Friday, March 26, 2004

The Lord of the Rings vs. The Lord of the Universe

"The Passion of the Christ" got me thinking. Not about the nature of sin and redemption, but of the nature of moviegoing. Over the past year or two I've done a lot of complaining about movies, specifically The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings trilogies. My basic problem is that I don't understand them.

I don't care what anyone says, The Matrix 2 & 3 are complete messes. I've heard that in order to fully understand them, you need to play the videogame and watch "The Animatrix" shorts, which help fill in the backstories. My argument was that if you have to purchase other material in order to understand a movie, then it's not a good film. Movies should be "self-contained"; everything you need to know should be somewhere on the screen.

I am willing to give The Lord of the Rings (LotR) The Benefit of the Doubt (BotD) and say that the movie ARE self-contained. That doesn't mean I understand them. Friends who have read the books think I'm insane because I can't follow the plot. There's just too much going on for me. I think it really helps to already know the story beforehand, and I felt it was paradoxical to have to know the story before you saw the story.

Now, with Passion I feel like I'm finally on the other side of the fence. I'd like to think I have an above-average understanding of the Gospels and I realize that if you don't already have a basic understanding of who the characters are, it might be a difficult movie to understand. And that was OK with me. Supopse I tried watching a Christmas movie but didn't know who Santa Claus was. Are the film-makers obligated to explain Santa to me? I don't think so.

Maybe I've been too hard on The Lord of the Rings; the problem is with me, not the movies. But The Matrix still sucks.

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