Elvish Has Left The Building

‎”The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”

Whenever I hear those words, chills course down my spine, because it means The Fellowship Of The Ring, the first movie in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, is just beginning. LOTR is one of my favorite movies – and books – of all time. I have my grandmother to thank; one summer my brother and I spent a few weeks visiting her in Trenton, and every night she would read to us a chapter from The Hobbit. I fell in love with Tolkien‘s imaginary world of hobbits and elves and dwarves. Craving more adventures in Middle Earth, I next immersed myself in the LOTR trilogy, which I quickly learned was much darker than The Hobbit – and a powerful and emotional read. That series of books is directly responsible for instilling in me a love of words and a passion for reading (and writing). So, when Peter Jackson’s trilogy of movies hit theaters starting a decade ago, I was ecstatic. And nervous that he wouldn’t do them justice, but those fears were unnecessary. Despite minor annoyance over one missing character (where, oh where are you, Tom Bombadil?), the films are incredible, and remain fairly true to Tolkien’s vision. I love them dearly.

Ooh! I want this for a wedding band! (Courtesy of fundulgence.com).

Naturally, when they came out on DVD, I sprang for the 4-disc Extended Editions of each film. They are chock full of extras and contain new scenes incorporated seamlessly right into each movie. They round out the films, and make them even better than the theatrical versions. I’d always wanted to watch them back-to-back-to-back, but with a total running time of 683 minutes, it seemed like a Herculean task. I mean, that’s nearly eleven and a half hours! A full day’s commitment, for sure. And I’m the type of guy who’s easily distracted. Usually when I sit down to watch a movie at home, I end up pausing it constantly so I can check Facebook, or send a text, or transfer a load of laundry to the dryer…etc. Which turns a 2-hour movie into a 3-hour experience. Clearly, if I were ever to attempt the feat of participating in a LOTR marathon, I would have to give the films my full attention. It would be impossible not to take a few breaks, but by and large, I’d be sitting on my ass for twelve hours. That is why my Hobbit-a-thon was always a distant, noncommittal “someday” in my mind.

“Someday,” it turns out, was this past Saturday.

The day before, I’d read that McMenamin’s, a local brewpub, was holding their annual Tolkien Birthday Bash. Ol’ J.R.R. would have been 119 on January 3rd, it turns out. The festivities included a LOTR marathon. Immediately, my competitive nature kicked in. “If they can do it, I can do it!” I declared out loud, which was a little creepy because I was talking to an empty house (unless you count my cat). And Saturday would be the perfect day, I reasoned. A steady rain was falling nonstop and predicted to last all weekend. I didn’t have anywhere to go or anything to do, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Even that morning, I wasn’t sure if I was going to take the plunge. But finally, at 11:20, I fired up the first disc of the first movie, The Fellowship Of The Ring. And proceeded to spend the entire day watching the trilogy. I took periodic notes throughout, wanting to capture my thoughts for posterity during this monumental undertaking. Without further ado, here they are.

11:20 AM. I begin the movie. This is going to be so awesome!!!!!!

DVD Counter: 40 minutes. Gandalf doesn’t want the ring. It’s a good thing I wasn’t around – I don’t think I could resist. The allure of invisibility is too strong. Think of all the naked female hobbits I could spy on!

DVD Counter: 41 minutes. Wait a sec…even female hobbits probably have hairy feet. Eww.

DVD Counter: 79 minutes. Ooh, it’s the babe from the Aerosmith videos! Steve Tyler’s daughter. Even with pointy ears she’s hot. And elves don’t have hairy feet!!

DVD Counter: 96 minutes. Rivendell looks like a Thomas Kincaid painting.

DVD Counter: 100 minutes. People sure respected their ancestors back then, always referring to them in introductions. “It’s Aragorn, son of Arathorn. Heir to Isildur.” What a mouthful. I have never once said “I’m Mark, son of Tom.” I wonder what would happen if I started doing that…food for future thought.

1:03 PM. Disc 1 ends. Only 5 more to go! Loving this!!

DVD Counter: 119 minutes. Gimli  sounds like James Bond when he speaks. Or Shrek. I didn’t realize Dwarves were Scottish.

DVD Counter: 151 minutes. Caras Galadhon – Galadriel’s home in the trees – kinda looks like the place the Keebler elves hang out. Mmm…cookies…

3:01 PM. “Fellowship” is over. This is awesome.

4:03 PM. Already getting dark outside, and I’m barely 40 minutes into “The Two Towers.” Hmm…what was I thinking?? Maybe I need a rum and Coke.

