Friday, April 27, 2007

One Ring by JRR Tolkien

One Ring

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
Ash nazg thrakutulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
--JRR Tolkien

OK, If you don't know what this one is, I feel sorry for you. There are LOTS of poems in The Lord of the Rings that I could have chosen, and that I will undoubtedly post later on. In keeping with this week's theme though, I picked the one that is most central to the plot, and that I have also memorized. Aragorn's All that is Gold does not Glitter is also central to the plot (though not quite as much), and I've memorized most of Roads go Ever On and On, but neither has the international exposure this one does, so it's my pick for the day.

I read The Hobbit when I was quite young, maybe in Jr. High or even before, and liked it a lot. At that point, I picked up Fellowship, but I only read until they got to Rivendell and found out what happened to Bilbo. I just didn't care about Frodo or his quest, so I stopped reading. It wasn't until I was 19 and home for the summer after my freshman year of college that I picked it up again. At that point, I was hooked. I think I read the whole trillogy in about a week or two.

As for the movies, I thought they were great. There were a few things I would have done differently, though. I would have ditched the special effects on people who were tempted by the Ring -- like Bilbo and Galadriel. I think that both of them were good enough actors that they could have pulled off an excellent performance without it, and as it is, I think that the effects deminish the moment. I would have spent less time on the reunion curtain call in Frodo's recovery bed, and given at least a little time to scowering the Shire.

I did like the addition of scenes showing more of Faramir's relationship with his Father and brother, and while I might not have had him carry Frodo all the way back to Osgiliath, I do understand why it was done. Unlike Orson Scott Card, who thinks "it was important to the story that he is not tempted the way his brother Boromir was," I believe that it's important to the story that Faramir was tempted in exactly the same way his brother was. That's what sets them apart. It would not make Faramir noble to leave behind something he has no desire for, just like I'm not especially noble for not killing somebody who annoyed me. On the other hand it does make him noble to have in his grasp the one thing that he believes will make his father finally love him, and at the same time possibly turn the tide of war in favor of the city and people that he loves -- and then give it up because he is the sort of person who keeps his word. That shows us how we can be noble by not falling to the very real temptations that beset us each day -- some almost as addictive and compulsive as the Ring. The internal struggle that happens in the cave that night is hard to show on film, and it's hard to show how afraid for his life Frodo was in his custody. So I respect that change.


  1. Ah: thanks for putting this in so soon. As I am sure you all know, I wrote this poem - in the original script - on adding machine paper and taped it up encircling the top of my bedroom wall when I was in high school. And, I believe these are the words MiIke engraved on gold rings - bracelets - for you the year the movie came out.
    And I agree with you about Faramir's temptation : as a type of Christ (how many of those are there in LOTR?), he had to be tempted but resist.
    Love Mom

  2. Of course it couldn't really be shown in the movie, but maybe what he is saying is that it is not just a matter of having superior will in the moment of testing, but that when one has made the right choices throughout life, one doesn't even have to consider the truly awful choices.

    In my book Ring-spell (the treasure hunt book Steve mentioned a few days ago), I hinted that the 5 rings left out of the song were given to Santa's elves, as referred to in the Twelve Days of Christmas.

  3. Mom and Doug-- I totally intended to mention the tape (which I believe you still have in your treasures box under your bed), the bracelets (which I still have, though a lot of the finish came off after the engraving), and the Five golden rings, but I seem to have forgotten. Thanks for reminding me.