Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Lord of the Rings

I watched parts of The Lord of the Rings again last night. The casting of the film is practically flawless and the score is of operatic proportions. Fran Walsh and Philipa Boyens wrote some great lines, fleshing out some deep issues in the novel. As I was recently discussing with one of my cousins, my favorite scene is the ride of the Rohirrim at the battle of the Pelennor Fields. The sun rises and the horns blow as the city burns. In a moment of total hopelessness, old King Theoden rallies his men to attack an enemy which vastly outnumbers them. It recalls to mind the old Irish and Scottish kings, like Brian Boru and Robert the Bruce, who held the kingship because they were willing to lead the charge and fight and bleed with the rest of the warriors.

Eowyn and Merry are among the riders and end up saving the day. When Theoden dies after being crushed by the Nazgul's hideous flying dragon, his body completely broken, it always reminds me of my father, who was destroyed by cancer. He died with great peace and courage in spite of many agonies and the words of Theoden could have been his: "I go now to my fathers in whose mighty company I need not be ashamed."

Along with the Pelennor Fields, I enjoy all the scenes with Aragorn and Arwen, especially in the first film when they are standing on the bridge and she asks him, "Do you remember when we first met?" with the Enya song in the background. Aragorn and Arwen have such a powerful connection that they are together even when parted and, of course, they are apart most of the time.

Perhaps the most powerful scene is when Sam carries Frodo up Mount Doom. Actually, I cannot really decide which "Sam scene" I love best. The ending is magnificent, when the ship sails into the West, and Sam goes home to his little family. That is what they all fought for to begin with, the safety of families.


Jeffrey Smith said...

Theoden's willingness to offer himself up is the nature of true kingship. Even in pagan kings, this was a foreshadowing of Christ The King.

elena maria vidal said...

I totally agree. Thanks, Jeffrey, for pointing that out!

Maru said...

I am one of the recent devotees of the LOTR subject. I find in it a sweet nostalgia of things and eras lost forever. It is a world of its own that allows you to enter and dwell and share with them every emotion. By the way, and in regards to the comment by Jeffrey, I want to share with you this excellent essay made on this work of Tolkien by Steven B. Greydanus, which he mentions has a lot to do with the Catholic devotion of Mr. Tolkien and the resemblance to Christ passage in this world. Please read it. It's superb. The site is It is as enjoyable as the books and the films themselves. It is a discovery! Thanks

elena maria vidal said...

I will check out the essay, Maru! Thanks for the recommendation!

elena maria vidal said...

I read Greydanus' article, Maru and it is great. Here is a quote from it: "In fact, Frodo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, and Aragorn each in a remote way embody one of the three aspects of Christ’s ministry as priest, prophet, and king. Each also undergoes a kind of sacrificial "death" and rebirth.

The priestly role belongs to Frodo, who bears a burden of terrible evil on behalf of the whole world, like Christ carrying his cross. Frodo’s via dolorosa or way of sorrows is at the very heart of Tolkien’s story, just as the crucifixion narratives are at the heart of the gospels accounts. As Christ descended into the grave, Frodo journeys into Mordor, the Land of Death, and there suffers a deathlike state in the lair of the giant spider Shelob before awakening to complete his task. And, as Christ ascended into heaven, Frodo’s life in Middle-earth comes to an end when he departs over the sea into the mythical West with the Elves, which is as much to say, into paradise.

Gandalf is the prophet, revealing hidden knowledge, working wonders, teaching others the way. Evoking the saving death and resurrection of Christ, Gandalf does battle with the powers of hell to save his friends, sacrificing himself and descending into the nether regions before being triumphantly reborn in greater power and glory as Gandalf the White. As with Frodo, Gandalf’s sojourn in Middle-earth ends with his final voyage over the sea into the West.

Finally, there is Aragorn, the crownless destined to be king. Besides being a messianic king of prophecy, Aragorn also dimly reflects the saving work of Christ by walking the Paths of the Dead and offering peace to the spirits there imprisoned, anticipating in a way the Harrowing of Hell. (The oath-breaking spirits Aragorn encounters on the Paths of the Dead, who cannot rest in peace until they expiate their treason, suggest a kind of purgatorial state.)"

Thanks for the link!