DVD Counter: 288 minutes. Gandalf just performed an exorcism and now Theoden is young again. Ooh, Eowyn is hot. She doesn’t have pointy ears or hairy feet. My kind of girl. Bring me some sugar, blondie!

DVD Counter: 307 minutes. Gollum is having a conversation with himself. Dude must be bi-polar. Wait…I was talking to myself earlier. Oh, shit. Plus, he likes sushi. Eerie similarities. I think I need another rum and Coke.

DVD Counter: Unrecorded. “War will make corpses of us all.” Ooh, good line. So true! I doubt our Armed Forces will ever use that slogan.

5:14 PM. First “Towers” disc ends. I am approximately halfway finished. That’s all?!?!

DVD Counter: 321 minutes. Aragorn is 87! He’s got two hot chicks throwing themselves at him, and he gets a senior discount at Denny’s. The man leads a charmed life. Well, except for the fact that bad guys are always shooting arrows at him.

DVD Counter: 420 minutes. Holy crap – Merry & Pippin are getting stoned off the Longbottom Leaf 420 minutes into the movie. That can’t be a coincidence!

7:20 PM. “The Two Towers” just ended. 8 hours since I started. This is awe…err…no. It’s not. And “Return Of The King” is the long one!!

DVD Counter: 519 minutes. Frodo just ended his bromance with Sam by telling him to “go home.” Ouch. Guess they won’t be picking out china patterns together.

DVD Counter: 540 minutes. Eowyn’s pretending to be a man so she can go into battle. Sounds like Mulan. Where’s her tiny dragon sidekick that sounds like Eddie Murphy?

DVD Counter: 542 minutes. “Spears rise like winter thickets through a shroud of mist.” Very poetic way of saying “we’re all about to die!”

9:48 PM. I still have one disc left. Holy mother of…

DVD Counter: 578 minutes. Hey, that scatterbrained nut job Lord Denethor is John Noble from “Fringe!” He plays a scatterbrained nut job named Walter Bishop on that show. Typecasting much?

DVD Counter: 596 minutes. Witch King: “No man can kill me.” Eowyn: “I am no man.” Oh, snap! Bye-bye, Witchy. Possibly my favorite scene in the whole trilogy.

DVD Counter: Unrecorded. Eyes bleary. Thoughts much more incoherent. Really, Frodo? Was it worth losing half a finger over? Some “precious” that turned out to be. Smeagol is like a cockroach that just. won’t. die. Oh, wait…he died. Well, finally. Sauron’s eye is shrieking. Don’t you need vocal cords for that? Mount Doom is erupting. Sam and Frodo are going to die. Kiss him, you fool. Eagles to the rescue! The end. Oops, no…Aragorn is getting crowned king. Misty-eyed moment: Aragorn tells hobbits, “You bow to no one…we bow to you.” Sniff. The end. Oops, no…they’re back in The Shire. Frodo finished his book. The end. Oops, no…now clearly suffering from Alzheimer’s, Bilbo is leaving Middle Earth on a ship with the elves and Gandalf. Oh, and Frodo’s coming, too. Tearful goodbye with Merry, Pippin, and Sam. Kiss him, you fool. Fade to white – the end. Oops, no…(how many false endings can one movie have?!?!). Sam is in The Shire again to greet his wife, Rosie. They keep popping out kids…can’t blame him, she’s a cute little number (even if she does have hairy feet). “Well, I’m back,” he says. The en…yeah, right. I’m not falling for it again. Nope. No sirree. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me four times, shame on me. Wait…the credits are rolling. It really is the end!

11:47 PM: I did it!!! Trilogy complete. Elvish has left the building.

11:48 PM: I will always love LOTR, but…never again. Not all in a row like that.

11:49 PM: Hmm…I’ll bet nobody has ever watched the ENTIRE TRILOGY back-to-back……..

12:09 AM. Common sense prevails. Off to bed. Goodnight.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

13 thoughts on “Elvish Has Left The Building

  1. BRAVO!

    And not only for watching this trilogy in its completion, but for also documenting the experience so flawlessly!

    Great job, Mark!

    The only time I ever did something similar to this, was when I watch each season (12 episodes each) of the reality show Project Runway. It took me all weekend!!! Once I started, I couldn’t stop until I was finished.


    1. That’s the mark of a really good show, Ron! I’ve done that before – with Breaking Bad and Lost (I didn’t get into that one until midway through the 3rd season…it was nice to be able to catch up on everything without having to wait 2.5 years like everybody else!).


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