Film Highlight: Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The Riverview presents its fifth annual screening of the complete Rings trilogy, including the extended director's cuts of the first two films. In this Academy Award-winning adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's phantasie classicke, you've got your quest; your quester (Elijah Wood); a sturdy Fellowship of man, elf, and dwarf along for the trip; and enough cash to forgive the debt of sub-Saharan Africa. And how's this for Zeitgeist-rocking good luck? The voiceover that begins the movie tells of an "ancient evil" (that's Sauron) from "the East" encroaching upon the free people of the West (Frodo and crew)! To his credit, New Zealand horror wiz Peter Jackson lets his directorial sensibility sneak in--and he makes the thing look really, really cool to boot. In part two, The Two Towers, the international alliance of elves, dwarves, and men--led from a distance by Wood's Frodo--is menaced by Dark Lord Sauron, who would like nothing more than to plunge pastoral Middle Earth (a.k.a. New Zealand) into "the fires of industry." All characters are measured against their bravery in battle, and director Jackson even includes a token female (Miranda Otto), who wants to fight but is restrained by the king. The third and final epic, Return of the King, handles the duties of tying up the saga and disbanding the collective reasonably well, moving from the gray ruins of Isengard to the besieged cities of Gondor, and, of course, following Frodo and Sam to the roiling fires of Mount Doom.

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