Lord of the Rings


I went to the movie as part of my birthday treats yesterday. So how was it? What's to learn on the 'writing' side of life?

As a film I'd rate it 6/10. It looks good, nice characters,loads of effort, marvellous scenery. The opening in the Shires was lovely, the acting between Ian McKellen and Ian Holm at its best there. One pleasure I get from film as with everything, looking for the roundness of its plot, the fullness of its journey, was clearly never going to happen as this film is just part one of three. It could have been brought to a close many times along the way.

Action sequences were good but somewhat relentless, one after the other. The purpose of one chase is simply to move on to the next, not much else is achieved along the way. Down in the underworld we're essentially in the same old hackneyed region as KING SOLOMON'S MINES, escaping marauding masses as slim bridges collapse underfoot. And tellingly when things got mellower in elfland I found myself missing the action, found things had got rather trite. (For a remedy to that I plugged in the same director's BRAINDEAD in the night, zombies and horror multiplied to an insane and relentless degree.)

One thing where this film of LORD OF THE RINGS failed for me, desperately needed updating, was in the racial element. All the good characters were white, all the evil ones black, the special army bred from the orks quite clearly negroid then looking like a tribe from Papua New Guinea went they went off marauding. The racial consciousness in the film is either foul or antique (I read the book too long ago, and in a different age, to remember how this element played itself out there) .. it would have been a simple matter to make orks green, give us Asian elves, a black hero. Anyone creating in the 21st century has an obligation to counter some of the nastier stereptypes of the 21st century.

The film did take me back to the Amazon and the journey described in my I WAS CARLOS CASTANEDA. Partly for the sense of a female divine as the presiding jungle spirit, for the battle between two sorcerers, but more perhaps for the very ring quest. Frodo is the ringbearer, and though seemingly unsuited to so vital a task the world has no choice but that he carries on. For me, in ayahuasca journey terms, this took the simple form of my gripping on to my own shoulder as painfully and for as long as necessary despite temptations to stop (I leave readers of the book to find the literal life-or-death drama in so simple an action). I think as writers we are also ringbearers. We're chosen by it rather than choosing it, each task is very much a huge imaginative quest and a journey, at terms the dangers and efforts of it seem absurd, we are offered countless opportunties to turn back. The essence of the game is recognizing the best course and enduring for as long as you can. You may or may not get anywhere but you have to keep on going. The world may recognize the value of the journey, and it may not, but the journey is essential nevertheless.

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