Tears rolled down my cheeks yet again as the film drew to a close…. It had been one of those days, where many things had moved me. A loving message and photograph from a beautiful old lady whom I love dearly, a woman who radiates such love she invariably moves me to tears… A Christmas card from my mother… the first in very many years… a long story that has found a final healing this year, thanks largely to a few words… a gift from another friend, that allowed me to understand something and allowed hurt to find compassion. A parcel stuffed with really thoughtful little gifts from a dear friend and soul-sister too many miles away to see as often as I would like…. The video clip of the dog… A day of emotions…
So I settled down last night for time out with the last of the films my friend had sent me home with. Curled up on the sofa with the small dog on my feet, a film was, I decided, a gentle end to the day.
That final scene at the Grey Havens, however, gets me every time and out came the tissues yet again. I was obliged to eat my words though. Heretical I know, but I had always found Elijah Wood’s performance in The Return of the King just a little OTT…. Yet watching the extended version, which includes so much more of the original filmed story, you see the character in a far better light, getting a deeper view of the progression of the story, not just the trimmed down action that made it onto the big screen. You can’t blame the actor for the cutting room.
Of course, Lord of the Rings is always going to make you weep… but “not all tears are an evil.” I first read the book forty years ago, a gift from my grandfather, and have loved it ever since, periodically re-reading as so many do. Jackson’s films are brilliant interpretations, of course, and I can live quite happily with the omissions and transposed dialogue… though one or two of the plot changes still jar a bit…. and my friend can argue till he’s blue in the face about the cinematic reasoning behind them!
What is evident watching these films though is our passion for myth and legend, our appetite for stories and the symbols we each read into them… symbols which may never have crossed the writer’s conscious mind, yet which speak to each of us deeply and intimately.
The Lord of the Rings is such a beloved book to many, and many the purists who have strong feelings on the changes made to get the film onto the screen. However, the work Stuart and I have been doing on our books has thrown something into sharp relief for me… something that we all know but which is so obvious we overlook it. Stories change with every telling.
The details change, though the heart of the story still weaves its way through them. Children preserve them… I remember sitting down with my own sons and weaving for them the stories told by my mother and grandparents… and they echoed my own words… “Tell me the bit where…” And so the story passes from generation to generation, each time picking up a little of the teller’s own story in the words, becoming a living, evolving thing. Each of us bring something to the table, like the fairy godmother’s gifts…. Something that will grow and colour the story for all the generations yet to hear it.
We all add that special something to the tale … and the life of the world will itself be a story our children and grandchildren read around them as they grow. We all change the story… it would be different if even one of us was subtracted from the whole. “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”