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Return of the King – The Film Has a Lot to Live Up To

Via Glenn-omir, grim tidings from the Return of the King film front: why buy into EITHER the Star Wars OR the Lord of the Rings universe when you can have both?

    A recently leaked trailer for The Return of the King has Tolkien fans outraged over the apparent addition of a new character – Jar-Jaromir. The scene depicted in the trailer shows Jar-Jaromir shouting, “Gondora gonna fallsa”;
    he then trips over a corpse and knocks down a couple of Uruk-hai.

    ….”People complained a lot about Gimli just being there for comic relief,” continued Wilcox. “We answer that criticism by directing the humor through Jar-Jaromir in The Return of the King. There’s this funny scene where Jar-Jaromir decides it’s best to hand the ring over to Sauron, but then he drops it and kicks it into Mount Doom. Hi-larious.”

    ….Director Peter Jackson explained how the Jar-Jaromir character was added after all the other footage had already been shot. “That’s the brilliant thing about digital editing and graphics. We didn’t even imagine Jar-Jaromir in the movie until a couple of weeks ago, but now we can just edit him right into the key scenes. I really think it’s going to be a hit with the toddlers.”

    Jackson added, “I just love it when he shouts, ‘Yousa steala precious from meesa!'” [BBSpot]

I finally finished rereading The Return of the King, about 25 years after the first time I read it. I find it preposterous that the series has been voted the greatest work of literature of the 20th century, or even the millennium by one poll: this is a great story with an amazing depth of mythic detail behind it, not a work of great literature. “Literature” at its greatest shines an uncanny light upon human relationships and exposes something so surprisingly true about ourselves that we stare into space in wonder and even fright. Depth of character and the complexity of relationships is what Tolkien does least well.

What he does almost miraculously well is create an alternative world, people it with solid, if thin, characters, and set them off on a, to slip into reviewer-ese, “ripping good yarn” with a powerful surprise ending and a deeply satisfying set of morals. In conjunction with this tale told of a parallel, pre-firearm, cusp-of-the-Industrial-Revolution earth, the unself-conscious values of honor, courage, commitment, and attachment to kith, kin and the land are presented so naturally and powerfully that by the end of the series we are ready to take up arms and stride purposefully out the door seeking to eviscerate evil, in between draughts of good ale, of course.

So yes, this is a work of magic, an utterly absorbing and transporting story whose final moral is: evil cannot be appeased. It must be despised and ruthlessly defeated – sounds like a Victor Davis Hanson essay, doesn’t it? So fundamental an apprehension of existence has resonance in any era, but it sure fits ours particularly well, doesn’t it.

It is no coincidence that the same “sophisticated” PoMo literary deconstructionists who call Tolkien “simplistic” “intolerant” and “hierarchical” say the same things about America in general, and the American-led War on Terror in particular, because anyone who applied the lessons of The Ring series to our current situation would do about exactly what the Bush administration has done and appears to be ready to do: call it the Fellowship strategy.

Besides having enduring real world resonance, I also know how great Return of the King (and the series in general) is by how much I miss it now that I’m finished reading it. Can’t wait for the movie, which is going to have to be even longer than its predecessors to cover all that needs to be covered to wrap it up right. And I’m pretty sure the part in the about Jar-Jaromir in the beginning of this post was a joke.

UPDATE
Orrin Judd disagrees with Charles Murtaugh and me on our assessment of LOTR as literature in a very thoughtful and persuasive essay – I think it comes down to semantics.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014.Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted.Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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