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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

I have watched this movie and am beginning to write this blog entry without having finished Midsummer Night's Dream (for good reason) and I have GUILT. Now that that's out of the way.

The hold this film had on me when it came out! I was a fledgling nerd and even without having read the books, I was so ripe for the cultural plucking my senior year of high school. I saw this several times in theaters, mostly with my friend Katie. The first time, we saw it with a school mate we both fancied and we all sat in the front row of the ULTRAscreen movie theater which was a bad choice. But I was gripped. (Katie and I went on to make LotR sock puppets our freshman year of college as a "joke" and I'm so sad I don't have them anymore. The little sparkly pipe cleaner Sting I made for sock-Frodo was fabulous. As were the hot glue tears in sock-Arwen's eyes.)

I've always fancied myself a hobbit. Not that I really think I'm a very small human with hairy feet but I *get* hobbits. A love of food, music, and a good, peaceful life. I've written about how much I longed for adventure but ultimately, I want Bag End. A quiet, cozy house with plenty of cheeses and baked goods and a lifetime's supply of books. Maybe, like Bilbo, to get pulled out of my comfort zone once and awhile, if only to make me appreciate the quiet that much more.

Specifically, I've always thought of myself as a Samwise. I have a deep fondness for that character, a fondness I could extend to myself more often. I've never thought of myself as a main character but as someone who's there to support the hell out of the people who have the heaviest lifting to do. I hope I carry that role out more often than not.

This viewing, though, hit me a lot differently. I still relate to Sam the most and, to a lesser extent, Pippin. But oof, Boromir came like a freight train into my psyche this time. The troubled golden child of a real dick, he means so well but he has ZERO skills for managing his own shortcomings and keeping his trauma from just messing up everything for everyone around him. Yikes on bikes. I love the extended version for many reasons, but getting to explore more of Boromir's inner turmoil is top of the list. He knows he is struggling and it honestly makes him a little more tragic for it. That he (spoiler alert...) dies not trying to redeem himself but just to save the hobbits is crushing. He's a good man. He's just so troubled.

I also thought a lot about the ham-fisted theme of leaving home during this viewing. I'm always always moved to tears by Frodo telling Sam Gandalf's line, "It's dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the road and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you'll be swept off to." And it's hard to explain, and I don't think I'll take the time here to unpack it fully, but tonight I realized that it wasn't that hard for me to leave "home" ever (wherever that may have been), and in a way I wished I would have experienced Sam's reluctance. Because it wasn't until Very Recently that I really felt home anywhere. Everywhere I've lived until our house (and even that, not immediately), felt like a placeholder. Like a spot that wasn't quite safe for me - some in physical ways, most in emotional ways - that was just for the time being. Now, I watch this movie and I cannot imagine leaving the Shire. Maybe briefly to visit Rivendell (Ben and I agree that's where we'd have a summer home) but my heart would be very ready to go back home. Yeah, this is way too much to unpack right now and I have lots of other stuff to process. Maybe by the time we get to Two Towers I'll understand what I'm feeling better.

I also need to quickly address the Balrog. One of my many recurring nightmares as a child was of an impossibly evil force that I knew could destroy me, coming down an enormous, dark hallway. I couldn't see it, but I could see the light of the flame it brought with it. So you can imagine my utter horror seeing that nightmare brought to life on the ULTRAscreen. It still gives me shivers. I don't know what that dream was about but I do know that Peter Jackson captured it beautifully.

I also wish, watching this, that we had taken the incredible success of this film, and used it to normalize manly, martial men crying so much. Caring about each other. Hugging. Grieving. Reciting poetry. It's great. Let's make that a thing again.

Linocut and gold ink


-I continue to struggle. I couldn't bring myself to actually sit down and do anything on this until Saturday. Part of that was because I didn't totally know what I wanted to do, except that it would involve Bag End. I initially wanted to do a sculpture of Frodo walking out his front door, but I knew I did not have a project of that size in me this week. Then I started thinking about all the doors that Frodo has to step through on his journey. I was really affected by the song "The Road Goes Ever On" in this viewing and had it in my head this whole last week. Then came Friday night, when I received the email telling me my grad school application was rejected. My first reactions were "what now?" and just a sense of being stuck in a door. I want to move forward but I don't know if I'm turning right or left out of Rivendell. I want to stay in my cozy hobbit hole, but I want to embrace everything the world has to offer. So suddenly I had the image of what I needed to do, I just didn't know if I had it in me.

-Turns out, intense work on my art is just what the doctor ordered. I still feel stuck, the tears haven't come (yet), but it felt really good to plop myself down for several hours and just carve this thing.

-I actually used a compass and ruler and for all of my assumptions that doing that sort of thing correctly would eat up my time... it made it all easier. I hope I've learned my lesson.

-Cutting away the would-be green pieces was NERVE WRACKING but I did it! And I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I continue to want to experiment with ink other than Speedball if only because I have never been totally satisfied with this green.

-The gold ink (for the lyrics of "The Road Goes Ever On" surrounding the print) is beautiful but kind of a pain. Lots of learning on the fly. And just when I thought I was doing really well, I'd notice that I smudged it somewhere. The joys of working Too Fast and in a circle.

Next week, the movie I'd bring with me if I was a guest on the podcast, "You Are Good." Robin Williams' wildly underappreciated, utterly bonkers, delightfully absurd Toys.

I hope that whatever road you're on this week is kind. It will keep going, and so will you, but I hope there's a hobbit-y feast waiting for you inside your front door.

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