In my mind, I can still see the dark moments before The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came onto the screen as I sat next to my mom on December 26th 2001. Holding my breath, feeling the anticipation almost as if my heart was about to burst out of my chest and when it started, my 8 year old self had no idea how much his life would be changed by the time the film was over.
This film-going experience is one of the most impactful events in my life and is very precious to me (pun completely intended), but first, I need to give you some background information as why I feel it called to me.
As a child, I was given a Fisher-Price castle which went on to spark a passion for Medieval history that my mother continued to foster. I loved the romanticized ideals of chivalry through stories like King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, the designs of arms and armor with their other-worldly and noble aesthetics, and the medieval world’s connections to Christianity and its morals. As this passion grew and grew, I would constantly look for anything that connected with these noble-minded warriors and their way of life.
Whether it be looking for books, dressing up as a knight for Halloween or at a library event, or looking for films and video-games like A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, Gauntlet, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time I’d be ready and willing to learn and to try more. By the time I reached 7, there were a few rumblings of a story that would appeal to all of my interests rolled into one, The Lord of The Rings. I can’t exactly remember how I came upon knowing that The Fellowship of the Ring and the rest of the story was going to be released as films, but I’m sure I begged my mom to let me see it.
Now I can’t remember too much from the fateful day that was December 26th, 2001, besides that darkened theater, but ever since the finish of the film, I had to know everything and anything about Middle-earth and its inhabitants. I became more and more obsessed as the action figures, films, videogames, and other paraphernalia were released, but all those physical things weren’t the things that drew me to the material, what truly drew me, was the emotion of it all, the themes, the humanity, the noble world that was on the screen that brought me to the rest of The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s legendarium.
From that moment on, The Lord of the Rings and its characters and themes became not only an obsession but a comfort for me when I needed it and when I still need it today. After that time, my family moved to another town where I knew no one and my new-found Tolkien obsession didn’t help me make too many friends, but I knew that I loved it and that it would be there for me in the dark times of being bullied and put down, I also knew that in the end, that Tolkien’s ideas of true friendship, the glimmer of hope in the darkness, nobility in ennobling times, love, and its connections to Christianity would win out in the end. The Lord of the Rings comforts and gives me hope for the future in my darkest hours without fail, it is Gandalf rising to defeat the Uruk-Hai on the fifth day, Galadriel’s phial in Shelob’s lair, and the Eagles rescuing our heroes from certain death.
Not only does Tolkien’s work give me hope for the future as most of his works are hopeful (minus a few, I’m looking at you The Children of Húrin) but it also enables me to become inspired and to try and to become a better person than the one I was yesterday. It gives us examples in how we should treat one another, with nobility and care, how to be truly compassionate for others in their struggles as in Frodo, and Smeagol/Gollum and how friendship should truly be expressed. Friendship has always been something on my mind as I have struggled with it throughout the years and when I saw the unwavering friendship full of love, compassion and understanding between Frodo and Sam, I knew that is what true friendship was and how the world needs more of that kind of friendship. Look at this perfect example of hope in friendship and fellowship.
J.R.R. Tolkien and his son, Christopher’s (whose death inspired me to write this) works, and my mom through introducing their works have helped me grow in so many ways ever since that fateful day. From inspiring me to pursue noble ideals, to achieve academic and spiritual success, to attempting to emulate the humility and compassion for others that are expressed, I truly have no idea who I would be today without the lessons the Tolkien’s have left the world with, may they both rest in peace together now.