21 December 2003

The Lord of the Rings (on-screen logo)

I was 15, and I had just spent the previous twelve months with a feeling of constant uneasiness. I was afraid — afraid of people who knew too much, who had read The Lord of the Rings and would reveal the conclusion to the story before I had experienced it.

During the entire year of 2003, I was ever on the lookout not to find myself part of a conversation that naturally gravitated towards the looming release of The Return of the King. I would veer discussion far away from anything related to the trilogy, and would walk off as fast as a fell-beast flies whenever I heard people close by talking about the films -— often having to hum to myself in order to drown out any noise or keywords being spoken that might spoil the ending.

You see, ever since I had seen The Two Towers, anticipation was growing daily. I kept conjuring up ideas, thoughts and plot lines on how the narrative would develop in the final instalment of the trilogy.

Little did I know then how the actual film would absolutely surpass any expectations I had -— trivial as they were.

Eventually 21 December 2003 dawned, and I soon found myself walking up the steps to my local cinema theatre, unable to contain the excitement. The fear I had dragged with me for an entire year since the second film’s viewing began to abate, until I stumbled upon an acquaintance who had also come to see The Return of the King.

There was nothing wrong with this particular acquaintance of mine, except that mid-conversation, he happened to mention his love for Tolkien’s book, which he had read several times.

My heart stopped. There was no escaping some film spoiler this time. I was doomed … minutes before the viewing. Such was my fate!

At that moment, others seemed to join our conversation, which gave me just enough time to slip away and scuttle off as fast as I could — listening to that acquaintance’s last words “Ah yes, I really enjoyed the books. As a matter of fact there was a moment where …”

And then silence.

I had made my way to the theatre and escaped, seated myself down and counted the long, dreary minutes until the hushed murmur of the audience died down and the cinema lights were dimmed.

And the rest, as they say, is history …

10 thoughts on “21 December 2003

  1. By the time of the Return of the King, I had already finished the book because I usually prefer to read the story before watching the movie adaptation. However, The Lord of the Rings is one of those rare books I wish I’ve read *after* the movie to fully enjoy Peter Jackson’s magic.

    What a wonderful way to spend your 15th birthday! 🙂

  2. I’m surprised you saw the movies before reading the books! My dad wouldn’t let me watch it until I read the book… of course, it’s a good thing TLotR is one of the few cases where the movie is as good as the book.
    But I can imagine it was quite an experience trying to avoid spoilers for a whole year 🙂

  3. Fascinating. I first read the books when I was about 13 or 14, about twenty years before the films came out.

    I do remember the thrill of watching the original Star Wars movies for the first time in the cinema in the late seventies and early eighties.

  4. I didn’t watch the movies until after I had read corresponding sections of the books – my brother helped me with that since he had the extended editions of the movies. I started reading in 2006, and as I got to major points, he would show me half of one of the movies. I made it to the end spoiler free 🙂

  5. I had already read the books when the movies came out, but I went to see Return of the King alone because I wanted to experience it without being affected by anyone else’s reaction. Even in a dark theater, the reaction of a friend sitting next to me can interrupt and even color my own experience of a film, and I didn’t want anything between me and RotK. My husband still teases me about it to this day.

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