Over on http://booksnobbery.wordpress.com/ , A bunch of people have been posting their experiences with Middle Earth. I had asked SJ if I could contribute, and she said sure. Life got in the way and I missed my deadline. I powered through, and to get it under the wire of Tolkien Month, I’ll just leave this here…
Ok, I confess. I’m not a Tolkien nerd. I didn’t read the Trilogy as a kid, I didn’t fall in love with Middle Earth, and while I’m aware it’s akin to blasphemy among the die hard Tolkienares, I find Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies very watchable.
And While I realize admitting this may cost me valuable style points, I never read the trilogy as a younger man. I had always meant to, and just never got around to it. I read “Fellowship” after watching the movie, and it was page after page of traveling and traveling and more traveling and then a massive fight that took 10 min of screen time wound up as a four line paragraph. I passed on reading “Towers” and “Return.”
Then I heard about The Hobbit movie. I found myself thinking, “How can they get three movies out of one book?” Because I had fooled myself into thinking I had read The Hobbit as a kid.
I remember watching parts of the Bakashi movie. I remember the Frazetta artwork of the RingWraiths, and I remember reading the bits in the book where they are attacked by the spiders and caught, and the pinching of the noses and subsequent escape, but as I sat in the theater watching PJ’s movie play out, with the endless Tea with the Dwarves, and the long chase through the Goblin tunnels and the flaming trees and the confrontation with Thorin’s arch- enemy, I found myself thinking, “I don’t remember any of this.”
I resolved to reread the book and find out just what the heck was going on.
Turns out that, except for the bit with the spiders, I don’t remember reading any other parts of the book.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t like it. I enjoyed the narrative style and the occasional asides were fine, except when it seemed like Deus ex Machina; “Did I mention that Mirkwood feeds on despair? Our travelers don’t!” (and never do) and “I know I’ve been telling you all about Bilbo, but I’m going to wait 150 pages before I tell you what great aim he has. You know, right when it’s the only thing that’s going to get our heroes out of this jam!” But it didn’t happen too often.
I saw where PJ played a little fast and loose with some of the events, and it does seem a little excessive. It was nice to find out why the Eagles couldn’t just take them to the mountain, but that just makes their showing up for the Battle of the Five Armies a little confusing. But like I learned from reading “The Dark Tower” and watching “Lost,” it’s the journey, not the destination.
And if nothing else, one feeling The Hobbit brought forth was wanderlust. This journey, however unexpected for me, has evoked a feeling of wanting to travel (curiously, in the mountains. Someplace called Doom. All the travel guides are raving about it.), and seeing who I meet along the way. Or perhaps more accurately, who I didn’t meet in the movies.
Upon finishing “The Hobbit” I had two thoughts. One was a curiosity as to how PJ was going to visualize all of this, and that I can’t wait for the next reread opportunity. Is Middle Earth by BFF? Not yet, but this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.