But once a year, you’ll find my best friend and me glued to a couch for 13 hours while we marathon the extended versions of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
I’m not sure what drew me to pick up the first movie (on two VHS cassettes!) at Blockbuster when I was 11 years old. Maybe it was the cool cover, maybe it was I had heard my friends talking about it. Honestly, it was probably because I heard Orlando Bloom was in it and he wore a long blonde wig.
But those movies stuck with me like nothing else did. I mowed my neighbor’s yard all summer so I could afford the special extended DVD sets from Target, I watched them once a week, plus all the extras and commentary. What was it about these movies that captivated me to the point that I nearly have every line memorized and I still never get tired of watching them, even 15 years later?
Back then, I think the reasons were simple. It was the first time I got absolutely sucked into another world. I buried myself in the books, the lore and anything about Middle-Earth I could get my hands on. I loved the battle sequences, Orlando Bloom’s long luscious locks, and the good guy coming to the rescue trope played over and over again. I just couldn’t get enough of it.
But as I’ve gotten older, I find myself latching on to different parts of the movies. The story, albeit a very straightforward good versus evil narrative, is one steeped in themes of finding your inner strength, the powerful bonds between friends, accepting who you are, and sacrifice. My favorite parts went from The Battle of the Hornburg and Arwen summoning a flood to fend off the Nazgûl to Sam’s monologue about the good in the world and him carrying Frodo up Mount Doom, accepting there wouldn’t be a return journey home.
Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, these movies shaped me to see the good in the world, to cherish my friendships and to never give up, no matter how bleak things are looking.
Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.