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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Number Nine, Number Nine Number Nine...

The second in a series of what Flickchart says my top ten films are.
9. The Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003)
Directed by Peter Jackson. Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philipa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair [Two Towers only].
Starring Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, Elijah Wood.
  Yeah, I know. Flickchart has this as three films, but I count this as one giant film dispersed over a two-year stretch. Mostly because it's one giant story that had to be segmented because a ten-hour film wouldn't be commercially viable. It's okay if you don't consider it one film, though. I don't mind.
  Oddly enough, this is the only real nerdtastic entry in my top 10 (with the possible exception of number 4, stay tuned....), but it's got enough nerditude for at least ten films. I remember waiting for this to come out and almost dreading it because I was afraid it would fail to live up to my expectations. And Roger Ebert's lackluster 3-star review didn't help. It took about ten minutes to quell any misgivings I had. And that includes eight minutes of prologue, which I think is unnecessary but still beautiful to watch. According to the DVD commentary track by Jackson, Walsh and Boyens, prologue was at one point mandated by the studio because the suits were afraid general audiences would be lost from the beginning and would be playing catch up when they should have been watching the movie. This is a real concern, but I think the prologue is a mistake because it puts the audience ahead of *every other character* in the film. After that eight minutes no character knows as much as any given viewer, and this robbed us of--among other things--the pleasure of sharing an "Oh, shit" moment with Frodo Baggins as he realizes that he possesses the most sought-after item in the entire world. Move the exposition in the prologue to the scene in which Gandalf sits down with Frodo at Bag-End, and everything works.
  Despite the amount of space I'm dedicating to this complaint, it's just a quibble. I love this film unabashedly and I could easily watch the whole thing every six months and not get tired of it. I don't do this, of course, because I'm afraid I'll get tired of it.
  Here's a thought. Is the 'Lord of the Rings' the best film ever made in which the fate of the world is at stake? Not that it has much competition. 'Dr. Strangelove,' maybe? Look at the Sight and Sound Polls or Ebert's Great Movies or The Spectator's 50 Essential Movies or a dozen other 'Best Of' lists and you'll see a paucity of worlds in peril. Coincidence? I don't think so, but I'm not sure why.

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