My Top 10 Favorite Movies: No. 4

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We generally think of epics as being set in a certain era of our world’s history. We are drawn to them, in part, because we like to believe we would act in the same manner as the protagonists under such afflicting conditions. We all like to believe that we have it in us to be a William Wallace, or a Maximus.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is certainly an epic in every sense of the definition, except it takes place in a different world, and the protagonist does not stand strong in the end – in fact, he falls and fails at his mission. And honestly, I think, story-wise, that’s just as beautiful as the epics where the heroes withstand the torture or sacrifice themselves in the name of love.

Why? Because Frodo shows us that there’s a big chance we’re going to fail in the end, and we need to constantly be reminded of that haunting possibility. But despite our efforts, evil will be conquered in the end, and in the end we have to to look inside ourselves and face the ugly truth that we all have a little Frodo in us (pun intended). King Solomon, the writer of many of the Proverbs, would have identified with Frodo.

It’s hard to identify with anyone in Star Wars. Worse yet, it’s hard to get past the terrible acting. But Lord of the Rings is something anyone from any walk of life can relate to.

I’ll be honest. I don’t have much patience or respect for people who complain that the movies are too long or that they just don’t like them for some reason or another. To me, that reflects shallowness and a sense of immaturity. That sounds rash, I know. And yes, they’re just movies. But there is a depth in Peter Jackson’s adaptations and in Tolkein’s stories that dive much, much deeper than just mere entertainment and frilly thrills.

In Lord of the Rings there is good – solid, pure, sacrificial, selfless good – and evil – sadistic, monstrous, dark, sinister. There is the love of power, the depravity of man, the weakness of mortals, and the purity of friendship and sacrificial love.

In those last several minutes of The Return of the King, I’m usually a sobby mess, because it’s taken so long to get to this redemption, and the sun is finally out, and there are finally smiles and hugs and happiness all around. And redemption.

Sarabeth and I own the extended versions of the movies, and we’ve sat through the several-hour-long commentaries and behind-the-scenes documentaries (we don’t do that for many movies outside of Pixar films, so you know that’s true dedication). But let me tell you, those extra features and behind-the-scenes documentaries are every bit as interesting and exciting as the movies themselves. They’re funny, they’re educational, they’re emotional… the documentaries themselves deserve a multitude of awards and honors.

And you know, I’ll even have to throw Jackson’s latest, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on the same tier as the original trilogy as far as greatness and near-movie-perfection goes. And I expect the next two Hobbit movies will fit just fine right next to them.

So that’s number 3 in my list of top ten favorite movies of all time. To list the Lord of the Rings movies in order from least favorite to favorite is difficult because they’re all a part of the same story. But if forced, I would say, The Two Towers, Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit, and Return of the King (comparable only to Toy Story 3). 

What about you? Share your thoughts on these movies. What makes you return to them over and over again?

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About Andrew Toy
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8 Responses to My Top 10 Favorite Movies: No. 4

  1. Oh, The Lord of the Rings are by far my favorite books and movies!

  2. songtothesirens says:

    I tend to be drawn to the archetypical epic battle between absolute good and absolute evil. On the one hand, you have altruism, sacrifice in the name of others, true and not fleeting friendship (as evidenced by the last scene in The Fellowship where Samwise nearly drowns to reach Frodo stating that he had sworn not to leave him, and that was what he intended to do. And on the other, you have the archetypal evil that is probably inherent in all creatures with the ability to intend to harm someone, you have the Ringwraiths (symbolic of the results of depravity) that are pure evil, you have Saruman completely corrupted by the power the “seeing stone” reveals to him, and then there is Sauron, pure evil with no intentions other than getting his ring back so he can once again wield absolute power over all things.

    I think I return again and again to both the books and the movies because I can see myself in all the characters both good and evil. I think everyone is capable of great good in this world, and they are capable of amazing evil. That and I like the fact that Peter Jackson took the time to film the movies as close to the books as possible. Too many movies made from books distort the book’s intended message. The only other film producers that I can think of that stay almost word for word to the text are Merchant and Ivory.

  3. hopesquires says:

    Lord of the Rings ranks high on my list of all-time favorite movies (and books, too). I too have sat through the extended version and commentaries. I’m not a fan of the Hobbit, though. The other two may turn around my opinion, but in it, I found the movie had little of what gripped me emotionally in the book or in trilogy. Just curious, what made you love it as much as the trilogy?

    • I really couldn’t get into the Hobbit book for some reason, but I feel like it was just as emotional to me as the other movies. And I never in a million years would have thought that anyone could be a better hobbit than Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, but the guy who played young Bilbo knocked it way out of the park. The one thing I didn’t like about it was the fat orc on the bridge – he reminded me too much of a fat Jar-Jar Binks. I don’t know – for some reason it just really hit home for me, and I was just as gripped by it as I am by the trilogy. I’ve only seen it once, though, in theaters – it probably helped a bunch that it was almost Christmas 🙂 That makes everything better.

  4. Just watched _The Hobbit_ again last night. It’s a wonder I haven’t memorized the LOR Trilogy.
    One of the draws for me is that I am reminded there is always ‘the rest of the story’. _The Hobbit_ changed my relationship with the characters of the LOR trilogy. It expanded my view of the wonderful world that Tolkein created.

  5. Great pick! I don’t think I could name my top ten, as they change with my mood. I might be able to do 20, but not in any order. ‘~’

  6. Middle Earth always intrigues… Thanks for the follow.

  7. robertbyron22 says:

    My son and I are both huge Tolkien fans. We also watched Joseph Pearce’s “The Hidden Meaning of the LOTR” and it made for great discussions and a deeper appreciation of the book.
    I’ve written about it here. http://robertbyron22.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/tolkiens-lord-of-the-rings-q-a-with-joseph-pearce/

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