Monday, December 19, 2011

A Reel Anniversary: The Fellowship and Beyond

In December of 2001, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING debuted in theatres.

The release of FELLOWSHIP, which was the first chapter in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of Oscar-winning films, was a dream come true for us book and film geeks. Deemed as “un-filmable” for over fifty years, seeing the characters and fantastic environments come to life on the big screen was an unforgettable experience. It was the first film in a franchise that would win 17 of its overall 30 Oscar nominations, including THE RETURN OF THE KING's historic sweep (including Best Picture) in 2003. The three films would also gross nearly $3 billion worldwide, and become the most significant entry into pop culture since STAR WARS.

On a small scale, there was something that happened to this Blogger and his friends that we did not expect. On a cold night in December 2001, under a very Tolkien-esque sickle-moon, I and a group of close friends gathered together at the magnificent confines of Cinemark theatres in Northeast Pennsylvania to view FELLOWSHIP for the first time. We had all been friends and colleagues prior to that night, but what happened after walking out of that theatre was something that not even The Wise could have foreseen.

Our own Fellowship was born. It was a term that we all latched on to. As in the film, we all connected with the theme of “fellowship”; where several individuals out of several backgrounds and beliefs came together, and stayed together. We referred to ourselves as The Fellowship from that night on; it was a term built out of friendship, brotherhood, and love.

Over the next two years, FELLOWSHIP and the following two films played a major part in our geek-lives. The films stayed in the theatres until the spring, the summer brought along the first peeks of sneak-previews and trailers, and fall delivered the DVD’s and eventual next theatrical chapter. We scoured the internet for glimpses of the next film, collected memorabilia, re-read the books and lived the films throughout the course of the year. It was a year-long celebration that lasted three years, and an experience we had not lived through since the early days of STAR WARS. And through it all, Our Fellowship grew stronger. What made it all the more special is that we all came back together each December, at the same place to see the next film; the same company, at the same theatre, for the same thing…three years in a row.

Our Fellowship proved to be strong outside of the ring of movies and geek-stuff; we gathered for libations, helped each other out through unexpected changes, and never let one another fall into shadow. Over the winding road of time there have many comings and goings, but the core of it endures.

This Blogger remembers his Fellowship in his own way every year; in a near-vigil like tribute, watching the trilogy only once a year…always in December.

Today, as in the films, Our Fellowship stands separated by time and distance. And just like in those movies, stands strong and steadfast despite the passing years, increasing miles, and life-altering changes. It is something we were never able to wrap our minds around and define, which is perhaps the way it should be; for the most powerful and special things in life should not be answered easily. Many things have changed since 2001, but we now remember our Fellowship by passing down our love for these films to new friends, lovers, and children. One stage of our journey may be over, but another is just beginning.

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