Friday, March 13, 2009

So I'm not usually into fantasy, or perhaps more appropriately into milataristic bullshit, but I've been watching my roommate's Lord of The Rings DVDs lately (in fact I am at this very moment working on the last disc of "The Return of the King") and I have to say I've developed something of a fondness for it. It's an overly simplistic view of the world, of course--one in which the bad are utterly and supremely bad, beyond hope of redemption, and in which the good are beyond corruption; there's a paucity of moral ambiguity here. Perhaps after years of reading modern and postmodern novels, and watching modern and postmodern movies in which there is nothing BUT moral ambiguity, I'm happy for a change. Even history (there are many folk who say LOTR is a totally allegorical recounting of the World Wars, in particular WWII--think about it; Sauron as Hitler, Saruman as either Mussolini or Stalin, or perhaps one of the Nazgul. Mordor as Germany, the Shire as England, Rohan and Gondor as the various regions of France) is less morally absolute. The 'bad' are bad for different reasons, and all the forces of evil are not allied; Stalin and Hitler had a gentlemen's agreement for a while, but both knew even as they were signing it that they would break it as soon as the opportunity arose.
Though I'm not crazy about a movie in which the heroes slash their way through battle scenes keeping count of the corpses they leave behind (so that they can compare later and see who 'wins'), it is nice to know that there are definite sides and that in the end goodness is going to triumph. Eowyn and a Hobbit kill the Witch King (something 'no man' can do--yay for a little bit of feminist sensibility). That is why we love fairy tales and fantasies, why we tell them still and write them still--they offer something we never find in life, a reminder of never is and cannot be, but that we still wish for: the heroine's redeeming journey and ultimate reward, the vanquished Dark Lord, the end which is always another beginning.

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