FILM: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

Fantasy Film ReflectionsI feel a great energy growing within. If only I could harness it and inject it when I need it most such in the dark days of despair. ~ Diane Tibert

Is my memory fading or was life too busy a few years ago when I first watched Fellowship of the Ring? I remembered the basic story, but I had forgotten much of the details. A significant amount of it was scattered in the winds of time. Names had escaped me, and certain scenes such as the hobbits meeting up with Aragorn in the Prancing Pony tavern were white-washed from my mind.

I didn’t remember the human fighter’s name, but after reading a little about the character played by Viggo Mortensen, is there any wonder? He was officially known as Aragorn II, son of Arathorn, but he also went by the names Strider (in and surrounding areas of Bree), Dúnadan (Man of the West), Wingfoot, Estel (his name when he was young to hide his true identity), Thorongil and several others.

It was as if Tolkien couldn’t decide on a true name for the character, the descendant of a king.

With so many characters to keep track of (some with more than one name), it’s no wonder I couldn’t remember all the unusual titles that sometimes were spoken sparsely. Bilbo, Sam and Gandalf were the only ones I recalled with certainty. Oh! And Precious, but I had learned that back in my teens and had no idea of its connection with this movie.

Aragorn was the reason I had to change the name of one of my main characters in Shadows in the Stone. Bronwyn, the dwarf fighter, was originally named Argon around 1980. At this time I had not heard of Tolkien or his Lord of the Rings novel(s). I also did not know one of his main characters was Aragorn, very similar to Argon.

I had grown quite attached to Argon for many reasons. He was an honourable dwarf who risked his life for others. Since I had met him with this name, I knew him by no other. In my love of science I knew Argon (Ar) was a chemical element, in the group 18 in the periodic table and the third most common gas in Earth’s atmosphere. In its own right, Argon was a noble gas.

A few months before Shadows in the Stone was published, I discovered Aragorn, which at that time came to me to be Aragon, which turned out to be an autonomous community in Spain where it coextensive with the mediaeval Kingdom of Aragon. My fantasy novel is no Lord of the Rings by any means, still, I tossed and turned this dilemma in my mind for weeks before finally deciding in the public eye, Argon would be…not Argon.

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FILM: Willow

Fantasy Film ReflectionsI can’t recall the first time I saw Willow. I can only assume it was shortly after it came out in theatres (1988). I was in my prime for fantasy films and adventure. I needed little encouragement to disappear for a few hours or few days and return with stories to share. Thirty-minute water-fetching trips sometimes took four or five hours and often involved ice cream, a lost cemetery or endless dirt roads.

The basic story line that survived the passage of time was: A baby who is destined to destroy the evil ruler is born and must be delivered to safety. Her protectors include a halfling and a human fighter. The human is found in a suspended cage near a cliff where he is left to die, and the halfling sets him free to help save the child. Of course, they succeed and the evil queen is destroyed.

Basically, that is what happened, but I had forgotten all the stuff in between which makes a movie worth watching. I had forgotten the evil queen’s (Queen Bavmorda)  daughter Sorsha (played by Joanne Whalley) betrayed her, fell in love with the human fighter Madmartigan (played by Val Kilmer) and helped save Elora Danan, the chosen baby rescued from the river by Willow (played by Warwick Davis), a Nelwyn.

The Nelwyn race were not halfling, but a hobbit-like race who lived a peaceful life of farming, mining and magic. Willow was married with two children and became an unlikely hero who would risk his life to deliver a baby to a far off land where he might not return. His sacrifice was more than that of a single man who no one relied upon for food and shelter.

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FILM: Snow White and the Huntsman

Fantasy Film ReflectionsForget much of what you learned as a child about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. That story was written to provide yet another avenue for a woman to be rescued by a fair prince. It’s up there with all the other stories I disliked and Disney branded as the perfect little girl’s tale.

Even at a young age I realised how silly the stories were. Who would choose to marry someone because they brought a shoe that fit their foot or because they kissed and woke them from a deep slumber? All the princesses were subservient to men. They dressed in fancy dresses, were helpless and were destined to serve their males.

Snow White and the Huntsman delivers more of a realistic tale—as fantasy films go. Snow White doesn’t do it alone, but neither is she a helpless maiden who keeps house for dwarves. This Snow White can actually sword fight and leads an army to reclaim what is rightfully hers: her castle.

While I watched this film, I couldn’t help but compare it to the old tale of long ago. I wondered how the wicked step-mother would take control of the castle and what the huntsman would do to deliver Snow White to freedom.

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FILM: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Fantasy Film ReflectionsThis is a reflection on a traditional fantasy film that I recently watched. Beware: spoilers are hiding in the shadows of every letter waiting to spill forth a word. Throughout 2014, I’ll post several of these reflections/reviews after watching a film.

Gandalf: It’s a dangerous business, walking out one’s front door.

I’ve discovered I’m a Bilbo Baggins. No, I don’t have big feet, unusually shaped ears or live in a grassy mound with a round door (though I think I might like a dwelling like his). I have however become accustomed to keeping safe, staying home and avoiding things that disrupt my world.

The description of Bilbo in The Hobbit films was released by the studio (Tolkien Gateway): Like all Hobbits, Bilbo Baggins is fond of his comfortable existence; all he needs to be happy is a full pantry and a good book.

Also like Mr. Baggins, when encouraged or coerced into taking on an adventure, I’m caught up in the magic of it all, and I wonder why in the world had I settled for the quiet, safety of my home with books.

Settle. That’s what many of us do. Settle into the familiar things of everyday life. We bury our adventurous spirit until we no longer recognise it, no longer wish to take it out and play with it and discover the thrill of going into the unknown, travelling that road less travelled.

It is the mundane life of adulthood that I feared even when I was twenty-five. And now I live it.

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