelenting niceness towards Frodo was borderline creepy at times.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed all of the films, though I have to say that The Fellowship of the Ring was my favorite of the three, with The Return of the King coming in at a close second and The Two Towers coming in at a distant third. Some of the boring scenes certainly dragged on, and the story did get a bit muddled for me, but the action sequences and beautiful scenery were more than enough to compensate for that.

Having now officially seen the movies, I feel as though I have rectified my childhood and can now become a contributing member to society. If any of you have not seen the movies, or even if you have, I highly recommend getting some friends together and watching them all in a row. It will take a full day to get through them, but you won’t regret it.