Discovering Middle-earth: Part II

The long”-ish” tale of how I began to admire and enjoy Tolkien

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As stated in Part I, viewing ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ re-wired my thoughts about the fantasy genre – nonetheless, I was still far away from picking up any book written by Tolkien.

It so happened that as October 2002 passed by, I stumbled upon the second trailer of ‘The Two Towers’. And then it snapped …

I had forgotten everything about ‘The Lord of the Rings’ for the last few months and suddenly, a surge of excitement took over as I realized that the story would continue within a couple of weeks.

Suffice to say, the visuals and the promise of an even more amazing cinematic experience were written all over it.

So day by day, week by week and month by month the calendar finally marked December.

As the day of release arrived, I was naturally looking forward to this second installment and finding out what has happened to all the characters that had been so intrinsically introduced in the first film.

It was interesting to see how the editing of a movie can really make or break the narrative flow. In this case, the complexities during the post-production process could only be guessed at. But the final result was a top-notch visual and storytelling feast – not the least with the introduction of Gollum’s fully-realized CGI creature.

Plus, what were once considered as “ugly-looking creatures”, were now perceived as fully-Imagefledged orcs and Uruk-hai (some of the coolest beings to inhabit Middle-earth, in fact). Adding to that, we were presented with a whole set of new characters and creatures that continued to “swell” the already fantastically-brimmed world of Tolkien’s brisk imagination.

However, it was at a particular moment in the film that really made me believe in fantasy and paved the way for where I am now – writing this blog. It all revolved around the climax – a particular sequence known as ‘The Battle of the Hornburg’ (by now you should know that I don’t reveal any spoilers – and thus I won’t divulge further on the “what” and “why” of the battle and if you’ve seen the film or read the book, you’ll know what I mean :D).

I’ve already expressed my love and respect (in the previous post) about large-scale battles on screen. Here I was presented by something unexpected – something I never thought would occur.

Have you ever felt my same frustration when you’re watching a battle unfold on the screen and there’s a really strong build-up to the fighting – when suddenly, the main character is knocked out unconscious and misses (just like the audience does) the battle? Or else the day is saved by an unexpected turn of events and the battle does not happen?

What a disappointment, huh?

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Surely not in ‘The Two Towers’. In all its glory, there it was on screen. Mouth and eyes wide open, the visual spectacle was astonishing. However, as most of you would know, what makes a really action sequence work is the focus on your characters and their “mini-stories” within it (and within the whole narrative arc). No trouble here.

Everything is executed (no pun intended) beautifully. The cinematography, choreography, editing, visual and sound effects, etc, etc were just …. fabulous. Image

Anyway, you get the picture – and suffice to say, the film ends with an eye-opener towards the third and final film, leaving you salivating for more and wishing that 12 months could pass within a few seconds.

It’s always been stated how difficult it is to present the second film within any trilogy to an audience – for you have no “real” beginning and ending; the story just continues. However, ‘The Two Towers’ proves it is possible to do and in a very successful way.

So after my first viewing of the film, I spent the next 365 days thinking about what will happen in ‘The Return of the King’.

The expectation was palpable … no really, it was.

(Tolkien Illustration above – “The Dead Marshes” by Ted Nasmith)

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