Out On a Limb
sorry, Quickbeam. Hope you dont mind some company out at the end of that branch, because Ive got something to say this month that has me bending the limb to the ground with the weight of speculation. Im not known for committing to predictions; I hate to be wrong, so I like to keep my options open as long as possible. But here goes: I think The Two Towers will be twice the movie that Fellowship was, or more.
"Wow, Anwyn, what a risky prediction! Way to stick your neck out!"
I know. The Jackson diehard faithful and the fanatic converts are sniggering at me. Or else theyre crying sacrilege and saying Towers will be precisely at the same pitch of otherworldly glow as was Fellowship, no more nor less.
"Gee, Anwyn, did you think Empire was better than A New Hope? What a bold idea you have there!"
I know. The second act is always darker, always more dramatic, always more of a heart tugger (in which case anybody who still has a heart
I left mine back on the pavement somewhere
will have it ripped right out, because its my understanding hearts were tugged far and wide over Fellowship), so its no great shakes to predict, right? Maybe not, but it still came over me in a blinding flash, and Ill tell you how I knew, even though its a little shaming to admit: I cried over a movie trailer.
Ssshhh! Dont tell anybody! Oh wait, Im putting it out there for anybody with an internet connection to read. Right on. Anyway, I did indeed cry over the Towers trailer.
"Why in the world, you goof?"
This is not exactly a news flash, either, but Peter Jackson never ever made a smarter move than when he hired John Howe and Alan Lee. Not only are those two artists scrupulously faithful about keeping their paintings within the scope of what Tolkien described in detail, but weve been looking at their calendars for more than ten years and are well used to seeing their interpretations. Its like Jackson borrowed some authenticity straight from the source, even though neither Howe nor Lee is actually Tolkien. We got used to seeing their visions a long time ago, so to see them in Jacksons actually feels familiar. When I saw the lightning-lit scenes of Helms Deep, it was exactly as I had pictured from Tolkiens painstaking depictionthe wall, the tower, the valley behind, the valley before
it was beautiful, and Ill be shuddering come December when the lightning illuminates the hordes of Orcs.
So the visuals will be breathtaking, but hey, they were in Fellowship too. What else gives?
Theres a lot less to monkey with in Towers, story-wise. All of it is more or less vital plot, and theres less room for insertion of extra stuff, although the brief glimpses of Arwen and Galadriel in the longer trailer did give me pause. A friend of mine who just got finished reading the books pointed out the following piece of wisdom on that, though: "Yeah, but you go a whole film without showing 'em, non-fans won't remember 'em in the third movie when they do show up. We're dumb. We need reminders." From a strictly movie point of view, hes absolutely right. At any rate, there just isnt as much room for tinkeringthey have to go to Helms Deep, they have to walk the Paths of the Dead, they have to lay Pippins sword on the knees of Denethor. Right? Right?
Well, no, Anwyn, you might be disappointed in that. Trust screenwriters to find a way. They did in Fellowship. But the trailer at least gives me the comforting illusion that the story will flow right along with fewer jarring notes. And theres one final piece in the puzzle of my comfortable assurance that I will be more spellbound in December 2002 than I was in December 2001: Gandalf.
"What? Anwyn, are you mad? Youve been reading these books more than fifteen years. You knew he wasnt gone. Duh."
Right. And I didnt cry when he fell in the abyss, either, although that was arguably the most sublimely done scene in the first flick. But I did cry at his return in the trailer.
Precisely because: I knew he was coming back, yet his actual appearance on the screen still had a profound effect. The altered appearance, the smooth (thank goodness) hair, the calm in McKellens voice that was never there in Fellowshipdo you remember? Always that edge, that haggardness, that sliver of fear that all his efforts would not be enoughall gone. "I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide
" Shiver. The hero shot where Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn whirl to confront their unknown nemesis
I tell you, folks, my hair nearly stood on end. And the return scene in the book hasnt done that to me for quite some time now. Thats right. Remember me, from last month, bemoaning my lack of attention when I try to read the story nowadays? Ive just read it too much; its going to take some time away for the printed words to regain some of their freshness for me. So the fact that Jackson could make me wake up and take notice of events that I already know, that Ive read a hundred times, and which frankly have lost a little bit of their emotional impact over the yearsin a trailerwell, it really made my hopes for the movie shoot through the roof.
So Quickbeam, I hope youve got some room out on that limb, my friend. Anwyn, the nay-sayer, the perennially pessimistic, the "I liked the movie okay, BUT," is coming over to the ranks of the true believers.
At least until December 17, 2002.