I first read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was ten years old. I read it in an omnibus volume, all three books together. The one with the cover depicting the Nazgul from the Ralph Bakshi animated movie of which we shall not speak. I read it annually, until I was well into my twenties. There is no single book that has had so much impact upon, or sway over, my life. One of the games that my good friend Sean and I enjoyed playing, as students, was to cast and set our favourite books to film: over the years I developed numerous different variations on a Lord of the Rings films.
Imagine, then, my utter joy, at finding the book at the core of my life was going to be made into a trilogy. Properly done, with serious funding, and a big cast, and all the Hollywood-tentpole-production trimmings.
In another life. my wife Sharon and I were avid movie-goers: being of not much money and few entertainment options, we hit the cinemas as least once a fortnight for the length of our relationship.
Fellowship of the Ring was the second film I saw, alone, after she died. (Monsters Inc. was the first, trivia buffs).
I saw it at a cinema above a shopping centre. At the foot of the escalators leading up to the cinema was a DVD store. I exited the cinema, travelled down the escalator, and pre-ordered the special extended lotsadosh versions of the entire trilogy on the spot. Then I went back up, and watched it again.
It is almost entirely irrelevant that the movie itself is a magnificent cinematic experience. It is the movie of the text that has governed so much of my artistic taste in life. It struck me at one of the most significant moments in my life. I still read the books, usually once every couple of years. My son has just started to read them for the first time. And now I watch the movies, every year, too. It’s been seventeen years since this first chapter hit the screen, and it is still a beautiful, magnificent, creation.
I am not a fan of Star Wars. This is my Star Wars. This is my timeless story, the one that speaks to the centre of my soul. Much like Iron Man, another movie that might well have made it onto this list, it is a movie I had been waiting my entire life to watch. And while, to a certain extent, my critical faculties were never going to compete with the anticipation of my inner child, there can be no argument that the wait was ever-so-more than worth it. It is a movie I do not simply love, like a fan. It is a movie I hold dear in my heart, in that place where only things that truly matter are held.
And I will have it in my heart as I diminish, and go into the West.