Room with a View|Jul 13, 2003 6:05 AM| by:

Lord of the Rings

Film: Lord of the Rings; Director: Peter Jackson

It’s astounding how children’s stories, fables, tales, rhymes, poems, ditties et al are in truth a ghastly, stark and uncomfortably real depiction of many horrors of life on earth. What makes them unbelievable is only that our minds are constantly denying their existence on account of not actually seeing them in concrete form – but that they exist in subtle planes, in shadows of dark twilight, does not obliterate them from their own existence nor from the part of a vivid imagination.
Take any of the rhymes for instance – violent is the only way to describe them. Jack had to tumble just as Humpty Dumpty had to fall down. Ms. Muffet and the pussy in the well fare no better. Or take the tales of Hansel and Gretel and a host of others… Grimms fairy tales weren’t called that for nothing.

Many a times, the imagination runs away far too fast for us to catch on. But there are times, when something is translated further and suddenly a thought becomes a visual, and the visual becomes a realization. Such was the case with Lord of the Rings. The book is painted with the many hues of fairy tale revelry. There is love and magic and mystery. There are goblins and gnomes with exotic names. Trees that walk. Steeds as white as milk. And there is also the intense violence, to hurl shafts of madness and mayhem down on the buds that open into the sunshine and sing a song. There is rampant evil, ugly and distorted, reaching its grisly hands to tear down all semblance of sanity and take root in its place.

But of course, it would have to be there, for how else would the story teller tell his tale? Always a counter pose, in everything in life. So why not here?
But then it is not always so easy to grasp its intent unless the imagination of the reader is in tune with that of the writer. Make it into a film and voila… you have a living nightmare in your hands.
First, I thought it was the unceasing violence that was making me cringe. But suddenly, things took a different turn. In the middle of the film, I realized, why it was making my head go round. Why it was seeming so familiar.  It seemed as if I had seen it, been there. And yet, not close enough to be touched physically. But which is worse – a physical agony or a mental cry of pain?

A scene: the dark forces are unleashed upon the earth, with the parting words of command, to take the life of every human, to finish the race of Man. Only then would these evil forces be able to live. And so they march in thousands, across the plundered lands, with grotesque faces, reflecting their grotesque mission. Someone in the dark of the hall whispered, “but why does the director have to make them so ugly?” How else…? Can an anti-divine force be beautiful? That’s when it hit me – I had felt them familiar because I saw them as anti-divine. This is how I imagine these beings to be. This is how they must be. And so cold was I at the notion, at the sheer proximity of my thought to something that quite possibly exists. We’ve read and heard about vital beings who are thrown out of their bodies, and continue to linger, sucking vampire-like into the blood streams that pound back and forth under the earth. Well, here they were. And we’ve heard about how the anti-divine forces have only one purpose behind their existence – to eliminate God. If God be there in man, then what better way than to eliminate man? So here they were, marching under a shiny armour of malcontent. And we’ve been told of the terror that grips at the heart in the face of such evil. So here I was, terrified. But there is one more thing we have been brought up on – that good will always reign supreme. That, through the confounded chaos that rips open the life of Man, should there be a single will, so strong, so adamant to attain the truth, to remain unbattered in the midst of the tempest, to pursue, yearn, cling on to the faintest, tiniest element of goodness, then victory shall come to him. So, here he was – our little Mr. Frodo with his wrecked and tormented mind, still clutching through the dark fog of despair at only his conviction – good shall come.

I won’t say it’s a recommended film from the technical point of view alone, which is incidentally what the world is showering accolades on it for. I would say instead, that it has captured a moment of ugly truth that although hidden from our sight is nevertheless right before our eyes. These beings of slime and decay are nothing save the subtle forms of evil that take over this land from time to time. Every occasion of wrath and depredation in real life, is an actual manifestation of the marching fiends in reel life. Likewise, it is God’s will that succeeds and God’s grace that delivers. Man survives thus, with an unfinished agenda. But so does the titan.

The Lord of the Rings is as much a living reality, as our life a tale of fantasy. Both are equally unreal, equally real.