December 20, 2003

Throw the Damn Ring, Frodo!

Went to The Lord of the Rings today and was pleasantly surprised. Can’t compare the movie to the book because I haven’t read the latter, but my expectations weren’t high since the first two incarnations offered interminable battle scenes combined with a lack of closure. But the pure visual grandeur of the movies made them a must see, especially for a matinee price of $3.50 – equivalent to $1 per movie hour. Semper frugal Hambone would be proud.

I really liked this installment. This movie had the closure the others lacked and the battle scenes were creative enough to sustain interest. One of the characters (I think the dwarf) said, “Death is certain. Chance of success small. What are we waiting for?” Funny. Finally found out how the creepy Gollum got that way. Nice twist – he used to be a man, or perhaps still is though malformed by his evil. The variety of characters show every gradation of sinfulness. Gollum at one end and Sam (Gandalf I take to be a God figure) the other of the spectrum. Sam is one heckuva good friend.

The attractive power of the ring reminds me of the “ultimate entertainment” of David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest. Wallace gruesomely describes a video tape so addictive that watching it means death, since viewers will not break away for food or water.

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Also caught a western on TV - Riders of the Purple Sage. One of the reasons I like westerns is that the characters are laconic and only say things when things need sayin’. At the dinner scene between the protagonist and his love interest there are few words and few words seem necessary. There is an economy with the language and truths are dispensed in disarmingly simple ways.

Ed Harris is an underrated actor. At one point, another character goes on a meandering spiel pledging his truthfulness to Ed Harris’ character before asking him “so, do you trust me?”.

“Reckon I do. Might’ve saved your breath.” Pitch perfect.

Later he falls in love with the woman who knows but won’t tell the name of the man who caused his sister to commit suicide. But he finds something else on the way to vengeance:

“--And I give up my purpose. I can’t kill a man just for hate. Hate ain’t the same since I loved you."

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