Bethany and I just finished watching “The Two Towers” last night, and boy, did it speak to me. It is difficult to overestimate the affection I have for epics. I really, really, really love them. They encompass so much of what is good in cinema. Big, sweeping plots, usually with transcendent causes. This in place of the often minimal plot and end of your average movie. Romance, but not in the cheap, sex-saturated way. More in a meaningful, bounded, wondrous way–modest romance. Bravery and honor, not of the kind fashioned in ethics-less streets, but of the time-honored variety. Epics have all these things and more.
While we’re on it, “Lord of the Rings” is the most incredible set of movies ever conceived. Nothing comes close to it. It is the most satisfying piece of cinema I’ve ever encountered. Of course, for this we must give credit to Mr. Tolkien. Somehow, he was able to weave in a powerful redemption story, a major romance, a war of massive proportions, many different histories, and do it without the slightest touch of boredom or indulgence. Some books and movies just make you come alive. LOTR does that. And it does so against a thoroughly moral backdrop. The postmodern world has little to offer us with its tales of “complexity” and “confusion.” Such stories pale to white when compared with the grand morals-fueled universes of Middle Earth and Narnia. Where there is evil, good must fight; where there is good, evil must take flight. Such is the compelling drama of the epic.
Secretly (in a world of blogs, not so secretly), every man wishes to be the hero. This life of papers and files, pens and meetings can all get a bit frustrating, and a man yearns when he sees LOTR and others for a few orcs to slay. Yes, as one of the Best Things in the World, epic movies lift us off our feet for a few moments, and let us imagine the world as it might be.