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The fantasy world of my generation

 

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For the second year in a row going to the movies has been a festive thing to do around Christmas. Why? Because “The Hobbit”, that is why. I dear you to try and find a better reason.

Me and my partner have been yesterday in Tower Park, Poole, to watch it and, as I have already mentioned on Facebook, I came back with such a good energy that I did ALL the dishes myself, hand-washing, without a flickering thought in my head to try and avoid it. And if this doesn’t say a lot, I don’t know what will.
Not to mention that I had such a good, deep, relaxing sleep, waking up after almost 10 hours (which I have not really been able to do lately, work or no work involved), with such great dreams, that I have to link it to something out of the ordinary.

Now that I have mentioned the possible effects of the last part of the trilogy, I can go on and tell you a couple of things about it, trying to control myself and not spoil it for you, although this would be hard. Maybe come back and read after you have seen it as well. But then, why would you bother? I guess there won’t be anything I could add as to make the movie better or worse.
However, for the movie passionate, finding out about what others see in them can be a way of extending the joy and fun. So here we go.

Let’s start with the little guy who gives the name of the original book, as well as the name of the trilogy: the hobbit, here for you, Bilbo Baggins. There is not much to tell of the halflings, other that they have no special abilities, can’t fight, and love their homeland above all. And yet…
In this last part, as in the previous two, Bilbo continues to be the most adaptable of them all, the one who finds a way to go where others can’t without bigger risks. He is a burglar after all, isn’t he? One specialized with the art of breaking locks and opening closed doors. And yes, he keeps at it and he still has the best humour in the whole movie, him and his good friend Gandalf.

But that is not all. Bilbo dares to do what others can’t. Being the new friend, without old ties to the whole group, and at the same time not being a dwarf who has to be loyal to his king’s wish, Bilbo can push things where the others can’t, even if they all see what is going on and how mind racking the power of gold is.
I won’t tell you more, as I really do not want to spoil one of the most dramatic story lines of the movie.

What of the others then? Be them elves or dwarves, they are all fascinating in their own ways, but when their ways come to impose themselves and vanities flair up, they turn  ugly in their unreasonable and arrogant attitudes. They prove all the same ready to burn down the world only so that they can claim what was meant to be theirs, but taken by a common enemy, undefeated until now. And there is no time for patience, negotiation and finding common grounds. They want it now and they will start a war to have it.
In the end, aren’t Tolkien’s books in essence speaking of this, how destructive and absurd wars are, but at the same time how people can come together and prove qualities which in time of peace they might not have deemed possible in themselves? And isn’t such a harsh and absurd situation as war also a test for true friendship, devotion and courage?

After all, look around you. In today’s world, we can see people blaming one another for everything that goes wrong and, mostly, for what they think they are entitled to possess. This subtle hatred that is spurred of British people towards immigrants, between the Western world and the Middle East, of Gipsies and of Eastern Europeans, is mostly based on fear to lose the comfort and financial prosperity people want and feel they are entitled to. “The Hobbit” might be a fantasy movie, but, just like all fantasies and fairy tales, is deeply rooted in the real world.

So I myself see the same kind of despise and arrogance in the way dwarves and elves perceive each other. The dwarves, with their hearty, “what you see is what you get”, loud and jolly ways, very stubborn and ready to get into a fight for the fight’s sake, and shake hands afterwards, are the complete opposite of the very composed, very rational, elegant and aristocratic elves. But both creatures value loyalty and courage. And both are as determined when they want something as they are stubborn beyond reason.
Under the circumstances, the love story between an elf lady, Tauriel, and the dwarf Kili comes as a bonus for me, although it was an addition in the movie. Shamefully, I have not read the books yet, but I intend to and I must. However, I have read about the books as being a big fan of the movies so far.

