I've mentioned Graydon a couple of times in this journal, and his wonderful LotR commentary, and he has been kind enough to let me quote this wonderful mediation on the movie to give you some idea of why I want a Graydon commentary track to go with my DVD. Please don't copy without his permission.
From: Graydon <email@example.com> X-Copyright0: Copyright 2002 Graydon Saunders X-Copyright1: All rights reserved. X-Copyright2: Permission granted for quoting in usenet articles X-Copyright3: Permission granted for quoting in personal email
The thing I find that I like so much, after my own repeated viewings, is that the movie is suffused with competence.
There's the enormous competence that went to _build_ the thing, surely, in all its material details, but there is more than that.
My sample set of movies is very small, but, usually, it is not so; skills are specific, the hero fights well but bumbles at other things, the women do poorly dealing with physical assaults, and people are often idiots for plot reasons, and being smart is not a good sign.
This thing, though; there isn't an idiot in it.
Bilbo can really cook; the wizard knows to lift the teapot lid, and how to make small children smile, and how to dance. Bilbo is indeed a scholar, and _does_ finish his book, no light thing to have done. The hero speaks a lot of languages, and knows old lore, and has the rule of himself above the measure of mortal men -- when the council dissolves into argument, Aragorn stays in his chair -- and has a sense of humour about the second breakfast he perfectly well did know about, and when the Love Interest is better than he is at doing something very dangerous he says 'ride hard' and swallows his heart and gets out of her way, that she might do it. The Love Interest has got more competent in the script than the text, or at least got some new areas of competence being emphasized, and _she's_ telling the Hero what she wants out of the relationship.
He believes her.
The Bruiser turns out to be really empathic, compasionate, and desperately afraid _and admits it_. No one laughs; no one offers a platitude. He fights all the same like that mad paragon of desparate defenses, Count Roland, who also got little good of winding a horn.
The food in the pan at the campfire looks good; the water gets poured on the fire from the right height, and at the right rate, to put the fire out. The curve the arms and the twist of the shoulder, paddling the elf boats of Lorien down the broad Anduin is the same real thing that one does with a canoe, a real motion to a real end.
They, all of them, fight like heros, even the hobbits in their waist coats and wooly scarves. (they do, too, and not stupidly. Boromir's lessons seem to have stuck.) There is one flash in Moria (I think it's Moria; this one is hard to catch) of an orc ducking under Boromir's sword -- which is in another orc -- under the curve of his sword arm; that's not a bad thing to try, against someone with long arms and a long sword, since they can't reach you very well, and you can get a knife under their ribs. Boromir brings that great big head-breaking pommel his sword has down on the orc's head, and it drops like the prototypical cut-stringed puppet; Boromir's face has on it, plain as day, 'I know that trick, Mr. Orc' (or similar idiomatic equivalent, adjusted for Gondor). It's a flash; it's gone.
Any other movie I have ever seen would make a point of such a thing, would show it off; this one, it goes by, assumed.
These _are_ the hero children of the Northern World; they are no more afraid of their hearts than they are of the legions of Mordor, and they have a joy of the wit that is in them.
This _is_ the light under the darkness in the tales as it was written, also; it is the right light, though it be thought the light of days far off, the days of a made world and not a happened, for this naught that has happened to say that our days might not also be them so.