I always know what kind of stressful week I’m having by the movie I curl up with at the end of it. For those low-to-moderate stress weeks, I usually opt for a cartoon – Shrek, perhaps, or How to Train Your Dragon, or a Tinker Bell marathon. At the end of higher stress weeks, I’ll choose childhood favorites like the Princess Bride, Labyrinth, and Willow.
But there’s only one movie I turn to when I’ve reached my limit:
Lord of the Rings. Extended edition. All three movies.
I wouldn’t say that I loved Lord of the Rings from the moment I first watched Fellowship of the Ring back in grade 12. Prior to that, I hadn’t read the books, so I knew nothing of what to expect when I saw it. I mean, I liked it, but my love came later, during my first year of college.
Back then, I was living alone (ideal), but going to school full-time and working part-time (read: I was busy. I hate being busy.) And more nights than not, I would put Fellowship on, curl up on the couch in front of the fireplace, and fall asleep. Something about the soundtrack and the dialogue and even the battle scenes put me to sleep before the Fellowship even hit the Mines of Moria.
To this day, I relate Fellowship of the Ring to some of the best sleeps I’ve ever had.
My love of the films has only grown since then. Every day, I listen to the soundtracks while I work. I dream about the day I win the lottery and can finally build a Hobbit hole of my very own. And whenever I feel stressed, I turn to the epic tale of friendship, of good triumphing over evil, and of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
So when Middle Earth Exposed – an evening with Lord of the Rings/Hobbit actors and special effects god Richard Taylor from WETA – was announced as part of the Calgary Expo, I knew I had to get tickets.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Last Friday night, surrounded by thousands of fellow Ringers, I had the opportunity to see Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), Billy Boyd (Pippin Took), Craig Parker (Haldir), and other actors from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit share their experiences on set, perform a little improv comedy, and sing songs from the films.
And I think it really struck me then why I so love Lord of the Rings.
Peter Jackson didn’t just create a movie (or three, as it were.) He created a world, one that I would very much like to live in, and he used incomparable special effects, setting, soundtracks, and actors to draw people like me into that world.
Lord of the Rings was a work of passion for Peter Jackson, for Richard Taylor, and for each of the actors who worked on the films. Sean Astin said (and I’m paraphrasing somewhat), “Everyone wants to feel like they’ve made a difference in the world through their work.”
Lord of the Rings gave Astin and the rest of his colleagues on the films the opportunity to touch so many lives, and it was inspiring to see so many people doing what they love.
Lord of the Rings makes me feel like, with enough passion and dedication, anything is possible.