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In this last part of the trilogy, there isn’t much time for love. Once the dragon is down, the people of the Lake Town go back to the mountain to rebuild, the dwarves are busy with the treasure, the elves want their gems back and all of them are on the brink of starting a war. Only that one stupid conflict comes to an end with a real threat from the orc armies. Everything is alert, no time to stop and smell the roses whatsoever, and the in love elf and dwarf part on the lake shore, with tearful eyes, only to meet again in fight with a force that seems undefeatable.
While this is somehow a Romeo and Juliet tale introduced by Peter Jackson, it is not only that. The two love each other despite being different creatures and despite the hatred between their kin. However, this is not all. Legolas himself, the Elf Prince, is in love with Tauriel, as we could suspect in the first two movies. And here comes that part about devotion, even if the one you love cannot love you back the same way. While Tauriel leaves her kin to fight with the dwarf to start with, Legolas himself stands by her side until the end, disregarding his father’s wish to retreat from the battle. It’s a beautiful side story, and the way the relation between father (Thranduil) and son (Legolas) unfolds is also a good addition.

The last part of the trilogy is as alert as it gets. Once war starts, there is no moment to catch your breath, your eyes are gasping at the very elaborate battle scenes and those of individual fights, such as first Tauriel against Bolg, who defeats her, then Legolas against the same Orc leader, or Thorin against Azog. Even more than the big clashes between armies, these individual battles are intense, with some unpredictable twists and turns and very well rendered by use of visual effects.
Now here is something that some criticised in the movie: too much computer work, too many visual effects, too much green screen (at least that was what Ian McKellen repeatedly found difficult and I completely understand him, as an actor who comes with a long theatre experience), too much of the 3D stuff. Well, I disagree.

For a generation of people who grew up with the classic computer games such as Heroes III or Age of Empires, Pharaoh and Caesar, World of Warcraft and Starcraft, which all started with basic visuals only for some to develop to today’s versions, all with computer animation movies for each of the chapters, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is just our fantasy worlds coming alive. While I am not the greatest gamer alive, I still play on my laptop from time to time and I can only say that, as somebody who used to treat themselves to an all-night session at local internet café’s when I did not own a laptop back in Romania, seeing the Dwarf leader riding a boar made me jump with joy whispering “Look, A., it’s just like in Heroes!”. A bit of a child still in me, I must admit.

But at the same time I would ask the ones who criticise on these grounds: when you have all of this technology to use, why not put it to work in building a fantasy world? What better use would be for it on the screen? You want a realistic movie, you watch a realistic drama. You want something else, you expect a lot of visual effects, don’t you?

And now, to conclude, and please be aware that I will make it a bit of a spoiler, I must say that the end of the movie is as sad as optimistic at the same time. They have lost friends and loved ones, people to whom they never had the chance to tell how they felt for them. They have all been shaken deeply. But at the same time they have the memories of their adventures and battles fought together to last for a life time.
Even for the ones that died, what better death would be than to be able to tell your friends who survived “go, plant your trees and watch them grow”?

All of these, and probably more, all reason for me to keep being a fan of Jackson’s movies. And when this last part of the trilogy ended, I told my partner now I have to go back and see Lord of the Rings again, as well as, finally, read the books.

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Those summer nights

Do you remember those summer nights, each of them holding a secret call, a whisper floating at the atomic level or just surrounding everything in an invisible pulsating halo? For me, those were the nights of my late childhood and teenage years. There was always something out there in air, something untouchable and yet so close, like an imperceptible flutter of wings.
No wonder I ended up a night person, a strange kind of a night bird, with the bad habits of roaming the internet and sometimes just looking at the ceiling and my mind drifting away. Less now, oh, the age… (laziness is what’s killing me, I could do so much better with reading when I’m in my night mood, actually).

What made me go back to those crazy nights was Depeche Mode and all the rest of the music in my early-middle 90’s. Or maybe it’s just the rain that poured down today which made me crave for summer.
1991 was one of the best years I’ve ever had. The group of friends I had back in my parents’ village became a brotherhood, we were almost never apart (except for school days lol) and nobody was dating another in the gang. Years before, we used to get together a big bunch of kids, sometimes even 20 of us, and play hide and seek at sunset until it got dark and our parents were shouting at us to get home alright or else. It was much more fun when nobody could really see whom they were seeking and they’d more or less have to guess. To make it even harder, we used to swap our jumpers or cardigans so that the seeker couldn’t tell us apart. If they made a mistake, they just had to seek again. Quite a harsh task, when we were more than 15 playing they would for sure be the seeker for the night, no chance to pass it to another.

