"This day is not for
one man, but for all.
Let us rebuild the world and share our days in peace."
The Politics of Victory
by Kandell G. Eaton
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (LOTR) is a literary
jewel, its many facets reflecting the mingling in time of war
and pop culture. Nearly half as old as the eleventy-one years
of Bilbo Baggins (readily willful Ian Holm), this FINALLY winner
of an eleven Oscar sweep proves that Peter Jackson (PJ) has created
one of the best films of all time.
An awesome staff, crew, "and
New Zealand" completed the magnificent genesis that became
Middle Earth. The ultimate professional cast outshone every agony
with superb characterizations: they owned those roles. The academy
ought to have created a group Oscar to recognize acting so good
it can't be singled out; their memorable performances flawlessly
tied to each other despite and because of digital technology.
PJ is certainly capable of "picturing justice." He
invites and sometimes unwittingly demands the audience take sides
in the fight for Middle Earth. The film's greatest strength,
unlike the industry standard "in your face" films that
force the audience to watch quick edits and pointless action
that are too easily forgotten,, is its audience friendliness.
This is one video game-movie that has a plot.
We Ringers do wonder: what is next for PJ? Hopefully its prequel
The Hobbit accompanied by music from the greatly missed
Led Zeppelin? Or have some fun with Harvard Lampoon's Bored
of the Rings (1969)?? Or perhaps write continuing fantasies
from Middle Earth??? Lot of possibilities are out there; just
stopping with LOTR would so disappoint its new multitudes
LOTR taps deep into the subconscious wells of humanity.
Its omnipotent connection incarnates positive ideals before us--making
individual duty, protest and conflict personably relevant to
each audience member. The Fellowship of the Ring makes
us question our motives, and why we choose to fight. The Two
Towers left us in the lurch of an uncertain future, much
like the present times, focusing on ethics of conflict. The
Return of the King (ROTK) elaborates on victory, how
difficult it is, even in the aftermath, to be satisfied with
mere peace, of what we do next as humankind.
ROTK opens with Treebeard and his fellow Ents flooding
and destroying the Uruk-hai factory at Isengard. Though Mordor
has yet to be dealt with, the Ents return to Fangorn forest.
Gandalf the White (elegantly intuitive Ian McKellen), fresh from
Helm's Deep, meets Merry (daringly bashful Dominic Monaghan)
and Pippin (recklessly amusing Billy Boyd) guarding Saruman (serenely
demented Christopher Lee), and Wormtongue (spineless henchman
Brad Dourif). The victorious ride off to Rohan, leaving the defeated
to their own devices. There is more left to do.
On the way, Pippin discovers a Palantiria, an all-seeing stone,
and hides it from the others as they go. Once there, in typical
mishap, he looks at the stone (after being told not to). The
Dark Lord, who controls it, attacks him. Sauron thinks he has
found Frodo (sweetly sensual Elijah Wood) and his One Ring (the
voice of savagely demanding Alan Howard) that will restore him
to physical form and power. Pippin is in real danger of losing
Gandalf protects Pippin and leaves Merry at Rohan. They must
travel to Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, next to be attacked.
The fantascape of Middle Earth in Terra's breathtaking New Zealand
mingles both plots. Advanced satellite technology is as good
as a Palantiria.
But Sauron mistook Pippin for Frodo, and we accidently found
Saddam Hussein by word of mouth. Bin Laden is still elusive and
dangerous. Neither world had useful information about its enemy.
Fallible interpretation happened despite technological advantages.
In similar vein the U.N. has yet to act in the War on Terror
with more than rhetoric. Terrorism, as the shadow of Mordor,
grows in strength to acquire the penultimate power. Whether it
is the Ring or nuclear weaponry, both seek to dim the lights
of freedom in the wake of its darkness. The Ring and the War
on Terror have in common a fearsome ability to divide and conquer,
even though "the spin" is to unite all peoples.
Sauron divided Middle Earth by giving the leaders of each race
a slave ring as terrorists divide countries against countries,
encouraging dissension and breaking treaties. To gain control,
through fear and violence, they band together their economic
strength and their plan of global domination. Both these same
unwieldy evils must be defeated so life can thrive.
At Minas Tirith, Denethor II, the Steward of Gondor (arrogantly
suffering John Noble) mourns the death of his son Boromir (bravely
smooth Sean Bean), and yearns for a similar heroic end for his
youngest Faramir (wildly obedient David Wenhem). Pippin offers
his service to Denethor as payment for Boromir's death. He accepts.
Gandalf has Pippin light the bonfire s to call for help from
Rohan against Denethor's will. Faramir is wounded and thought
dead defending the river against the orcs, where Corsairs will
land to attack Minas Tirith from Pelennor fields. Gandalf saves
Faramir from cremation, and instead Denethor burns. Gandalf takes
command, but even with Rohan and Gondor, their defenses will
not enough to defeat the Shadow of Mordor.
