Tim’s continuing recovery from the horrid mystery illness I have dubbed ‘Half Day Disease’ necessitated yesterday evening a Lord of the Rings pajama party. Under the circumstances this involved neither partying nor matching Lord of the Rings pajamas (I wish), but rather a kind of film-related slump with copious amounts of magic vitamin juice.
It’s been a long time since I last saw The Fellowship of the Ring, but I reacquainted myself with Frodo’s dopey face, Gandalf’s twinkly one-liners and the magnificent score during the dwarf-hall scene as though with old friends. During my first year of sixth form we were utterly obsessed with this film: I think in the months leading up to its release we spent more on copies of Empire Magazine than we did on lunch. Naturally we divided ourselves into the Legolas and Frodo camps, though in retrospect the lack of an Aragorn Appreciation Society seems like a serious oversight. Perhaps he had too much hair to win the hearts of seventeen-year-olds. When we finally went to see it, the first night it came out, we were overcome to the extent that a dumpy woman in black sat in front of us mistook our sobs for laughter, and roundly abused us in the foyer afterwards for ‘ruining her cinema experience’. Unfeeling nitwit.
I still cry at Fellowship, but I’ve discovered that it’s not the sad event itself starting the flood, but the sight of other characters crying. Gandalf won’t get a twitch out of me as he tumbles into the abyss, wild grey mop a-flying, but start up that wailing music and those little hobbit tears just afterwards and I’ll start to feel my eyes prickle. Boromir can take as many arrows in the chest as he likes, but I don’t break down completely until Aragorn gets a few manly trickles down his manly beard. I hoped this would make me an empathetic soul, sensitive to the pain of others; Tim labelled me an ’emotive sheep’ instead. I choose to interpret this as jealousy because he has never cried at a film in his life, though he did inform me at one point that he was ‘crying inside’.
Remembering the offended harpy at the cinema seven years ago, I asked whether his ‘crying inside’ had disturbed anyone else in the theatre when he first saw the film. Oh no, he didn’t cry inside back then, he said. It didn’t occur to him to cry inside until he got married, and his wife kept demanding indignantly why he wasn’t crying at ALL during a sad film. It’s a useful response: you can cry inside without ruining your reputation or your manly beard.
And who says men don’t learn to emote within marriage?!
PS: I finished We Need to Talk About Kevin. Oh, the horror. I’ve been thoroughly disturbed all weekend, but its sheer persistence in my head only reinforces how impressive it was. Go read it! But don’t follow it with the death scenes in LoTR, because that way misery lies…