I am an escapist. I have always been one. In order to cope with reality or just to simply maintain a healthy balance between the real world and my own, I sought the comfort of fantasy.
When I was younger I immersed myself daily into Disney animated films, especially Lion King. I had, and still possess, a VHS tape of that particular film somewhere in my parent’s house. I used to watch it every day after school.
In my pre-teen years, the attention shifted to impossible plot twists of the classic Mexican telenovelas. As I grew up, my interests broadened into the world of sci-fi, namely that of Star Trek. Interspersed through all these other worlds were romantic films, most notably Titanic. Romance and worlds beyond my reach were becoming my place of solace, my comfort zone.
By the time the Battle of the Five Armies came to cinemas I was hooked on the two trilogies, the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. My interests in these particular trilogies grew exponentially as my inner world began to crumble. My reality was becoming ever more dimm and unwelcome place to live in. Sadness and depression took over. So for almost two years straight my daily routine consisted of work and watching the two trilogies. After I would watch them all I would start with the behind-the-scenes and making-of documentaries found on the extended edition DVDs and Blu-Rays.
For almost two years all I looked forward to and all I could count on was coming home from work and watching whichever part of the two trilogies was up next. It was my life-support. It was a sort of hug and comfort I craved for. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit helped me avoid the pain my reality fed me at the time. It enveloped me into a state of mind that could be present and peaceful as long as the DVDs and Blu-Rays were there. This extended into my sleeping arrangement. The films or the additional material would run all night, as I desperately tried to avoid any lucid moment of reality.
At that time of inner unrest, I was unable to determine why these two trilogies were so important to me. No other film or tv-series or book could hold my interest the way they did. As I was avoiding analyzing any aspect of myself or my life, I just went with what felt best. This was it.
When my state drove me to disturbing, self-harming thoughts, I knew it was time for a change, so I reached out and got help.
When I rejoined the world again, I began to dwell on the reason why these two trilogies provided the blanket I needed at the time. And I finally got my answer.
It was never about the moving pictures or implicit numbness of repetition. It was the story, the scenery, the music, the combination of the three in perfect balance. This world of Middle-Earth became believable to me, in a sense that I believed it a part of our world’s history. It felt that real to me. It is as if pages of a history book were found and filmed. After all, why wouldn’t it be true?
Prof. Tolkien, who first invented the Elvish languages and subsequently provided the background story for them, took his inspiration from old Norse-Icelandic sagas and legends encompassing them into one world’s entire history. The weight of his accomplishment is beyond comprehension and a rarity in literary history. He wanted to provide his homeland with rich history and mythology. And he succeeded. The books and the films would not have as extensive a following as they still have today were it not for its source material, its inherent reality, and complexity.
The inner world
The story of the Lord of the Rings has a multitude of layers. The first and obvious one is the good vs. evil aspect of it. It sounds as if two armies met in a field, one was on the side of the good and righteous and the other evil, they fought and good prevailed. As we know, it is much more complex. What intrigued me is the story’s inherent intricacy. The journey starts with a simple Hobbit. Simple in a sense that his inner world is as intact and unspoiled as it can be.
Frodo is a happy-go-lucky mannered Hobbit who enjoys the Shire, the company of his friends and roaming the borders of his realm. As he moved from realm to realm on his mission to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mordor, so too, his inner world changed. The One Ring influenced him to a point of unrecognizability as did the events that took place and the surroundings he found himself in. Accustomed only to the good and the green of his world, he came to know his own power of transformation and his own ability to do and act evil. At the end of his journey, and years passed, he still could not come to terms with all that had happened, for it left an indelible mark on his inner world. He was never the same.
Frodo’s inner struggle throughout the story is a magnificent piece of storytelling. It is a wonderfully simple idea that is simultaneously as convoluted as the nature of humanity itself. It encompasses everything we are, everything we are capable of, as well as, the darkness that is a part of us all. This aspect of the story deals with psychological, emotional and physical deterioration of a single being and his journey from light to dark.
This was masterfully portrayed in the films with the additional help of the musical component that enhances the experience and transfers the feelings from the silver screen onto the audience in a unique way.
It is this aspect of the story that captured my interest. I cannot say that I fully understand the influence the Ring has had on Frodo because I have not carried it myself. However, I can empathize with the gradual deterioration that Frodo underwent. I could clearly mark all the events of my own reality that had eventually brought me to a state of stasis. I was surviving, not living. And since I did not have a mission to accomplish that would carry me forward, I simply stayed in this state.
Every event in our lives leaves a scar for us to bear forward. The wound may heal and the body may recover, but the mind and our soul never forget. Our inner worlds change. We may not even be able to recognize ourselves when we finally reach the light.