It’s the morning after the night when many Tolkien fans throughout the world lined up for our first look at The Two Towers. So how are we all feeling?
Relief. What a relief. We’ve seen it, at last, after so many months and years of waiting, and generally the impression I’m getting is that people are very happy with the movie, and it was worth the wait. People are shaken and moved by it – it’s not a happy movie, but it’s done with a passionate sense of purpose and dedication. Whatever quibbles we might have with some details, the overall sense is that it is a great work. ‘Overall sense’ is right, because most people are saying that they have to see it again, they need time to digest it and understand it. I think that FOTR taught us that we have to see Peter Jackson’s Rings movies in a new way. You don’t swallow them at a gulp. I doubt many people could get much out of seeing TTT if they hadn’t seen FOTR and didn’t know the books at all. It demands your concentration. I’m reminded of Wagner’s Ring cycle, not because it’s about a Ring nor because the story takes place over 4 operas, but because the story is told in such a complex, layered way, relying on words, on melody, on leitmotifs that you must memorise and on action. Most Wagner opera buffs do a great deal of background reading and listening so that when they finally see it staged, they’ll appreciate the totality of it. Peter Jackson’s Rings movies are like that. We won’t know how we feel about TTT until we’ve seen it a few more times and thought about it some more. Interestingly enough, there were many scenes in TTT where I found myself thinking ‘oh, this is a bit rushed but I bet it’ll all come clear in the extended DVD.’ So we’ve learned to wait and trust a little more, since last year, because it turned out that there was so much more of the story that we KNEW, waiting for us on the extended DVD.

I’m churning my way through the reviews that are being sent in to the site – part of a long process that will go on for months. Hundreds have come in so far and the response is very positive. People are excited and awed, and list dozens of scenes that they thought were perfect or amazing. There’s a lot of agreement that the changes to Faramir’s character don’t really appeal though, and the scenes with the Ents seem rushed so that their story with Merry and Pippin doesn’t develop in a realistic way. Other changes such as the scenes with Arwen have been widely accepted and enjoyed. Almost everyone raves about Gollum and the battle of Helm’s Deep, and they love all the things they loved about the last movie – the epic sweep, the grand landscapes and so on.

This morning the website seems to have closed shop after posting a bunch of reviews and an update – we’re all presumably catching up on sleep or wading through today’s email, which has doubled from the usual spate into something that feels like one of those flattening waves known as ‘dumpers.’ I feel we owe our readers and our correspondents an apology. We used to pride ourselves on answering every single email, even if it was just a simple thank-you note. Now it just isn’t always possible, though we continue to try. So I apologise to any of you that the pressure of time has forced us to neglect.

It has been a great pleasure to share the long wait for these movies with so many ardent fans. I hope we have a great time waiting for the last movie, and that we have much to celebrate in the year to come.