[MOVIE REVIEW]Soaring above fantasy, ‘Rings’ finds the heart

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Soaring above fantasy, ‘Rings’ finds the heart

Watching the denouement of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in a packed Korean theater is an exercise in maintaining the fantasy while blocking out reality.
For every moment of jaw-dropping, pupil-dilating, heart-palpitating exhilaration, you also get to hear adolescent mania erupting at high decibels every time Orlando Bloom has a close-up. (This is a crime unto itself; Aragorn [Viggo Mortensen] is infinitely sexier.)
The film, an absorbing cornucopia of cinematography, delivers again and again and again, for nearly three and a half hours, and had there been three hours more, I would have remained riveted to my seat.
The story continues as the inhabitants of Middle-earth are preparing for the greatest war of their time against the dark forces of Sauron. The Wizard Gandalf is trying desperately to rally the troops, despite their reluctant leader, Denethor, a steward who is ruling the kingdom of Gondor in the absence of a much-needed monarch.
Meanwhile, the trio bearing the One Ring, Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin) and Gollum (Andy Serkis), is approaching the kingdom of Mordor, becoming weaker and more paranoid with every step.
Much of the action takes place in the white city of Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor. Carved like a terraced cone into a cliff of impossible height, the structure, as created by director Peter Jackson, seems grander than Tolkein imagined it.
Jackson is a master of long, soaring shots, which he uses, in combination with miniature scale models and computer animation, to create a perspective of the divine: all-seeing and gliding effortlessly above the chaos.
Add to this the captivating natural scenery of New Zealand, where the trilogy was filmed, and “breath-taking” as in beauty is no longer a cliche; it is a literal physical reaction.
In stark contrast, the languid and disoriented hobbit Frodo, his faithful friend Sam and the conniving Gollum appear perilously small and land-locked as they traverse increasingly unforgiving terrain. The “burden” of the ring they bear, the temptation of assuming absolute power, slowly consumes them as they struggle among themselves with allegiance and deceit.
In a our world where the line between terrorist and freedom fighter is heavily blurred, the seduction of these films lies in the absolute purity of distinction between good and evil. In an age when nations have to struggle to agree on anything, the camaraderie, cooperation and self-sacrifice for the common good in Tolkein’s world is reassuring.
He helps us believe that with strength of heart even the smallest among us can change the world.
Despite the added group commentary, the film simply must be experienced on the big screen.

“Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
Fantasy / English
201 min.

by Kirsten Jerch
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