Mortal Arwen (warmly defiant Liv Tyler) is dying as Sauron's
strength increases. She begs her father Lord Elrond (supremely
responsive Hugo Weaving) to repair Anduril, the sword of Gondor,
and give it to Aragorn (courageously ambivalent Viggo Mortensen),
to be King. This happens. Aragorn takes up Anduril from Lord
Elrond. Along with Legolas (boldly sophisticated Orlando Bloom)
and Gimli (brashly proud John Rhys Davies), Aragorn wields it
to make a deal with the King of the Dead (mockingly haughty Paul
Norell) and his ghostly army, holed up in the Cursed Mountains.
When Mordor is defeated by the Dead, Aragorn releases them, as
promised from King Isildur's ancestral curse.
King Theodan of Rohan(strongly intelligent Bernard Hill) falls
to the Witch King, Lord of the nine Nazgul, (scuriliously violent
Lawrence Makoare). Eowyn (reluctantly gracious Miranda Otto)
has taken Merry with her into the second great battle for Middle
Earth. She fights the Witch King, who may rightly have claimed
no man can defeat him. And is destroyed by her. Eowyn becomes
the Queen of Rohan.
ROTK digresses to Smeagol (haplessly deviant Andy Serkis).
He murdered his fishing buddy to get the Ring. Now permanently
Gollum (haplesssly volatile Andy Serkis), he has turned Frodo
against Sam (PJ's avatar, brilliantly faithful Sean Astin) and
is leading him to the lair of Shelob (best ever giant ferocious
spider), beyond which Mordor lies. Frodo fends her off for a
time, with the spectral aid of Galadriel (coolly possessive Cate
Blanchett), but becomes poisoned, cocooned, and left for dead.
Sam had followed and caught up with Gollum, throwing him off
the mountain. He discovers Frodo and fends off wounded Shelob.
He thinks Frodo is dead and hides when orcs show up to take him.
Sam learns Frodo is only paralyzed and follows them to the orc
headquarters. Frodo awakes to find the Ring gone and himself
a prisoner. Sam finds him, and gives him back the Ring he has
been" safe-keeping."Frodo puts it on and they ramble
on to find Mt. Doom..
Meanwhile, Arargorn attacks the
Black gates to battle, to distract the great eye of Sauron from
finding Sam and Frodo. It works well, Sam and Frodo are nearing
the river of fire that will destroy the Ring. Frodo hesitates
as Gollum reappears. He knocks Sam over to get to the Ring. Frodo
dons the Ring and becomes invisible. Despite this, Gollum manages
to bite it off his finger. Gollum rejoices reclaiming his "precious."
Frodo grabs him and they both fall over the cliff. Gollum sinks
into the lava, unsuccessfully reaching for the nearby Ring. Sam
rushes to the edge to find Frodo climbing up and helps him to
level ground. A volcanic earthquake errupts as the Ring melts
and they run for their lives.
The tower of Ban-Dur falls, and Sauron is finally destroyed.
The rest of Mordor cracks and panicked orcs fall into the crevices.
Sam and Frodo are left on rock surrounded by lava and await death.
The end of shadow, the light returns to cover Middle Earth. With
the turbulence over, Gandalf appears with his eagles whose claws
grab Sam and Frodo, and swiftly carry them to safety and recovery
at Minas Tirith. Middle Earth is saved! The Fellowship survivors,
Arwen and the other elves, Rohan and Gondor, reunite to crown
King Aragorn. The race of men is restored.
Iraq has seemed to reject both Hussein and the U.S. Their ruling
committee of governance may well have to create and altogether
new form of government, perhaps a larger version of city-county
unification similar to various governments in the state of Florida.
We must stay in Iraq to be the catalyst for justice and prosperity
of a people that has never been given a political will or individuality.
We have seen them endure through wars and out of necessity they
have forged their own survival. We must accept that they may
not want to have either a King or a U.S. style of government.
China is proof that the profit motive leads to Westernization
in a country's own time. We seem to be pushing them to retain
fear and violence, something we have never purported or promoted
to stand for ourselves or in other countries. We must accept
their ways of governing themselves, as they must reject violence
and terror. It is the challenge yet to be taken up to maintain
the details and goals of mere peace, as the Elves have conceded
to the race of men. Succeeding this challenge is a guarantee
of world peace. And this is much tougher to achieve than any
war. The U.N. must lead the way in this.
The four tiny Hobbits are honored ("you bow to no one"),
say their goodbyes, and at last return home to the Shire. Merry
and Pippin resume their mischievous ways. Sam marries and has
two children. Frodo finishes Bilbo's book after four years, leaving
room for Sam to add to it. Its effect similar to rebuilding the
Memorial Tower at 1,776 feet so what happened is always remembered
in proper perspective. Frodo's wounds may have healed, but the
mental scars have vividly remained. He and Bilbo are invited
to join Gandalf, Galadriel, and Lord Elrond on one last adventure.
His friends see him off, knowing they may never see each other
again. Shining light steers the tall ship, out of Middle Earth,
into the unknown. As on our Terra, the hope of civilization has
always been found in the West.
Posted June 29, 2004