Lord of the Rings on the Big Screen

Peter Jackson's masterful trilogy comes to Pruneyard Cinemas
PRECIOUS: Peter Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' Trilogy screens at Pruneyard Cinemas labor day weekend.

We're just several months away from a new decade, which is one reason Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings (2001-03) trilogy will soon be considered old, no matter how vividly the films are etched in the memories of those who last saw them on a big screenÉ almost 20 years ago!

What sticks in the mind is more than just the groundbreaking technology and CGI, which allowed Shelob to crawl, or the walls of Mordor to glow radium green, or the hosts of orcs to rise from their pits by the thousands.

Human images shuffle through the mind, even if the audience almost took the amazing synthespianism in stride. (One kept forgetting that Andy Serkis' fishy Gollum, that Peter Lorre-worthy wretch, wasn't real.) It isn't really the battles that stick; it's the closeup of Liv Tyler's Arwin: "If you want himÉ come and claim him!" Ian McKellen's Gandalf, immobile, smoking his pipe and studying a gold ring; he looks at it and it looks at him, a scene as dramatic as his final roar at the Balrog. Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn, laying on the bank of a peaceful river, apparently dead, and his horse nudging him to semi-consciousness. John Noble's useless Denethor, just like all misrulers, sending out his troops at the moment when he was at his weakest; the widows to be, looking like the mourning women in a Giotto fresco, throwing flowers to their departing riders, and the horses trampling the blooms under their hooves.

Peter Jackson and writers Frances Walsh and Philippa Boyans made the trilogy pagan, not a story of Christian soldiery. Consider the notable chill and remoteness Cate Blanchett took to her work as the first film's narrator, the Virgin Mary figure Galadriel. In the book she might as well be the Blue Fairy. On screen her elfin superiority leaves her open for a nasty shock from the power of the Ring.

These are tree-hugging movies. The elf encampment at Lothlorean looks as if some architect had built a palace into a grove of Sequoias without injuring them. The wantonness of Sauron's plans are demonstrated by the uprooting of massive oaks, thrown into the pit as tinder. In rotation, with the epics Lawrence of Arabia and Apocalypse Now at Pruneyard Cinemas, is a series about what war means, in the form of fables, mirages and hallucinations; these epics testify to how war steals things that even peace itself will never be able to bring back.

Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003) play over Labor Day weekend, Aug 31-Sept 3 with special packages of prix-fixe dinners at the Pruneyard.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Aug 31-Sep 3
Pruneyard Cinemas, Campbell

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