"And So You Shall Be... The Fellowship of the Ring."
This trilogy means a lot to me. You don't have to love this series to be my friend. I've got plenty of friends who have never seen these movies and have no plans to. They have other good qualities to make up for this absurd lack in judgment. But when people come into my life who have seen these movies as much as I have, who respond the same way to the same scenes, who label it not just as an entertaining set of films but as an influence, there's a soul bond formed. It's the only thing I'd write my 50th article about. It's the first thing I made a drinking game for.
Seb and I had watched these movies together before, but never in sequence. And when I learned they were moving to the other side of the country, we both knew it was a thing we had to do.
I'm glad you were with me, Seb. Here, at the end of all things.
"The Fellowship of the Drinks": The Rules
A. We were constantly eating. Not just the snacks that I'd bought, but a hearty meal of Indian food around the halfway point.
B. We constantly had water on hand.
C. We were drinking Bud Light, which is basically water.
D. We were young, bold and above all, gymnast motherfuckers.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely for reasons that should be perfectly clear.
1. Title drops: The full title, "The Fellowship of the Ring" OR "The Lord of the Rings"
2. Drink when they drink.
3. Drink for Daddy Issues
4. Drink when Frodo and Sam say each other's names.
5. Drink when you see a marching army.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone or something is called by a name that is NOT their given name or title. For the purposes of our game, the ring is called "The One Ring" or "The Ring of Power". The proper title for the Black Riders is "Nazgul". And hobbits are properly called "Hobbits".
Anything other than that gets a sip.
2. Drink when we cut from an important scene to something less important.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink whenever someone puts on the ring, or is tempted by the ring's power.
Who's Your Hero?
One of the strengths of these films is that there's so many characters with such strong storylines that, barring premature death (coughBoromircough), you can attach yourself to most of them and see the story through their eyes. As a twenty-five year old woman who's attracted to penises, my tastes are starting to mature a bit. Like Tim Meadows before him, one Viggo Mortensen used his sexy, sexy powers to get the attention of both Seb and I. And with attention came understanding: Aragorn, not Frodo, is the main character of Lord of the Rings.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, heavy comparisons are made between Aragorn and Boromir, who can be considered Aragorn's shadow. Unlike Aragorn, Boromir is chomping at the bit for some responsibility, eager to prove to his family in Gondor that he can lead his people and destroy evil all on his own. From the moment he meets Aragorn he marks him as an unworthy rival, untrustworthy and cowardly, and mocks him for his blood connection to Isildur, the man who ruined everything.
Aragorn's story kicks off during Boromir's death scene (oh my God, best decision ever to put that in the first film). Boromir is having a horrible death, wracked with guilt over getting himself killed and nearly ruining Frodo's quest, but more importantly he fears for the safety of his people. In that moment, Aragorn makes the switch from ranger to heir; he swears to Boromir that he will keep their people safe from harm.
Then, before setting Boromir's corpse and his possessions down a waterfall, Aragorn takes Boromir's gauntlets, symbolically relieving him of his burdens and taking up his mantle.
Not a subtle directorial choice by Peter Jackson, but a powerful one. This story survives because it reaches into your chest and grabs your heart like a vise. I can forgive heavy-handedness if it feels deserved, and Jackson makes it feel fucking deserved.
Almost makes you not notice that Gimli was nowhere to be seen while Boromir was getting his ass kicked. What, was he taking a nap or something?
Making Shit Up
I'm not implying that Gandalf and Saruman ever had relations. I'm implying that Saruman was never given the chance.
This addition to Jackson's canon lent strength to our own; Saruman is that guy in your college dorm who wouldn't show up to parties because everyone was smoking weed, and got mad when they all stopped inviting him altogether. He wasn't allowed at the drunken orgy between Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond that TOTALLY happened and you know it.
And he's pissed off.
Jackson did two things to soften this message without diminishing its impact: he replaced most of the dialogue with footage of Saruman destroying forests and using the wood for his mines in Isengard, and he cut Tom Bombadil's chapter. Both, once again, changes for the better!
Other Changes, Not So Much
Well, except for one.
I'm more interested in the fact that Arwen has such a huge role in the films at all. Her romance with Aragorn is confined mostly to the appendices of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings (and we all know how much Peter Jackson loves appendices). In fact, in the books Arwen doesn't have any sort of baddass moments at all. An elf named Glorfindel is the one who takes Frodo to safety after the battle at Weathertop. So if you think about it in those terms, it's impressive that Jackson saw the potential to bring an extra lady to the forefront of the story. Arwen appears in every movie, and she has a fleshed out story of her own, as she tries to decide whether to marry Aragorn and become his Queen or flee to the Grey Havens with her family.
"It's still fun to hate her," Seb admits, "but not as fun as it used to be."
Galadriel on the other hand...
Queen of the Elves in Lothlorian, Galadriel possesses several powers related to premonition. Her opening narration in Fellowship implies that she witnessed the events surrounding Sauron's defeat, but only as an observer. She is, in fact, one of the Elf Lords who possesses a piece of Sauron's fancy jewelry, and this makes her one of the most powerful beings on Middle Earth. We don't need to see any of this in the film; because of Jackson's direction and Blanchett's presence, you understand the strength Galadriel possesses.
I love this. Galadriel's treatment, while melodramatic, isn't overwraught. We understand all we need to know about her history, and we're given a performance that encompasses the scope of all she represents in the world. I'd love to see a film about Galadriel, but I also love just imagining her in her prime from what we've been given in this film.
We'll talk about Eowyn later. It'll be great.
To Be Continued
Seb and I averaged about a beer and a half per hour of film time during "The Fellowship", leaving us in just a good enough place to go into the second film with a...shall we say...altered view of things.
For Your Inebriation is written by Hollis Beck (Krissy Pappau). All images and footage from "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" are owned by New Line Cinema.