Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

The Two Towers

I just watched the extended editions of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the second installment of the one-off theatrical screenings of the trilogy. The Two Towers was my favorite of the books when I initially read them. I loved the battle scenes in particular. Because Peter Jackson's team decided to move some of its key plot points into their film of Return of the King -- I guess all that wandering around in Mordor that Frodo and Sam do seemed too bleak and monotonous for a big-budget epic -- the cinematic rendering of The Two Towers disappointed me a bit when I first saw it back in 2002. But I realized tonight, watching the footage that was excised from that initial release, that the extended edition is really very satisfying as cinema.

I love the way the three interlocking narratives -- set, respectively, at Helm's Deep, Isengard and Ithilien -- build to a tremendous climax. And the extra material, including comic relief and a considerably richer portrayal of Eowyn and her future husband Faramir, helps to space out the battle sequences, which are remarkably well done but a little like bone hitting bone in the shorter edition. Yes, the padding slightly undermines the impact of Sam's tremendous self-reflexive speech about the sort of tale in which he and Frodo are caught up, pushing it farther from the picture's end. But that's a price I'm willing to pay for the richer characterization.

I'm always susceptible to the call of allegory, particularly when it comes from the domain of fantasy or science fiction. Even the first time I read the trilogy, I found myself making connections to modern history. Now, though, decades of literary training combine with my extreme emotional vulnerability to burden the trilogy with so many levels of allegorical significance that it's a wonder the narrative doesn't crumble to dust as a consequence.

Tonight, because Skylar was sitting between me and her mother, a kind of "personal allegory" came to the fore. Given how hopeless I've been feeling about my future, watching any film as part of a rare family night out would feel like an attempt to fight for what is good against fearsome odds. When that film is part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, though, that effect is amplified a hundredfold. Maybe I should be ashamed to admit how much Sam's speech moved me this time around, but I'm still so aglow with renewed inspiration to press on, whatever the obstacles, that my capacity for embarrassment is temporarily diminished.
Tags: daughter, everyday, family, film

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