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The Return of the King (2003)
Starring: Lots.
Director: Peter Jackson
Genre: Fantasy

The end of all "Rings"


"Here are beauties which pierce like swords and burn like cold iron."
-- C.S. Lewis

As I write this, it’s 10:28 pm on December 17th. Twenty-four hours ago I was in the Regal Cinemas 14 at Short Pump, outside of Richmond Virginia, twenty-eight minutes or so into The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and more than eight hours into “Trilogy Tuesday,” an adventure in film that I was blessed (and crazy enough to want) to experience.

By now you’ve read about half a million fan reviews on the internet, paid reviews in magazines and newspapers, and the crude sort of verbal leg-humping that Harry Knowles calls reviewing. You know what people think of this film. I could tell you my opinion, but it’s less my job to do that than it is to tell you why I have the opinion I do. The trouble is, the latter requires the former. And I don’t know if I can do it. Words fail me.

This is not a flawless film. Not at all. Neither was Towers, nor Fellowship. However, the flaws are tiny, miniscule, really – and they are going to disappear on the Extended DVD. In the meantime, despite the missed beats that would add more emotional depth to the sacrifices or triumphs of some of the main characters – what we have on film now is so good that the flaws are easily forgivable. More than forgivable, really – they are immaterial.

Make no mistake – I love this film. I love it in a way that defies expository confessions. I’m a man. Things like love are easy for me to feel, but equally difficult to articulate. More than this, what point is there in heaping praise upon this film when so many others have done it already?

Twenty-four hours later, I am still haunted by the images. The residual echo of the film has created in me a sort of altered-state of consciousness. The best stories – whether presented with the written word, the spoken word, or with visual imagery – have that effect. It’s that feeling – the feeling when my second-grade teacher read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to our class, the feeling I had the first time I saw Darth Vader angrily pacing the corridors of the Death Star. The first time I saw The Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center. The first time I read The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.

That’s how I feel right now. How I have felt for the past twenty-four hours. That feeling when you know that someone has just shared with you a vision that has permanently become a part of your consciousness, that has changed the way you perceive your reality by giving you new insights into our existence.

This is why we create. Why we build skyscrapers, or plant gardens, why we write books or poetry. It is why we put paint to canvas, chisel to stone, fire to steel. It is why we sing. Because we know the magic of that feeling, and if we can inspire it in others in this world then we have perhaps given them the greatest gift of all.

There’s a reason we read books, go to art galleries, or listen to music. There’s a reason we sit in the dark and watch light projected onto a swath of white fabric. The Return of the King does more than remind us of that reason.

It embodies it.

- Keyser Sushi

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