I am now old enough to stop trying to pretend that I can fool people into thinking I’m not a geek. Read that again because it is both well constructed and important. If you don’t like geeks, you aren’t going to like this.
On the Saturday before the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I, along with my family, committed the ultimate act of committed geekdom: we attended the Lord of the Rings Marathon at our local theater. All three Lord of the Rings Extended Versions on The Big Screen.
12 hours of movie.
14 hours at the theater.
One Ticket to Rule Them All.
Being a True Fan, I arrived slightly ahead of the rest of the 25 people who attended. We got good seats.
The end result was an insane theater food bill, a little bit of a headache, and an AWESOME day watching an extremely well told 12 hour story. Only five days later, it was time for the midnight premiere of The Hobbit. I organized family and friends and ultimately had a group of 11 people ready with pre-purchased tickets for The Hobbit midnight show.
My daughter attended wearing an awesome homemade Galadriel costume. I suggested to her that I could go as Gandalf, but she had a better idea: Go as director Peter Jackson.
It’s amazing what black dye, a flannel shirt, round glasses, and a faux Oscar can do to transform your appearance. By being Mr. Tolkien Movie, I had ample opportunity to rub elbows with die hard fans. I also got to try out my hard-won Kiwi accent. (Tip: always say “Hobbit” so that it sounds like a question, and pronounce it haaaw-BET)
This gentleman (whom I dubbed “Tall Paul”) helped me look more like I am Peter Jackson’s height. He was also the first person that evening to ask for my autograph, which I, of course, politely obliged.
Other fans, like these three, were in full regalia. Gandalf and Galadriel were having fun, but Faux Arwen maintained a cool Elvish composure that never broke for a second.
I also found out that Gimli wasn’t lying in The Two Towers, there really are Dwarf women… and Aragorn was right about the beards.
The bottom line of the experience is that Hobbit fans are overwhelmingly decent people. There were no fist fights nor disputes over places in line. During the hours of waiting, corralled into our respective queues, people swapped stories, played with their Rubik’s Cubes, shared cell phone chargers, ate junk food, and admired each others Elf ears. I’m not certain about the 3 guys who wore Darth Vader masks, but they were treated with a cautious kindness as well.
Truth is, the actual Peter Jackson and All Things Tolkien are more than just movies, they are a cultural phenomenon. Personally, I think that’s why many movie reviewers failed to understand the potential for fun that is held by The Hobbit becoming 3 movies, something I knew long ago and wrote about here. I’m going to review the movie soon, right after I see it for the second time.
For the second viewing, it will be a much simpler affair… no Peter Jackson outfit, no faux Oscar… just a simple t-shirt and a bag of popcorn.