Today September 22 (by Counting or other), Brands the twin birthdays of two of the best halflings in all fantasy fiction: Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, ring bearers, heroes of Middle-eearth, and food loverbeer pipeweed, and books. But while their round trips are highly regarded, one of their greatest summits together is our first introduction to their world in that of Peter Jackson the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The Shire is not the real opening to Fellowship of the Ring, sure. As all the good stuff the Lord of the Rings, it takes a little while to get there, regardless of which cut of movie you are watching. First, we need to hear Galadriel tell the story of the Rings of Power. and their master of darkness, the final battle of the Last Alliance, and see Elrond implore Isildur to destroy a ring that we know is already lost against. In the extended cup there is still a bit more when we see the pride of Isildur paid in blood and how the One Ring floated from the heir to the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor and into the pocket of ‘a certain Shirefolk. Only then, after all these panoramic views of the Magic Rings, the ancient evils, an epic battle between good and evil, the great drama and the greatest tragedy, that Camaraderie actually begins. With a map, the one that walks away from all this action and heads to the tiny pastoral lands of the Shire, and we’re even further away, to the simple, messy comforts of Bag End.
It’s a stark contrast, to be immediately pulled away from the fading brown-gray tones of the fields before Mount Doom, and into the intimate lens of Bilbo’s home. This intimacy continues, even as we move from Bilbo to our focused attention as a narrator to our true introduction to the Shire and its people, the Hobbits. Gone are the bursts of arrows – bristling as they fly through the ranks of Elves and Men – replaced by the flight of fields of grass and wheat in a gentle breeze. Shiny armor replaced by revisions, flannel and floral dresses, shields and helmets replaced by ruffles and bonnets. There are no orcs, only Hobbits, who smoke, laugh, drink, play, work. A peaceful the people and a celebration of the calm won in the fury of the battle that we were watching unfold just minutes before. The most monstrous sight in the whole county is not an orc or a dark lord, but maybe a cow.
So many cows.
Accompanied by Howard Shore’s Beloved, instantly deworming “Concerning Hobbits” – light, airy strings contrasting with the grandiloquent brass and choral chants of the Battle of the Last Alliance – it’s a master class in staging. Instantly, you are introduced to the world of the Shire and its people, and just as quickly, you are made aware of how alien the world of conflict around them is. They are not warriors or great peacekeepersBilbo tells us as he writes his own story in prose: they are simply livers of life, symbolic of a peace that has lasted for generations at this stage. The County becomes Camaraderie, and the trilogy in general, happy place.
When Frodo and his friends find themselves ripped from the life they knew by Gandalf and embark on a battle against the mightiest of evils, each time they are about to fail in their quest to destroy the Ring , it is “Concerning Hobbits” which is making a strong comeback. Shore’s score. He is there to remind us of those opening moments – the improbable beginnings Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin it all came, reminding them (and us) of what to expect once their quest is over, inspiring them to the heroism they all achieve. We present the Shire in this way, an idyllic view of a life that could be – more at homey, more love, more warm that any of the epic scenic vistas to come along the trilogy’s long path to the Shire by the end of Return of the king– we are given an image to remember throughout the ups and downs of the saga.
“For things are made to last in the Shire,” Bilbo’s narration tells us, as the ropes swell, and Gandalf and Frodo continue their journey through Hobbiton in the wizard’s rickety cart, “passing from generation to generation. the other”. He may be talking about his and Frodo’s home in Cul-de-Sac, but in reality it’s about that romantic world where our unlikely heroes come from, the peace they fight for and the the beauty of the fact that Hobbits have lived this ideal for generations. them, and will do so for generations afterward.
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