The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: People Dying for Metal
The author of the literary source of the trilogy – Professor Tolkien – wrote not fantasy, but epic. From his youthful years he created a new reality, having thought through everything to the smallest detail: the alphabet and languages of the peoples inhabiting his Universe, their morals, customs, appearance. In a sense, he “chewed and put in his mouth” to the future authors of the film adaptation all the details of his monumental work; all they had to do was to cross out the scenes and characters with pain, trying to fit into three films, albeit two episodes each.
A powerful epic tradition, absent from the Anglo-Saxons, but conjectured by a British professor, has been reincarnated on the screen thanks to New Zealander Peter Jackson , a marginalized director who is ready to take on the fire of fan and Hollywood criticism.
He succeeded in the impossible: reviews of the trilogy came out mostly positive. Users of the Internet Movie Database ranked the trilogy as the second best film of all time, after The Godfather.
The trilogy has become one of the largest projects in the world of cinematography and one of the most profitable, grossing a total of nearly three billion dollars. 17 Academy Awards and other such records silenced Professor Tolkien’s meticulous fans who grumbled about inconsistencies and deviations from the original. Against a literal understanding of his creation, Tolkien always objected and warned against trying to transfer the map of Middle-earth to the map of Earth – and without this, there are several basic semantic levels in the trilogy.
The philosophical meaning of the trilogy: the evil of omnipotence
Many are trying to look for a religious and, in particular, Christian meaning in the trilogy, emphasizing the views of the author. Tolkien’s complex philosophy was religious, but in the book and film we see a society divorced from religion. There are knights, kings, elves, orcs, hobbits, magicians – but not priests and shamans. In fact, the world of Middle-earth is free from religion, but not free from the concepts of good and evil, guilt, sin, forgiveness, responsibility. The main artifact around which the plot is built is the Ring of Omnipotence.
For the ancient peoples of the Earth, the ring symbolized eternity, was a symbol of oath, dedication, belonging to a special clan or rank, a sign of mercy, special power. The Ring of Omnipotence is unusual. First, he has his own strength and his own will. Secondly, it gives its owner full, absolute power, which makes him like God. But it is forged by the bearer of evil, and therefore destroys its owner.
Even the thought of such an all-encompassing power is destructive. All who fall under her enchanting power are doomed. The face of the good-natured Bilbo Baggins instantly turns into the mask of a hideous orc, as soon as he sees the ring; Gollum completely loses his human form, Boromir breaks his oath and attacks Frodo for the opportunity to take possession of the cherished symbol of power. And Frodo himself every second feels the destructive power of the ring. But they do not suffer from magic and are not fighting magic: they have to fight the terrible temptation of Omnipotence, the ability to subjugate the whole world.
Omnipotence or anarchy?
Does this mean that the meaning of the trilogy is in the evil emanating from power? Of course not. Middle-earth is built on a strict hierarchy of power structures. The film ends not with an abstract victory, but with the coronation of the rightful heir – Aragorn. Nobody calls for anarchy. After all, the matter is not in the power itself, but in the attitude towards it of the one in whose hands it is concentrated.
A person who accepts responsibility for the fate of others should perceive the power entrusted to him as a burden, be responsible for his subjects, and not own them. Responsibility versus lust for possession is a choice every ruler makes.
Without a king, the kingdom dies. Even when the mind of King Theoden was darkened, his subjects did not try to overthrow him. And now he, already in full consciousness and health, leads his army into mortal battle, not hiding behind their spears, but ahead of everyone. He is the first to go to his death, and the ruler should be like that – after all, having received power, he receives first of all responsibility.
Responsibility and mutual assistance
Responsibility is not the privilege of kings. The film vividly illustrates the role of each hero for the fate of his comrades, companions, country, and all of Middle-earth. Individually, they would never have achieved victory. The tiny “Fellowship of the Ring” is a strange, motley company that disintegrates almost at the very beginning, its members then act, not knowing news about each other.
But they go ahead doing their job. If at least one of them had summed up, then the result would have been completely different. The little hobbit Merry and the brave niece of King Theoden, Eowyn, kill the Witch-king of Angmar, who could not die by a man’s hand. What would the future have been like if these two hadn’t taken to the battlefield?
Each hero has his own burden, his own duty, his own mission, but together they do one thing. This turns the story told in The Lord of the Rings into a heroic epic. We see how several horsemen scatter an entire army of orcs. It is not the laws of reality or the laws of a fairy tale that operate here; any distortion of reality is symbolic.
Fantastic techniques during battle in an ordinary fantasy film only emphasize the skill of the heroes (or the high level of computer graphics), and in Jackson’s trilogy, deviation from reality has its own meaning. The battles were filmed without the naturalism typical of action films and thrillers. The power and brutality of the battle is shown on a true epic scale without savoring the details, because here every detail is truly a part of the whole.
Little hero against universal evil
The little hobbit is a “distant relative” of a person, a simple villager with his own simple troubles and joys. The nickname “halfling” seems as dismissive and offensive as it is affectionate. Who expects feats from hobbits? Feats are performed only by hero warriors!
But it is the little hobbits who have to fulfill an incredible mission, play a major role in the fate of the whole world, save people, elves and magicians. Throughout the trilogy, they stubbornly went forward, did not give up, did not retreat, dragging an absolutely unbearable burden of responsibility. They deserve thanks and bows from humans, magicians and elves, who were awarded after the establishment of peace. This is the semantic subtext: the fate of the world depends on everyone, regardless of his height and fighting skills.
And he called for mercy to the fallen
After the destruction of the Ring of Omnipotence, the remaining rings have lost their power, and magic leaves Middle-earth. A new era begins, completely belonging to people. What is their inheritance besides the smoking ruins?
Understanding that evil cannot be used for good. With the help of the Ring of Omnipotence, no one was able to become happy or give happiness to another.
Orcs are “fallen” elves; creepy Nazguls – once the best of the best, kings chosen by the ring-bearers, but who could not resist the temptations of evil; Saruman the White is one of the wisest magicians who bowed before Sauron. Looking at the ugly orcs who were once elves, you involuntarily begin to sympathize with them. Gollum, despite his ugly appearance, is also pitying. It is not for nothing that the establishment of justice comes only because Frodo felt sorry for Gollum.
The meaning of the ending of the trilogy
The terrible power of the ring poisons Frodo’s soul. Somewhere there is a knowingly losing battle, people and elves go to their deaths so that the little hobbit can reach the burning mountain Orodruin, but he is already indifferent. The thirst for Omnipotence has captured him completely, and he cannot throw the ring into the lava. Gollum, biting off the hobbit’s finger, flies into the fire with the ring. So a good deed, once done by Frodo, saves the world.
Middle-earth celebrates victory, but its taste is bitter. Frodo did not fulfill his promises, did not fulfill his mission, at the decisive moment he surrendered to the power of evil. No one blames him for this, but he himself understands everything perfectly. Having finished the story of his adventures, the hobbit leaves his native land forever.
The ring had hurt Frodo too much for him to live the same life. The wounds received during the trip also affected. He was never able to find peace. He could not live in that wonderful world for which he fought and which, albeit unwittingly, saved. He became the last victim of the ring – the last victim of the thirst for gold, the thirst for evil, the thirst for Omnipotence. This is the last sad lesson of the epic: one second is enough to betray your ideals, but you will have to regret it forever.