But then we grew up a little, we started dating among the gang, there was even this one guy who dated all of the girls and later on, in the coming years, we’d just sit down for a chat in a lazy hot summer afternoon and have a laugh about how it was when he first invited one us to dance or the first kiss. No, it wasn’t just us girls chatting, it was with him as well. He turned, from early Don Juan, into the charming best friend (I know you can hardly believe it possible, I wouldn’t either).
In 1991 I was studying to pass the admission exam into High School. I did study hard, but I did have lots of fun as well. Saturday and Sunday afternoons were for the brotherhood, and in that year the local pubs weren’t so popular yet, I can hardly remember if any was really open, and yes, I know we were under 18, but it was acceptable back then and we did used to hang out, a year later, in the pub which was also the local disco.

The afternoons in that golden year would just catch us chatting and always doing something silly funny. I remember one rainy Sunday we sheltered under the roof of one house in the street were we usually gathered, the Maths teacher and his wife, Geography teacher, lived there, and she came out to feed the geese which were roaming in the street as well, and she saw us. She laughed, saying “are you soaking wet or is the roof helping at all?”, and then adding she could hear us earlier, she didn’t mind, it just amused her. Well, truth is nobody ever chased us away.
The summer came. That blessed summer when my dad made for us a table for playing tennis, and it filled half of the yard between the main house and the small summer kitchen, sheltered by clinging vines which kept a cooling shadow over. We used to play for hours and the recorder in the hallway fed us all our favourite music. Two bands distinctively stood out: Depeche Mode and Roxette.

It was that year that I had my first coffee sickness as well, this is such a silly story. My mum asked us all if we fancied coffee, we were like 10 kids in the yard, I mean 14-16 years old at the time, and we did all wanted a cup. Thing is most of us didn’t finish their coffees. Me and a friend, O., had a brilliant idea: why don’t we finish it for them? Genius! 20 minutes later, who was having strong heart bits, headache and felt the ground running from under their feet? Me and O. Mum took us inside and made us lay down for half an hour or so, the heroes of the day.

When my dad brought the first video player we watched all the worse action movies of the 90’s, Van Damme was our favourite, we all loved karate action and the good universal soldier hero. There was only one rule: we had to be nice and quiet whilst inside. We all crammed into that small lounge, some on the sofas, some of us on the floor, watched the movie, and then went out quietly.
Every now and then there would be visitors in my parents’ house, either for my father, who’s the priest in the village, or for my mother, who studied alternative medicine practice in the early 90’s and people would come for advice and Chinese massage treatment. In order to get out of the small lounge we had to pass through another room, where my parents would usually sit down with their visitors. They would ask if we’re the priest’s and his wife’s children, and my parents would say yes, we are. One, two… four, five. When it got to six the people couldn’t usually hold their amazement anymore, spared by my mum’s or dad’s explanation: the whole gang was their soul children.

One year later, at the beginning of summer, I got my first boyfriend whom I was in a relation with for four years and the whole brotherhood broke. Not because of me, come on, I wasn’t the only one getting steady. My neighbour became my best friend again (she was never part of the gang), I used to hang out a lot with her when 12, and her cousin was now that steady boyfriend of mine.
It’s fun now to remember all these. Listening to some Euro dance music from that decade, I don’t really remember all my romantic butterflies and projections and plans to get married to my one and only true love (oh, well, I went to college and he turned out not to be the love of my life after all). It just gives me that feeling of utter silliness, of just sticking my nose out in the real world of grown-ups and thinking that having one or two glasses of alcohol and smoking at every Saturday night disco was sooooo cool.
All the silly dreams, pains and suffering of the teenage years seem like sweet madness, the haze of a light and curious heart, and the restlessness of an idealistic mind meeting the world of grown-ups pragmatism.

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