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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

entry arrow10:00 AM | The Film Meme No. 54

[54th of 100]. Every time I watch Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's magnificent work of high fantasy, I only have vocabulary for the superlatives all three films demand: Epic. Awesome. Ambitious. These impressions have not diminished since the last of them was released in 2003. Each viewing since then still gives me the same satisfaction, with the added amazement that this cinematic undertaking was pretty much lightning caught in a bottle, a singular herculean effort never to be repeated with the same level of success [although Jackson himself tried his damnest with The Hobbit trilogy]. That's what I call "ambitious," because the trilogy's existence -- they were all filmed back-to-back in an almost continuous flow -- strikes me as magical. Who gave the crazy pitch that started it all the green light in the first place? No one today would do the same. Because the logistics on paper shouldn't even work. It required faith and commitment, and the wherewithal to manage a huge cast, to scale the mountains and rivers of New Zealand [a convincing stand-in for Middle Earth], to conjure the tricky [and then non-existent] special effects to make a fantastical world believable, and to trust that all can be achieved way beyond the usual timetable for film production. I would probably have ulcers -- but Jackson said yes to all these, and slayed a dragon. What resulted from his chutzpah is the embodiment of "awesome," from the pitch perfect composition of key battle scenes to the well-constructed spread of dread of Mordor, from the believability of Smeagol's craven physique to the perfectly realized dark caverns of the Mines of Moria with its assorted threats. Above all, there is Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens' unalterable adaptation of Tolkien's sizeable story, which knows its arc, its beats, its throbbing heart, giving us what I mean by "epic," and truly in keeping with that overused word: it feels grounded in the sureness of its narrative, and breathless with its sheer handling of what should be unwieldy material. The adventure of Frodo and Sam as they go about their difficult task of journeying through the dangerous landscape of Middle Earth to destroy a pernicious, traitorous ring in order to stop the dark forces of Lord Sauron from taking over the world easily becomes our own journey. We root for all the good people of Middle Earth in their fraught mission to stop a seemingly unstoppable evil -- and then, seen now in the light of current events, the story also becomes instructive on not losing hope, on persevering, on being reminded that in the long arc of the moral universe, good always triumphs and justice ultimately prevails. What're the films?

For the introduction to this meme, read here.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich