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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

I'm just LotR/Frodo obsessed, applying it even to twentieth century prison movies....

Posted on 2005.10.14 at 21:51
Tags: , , ,
Tonight, as a change of pace, I did not hang out on the internet (until now) but watched a film of my husband's choice with him. (Later I will be finishing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with our daughter.)

We watched the very well-known American film, The Shawshank Redemption.


The Shawshank Redemption was released in 1994, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. I have always heard of this film, but never have seen it. It's about a young man (played by Tim Robbins), a talented and well-off banker, who is wrongly sent to prison for killing his adulterous wife and her lover. He spends twenty years there, finding enemies (not just among the brutal guards but among the gang-rape-happy inmates, who are not your typical, jolly LotR fanfic guys -- except in the really dark stuff), but also finding friends, such as lifer Morgan Freeman. Robbins's character endures a great deal and learns a great deal (bad and good), until, finally, he makes his break and escapes.

My first thought was how much 1994 Tim Robbins reminded me of 1995 Colin Firth. "He could be Colin Firth's less handsome brother," I exclaimed. And, do you know, my husband actually agreed with me. "Yeah, he reminds me of Colin Firth, too." 1995 was the year the BBC released Pride and Prejudice *huge sappy grin*. No wonder I immediately warmed to Tim Robbins in his Shawshank role (considering I am a Darcy and Valmont swooner).

But, more seriously (but, perhaps, just as ridiculously), the whole time I was watching The Shawshank Redemption, I was comparing and contrasting it to LotR.

"Hey, this is just as if Frodo (Tim Robbins) had been captured by the Orcs and then made to serve time in their prisons! Why, Frodo, too, would have earned a higher place in their favour because of his learning, which would be found valuable to his captors! But, then, like Tim Robbins, Frodo would end up using all that he had gained to help his friends, especially by giving them a sense of hope by his example."

This seemed to be reinforced by the fact that when Tim Robbins's character escaped, where was he headed? To the West! (to Mexico, however, not to the Grey Havens). BUT, Tim Robbins was headed to Mexico, to the West, because of the blue Pacific, where (Robbins's character sighed), "all that had happened could be forgotten," and he would be able to begin a new life -- even after all that he had suffered.

I know this is terribly obsessive of me, but although I watched and enjoyed the film for itself, the whole while I was also thinking of it applied to Frodo, and to Frodo's story and fate.

Does this happen to any of you, watching films or reading books, that, on their surface, have nothing to do with Frodo of the Shire?

~ Mechtild


breelee10 at 2005-10-15 04:23 (UTC) (Link)
Hey Mech! I absolutely love Shawshank Redemption; it's one of those movies that will run on AMC every once in a while, and I always have to stop and watch it when it's on.

I know what you mean about constantly comparing movies to LoTR, although strangely enough, I find myself comparing my personal life to LoTR much more. Perhaps because I yearn for an adventure of my own. And hey, we all know things turned out "okay" for Frodo in the end, so maybe it also gives a bit of hope in dark times! Not to mention I randomly start spouting Gandalf's wisdom... ah, but there I go off on a tangent which you didn't even talk about!

You'll have to let us know what you think of Chamber of Secrets. It's sad, I used to get so excited about the films, but now I feel more of an obligation to go see them. Don't get me wrong, I love the books, but I almost feel like the movies are beating the books into the mud. Especially Sorceror's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. Anyway, I'll stop being Debby Downer, I hope you do enjoy it. Just think of it as cute rather than cinematic magic.

And now, to stop rambling!
mechtild at 2005-10-15 14:18 (UTC) (Link)
Bree, I think that when you look at polls of people's favourite all-time films, Shawshank is up there with the Godfather. It encourages me, now that I have seen it, to know that so many people loved this film. Its message is a very humanizing one. It's a film in which the best characters are the best men, not the worst. That is a good indicator, I think.

We finished watching Chamber of Secrets last night. I thought it was better than the first one, but still lacking in many areas, including special effects. Very disappointed in the portrayal of Moaning Myrtle, whom I thought both funny and touching in the books. Definitely, Daniel Radcliffe presents a "nicer" Harry Potter than the one I read in the books. And he sure has pinchable cheeks. I wish they hadn't made Rupert do so much mugging as Ron this time around, though. He's seems such a much better child actor than that. I still loved Maggie Smith the best. And I still don't know what anyone sees in Tom Felton's Draco. "Adequate," I call it. Did I say I was surprisingly disappointed with Richard Harris in both films? Surprised because I really think a lot of Richard Harris. I thought he just sort of walked through that role. Actually, reading the books, I have heard the voice of Michael Hordern doing Dumbledore throughout. Hordern played Gandalf in the BBC radio production of LotR. Anyway, I now am looking forward to seeing Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in the next film. I have seen him in many things and on stage years ago; he was excellent.
wendylady1 at 2005-10-15 05:37 (UTC) (Link)
Hey Mech...
Haven't seen you on here in a while...well, since Sep.30th anyway !!

"The Shawshank Redemption" is a movie I've heard rave reviews about, from friends, but never seen myself, too ! The funny thing is that it was shown a few nights ago on TV here, and I think Adam has recorded it, so, somewhere down in the depths of our DVD hard-drive, this film is lurking with intent...

I can't say I find myself comparing films set in modern day with LOTR, no, but I can certainly understand it if you do ...its called 'Obsession' - *wink*
But then, this IS Frodo we're talking about...

But, hey...you knew that already !

As for the Harry Potter books, I read the first one, and enjoyed it, in a very good and potentially Classic Children's book kind of way...I would have LOVED these books when I was about ten, which is the age group they're aimed at...and the fact that many adults have read them too, is a sure sign that they WILL become classics of the Future...(some say they are now, but they are merely Bestsellers at the mo')
When the first one was published here, they also had an adult version, with slightly smaller print and a more grown-up cover...and you'd see countless businessmen, and women, on the Tube in the morning, all avidly reading about Harry and his Chums...'twas tres amusing !!
( Much like "The DaVinci Code", it became 'a phenomenon' in the Publishing World, with bookshops selling twice as many copies to adults for their own consumption as to children )

For myself, I have enjoyed all the movies in their turn, as amusing Fantasy romps in their own right, but I have never been moved to read beyond the first one...maybe I should !!
(Deleted comment)
pearlette at 2005-10-15 17:21 (UTC) (Link)
Totally agree with you about Fiona Shaw in 'My Left Foot' and 'Persuasion' (in which she played Mrs Croft.) She's a very gifted actress.
mechtild at 2005-10-15 17:41 (UTC) (Link)
D'oh! "Persuasion," for heaven's sake. It's not as though I haven't memorized the stinking film from repeated viewings and read the book umpteen times. (My second favourite Jane Austen). Well, I really am on the edge of senility, Pearl, it seems.
mechtild at 2005-10-15 18:07 (UTC) (Link)
Nope, Wendy, I haven't been on here in a while, you are right. I've been finishing up the Harry Potter series while I wasn't working double hours at the library, trying to train into a new position. It uses the computer a great deal in ways that are a mystery to me, so that it has been very tiring and discouraging.

Anyway, if you read the other LJ entry, you will know that I really, really enjoyed books 5 and 4, 3 and 6 to a lesser degree, and thought 1 and 2, "acceptable children's fare." We now have watched the first two films. I enjoyed the first two films. I especially have liked the art design. THe sets and set dressers have done a stupendous job and I think the costumes are very good. It's a much richer and more attractive world than I had going on in my head just reading. I certainly found that to be true for the LotR films. They really helped expand my ability to "see" Middle-earth, even when I didn't agree with what the art designers came up with.

I have liked watching so many excellent English character actors playing so many roles. I keep seeing people I have enjoyed in so many programs. For instance, I was pleased to see Fiona Shaw as Aunt Petunia --- I loved her as the hip speech therapist in My Left Foot and I loved her work as the Admiral Croft's wife in the BBC Pride and Prejudice, too. (ETA: s/b "Persuasion", not P&P that Mrs. Croft appears in; see Pearl's note.) I've never seen her play a despicable person before. She's great.

But the heart of the films is in Harry and Ron and Hermione. Not that they are like LotR's fellowship hobbits as individual characters, but the idea of a group of friends arrayed against formidable foes is a very attractive and involving one, whether they are pitted against bullies, against "the institution" (the school in bad hands or the Ministry of Magic), or the much greater evil of the Dark Lord Voldemort and his minions. It's what makes the books and movies memorable.
pearlette at 2005-10-15 17:18 (UTC) (Link)
Shawshank is flippin' awesome. Tim Robbins is heartbreakingly lovely as Andy and Morgan Freeman is WONDERFUL. I saw it in a half-empty cinema in 1995 and it blew me away.

Believe it or not, there have been whole swathes of my life where I haven't obsessed about LOTR. *grin* I first obsessed in 1983, when I read the book for the first time at the age of 21. It was a lonely obsession, nobody else shared the passion with me. I put LOTR aside until 1987, when I heard the BBC radio LOTR. The passion awoke - but again, there was nobody to share it with. I thought wistfully at the time, 'how wonderful if this was ever made into a film!! But you could never fit the story into just one film ... and who could play Frodo???'

The obsession was reawakened once more from the ashes in 1999, and it's been with me ever since. :D Thanks to the movies, the hype, the fanfic and several re-readings of LOTR and 'Silmarillion' and other Tolkien works. *bounce* It's a quieter passion these days, but it's still very much with me and I am sure it always will be, just as my deep appreciation of CS Lewis's books doesn't fade. The two authors who have influenced my imagination the most are undoubtedly Tolkien and Lewis.

But I have to say that I don't actively seek Frodo parallels elsewhere. Occasionally parallels find me, so to speak, and they're usually subtle - so subtle in fact that I'm hard pressed to think of one! If I see LOTR parallels anywhere, it's probably in art or music. I might see something or hear something that reminds me of LOTR, or Frodo's story in particular. :)

I've never thought of Frodo whilst watching 'Shawshank' but Andy is a character with some Frodo-esque aspects, now that I think about it, I guess.

mechtild at 2005-10-15 18:03 (UTC) (Link)

All this Frodo stuff is in my mind, I begin to think ....

ETA: My first posting of this had some sort of hitch. I'll try it again.??

You are lucky to be less obsessed, Pearl. I didn't expect to see any Frodo parallels in Shawshank, you know, but there they were, lurking.

Or were they...?

As I write this post, I am wondering if my propensity to keep seeing Frodo-ian agendas in everything is not so much to do with the story's admitted universality (and breadth and depth, etc.), but because I myself am in a liminal state, imaginatively.

Before I started writing, myself, I was not this "bad." It occurs to me, just now, therefore, that because I am now always moving through a sea of images and scenarios, all swirling around Frodo and his story, I tend to see links to it in everything I see. Perhaps, until I finish, I won't be capable of truly appreciating some other story or character, because I'm not really giving it my full attention.

Since I have been working on my fic, I find I am almost always thinking about it, even dreaming about it. While reading and watching Harry Potter, it was not as though I was making conscious parallels between Rowling and Tolkien (or Lewis, for that matter), or between the HP films and the LotR films, but always just under my conscious level of attention flitted scenes and images from my own story -- the parts already written or to come. Everytime they surfaced I would be pulled away from the immediate experience of what I was reading or watching to follow that story-related thought down some alley. I'd be watching the film, physically, but find myself in the next scene, clueless as to what had happened. Was the film not good? No, it was good enough. And Shawshank was a massively better film. Yet as I watched it, as soon as associations to the Frodo story were perceived, there my imagination went, streaming down my fanfic corridors, making connections, imagining scenarios, all the while that the DVD was still playing.

I guess what I am saying, Pearl, or trying to say, is that I think my "obsessed state" has more to do with the fact that I am in the clutches of active imagining myself, right now, not because everything in the world actually has a true connection to the LotR materials. Perhaps I am incapable of giving a fair viewing or reading of anything until it no longer fills my mind the way it does.
lembas_junkie at 2005-10-16 02:23 (UTC) (Link)

Re: All this Frodo stuff is in my mind, I begin to think ....

Hee hee! :D If all the world tried to figure out how they might connect stuff in real life to their obsessions, imagine the funny things we'd get to see every day! :D You'd have people wearing *only* stilettos to work, beds on hot air balloons, hockey all year long, and more airlines than you could shake a stick at! :D

Anyway, I know what you mean about thinking about stuff from LOTR in real life. :) I do it too, and I do it with other stuff besides LOTR. Like traveling; sometimes, I am doing everyday normal stuff and I'll just stop and remember when I did the same thing, but in a different spot in the world. Or I think about what the birds in the jungle that I saw are doing right now. Are they still alive? Is it raining right now, or does the sun shine at that spot by the waterfall that I loved so much? As I sit here and study for histology, does that bird call, echoing so lovely through the trees like it did when I first heard it? :)

For LOTR stuff, I usually am reminded about it when I hear people say something or do something that reminds me of either the book or the movie. :D

Lembas :)
mechtild at 2005-10-16 14:14 (UTC) (Link)
Lembas, you wrote, Like traveling; sometimes, I am doing everyday normal stuff and I'll just stop and remember when I did the same thing, but in a different spot in the world.

Do you mean like "deja-vu"?

Or I think about what the birds in the jungle that I saw are doing right now. Are they still alive? Is it raining right now, or does the sun shine at that spot by the waterfall that I loved so much? As I sit here and study for histology, does that bird call, echoing so lovely through the trees like it did when I first heard it? :)

This is a poignant thought, a sort that often strikes me, too. I know just what you mean. Rosamunda will have those feelings often, you know ... afterwards.

OT: Lembas, are you a member of Board 77?

lembas_junkie at 2005-10-17 12:42 (UTC) (Link)
I am, but I think I've posted about 5 times since I was asked to join. :) Not because I don't like it over there, or the people (pretty much anyone I know there I met at TORC). I just don't have time to be an active member of many message boards, so I'm pretty much a lurker everywhere, but only a poster at TORC. Actually, I post at TORC much less than I used to; I loved my time at TORC though. My first message board experience and where I met so many great people!

Including all you guys! :) *hug*
mechtild at 2005-10-17 13:37 (UTC) (Link)
OK, I just wanted to check and see if you were a registered user there. I don't have time to read it, either, and, like you, have posted about five times, all on my first day, way back when. I'll be emailing you about a heads-up I got.
lembas_junkie at 2005-10-18 12:05 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!!!
maewyn_2 at 2005-10-16 10:51 (UTC) (Link)
Shawshank Redemption is one of my elder son's favourite movies. I enjoyed it too and have seen it several times now. It's good to see a prison movie that actually has a happy ending!

I haven't compared or associated characters from other movies with LOTR. However, it was interesting how you described being sidetracked by something in the midst of a movie when you see some sort of parallel to your story. I've been guilty of seeing something that will set me thinking about something else during a movie, so you're not the only one!
mechtild at 2005-10-16 14:17 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, it's not your usual prison film, thankfully. But, you know me. I've already begun to compare it to Book Five of HP (beleaguered friends enduring pointed bullying in an institution that seems ranged against them). I'm hopeless, I guess.

P.S. Maewyn, the latest LJ entry is, I am sure you have figured out, full of Prizoner of Azkaban spoilers. Don't look at it. You can look at the pic, though Bree Frodo reaching for the Golden Snitch). I found it on Google images when looking for a good PoA screencap. Isn't it good? I am sorry I can't credit whoever made it, it looks so realistic.
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