It couldn’t have been more timely. Only months after 9/11, when America craved something self affirming, LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS (LOTR:FOTR) burst onto the silver screen. Christmas would have been strange without the needed distraction. America needed the uplifting story of heroism and good vs. evil. While America and her allies forged ahead with it’s war on evil, a timely epic played in the theaters in these same nations. But no one needed it more than America herself. The lessons of good vs evil, of reluctant heroes and bitter tasks, of noble men of lowly birth and a fellowship of races were eaten up by America like a starving child at a bowl of rice.
There are strange parallels in America’s favorite movie. An enemy that seemed intangible, a lone lord of darkness who taunted the small heroes sounded not unlike the elusive Bin Ladden. Like Saruman, Osama used his words to influence and attract and corrupt slowly and invasively.
The hero, Frodo, steps reluctantly into his role, glad if he could give up his burden, but willing to serve if required. In this way Frodo was not unlike America today, burdened with a seemingly insurmountable task of defeating evil. Frodo, the child of wealth, was often scorned by his own kindred for his inheritance. Some may have even blamed his guardian Bilbo, for the burdens left to him. So too, you can find American’s who blame history, their own ancestors and the nation itself for the attacks upon it.
Sam, the simple but courageous gardener from the Shire rises to the occasion as guardian, protector and moral support of Frodo. He didn’t know when he left the Shire with his master he would be called upon to be a hero. Who expected it of a hobbit? Of a gardener, no less? So too, many American’s had to rise to the occasion. When Todd Beamer, Jeremy Click and Thomas Burnett on flight 93 heard what had happened in New York, they understood what was happening on their flight. Who among them could have anticipated that the day they booked a flight to California they would be called upon to be heros? Like Sam, they went forward, not knowing if they would live or die, but rising to the occasion none-the-less.
Some blamed man for the continued existence of the One Ring. Some blame America for Al Quieda.
Frodo went bravely to destroy the ring alone, just as America was prepared to face the war on terrorism alone. When America found her allies standing solidly beside her, she wept with joy just as Frodo did when Sam would not be left behind.
Is it any wonder that 6 months after 9/11 and 3 months after the release of LOTR:FOTR that Americans continue their love affair with this movie? In times of darkness, Americans crave the uplifting. LOTR lifted the hearts of Americans like no other movie could. It’s release was ironic and necessary in this time in her history. As America’s war continues, she will no doubt continue to turn to Jackson’s adaption of Tolkien’s beautiful story of good vs evil.
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