“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
— J.R.R.Tolkien, Return of the King, “The Grey Havens”
“I did’t think it would end this way.”
“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back and all change to silver glass….and then you see it.”
“What, Gandalf? See what?”
“White shores and beyond. The far green country under a swift sunrise.”
“Well, that isn’t so bad.”
“No, no it isn’t.”
— Pippin and Gandalf discussing death and “a far green country under a swift sunrise”,
from the Return of the King motion picture
We bought the Return of the King Extended Edition DVD set for the family as a Christmas gift. As I’ve been writing and recovering from being sick, I’ve usually put in one of the extra documentary disks as background noise. It’s a nice short mental break when I need it — I look up and find out some little interesting bit of movie magic, then go back to my writing.
This time, though, I’ve found myself far more moved by the appendices than I was on the first two films. Partly, this is because the third movie was by all appearances so much more stressful on everyone involved and they’ve let that come through in the appendices. It’s not all “one big happy family” like it was portrayed on the first two movies; they let you see the sniping and the exasperation and the desperate struggles to put this immense movie together on time.
What it simply comes down to, though, is that this is the end of this project. I’ve been looking forward to LotR for five years, and when I sat in the theater last Christmas and watched Return of the King I immediately consoled myself with the thought, “Ah, but the DVD is coming out in the middle of the year, and then the Extended set sometime after that.” We got the theatrical release DVD when it came out, watched it, and thought, “And now the Extended DVD.”
Now we have it, and I’ve watched it. There’s no more coming. This is the end of this journy and I am saddened. I didn’t realize how much of a Tolkien geek I really was at heart until I began talking about LotR with Stephanie and explaining to her all the neat cool bits that Jackson got right. I am grateful he did such a wonderful job but I wasn’t ready for it to end and I can’t help but feel a little like Pippin and Merry and Sam, standing on the docks of the Grey Havens, watching the ship carrying Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, and the Elves disappear into the West.