I choose that word carefully, recognizing that a little Guy Debord-style critique is in order here, no matter how much I love J.R.R. Tolkien or the film adaptations. As I tried to articulate in a short piece for Souciant last week, part of what has made this round of one-time-only screenings powerful is that repeat viewers aren't there just for the story, but to see themselves seeing the films "as they were meant to be seen."
While that's true of all theatrical audiences to an extent and especially of the ones who go to blockbuster movies, there's a significant difference between the first-run experience and attending films years after their initial release. In the latter case, the distinctive qualities of cinema as a medium come to the fore with special intensity even if, as was the case for Lord of the Rings, they are digitally projected.
Having made the point, though, I still felt my passions surge at the appropriate junctures and grew even more teary-eyed than when I first saw the trilogy at those moments of maximum emotional impact. Despite the emphasis on the spectacular dimension to the experience, in other words, the mechanisms of cinematic identification still did their magic on me.
Of course, it didn't hurt that we've been without air conditioning since Thursday -- that's also why I've been scarce here, despite my vow to post more regularly -- during the hottest seven-day stretch since we moved to Tucson eleven years ago. When I walked in the door a little while ago, I declaimed, "Welcome back to Mordor!", because even low-impact activities like composing this entry take everything that I have to give. Like Frodo, I'm having a hard time remembering what it feels like to be comfortable!