I was all set to come home last night and write a glowing review of The Return of the King, but it didn’t happen. Not because the movie isn’t all that the hype would have it be, but because it is. The movie is amazing in both its images and its story and I happily add my voice to the chorus of praise the movie has received and encourage everyone to go and see it on the big screen.
For me it opened up a wound I thought I had managed to finally scab over and it left me in a bad mood as a result that caused me to get snippy with my wife on the way home when I had no good reason to and I ended up going to bed almost as soon as I got in the door. Among other themes in the movie is a very strong message about friendship which caused memories of my friend Bill Owen to come flooding back repeatedly throughout the film.
The first reason for this is the fact that he was a big fan of the books to begin with and he chastised me on occasion over the years for not having the discipline to trudge through all of them (I barely made it through the first). A lot of what I knew about the trilogy was because of him telling me about it and I kept imagining I could hear him throughout the movie making comments about what they changed and whether he thought it was a good idea or not. I can remember sitting through the first movie with him and his initial comment at the end was to make gagging sounds about all the mushy scenes between Aragorn and Arwen that they added into the movie. It was damned funny at the time as it struck you as the sort of comment your little brother would make. He liked the film a lot, but his initial reaction was to make fun of the mushy stuff. We talked about the first film quite a bit over the following weeks. We didn’t get to see the second film together, but we did chat about it a lot after we’d both seen it. Movies were always a big topic of discussion between us. If we didn’t get to see something together then we’d call each other afterward and talk about it. I kept thinking about how I was going to have to call Bill and gush over how amazing RoTK was only to remember that I couldn’t.
The second reason has to do with the storyline itself. The friendship between Frodo and Sam reminded me of my friendship with Bill even if reality was that we were more like Merry and Pippin than Frodo and Sam. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that Bill was more like a brother than a friend and he stuck with me through thick and thin alike. The emotion in the scenes between Frodo and Sam, especially at the end when Frodo hands the book off to his old friend, struck a nerve that is still raw some ten months later. There were a lot of scenes in the movie that hit that nerve.
Add all of that up over the course of three hours and I was pretty messed up emotionally yesterday. I’m doing better today, but my eyes are still sore and my throat is still raw just from working through writing this entry. Two days before Christmas and I’m a weird mix of elation and sadness. I realize I haven’t fully worked through my grief like I thought I had and both the pending holiday and the release of RoTK has been affecting me in both positive and negative ways as a result. You wouldn’t think it’d be possible to be both sad and happy at the same time, but that’s exactly what I am. I’m not sure I should even post this as it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense and may sound like I’m just wallowing in self-pity, but I’m not. I’m kinda glad it’s finally hit home. It shows I’ve not forgotten him and that he’s still close to my heart during special times. I miss him greatly. As for the film, anything that can make me this much of an emotional wreck is pretty amazing and worth seeing.