I’m a ‘Big’ movie buff and these last several posts have been on my All Time Top 10 Favorite Movies. Now comes my top two favorite films. They both include several of what are for me, major themes that I love to see explored on film; adventure, mentors, courage, responsibility, friendship, family and relationships between men and women. And though I do enjoy comedies, and these aren’t of that genre, they have their humorous moments.
2 – Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – Rated PG-13 – Fantasy/Action/Adventure
Frodo – “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf – “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
As one of my literary mentors, I discovered Tolkien in High School. After reading The Hobbit, I was hesitant to go on to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The popular slogan “Frodo Lives!” referred to how The Hobbit’s main character, Bilbo was over taken by his “nephew” Frodo. Loathing the fact that my dear friend Bilbo was replaced in the sequel, I put off reading the trilogy for 10 years. In addition, not really having been a big reader when I was young, the combined 1,100+ pages of the three books seemed overwhelming. Since then though, I’ve read The Hobbit three or four times, and The Lord of The Rings twice. It probably won’t be too long before I read all four books again. They speak to my yearning for adventure, of daring deeds, along with providing that great “fellowship” of friends and wise counselors.
Well directed and perfectly cast, Peter Jackson has done an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the books, especially in this first film of the trilogy. The movie brings to life Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth, the characters and struggles. And the friendship of Frodo and Sam shines in the movie. As Sam says, “I made a promise, Mr Frodo. A promise. ‘Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”
Like the books, the film again helped me to explore the hunger within myself to be part of something bigger than I am. Men have a natural desire for adventure, an ache to be involved in heroic deeds and be a part of an epic story. Though we rarely admit it, we long to be part of a “fellowship” of men. Tolkien’s works have all of this and more. And Jackson did a brilliant job of infusing the films with the same spirit.
And now, for my All Time Favorite Movie:
Number 1 – It’s A Wonderful Life – Not Rated (1946) – Fantasy/Drama
From childhood, George Bailey, dreamed of traveling to exotic places, building bridges, airfields and skyscrapers; doing and experiencing great things! George has always been a dreamer. He has always wanted to get away from the “crummy little town” he grew up in. But life always seemed to sidetrack his plans. More precisely, his principles and sense of doing the right thing got in the way. He would see a need and because he was the one person able to help, he’d forfeit his wishes and did what he could see needed to be done.
The main theme of It’s A Wonderful Life is summed up by George’s guarding angel, Clarence, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Every time I see the movie, it reminds me of my place in this world and the power one life can have. I am reminded that the smallest and simplest acts of kindness can have far greater repercussions that we can ever imagine.
Many people see It’s a Wonderful Life as a ‘holiday’ movie. For me, It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t really so much a Christmas movie, as it is a “Life Centering” movie. Yes, I watch it every year as part of my pre-Christmas rituals. But for me, it’s a yearly reminder of what’s key to truly living; helping others even when it’s inconvenient, doing the right thing, the importance of family and friendship.
What’s left to say but what I’ve said many times before – George Bailey is my hero.