January 28, 2003

Film from heaven, audience from hell

James Lileks saw the Two Towers. The movie passed his (not really very high -- Nemesis? Eek!) Geek Meter of Approval. The audience did not. I must say that I have been lucky each time (only three! shut up) I saw the movie that I had a pretty decent audience. Even if there were irritating giggles at some of Gollum's speeches, they all shared this characteristic: during the last scene of the movie, which is where Gollum has his final, going-back-to-the-Dark-Side speech, there was Absolute. Dead. Silence. I mean it, you couldn't hear a pin drop. It wasn't because everyone had fallen asleep out of boredom either: as the credits started and the lights came up, instead of springing up from their chairs like chickens released from a crate the way most movie-goers tend to do at the start of credits, the audiences to this movie got up slowly and thoughtfully. Anyway -- if there was any absurd pantomime being done by anyone at the theaters I was at, it was out of my field of vision.

I agree about the disappointment of the "Tolkien-inspired" Led Zeppelin lyrics, but not because they were inspired by Tolkien -- it was because they sucked. Led Zeppelin's lyrics were hardly their strong point. "Squeeze my lemon, baby, 'til the juice runs down my leg..."

Posted by Andrea Harris at January 28, 2003 12:51 AM

"Squeeze my lemons" is actually taken directly from a song by blues master Robert Johnson, written in the 1930s.

The lyrics for stuff like "The Battle of Evermore" aren't all that bad. They aren't all that wonderful either, but they're evocative enough I'd say.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at January 28, 2003 at 05:43 AM

By the way, Lileks has it wrong. "Misty Mountain Hop" is hardly LOTR inspired, but "Battle of Evermore" is, however:

Queen of Light took her bow,
And then she turned to go,
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom, And walked the night alone.

Oh, dance in the dark of night,
Sing to the morning light.
The dark Lord rides in force tonight,
And time will tell us all.

Oh, throw down your plow and hoe,
Rest not to lock your homes.

Side by side we wait the might of the darkest of them all.

I hear the horses' thunder down in the valley blow,
I'm waiting for the angels of Avalon, waiting for the eastern glow.

The apples of the valley hold, The seeds of happiness,
The ground is rich from tender care, Repay, do not forget, no, no.
Dance in the dark of night, sing to the morning light.

The apples turn to brown and black, The tyrant's face is red.

Oh the war is common cry,
Pick up your swords and fly.
The sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know.

Oh, well, the night is long the beads of time pass slow,

Tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow.

The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath,

The drums will shake the castle wall, the ring wraiths ride in black, Ride on.

Sing as you raise your bow, shoot straighter than before.

No comfort has the fire at night that lights the face so cold.

Oh dance in the dark of night, Sing to the morning light.

The magic runes are writ in gold to bring the balance back. Bring it back.

At last the sun is shining, The clouds of blue roll by,

With flames from the dragon of darkness, the sunlight blinds his eyes.

Hardly a masterpiece of lyricism, but reasonably evocative within the musical arrangement they wrote.

"Misty Mountain Hop" is mostly about walking in the park and visiting friends, although there's a line in there near the end about going to the Misty Mountains where the spirits go, but it's otherwise not even mythological, let alone about LOTR.

And by the way, despite all this, I'm not a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I do like them, but I'm not a worshipper at their alter.

Just, y'know, being an anal-retentive correcter of the record. ;-)

Posted by: Dean Esmay at January 28, 2003 at 06:15 AM

"Ramble on" also has LOTR-inspired lyrics.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 28, 2003 at 09:14 AM

Don't fret about seeing it thrice -- we've seen it twice and we'd do it again too! That is, if time and money weren't such a precious commodity this time of year. :)

Posted by: Leigh-Anne at January 28, 2003 at 09:43 AM

Andrea's right; "Ramble On" is what I was thinking of:

Mine's a tale that can't be told
My freedom I hold dear
How years ago in days of old
When magic filled the air
T'was in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up
And slipped away with her her

Yes, let's all go to Mordor, and pick up some chicks.

Posted by: lileks at January 28, 2003 at 10:03 AM

Hmm... I just had an inspiration: "Club Mordor, featuring Goth, Industrial, and Darkwave." Goth chicks will flock to it.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 28, 2003 at 10:18 AM

Actually, I thought the giggling during the early Gollum stuff was appropriate. I think that's exactly what Tolkien intended - "this is funny, sad, and sick all at the same time." - As a lot of evil is.

Posted by: Yahmdallah at January 28, 2003 at 10:34 AM

Alas, when I saw the film, during Gollum's final scene, the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned cellphone of the imbecilic woman across the aisle from me rang! And she had the impertinence to start talking to it!! Lucky for her that she got up and left (still talking) or else my wife and I would have strangled her, yes, precious!

Posted by: Brian Swisher at January 28, 2003 at 11:11 AM

When I saw it, the audience giggled during the "leave now and never come back" scene. I swear, there isn't a can big enough to hold the whoop-ass I was holding back...

Posted by: David Ross at January 28, 2003 at 12:46 PM

Club Mordor! Its black gates are guarded by more than just orcs; there's also a couple of gay-looking trolls in black turtlenecks who won't let you past the velvet rope if they don't like your clothes.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek at January 28, 2003 at 12:56 PM

Looks like Dave Barry also saw this movie...

Posted by: Dan Winkler at January 28, 2003 at 01:16 PM

Saw it for the third time on Sunday, and this time we were spared the teenybopper Legolas and Haldir fans :)

Posted by: Ith at January 28, 2003 at 02:56 PM

I've seen it 7 times, and plan to keep going once a week while it's still playing. I have never had a movie make such an impact on me.

"Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not."

Posted by: Kay at January 28, 2003 at 07:59 PM

Holy Hell Andrea!

You & your pards sure love that Tolkein film!

When are you gonna start writing about Spaghetti Westerns?

PS: Ramble On is a great tune! But when Led Zep sing that sort of gear I think of Spinal Tap.

Posted by: Tony.T at January 28, 2003 at 09:25 PM

I'll leave the Spaghetti Westerns to you, Tony.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 28, 2003 at 10:18 PM

Thanks for the correction on Misty Mountain Hop. I was very confused for a moment there.

Posted by: IB Bill at January 28, 2003 at 11:00 PM

"Ramble On" is the heart of mythos, truth from the center of the is, the wind and current that hurtle us down the River of Time. Ride.

Posted by: Robert Speirs at January 29, 2003 at 10:48 AM

I've seen it four times. So far, the only bad audience experience was on the last viewing, when two gay kids in the back row kept making sexual comments towards Frodo.

... oh wait, that was me. He's so dreamy...

Posted by: Sean Kirby at January 30, 2003 at 12:29 AM