Tue, 23 Dec 2003

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i'm not dying, i just can't think of anything else better to do

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it's like i've been in a coma ever since i arrived in l.a. on saturday. it is now tuesday and i couldn't really tell you what i've been doing the past few days. excepting sleeping. i've been averaging about 16-18 hours of sleep these past few days. my dad is convinced that i have infectious mononucleosis. i do have swollen lymph nodes and unremitting malaise and fatigue. but no pharyngitis.

the four day sojourn really took a lot out of me. it's kind of funny. while i was probably no less sick while i was driving, the clarity of purpose really kept me going. it's nice to have a simple goal for a change. go west, young man. if only all of life were that simple. now that i have about a million and a half things to do, most of them mutually exclusive, all i want to do is curl up into the fetal position and bury myself under the covers.

it was also probably a mistake to watch "the return of the king" on saturday. having come off the tail-end of a 2,000 mile journey, i started feeling like i was with frodo and sam on the last wearisome leagues of their quest. never mind the fact that arizona looks a lot like what i would imagine mordor to look like. (it doesn't help that mostly orcs republicans live in arizona.) i probably need to watch "RotK" again, but my initial impression was that peter jackson had to rush through what i think is the best part of LotR. you definitely don't get the flavor of how agonizing the siege of minas tirith was. although, i must say, the visuals of sauron's armies advancing upon the city of the tower of the guard were pretty impressive. the battle of the pelennor fields was, despite the obvious shortcuts, pretty awesome.

still, though. i think they made denethor too idiotic. in the book, denethor was a worthy adversary of gandalf. they knew how to play psy-ops. they didn't even mention the fact that denethor had fallen into despair because sauron had been feeding him bad intelligence through the palantir. in the movie, denethor was just some doddering old idiot, not the horrifically tragic figure that he was in the book.

He turned his dark eyes on Gandalf, and now Pippin saw a likeness between the two, and he felt the strain between them, almost as if he saw a line of smouldering fire, drawn from eye to eye, that might suddenly burst into flame.
Denethor looked indeed much more like a great wizard than Gandalf did, more kingly, beautiful, and powerful, and older. Yet by a sense other than sight Pippin perceived that Gandalf had the greater power and the deeper wisdom, and a majesty that was veiled. And he was older, far older.... And then his musings broke off, and he saw that Denethor and Gandalf still looked each other in the eye, as if reading the other's mind...."

and theoden's death (whoops, sorry for the spoiler, but hell, this is a book that is sixty years old, for god's sake) wasn't the tearjerker i was hoping it would be. that whole sequence, when theoden gets mortally wounded by the nazgul, and eowyn and merry finish the witch king of angmar off, at much cost to themselves, always gets me teary eyed in the book. when eomer finds his liege and his uncle dying underneath his steed, and when eomer finds his sister apparently lifeless beside him, and when he gets all fell and fey, with nothing left to live for, it sends a shiver down my spine.

He stood a moment as a man who is pierced in the midst of a cry by an arrow through the heart, and then his face went deathly white, and a cold fury rose in him, so that all speech failed him for a while. A fey mood took him.
"Eowyn, Eowyn!" he cried at last: "Eowyn, how come you here? What madness or devilry is this? Death, death, death! Death take us all!"
Then without taking counsel or waiting for the approach of the men of the City, he spurred headlong back to the front of the great host, and blew a horn, and cried aloud for the onset. Over the field rang his clear voice calling: "Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world's ending!"

And then when he sees the black sails of the Corsairs (not knowing that it is in fact Aragorn) and thinks that all is lost:

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing. To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking: Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!

It makes me all teary-eyed too when they unfurl the banner of the White Tree and the Seven Stars, and Eomer realizes that Aragorn has won through the Paths of the Dead, and that they are saved, at least for the moment.

And, in all the wrack and ruin and confusion, after helping save Faramir's life, Pippin searches the battlefield for Merry. Pippin tries to cheer him up with hobbitish humor, but Merry just eyes him wearily: "Are you going to bury me?" and when Pippin chokes up, I have to stifle a sob too.

Yeah, there is a lot of variance with the book, but I can completely understand the limitations that Peter Jackson was working under. I am actually astounded by how faithful he tried to be to the book. Perhaps I am just being exceedingly forgiving since I never thought I would see the day that the book would be made into a decent movie. I also thought that intercutting Books V and VI was much better. It made the battle at the Black Gate much more suspenseful, and it made me despise Frodo and Sam a lot less. (My sister puts it this way: in the book, because Frodo and Sam's part in Book VI is so much slower than the action in Book V, you just want to say, die already! Who cares about the Ring?) I also thought the sequence depicting Smeagol's devolution into Gollum was really masterful. I wish Jackson had kept the sequence where Gollum contemplates giving up his evil ways, and just pledging loyalty to Frodo, when Sam shows up and misinterprets and ruins the moment, effectively sealing their fate. (I've had dreams about this sequence. Except that it involved a hovercraft and interstellar travel. But that is another story. Which I do hope to tell some day. Maybe even in novel form. Anyway.)

But enough of RotK.

there's a lot more to say about the past few days i've spent lying in bed, and of the days to come. there's just too much, too much.

08:32:24 23 Dec 2003 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

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